Ask Hackaday: Global Energy Transmission – Can It Work?

global transmission logo with earth in the background

Atop a small mountain in Colorado Springs sat the small, makeshift laboratory of Nikola Tesla. He chose this location because the air was thinner, and therefor more conductive. Tesla had come to believe that he could use the Earth as a conductor, and use it to send electrical power without the need for wires. Though some facts are forever lost, it is said that on a clear, moonless night, Tesla flipped the switch that fed millions of volts into a large coil that towered high into the air. He cackled maniacally as an eerie blue corona formed around the crackling instruments, while some 200 florescent bulbs began to glow over 25 miles away.

A magnificent feat took place in the hills of Colorado that night. A feat that surely would change the world in how it harnessed electricity. A feat that if brought to its full potential, could provide wireless power to every point on the globe. A feat that took place almost one hundred and twenty years ago…

 

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The Disintegrated Op Amp

741By now we’ve all seen the ‘Three Fives’ kit from Evil Mad Scientist, a very large clone of the 555 timer built from individual transistors and resistors. You can do a lot more in the analog world with discrete parts, and [Shane]‘s SevenFortyFun is no exception: it’s a kit with a board, transistors, and resistors making a very large clone of the classic 741 op-amp, with all the parts laid bard instead of encapsulated in a brick of plastic.

[Shane] was inspired by the analog greats – [Bob Pease], [Jim Williams], and of course [Bob Widlar], and short of mowing his lawn with goats, the easiest way to get a feel for analog design was to build some analog circuits out of individual components.

[Shane] has a few more kits in mind: a linear dropout and switching regulators are on the top of the list, as is something like the Three Fives kit, likely to be used to blink giant LEDs.

Solderdoodle is an Open Source, USB Rechargable Soldering Iron

solderdoodle

Battery powered soldering irons are nothing new, but what about a soldering iron that can recharge via USB? [Solarcycle] realized that it might be handy to be able to recharge a portable soldering iron using such a ubiquitous connector and power source, so he developed the Solderdoodle.

The core component of the Solderdoodle is a Weller BP645 Soldering Iron. The heating element is removed from the Weller and placed into a custom case. The case is designed to be 3d printed. The STL files for the case are available if you want to make your own.

The Solderdoodle does away with large, disposable batteries and replaces them with a lithium ion battery pack. The battery contains no built-in protection circuitry in order to save space. Instead, this circuit is added later. [Solarcycle] appears to be using a circuit of his own design. The schematic and Gerber’s are available on his website.

The Instructable walks through all of the steps to build one of these yourself if you are so inclined. If you don’t have the spare time, you can fund the project’s Kickstarter and pre-order a production model. It’s always great to see a new commercial product with an open design.

[via Reddit]

The iFind Kickstarter Campaign Was Just Suspended

Don't
A little more than one month ago we featured a Kickstarter campaign that was raising quite a lot of eyebrows and over half a million dollars. This particular product was a battery-free tag meant to be attached to anything you may lose in your daily life. It was supposed to communicate with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices and have a 200ft (60m) detection range.

The main claim was that the iFind could harvest enough power from existing RF fields inside a typical home environment to operate for centuries. As Kickstarter just cancelled its funding a few minutes ago it seems that the basic maths Hackaday did a while ago were correct and that the project was in fact a scam. We’ll direct our readers to this particular comment that sums up all the elements pointing to a fraudulent campaign and show you the email that the backers received:

A review of the project uncovered evidence of one or more violations of Kickstarter’s rules, which include:

  • A related party posing as an independent, supportive party in project comments or elsewhere
  • Misrepresenting support by pledging to your own project
  • Misrepresenting or failing to disclose relevant facts about the project or its creator
  • Providing inaccurate or incomplete user information to Kickstarter or one of our partners

Putting aside this news, this campaign’s cancellation raises a bigger question: why didn’t it happen before and how could we control Kickstarter campaigns? On a side note, it’s still very interesting to notice the nearly religious fervor of the sunk cost fallacy that such campaigns create in their comments.

