Retrotechtacular: The First Atlas Launch

atlas on baseAs the Cold War conflict expanded in the 1950s, the Soviet Union dry-tested a hydrogen bomb and defense tactics became a top priority for the United States. Seeking to create a long-range nuclear missile option, the Air Force contracted Convair Astronautics to deliver SM-65 Atlas, the first in series of ICBMs. In the spotlight this week is a sort of video progress report which shows the first launch from Cape Canaveral’s LC-14 on June 11, 1957.

After the angle of attack probe is unsheathed, everyone moves out of the way. The launch is being monitored by base central control, but the swingin’ spot to spectate is the blockhouse. They have a periscope and everything. As the countdown continues, liquid oxygen pipelines whistle and wail into the idyllic Florida afternoon with the urgency of a thousand teakettles. Cameras and tracking equipment are readied, and the blockhouse’s blast door is sealed up tight.

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The Hackaday Store Lives Again!

hackaday-store-lives-again

Once upon a time there was a store where you could find the most amazing Hackaday shirts and other swag. If you managed to get one of the rare Jolly Wrencher adorned shirts back then, it’s probably about worn out by now. Prepare to rejoice, Hackaday has a completely new store packed with T-shirts, tools, and stuff to help you fill up those waking hours with hardware hacking goodness.

We’ve had a little fun over the last couple of days with posts that hint (maybe a bit too subtly?) that this was coming. We always try to have a little bit of fun for those of you who are really paying attention. Now we’re wondering who will be the first to implement the one-time pad as a dedicated piece of hardware… project ideas need to come from somewhere, right?

Take a look around the general store and you’ll see this time we have more than just stuff you wear. Hackers need tools and we’ve selected a small but inspiring group of must-have’s. The kits and toys we’ve selected are surely a rabbit hole of personal challenges and evolving hacks for you. And the best part is that these choices are one more way for us to promote the virtue of Open Design (it is the way). The only question now is what other open hardware do you want to see added to those ranks?

Wireless fireworks controller includes several safety features

fireworks-controller

[Craig Turner] wrote in to tell us about the wireless fireworks controller he just finished building. It has eight total channels and offers the kind of safety features we like to see when working with explosives.

The image above details the launcher side of the project. The project box houses an Arduino which is powered by a 9V battery. To enable this base station the key lying on top of the project box must be inserted and turned to the on position. To the left is the 12V battery which is used to supply the igniters via a set of eight relays. In the demo video after the break [Craig] is using nichrome wire to demonstrate, but we’ve even see projects that actually burn up resistors to light the fireworks.

The system uses RF12 wireless modules to communicate with the control panel. That also has an Arduino, along with a number pad. After switching on the power the operator must enter a PIN code before the system will allow any of the fireworks to be launched.

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Reminder: SpaceX launch tomorrow. Watch it live!

There isn’t a hacker out there that isn’t interested at least a little bit in the prospect of building a mission specific rocket to explode someone off the face of the planet… without killing them. We got a tiny taste of what is coming when they let us watch their engine test a few weeks ago. Tomorrow, May 19th, they are going to broadcast a launch live! You can watch it on their site beginning at 1:15 AM pacific. For some additional insight, you can also read the tweets of [Elon Musk], the founder of spaceX during the event.

Take a few minutes and enjoy the video below that discusses the program and some of the engineering obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

[via BoingBoing]

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Profit-less space program launches in one week

The Copenhagen Suborbitals are now within one week of their first launch. We looked in on the non-profit and non-secretive space program back in March but we had no idea the group had a frickin’ submarine at their disposal. What you see above is the rocket on its floating launch platform. The submarine will haul it out into the Baltic Sea for launch. There’s not much room in the craft for an astronaut but it will be a horrifying an exhilarating flight. According to the spacecraft page the human payload will be in a half-sitting, half-standing position looking up through an acrylic nose dome. This first launch will not be manned, but once they get through the tests this will be one crazy ride.

Missile Command on iPhone with real missiles

[Jeff] and his team completed this iPhone controlled rocket launcher as part of their final project at Georgia Tech. Two servos provide the rotation referenced by an onboard electronic compass, and elevation control for launch. These are interfaced with an eBox 2300 using a few Phidgets boards.

Check out the launch video below. It’s too bad that they went with a commercial solution for servo control rather than building it themselves (especially considering it is an embedded systems class). But it is a nice build none the less. Now they need to add some imaging equipment to the rockets and they’ll be in business.

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Microcontroller-powered missile launch controller

[Josef Jahn] has posted a detailed guide on building a microcontroller-based launch box. Constructed from an Atmel ATMega168 and powered by a 12V rechargable lead gel battery, the launch box is fully portable and includes a number of safety features. Going the extra mile on what could essentially be a simple push button launcher, he added three safety switches, a sixty second after-launch timer and a beautiful (not to mention rare) PLED display complete with dramatic status messages. Check out a video of the launcher in action after the break.

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