A Very Buttoned Up Raspberry Pi Media Server

Projects that turn the Raspberry Pi into a low-cost Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution are very common; all you need is the right software, the Pi itself, and some USB storage devices. But unless you particularly like the “Medusa” look, with loose cables running all over the place, you’ll probably want to put the hardware into a suitable enclosure. Unfortunately, that’s where the somewhat unusual layout of the Pi can make things tricky.

Which is why [AraymBox] came up with this unique “capsule” enclosure for the Raspberry Pi and two USB-attached hard drives. Every effort has been made to keep the outside of this design as clean and streamlined as possible. The asymmetrical loops of wires that we so often see on other projects are gone, with everything been brought inside thanks to some clever wiring. This enclosure looks like a professional product, and if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can have one to call your own.

The good news is that the 3D printed enclosure only has four parts, albeit rather large ones, and none of which require support material. So it should be an easy print even on a relatively low-end machine. Of course, you’re not going to get that futuristic metallic look without a little work. You’ll need to do a considerable amount of sanding, filling, and paint work to get that kind of a surface finish. Then again, that rough “just printed” look has a certain cyberpunk appeal to it as well.

But the printed enclosure is only half the battle. Inside, [AraymBox] has soldered the USB to SATA adapter cables directly to the Raspberry Pi to keep things tight and compact. A micro USB breakout board was then used to add a power connector on the back of the device where the Ethernet and USB ports are, solving the issue of having one lonely USB cable coming out of the side of the case.

In the past we’ve seen other attempts to create a 3D printable enclosure for Pi servers, with varying levels of success. While some would argue that the better solution is to just throw the Pi and the drives in a large enough enclosure that it doesn’t matter what the wiring looks like, we appreciate the effort that some hackers are willing to put in to make something custom.

Hacking Multiplication: Binary Multiply On Paper

We’ve often noted that whether had ancient man known binary, we could all count to 1023 on our fingers. We thought about that while watching [Numberphile’s] latest video about “Russian” multiplication (see below). Apparently, the method dates back quite a way, sometimes known as Ethiopian or peasant multiplication. Even the ancient Egyptians did a form of it.

If you’ve ever written long multiplication code for a microcontroller, you can probably tell how this works. Each halving of the number amounts to a right shift. Each doubling is a left shift. Throwing out the even numbers means you only take the values when the least-significant bit is zero. Booth’s algorithm is more efficient, but the “Russian” method is simple to do on paper.

Continue reading “Hacking Multiplication: Binary Multiply On Paper”

Stylish Outfit Packs A Solar Charging Rig

Being out and about with your devices rapidly running out of battery power can rapidly turn into a sticky situation. Suddenly you find yourself unable to hail rideshares and incapable of transferring money around. For the fashion conscious who wish to avoid this, [Kitty Yeung]’s design may be a valuable addition to their summer closet.

The project starts with [Kitty] sewing an elegant bodice and shorts out of a silky silver material. This fabric tends to fray when cut, so fabric glue and iron-on tape was used to protect the edges. This also makes sure the garment doesn’t fall to pieces when washed or worn often. Ribbons, pockets, and other features were designed into the garments to integrate them with hardware to enable the garments to act as a portable charging solution. 3D-printed brackets are affixed to the shoulders, holding a solar panel in an upward-facing angle to catch a good amount of sun. The panel chosen integrates circuitry to output a nice, clean 5V output for charging devices over USB.

It’s a fashionable outfit that also packs useful hardware, and we agree with [Kitty] that it really would be perfect for Burning Man. The cone hat was a nice touch, too. It’s not the first time we’ve heard from [Kitty] either – she appeared as a speaker at 2018’s Hackaday Superconference, too!

A Laser Drawing Machine For Flashes Of Creativity

Ahh, midterms. Some students blow off steam between study sessions by playing video games or just zoning out. While those kids were all distracted, [Justinwong777] and his buddy [Brett] found a bunch of scrap wood and built this laser drawing machine in their school’s makerspace. You operate it as you might an Etch-a-Sketch, except your drawings are as fleeting as sparkler art on the 4th of July, if they made Tron-colored sparklers.

Though you work it like an Etch-a-Sketch, the business end operates like a laser cutter. Inside that plywood enclosure is an Arduino Uno and a pair of motors. These motors turn a series of custom gears, which move a small mirror angled at 45° in the xy-plane.  There’s a 30mW laser mounted parallel with the base, pointed at the mirror, and it reflects the beam toward a canvas panel coated with phosphorescent paint. We dig the printed ergonomic case for the joystick, which gives control of both x and y. Put on some eye protection and check it out after the break.

If you want to draw with lasers, but aren’t much of an artist, do something unexpected: build a laser turret not to kill, but to draw the weather on the wall.

Continue reading “A Laser Drawing Machine For Flashes Of Creativity”

Mitch Altman Asks How You’re Using Your Life

This talk will probably make you a bit angry. You might be upset with some of Mitch Altman’s views or his hyperbole in describing them. Or you might be upset because you totally agree with his views and feel the same disappointment he does with many (ab)uses of technology. Either way, the point of his talk, which was given at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference, is that we all should think deeply about what we choose to do with our time and our talents. Consider yourself challenged.

The video below is packed full of colorful ideas, along with some colorful language. Let’s take a look.

Continue reading “Mitch Altman Asks How You’re Using Your Life”

Turning A Problem Around: The Whitney Cotton Gin

If you went to elementary school in the United States, you no doubt learned about Eli Whitney’s cotton gin as an example of how the industrial revolution took previously manual processes and replaced the low-efficiency of human labor with machines. The development of the cotton gin — patented in 1794 — involves an interesting lesson about solving engineering problems.

Farmers in the southern United States had a big problem. Tobacco was a cash crop, but it eventually left your fields barren and how to solve that problem wasn’t understood yet. Indigo was valuable for dye, but the British were eating away that market with indigo created in its colonies. Rice requires a lot of water and swamp, so it was only suitable for certain areas.

There was one thing that grew very readily in much of the land: cotton. Unfortunately, the cotton had little seeds you had to remove. A single person could clean — maybe — a pound of cotton a day. In the late 1700s, plantation owner Catharine Littlefield Greene introduced Whitney to a group of farmers were trying to decide if there was a way to make cotton a more profitable crop.

Continue reading “Turning A Problem Around: The Whitney Cotton Gin”

Hackaday Podcast 053: 1-Bit Computer Is A Family Affair, This Displays Is Actually Fabulous, And This Hoverboard Is A Drill Press

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams navigate the crowded streets of the hackersphere for the most interesting hardware projects seen in the past week. Forget flip-dot displays, you need to build yourself a sequin display that uses a robot finger and sequin-covered fabric to send a message. You can do a lot (and learn a lot) with a 1-bit computer called the WDR-1. It’s never been easier to turn a USB port into an embedded systems dev kit by using these FTDI and Bluepill tricks. And there’s a Soyuz hardware teardown you don’t want to miss.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (60 MB or so.)

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 053: 1-Bit Computer Is A Family Affair, This Displays Is Actually Fabulous, And This Hoverboard Is A Drill Press”