Thanks [Rick] for the tip!

The Beginning Of The Age Of 3D Resin Printers

resin

For several years now, filament-based plastic printers have ruled the hobbyist market, with a new iteration on squirting plastic appearing on Kickstarter every week. SLA printers, with their higher resolution and historically higher price for raw materials, have sat in the background, waiting for their time to come.

Now, with the Sedgwick printer now available on Kickstarter, we may finally be seeing some resin printers make their way into hackerspaces and workshops the world over. Instead of other DLP projector-based resin printer where projector light shines up through the resin tank, the creator of the Sedgwick, [Ron Light] is doing things the old-fashioned way: shining the projector down onto the surface of the resin. He says it’s a simpler method, and given he’s able to ship a Sedgwick kit minus the projector for $600, he might be on to something.

There are a few other resin printers coming on the scene – the LittleSLA will soon see its own Kickstarter, the mUVe 1 is already shipping, and over on Hackaday Projects, the OpenExposer project is coming along nicely. All very good news for anyone who wants higher quality prints easily.

The Small & Cheap miniSpartan6+

FPGA

There have been quite a few boards put out in recent months with an FPGA, some RAM, Flash, and a bunch of I/O, the working theory being FPGAs are the new hotness, ready to steal the crown from Arduino and put a programmable logic development board in the hands of millions. We’re not so sure that’s going to happen. but Scarab Hardware’s miniSpartan6+ board does look pretty nice, and has more than enough on board to serve as anyone’s first FPGA platform. It’s also one of the first FPGA boards we’ve seen that is breadboard friendly. Nice touch.

This tiny board features a Spartan6 LX9 FPGA, with just under 10,000 logic cells. An FPGA platform is useless without some sort of IDE, so the Scarab Hardware folks have taken the Mojo IDE, improved the GUI, added a few libraries, and rolled everything up into a ‘not the Arduino IDE, but as simple and better’ platform.

Right now, the crowdfunding campaign for the miniSpartan6+ is well over 200% funded with a little less than a month to go. The stretch goals the team have in mind – a very likely probability, given what they’re asking – include a faster FPGA, a higher resolution ADC, and support for HDMI input and output. That last bit – HDMI input – will allow anyone to do some cool things like overlaying video with HDMI for a pretty reasonable cost.

An ARM-Based DSP Modelling Synth

synth

The great analog synths of Moog, Oberheim, Sequential Circuits, and more modern version from Doepfer are renouned for their sound, the sheer majesty of a rack full of knobs and plugs, and of course the price. Analog synths are simply expensive to build, and given that aficionados even scoff at digitally controlled oscillators, require a lot of engineering to build. [Jan]‘s DSP-G1 isn’t like those analog synths – it uses microcontrollers and DSP to generate its bleeps and boops. It is, however, extremely cheap and sounds close enough to the real thing that it could easily find a home between a few euroracks and CV keyboards.

plugThe heart of the DSP-G1 is a micro from NXP modeling an analog synthesizer with 15 digitally controlled oscillators with Sine, Triangle, Pulse and Saw outputs, a low frequency oscillator, two envelope filters, and a low pass filter, or about the same accouterments you would find in a MiniMoog or other vintage synth from the 70s. Since this is basically a synth on an NXP LPC-810, [Jan] has packaged it in something akin to a MIDI to 3.5mm cable adapter: Plug a MIDI keyboard into one end, an amp into the other, and you have a synth smaller than the MIDI Vampire, an already impossibly small music creation tool.

[Jan] has a few more versions of his little DSP device with varying amounts of knobs available on his indiegogo campaign. The DSP-Gplug is the star of the show, though, provided you already have a MIDI keyboard with a few knobs for the required CC messages. Videos and sound demos below.

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