[Michael Horne] recently shared his thoughts on the RedBoard+, a motor controller board for the Raspberry Pi aimed at robotic applications. His short version for busy people is: if you’re at all into robotics, get one because it’s fantastic.
At heart the RedBoard+ is a motor controller, but it’s packed with I/O and features that set it above the usual fare. It can drive two DC motors and up to twelve servos, but what is extra useful is the wide input range of 7-24 V and its ability to power and control the underlying Raspberry Pi. A user-programmable button defaults to either doing a reboot or safe shutdown, depending on how long the button is held. Another neat feature is the ability to blink out the IP address of the Pi using the onboard RGB LED, which is always handy in a pinch.
The RedBoard+ has a GitHub repository which provides a variety of test scripts and an easy to use library, as well as a variety of hookup guides and quickstart guides. There’s even a pre-configured SD image for those who prefer to simply dive in.
A brief demo video showing the board in operation is embedded below. If you’re interested in one, Creator [Neil] of RedRobotics has made it available for sale on Tindie.
Continue reading “Robotics Controller For The Pi Boasts An Impressive Feature List”
The last time we visited the Hackaday shooting range we were all psyched up to get the right posture, breathe correctly, lower our heart rates and squeeze the trigger at exactly the right moment that the wandering cross hairs align with the target ……. and lastly accommodate the inevitable recoil. But never did we think to check the temperature of our ammo! Ok, temperatures aren’t likely to vary that much there unless the range cat chooses to lay down on top of the ammo box, but out in the wilderness the temperatures can easily vary by up to 30 degrees, which would certainly be a problem.
If we take a quick look at what’s happening on Johnny’s Reloading Bench we get an in depth comparison of different powders at different temperatures, with data being collected via a bullet velocity radar. If nothing else, it’s interesting just to get a peep into the mysterious world of ‘Reloading’ where every one of the tiny kernels or ‘balls’ of powder make a difference and different powders require particular primers to make them burn properly.
Just to make it clear, bullet speed makes a big difference to the trajectory, especially at long distances. For example, if the bullet were to travel at close to the speed of light, there would be almost no trajectory at all and the shooter would not have to adjust the vertical aim for distance. Normally, we have to aim upwards to hit the target:
It may be that we ‘zero in’ our sights at room temperature, but then end up actually shooting the firearm on a cold, frosty morning with cold ammo, and given what we have now learnt from the video, we could now make a small adjustment for that eventuality, depending on the particular ammo we are using. Johnny’s video is after the break:
Continue reading “How Ammo Temperature Will Affect Shooting Accuracy”
Solid rockets are a fun way to get started in rocketry. Brewing up a batch of rocket candy is something achievable even in the home lab, and anyone can give it a go with the right materials. Building a flight-capable liquid-fuelled rocket engine is another thing entirely, but the Purdue Space Program is up to the task.
The result of their hard work is Boomie Zoomie, a rocket which stands 15ft tall and weighs 130lbs. With peak thrust of 800 lbs, it’s got plenty of grunt to help get things off the ground. It’s fuelled by liquid methane, a first for a university-built rocket. The craft is constructed out of 6″ aluminium pipe sections, which were a best-case trade-off between weight, cost, and machinability. Special care was taken during the design process to make things modular, to both allow for future design revisions and ease of field prep. This allows different parts of the team to work independently, streamlining the process of preparing the rocket for launch.
Aiming to compete in the FAR MARS liquid rocket competition, the rocket has undergone two successful hotfires. The team estimates that the first launch should happen in the next few months. Preparations are continuing on the launch trailer and ancilliary support equipment to get things up and running. The aim is to reach a lofty altitude of 45,000 feet.
For those interested in a career in rocketry, Purdue may just be the place to be, with over 300 members in its space program. We’ve seen other top-notch collegiate rocket programs, too – such as this Boston University effort that aims to reach space. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Liquid Methane Rocket Is Set To Soar”
After initially working to create a modernized replica of a Czechoslovakian 4-digit Metra M1T242 voltmeter, [Jaromir Sukuba] figured that while he was at it, he might as well create a voltmeter that would be slightly more capable. This led to the design and construction of a brand-new, 6.5 digit voltmeter design, which [Jaromir] has documented over at EEVBlog.
