Laser power system keeps UAVs flying indefinitely

Drone technology is driving the aerospace industry as companies trip over each other trying to develop the next big thing. Here’s a good example of what we’re talking about. Lasers can no be used to keep a UAV in the air indefinitely. The trick is to add an array of photovoltaic cells specifically tuned to an IR laser’s wavelength. A ground system then directs a high-intensity laser beam onto the aircraft’s cell array to transfer energy while in flight.

After the break you can catch a video from a trade show where a Lockheed Martin employee describes the successful testing of such a system. But there’s a lot more information available in the white paper (PDF) which Laser Motive has released. They’re the folks behind the technology who have teamed up with LM to implement the system. The laser unit on the ground can track a UAV visually, but there is also a method of using GPS coordinates to do so in the case of overcast skies.

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Adding inductive charging to an Android tablet

This is a Gemei G9T, a 9.7″ Tablet running Android 4.0. [Carnivore] shows us how to modify it to use inductive charging. The inductive charging hardware is taken from a Palm device (this uses the Touchstone charging hardware seen in several other hacks). It’s easy to interface with the tablet’s electronics, but physically placing the coil and magnets is another story.

The video after the break gives you a full walk-through of the process. He starts by removing the screws and prying the case off of the tablet. From there [Carnivore] shows how to carefully remove the coil, circuit board, shielding, and magnets from a Palm back plate. The magnets are the first to be positioned on the tablet’s back plate. The metal is too thick for them to hold well so he uses a Dremel to grind away just enough material for a strong connection. Unfortunately the metal will shield the magnetic fields the coil needs to work so he cuts a hole in the case the same size as that coil. The area is covered in liquid electrical tape to prevent shorts, and everything is taped in place. Two jumper wires connected from the coil’s circuit board to the 5V charging input are all it takes to finish up the hack.

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Repurposing server PSU for your charging needs

That grey box at the top of the photo is a modular power supply unit for a rack-mounted server system. [Sebastian] decided to repurpose it as a charging source for his RC batteries. He chose this HP DPS-600PB because of its power rating, efficiency, and you can get them at a reasonable price.

This is an active power factor corrected (APFC) PSU, which he says draws 40% less current than the non-APFC variety. Since he sometimes charges batteries in the field from a generator this is a big plus. But a bit of modification is necessary before it can be used as a source.

Since this is a rack device it has a set of connectors on the back. For power there are spade connectors which mate with a fin on the rack. He soldered positive and negative leads between the spades to interface with the battery chargers. The PSU won’t fire up if it’s not in the rack, so some jumper wires also need to be added connecting three of the interface pins.

With his modding all worked out he went on to use two PSUs for a 24V source, housing them to a nice carrying case while at it.

BattMan II: the charger your batteries deserve

When your radio controlled device batteries are drained, you’ve got no better option than to call on BattMan II. This device is packed full of features for cycling and charging various types of batteries. It is computer controlled via your parallel port (yeah, remember those?) and has companion software that allows you all kinds of control and data.

The writeup is rather extensive and includes schematics so you could build your own. There’s also a step by step breakdown of how each section functions as well as an explanation of each different charging method. Great work [Stefan]

if you just want a peak at the lengthy feature list, keep reading.

 

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Nook touch becomes a desktop computer

It looks like [Renate] has been pounding out hack after hack on her Nook touch. It stands on its own now thanks to a tripod bracket hack which is the most recent work she’s done. But there are bunch of other modifications, all of which are linked after the break.

We believe that this is meant for displaying lyrics as she sings and plays along. To that end there’s a foot pedal attachment that lets her control the device. It connects to the Nook via a USB hub that allows her to interface multiple devices at once. This in itself is also a hack, as host mode isn’t an out-of-the-box feature for the device. In order to avoid having to disconnect everything in order to top off the battery, she also manged to get the thing to charge from the USB hub. In fact, with all this in one package she’s basically got herself a desktop computer.

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Automatic capacitor charger lets you have fun with sparks

[GranTotem] is delighted by the sparks put out when a capacitor is rapidly discharged. But he’s not impressed at the relatively slow process of connecting them to a power supply for a recharge. So he built this auto-charging station for his capacitors that provides a shockingly good time almost continuously. Check out the video to see what we mean.

We always like to see the guts of the project, and that’s why we chose this image for the feature. But when everything is properly seated in the project box [GranTotem] has managed to achieve a really clean look. There are two barrel jack connectors on the end, one for 16V and the other for 20V inputs. The lid of the enclosure hosts an on/off switch, adjustment knob, and two banana connector terminals. Once switched on, a relay connects and disconnects the capacitor from the power supply at regular intervals which are adjusted by the knob. Just connect a couple of probes to those banana terminals and let the sparks reign down.

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Geeks living off the grid are hard on batteries

Many of you will remember [Mikey Sklar] from the multitude of times he’s been on hackaday. What you may not have noticed is that he is an ubergeek, living off the grid.

He has Solar PV battery bank, three electric vehicles, a shipping container loaded with battery powered tools and a small army of iRobot Roomba’s for cleaning. Getting the maximum lifetime out of a battery by removing sulfation is essential to keep expenses down.

Keeping expenses down is nearly a full time job when trying to live the homestead lifestyle. Our current culture makes it extremely difficult to survive completely on self made/grown things and bartering. They seem to be doing pretty well though. One way he can reduce his costs while still getting to enjoy some modern gadgets is to get longer life out of his batteries.  He does this by using a capacitive battery charger and desolfator that he designed and affectionately calls “Da Pimp”. He also brings in a little bit of income by selling kits!

 A capacitive charger behaves like a constant current power supply dynamically adjusting the voltage to get over the batteries internal resistance. Plus there is a pulse from the AC/DC conversion. This allows for old batteries to last longer and for dumpster dived to be used as replacements. Capacitive chargers are small, silent and super efficent (up to 60% more so than cheap transformer based chargers).

Of course, [Mikey] is a supporter of sharing information so you can also go to his site and download the schematics,bill of materials, gerber files, and files for the housing,  to build one yourself.