The Ultimate BRRRT Simulator: Fully Featured A-10 Warthog Cockpit

The Fairchild Republic A-10 “Warthog” with its 30 mm rotary cannon has captured the imagination of friendly soldiers and military aviation enthusiasts on the ground for as long as it’s been flying. One such enthusiast created the Warthog Project, a fully functional A-10 cockpit for Digital Combat Simulator, that’s almost an exact copy of the real thing.

It started as a four monitor gaming cockpit, with a Thrustmaster Warthog H.O.T.A.S. The first physical instrument panels were fuel and electrical panels bought through eBay, and over time more and more panels were added and eventually moved to dedicated left and right side units. All the panels communicate with the main PC over USB, either using Arduinos or purpose-made gaming interface boards. The Arduinos take input from switches and control knobs, but also run 7-segment displays and analog dials driven by servos. The panels were all laser-cut using MDF or perspex and backlit using LEDs.

The main instrument panel is a normal monitor masked with laser-cut MDF and Thrustmaster multi-function display bezels. The cockpit is run by the open source Helios Cockpit Simulator for DCS. The main monitors were replaced by a large custom-built curved projection panel lit up by a pair of projectors. It seems this is one of those projects that is never quite finished, and small details like a compass get added from time to time. Everything is documented in detail, and all the design files are available for free if you want to build your own.

We’ve seen a few impressive simulator cockpit builds from hardcore enthusiasts over the years, including a Boeing 737, P-51 Mustang, and even a Mech cockpit for Steel Battalion. Continue reading “The Ultimate BRRRT Simulator: Fully Featured A-10 Warthog Cockpit”

Fourier Transforms (and More) Using Light

Linear transforms — like a Fourier transform — are a key math tool in engineering and science. A team from UCLA recently published a paper describing how they used deep learning techniques to design an all-optical solution for arbitrary linear transforms. The technique doesn’t use any conventional processing elements and, instead, relies on diffractive surfaces. They also describe a “data free” design approach that does not rely on deep learning.

There is obvious appeal to using light to compute transforms. The computation occurs at the speed of light and in a highly parallel fashion. The final system will have multiple diffractive surfaces to compute the final result.

Continue reading “Fourier Transforms (and More) Using Light”

Super 8 Camera Brought Back To Life

The Super 8 camera, while a groundbreaking video recorder in its time, is borderline unusable now. Even if you can get film for it (and afford its often enormous price), it still only records on 8mm film which isn’t exactly the best quality of film around, not to mention that a good percentage of these cameras couldn’t even record audio. They were largely made obsolete by camcorders in the late ’80s and early ’90s, although some are still used for niche artistic purposes. If you’d rather not foot the bill for the film, though, you can still put one of these to work with the help of a Raspberry Pi.

[befinitiv] has a knack for repurposing antique analog equipment like this while preserving its aesthetic. While the bulk of the space inside of this camera would normally be used for housing film, this makes a perfect spot to place a Raspberry Pi Zero, a rechargeable battery, and a power converter circuit all in a 3D printed enclosure that snaps into the camera just as a film roll would have. It uses the Pi camera module but still makes use of the camera’s built in optics which include a zoom function. [befinitiv] also incorporated the original record button so that from the outside this looks like a completely unmodified Super 8 camera.

The camera can connect to a WiFi network and can stream live video to a computer, or it can record video files to an internal SD card. As a bonus, thanks to the power converter circuit, it is also capable of charging a cell phone. [befinitiv] notes that many of the aesthetic properties of 8 mm film seem to be preserved when using this method, and he has several theories as to why but no definitive answer. If you’d like to take a look at some of his other projects like this, check out this analog camera that is now able to take digital pictures. Continue reading “Super 8 Camera Brought Back To Life”

Expanding On The Creation Of Collapsible Containers

You might remember that industrial designer [Eric Strebel] tried to make a collapsible silicone container with 3D printed molds a few weeks ago, and was finally successful after dozens of attempts. Someone commented that commercial containers are molded in the collapsed position instead of the expanded position, so naturally, [Eric] had to try it once he saw the photographic proof of these molds.

Adding sand to a partially-cured silicone piece so it will take the shape of the expanded mold.This time around, [Eric] made things easier on himself by adding some handles to the mold and using both wax and spray mold release before pouring in the degassed silicone. The first one was a failure —  he had let it cure the whole time in the collapsed mold, and it just didn’t want to stay expanded. On the second attempt, [Eric] decided to pull the piece while it was curing, about 5 1/2 hours into the process.

