In this day and age, we are truly blessed as far as the electronics hobby is concerned. Advanced modules such as gyros and motor controllers are readily available, not just as individual parts, but as pre-soldered modules that can be wired together with a minimum of fuss and at low cost. This simple balancing robot is a great example of what can be done with such parts (Google Translate link).
The robot has an ESP32 running the show, which provides both the processing power required, as well as the WiFi interface used to control the ‘bot from a smartphone. This is achieved using an app from JJRobots, an open-source robotics teaching resource. Stepper motors are controlled by DRV8825 modules sourced from amazon, and an MPU6050 gyro rounds out the major components. Naturally, source code is available on GitHub for your reading pleasure.
It’s remarkable that in this day and age, it’s possible to build such a project with little to no soldering required at all. With a credit card and a healthy supply of patch leads, it’s possible to whip up complex digital projects quite quickly. We’ve seen a similar approach before, too. Video after the break.
[Thanks to Baldpower for the tip!]
Continue reading “Balancing Robots From Off-The-Shelf Parts” →
By the early 20th century, naval warfare was undergoing drastic technological changes. Ships were getting better and faster engines and were being outfitted with wireless communications, while naval aviation was coming into its own. The most dramatic changes were taking place below the surface of the ocean, though, as brave men stuffed themselves into steel tubes designed to sink and, usually, surface, and to attack by stealth and cunning rather than brute force. The submarine was becoming a major part of the world’s navies, albeit a feared and hated one.
For as much animosity as there was between sailors of surface vessels and those that chose the life of a submariner, and for as vastly different as a battleship or cruiser seems from a submarine, they all had one thing in common: the battle against the sea. Sailors and their ships are always on their own dealing with forces that can swat them out of existence in an instant. As a result, mariners have a long history of doing whatever it takes to get back to shore safely — even if that means turning a submarine into a sailboat.
Continue reading “Hacking When It Counts: Setting Sail In A Submarine” →
Part of what makes flamethrowers fun is their inherent danger. This is what makes a lot of things fun, though, from snowboarding to skydiving to motorcycle riding. As with all of these sensible hobbies, though, it’s important to take as much unnecessary risk out of the activity as possible to make sure you’re around as long as possible to enjoy your chosen activity. With that in mind, [Stephen] decided to make some improvements on his classic wrist-mounted flamethrower.
To start, he ditched the heavy lead-acid battery that powered the contraption in favor of a smaller 5 V battery. In fact, the entire build is much more compact and efficient. He was also able to use the same battery to run a tiny taser that acts as an ignition source for the flamethrower’s fuel. The fuel itself is butane, and the modified flamethrower is able to launch flames much further than the original due to improvements in the fuel delivery system. These improvements also include “Finding a way to prevent butane droplets from lighting and landing on [his] hand” which seems like a necessary feature as well.
The entire build now is very well refined and professional-looking, which is also a major improvement from the first version. It’s also worth watching the video after the break as well, which includes a minor run-in with the New York City fire marshal. And, it still retains some of the danger and all of the fun of the original builds which is something we always like to see.
Continue reading “Flamethrower Gets Update, Retains Some Sketchiness” →
Some of the earliest automobiles weren’t powered by refined petrochemicals, but instead wood gas. This wood gas is produced by burning wood or charcoal, capturing the fumes given off, and burning those fumes again. During World War II, nearly every European country was under gasoline rations, and tens of thousands of automobiles would be converted to run on wood gas before the war’s end.
In the century or so since the first car rolled on wood gas, and after hundreds of books and studies were published on the manufacturing and development of wood gas generators and conversion of internal combustion engines, there’s one question: can someone convert a moped to run on wood gas? [NightHawkinLight] finally answered that question.
The basic setup for this experiment is a tiny, tiny internal combustion engine attached to a bicycle. Add a gas tank, and you have a moped, no problem. But this is meant to run on firewood, and for that you need a wood gas generator. This means [NightHawkinLight] will need to burn wood without a whole lot of oxygen, similar to how you make charcoal. There is, apparently, the perfect device to do this, and it’ll fit on the back of a bike. It’s a bee smoker, that thing bee keepers use to calm down a hive of honeybees.
The bee smoker generates the wood gas, which is filtered and cooled in a gallon paint bucket filled with cedar chips. The output from this filter is fed right into where the air filter for the internal combustion engine should be, with an added valve to put more air into the carburetor.
So, with that setup, does the weird bike motorcycle wood gas thing turn over? Yes. The engine idled for a few seconds without producing any useful power. That’s alright, though, because this is just a proof of concept and work in progress. Getting this thing to run and be a useful mode of transportation will require a much larger wood gas generator, but right now [NightHawkinLight] knows his engine can run on wood gas.