Engine Hacks: Liquid fuel amateur rocket roundup

When the idea of an engine hacks theme was being kicked around at Hack a Day, the subject of rocket engines was one of the first to come up. There was a problem though; solid rocket motors are far too common to be interesting, and even hybrid rocket engines are becoming passé. We’ve never seen a liquid-fuel rocket build before, so that’s what this roundup evolved into.

First up is [Robert Watzlavick], who has been has been building liquid fueled engines for the last decade. He started out with an uncooled kerosene/LOX whose death is seen in the title pic for this post. Lately he’s been working on a monster of an engine that is projected to deliver over 1,000 Newtons of thrust. As with many of the early rockets that launched man into space, [Robert] uses kerosene and liquid oxygen for fuel. This man knows his stuff.

Next up is a ‘kit’ liquid fuel rocket, the SS67B-3, that’s based on the German WWII Taifun missile. This engine is about as basic as you can get. There’s one fuel tank that holds both the Hydrogen Peroxide oxidizer and gasoline fuel. Both are blasted into the combustion chamber with pressurized gas. we found a write-up on this kit with some good pictures, but no video.

If high pressures, glowing metal, and huge flames pique your interest, there’s also a fabulous e-book (PDF warning) available that is a reprint of How to Design, Build and Test Small Liquid-Fuel Rocket Engines by [Leroy J. Krzyck]. This book was originally written in 1967, but lathes and mills haven’t changed that much over the past 44 years. Why not give it a go? There’s still plenty of time to complete the build before the 100th anniversary of Goddard’s first flight.

Marble machines roundup

[Denha's] been building marble machines for years and decided to look a back on some of his favorite marble-based builds  (translated). There’s a slew of them, as well as some thoughts about each. Our favorite part is the digital simulations of the projects. For instance, the image above shows a flip-flop marble machine that was built in a physics simulator. This makes it a lot easier to plan for the physical build as it will tell you exact dimensions before you cut your first piece of material. Both of these images were pulled from videos which can be seen after the break. But this isn’t the most hard-core of pre-build planning. SolidWorks, a CAD suite that is most often used to design 3D models for precision machining, has also been used to model the more intricate machines.

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WonderHowTo inteview of [Matthias Wandel]

If you’re an avid Hackaday reader chances are that you immediately recognized [Matthias Wandel's] name. He’s been featured many many times to go along with his many many talents. Most notably, his ability to do some amazing things with wood. But really, it’s the idea that counts, and he seems to have a duffle bag full of them. [Rachel adn Justin] over at WonderHowTo recently published a full interview with Mattias. In it he shares his thoughts on where some of these ideas come from, how he approaches his projects, and even shares some advice for those just getting started.

This is usually the time where we make a witty remark and try to work in links to feature articles from the past. If we were limited to just one it would be pretty tough (although there’s a special place in our hearts for the wasp sucker). Luckily we’re not limited, so here’s a list of some of [Matthias'] projects which Hackaday covered previously:

Kinect + Minecraft Trifecta

Today we have a special treat, three projects combining the “fastest selling consumer electronics device”, Kinect, and the “fastest selling indie java game that once kept us from sleeping for an entire weekend”, Minecraft!

[Sean Oczkowski] writes in to tell us about his efforts to play Minecraft with Kinect using no more than the OpenKinect Java wrapper on Ubuntu.  The code was written in about 4 days with some help from Wikipedia.  Using  histograms to locate the player in the field of view, the script calculates the center mass of the body and defines interactions for the limb occupying that quadrant of the screen. [Sean] does an excellent job of running through the whole process as well as the decisions made along the way. The whole thing is a bit like running in place, and we can’t imagine the flailing that will occur during the inevitable creeper encounter.

Next we have  [Wade McGillis] with his award winning Minecraft Kinect Controller. [Wade] provides source code and executables at his site. This version of control uses skeletal tracking data to sense the user’s gestures. This still involves holding your hands out like a zombie but it is a bit more versatile as one can pass their arms in front of their own body.

Finally [Nathan Viniconis] has been doing some very interesting work using the Kinect to import giant three dimensional models into the game world. [Nathan] then goes the extra mile and animates the figures! Check out the video below for the really impressive results. We here at Hackaday feel that this is the most appropriate use of this technology, and may begin building gigantic statues of ourselves on public servers.

Check out the the tricrafta (minefecta?) of videos after the jump!

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Lifehacker’s top ten of 2010

The end is near and Lifehacker is looking back on their favorite how-to articles from 2010. We found at least half of these interesting, including the hidden HTPC, lockpicking, and micro-TV-b-gone showcased in the image above. But you can also find tips on using your WRT54G router, stacking malted beverages, and making things glow through chemistry. If your heart goes out to our plague carrying house-mates there’s a no-kill mouse trap. They’ve even included a hack to add a USB port to your car… an article which we covered back in 2009. Enjoy!

2010 Hacker Gift Guide

You’ve probably been fantasizing about getting amazing gifts this December, like robots with servo-mounted laser pointers and authentic battle damage. It’s time to realize that it’s unlikely that this will happen. Stay calm. You can still get sweet hacky things if you just forward this gift-giving guide to your friends and loved ones.

Join us after the break to see what we want and be sure to let us know what you’ve got your eye on.
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BAMF2010: Look sir, droids!

Ask any engineer what originally sparked their interest in technology, and almost universally the response will be a Hollywood film or TV robot — Star Wars’ R2-D2, the B9 robot from Lost in Space, or Short Circuit’s Johnny 5, to name a few. Engineers need a creative outlet too, and some pay homage to their inspirations by building elaborate reproductions. At this year’s Maker Faire, droid-builders had their own corner in the center hall, their work ranging from humble craft materials to ’bots surpassing their film counterparts in detail and workmanship.

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