Four-stroke engine with glass cylinder is a 2400 RPM piece of art

4-stroke-glass-cylinder-engine

We know a lot about toggling bits in a register, but only a bit about how engines work. This one inspires us to throw ourselves into the field with reckless abandon. [Huib Visser] built this glass cylinder four-stroke engine and he took great care to make it beautiful. We don’t need our projects to be polished and gleaming, but we have to admit that this the opposite of what we see when popping the hood on our 12-year-old rust bucket out front.

You can’t see it in this image, but just on the other side of the fly-wheel is a smaller wheel with a cord wrapped around it that acts as the pull start. This gets the toothed timing belt going along with the cylinder. As part of the demo video we get a good look at how the rotary intake and exhaust valves work. [Huib] also took the time to demonstrate how the rare earth magnets and hall effect sensor reed switch synchronize the ignition system.

You won’t want to miss the end of the video which show it in action as It burns Coleman fuel (white gas) and is lubricated with WD-40. This is jaw dropping and it works like a charm, but still not that far removed from the concepts seen in [Lou's] hardware store engine project.

UPDATE: Here’s write up this engine (translated) [Thanks ChalkBored]

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Pair of aquarium builds are masterpieces inside and out

two-aquarium-builds

As you start to take in all that was involved with building these two aquariums it boggles the mind. At the time of writing the forum thread is 56 pages long and it’s not just filled up with the adoration of [Big Mr Tong's] fans. He did so much work that every page is packed with progress pictures that cover the range of topics: plumbing, electrical, mechanical, artistic…. wow!

The curse project was sparked by a friend giving him a couple of huge acrylic cylinders which were a perfect size for custom aquariums. [Tong] even had a couple of ideas in mind for underwater artwork to fill them with. One is a replica of statue ruins that give you the feeling that the tank is a piece of Atlantis capture for your own entertainment. The other is a fascinating replica of a plumbing stack. You know, the large cast-iron pipes that carry away waste? But these are actually PVC parts with modeling clay accents. They were broken, cut, melted, sanded, and who knows what else, to arrive at this look. The different aquariums feature different lighting techniques. There’s custom-made filter baffles. We could go on and on but we won’t so check out the link at the top for all the details.

In the end he went beyond the original cylinders and built his own square tank for the pipe design. It’s a steam-punk piece so there’s even analog dials to display the vital signs of the habitat.

Just looking to maintain a tank you already own? How about building an automatic chemical dispenser.

USB infrared receiver looks good sitting in your livingroom

usb-ir-receiver

The problem with building your own electronics for the living room is that the final product may not fit your decorating style. This was true with [Itay's] prototype of a universal USB IR receiver. So after testing it out for a few weeks he decided to build a final version that started by selecting an enclosure he could be proud of.

He came across an LED flash light at the dollar store which has an aluminum body. When we read about this we envisioned a cheap version of a Mag Light from which he removed the cylinder that holds the batteries. But actually, the pod seen above is the entire flashlight (with an added base). It forced him to design a tiny surface mount PCB to fit everything inside.

It’s not too much of a stretch since IR receivers tend to be small anyway. [Itay's] design put a PIC 18F2553 on one side of the board. The other side hosted the through hole components: an IR receiver, LED for feedback, and the connections for the USB cable that exit through the rubber button cover that used to switch the flashlight on. He had a problem with one of the resistor values which took a while to figure out. But eventually he got it working. It’s been in use now for six months.

Hacking the R-390A military shortwave radio receiver to transmit as well

hacking-r390a-radio

After getting his hands on this relic [Gregory Charvat] manage to hack it, converting the receiver into a transceiver.

It may be old, but the R-390A is nothing to scoff at. It’s abilities include AM, code, and FSK operation from 500 kHz to 32 MHz. But it is a receiver with no way of transmitting on the same bands. This is where [Gregory's] hack comes into play. He rerouted the variable-frequency oscillator feed inside of the R-390A in order to use his 20M single-sideband unit. Basically what this does is allow him to control everything from the 390, using the microphone from the SSB — along with some switching hardware — to transmit his own messages.

His demo video starts with him making a few contacts using the hacked equipment. He then spends some time at the whiteboard explaning the changes. This portion went over our heads, but it becomes more clear when he cracks open the case and shows the actual modifications.

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Original hardware for fifteen consoles jammed into recently completed Project Unity

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This boxy monstrosity is big for a reason. It lets you play games on the original hardware of fifteen different gaming consoles. That’s right, we said original hardware. One of the main goals of Project Unity was to keep the stock equipment by making any type of emulation — hardware or otherwise — taboo. The size of the case is a function of how much stuff is actually crammed in there. But the final shape was dictated by the available opening in [Bacteria's] living room entertainment center.

The video after the break walks us through each aspect of the build. We’re floored by the quote of 3,500 hours of build time. But as you get a look at the wiring-hell of each different module it’s easy to understand why it didn’t just build itself. One power supply and one controller make for the least complicated user experience possible. We already looked at a giant switching mechanism that selects one console at a time and the singular controller unit. But [Bacteria] has a lot of other tricks up his sleeve which make this gold mine of a hacking reference piece.

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Centerpieces for a geeky wedding

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[Bill Porter] is a married man now, and evidently his new wife, [Mara], is awesome. They put together one of the geekiest weddings that included custom side-lit LED centerpieces.

Instead of laser engraving the dozens of plastic panels for each centerpiece, [Bill] tricked [Mara]‘s Silhouette Cameo home vinyl cutter – the same one they made their invitations with - into engraving acrylic panels. They’re made out of very thin plastic, but the fact that the couple were able to snap apart the engraved plasic after putting sheets though the machine is very impressive for something that’s generally used for scrapbooking.

As for the base of each centerpiece, [Bill] whipped up a few enclosures on his 3D printer and built a few battery packs out of 18650 lithium ion cells. The nine LEDs in each base were leftovers from a previous project involving LED strips, perfectly suited to run for a few hours in a reception hall.

It’s a great build for a wonderful occasion, and we’re really impressed with the plastic cutting ability of the Sihouette Cameo. Very nice work there.

Eloquent universal receiver for your home entertainment equipment

home-entertainment-universal-receiver

We’re really starting to enjoy the home entertainment control hacks which use a universal receiver to act on commands from any remote. This one is especially interesting as it uses a single remote to control the system but rolls in lots of extras.

Looking at the receiver itself the white plastic dome of the PIR sensor should raise an eyebrow. Since the cable box takes a while to turn on [Ivan] included the motion sensor to switch that component on when you walk into the room. This way it’ll be ready to go by the time you sit down. It does this by sending IR signals from the PIC32 dev board. Of course the board has its own receiver to listen for the remote control commands. The remote buttons have been mapped a bit differently than originally intended. You can see in the diagram above that the normal VCR/DVD/DVR buttons have been set to control the room’s LED strips. There’s even a power consumption monitor rolled into the project. All of these features are demonstrated in the clip after the break.

This is a nearly perfect base setup. But we’d love to see it with a web interface at some point in the future.

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