Giving a canoe lawnmower power

There’s the quiet serenity of paddling through the backwoods in a canoe, and then there’s this. It’s a lawnmower motor powered canoe that comes complete with steering wheel, throttle, and a stereo system. To keep the craft balanced the driver rides in the front seat while the motor is hanging off the stern of the boat. The biggest trick is not swamping the thing while getting the motor running, but future plans do include adding an electric starter. There is a kill switch for safety and it appears that top speed will not cause any stability issues. It’s hard to tell for sure from the video after the break, but it sure does seem to be loud!

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Arduino Electronic Speed Control explained

You can salvage some nice motors out of optical drives but they can be tricky to control. That’s because brushless DC motors require carefully timed signals used in a process called Electronic Speed Control (ESC). [Fileark] built and ESC using an Arduino and has a couple of posts explaining the concept and demonstrating how it works. His test circuit uses six 2N2222 transistors to protect the Arduino from excessive current. You can see six red LEDs above which are inline with the base of teach transistor. This gives visual feedback when a transistor is switched, a big help for troubleshooting your circuit.

Once you’ve seen the videos after the break you’ll probably come to the conclusion that this is an impractical way to use a brushless motor. But it is a wonderful way to learn about, and experiment with the concept of ESC. Chances are you can get your hands on an old optical drive for free, making this an inexpensive weekend project.

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Making model rocket motor igniters

[Stephan Jones] has an easy method for making your own model rocket engine igniter. The solid state motors used in this hobby consume one igniter with each electrically triggered launch. Whether you’re making your own motors or not, this construction technique should prohibit you from every buying an igniter again. The process involves bending some nichrome wire around a paper clip, adding some structural support to the leads using masking tape, and insulating the business end with a quick dip in paint.

Now would be a good time to send us your launchpad hacks. All we’ve seen so far is a launchpad for water rockets.

[via Make]

Homemade solid propellant rocket motors

[KoD] and [Navic] are building solid propellant motors using sugar and potassium nitrate. They cook up the two ingredients along with water and a bonding agent. They find that corn syrup is particularly good for bonding and that cooking the strange brew is more of an artform than science. Either way, the video after the break is proof of the dangers involved in this hobby. Testing the engine thrust with a bathroom scale ends badly for the scale.

There is something satisfying about the ingenuity that goes into the materials. For a casing they’re using PVC pipe, and forming a cone to focus the thrust by using a what amounts to plumber’s epoxy putty. The capping agent for the finished motor is ground up kitty litter.

This is an interesting read, but for now we’re going to stick to water rockets.

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Dead motor? Think again

While hobby brush motors are pretty cheap now adays, there’s always that feeling of why replace when you can rebuild and reuse. As such [John Carr] presents how to change the brush position in motors to revive a dead motor. So long as the motor dies from natural causes commutator wear, the idea is the brushes can be moved along the axes and fixed to a new portion of commutator that’s not worn at all. [John] also goes through the details of some tricky reassembly, but we think to make this complete a guide on brush replacement and commutator replacement might be in order hint hint.

Electric scooter sings as it travels

This scooter has been fitted with a three-phase induction motor. It reminds us of the sound effects from vehicles in the Jetsons. Right now they’re using lead-acid batteries and get about 15 miles of range from one charge. Once they switch over to lithium polymer they calculate the range will be closer to 45 miles due to the reduced weight and increased capacity. Not bad for $600 in parts, and we’d bet it’s both faster and more stable than the one-wheeled-wonder we saw last week.

A different take on electric motor cars

[Craig Carmichael] has been hard at work on his electric hub motor for cars. Unlike typical electrical vehicles the plan is to bypass the transmission, differential, and everything else all together by connecting directly to the hub of the wheel. The goal of giving greater thrust and still allowing the use of a gas engine if need be.

There’s really too much detail for us to even begin to try to explain the entire project in a short recap, but [Craig] builds the entire motor (from magnets to coil windings) and wires his own controller (from schematic to finished PCB), all while documenting the process thoroughly for those wishing to make their own.