Screw Drive Tractor Hasn’t Conquered Canada Yet

[REDNIC79] lives somewhere in Canada where key terrain features include mud and snow. Half pontoon boat, half auger, screw-propelled vehicles excel in this kind of terrain as long as you’re okay with going really slow.

In his 11-and-counting part video series, [REDNIC79] goes through the conversion of a lawn tractor into a slow, theoretically unstoppable, Canadian screw-propelled tractor. He welds a frame, plonks some beefy chains on it, and throws a few hefty looking bearing mounts on there to boot. Then he makes some screws out of gas tanks; which was an enormous amount of work.

It was time to fire up the tractor. On the first muddy incline encountered, the tractor ceased to move. The culprit? A cracked transmission housing. Ouch. The end of the shaft holding the chain for the right screw was unsupported. When the shaft turned, it imparted its rotational force, but there was also an unconsidered down force on the end of the shaft, which resulted in a moment the bell housing wasn’t designed for.

Undeterred, [REDNIC79] welded the housing back together and threw a bearing on the end of the offending shaft to balance the moments. He fired it up, engaged the transmission, and the right screw bearing pillow block completely shattered. Ouch again. We can safely begin to assume that screw-propelled vehicles see a lot of forces.

[REDNIC79] hasn’t shelved the project yet. His next plan is to beef up the supports and build a much larger set of screws with smaller blades out of some propane tanks. This should reduce the force the power house needs to put out. Video of the first fail after the break. Continue reading “Screw Drive Tractor Hasn’t Conquered Canada Yet”

Think Globally, Build Locally With These Open-Source Recycling Machines

Walk on almost any beach or look on the side of most roads and you’ll see the bottles, bags, and cast-off scraps of a polymeric alphabet soup – HDPE, PET, ABS, PP, PS. Municipal recycling programs might help, but what would really solve the problem would be decentralized recycling, and these open-source plastics recycling machines might just jump-start that effort.

We looked at [Precious Plastic] two years back, and their open-source plans for small-scale plastic recycling machines have come a long way since then. They currently include a shredder, a compression molder, an injection molder, and a filament extruder. The plans specify some parts that need to be custom fabricated, like the shredder’s laser-cut stainless steel teeth, but most can be harvested from a scrapyard. As you can see from the videos after the break, metal and electrical fabrication skills are assumed, but the builds are well within the reach of most hackers. Plans for more machines are in the works, and there’s plenty of room to expand and improve upon the designs.

We think [Precious Plastic] is onto something here. Maybe a lot of small recyclers is a better approach than huge municipal efforts, which don’t seem to be doing much to help.  Decentralized recycling can create markets that large-scale manufacturing can’t be bothered to tap, especially in the developing world. After all, we’ve already seen a plastic recycling factory built from recycled parts making cool stuff in Brazil.

Continue reading “Think Globally, Build Locally With These Open-Source Recycling Machines”

OSH Park Reintroduces Pogs

Remember Pogs? They’re back, in OSH Park form!

Some of you might be too young to remember, but the 90s were weird. If you need an example of this, you need only look at pogs. This was a schoolyard game using small cardboard discs and metal or plastic ‘slammers’. To play, stack the cardboard pogs, throw a slammer at the stack, and collect all the pogs that land face up. Of course, each cardboard pog was printed with full-color glossy pop culture images and were as collectible as comic books and baseball cards. The Bart Simpson ‘Public Enemy #1’ pog is highly prized. You could trade a pack of dunkaroos for three holofoils. I’m still looking for Animaniacs #27; my set is otherwise complete.

OSH Park0x07For the past few years, OSH Park, purveyors of perfect purple PCBs, put purple stickers into purple padded envelopes in each order. These stickers weren’t really anything special – just a rectangle with one rounded off corner, a gear, and the OSH Park URL. A few months ago, [Laen] at OSH Park ditched these plain purple stickers for something that taps into the same sentiment as the Apollo 13 pogs distributed through Hardee’s kids meals that included a modular Saturn V-shaped pog case and an aluminum slammer embossed on the obverse side with the Apollo 13 mission patch.

OSH Park’s newest stickers are numbered, limited edition, and feature unique artwork for each sticker in the series. They’re also hexagons, allowing anyone to tessellate their love for OSH Park all across their laptop. These are the OSHexagons, OSH Park’s newest stickers. Right now, [Laen] is drawing up and releasing about one design per month, with seven stickers out so far. Holding fast to OSH Park’s ideal of open standards, the OSHexagons utilize the Open Sticker Standard (yes, there is a standard for everything), making these stickers a regular hexagon that can be inscribed in a circle two inches in diameter.

The rare 0x03 OSHexagon from @sync_channel
The rare 0x03 OSHexagon from @sync_channel

While most of these stickers have runs in the thousands, OSH Park pulled a page from the history of pog and introduced a very speciallimited edition OSHexagon. Only 500 of the beautiful purple and gold 0x03 stickers were produced, making these collectors items equal in stature to the famous zinc alloy Austin 3:16 pog slammer.

As far as marketing goes, giving away a sticker with every order is pretty standard. The Hackaday Store includes a die-cut Jolly Wrencher with every order, but we order thousands of these every few months for events and shows. OSHexagon 0x03’s limited production turns it into an object to be cherished – coveted, even – that is easily digested by the gaping maw of fringe electronics trade journals and blogs. It’s a tour de force of marketing not seen since the 90s.

What’s next for OSH Park? If we’re following 90s trends and fads, you would think Beanie Babies would be next. Luckily, they already have that covered.

