Constrained builds are often the most fun. Throw an artificial limit into the mix, like time limiting your effort or restricting yourself to what’s on hand, and there’s no telling what will happen.
[bitluni] actually chose both of those constraints for this ping pong ball LED video display, and the results are pretty cool, even if the journey was a little rough. It seems like using sheet steel for the support of his 15 x 20 Neopixel display was a mistake, at least in hindsight. A CNC router would probably have made the job of drilling 300 holes quite a bit easier, but when all you have is a hand drill and a time limit, you soldier on. Six strings of Neopixels fill the holes, a largish power supply provides the 18 or so amps needed, and an Arduino knock-off controls the display. The ping pong ball diffusers are a nice touch, even if punching holes in them cost [bitluni] a soldering iron tip or two. The display is shown in action in the video below, mostly with scrolling text. If we may make a modest suggestion, a game of Pong on a ping pong ball display might be fun.
[bitluni] says that the display is on its way to Maker Faire Berlin this weekend, so stop by and say hi. Maybe he’ll have some of his other cool builds too, like his Sony Watchman Game Boy mashup, or the electric scooter of questionable legality.
Continue reading “A Ping Pong Ball LED Video Wall”
More than two years ago, the largest dam in the United States experienced a catastrophic failure of its main spillway, the primary means by which operators of the dam prevent the lake from cresting its pen. The spillway failure caused so much erosion that the hydroelectric plant could not operate, further worsening the situation. In a few days, the dam was finally put to its design limitations, and water began flowing down an emergency spillway that had never been used, prompting the evacuation of 188,000 people living in downstream communities.
Since the time that this crisis came to a head, crews have been working around the clock to repair the main and emergency spillways in order to ensure that one of the largest pieces of infrastructure in the wealthiest country in the world does not suffer a complete failure. The dam’s spillways were reopened recently on April 2, in time for this year’s snow melting, and so far everything looks good.
The repair work was a true feat of engineering, and perhaps a logistics miracle as well. The video below goes over a lot of the raw materials inputs that were needed, but the one that stuck out the most was that a dump truck full of roller-compacted concrete was emptied every five minutes over the entire course of the repair — enough to build a sidewalk from the Oroville Dam to Texas. Part of the reason for the use of such an incredible amount of concrete was that it wasn’t just used to repair the main spillway. An enormous “splash pad” for the emergency spillway was also constructed to limit erosion in the event that it must be used again. But the full change goes beyond concrete and rebar. Join me after the break as I try to wrap my mind around the full scope of the Oroville Dam repair.
Continue reading “Repairing A Catastrophic Failure: The Oroville Dam Update”
These days everyone talks about data “in the cloud.” However, before that phrase was fashionable, there were a few pioneers and one of the most famous of these is Dropbox — a service that let you store files on a remote server that dates back to 2007. [Vincent Berg] first noticed some odd network traffic on a hotel network, and figured out that it was a feature of Dropbox that allows computers on the same network to update each other. This led him to start investigating the undocumented Dropbox protocol and reverse engineering the Linux client.
We won’t ask why [Vincent] was poking around the hotel network to start with. However, a cursory glance at the Dropbox client gave away that it was using Python. The byte-compiled classes were — at the time — in a ZIP file added to the executable (which was nothing but a modified copy of Python). The files were encrypted, but [Vincent] used a clever technique. He built a shared object using normal Python and put a backdoor in it that gave him access to the Dropbox Python interpreter.
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In a lot of fields – motorsport, space exploration, wearables – lighter is better. But it’s not always the case. When you want to damp vibration, stop things moving around, and give things a nice weighty feel, heavier is the way to go. This is the case for things like machine tools, anvils, and yes – speakers. Using this philosophy, [SoundBlab] built a set of concrete speakers. (Youtube link, embedded below)
The concrete speaker enclsosures are sized for 3″ drivers, and were cast using two measuring jugs as the mold. This gave the final product a smooth and glossy surface finish, thanks to the surface of the plastic used. The concrete was also agitated during the casting process to minimise the presence of air bubbles in the mixture.
Once cast, the enclosures are fitted with plywood end caps which mount the Fountek FE85 speaker drivers. These are a full-range driver, meaning no cross-overs or other drivers are required. The speakers are then mounted on stands constructed from wood edging, which are stained in a contrasting colour for a nice aesthetic touch. Felt pads are placed on the base, and polyfill inside the enclosure to further minimise any unwanted vibrations.
The sound test confirms the speakers perform well, and they look great as a part of a lounge audio setup. We think they make an excellent pair of bookshelf speakers, which would be ideal for comfortable listening at moderate volume levels.
We’ve seen many speaker builds at Hackaday, from 3D-printed omnidirectional builds to the more classical designs. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Concrete Speakers Are Attractive And Functional”