Crossing The Atlantic In A 42 Inch Boat

In the world of sailing, there are many records to compete over. Speed records, endurance records, size records. The fastest crossing, the longest solo journey, the largest yacht.

But not all records concern superlatives, for example in the size stakes, there are also records for the smallest vessels. The Atlantic crossing has been completed by a succession of ever smaller boats over the years, and the current record from 1993 is held by the 5’4″ (1.626m) boat Father’s Day.

Records are made to be broken, and there is now a challenger to the crown in the form of the impossibly tiny 42″ (1.067m) Undaunted, the creation of [Matt Kent], who intends to sail the boat from the Canary Islands to the USA in around 4 months.

The boat’s design is definitely unusual, with a square aluminium hull of equal beam and length, and a very deep keel that has an emergency drinking water tank as its ballast. The sail is a square rig — imagine picture-book images of Viking ships for a minute — and it has two rudders. We are not nautical engineers here at Hackaday, but reading the descriptions of the boat we understand it to have more in common with a buoy in the way it handles than it does with a sleek racing yacht.

Unfortunately the first sailing attempt suffered a setback due to a design flaw in the way the vessel’s emergency flotation is attached. This was revealed by its interaction with some unusual waves. But [Matt] will be back for another try, and with luck we’ll see him on our TV screens sometime next year as he emerges into the Florida sunshine from his cramped quarters. Meanwhile his unusual boat and its construction makes for a fascinating read that we’re sure you’ll appreciate.

We don’t often cover boat building here at Hackaday. But if unusual ocean crossings are of interest, here’s an autonomous one we looked at back in 2010.

[via Yachting World]

Light a Fire Under Your…Skateboard?

Kids, please don’t try this at home. Or at least make sure there’s nothing flammable around.

With that out of the way, we have to ask — who doesn’t love playing with fire? We’re betting that many of you also have enjoyed a little skateboarding at some point in your lives. [mikeasaurus] has married the two beloved activities and made a flame throwing skateboard! The parts count is fairly low, and it looks like everything can be purchased from Amazon if you can’t source all of the items locally.

[mikeasaurus] gives a few useful tips such as how he bent one of the two pipes on the fuel tank cap to prevent fuel from pouring out. Also, he used an adapter to bring down the diameter of the tubes from 1/4″ to 1/8″ which makes for a better performing fuel stream.

Instead of making this little foot cooker more complicated with additional electronics and wires to be operated by a hand-held remote control, [mikeasaurus] decided to build the controls directly into the skateboard with just a couple of foot-activated switches. This keeps his hands free to wave at all of the onlookers watching him speed by. Or better yet, to carry a fire extinguisher.

Admittedly, it appears from the video that the flame doesn’t really get ‘thrown’ too far, and [mikeasaurus] himself says:

“As long as you’re moving forward when the flames are activated, you’re good to go!”

Because of this, you probably don’t want to use your favorite board, as it’s going to be subject to direct flames.

You’ll see this when you watch the video after the break.

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LED Tail Lights for Improved Motorcycle Visibility

Motorcycles are hard to see at the best of times, so riders are often concerned with making themselves as visible as possible at all times. [Josh] wanted to do this by creating a custom tail light for his Ducati 749.

The tail light is based around SMD LEDs, mounted in acrylic to diffuse the light. The construction is beautiful, using custom PCBs and carefully machined acrylic to match the lines of the bike.

As far as warning lights go, a brighter light will be more obvious in the day time, but could actually hinder visibility at night by blinding other road users. To this end, [Josh] built the tail light around an ATtiny 45, which could be programmed with various routines to optimise the light level depending on ambient conditions. Another feature is that the light’s brightness pulses at high frequency in an attempt to attract the eye. Many automakers have experimented with similar systems. The ATtiny controls the lights through a PCA9952 LED controller over I2C. This chip has plenty of channels for controlling a bunch of LEDs at once, making the job easy.

Overall, it’s a very tidy build that lends a very futuristic edge to the bike. We’ve seen [Josh]’s work in this space before, too – with this awesome instrument display on a Suzuki GSX-R.

A Digital Tacho For A Harley

If you are a lover of motorcycling, you’ll probably fit into one or other of the distinct groups of riders. Maybe you’re a sportsbike lover always trying to get your knee down, a supermotard who gets their knee down without trying, a trailie rider for whom tarmac is an annoyance between real rides, or a classic bike enthusiast who spends more time in the workshop than riding.

