For the longest time now, I’ve wanted to build a real, proper radio telescope. To me, this means a large parabolic reflector, a feed horn made of brass sheet, coat hanger wire, and at least for the initial experiments, an RTL-SDR dongle. I’ve done the calculations, looked at old C-band antennas on Craigslist, and even designed a mount or two that would make pointing the dish possible. I’ve done enough planning to know the results wouldn’t be great. After months of work, the best I could ever hope for is a very low-resolution image of the galactic plane. If I get lucky, there might be a bright spot corresponding to Sagittarius A.
There are better ways to build a radio telescope in your back yard, but the thought of having a gigantic parabolic dish out back, peering into the heavens, has stuck with me. I’ve even designed a dish that can be taken apart easily and transported because building your own dish is far cooler than buying a West Virginia state flower from a guy on Craigslist.
Recently, I was asked to come up with a futuristic, space-ey prop for an upcoming video. My custom-built, easily transportable parabolic antenna immediately sprang to mind. The idea of a three-meter diameter parabolic dish was rejected for something a little more practical and a little less expensive, but I did go so far as to do a few more calculations, open up a CAD program, and start work on the actual design. As a test, I decided to 3D print a small model of this dish. In creating this model, I inadvertently created the perfect WiFi antenna for an ESP8266 module using nothing but 3D printed parts, a bit of epoxy, and duct tape.
Continue reading “Increase The Range Of An ESP8266 With Duct Tape”
Master LEGO craftsman [Baron von Brunk] had the same childhood passions as a lot of us—LEGO (obviously), Transformers, and Nintendo. But he also harbored a passion for traffic lights and road signs. His latest offering, a fully functional LEGO traffic light, is some pretty fantastic plastic. You might recall that we featured [Baron von Brunk]’s LEGO mosaic lamps a few weeks ago. This project is that one on steroids.
The body is made of 1700+ LEGO and Technic pieces. [Baron von Brunk] was kind enough to provide his LDD file, though he says it should be considered a rough guide to construction. The red, yellow, and green 1×1 areas are each lit with a 48-SMD LED floodlight bulb. Colored lights are available, but he used the solid white variety for greater luminescence. The lights are driven by a traffic light controller typically used for model railroads.
[Baron von Brunk] ended up lining the inside with black 1x1s and metallic reflective duct tape to keep the light from leaking out of the masonry. He used some Technic bricks on the rear door to form hinges, and Technic pins to hold the LED lamps.
Let’s wind down the weekend with some projects that didn’t quite warrant their own feature, but we think they’re still worth a look.
First up is a quick tip on cracking the lids on those hard to open jars of food. [Jason] says just grab about a foot of duct tape and the lid will come flying off. And while you’re searching for that roll of tape why not grab some foil tape to build a cooking oven. [Gabriel] built this solar oven by covering curved wedges of cardboard with foil tape and combining them to form a parabolic reflector.
Next we’ve got a trio of hacks that will come in useful in your home shop or at the local Hackerspace. Organization is key, and here’s a resistor storage system that uses #6 envelopes [via Reddit]. Also useful is the tip from [Felix] about using a tile saw to get clean cuts on your circuit boards. And if you’ve ever been plagued by a laser cutter job that doesn’t fully sever the material [Dan] wrote a guide on using a fence so that you can reposition the piece for another run.
Finally, we’re hoping we weren’t the only ones that didn’t realize the Raspberry Pi has an unpopulated footprint for a reset button. Now we’ve got to figure out if it’s okay to leave the PSU plugged in (based on it’s current consumption while the RPi is in power down) and hack together some sort of TV-based reset circuit for our RPi XBMC setup.
Looking to build your own instrument out of plumbing and tape? [Scott] made his own set of Membrane Bagpipes out of PVC pipes, a plastic bag, and duct tape.
Bagpipes are made out of a few parts. The drones are pipes that are tuned to play a single note. They are tuned by the fixed length of the pipe. The chanter is a tube with finger holes. This lets you play various notes depending on which holes you cover. The blowpipe is used to fill the bag with air that will pass through the membranes on the drones and chanter. Finally, there’s the bag which stores air.
[Scott]’s build uses PVC for the drones and chanter. The membranes are made out of cut up bits of plastic bags. Some crafty duct tape work makes up the bag, and seals it on to the various parts. A check valve is used to stop warm, duct tape flavoured air from blowing back into your mouth.
It’s pretty amazing what people can do with a few rolls of duct tape. The pipes aren’t exactly in tune, but they certainly work. Check out a video of them in action after the break.
Continue reading “Duct Tape Bagpipes”
This is why digital picture frames were invented
[Petros] sent in this video of his visualization of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. He did this with openFrameworks and also made a version that reacts to sound. Is anyone else reminded of that one scene in Vincent and the Doctor?
A boat’s a boat, but a mystery box can be anything
[Rick] wanted to build a lock pick training station for the Eugene Maker Space, but he needed a way to make it interesting. What could be better than a mystery box? When you pick the deadbolt, open the box up and you’ll get a prize. Just make sure you put something of yours in the box for the next person.
3D printer prints its own case
Because the 3d printer community isn’t segmented enough, [Sublime] decided to design a new one. Here’s where it gets cool: the Tantillus can print its own case, and can ‘daisy chain’ to another Tantillus so only one set of electronics are needed. Interesting ideas afoot.
A diamond says I love you, but a duct tape rose says I’ll fix that for you
Valentine’s Day is coming up, so if you haven’t already made dinner reservations, you’re probably up the creek. How about making a duct tape rose for that special person in your life. Bonus: a dozen costs $3, and they won’t die in a week.
Using keypads over serial or SPI
[Leniwiec] sent in a tutorial on connecting keypads to a microcontroller with a serial or SPI interface. If you want to build a calculator, this is your chance. We’d use this for an Apollo Guidance Computer, though.
What if you could make paper react on physical input. Maybe you want it to shy away and close up if someone reaches for it too fast, or maybe you want some realistic paper flowers? Moving on to that great first step is Animated Paper, which is simply nitinol memory wire bonded to paper via our favorite tool, duct tape.
Memory wire is first bent to its desired shape, and in order for it to hold that shape it needs to be heated to about 540 degrees Celsius, which is a easy task for a propane torch. Once it has its memory shape the wire can be bent into any shape desired, and when heated to about 70 degrees Celsius will return to its original set shape.
Taped down to a sheet of paper and letting some current from a battery run though it the wire quickly warms up and animates the paper, which could be exactly what one needs in a more artsy robot or electronic display. Join us after the break for a short video.
Continue reading “Animated Paper”
Who needs metal, wood, or acrylic if you are talented with duct tape? This server is housed in a 20-sided enclosure made entirely of duct tape, 22 rolls of it. A team of seven completed the project after eight build session over the course of about ten days. It’s currently in use at this year’s MillionManLan 9 as confirmed by this incredibly boring live feed.
However whimsical, we do appreciate the build process. Tubes are rolled until they reach the specified thickness, then cut to length on a chop saw. More sticky stuff is applied to the joints and piece by piece the frame comes together. From the diagram laying off to the side in one of the pictures it looks like they did the smart thing by designing this in CAD before getting their hands dirty sticky.