Hackaday Links: December 15, 2019

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When you’re right, you’re right. Back in January, we predicted that exoskeletons were about to break out as a mainstream product, and gave several examples of prototypes poised to become products. So it was with interest that we read about Sarcos Robotics and their new Guardian XO, a cyber suit aimed at those doing heavy lifting tasks. The wearable, full-body exoskeleton is supposed to amplify the wearer’s effort 20-fold, making a 200-pound load feel like lifting 10 pounds. It runs untethered for two hours on hot-swappable battery packs, and will be offered for lease to civilian heavy industries and the military for $100,000 a year. Honestly, it seems like you could hire a fair number of meat-robots for that sum, but still, it’s an interesting technology and a promising development.

Aficionados of 3D printing know all too well the limitations of the technology. While we’ve come a long way with things like a print in place, multiple materials, embedded electronics, and even direct 3D printing of complex mechanisms like electric motors, there’s been a long-standing obstacle to turning the 3D printer into the replicators of the Star Trek universe: batteries. But even that barrier is falling, and a new paper shows just how far we’ve come to printing batteries right into our designs. Using an off-the-shelf Prusa Mk 3 and specially formulated lithium iron phosphate/PLA and silicon dioxide/PLA filaments, the group was able to print working batteries in one shot. It’s exciting news because previous 3D-printed batteries required special printers or laborious post-processing steps. We’ll be watching for developments here.

Speaking of laboratory work, anyone who has been around labs is probably familiar with LabVIEW, the de facto standard for programming data capture and automation applications in the laboratory setting. The graphical programming language makes it easy to throw together a quick interface, and many lab-rats regret not having the expensive, proprietary environment available for their after-hours hacking. That might no longer be true, though, with special LabVIEW licensing for non-commercial users. It looks like there are two levels: LabVIEW Home Edition and a Community Edition of LabVIEW, which is currently in Beta. Either way, it’s good news for LabVIEW fans.

Friend of Hackaday Eric Strebel released a video the other day that we just had to comment on. It has nothing to do with electronics – unless you’re into circuit sculpture, that is. In the first of a two-part series, Eric covers the basics of modeling with brass and copper, using both wire and tubing. He has some great tips, like work-hardening and straightening copper wire by stretching it, and the miniature roll bender seen at 7:40 looks like something that could easily be 3D-printed. We recently did a Hack Chat on circuit sculpture with Mohit Bhoite, and saw his Supercon talk on the subject, so this video really got the creative juices flowing.

If you’re local to the Elkhorn, Wisconsin area, consider stopping by the Elkhorn Mini Maker Faire on February 15 and 16. Elkhorn looks like it has a nice central location between Milwaukee and Madison, and doesn’t appear too far from Chicago either, which is probably why they drew 1,200 people to the inaugural Faire last year. They’re looking to get that up to 2,000 people this year and over 150 booths, so if you’ve got something hackish to show off, check it out. The organizers have even set up a Hackaday.io event page to coordinate with the Hackaday community, so drop them a line and see what you can do to pitch in.

And finally, this one has us scratching our head. Activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) has claimed they’ve “decommissioned” thousands of electric scooters in French cities. Why they’ve done this is the puzzler; they claim that the scooters-for-hire are an “ecological disaster” due to the resources needed to produce them compared to their short lifespan. We haven’t done the math. What is interesting, though, is the mode of decommissioning: XR operatives simply defaced the QR code on the scooters, rendering them un-rentable with the vendor’s smartphone app. Scooter companies might want to look into alternative rental methods if this keeps up.

23 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: December 15, 2019

    1. How do you recycle these batteries?
      By now everybody should be pretty aware that the biggest problem with producing stuff is actually the recycling part, then, why nobody is focusing on production methods that are compatible with recycling?

      1. I agree, one of my university professors loved LabVIEW, but I found it so cumbersome. Why, when there are programming languages you can have entirely in your head, would anyone recommend a programming language you need to hunt and peck for even the simplest of ideas.
        I did see LabVIEW in use in an actual lab in GE Aviation, but the programs seemed to be pretty simple.

