Radar Imaging in your Garage: Synthetic Aperture Radar

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Learn why you were pulled over, quantify the stealthiness of your favorite model aircraft, or see what various household items look like at 10 GHz. In this post we will describe the basics of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging, beginning with a historical perspective, showing the state of the art, and describing what can be done in your garage laboratory. Lets image with microwaves!

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Easily Silkscreen All the Things

Silkscreening isn’t as hard as it might seem. For instance, it’s easier than block printing because you don’t have to reverse the image. [Jimmy DiResta] shows how easy it is to put a silkscreening setup together and print on wood, metal, and, of course, t-shirts.

Once you decide on a design, print it out on an acetate sheet which can be run through a regular household printer. You can buy ready-made meshed frames or even entire kits, but [Jimmy] shows you how to build a simple frame and staple screen mesh to it. After sealing up the edges, mix up some photo emulsion, cover the mesh, and let it dry in a dark room.

When it’s dry, place your acetate on the screen and expose the emulsion using whatever light is available. [Jimmy] built a milk crate tower up to his fluorescent work light and exposed it for about four minutes. Now you’re almost ready to make your mark. Peel off the acetate and remove excess emulsion with a squirt bottle and compressed air. Dry the whole thing with a hair dryer and you’re done. Load up a squeegee with silkscreen ink and draw it from top to bottom with nice, even pressure, and you’ve got yourself a silkscreened thing.

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Fetching Etchings for Stainless Steel

What do you do when you have a 10-gallon brew kettle (or any other stainless steel or aluminium thing) with no volume markings (or Hack a Day logos)? If you’re [Itsgus], you use science to etch some markings with a few household items and a 9V and you call it a day.

[Itsgus] used 1/4c vinegar and 1/4tsp of salt to form an electro-etchant and applied it with a Q-tip connected to the negative terminal of a 9V. He used tape to connect a wire between the positive terminal and the kettle. The vinegar dissolves the salt, creating negatively charged ions. Connected correctly to a 9V, the process removes metal where the current flows. If you were to connect it in reverse,  you would add a small amount of metal.

The process only takes a few seconds. When the etchant starts to sizzle and bubble, Bob’s your uncle. Even though the stainless steel’s natural coat re-oxidizes over the etches, you should probably wash that thing before you brew. If you prefer adding metal to removing it, try electroplating copper on the cheap.

Make a Plastic Bender using Stuff You Already Have

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The team over at [2PrintBeta] found they needed some unique plastic profiles for their 3D printer the Printupy. Unable to find a supplier with what they needed, they decided to try building their own inexpensive bending station, using stuff they already had.

Not too concerned with the longevity of the system (or perhaps the flammability?) they’ve taken a wooden board and routed a straight groove through the center of it. Using a power supply and some Nichrome wire — it’s done.

They admit it’s really not the most durable and that it requires constant supervision in case of flames — but it cost next to nothing to make, and actually works quite well! What we like about the following video is they also show us the design process, the laser cutting, and bending to create the final product.

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Make Your Electronics Lab in a Box

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Unless your lucky enough to have a big personal workshop where you can have dedicated stations for all kinds of different tools, you’re probably like most of us here at Hack a Day — lots of projects, but never enough space.

[McLovinGyver] lives in a small flat, and finds setup and cleanup time often take longer than the project itself — so he’s come up with this handy dandy Electronics-Lab-in-a-Box (trademark pending).

The guide is really more of a series of pictures of his process of building the portable lab, but he shows off some great ideas of things you might want to include in your own personal version of it. The first step is deciding what tools you need in the lab. In general, your power supply unit, soldering iron, hot air re-flow and fume exhaustion are going to dictate the general size and shape of your lab — from there, it’s just a matter of filling in the gaps with the rest of your small tools.

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Coolant Hose Grippers Keep Your Components in Place

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Whether you have shaky hands when working on tiny components, or just need more control and flexibility, we think this “third hand” gripper using coolant hose is an ingenious solution compared to the little metal ones you can buy.

Not surprisingly this isn’t an original idea. In fact, Sparkfun actually sells it as a kit. That being said… it’s rather expensive — especially when you can build [Frank Zhao's] version for less than $15.

He’s using a cutting board, three machinery style coolant hoses, and a handful of fasteners from the hardware store. You can use the accessories from a regular metal third hand, but [Frank] also shows us how to recreate them using a few washers, some steel strapping, and a wing nut and bolt.

[Mr. Zhao] is no stranger to Hack a Day either — we’d almost call him an inadvertent contributor we’ve shared so many of his hacks! Just take a look at his tiny USB business card, his awesome LED pocket watch, a detailed reflow oven build, or even his IR based augmented reality setup.

[Thanks Keith!]

Hot or Not? Find Out How to Calculate Component Heat and Why You Should

How hot are your key components getting? There’s a good chance you’ve built a project and thought: “Well I guess I better slap a heat sink in there to be safe”. But when working on a more refined build you really need to calculate heat dissipation to ensure reliability. This is actually not tough at all. The numbers are right there in the datasheet. Yes, that datasheet packed with number, figures, tables, graphs, slogans, marketing statements, order numbers… you know right where to look, don’t you?

Hackaday has you covered on this one. In under 10 minutes [Bil Herd] will not only show how easy these calculations are, he’ll tell you where to look in the datasheets to get the info you need quickly.

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