Hackaday Links: January 17, 2016

The BBC has commissioned a new series of Robot Wars. This is not Battlebots; that show was revived last year, and a second season will air again this summer. Robot Wars is the one with the ‘house’ robots. We would like to take this opportunity to remind the BBC that Robot Wars is neither Scrapheap Challenge nor Junkyard Wars, and by virtue of that fact alone is an inferior show.

[Fran] is a favorite around these parts. She’s taken apart a Saturn V Launch Vehicle Digital Computer, visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum warehouse, and is the occasional host of the Dinosaur Den with [Bil Herd]. Now, she’s relaunching her line of guitar pedals. ‘Boutique’ pedals are a weird market, but with the help of a few manufacturers, [Fran] is bringing her Peachfuzz pedal back to life through Kickstarter.

Want to be an astronaut? Here’s the application.

Here’s your monthly, ‘WTF is this thing on eBay’ link. It’s a clamshell/toilet seat iBook (c.2000), loaded up with an Intel i5 Broadwell CPU, 128 GB of Flash storage, 4 GB of RAM, a 12″ 1024×768 LCD, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and runs OS X El Capitan. I might be mistaken, but it looks like someone took the motherboard out of a 2015 MacBook Air, crammed it into a sixteen year old computer, and put it up on eBay. I’m not saying that’s what it is; this is from China, and there are people over there making new improved motherboards for a Thinkpad x61. Weirder stuff has already happened.

In the last installment of the Travelling Hacker Box, I asked if anyone can receive mail in Antarctica. A person with friends in the British survey team emailed me, but nothing came of that. It’s summer, so if Antarctica is going to happen, it needs to happen soon.

19 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: January 17, 2016

  1. Hey, since our international sanctions are lifted today after about 12 years, it might not be a bad idea to send it to me, your probably sole reader in Iran, as a gesture of friendliness and peace. It’s true that our economy is not so good right now, but I promise not to stole it like some Americans!!! Wink wink ;-)

    1. You’re not the only reader in Iran. I just pulled the stats, and unless you’re spending a few minutes a day mashing F5, there’s more than one of you.

      You really need to email me and apply to the travelling hacker box project on .io.

      Hackaday Tehran meetup? Hackaday Tehran meetup. Does anyone know if Iran Air is still flying the 747SP?

      1. Well, the hackaday website is blocked by our smart filtering software because of the word “hack” in it. So even if you have readers in Iran, their IP address would show another country, since they all use antifilter software. Mine belongs to my VPS in Canada which I’ve installed Squid+stunnel on it and use a Android tablet board which is converted to a Linux box as a secure proxy. Unless your Iranian readers are the intelligence ministry’s staff or the revolution guard people. If that’s the case, prepare to be arrested when entering Iran. But you may be released the next day after they broadcasted your confession videos, or you maybe get exchanged for Iranian prisoners in the US. Or they are maybe robots or website copiers or news gatherers.

        Anyway, I will sure email you and apply for that.

        Hackaday Tehran would be the greatest idea. You all are more than welcome to visit. You won’t forget your visit, good or bad ;-) Although I live in Mashhad, the second largest city of Iran. And don’t worry about the flight. There are still 747s, but old and maybe some of their engines aren’t working anymore because they haven’t got repaired for a long time because of, you guessed it, international sanctions! But Iranian pilots are brave and experienced. They fly planes with no landing gears and engines on fire.

        The one thing to consider is the no credit card in Iran. We have our own cards. So you can’t use yours in Iran, neither we can’t use our cards in your website (how much I envy that)

        Long story short (too late?!), and joking aside, it would be a great pleasure for us to be your host.

        1. “after they broadcasted your confession videos”
          1984 much ?

          If you have some link with the hacker community in Iran (I don’t know how big it is), it would be a good idea to ask them where should be organized an hackaday meetup (if hackaday meetup in iran there is).

      2. I would love to be part of an international box. I have PILES of cool electronic / optical stuff I have amassed over the years and was just looking through my work room thinking “what am I ever going to do with a ….”. I would be happy to throw a bunch of it in a medium sized box and send it first class mail somewhere. I just need an address to send it to.

  2. “We would like to take this opportunity to remind the BBC that Robot Wars is neither Scrapheap Challenge nor Junkyard Wars, and by virtue of that fact alone is an inferior show”
    You shut that mouth; Robot wars is, was, and will always be, awesome; It predates this crappy “battlebots” copy thing by two years, and is just generally better. Particularly in the earlier serieses (Is that a word? It doesn’t feel like a word), most of the robots were built on a pretty tight budget; there were a few like mortis that had budgets running into the tens of thousands, but the majority of entrants came in closer to a couple of hundred, with a fair few under £50. Many of the teams were largely made up of kids who’d assembled something out of an old electric wheelchair or something; Mostly they didn’t last long in the arena, but it got them interested in making stuff.
    Stuff like scrapheap challenge was pretty cool too, but never as good; also, I belive there was a fair bit of results rigging with that, as well as plain infuriating decisions and false tension. And, as for Junkyard wars, that’s just another clone; It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t hold up as well as scrapheap, and even that doesn’t hold up all that well. Plus, Robot wars was on the beeb, so there were no annoying ad breaks interrupting our enjoyment.
    As stands, I’ll probably end up working on a robot to enter for the new wars; I’m on a mechatronics degree, and there’s a fair few of us that want to form team(s?), so I’m looking forward to it. I was kind of too young the first time around (the first series was ’98, when I was 2 years old, although it did lead to me building a “firefighting robot” “with” my dad out of windscreen wiper motors, washer pumps, a printer stand, and some metal meccano; still works, so far as I know). Thinking about it, it’s probably one of the main reasons I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing now.
    But, basically, don’t you dare go insulting the sheer awesomeness that is Robot Wars. Rant over.

    1. There was a whole lot of bad feeling in the previous robot wars which lead to a number of high profile teams not returning. Safety rules that weren’t enforced for safety, the switches they forced everyone to use which sometimes disabled peoples power in the middle of a match and caused their robots to be sliced up. Hopefully they can do this better this time.

      Scrapyard challenge was channel 4, and went through a huge number of format changes. The good years were very good but occasionally the artifice showed.

      1. I loved Scrapheap Challenge dearly, but by the end it did hit a brick wall in all its formats. I mean there’s only so many ways one can build a couple of “buggies” to race (usually one team re-purposing a vehicle, the other building their own frame), or “boats” (one team heading for the closest van to chop off the top for a hull, the other hunting for empty oil barrels), or “fire trucks” (centrifugal impeller against classic pump) or hurling machines (always a trebuchet against a mangonel – and the leaf arcs or twisted ropes always, always, always failed to return any energy) and I could keep going; they did each of those several times during the series – they were clearly out of ideas by the second series already…

        I do believe the idea itself could still have potential, but one would have to give up the setting pretense (the amount of perfectly functional purpose-oriented stuff they kept “finding” in a “scrapyard” was already jarring) and allow a much wider range of sources to scavenge, and the teams would have to be allowed WAY more time to work – two to four weeks at least, to come up with anything more intricately engineered that “let’s bodge up a frame and throw an engine onto it”. And most of all, they would have to shift the focus the hell away from inter-personality “drama” and much more towards the darned thing they’re actually building, with more accent on the how and the why – but modern TV could never do that, it would probably literally kill them to turn away from the bickering…

  3. All I have to say to HaD about its comments towards Robotwars is Fuck you! Robotwars was what got me interested in electronics and tinkering.

    Scrapheap challenge is what got me in to messing around with cars later on….

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