[Tom Sachs] Builds His Own Space Program

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Born in the mid 60’s, [Tom Sachs] has always been fascinated with space, especially the Apollo program. Just like every kid of his generation, [Tom] imagined himself in Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s boots, gazing over the lunar surface. He never gave up that dream, and years later as a successful modern artist, he built his own space program.

[Tom Sachs] is a master of bricolage . Taken from the French word for tinkering, Wikipedia defines bricolage as “… the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process.”  The term could also describe the junkbox procurement methods we use on many of our own projects.

sachs-lunar-landerBoth [Tom's] 2007 lunar program and his 2012 Mars program featured his astonishing lunar lander. Built from plywood, found items, and junk, the lander literally made us do a double take the first time we saw it. The attention to detail is incredible. At first glance one could mistake this for a simulator built by NASA themselves. After a few seconds the custom touches start to jump out, such as a “Thank You” garbage door from a fast food restaurant, or a bar stocked with tequila and vodka. The lander’s tools are not just for show either, as the gallery opens with a simulated space mission, which could best be described as a mix of art, improv, and an epic game of make-believe for adults.

[Tom's] installations also include mission control, which in his Mars piece consisted of a dizzying array of screens, controls and an 80’s boombox. Dressed in the white shirt, thin tie, and horn rimmed glasses we’ve come to associate with NASA engineers of the 60’s, this is where [Tom] works. He truly is the engineer of this mission.

Editor’s Note [Tom] and the entire hacker community at large have a chance to go to space by entering The Hackaday Prize!

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Gatling Gun Styled Water Pistol Made Out Of… Sugru?

sugru water pistol

We admit it – we’re suckers for clever advertising of a product. The company behind Sugru, everyone’s favorite self-setting-rubber-fix-it material commissioned this awesome gatling gun styled water pistol, and it’s actually quite impressive.

Designed by [Alex Bygrave], he was instructed to build the gun out of as many standard hardware store parts as possible — and as much Sugru as he could. It’s been used to make all the seals, connections, and even the pistons, and while we can’t tell if it leaks anywhere, it’s still pretty impressive.

Unlike a normal water pistol, this one is powered by compressed CO2 canisters like the ones used for welding — meaning the pressures are much higher than a typical super soaker as well!

19Stick around after the break to see it in action – tested on the staff of Sugru themselves!

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Smart Skateboard Box Adds Sound Effects to Your Tricks

Skateboard Sound Effects

 

Here’s a rather interesting project aimed at making music — using skateboards. It’s called SkateHack, and it’s an open source project that mixes customized hardware, electronics and skating.

They’ve been at work on two different projects, both of which utilize piezoelectric sensors and contact microphones. The first, built in Sweden back in July 2012, is called the Augmented Ramp, which transforms a skateboard half-pipe into a musical instrument. The piezoelectric sensors and contact microphones convert vibrations from the ramp intro digital triggers which are then processed by software to create music. The result is a unique medley which changes with every trick.

The second project is called the Bauxite, which is made much the same, but designed to be easily built by anyone. It’s a skateboard trick box which also transforms grinding and tricks into cool sound effects and music. They call it a skateboard-powered-music-sampler — which in all reality, it is.

For more info check out the videos after the break.

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Another Ball Sucking Machine Leaves You Wanting More

Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator

[Niklas] told us about his newest art project that he is calling a Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator. This isn’t a home workshop type of project, it is a full fledged art exhibit displayed at the Tschumi Pavilion in Groningen / The Netherlands. One-thousand black sponge balls move from a big glass ball-reservoir bubble to another via a 150 meter long track of clear plastic tubing. The balls move up to an impressive 4 meters a second. Admirers of the installation can operate the machine and its airflow from outside the pavilion by pressing their hand up to a touch sensor installed on the wall of the exhibit.