Pong on Industrial Controllers

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are a staple of control automation. Sometime in the 60s or 70s, they replaced a box full of relays to implement the kind of “if-this-then-that” logic that turns thermostats on or directs machinery. Sometime in the 90s or 2000s, some more computing power was added, giving us the Programmable Automation Controller (PAC). And if reading Hackaday has taught us anything, it’s that if you give people a little bit of computing power, they’ll implement Pong (or Snake or Doom!).

We were sent a link where [AbsolutelyAutomation] does just that: implements a remotely-playable Pong on a bit of industrial control. Even if you don’t have a PAC sitting around, the details are interesting.

The first step is to get graphics out of the thing. The PAC in question is already able to speak Ethernet, so it’s “just” a matter of sending the right packets. Perhaps the simplest way to go is to implement the remote framebuffer (RFB) protocol from VNC, and then use a VNC client on the PC to send the graphics. (As they point out [CNLohr] has done this quite nicely on the ESP8266 (YouTube) as well.) So an RFB library was written. [AbsolutelyAutomation] points out that this could be used to make boring things like user-friendly configuration and monitoring screens. (Yawn!)

Graphics done, it’s easy to add a Pong layer over the top, using the flowchart-based programming interface that makes homage to the PLC/PAC’s usual function as an industrial controller. (Oddly enough, it seems to compile to a Forth dialect to run on the PAC.) And then you’re playing. There’s code and a (PDF) writeup available if you want more info. If you don’t have a PAC to run it on, the manufacturers have a simulator for you.

We’ve never worked with a PLC/PAC, but we know the hacker spirit when we see it. And making something that’s usually located in the boiler room play video games is aces in our book. This sparks a memory of an industrial control hacking room at DEF CON a few years back. Maybe this is the inspiration needed to spend some time in that venue this year.

We know we’ve got controls engineers out there. What’s the strangest thing you’ve programmed into a PLC?

3D-Printed Case Turns Servo into Quality Linear Actuator

Micro servomotors are a hacker staple. You’ll find maybe four or five in an RC plane, while a hexbot build could soak up a dozen or more of the cheap and readily available devices. Unfortunately, long-throw linear actuators are a little harder to come by, so it’s nice to know you can 3D-print linear gearing for standard micro RC servos and roll your own.

Currently on revision 2, [Roger Rabbit]’s design is not just a quick and dirty solution. He’s really thought through the problems he observed with his first revision, and the result is a robust, powerful linear actuator. The pinion fits a trimmed servo crank arm, the mating rack is stout and stiff, and early backlash problems have been solved. The whole case is easy to assemble, and as the video below shows, the completed actuator can lift 300 grams.

We like [Roger]’s build process, especially the iterative approach to improving the design. We’ll stay tuned to see where it goes next – a continuous rotation servo for extra-long throws? While we wait, you might want to check out [Richard Baguley]’s recent primer on servos if you want a little background on the underlying mechanism.

Continue reading “3D-Printed Case Turns Servo into Quality Linear Actuator”

Start Your Poultry Brood with This DIY Egg Incubator

You’d think that hatching chicks from eggs would be easy – after all, birds do it. But it turns out to be a fussy business for humans, and what momma bird does naturally isn’t necessarily easy for us. If your goal is to raise your own brood of peeps, fear not – this DIY egg incubator makes the process much easier.

While [Chris Raynerd]’s incubator was built for quail eggs, pretty much any domestic fowl – chickens, turkeys, ducks, pheasants – will work. The key is temperature control – momma bird’s rump is a natural heat source, and her downy feathers keep the eggs insulated and toasty. That’s a little hard to replicate in a free-air incubator, so [Chris] started with a polystyrene box for insulation. A halogen lamp on a digital thermostat provides most of the heat and keeps the temperature within a degree or two of 37°C. As a backup, a 12 volt halogen bulb on a dimmer keeps the chamber at a minimum of 36°, just in case the main lamp burns out. A small fan and a pan for humidifying water complete the atmospheric controls, although personally we’d arrange the fan to blow across the water to aid evaporation. And a simple grid lets [Chris] turn the eggs regularly, which is another vital service mom provides to her brood.

Sure, it could be Arduino-fied and servo driven, but why bother? This is a simple yet thoughtful build that should see a clutch through to hatching. We’ve seen a few egg incubators before, but even if you’re not interested in raising fowl, the techniques here could easily apply to incubators for biohacking or yogurt making, too.

Continue reading “Start Your Poultry Brood with This DIY Egg Incubator”

Quick and Easy Pressure Forming Makes Plexiglas Domes

Thermoplastics are amazingly versatile materials. Apply some heat, add a little force, and within seconds you’ve got a part. It’s not always quite that simple, but as [maxelrad] discovered, sometimes thermoforming can be as easy as blowing up a balloon.

In need of a cowling for an exterior light fixture on an experimental aircraft, [maxelrad] turned to pressure forming of Plexiglas for the hemispherical shape he needed. His DIY forming rig was a plumbing-aisle special: PVC pipe and caps, some air hose and fittings, and a toilet flange for the pressure chamber. The Plexiglas was softened in a toaster oven, clamped over the business end of the chamber, and a few puffs of air inflated the plastic to form a dome. [maxelrad] points out that a template could be applied over the plastic sheet to create the streamlined teardrop shape he needs, and he notes that the rig would likely work just as well for vacuum forming. Of course, a mold could be substituted for the template to make this a true blow-molding outfit, but that would take away from the simplicity of this solution.

There have been a fair number of thermoforming projects featured on Hackaday before, from this DIY vacuum former to a scratch-built blow molder. And while we really like the simplicity of [maxelrad]’s technique, what we’d really love to see is some details on that airplane build.