Hackaday links: January 24, 2011

New Project Hosting site

[Paul] wrote in to tell us about his brand new hack hosting service, HackHut. Based on WordPress with some modifications, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on as new features emerge.

Instructabliss

Speaking of project hosting, Instructables are a common source of projects as well as complaints. Instructabliss by [Daid] is an often mentioned solution in our comments, and we thought we would bring it up so commenters don’t have to. We understand why it was made and think it was a clever hack, but we don’t officially endorse it. We survive on Ad revenue, if someone were doing this to us, it would hurt. We’re also not sure about the legalities of such a service, so keep us updated.

Grass Burning Robot

[Sebastian] brings us his grass burning, flame throwing robot. This robot takes in SVG files to create its burn path, and burns away. Not too many details, but be sure to check out the photos on his site.

[via Make]

Instructables “Hackaday edition”

We got a pleasant letter from [Eric Willhelm], the owner of Instructables. He wanted to shoot a token of good will our direction, in the form of an EPUB of some of the projects we’ve linked to in the last quarter of 2010. These are Ad-free and have all images included. You can download it and view it on the e-reader of your choice, or even in your browser with the appropriate plugin.  The videos still link back to Instructables, but he thought our readership might enjoy having an ad-free experience. He says that link should work for about a month.

For those who really want ad free content and are willing to pay for it, Instructables has been putting out publications that are collections of instructables on certain topics. For example, [Eric] pointed out that they’ve compiled some that might be of interest to us like “Better living through microcontrollers” and “Amazing LED Projects“. Actually, there are a bunch of titles and it looks like some are free as well.

Thanks [Eric], I’m sure your actions gained a little respect, even from those who dislike Instructables generally due to ads and registration.

Oogoo, a home-made Sugru substitute

If you follow Instructables.com, it might seem like every third article lately is about Sugru, the nifty air-drying silicone putty that’s good for all manner of repairs and custom parts. It’s fantastic stuff (and we love their slogan, “Hack things better”), but one can’t (yet!) just drop in on any local hardware store to buy a quick fix…so [mikey77] has cooked up a recipe for a basic Sugru work-alike. His “Oogoo” (a name likely inspired by oobleck) is a simple mix of corn starch and silicone caulk.

A two-ingredient recipe would hardly seem adequate material for an article, but [mikey77]’s left no stone unturned, providing an extensive tutorial not only on mixing the compound, but how to add colors, cast and carve custom shapes, and how his home-made recipe compares to the name brand product. As a bonus, the article then drifts into a little Halloween project where he demonstrates etching conductive cloth, how to make conductive glue, and other hands-on shenanigans.

Etch aluminum control panels

aluminum etched control panel

This clever Instructable demonstrates how to etch beautiful aluminum control panels for electronics projects. We like how similar this process is to DIY circuit board etching. Both abide by the same technique and use blue transfer paper. The primary difference is in the use of muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide for etching aluminum.

Custom flex sensors

flex

Flex sensors, like the ones used in the Nintendo Power Glove, are generally expensive and hard to find. However, [jiovine] demonstrates that they are easy enough to make from spare parts. He sandwiched a strip of plastic from ESD bags between pieces of copper foil, and wrapped the whole thing in heat shrink tubing. The sensor is able to detect bends in either direction, unlike the original power glove sensors. His version had a nominal resistance of about 20k ohms, but by choosing a different resistive layer you could create sensors that are more or less resistive.

Related: 5-cent tilt sensor

60 Watt solar panel built from cells

Our love for solar projects continues on with this method to make your own solar panels. [Mike] built a 60 watt solar panel from individual solar cells he purchased off eBay. Procuring parts off of eBay normally causes others hardship when they try to duplicate the project, however in this case there are so many types of cells people can use to produce their own unique solar panel. Even cells that are extremely damaged my still be used, as in this example. To charge a 12 volt battery the number of cells in series just needs to be 16-18 volts, and the rest in parallel will supply more current. Charging a battery without a charge controller is not recommended, but commercial ones are easily had. Those not interested in jumping all the way in with solar may want to test the waters by building their own panel and putting it to use as a charging station for your portable gadgets.

Improved jog wheel


Taking a cue from the jog wheel we posted last week, [42ndOddity] has built an improved version. The design is based around a solid state rotary encoder instead of an optical encoder. The rotary encoder is far easier to attach and position properly. The knob is milled from scrap aluminum-it was a copier foot. To make the motion smooth, it’s sitting in a bearing from the same copier.

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