Model Rocket Launcher Is So Serious, It Has A Briefcase

What could be more thrilling than launching a complex rocket that you built yourself? For starters, launching it with literally anything better than the stock ignition system would be a step in the right direction. How about a briefcase full of fantastically fun overkill?

[FastEddy59] is in the middle of building a model rocket complete with a Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system to help with stabilization. Much to our delight, he’s designed an equally ambitious controller to spice up the launch sequence with security codes and a physical key. And what’s a launch controller without a giant emergency stop button to shut down everything? Incomplete, if you ask us.

Under the carbon fiber-wrapped acrylic hood, there’s an Arduino MEGA engine and an NRF24 LoRa module for transmission to the rocket. There’s even a DHT11 temperature sensor to verify that launch conditions are ideal. It’s still a work in progress with plenty of features to come, like fancier labels and plenty of launch-appropriate sound files for the hidden speaker. There’s a lot to this case, and [FastEddy59]’s video brief is ready and waiting on the pad after the break.

[FastEddy59] plans to hold the first launch in a few months, and we sincerely hope he outfits the rocket with a camera.

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’54 Motorcycle Saved By Electric Conversion

While it’s nice to be able to fully restore something vintage to its original glory, this is not always possible. There might not be replacement parts available, the economics of restoring it may not make sense, or the damage to parts of it might be too severe. [onyxmember] aka [Minimember Customs] was in this position with an old ’54 Puch Allstate motorcycle frame that he found with no engine, rusty fuel tank, and some other problems, so he did the next best thing to a full restoration. He converted it to electric.

This build uses as much of the original motorcycle frame as possible and [onyxmember] made the choice not to weld anything extra to it. The fuel tank was cut open and as much rust was cleaned from it as possible to make room for the motor controller and other electronics. A hub motor was laced to the rear wheel, and a modern horn and headlight were retrofitted into the original headlight casing. Besides the switches, throttle, and voltmeter, everything else looks original except, of course, the enormous 72V battery hanging off the frame where the engine used to be.

At a power consumption of somewhere between three and five kilowatts, [onyxmember] reports that this bike likely gets somewhere in the range of 55 mph, although he can’t know for sure because it doesn’t have a speedometer. It’s the best use of an old motorcycle frame we can think of, and we also like the ratrod look, but you don’t necessarily need to modify a classic bike for this. A regular dirt bike frame will do just fine.

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RGB Kitchen Uses Pots To Stir Up Color

Anyone who has done anything with RGB LEDs knows that their ability to display pretty much any color is somehow both the best and worst thing about them. How do you get it right? How do you make your results repeatable? [Thomas] has the answer. He dug around in the ol’ parts cupboard, found a few pots, and got to work making this stay-home stew of a project — an on-demand RGB LED color mixer.

Three cleverly color-coded potentiometers and an Arduino let [Thomas] step through 0-255 to mix various values of red, blue, and green. The shade that gets made is displayed live on a set of 10 individual NeoPixels that are laid out under a frosty diffusing panel. Each of the RGB values are also shown on an 16×2 LCD.

This is one of those projects that hits a sweet spot of being simple, useful, and fun. It’s even nice-looking and compact. What more could you want from a project cobbled together from ingredients on hand? [Thomas] is even giving away the code recipe.

Once you dial in your ideal colors, why not make a gesture-controlled lamp?

Perfect Wire Hose Clamps With A Simple DIY Tool

Hose clamps have been around as long as we’ve been using flexible hoses. Usually, a clamp consists of a slotted metal strap, and a screw for tightening. Most of us know how quickly they slip when you want to add a bit more torque, or the frustration of not having the right size. Fortunately [Max Egorov] reminded us of DIY wire clamps (video after the break), an excellent alternative that is very effective, covers an infinite size range and is easy to make with a simple tool.

The wire clamp is in effect a doubled girth hitch, that is pulled tight with the ends bent over to keep the tension. [Max] shows you how to easily make your own clamper tool with basic tools and a few bits of steel. Making it as ornate as his one is definitely not required.  You can also buy a commercial tool that is sold under the name ClampTite, which uses a leadscrew type design.

