As we approach the 60th anniversary of the human race becoming a spacefaring species, Sputnik nostalgia will no doubt be on the rise. And rightly so — even though Sputnik was remarkably primitive compared to today’s satellites, its 1957 launch was an inflection point in history and a huge achievement for humanity.
The Soviets, understandably proud of their accomplishment, created a series of commemorative models of Earth’s first artificial moon as gifts to other countries. How one came into possession of the Royal Society isn’t clear, but [Fran Blanche] found out about it through a circuitous route detailed in the video below, and undertook to reproduce the original electronics from the model that made the distinctive Sputnik beeps.
The Royal Society’s version of the model no longer works, but luckily it came with a schematic of the solid-state circuit used to emulate the original’s vacuum-tube guts. Intent on building the circuit as close to vintage as possible and armed with a bag of germanium transistors from the 60s, [Fran] worked through the schematic, correcting a few issues here and there, and eventually brought the voice of Sputnik back to life.
If you think we’ve covered Sputnik’s rebirth before, you may be thinking about our article on how some hams rebuilt Sputnik’s guts from a recently uncovered Soviet-era schematic. [Fran]’s project just reproduces the sound of Sputnik — no license required!
Continue reading “Model Sputnik Finds its Voice After Decades of Silence”
How to train young engineers in industrial automation is a thorny issue. Most factories have big things that can do a lot of damage and cost tons of money if the newbie causes a crash. Solution: shrink the factory down to desktop size and let them practice on that.
Luckily for [Vadim], there’s an off-the-shelf solution for miniaturizing factory automation: FischerTechnik industrial training models. The models have motors, conveyors, pneumatic cylinders, and sensors galore, but the controller is not exactly the industry standard programmable logic controller (PLC). [Vadim] set out to remedy this by building an interface between the FischerTechnik models and a Siemens PLC. He went through a couple of revisions of his board, including one using rivets from the sewing store to interface with the FischerTechnic connectors. Eventually, he settled on more robust connectors and came up with a board that lets students delve into PLC programming without killing anyone. The video below shows it going through its paces; we can only imagine where playing with these kits as a kid would have led us.
As great as [Vadim]’s system is for training engineers, we can also see it helpful in getting kids interested in a career in industrial automation. We recently covered a similar effort to show kids big science using LEGO Mindstorms. Both of these can help get STEM kids to see the wider world of technical careers and perhaps steer them into automation. After all, the people who make the robots are probably going to be the last ones obsoleted, right?
Continue reading “Desktop Factory Teaches PLC Programming”
If you’ve ever seen “Lost in Space” in Portuguese, you’d definitely recognize the phrases that [Everaldo]’s B9 robot reads off of the SD card inside its belly. If not, you can check out the video below and learn such important phrases as “Warning! Alien approaching.” or “The planet’s breaking up” (we presume). Or head over to [Everaldo]’s website and check out the great model build log. And while you’re there, check out his model TRS80 too.)
There’s a lot of solid model-building going on here, but hidden inside the pretty exterior is some good old-fashioned hacking. Once the audio was stored on the SD card, [Everaldo] simply soldered it straight into the project. There’s also an IR daughterboard that drives the robot, while blinky lights and servo motors bring it to life. We want one for our desk!
If you haven’t made an IR-remote-based project, you really should. It’s still among the most hackable of methods to transmit data to or from a microcontroller, while making use of one of those superfluous IR remotes you have kicking around the house. If you’re short on inspiration, and not a model-builder, check out this Hacklet dedicated to IR, or our favorite smart-home(r) device of all time.
Are you thinking what we’re thinking? This would make an excellent entry in the Hackaday Sci-Fi contest which is accepting entries through March 6th.
Continue reading “Danger, Will Robinson: Sweet B9 Build”
What happens when you throw a ball into a box? In the real world, the answer is simple – the ball bounces between the walls and the floor until it eventually loses energy and comes to rest. What happens when you throw a virtual ball into a virtual box? Sounds like something you might need a program running on a digital computer to answer. But an analog computer built with a handful of op amps can model a ball in a box pretty handily too.
OK, it takes quite a large handful of op amps and considerable cleverness to model everything in this simple system, as [Glen Kleinschmidt] discovered when he undertook to recreate a four-decade-old demonstration project from AEG-Telefunken. Plotting the position of an object bouncing around inside the virtual box is the job of two separate circuits, one to determine the Y-coordinate and bouncing off the floor, and one to calculate the X-coordinate relative to the walls. Those circuits are superimposed by a high-frequency sine-cosine pair generator that creates the ball, and everything is mixed together into separate outputs for an X-Y oscilloscope to display. The resulting simulation is pretty convincing, with the added bonus of the slowly decaying clicks of the relay used to change the X direction each time a wall is hit.
There’s not much practical use, but it’s instructional for sure, and an impressive display of what’s possible with op amps. For more on using op amps as analog computers, check out [Bil Herd]’s “Computing with Analog” article.
Continue reading “Op Amps Combine Into Virtual Ball In A Box”
Last time I showed you how to set up a reasonably complex design in a spreadsheet: a common emitter bipolar transistor amplifier. Having the design in a spreadsheet makes it easy to do “what if” scenarios and see the effects on the design almost immediately.
Another advantage that spreadsheets offer is a way to “solve” or optimize equations. That can be very useful once you have your model. For Excel, you need to install the Solver add-in (go to the Excel Options dialog, select Manage Add-Ins, and select the Solver Add-In). You might also enjoy OpenSolver. You can even get that for Google Sheets (although it currently lacks a non-linear solver which makes it less useful for what we need).
Continue reading “Optimizing the Spread: More Spreadsheet Circuit Design Tricks”
It’s incredibly likely that, unless you own one of the original movie props, your Stargate Horus helmet is not as cool as [jeromekelty]’s. We say this with some confidence because [jerome] got access to the original molds and put in an incredible amount of time on the animatronics. (See his latest video embedded below.)
Surprisingly, a number of the parts for this amazing piece were bought off the shelf. The irises that open and close they eyes, for instance, were bought on eBay. This is not to downplay the amount of custom design, though. The mechanism that moves the feathers is a sight to see, and there’s a lot of hand-machined metal holding it all together. But the payoff is watching the thing move under remote control. The eye dimming and closing, combined with the head movements, make it look almost alive.
Continue reading “Droolworthy Animatronic Stargate Horus Helmet”
3D printers are celebrated for their capacity to replace missing or broken parts. How about an entire T-62 tank?
Now hold on a second — this is only a model replica. It is, however another expression of the myriad uses for 3D printers. Designed in Maya and requiring almost three weeks to print all 62 parts from about 70 meters of PLA filament. The assembly is not terribly involved, made easier by printing a few large sections such as the crew section and hull while the parts don’t get much smaller than the turret hatches. Nonetheless, he final product is about as true to life as you can get when designing the parts from scratch.
Continue reading “Soviet-Era Tank Gets The 3D Printed Treatment”