  1. Wait, so this Extinction Rebellion group is fighting against the ‘ecological disaster’ of e-scooters by defacing them and making them unrentable, thereby potentially reducing the lifetime of the scooters already in circulation, meaning that any offset they provide against the use of fossil burning transportation is reduced to the point that there is a net loss of carbon reduction compared to if they just left the scooters alone?

    Good work guys, but how about you take a moment to think things through first and maybe address the root cause of the ‘problem’ rather than do your best to drive UP the demand for more replacement scooters………….

    1. Don’t forget about the time they disrupted public transportation.
      You know, the greenest form of non-human powered transportation that even poor people can afford.
      That sure worked wonders for their image among those less well-off.

    2. I imagine the idea is to cause possible scooter users to view them as unreliable and stop even attempting to use the scooters, reducing demand. If 9 out of 10 scooters are unusable, you probably won’t bother even checking.

      They probably think the environmental cost of this, if achieved quickly, is less than the environmental toll of 5 to 10 or 20 years of throwaway scooters being produced and replaced.

      Anyway the repair likely consists of only replacing the QR code label, so it’s not like they’re tearing the motors out or crushing the scooters in a mobile hydraulic press.

    3. You are missing the point, not that I agree with the actions, yet I do acknowledge the problems of e-scooters.

      The those scooters present multiple problems:

      1) They are not reducing car usage, therefore they do not reduce emissions

      2) They usually replace journeys usually made on foot, so they encourage lazyness and obesity

      3) The lazy people that use them, usually leave them in the middle of the sidewalk, in the middle of the entrance to the metro or just plain throw them (I’ve seen people disembark them while rolling and let the thing fall, because “it’s cool” and because “lazyness”), therefore they are a HUGE nuissance in Paris, where there were over 10 companies putting that trash on the streets.

      4) Li-ion recycling is non-existent anywhere, not even in China where they have a lead in e-bikes (because of their monopoly on rare earths and lithium) and where e-bikes are just thrown into garbage.

      5) They are quite dangerous most of the users are the “selfie generation” who are known for their reckless attitude and mediocre thinking

  2. About Labview. No it is not the most active in the test and measurement world. Despite the efforts of Keysight to ignore VEE which they ended up with, after becoming the continuation of HP’s test and measurement genius, it is in use in more places then Labview.

    It’s even used by JPL to manage the gadgetry they use to test and configure the sats they are involved with.

  3. Apparently, lifecycle emission reduction by e-scooters depends on them achieving at least a 2 year life span, along with efficient collection practices with low emission vehicles that minimise the amount of un-necessary collection between charging…


    Defacing QR codes is a bit of a fail on both key factors affecting sustainability…. oops…

    Having said that, bicycles would be the obvious, better alternative.

  4. With all the short-sighted, knee jerk reactions from Extinction Rebellion, you’d almost think that naive young people were being duped into causing unrest and making the environmental movement look bad. Him, what social media savvy foreign nation might have an interest in that?

    1. They try to influence the tco of the things and in that way the profability of the scheme. I think it is far better than to just dump them in the seine. Im truely amazed you fooks did not see that. Just follow the money.

      1. With all the supposedly smart people who read HD, it’s disheartening to see such shallow reactionary analysis when it comes to things like this. Oh well, I guess it’s better to be a snarky sourpuss than try to help.

  5. Have been using LV intermittently for over 20 years. It is a bane of my engineering existence. Understand and appreciate why scientists like LV, but is an evil and unholy mark on the company that depends on this mess for their ATE and instrument control.

    If you are not able to do it in C or Python, and you claim that you can do it only in LV, then I am calling you out for your lazy and non-professional attitude. Use at home is your own business and time. But if you do use it at home (I am looking at you Jerry) and expect me to routinely trouble-shoot and fix your indeterminate mess, you had better keep your home well-stocked with cheezits and IPA.

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