Mexican Highschoolers Launch 30 High Altitude Balloons

No matter whether you call them “picosatellites” or “high altitude balloons” or “spaceblimps”, launching your own electronics package into the air, collecting some high-altitude photos and data, and then picking the thing back up is a lot of fun. It’s also educational and inspirational. We’re guessing that 264 students from 30 high schools in Aguascalientes Mexico have new background screens on their laptops today thanks to the CatSat program (translated here by robots, and there’s also a video to check out below).

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A Modern But Classic Enigma Machine

Hacking has always brought more good to the world than not hacking. The successful efforts of the Allies during World War II in deciphering the Enigma machine output still reminds us of that. Today, the machine is a classic example of cryptography and bare-metal computing.

We have covered quite a few DIY Enigma machines in the past, yet 14 years old [Andy] really impressed us with his high school science fair project, a scratch built, retro-modern Enigma machine.

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High school students hacking electronic tests


[Alex Papadimoulis] wrote about ingenuity and hacking in high school. Immediately after the teacher’s installed a new electronic note taking and test giving software, the students began hacking. They managed to find several ways to ace their tests, none of which involved studying hard the night before. Ultimately, the teachers went back to the old system to prevent such shenanigans.

[photo: COCOEN]

Visiting the FIRST robotics regional this friday


Just a quick heads-up. I’ll be checking out the FIRST robotics competition in Kansas City this friday. It’s a robotics comp between teams of high school students – and the prizes include quite a few scholarships. I know we’ve got some readers who are in the competition. If you see a guy with a Hack-A-Day sweatshirt/T-shirt on, say hi and I might hook you up with some stickers. My day job will be providing real-time video streaming of the event, so feel free to check that out.

Tesla gone wild


I’ve gotten quite a few good submissions lately, so don’t get mad if you’re not up. I can’t resist high voltages, so this Tesla coil project capable of 30 inch lightning bolts built by [PlasmaFire] caught my eye. Not too bad for a high school project.

From his description: The Tesla Coil that I built runs on normal house current (120VAC, 60Hz), fed through line filters to two Franceformer 9060 P-E neon sign transformers that output 9000 volts at 60ma each. After going through a high-voltage Terry-style RFI filter, the power is stored in a 4.0-joule capacitor bank. This energy is dumped into a copper-coil primary. The secondary, made from cast acrylic and motor winding wire, and a topload, made from dryer duct, aluminum foil tape, and a wood disc, complete the overall assembly.

(oh, and just for fun: the cylon roomba. Thanks [tod])