After carefully de-molding the piece, he pressed it into the grooves of one of the older molds from the days of molding containers in the expanded state. Then he filled it with sand and let it cure the rest of the way. That worked out quite well, but even so, [Eric] made a third attempt that he pulled after 3.5 hours or so when the silicone was still sticky.  He did the sand trick again, but this time, he ran a piece of string up the wall and over the edge so that the air that gets trapped under the sand can escape. The final result looks great, albeit a little bit floppy, but [Eric] fits the final product into a frame that makes them much sturdier. Check out the process in the video after the break.

Did you miss the first installment? It’s worth a look into the science of creating collapsible walls.

Continue reading “Expanding On The Creation Of Collapsible Containers”

MicroSynth, the business card-sized synthesizer

MicroSynth Mixes All-Analog Fun With A Little Business

While [MicroKits]’ MicroSynth is an all-analog synthesizer that fits on a business card-sized PCB, and he actually does use it to break the ice in business meetings, that’s not really the idea behind this project. Rather, [MicroKits] is keen to get people playing with synths, and what better way than a synth you can build yourself?

There was an ulterior motive behind this project, too: prototyping circuits for a more complete synthesizer. Thus, the design is purposely very simple — no microcontrollers, no logic chips, and not even a 555 to be found. It doesn’t even have buttons; instead, the one-octave keyboard just has interdigitated traces that are bridged by the player’s fingers, forming resistive touchpads. The keyboard interface circuit is clever, too — [MicroKits] uses a pair of op-amps to convert the linear change in resistance across the keyboard to a nearly exponential voltage to drive the synth’s voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). The video below shows what it can do.

We love projects like these because they show what can be accomplished strictly using analog circuits. We don’t have any problem with other synth designs, mind you — this 555-based dub siren we featured recently was great, too. Continue reading “MicroSynth Mixes All-Analog Fun With A Little Business”

NASA Sets Eyes On Deep Space With Admin Shuffle

Since the Apollo 17 crew returned from the Moon in 1972, human spaceflight has been limited to low Earth orbit (LEO). Whether they were aboard Skylab, Mir, the Space Shuttle, a Soyuz capsule, or the International Space Station, no crew has traveled more than 600 kilometers (372 miles) or so from the Earth’s surface in nearly 50 years. Representatives of the world’s space organizations would say they have been using Earth orbit as a testing ground for the technology that will be needed for more distant missions, but those critical of our seemingly stagnated progress into the solar system would say we’ve simply been stuck.

Many have argued that the International Space Station has consumed an inordinate amount of NASA’s time and budget, making it all but impossible for the agency to formulate concrete plans for crewed missions beyond Earth orbit. The Orion and SLS programs are years behind schedule, and the flagship deep space excursions that would have utilized them, such as the much-touted Asteroid Redirect Mission, never materialized. The cracks are even starting to form in the Artemis program, which appears increasingly unlikely to meet its original goal of returning astronauts to the Moon’s surface by 2024.

But with the recent announcement that NASA will be splitting the current Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate into two distinct groups, the agency may finally have the administrative capacity it needs to juggle their existing LEO interests and deep space aspirations. With construction of the ISS essentially complete, and the commercial spaceflight market finally coming together, the reorganization will allow NASA to start shifting the focus of their efforts to more distant frontiers such as the Moon and Mars.

Continue reading “NASA Sets Eyes On Deep Space With Admin Shuffle”

Left: kids stomping spiders projected on a driveway. Right: the setup.

Make This Halloween A Spider-Stomping Good Time

We can count on one hand the number of times that we haven’t needed a coat on Halloween night around here. Even if it was fair and sunny the day before, you can count on Halloween being appropriately windy, cold, and spooky. Trick-or-treating only keeps a kid so warm, and we would have loved to happen upon a house with a spider-stomping sugar-burning good time of a game going on in the driveway.

[Kyle Maas] built this game a few years ago, and it has proved quite popular ever since. It’s so popular, in fact, that they have to have someone on duty with a vaudeville hook to yank spectators off the playing field. The point is to stomp as many spiders as you can in a set amount of time, though you only need to stomp one to win. It can handle one to four players, depending on the size of the projection, but [Kyle] says it’s kind of hard to track more than two at a time.

The setup is fairly simple, provided you can reliably affix your projector to something sturdy. [Kyle] used a Structure sensor for the 3D scanner, but you could easily use a Kinect instead. Conversely, the calibration was challenging. [Kyle] ended up using a DSP math trick known as the inverse bilinear transform to be able to calibrate the system using the 3D scanner itself.

If you’re more into scaring the children, just rig up a coffin bell. Either way, don’t forget about our Halloween Hackfest contest, running now through Monday, October 11th. There are more details over on IO. While you’re there, why not check out the list of entries?