Fourier Machine Mimics Michelson Original in Plywood

It’s funny how creation and understanding interact. Sometimes the urge to create something comes from a new-found deep understanding of a concept, and sometimes the act of creation leads to that understanding. And sometimes creation and understanding are linked together in such a way as to lead in an entirely new direction, which is the story behind this plywood recreation of the Michelson Fourier analysis machine.

For those not familiar with this piece of computing history, it’s worth watching the videos in our article covering [Bill “The Engineer Guy” Hammack]’s discussion of this amazing early 20th-century analog computer. Those videos were shown to [nopvelthuizen] in a math class he took at the outset of degree work in physics education. The beauty of the sinusoids being created by the cam-operated rocker arms and summed to display the output waveforms captured his imagination and lead to an eight-channel copy of the 20-channel original.

Working with plywood and a CNC router, [nopvelthuizen]’s creation is faithful to the original if a bit limited by the smaller number of sinusoids that can be summed. A laser cutter or 3D printer would have allowed for a longer gear train, but we think the replica is great the way it is. What’s more, the real winners are [nopvelthuizen]’s eventual physics students, who will probably look with some awe at their teacher’s skills and enthusiasm.

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The Continuing Adventures of a Project That Will Be Stolen

Imagine if the Snap-on tool truck wasn’t filled with hand tools. Imagine if that Snap-on truck was a mobile electronics surplus shop. That’s the idea behind the Travelling Hacker Box. It’s a box, shipped from hacker to hacker, filled with weird and esoteric components, enough parts to build a 3D printer, and enough capacitors to stop an elephant’s heart.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about the Travelling Hacker Box, here’s the quick FAQ to get you up to speed. Has this been done before? Yes, yes it has. The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk was a ‘thing’ done by Evil Mad Scientist back in the ‘aughts. Hackaday (or rather the old commander in chief Eliot) received one of these boxes, and sent it off to [Bre Pettis]. Keep in mind, this was in 2008. Is there more than one Travelling Hacker Box actively travelling? No. Because I don’t want to organize a second. Either way, the Travelling Hacker Box has two goals: distance travelled and number of people visited. With just one box, we can maximize both objectives. What are the current travel plans? That’s the next paragraph.

US-Trips
The travels of the Travelling Hacker Box Mk. 2

As of right now, the second version of the Travelling Hacker Box – the first box was stolen by some waste of oxygen in Georgia – has travelled at least 21,838 miles around the United States, visiting 11 prolific hackaday.io contributors in Wyoming, New York, Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Florida, Wisconsin, Maine, and California. The goal for the first dozen or so trips across the United States was to put miles on the box. 25,000 miles would be equivalent to a trip around the world using only US Postal Service flat rate boxes. Thanks to [Lloyd T Cannon]’s reinforcement of a medium flat rate box with canvas, foam, Kevlar, and custard, this iteration of the Travelling Hacker Box has held up spectacularly.

The goal for the next two months is to make a trip around the United States to maximize the number of US hackers who contributed to the box. This trip will start in Pasadena, CA, go up the west coast to Seattle, loop around the Canadian border to New England, go down the Eastern seaboard, across to Texas, over the desert, and land back at Home Base in Pasadena. From there, the Travelling Hacker Box is off to England, the EU, Asia, India, maybe Africa, and Australia.

While there are already a few people scheduled for this last trip around the US, more are needed. If you’re interested, check out the project on hackaday.io, request to join the project, send a message on the team chat, and generally bug me on the hackaday.io chat. There are plenty of spaces to fill in this last trip around the US and the current inventory is quite a haul. Not bad for a project that will eventually be stolen.

Oh No! It’s the Claw!

What’s more seductive than a claw machine? After all, how hard can it be to snag that $2 teddy bear that is practically poking out of the pile of merchandise? But after 20 quarters, you realize you’ve spent $5, and you still don’t have anything to show for it.

[CreativeGuy88] decided to build his own claw machine (that way, he gets to keep the quarters). This sizable build is as much woodworking project as anything. However, the motors and control joysticks require electrical wiring and [CreativeGuy88] used Lego bricks to make much of the carriage.

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Full-size AT-ST Star Wars Build

Think you made a cool tree-house for your kids? Sorry to burst your bubble, but we don’t think anything can top this full-size 1:1 replica of a Star Wars AT-ST — complete with sound effects and moving turrets! Did we mention it seats two?

Built in his backyard, this AT-ST is constructed of wood, plastic, and sheet metal. On the inside it is decked out with joysticks, display panels, and other knobs and buttons for your imagination to go wild with. It even features solar panels on the roof to power two ventilation fans to keep you cool while daydreaming of blowing up Rebel scum on Hoth.

Stay tuned after the break to see a video of it in action.

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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.

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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.