The Future Of Diesel Is On Shaky Ground

Diesel is a fuel that has had a mixed history, with varying levels of take-up by consumers around the world. In the world of transport, diesel engines have offered better fuel economy and torque than comparable gasoline engines. Particularly popular in Europe, diesel established a strong consumer base in both small commuter cars as well as heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses.

Despite this, the tide is turning, and for the average motorist, diesel’s days may be numbered. Why is this the case, and what are the potential alternatives vying for diesel’s crown?

Plenty of Pros, but Plenty of Cons

Diesel remains a fuel with a varied uptake around the world. It has enjoyed great popularity in Europe in small commuter cars.

Diesel is a hydrocarbon fuel with several advantages over gasoline. Its lack of volatility makes it workable to use in a compression-ignition mode, and diesel engines can be run with lean fuel-air ratios. It also has a higher volumetric energy density than gasoline, and thanks to low volatility, diesel engines can run at significantly higher compression ratios without risking detonation. These benefits allow diesel engines to produce significantly more torque than similarly sized gasoline engines, and they can offer fuel economy gains in excess of 15%.

Unfortunately, diesel also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Diesel engines are typically poor when it comes to power to weight ratio, as their high compression ratio and torque output demands heavier materials in their construction. The major bugbear of the diesel engine, however, is its emissions. Despite greater fuel efficiency, carbon dioxide output from a diesel engine is often far worse than that of a comparable gas motor. Additionally, their lean-burning nature leads to production of high levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which have major negative environmental effects. There’s also the problem of particulate pollution, which is responsible for respiratory harm in humans. Diesel automobiles rank significantly worse than gasoline vehicles in all these areas. It’s begun to cause figurative headaches for the industry, and literal headaches for the public. Continue reading “The Future Of Diesel Is On Shaky Ground”

Finally Run Useful Apps On A Windows Phone

Not every piece of technology or software can succeed, even with virtually unlimited funding and marketing. About the same number of people are still playing Virtual Boys as are using Google Plus, for example. In recent memory, the Windows Phone occupies the same space as these infamous failures, potentially because it was late to the smartphone game but primarily because no one wanted to develop software for it. But now, you can run Android apps on Windows Phones now. (Google Translate from German)

To be clear, this doesn’t support all Android apps or all Windows Phones, and it will take a little bit of work to get it set up at all. But if you still have one laying around you might want to go grab it. First you’ll need to unlock the phone, and then begin sending a long string of commands to the device which sends the required software to the device. If that works, you can begin loading Android apps on the phone via a USB connection to a PC.

This hack came to us via Windows Central and Reddit. It seems long and involved but if you have any experience with a command line you should be fine. It’s an interesting way to get some more use out of your old Windows Phone if it’s just gathering dust in a closet somewhere. If not, don’t worry; Windows Phones were rare even when they were at their most popular. We could only find one project in our archives that uses one, and that was from 2013.

Modular Fixture Plates Perfect For Small Production Runs

If you’ve ever done any small production runs of anything that needs a bit of assembly, you know that jigs and fixtures are a huge time saver. However, these usually need to be mounted, which means you end up drilling holes in your workbench or making one-off mounting plates. [Jim Smith] is no stranger to this problem, and created the Pact Plate, an affordable modular fixture plate and is running a Kickstarter campaign to get it produced.

Each plate 150 mm × 150 mm in size with a 25 × 25 mm grid of holes with M4 threaded inserts. This allows quickly and easily mounted to and removed from the plate without the need to drill additional holes. Plates can be bolted together to form larger plates. The demo video shows him using a variety of 3D printed jigs, toggle clamps, PCB and part holders (available for download) and even a robot to quickly set up small assembly stations. This could also save a lot of time during the prototyping and development phases to hold parts in place.

[Jim]’s prototypes are all 3D printed, but want’s to get tooling made to produce the plates using injection moulding. He doesn’t say what material he intends to use, but it’s likely some type of fibre reinforced plastic. He claims the rigidity is close to that of die-cast aluminium. One addition we would like to see is some plugs for the unused hole to prevent small components from falling into them.

Continue reading “Modular Fixture Plates Perfect For Small Production Runs”