[Xavier Morales] is none of these, for he cruises the roads of his native Catalonia on a Harley-Davidson Sportster. If you’re familiar with Harleys only from popular culture, or you’re a sportsbike rider who derides them for anachronistic handling and brakes, it’s worth taking a look at a modern Harley from a technical standpoint. Despite styling and brand ethos that evokes another era with the trademark large V-twin engine that looks to the untrained eye the same as it did decades ago, today’s Harley is a very modern machine, and much more capable than the sneering sportsbiker would give it credit for.

There is one area though in which [Xavier]’s Harley was sorely lacking. Its single instrument was a speedometer, it had no rev counter. You might think this would be less of an issue with the lower-revving Harley engine than it would be with a Japanese sportsbike that exists in a hail of revs, but it was annoying enough to him that he built his own tachometer. His write-up of the project is both lengthy and fascinating, and well worth a read.

The Sportster’s data bus follows an established but obsolete standard, SAE J1850 VPW. Since driver chips for this bus are out of production, he had to create his own using a transistor and a couple of resistors. Once he has the data he feeds it to a PIC 18F2553 which in turn runs a display driver chip controlling a brace of 7-segment LEDs. There are also a set of LEDs to indicate gear changes. The whole is installed in a 3D-printed housing alongside the original speedometer, behind the glass from another dial. As a result it looks as though the bike was always meant to be a two-clock design, with a professional appearance.

If you’d like to see it in action, he’s posted a few videos, and we’ve put one below the break. The beautiful Catalan scenery and the mountain twisties look very inviting.

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Open Source Firmware For Hoverboards

2015 was two years ago, and to the surprise of many, we actually had hoverboards at the time. Of course, these weren’t Back to the Future-style hovering skateboards; they were crappy two-wheeled balancing scooters that suffered a few battery explosions and were eventually banned from domestic flights by some carriers. But oh boy, there were some funny Vines of these things.

While the rest of the world moved on from hoverboards, [Casainho] has been working on Open Sourcing the firmware for these interesting bits of electronics and motors. Now, his work is wrapping up and he has new firmware for electric unicycles and hoverboards.

The popular and cheap electric unicycles and hoverboards that have been swimming across the Pacific from the great land of Ali Baba for the past five years are based around a single, cheap controller board. This controller board is built around the STM32F1038T6 microcontroller, and are able to control a pair of three-phase brushless motors. The teardown began on the electric unicycle forum and was completely documented in a GitHub repo.

The Open Source firmware is now mostly complete, although the necessary self-balancing function doesn’t work. We’re thinking that’s alright; with this new firmware, these electric unicycles have a crazy amount of torque and could be the basis for a few very cool builds. You can check out a video of this torque below.

If two wheels seems far too safe, exercise your inner daredevil with a 3D printed unicycle conversion for a hoverboard.

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Have Chainsaw, Will Travel

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you strapped a chainsaw motor to a tricycle? Turns out the worst that happened to [ThisDustin] and his friends is that it turned out hilariously awesome.

This aptly-named ‘chainsawtrike’ isn’t much in the way of comfort, so a pair of foot pegs had to be welded onto the front forks, along with a mount for the chainsaw motor. The rear axle had to be replaced with 5/8″ keyed stock, trimmed to fit the trike wheel and secured with keyed hubs. [ThisDustin] and crew also needed an intermediate sprocket to act as a reduction gear.

After a test that saw the chain jump off the sprockets and working out a few kinks — like the ability to turn — the chainsawtrike  can haul around its rider at a pretty decent clip. Check out the video of it in action after the break.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: GoKart Tank

There is probably something in all of us that yearns to drive a tank, just once. Most of us will probably never fulfill it, in fact, unless we work in farming or construction we’re unlikely to even drive a skid-steer vehicle of any type. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a go at building one ourselves, as [samern] is doing with his Hackaday Prize entry.

The GoKart Tank has a chequered history, as a build that started as an internal combustion go-kart, became a half-track, and eventually the fully tracked electric vehicle we see today. It has a wooden frame, two 1KW electric scooter motors, and tracks made from IntraLox modular plastic industrial conveyor belt parts. This last choice is particularly interesting because even though it isn’t designed for use as a track it is designed for heavy-duty service and could offer a component source for other tracked vehicle projects.

What you see is a working tracked vehicle, but it is not without problems. The electric motors are only powerful enough to move a child, so there are plans to return it to internal combustion power. We can, however, see it working, as you can watch the video of it we’ve put below the break.

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