Deep in the hills of the Democratic Republic of Congo, you’ll find men and women hard at work providing a living for their family. You might find some working in one of the nation’s mines which are rich in natural resources. Others will be working the farms or participating in one of many diverse cultural customs. If you head two hours via dirt road from the capital city of Kinshasa, however, you’ll find something a bit out of place for the area – an active space program.
On a vast yam farm, [Jean-Patrice Keka] has single-handedly developed several rockets that have flirted with the elusive zero gravity environment. [Mr. Keka’s] ‘Mission Control’ is a corrugated metal shed lined with CRT monitors and dated computers, but don’t let this fool you. His vision and drive are just as great as any space faring nation.
His intellect has made him a small fortune in commodities trading, and allows him the luxury to finance his operation without the need of government help. From time to time, he employs the help of local engineering students to get his rockets off the ground. Their payload has included rats and insects, with one launch reaching 10 miles of altitude and the current project aiming for 120 miles. [Mr. Keka] has become a national hero via the televised broadcasts of the launches, and has gotten the attention of national government officials. They even flew him to the US once to petition funding for his work.
[Mr. Keka] and his story should serve as an inspiration to all inspiring hackers and makers to pursue their dreams.
Thanks to [Cmh62] for the tip.
One of our tipsters stumbled across a pretty impressive video of a giant Tesla coil playing music — in a snowy forest! The forum showing off the video is in Finnish but Google Translate does a pretty good job getting the point across.
This massive Tesla coil dubbed the BiggerDR was built by [Kizmo], who lives way up north in Finland. He was originally inspired by another build and decided to try his hand at making one. The Tesla coil, detailed in another forum post (in English this time) has some pretty impressive specs. The coil alone has 1550 wraps! Not too mention a pretty impressive bank of capacitors in series…
His YouTube channel has some great videos of the build — in fact, he’s been messing around with Tesla coils for at least 7 years already — stick around after the break to see BiggerDR in action.
Continue reading “Massive Tesla Coil Plays Music in the Snow”
When we hear spectrometer, we usually think of some piece of high-end test equipment sitting in a CSI lab. Sure, a hacker could make one if he or she put their mind to it. But make one out of a webcam, some cheap diffraction grating purchased off ebay and some scrap? Surely not.
[Renaud] pulls off this MacGyver like build with a detailed knowledge of how spectrometers work. A diffraction grating is used to split the incoming light into its component wavelengths. Much like a prism would. The wavelengths then make their way through a slit, which [Renaud] made from two pieces of highly polished brass, so the webcam sensor can see a specific wavelength. While the spectrometer-from-webcam concept isn’t new, the build is still impressive.
Once the build was complete, [Renaud] put together some software to make sense of the data. Though a bit short on details, we hope this build will inspire you to make your own spectrometer, and document it on hackaday.io of course.
From tea sets to CD box sets, you’ll see the work of the Phillips Brothers mill on shelves all across the country. They make wooden boxes for just about any product imaginable. Interestingly, they do it the old-school way, with the entire factory powered by steam.
The wood for the boxes comes from the on-site mill, resawn and planed to the proper dimensions. These thin boards are then cut to size for each of the sides.
Most of the clients like to put their logo on their boxes, and the Phillips Brothers mill is more than happy to oblige. They brand one side of the box with a custom-made iron, permanently marking the box for the client.
The boxes are assembled with either staples or nails, enough to last for many, many years. No, there aren’t finger joints on these boxes, but with generations worth of experience in this factory, we’ll assume they know what they’re doing.
With Hackaday’s new handmade category we have the option of covering a wide range of builds – everything from jet engines designed on paper and built on manual machines, to old-world crafts made with the most primitive tools. This time, we’ll be looking at making a longbow from scratch, the work of [Billy Berger], a project that covers everything from selecting a tree to tillering a bow to make the best possible weapon.
European-inspired longbows are usually constructed out of yew, but in [Billy]’s native east Texas yew is a little hard to come by. He eventually selected a small Osage orange tree for his bow, stripped the bark, split the log, and started crafting his handmade bow.
The most important part of making a bow is ensuring the back of the bow consists of only one growth ring. With a drawknife, [Billy] carefully planed down the back of the bow so only one of the tree’s growth rings was visible, then began shaping the belly and sides of the bow.
Wood is a natural material, and when freshly cut contains a lot of moisture. As [Billy] was working on his bow, some of the moisture left his piece of Osage, leading to some twists and turns in the lumber. There’s a solution to this that mankind has been doing for millennia – fire bending the wood. By covering the wood in some sort of animal fat ([Billy] used olive oil), you can hold a piece of wood over a small frame without scorching. Using the crook of a tree as a vice, [Billy] twisted the wood, giving him a perfectly straight bow.
There’s an amazing amount of work that went into this bow, not surprising given that [Billy] is only using hand tools and primitive woodworking methods. Still, the completed bow is a work of art and a masterpiece of craftsmanship. You can check out all four parts of [Billy]’s demo below.
Continue reading “Making a bow from scratch”
For those who are unfamiliar, “Freeze Frame” is the name of a common display in science museums. It is a small dark room with a single wall covered in phosphorescent material. Opposite of this wall is a flash on a timer. You enter the room, strike a pose and wait for the flash, then view your shadow preserved on the wall behind you.
[Bill] was saddened to see the display at his local science museum had been decommissioned long ago. All that was left was a dark room with a phosphorescent coated wall. Some industrious employees had rigged up some LED pens for people to “draw with light”, but in [Bill’s] opinion this wasn’t as impressive. He promptly volunteered to rebuild the display himself and we commend him, both on the fantastic job he did as well as his service to his local community. Great job [Bill], keep up the good work.
As a student of MIT, [Jed Storey] has access to a ton of machine tools, so he decided to build an electric longboard with hub motors by hand. He wound up re-doing a lot of his project, so we can commiserate with him on the trials of R&D.
Inspired by the BWD scooter, [Jed]‘s longboard uses hub motors – the wheel is the motor. The rotors were fabricated in-house, and off-the-shelf stators were wound by [Jed] by hand. There’s a lot of work that went into this build, and the build log is really fascinating in this regard.
The board is controlled by a pistol-grip R/C controller that had been modified to include a dev board and an XBee. For power, an aluminum enclosure was fabricated, strapped underneath the deck, and filled with LiPo batteries. While the build is mostly done, [Jeb] is thinking about scrapping it and moving onto version 2, the HeavyBoard. Check out the video of the board in action.