3D-Printed Thermite Brings The Heat, And The Safety

Thermites are a double-edged sword. Packing a tremendous energy density, and eager to produce tremendous heat when ignited, thermite is great for welding train tracks. But sometimes you might be looking for a little more finesse. A new approach to 3D printing thermites might just be able to tame the beast.

Most of us do our soldering while sitting safely indoors in a comfortable climate. The biggest dangers we’re likely to face are burnt fingertips, forgetting the heat shrink, or accidentally releasing the smoke monster. But outside of our homes and workshops, there’s a lot of extreme joining of metals going on. No matter where it’s done, welding and brazing in the field requires a lot of equipment, some of which is unwieldy and even more difficult to move around in harsh conditions.

Welding railroad tracks with thermite. Image via YouTube

The utility of brazing is limited by all the complex scaffolding of hardware required to support it. This limiting factor and the discovery of thermite led to exothermic welding, which uses an energetic material to provide enough heat to melt a filler metal and join the pieces. Energetic materials can store a lot of chemical energy and forcefully release it in a short period of time.

Thermites are made of metal oxide and metal powder, often iron oxide and aluminium. When ignited by a source of high heat, thermite compounds undergo an exothermic reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction as the aluminium reduces the number of electrons in the iron oxide atoms. More heat makes the reaction run faster, generating more heat, and so on. The result is molten iron and aluminium oxide slag.

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Cell Phone Signal Booster Gets Teardown And Demo

Ever wonder what was inside a cell phone booster, or what it is like to set up or use one? If so, [Kerry Wong]’s got you covered with his teardown of a Cel-Fi Go X Cell Signal Booster by Nextivity. [Kerry] isn’t just ripping apart a cheap unit for laughs; his house has very poor reception and this unit was a carefully-researched, genuine investment in better 4G connectivity.

The whole setup consists of three different pieces: the amplifier unit pictured above, and two antennas. One is an omnidirectional dome antenna for indoors, and the other is a directional log-periodic dipole array (LPDA) antenna for outdoors. Mobile phones connect to the indoor antenna, and the outdoor antenna connects to the distant cell tower. The amplifier unit uses a Bluetooth connection and an app on the mobile phone to manage settings and actively monitor the device, which works well but bizarrely doesn’t seem to employ any kind of password protection or access control whatsoever.

Overall [Kerry] is happy, and reports that his mobile phone enjoys a solid connection throughout his house, something that was simply not possible before. Watch a hands-on of the teardown along with a short demonstration in the video embedded below.

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New Zealand To Test Wireless Power Transmission

Nikola Tesla wanted to beam power without wires. NASA talked about building power-generating satellites that would do the same thing. But now New Zealand’s second-largest power utility — Powerco — is working with a start-up company to beam energy to remote locations. There have been several news releases, but possibly the most technical detail is from an interview [Loz Blain] did with the founder of the startup company.

It isn’t really news that you can send radio waves somewhere and convert the signal back into power. Every antenna does that routinely. The question is how efficient is the power transmission and — when the power levels are high — how safe is it? According to [Greg Kushnir], the founder of Emrod, the technology is about 70% efficient and uses ISM frequencies.

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