Personally, I’m a fan of trains. They’re a nice, albeit slow, way to get around the country. Canada isn’t the best candidate for rail transit, given the rather large space between coasts, but Via Rail does operate regular train service in their corridor between Windsor and Quebec City.
Unfortunately, passenger rail has to yield to commercial rail in Canada which often causes delays. After noticing that some trains have very frequent delays, it seemed like it would be useful to know the average performance of each Via train. Via does not provide this data publicly.
However, they do provide some data about arrival and departure times. Digging into the data available through any browser viewing the Via Rail site, it was possible to query for past scheduled/actual arrival data. The result is TrainStats.ca, a display of Via’s on time performance. Join me after the break as I discuss how this all works, and how to pick a winner when buying your next train ticket.
Continue reading “Is Via Rail On Time?”
Motorcyclists are paranoid about being hit by cars, and with reason. You’re a lot safer when you’re encased in a metal shell, with airbags and seatbelts. The mass difference between a car and a motorcycle doesn’t work out well for the biker, either. Unfortunately for bikers, motorcycles are also slimmer and generally less visible than cars.
A few decades ago, motorcycle manufacturers switched over to daytime running headlights to make bikes more visible. In the meantime, however, cars have done the same, leading many bikers to fear that their visibility advantage is losing it’s impact. The solution? Blink the headlights gently during the daytime, and run them normally at night.
[William Dudley] was unsatisfied with commercial versions, so he built a custom headlight modulator for his motorcycle.
And believe it or not, he did it with a 555 timer IC and a light-dependent resistor (plus some transistors and a whole slew of miscellaneous parts). But [William]’s design is a good one, and he walks you through all of the choices he made in building the light-sensing circuit that disables the 555.
Whether you need a motorcycle headlight modulator or are interested to learn how this problem would be solved in the pre-Arduino days, go check out [William]’s post. And while you’re on the nostalgic electronics trip, check out this nixie tube speedometer.
We had to do a double take when we saw this kickstarter campaign video – and we bet you will too. It seem as if some company called [Infento Rides] took generic 80/20 aluminum extrusions and built a viable commercial product out of it – that’s not something you see everyday. 80/20 is meant to be something that engineers use to build things like test rigs and manufacturing fixtures. It’s not exactly an item designed for the consumer or end user. But we think the DIY/teaching aspect of this idea really has
If you’re looking for [Santa] to put this under the tree this Christmas, you might be disappointed as it’s not exactly on store shelves just yet since the kickstarter campaign just ended – but we wish them well, and hope they come through.
If you’re old enough you may remember Erector Sets (they were mechanical equivalent of the 200-in-1 electronics kits) back in the day. Well, this type of product brings back memories of both. It’s a perfect tool for getting kids interested in making – sure, they aren’t “making” much, but we all start somewhere.
The one thing we would like to see is a more open-source type kit like the Chibikart. That and something a little less then the $300-$500 price range. But can you really put a price on teaching a child to build something, and starting that fire inside of them? Maybe not.
Continue reading “80/20 Extrusion Goes Main Stream”
There is a public menace on the streets of Perth, Australia: two motorized picnic tables. Police are looking for the drivers of the, erm, vehicles, which were seen cruising down the West Coast Highway, complete with passenger casually sitting on the tables having a drink. It looks like the two picnic tables are being driven by a centrally mounted lawnmower motor and are controlled from one of the seats. The police are interested because it is illegal to drive something on the public road in Australia that isn’t properly licensed. I’ll bet that his insurance probably doesn’t cover taking it out for a spin on the highway, either. The accompanying TV news report does not identify the person responsible, but they claim have spoken to the builder, who says that the two tables can manage up to 50 miles per hour. They claim that he is even working on an upgraded model that includes a built-in barbecue, which could bring a whole new meaning to the term drive-thru.
Continue reading “Motorized Picnic Table Terrorizes Perth Streets”
Many of us have tried our hand at the ol’ electric car conversion hack. Yank the engine, throw in an industrial DC or AC motor, and bob’s your uncle. Simple stuff. But if you can’t find just the right motor for your application… why not design and build your own brushless DC motor?
This mind-blowing build is by an electrical engineer who decided to design a 45kW motor (that’s 60HP). That’s not a typo. Design and build a 45kW motor! He has a video series on the design process which includes the CAD and all the calculations he did to make this thing work. Once he had the design complete and ordered the custom parts, he started building it.
In his living room.
Continue reading “EV Motor Not Powerful Enough? Make Your Own.”
Long-time Hackaday reader [Andrew Rossignol] bought a Boosted-brand electric skateboard while he was living in NYC. While the batteries more than sufficed for his commute in the Big Apple, he ran out of juice when he moved to the Left Coast, leaving him three miles short of a ten mile trip.
Faced with the unthinkable fate of pushing his skateboard like a Neanderthal, [Andrew] added more batteries. There’s great detail about how he chose the battery chemistry and the particulars of charging and something about load balancing, so it’s definitely worth a read if you’re building an electric vehicle.
But once [Andrew] had some surplus battery capacity on board (tee hee!) he thought of ways to waste it. The natural solution: tons of RGB LED underlighting.
Still not content with an off-the-shelf solution (which wouldn’t let him recharge the batteries without unplugging the lights), he ended up rolling his own with an Arduino and some WS2812s. The nicest touch? Keeping it all out of the elements in a sweet aluminum box, hiding the cable salad within.
There’s a lot to be said for the good industrial design of something like the Boosted skateboard, but if you’d rather DIY, we’ve been covering electric skateboard for a while now. It’s nice to see how battery and motor technology have changed since then, too. Compare and contrast this recent build with that old-school version and with [Andrew’s] build that was covered in this post. We live in good times.
Well, it’s either an extremely well edited video, or [JetPack Aviation] has actually come up with a working JetPack.
According to their site, this JetPack has been in development for the past 25 years, and the current revision is capable of speeds of up to 100mph, and lasts for over 10 minutes. Just last week they flew it around the Statue of Liberty for a promo — yet this is the first time we’re hearing of it…
There’s a documentary coming out next year about the development of it, so it seems like a lot of effort to go to if it’s simply a hoax…
Watch their maiden JetPack flight after the break, and let us know what you think!
Continue reading “Finally. A Working JetPack”