Hackaday Links: December 27th, 2015

PCBs can be art – we’ve known this for a while, but we’re still constantly impressed with what people can do with layers of copper, fiberglass, soldermask, and silkscreen. [Sandy Noble] is taking this idea one step further. He took C64, Spectrum, and Sinclair PCBs and turned them into art. The results are incredible. These PCBs were reverse engineered, traced, and eventually turned into massive screen prints. They look awesome, and they’re available on Etsy.

$100k to bring down drones. That’s the tagline of the MITRE Challenge, although it’s really being sold as, “safe interdiction of small UAS that pose a safety or security threat in urban areas”. You can buy a slingshot for $20…

[styropyro] mas made a name for himself on Youtube for playing with very dangerous lasers and not burning his parent’s house down. Star Wars is out, and that means it’s time to build a handheld 7W laser. It’s powered by two 18650 cells, and is responsible for more than a few scorch marks on the walls of [styropyro]’s garage.

Everybody is trying to figure out how to put Ethernet and a USB hub on the Pi Zero. This means a lot of people will be launching crowdfunding campaigns for Pi Zero add-on boards that add Ethernet and USB. The first one we’ve seen is the Cube Infinity. Here’s the thing, though: they’re using through-hole parts for their board, which means this won’t connect directly to the D+ and D- USB signals on the Pi Zero. They do have a power/battery board that may be a little more useful, but I can’t figure out how they’re doing the USB.

[Keith O] found a fascinating video on YouTube and sent it into the tips line. It’s a machine that uses a water jet on pastries. These cakes start out frozen, and come out with puzzle piece and hexagon-shaped slices. Even the solution for moving cakes around is ingenious; it uses a circular platform that rotates and translates by two toothed belts. Who would have thought the latest advancements in cutting cakes and pies would be so fascinating?

It’s time to start a tradition. In the last links post of last year, we took a look at the number of views from North Korea in 2014. Fifty-four views, and we deeply appreciate all our readers in Best Korea. This year? For 2015, we’ve logged a total of thirty-six views from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. That’s a precipitous drop that deserves an investigation. Pyongyang meetup anyone?

Finally, a Working Lightsaber!

Just in time for the movie of the decade, [Allen] from [Sufficiently Advanced] has built a real working fire-based light saber. And it’s awesome.

He started out with a replica light saber and designed his own 3D printed enclosure to house a small tank with a syringe valve that goes inside the handle. This allows him to fuel it with a mixture of methanol and acetone, using butane as a propellant. He learned how to do this from [Tesla Down Under], who has some fantastic projects — most notably, flamethrowers.

A nichrome coil provides ignition for the flame, and after he got the pressure just right, it produces a pretty awesome, albeit skinny, flame-saber.

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MIT Robots Fight with Lightsabers

Students of the MIT Robotics Lab decided to have some fun this holiday season with the big release of Star Wars. They built a lightsaber wielding delta-bot, and some very interesting hip-mounted lightsaber robot arms, akin to General Grievous.

First up in the video though is their Jedi Training robot, which is a variation of the delta-bot robot we’re all familiar with thanks to 3D printers. With a lightsaber mounted on top, it’s not too fast, but has a large range of motion to allow you to practice your lightsaber form. They call it the Triple Scissor Extender — and as you can imagine, it was built for something completely different. You can check out the designer’s personal blog here, though he doesn’t have any info on this particular project — yet.

Second is a robot they designed for a project called Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (SRL), which is literally designed to give you extra robotic arms — it was the next logical step to give them lightsabers…

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Capture the Flag with Lightsabers

There’s a great game of capture-the-flag that takes place every year at HITCON. This isn’t your childhood neighborhood’s capture-the-flag in the woods with real flags, though. In this game the flags are on secured servers and it’s the other team’s mission to break into the servers in whatever way they can to capture the flag. This year, though, the creators of the game devised a new scoreboard for keeping track of the game: a lightsaber.

In this particular game, each team has a server that they have to defend. At the same time, each team attempts to gain access to the other’s server. This project uses a lightsaber stand that turns the lightsabers into scoreboards for the competition at the 2015 Hacks In Taiwan Conference. It uses a cheap OpenWRT Linux Wi-Fi/Ethernet development board, LinkIt Smart 7688 which communicates with a server. Whenever a point is scored, the lightsaber illuminates and a sound effect is played. The lightsabers themselves are sourced from a Taiwanese lightsabersmith and are impressive pieces of technology on their own. As a bonus the teams will get to take them home with them.

While we doubt that this is more forced product integration advertisement from Disney, it certainly fits in with the theme of the game. Capture-the-flag contests like this are great ways to learn about cyber security and how to defend your own equipment from real-world attacks. There are other games going on all around the world if you’re looking to get in on the action.

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3W handheld laser raises hope for a real Lightsaber someday

That banner image may seem a little bit theatric, but it’s a good representation of what this 3W handheld laser can really do. Turn the thing on in a slightly smoky room and it looks exactly like a thin beam Lightsaber.

What kind of tricks would you expect this thing to perform? Perhaps it’ll pop some black balloons? Prepare to be shocked because it’s orders of magnitude more powerful than that. The video below shows it burning and igniting a collection of items almost instantly. [Styropyro] tested his creation by igniting paper, cardboard, flash paper, flash powder, burning through a stick of wood, and igniting an undisclosed substance at the end of the video. But one of our favorites is when he drives a solar powered toy car with the intense beam.

He pulled the diode from a DLP projector, and drives it with a pair of 18650 Lithium Ion batteries which are commonly found in laptops. He made the enclosure himself. It looks great but we can’t help but wonder if the components would fit in a painstakingly made replica.

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Lightsaber lets you pick just about any ‘blade’ color

If you’re staging some epic Star Wars battles you could go original with Red or Blue lightsabers. But what if you decide you’re more of a fan of Jedi and want to go green? Or perhaps the prequels have inspired you to take on purple? Why choose at build time when you can adjust the color to match your mood.

[Phik] built himself a color-selectable lightsaber using RGB LEDs. He sourced a 5M strip of them from eBay for around $20. The pixels are not individually addressable, but each color channel can be driven with a pulse-width modulation signal to mix and match the final color. Now he could have gone with a microcontroller solution, but [Phik] decided to give himself a bit more of a challenge. He built three PWM circuits based on a 555 timer which can be adjusted with a potentiometer. It’s not going to kill any insects, but the keep-it-simple-stupid aspect of the project makes it something we could actually build ourselves. The same cannot be said for most of the replica builds we see.

Lightsaber boasts detachable blade and crystal chamber

[Bradley W. Lewis] continues to amaze us with this Return of the Jedi Lightsaber build. You’ll remember his fine work from his previous Episode IV replica. He’s taken the parts that turned out well for him and expanded upon them. In the demonstration after the break you’ll see the new version has a removable blade (which happens to house 90 LEDs). Just like the last time he’s got a Hasbro sound board and a speaker to add the Jedi-like sound effects. But there’s another trick up his sleeve. Two parts of the grip slide apart on a spring-loaded assembly to reveal the crystal that gives the weapon its sting. And as we found out the last time, [Bradley] really knows how to share his work in the build log.

Oh, and the drawings above? Well, someone who plans this meticulously obviously knows what they’re doing.

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