When a Hackaday article proclaims that its subject is a book you should read, you might imagine that we would be talking of a seminal text known only by its authors’ names. Horowitz and Hill, perhaps, or maybe Kernigan and Ritchie. The kind of book from which you learn your craft, and to which you continuously return to as a work of reference. Those books that you don’t sell on at the end of your university career.
So you might find it a little unexpected then that our subject here is a children’s book. Making A Transistor Radio, by [George Dobbs, G3RJV] is one of the huge series of books published in the UK under the Ladybird imprint that were a staple of British childhoods for a large part of the twentieth century. These slim volumes in a distinctive 7″ by 4.5″ (180 x 115 mm) hard cover format were published on a huge range of subjects, and contained well written and informative text paired with illustrations that often came from the foremost artists of the day. This one was published at the start of the 1970s when Ladybird books were in their heyday, and has the simple objective of taking the reader through the construction of a simple three transistor radio. It’s a book you must read not because it is a seminal work in the vein of Horrowitz and Hill, but because it is the book that will have provided the first introduction to electronics for many people whose path took them from this humble start into taking the subject up as a career. Including me as it happens, I received my copy in about 1979, and never looked back. Continue reading “Books You Should Read: Making A Transistor Radio”→
True graphene is a one-atom thick layer of carbon. It’s incredibly conductive, transparent, and of course thin. It’s one of those materials that, if it were only cheaper, would be used in everything from batteries to water filtration. Researchers from CSIRO in Australia have found a novel, dirt-cheap, and simple way to make graphene, and it’s hacker-friendly, for certain values of hacker.
The method is to take a sheet of polycrystalline nickel foil, spread a thin layer of soybean oil on it, and heat it up to 800° C for three minutes. It’s cooled off, slid off the foil, and it’s done. While 800° is a lot hotter than a standard toaster oven, their setup isn’t really all that much different. Notably lacking are things like esoteric gasses, partial vacuums, and the like. The nickel foil has some kind of catalytic role in the process — you should read the original if you’re more of a chemist than we are. Continue reading “Graphene? Soybean!”→
You wouldn’t 3D print a car, would you? That’d simply be impractical. However, if you’re a team of students attending the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, you might be inclined to 3D print a stainless steel bicycle instead.
The TU Delft team collaborated with MX3D, a company that uses an articulated industrial robot arm with a welder for an effector, welding and building the Arc Bicycle, glob by molten glob. Printed in chunks, this process allows the practical construction of larger objects that are able to withstand the stresses and forces of everyday use. Weighing around 20kg, you might not want to spend much time carrying it up to an apartment anytime soon, so stick to the cobblestone streets — the Arc Bicycle can take it.