Employing an MSP430FR5994 MCU for the digital board, and an Altera/Intel EPM240T100 CPLD plus ADC on the input side, the design has been undergoing validation for a while now. The current revision uses an OPA140 op-amp in an integrating ADC setup in a multi-slope run-up configuration, but [Jaromir] has plans to replace this input board with another op-amp in a more efficient topology in the future.
Continue reading “Building A 6.5 Digit Voltmeter From Scratch”
[Dan Kitchen] has a great solution for making servos easy to hack.
Every hacker has a drawer full of servo’s somewhere. Just about every project that uses them starts off by measuring the spacing and designing some obscure bracket to meet that unique motor’s size. However, what if you could use common wood screws and hand tools to use them right away?
[Dan]’s solution is to make a case from recycled HDPE lumber, the same sort of material you might buy for a deck. This material is sandable, carvable, and can be drilled into. The case encapsulates the servo motor completely. One side has a freewheeling wooden disk and the other side’s disk is attached to the motor. Now when you need motion you can work with the servo as if it were just a block of wood. Very cool.
[Dan] appears to be moving to make this a commercial product and we can see why. Though we see no reason why an enterprising hacker or hackerspace couldn’t come up with their own variations on this great idea.
Six years before Deepwater Horizon exploded in April 2010, the force of Hurricane Ivan blew an offshore drilling platform off its legs and into the Gulf of Mexico. For the last 14 years, that well’s pipes, long buried in mud and debris have been spilling oil into the Gulf every single day. That makes it the longest-running spill in history. Every day for fourteen years. Let that sink in for a bit.
Taylor Energy’s platform sat just 10 miles off the coast, much closer to the Louisiana shore than Deepwater Horizon was. Since the hurricane hit, Taylor has tried a number of unsuccessful things to stop the spill. They’ve only been able to plug 9 of the 25 broken pipes so far. The rest are buried deep in mud and debris. Why on Earth haven’t you heard about this before? Taylor spent six years covering it up. And they might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for pesky watchdog groups surveying the Gulf after Deepwater Horizon exploded.
So how are oil spills stopped, anyway? The answer depends on many things. Most immediately, the answer depends whether the spill happened onshore or offshore, and the inciting incident that caused the spill. Underwater oil spills are much more difficult to stop because of the weight and existence of the ocean. In Taylor Energy’s case, the muddy Gulf bed has become a murky tomb for the broken and buried pipes, which makes it even more messy.
Continue reading “The Murky Business Of Stopping Oil Spills”
It’s an exciting time of year for us, not because Christmas is on the horizon, instead for something far more exciting than that! The Hackaday Superconference is nearly upon us, our yearly gathering of the creme de la creme of the hardware hacking world for a fascinating program of lectures and other events. We can’t wait, and we hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are.
A particularly stimulating part of the Supercon experience comes from the people you rub shoulders with as you attend, whether or not you will have seen their work on these pages they represent a huge and fascinating breadth of experience and skill. It’s the incidental conversations at events like this that are the most fertile, because from them comes inspiration that can feed all manner of things.
One of last year’s hits came from Carl Bugeja, when he gave a talk about his impressive work with using printed circuit boards to construct electric motors and magnetic actuators. We’ve seen the various iterations of his work evolving in these pages, and at last year’s event he also gave an interview to our own Elliot Williams, and we’re happy to bring you the resulting video after the break.
We’d love to be able to reveal a hidden stash of Supercon tickets, but sadly it’s all sold out. We can however direct you to the livestream of the event which begins at 10 am Pacific time on November 15th. Be sure to head on over to the Hackaday YouTube channel, and subscribe.
Meanwhile it’s worth pointing those lucky ticket holders to the Supercon ticketing page since we’ve added more tickets to the previously-sold-out workshops. Now, enjoy Carl’s interview, and we hope you’ll join us for Superconference whether you do so online or in person.
Continue reading “Superconference Interview: Carl Bugeja”