[Smart Tronix] doesn’t just tell you to salvage the stepper motors out of the drives — they show you how it’s done and even take the time to explain in writing what stepper motors are and why you would want to use them in this project, which is a remix of [maggie_shah]’s design over on Thingiverse. As you might expect, the two steppers are wired up to an Arduino Uno through a CNC shield with a pair of A4988 motor drivers. These form the two axes of movement — the 250mW laser is attached to x, and the platform moves back and forth on the y axis. We’d love to have one of these to mess around with. Nothing that fits on that platform would be safe! Just don’t forget the proper laser blocking safety glasses!
Before LEDs became cheap enough to be ubiquitous, flip-card displays were about the only way to get a digital clock. These entirely electromechanical devices had their own charm, and they have a certain retro cachet these days. Apart from yard sales and thrift stores, though, they’re a bit hard to source — unless you roll your own, of course.
Granted, [David Huang]’s ESP32-based flip clock is worlds apart from the flip cards of the “I Got You, Babe” era. Unfortunately, the video below is all we have to go on to get the story behind this clock, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. [David] started the build by making the flip cards themselves, a process that takes some topological tricks as well as a laser cutter. 3D-printed spools are loaded with the cards, which are then attached to frames that hold a stepper motor and a Hall-effect sensor. The ESP32 drives the steppers via L298N H-bridge drivers, but it’s hard to say if there’s an RTC chip or if the microcontroller is just getting time via an NTP server.
[David] might not be the only one trying to recapture that retro look, but we’ve got to hand it to him — it’s a great look, and it takes a clever maker to not only build a clock like this, but to make a video that explains it all so clearly without a single word of narration.
Over the last couple few decades there has been a great shift in electric lighting, first towards more compact and efficient fluorescent lights, and then towards LED bulbs. The old incandescent bulbs, while giving a pleasant light, were not by any means efficient. Digging into the history books the incandescent bulb as we know it was not the only game in town; while suspending a filament in a vacuum stopped it from being oxidized there was another type of light that used a ceramic element at atmospheric pressure. The Nernst lamp required its filament to be heated before it would conduct electricity, and [Drop Table Adventures] has made one using the blade from a ceramic potato peeler.
The right ceramic is not the problem given the ease of finding ceramic kitchen utensils, but two problems make a practical light difficult. The copper connections themselves become too hot and oxidize, and preheating the ceramic with a blowtorch is difficult while also keeping an even heat. Finally, they do manage a self-sustaining lamp, albeit not the brightest one.
With mass vaccination programmes and careful application of public health measures it almost feels for some of us as though the pandemic is under control. Any thoughts of it being over are illusory though, and if further reminders were needed we have the news that once more this year’s Chaos Communication Congress has been cancelled due to the safety of its attendees and the extra precautions that its organizers would have to undertake.
This event in Leipzig between Christmas and New Year is probably the largest of the European gatherings in our community, and its loss will be a great disappointment. Last year’s cancelled event was replaced by a remote one, we’ll see whether they repeat that feat in 2021. If so, we’ll be there, virtually.
We can only sympathise with our German friends, as while it must be extremely annoying it’s to their credit that they are taking the pandemic seriously. We’re sure that they will be back with the same event in 2022 as the world slowly inches towards normality, and Hackaday will be there to bring you the best of the event.
For a long time fixed wing VTOL drones were tricky to work with, but with the availability of open source flight control and autopilot software this has changed. To make experimentation even easier, [Stephen Carlson] and other researchers from the RoboWork Lab at the University of Nevada created the MiniHawk, a 3D printed VTOL aircraft for use a test bed for various research projects.
Some of these project include creating a longer wingspan aircraft by combining multiple MiniHawks in mid-flight with magnetic wing-tip mounts, or “migratory behaviors“. The latter is a rather interesting idea, which involves letting the craft land in any suitable location, and recharging using wing mounted solar panels before continuing with the next leg of the mission. With this technique, the MiniHawk could operate on mission almost indefinitely without human intervention. This is a departure from some other solar planes we’ve seen, which attempt to recharge while flying, or even ditch batteries completely, which limits operation to sunny weather conditions.
The design is open source, with all the relevant information and files available on GitHub. This looks like a fun craft even if you don’t plan on doing research with it, and [Stephen] also created an FPV specific canopy cover.
Halloween is basically built for the hacker. Besides the obvious fabrication of absurd costumes, there’s also the chance to showcase your skills, be they mechanical, audio, or video. It’s also a great time to show off our coolest tricks to inspire the young proto-hackers. If you need inspiration, we’ve got 150 ideas.
My personal problem with Halloween, though, is that I always start at the last minute, and my ideas far outreach my time budget. Or because it’s all done in the last minute, a whole bunch of ideas that should “just work” in theory run into the immovable object that is practice. At least that’s what happened with last year’s spooky sound effects — my son and I spent so much time collecting and recording scary audio samples that I ran out of time while still getting the sensitivity on the motion detector set just right, and then the battery died halfway through the night.
But this year will be different, I swear! I’m going to get it done early and test it out, with the luxury of time to debug the inevitable spiders. And you can swear too. Get started now on your Halloween project. Or at least next weekend.
What’s your favorite Halloween Hack?
If you need any more encouragement to fire up your black and orange hacking machine, think of Hackaday.io’s Halloween Hackfest. It runs until Oct 28, and all you have to do to enter is document your Halloween project on IO and press the “Submit” button. The deadline is the 28th, which still gives you a couple of nights to debug whatever didn’t work before the real deal. Prizes are shopping sprees at Digi-Key, and Adafruit is doubling the gift certificate if you use any Adafruit parts in the build.
If you don’t give a pumpkin about stupid ol’ Halloween, that’s cool too. (Grinch!) The 2021 Hackaday Prize has entered the final wildcard round. If your project didn’t fit in any of the previous categories, I’m pretty sure it’ll fit just fine in the anything-goes phase. Go nuts. We’d love to see what you’re working on.
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Legged robots span all sorts of shapes and sizes. From the paradigm-setting quadrupeds built from a pit-crew of grad students to the Kickstarter canines that are sure to entertain your junior hackers, the entry point is far and wide. Not one to simply watch from the sidelines, though, [Oracid] wanted to get in on the quadruped-building fun and take us all with him. The result is 5BQE2, a spry budget quadruped that can pronk around the patio at a proper 1 meter-per-second clip.
Without a tether, weight becomes a premium for getting such a creature to move around at a respectable rate. Part of what makes that possible is [Oracid’s] lightweight legs. Designing the legs around a five-bar linkage tucks the otherwise-heavy actuators out of the leg and into the body, resulting in a limb that’s capable of faster movement. What’s more, 5BQE2 is made from the LEGO plastic building bricks of our heydays. And with a full bill-of-materials, we’re just about ready to head over to our parents’ garage and dust off those parts for a second life.
For some action shots of 5BQE2, have a look at the video after the break. And since no set would be complete without the building instructions, stay tuned through the full video to walk through the assembly process step-by-step.
Here at Hackaday, we’re certainly no stranger to walking automatons, but not all robots use their legs for walking. For a trip down memory lane, have a look at [Carl Bugeja’s] buzzing Vibro-bots and UC Berkeley’s leaping Salto.