When most of us think of seismometers, our minds conjure up images of broken buildings, buckled roads, and search and rescue teams digging through rubble. But when [Subir Bhaduri] his team were challenged with solving real world problems as frugally as possible as part of the 2020 Frugal Science course, he thought of farmers in rural India for whom losing crops due to raiding elephants is a reality. Such raids can and have caused loss of life for humans and elephants alike. How could he apply scientific means to prevent such conflicts, and do it on the cheap?
We invite you to watch the video below the break to find out how it works. You’ll be impressed as we were by [Subir]’s practical application of engineering principles. And keep your eyes open for the beautiful magnetic damper hack. It’s a real treat!
One of the nice things about the Internet is that you don’t need huge reference books anymore. You really don’t need big wall charts, either. A case in point: what science classroom didn’t have a periodic table of the elements? Now you can just look up an interactive one from Google. They say it is 3D and we suppose that’s the animations of the Bohr model for each atom. You can debate if it is a good idea to show people Bohr models or not, but it is what most of us learned, after all.
While the website is probably aimed more at students, it is a handy way to look up element properties and it is visually attractive, too. You probably remember, the columns are no accident in a periodic table, so the actual format doesn’t vary from one instance of it to another. However, we liked the col coding and the information panel that appears when you click on an element.
Typically, when we think of 3D printing, we think of gooey melted plastics or perhaps UV-cured resins. However, there’s a great deal of research going on around printing special impregnated filaments with alternative materials inside. [Ahron Wayne] has been working on these very materials, and decided to make himself a brew with a prototype print.
The subject of [Ahron]’s experimentation is a glass-impregnated filament under development by The Virtual Foundry. The filament is full of tiny glass particles, and the idea is that it can be printed like any regular plastic filament. From there, it’s heated in what’s known as a debinding process, which removes the plastic in the print. Then, it’s heated again in a sintering process to bond the remaining glass particles together.
It’s a complex process, and one that leads to some shrinkage in dimensions as well as porosity in the final part. However, where some might see failure, [Ahron] saw opportunity. The porous printed part was used to filter coffee, with the aid of a little vacuum from what sounds like a water venturi.
Last month we brought word of the IKEA VINDRIKTNING, a $12 USD air quality sensor that could easily be upgraded to log data over the network with the addition of an ESP8266. It only took a couple of wires soldered to the original PCB, and since there was so much free space inside the enclosure, you didn’t even have to worry about fitting the parasitic microcontroller; just tape it to the inside of the case and button it back up.
Now we’ve got nothing against the quick and dirty method around these parts, but if you’re looking for a slightly more tidy VINDRIKTNING modification, then check out this custom PCB designed by [lond]. This ESP-12F board features a AP2202 voltage regulator, Molex PicoBlade connectors, and a clever design that lets it slip right into a free area inside the sensor’s case. The project description says the finished product looks like it was installed from the factory, and we’re inclined to agree.
Nothing has changed on the software side, in fact, the ESP-12F gets flashed with the same firmware [Sören Beye] wrote for the Wemos D1 Mini used in his original modification. That said [lond] designed the circuit so the MCU can be easily reprogrammed with an FTDI cable, so just because you’re leaving the development board behind doesn’t mean you can’t continue to experiment with different firmware builds.
It’s always gratifying to see this kind of community development, whether or not it was intentionally organized. [lond] saw an interesting idea, found a way to improve its execution, and released the result out into the wild for others to benefit from. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that this is exactly the kind of thing Hackaday is here to promote and facilitate, so if you ever find yourself inspired to take on a project by something you saw on these pages, be sure to drop us a line.
Like many of us, [quincy] feels the distracting pull of non-work programs on what has become a mixed-use computer. So what’s the answer to the puzzle of work-life balance? We’re not sure, but time management and keeping track of tasks will probably get you most of the way there. The only problem is that keeping track of these things is boring and tedious and way too easy to forget, even for the fun tasks.
Similar commercial gadgets exist to serve this time-tracking purpose, but [quincy] wanted something much cooler that would work the same way: turn the indicator to the current task, and the status gets recorded on a computer. Rather than some smart polygon with informative stickers on each face à la the Timeflip2, [quincy] built a rotary task manager that serves the same purpose, but does it with magnets.
Our favorite part aside from the magnets has to be the clever binary encoding work. [quincy] is using three photoresistors and a single green LED to create a 3D-printed gray encoder that sidesteps the need to ever flip two bits at once. An Arduino takes care of reading the 3-bit code and converting it back into a decimal. There are more updates to come, including the main .ino file, but you can start printing the pieces while you wait.
If you have trouble staying on task, maybe you need a Pomodoro timer. We’ve seen a few over the years, ranging from the minimal to the sculptural.
Subways! They’ve been around for an awfully long time; almost as long as modern railways themselves, believe it or not. Building underground was undertaken in earnest by those in the 19th century, who set out to build networks of stations to allow residents to get around a city quickly and effectively.
That fact should stick in your mind as you sample this glorious retro video from 1992. “L.A. Underground – Safety in the Extreme” is a guide for Californians, aiming to educate residents about the new B Line subway that opened the following year. The video acts as if the subway is a new fangled, mysterious thing, with a couple of confusing off-the-wall moments as well. If you’re a transport enthusiast or get excited about weird public films, this one’s for you.
Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams recount the past week in hardware hacking. There’s a new Tamagochi hack that runs the original ROM on plain old microcontrollers like the STM32. Did you know you can blast the Bayer filter off a camera sensor using a powerful laser and the sensor will still work? We didn’t. There was a lot of debate this week about a commercial jet design alteration that would remove windows — but it’s for the good cause of making the plane more efficient. We marvel at what it takes to pump blood with an artificial heart, and go down the troubleshooting rabbit hole after the magic smoke was let out of a radio.
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!