Hackaday Links: December 22, 2019

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It’s hard to believe it, but the Raspberry Pi has been on the market for only seven years now. The single-board computer has become so entrenched in the hobby electronics scene that it’s hard to imagine life without it, or what we did before it came along. And with the recent announcement that the 30 millionth Raspberry Pi was recently manufactured, now we have some clarity on the scale of its success. Just roll that number around in your head for a bit – that’s one Pi for every nine or so people in the USA. Some of the other facts and figures in the linked article boggle the mind too, like Eben Upton figured they’d only ever sell about 10,000 units, or that the factory in Wales where most Pis are made can assemble 15,000 units a day.

Speaking of manufacturing, have you ever considered what goes into getting a small-scale manufactured product ready for shipping? The good folks over at Gigatron know all about the joys of kitting, and have put together an interesting un-unboxing video for their flagship TTL-only retro computer. It’s a nice riff on the unboxing videos that are somehow popular on YouTube these days, and shows just how much effort they put into getting a Gigatron out the door. All told, it takes about an hour to ship each unit, and the care put into the process is evident. We especially like the part where all the chips are placed into antistatic foam in the same orientation they’ll be on the completed board. Nice touch.

Last time we checked in on the Lulzbot saga, the open source 3D printer manufacturer had been saved from complete liquidation by a company named FAME 3D. Now we’re getting the first solid details about where things go from here. Not only will thirteen of the remaining Lulzbot employees be staying on, but FAME 3D plans to hire 50 new employees to get operations back up as quickly as possible. The catch? The “F” in FAME 3D stands for Fargo, North Dakota, where Fargo Additive Manufacturing Equipment 3D is based. So Lulzbot will be moving north from Loveland, Colorado in the coming months.

For the last few years, adventure travelers making the pilgrimage to Shenzhen to scour the electronics markets have stuffed a copy of Andrew “Bunnie” Huang’s The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen into their soon-to-be-overflowing backpacks. The book is a goldmine of insider information, stuffed with maps and translation tables critical for navigating a different culture with no local language skills. Bunnie’s book has only been available in dead-tree format and now that all but the last few copies have been sold, he decided to make a web version available for free. We’d have to think a tablet or phone would be a bit harder to use in the heat of negotiation than the nice spiral-bound design of the print copy, but the fact that the insider information will now be widely available probably makes this a net positive.

And finally, if you’ve ever nearly been run over by an EV or hybrid silently backing out of a parking space, you’ll no doubt appreciate attempts to legislate some sort of audible presence to these vehicles. But what exactly should an electric vehicle be made to sound like? Volkswagen has begun to address that question, and while you can certainly read through the fluff in their press release, all you really need to do is listen to the sample. We’ve got to say that they pretty much nailed what a car of the future should sound like. Although they might have missed a real opportunity here.

20 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: December 22, 2019

  1. In fact some of the Tesla cars out there might be exempt from that one. They do not have the speakers positioned outside to make the appropriate sounds. Those that do, reports indicate the owners are considering sounds such as the Monty Python noise.

    Oh and Dan? There is a Linux Mascot other then a Penguin looking for you.

  2. We have a neighbor who is legally blind – macular degeneration. He can hear our Tesla model 3 coming, but not our Prius.

    The difference seems to be the road noise of the tires. At 4000 lbs, the model 3 makes noticeable road noise, the Prius, not so much. I nearly stepped in front of a moving Prius in a dealerships service area once. Downright stealth at slow speed on electric.

      1. Not to worry, folks. For with a mere touch of a button the car will begin playing AI-selected soothing classical music through it’s external speakers to let everyone up ahead know you’re approaching them. Like so:)

        *The Jaws theme starts playing*

        o_0…………0_0…….GET OFF THE ROAD!!!

    1. There’s a few V6 engine vehicles that can be got running quiet enough, well aired tires, recently serviced, coasting along near idle, that they’ll surprise people. Of course there’s any number of things that will louden them enough to be heard, slight steering pump whine if you’re pulling the wheel off center, touch on the brakes that grinds faintly etc. Older oil making the valvegear a touch louder. 4 cyls rarely have enough metal in the block that you don’t hear it firing, V8s have that out of sync burble/catch, but well balanced 60 degree V6 in a model where they stuck sound deadening on the hood, when everything is perfect is very quiet, sometimes the loudest thing is the fuel pump.

  3. … and people wonder why I have music playing when I’m riding.

    Bicycles can be near silent too, and bells aren’t effective against distracted pedestrians with their ears plugged and nose buried in a phone.

    The system I employ isn’t perfect, but when they hear some classic rock number from latter half of last century, they usually pick up on my presence after about 10 seconds. The only other thing I need is a little patience.

    1. Bells aren’t effective on anyone who doesn’t routinely hear bike bells, because it’s a learned response. On the very rare occasion I’ve been walking somewhere and someone has rung their bell behind me, it’s taken me several seconds to figure out what the hell it was and remember why I should be paying attention to it. Even when I haven’t been otherwise distracted or had my hearing impaired!

  4. High end cars spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to tune the sound of their cars, Harley Davidson tried to copyright the sound of their engines and this is the best VW could come up with!? Just record a Mustang and play the sound when the car is in motion.

  5. Darn right that somebody ought to be thinking about making electric cars make some kind of warning noise.
    And yes, the Jetsons were the first thing that popped into my mind, though it might not be the best choice when
    all is said and done.

  6. Seems a bit high pitched. (Both the Jetsons and the VW sounds.) People with hearing deficits often lose high pitch hearing more. (Also need to consider tinitus.)

    Need something that will be hearable and recognizable by a wide range of people,
    not just yuppies and young engineers.

  7. The solution to EVs (or any vehicle) and pedestrians is better urban design which reduces the number of motor vehicles in the urban core, and better separation and flow control where they inevitably must cross.

    But yeah – Jetsons sound.

    There could also be some sort of person detect on the vehicles that issues a sound whenever people are detected in a defined range in front of the vehicle. Anything from a polite dinging sound to a Bronx “Heyy! – I’m driving here!!”.

  8. Has anyone actually recorded the sound of a road? Most vehicles nowadays in Europe hardly make any noise and most of the noise you hear is tyres banging on the road. The exhaust pipe comes out of the back, not the front so you won’t hear that until you’ve been squished. The answer is better driving, if you’re mixed in with pedestrian traffic, don’t drive around like a loon.

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