To achieve a tight seal with a hose clamp, the main requirement is constant pressure around its entire circumference. These wire clamps do this very well and are popular among aircraft mechanics, since flying in a plane with a leaky coolant or fuel hose could shorten your lifespan a bit. [Max] also demonstrates a variety of other uses for these including fixing tool handles and even building a ladder.

We love simple but effective tools like this, and we’ll definitely be adding one to our toolbox. Have you used these before? Let us know in the comments!

There is (almost) never such a thing as too many tools, and making your own is very satisfying. We’ve seen people build an outfit a complete carpentry workshop using plywood, and build sheet metal press brake with no welding.

Thanks [Keith O] for the tip!

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Contest Winners: Machine Learning On All Kinds Of Gadgets

With nearly sixty exciting entries, the Train All the Things contest, presented in partnership with Digi-Key, has drawn to a close and today we are happy to share news of the winning projects. The challenge at hand was to show off a project using some type of Machine Learning and there were plenty of takes on this theme displayed.

Perhaps the most impressive project is the Intelligent Bat Detector by [Tegwyn☠Twmffat] which claims the “ML on the Edge” award. His project, seen above, seeks not only to detect the presence of bats through the sounds they make during echolocation, but to identify the type of bat as well. Having been through a number of iterations, the bat detector, based on Nvidia Jetson Nano and a Raspberry Pi, can classify several types of bats, and a set of house keys (for a “control”). It’s also been impeccably documented and serves as a great example of how to get into machine learning.

The Soldering LIghtsaber takes the “ML Blinky” award for using machine learning in the microcontroller realm. This clever use of the concept seeks one thing: destroying the wait times for your soldering iron to heat up. It takes time to make temperature readings while the iron heats up, if you can do away with this step it speeds things up greatly. By sampling results of different voltages and heating times, machine learning establishes its own guidelines for how to pour electricity into the heating element without checking for feedback, and coming out the other side at the perfect temperature.

Rounding up our final two winners, the AI Powered Bull**** Detector claims the “ML on the Gateway” award, and
Hacking Wearables for Mental Health and More which won in the “ML on the Cloud” category.

The idea behind our illuminated poop emoji project is to detect human speech and make a judgement on whether the comment is valid, or BS. It does this by leveraging a learning set of comments that have previously been identified as BS and making an association with the currently uttered words.

Wearables for mental health is a wonderful project that was previously recognized in the 2018 Hackaday Prize. Economies of scale have made these wearables quite affordable as a way to add a sensor suite to behavior analysis. But of course you need a way to process all of the sensor data, a perfect task for a cloud-based machine learning application.

All four winners received a $100 gift code to Tindie. Don’t forget to check out all of the other interesting projects that were entered in this contest!

How Can Heavy Metal Fly?

Scientists found a surprising amount of lead in a glacier. They were studying atmospheric pollution by sampling ice cores taken from Alpine glaciers. The surprising part is that they found more lead in strata from the late 13th century than they had in those deposited at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Surely mediaeval times were supposed to be more about knights in shining armour than dark satanic mills, what on earth was going on? Why was the lead industry in overdrive in an age when a wooden water wheel represented high technology?

The answer lies in the lead smelting methods used a thousand miles away from that glacier, and in the martyrdom of a mediaeval saint.

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Hackaday Podcast 063: Magnetic Gears, AI Green Screen, Plasma <3 Sharpie, And A Rubbery Drivetrain

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams sift for hacking gold from the past week. In this episode, we remember John Horton Conway’s Game of Life and its effect on novice programmers. We geek out adding screens to your car with an OBD-II hack, automating a Sharpie clicker as part of a plasma cutter, and 3D printing an incredible RC car that drives every wheel from a single motor. Plus we look at machine-learning for custom backgrounds in your video chats, take a gander at the coming generation of ePaper displays, and we get cultured about yeast.

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)

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