All of the ball movement is powered by an ordinary home vacuum. Since it would be a short display if all the balls traveled in one direction, ending up in just one of the glass bubbles, [Niklas] came up with a simple yet functional valve that reverses the flow of air in the tube. This is done by a rotatable disk with two holes in it. Depending on its position, it connects one of the two bubble to the vacuum, leaving the other vented to outside atmosphere. Since the vacuum side of the path is low pressure and the ambient atmosphere is relative high pressure, the air travels towards the vacuum bringing the foam balls with it. No balls get sucked into the vacuum because the outlet tube is at the top of each bubble.

Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator

 

Find two videos after the break, they are well worth watching.

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Don’t Blink, Ken… Or The Weeping Barbie Will Get You

WeepingBarbies

That which holds the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel. Have fun with that.

Barbie dolls have been around since 1959, but never before have they been this terrifying. [anthropolywog] decided to kick the creepy factor up a notch by modifying some poor, defenseless Barbie dolls into weeping angels.

If you aren’t familiar with the weeping angel concept, you probably don’t watch Dr. Who. The weeping angel episode, titled “Blink“, is now considered a classic Dr. Who episode. The basic premise is that some creepy, weeping stone statues can move only when no one is looking at them. Even closing your eyes for a moment to blink is enough to get them to move. It’s actually quite terrifying, but also awesome.

[anthropolywog] started by purchasing several ordinary Barbie dolls. She then cut off all of the arms at the elbow. This is because the Barbie arms do not normally bend at the elbow, and this was required to get that classic weeping angel pose. The hair was glued up into a bun, similar to the weeping angels from the show. The Barbies were then hot glued to wooden stands to make it easier to work on them.

Crinkle cotton fabric was then cut into a simple dress shape and draped over the dolls. The entire doll was then sprayed with a mixture of Elmer’s glue and water. This stiffens up the fabric and makes the whole thing look more statuesque.

The most complicated part was the wings. [anthropolywog] hand-made the wings from cardboard and craft feathers. This process took several hours of work in order to get something that would look right.

The dolls were primed for paint separately from the wings. The wings were then attached, and the whole doll was painted with “natural stone” textured spray paint. The final touch was to re-draw the faded eyes and mouths with a fine tipped permanent marker. You can see in the photo that the result turned out very well.

[via Reddit]

Brighten Your Day with Studio Strobe Power Hack

large capacitor bank for flash circuit

[OiD] picked up a couple of cheap studio strobes off eBay and was not happy with the power control. So he rewired it. These lights are like supercharged flashes for professional photographers, and contain some very large capacitor banks. His first hack didn’t work out too well, and he wound up welding the innards of a switch together. He was successful however, in his second attempt to tame the large voltages.

He’s using two 1N5408 diodes, which are rated at 3 amps, for charging the capacitor bank. A massive 60EPS08 diode, rated at 60 amps with a Frankenstein worthy surge rating of 950 amps is used to separate the charge between the two capacitor banks, and allows one to discharge into the flash tube.

Consisting of just a handful of components, [OiD]‘s hack greatly improves the performance of the strobe’s power adjustment settings. He does an excellent job at documenting the hack for all to see. Be sure to check out his bog for full details.

A Cloud Of Lightning Detectors

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Here’s an interesting project to plot every lightning strike on Earth. Blitzortung is a project that uses many extremely low-cost sensor boards packed with an amplifier, microcontroller, and an Ethernet socket to detect lightning strikes. When multiple stations send all that data up to a server, the location of lightning strikes can be calculated, even if they’re hundreds of miles away from any station.

Each station works by detecting a change in the local EM field caused by a lightning strike with either a large loop antenna or a smaller ferrite core antenna. These signals can be amplified and turned into usable data, time stamped, and sent out on the Internet. From there, it’s a simple time of flight calculation to precisely locate where lightning strikes.

The hardware is actually pretty simple, with based on an STM32F4 Discovery board. A controller includes an Ethernet port, GPS unit, LCD, and all the hardware associated with detecting lightning strikes.

If you’d like to see what’s possible with a huge network of lightning detectors connected to the Internet you can check out LightningMaps for a look at what’s possible.

Thanks [Sean] for sending this in.

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