A 3D Printed Car Jack? No, Seriously!

Ah nuts, I lost my car jack again. What will I do? Well, why not 3D print a new one?

Uploaded to Thingiverse earlier this week, this design allows you to 3D print a fully functional car jack — provided your build platform is large enough. It’s actually a bit of a promo for the Cheetah 2, a massive modular 3D printer by [Hans Fouche]. Earlier this year we shared his 3D printed lawn mower; which spoiler, also works.

The neat thing about the Cheetah 2 is that it doesn’t use filament. It actually processes plastic pellets right inside the hot end, allowing for much cheaper material — typically dollars on the kilogram, as opposed to the $30+/kg we’re all used to being gouged on. Of course, you could also make your own filament. Continue reading “A 3D Printed Car Jack? No, Seriously!”

APRS Repeaters Get the Signal Out of Mammoth Cave

APRS Cave-Link uses the amateur radio’s Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) inside caves to get their position data (and other messages) out.

Imagine that you’re coordinating a large scale search-and-rescue mission in a cave. You need to know where all your groups are, and whether or not they’ve found anything. But how do they all communicate to the command center?

You’d guess radio, but you’d guess wrong. Radio doesn’t propagate well at all in a maze of twisty passages, all alike; rocks absorb radio waves, especially in the VHF/UHF range that’s best suited for most small radios. In the past, you’d run wire and transmit along it. This article runs through the options in detail. But adding miles of wire to your already heavy caving and climbing gear is a nuisance or worse.

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The Internet of Minecraft Things is Born

Minecraft has come a long way since [Notch] first thought up the idea that would eventually make him a billionaire. The game can be enjoyed on so many levels and become so engaging that grown adults who should know better spend far more time playing it than working on, say, their backlog of Hackaday posts. As if that weren’t bad enough, now Minecraft threatens to break out of screen with the ability to control a WiFi light bulb from within the game.

For those unfamiliar with Minecraft, it’s an open world game that allows players to interact with blocks of various materials. Players can build, destroy, explore and create landscapes and structures. An active modding community contributes everything from cosmetic texture packs to new block types with extended functionality. It was one of these mods that was leveraged to “break the fourth wall” in Minecraft. [giannoug] used the OpenComputers mod, which allows placement of programmable in-game computers with a full complement of peripherals, including an Internet connection. That allowed [giannoug] to send commands to his Brand X eBay WiFi light bulb, the protocol for which his friend [Thomas] had previously reverse engineered. Flip a switch in Minecraft and the real-world light bulb comes on instantly. Pretty cool.

We’ve seen quite a few builds where Minecraft blocks inspired real-world lamps, but this is a step beyond and might be a great way to get kids into programming using Minecraft. But it’s not the first time Minecraft has broken the fourth wall – check out this 2012 effort to build a microcontroller-based Minecraft server that can toggle pins from within the game.

[Thanks to aggvan and Stathis K for the near-simultaneous tips!]

A Clockwork Cradle is Baby’s First Escapement

[Scott] doesn’t have any kids, but he’s the sort of type that likes to get ahead of the game. Of course this means spending time in his garage to build a rocking cradle. Usually, these are acquired from a baby shower and are powered by batteries. Terribly uncool, considering a mechanism to keep a pendulum swinging has existed for hundreds of years now. His latest project is the escapement cradle – a cradle (or hammock) that keeps rocking with the help of falling weights.

cradle-escapementThe first video in this series goes over the inspiration and the math behind determining how much energy it will take to maintain a swinging pendulum. The second video goes over a very rough prototype for the escapement mechanism with some woodworking that looks dangerous but is kept well under control. The third video puts everything together, rocking a cradle for about 10 minutes for every time the weight is lifted to the top.

[Scott] has had a few of his projects featured on Hackaday, and he’s slowly becoming the number two mechanized woodworker, right behind [Matthais]. He recently put the finishing touches on the expanding wooden table we saw a year ago, and there are surely even cooler builds in the queue for his YouTube channel.

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Hack a Cake

What’s a hacker going to do with an oven? Reflow solder? Dry out 3D printing filament? If you are [Alicia Gibb] you’d be baking a cake. While complaining that projects aren’t a hack seems to be a favorite past time for Hackaday commentators, we think [Alicia] will be in the clear. Why? Because these cakes have Arduinos, LEDs, and motorized candles among other gizmos.

The Game Boy cake is undeniably cool, although we have to admit the cake that screams when cut got our attention (see video below), even if it would unnerve guests.

As you might expect, you can’t bake the electronics directly into the cake. [Alicia] uses Tupperware or parchment paper to create cavities for the electronics. Connections and other solder joints get professional grade Saran wrap to keep the lead and other awful chemicals out of the cake.

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Bubble Catcher Watches Your Booze Burp

Making your own booze involves a lot of sitting around waiting for things to happen, like waiting for the fermentation process to finish so you can get on with bottling and drinking it. That involves watching the bubbles in the airlock: once the frequency of the bubbles falls below a certain level, your hooch is ready for the next step.

[Waldy45] decided to automate this process by building a bubble catcher that measures the frequency of bubbles passing through the airlock. He did this using an optocoupler, a combination of LED and light sensor that changes resistance when something passes between them. You can’t see it in the image, but the horseshoe-shaped optocoupler is slotted around the thin neck in the bubble tube to sense when a bubble passes through.

The optocoupler is connected to an Arduino, running a bit of code that generates an interrupt when the optocoupler is triggered. At the moment, this just outputs an average time between bubbles to the serial port, but [Waldy45] is looking to add an ESP8266 to wirelessly connect the Arduino and contact him when the bubble frequency falls, indicating that the booze is ready for bottling.

We’ve seen a couple of over the top beer breweries before (here and here), but none of them have automated the actual fermentation stage, so something like this would definitely be an addition. Cheers!

Imagination Not Necessary With This Helicarrier Bed

We think we have another dad-of-the-year award to give out. When [Andy’s] five-year-old son won a Raspberry Pi 2 and needed a new bed, they decided to build the ultimate bed. It’s loosely based on the Helicarrier from S.H.I.E.L.D. and it’s packed with so much tech, you barely need to imagine anything to have fun with it.

It looks pretty simple from the outside, until you realize that the detailed little hatch on the side is actually a keypad secure entry automatic sliding door. Controlled by the Raspberry Pi, recordings of [JARVIS’] voice speak to you as you enter the belly of the ship, er, bed.

imag1813Inside are glowing display cases featuring some of his son’s favorite Marvel superhero’s equipment — ready for use. But what’s really cool is the command console.

The terminal is expertly crafted to look like something out of the movies, and with the Raspberry Pi 2, his son can play with it and fight off the bad guys. There’s even a sentry turret with camera on the outside, controlled from inside the bed.

Continue reading “Imagination Not Necessary With This Helicarrier Bed”