As their prospects for victory in the Second World War became increasingly grim, the Germans developed a wide array of outlandish “Wonder Weapons” that they hoped would help turn the tide of the war. While these Wunderwaffe obviously weren’t enough to secure victory against the Allies, many of them represented the absolute state-of-the-art in weapons development, and in several cases ended up being important technological milestones. Others faded away into obscurity, sometimes with little more then anecdotal evidence to prove they ever even existed.
One of these forgotten inventions is the Fliegerfaust, a portable multi-barrel rocket rocket launcher designed for use against low-flying attack planes. Although thousands were ordered to defend Berlin in 1945, fewer than 100 were ever produced, and there’s some debate about how many actually survived the war. But that didn’t stop [Jonathan Wild] of Wild Arms Research & Development from building a functional replica of the weapon based on contemporary documentation and blueprints.
Building the launcher was relatively straightforward, as it’s little more than nine tubes bundled together with a handle and a simplistic electric igniter. The trick is in the 20 mm (0.78 inch) rockets themselves, which are spin stabilized by the exhaust gasses exiting the four angled holes on the rear. With no fins or active guidance the path of each rocket is somewhat unpredictable, but this was known to be true of the original as well.
As the browser becomes more like an operating system, we are seeing more deep features being built into them. For example, you can now do a form of assembly language for the browser. Sophisticated graphics have been around using WebGL since around 2011, but some people find it hard to use. [Surma] was one of those people and tried a new method that is just surfacing to do the same thing: WebGPU.
[Surma] liked it better and shares a lot of information in the post and — oddly — the post doesn’t use WebGPU for graphics very much. Instead, the post focuses on using GPU cores for fast computation, something else you can do with WebGPU. If your goal is to draw on the screen, though, you need to know the basics and the post links to a site with examples of doing this.
Humans love visualising music, whether it’s in the form of an inscrutable equation drawing squiggles in Winamp, or a simple VU meter pulsing with the beat. This build from [mircemk] is of the latter variety, repurposing a VFD display to do the job.
The project is built around a VFM202MDA vacuum fluorescent display, which provides that lovely green-blue glow we all know and love, driven by a PT6314 driver chip. This has the benefit that it can be readily driven by a microcontroller in much the same way as the familiar HD44780 character LCD driver chip. With some minor tweaks, the character set can be modified to allow the display to become a surprisingly-responsive VU meter.
An Arduino Nano runs the show, with an envelope follower circuit feeding a signal for the left and right channels into the analog inputs of the microcontroller. The Arduino then measures the voltage on those inputs and feeds the necessary commands to the PT6314 driver to update the display.
The resulting VU meter has 38 bars per channel, and is highly responsive. The fast flickering of the meter bars in response to the music make it compelling to watch, and the era-appropriate enclosure the project is built in adds plenty to the aesthetic.
Pendulum clocks aren’t used quite as often these days as their cumbersome mechanics and timekeeping abilities have long been outshone by electronic alternatives. However, they’re still fun and they do work, so [PuzzLEGO] set about building a working example with Lego.
The core of the clock is the escapement, a linkage which the pendulum can only turn in one direction. As the pendulum swings once per second, it lets the escapement gear turn one notch forward at a time, turning the gears of the clock which drive the hands. It’s powered with a falling weight in the form of a drink bottle full of water, which turns the gears of the clock via a chain.
The clock can only run for approximately an hour, so it’s set up with a second and minute hand instead of the more usual minute and hour hand. However, with the pendulum tuned to the appropriate length and the weight fitted, it pleasantly ticks and tocks the seconds away.
If you didn’t know better, you might think the phrase “class A amplifier” was a marketing term to help sell amplifiers. But it is, of course, actually a technical description of an amplifier that doesn’t distort the input waveform because it doesn’t depend on multiple elements to handle different areas of the input waveform. Want to know more? [FesZ] has a new video covering the basics of class A amplifiers including some great simulations. You can see the video below.
A class A amplifier uses a transistor that is always biased on. It never saturates or switches off. This is good for linearity, but not always the best for efficiency so there are other classes of amplifiers, too. However, for many applications, class A is the most common configuration.
There are a number of trade-offs involved with each type of amplifier and [FesZ] covers them in detail. But the real interesting part is the simulations in Spice. Sure, you can build the circuits and look at everything with a meter or scope, but using Spice is much handier.
There is a second video upcoming. We hope he covers other amplifier types too, as you really do want to understand the differences when you need to design something. If you want more Spice stuff, check out some of our previous posts. If for some reason, you don’t like LTSpice, there’s always Micro-Cap 12.
Traditionally, when it comes to high-tech self-assembling microscopic structures for use in medicine delivery, and refined, delicate grippers for robotics, there’s been a dearth of effective, economical options. While some options exist, they are rarely as effective as desired, with microscopic medicine delivery mechanisms, for example, not having the optimal porosity. Similarly, in so-called soft robotics, many compromises had to be made.
A promising technology here involves the manipulation of flat structures in a way that enables them to either auto-assemble into 3D structures, or to non-destructively transform into 3D structures with specific features such as grippers that might be useful in both micro- and macroscopic applications, including robotics.
Perhaps the most interesting part is how much of these technologies borrow from the Japanese art of origami, and the related kirigami.
[Ivan] has been working on printed human-sized tanks for years, and his latest revision aims to solve many of the problems that have hampered its performance in the past. A belt drive is the first major upgrade, aiming to improve the reliability of the drivetrain which has been a pain point in the past. The motor mounts also get built out of aluminium this time to help keep things cooler, as melting was a potential concern previously.
The tank’s controls are also upgraded, this time using a simple pedal system to control the brushless motors for easier driving. There’s even a printed seat for better ergonomics. The result is a giant tank big enough for an adult human, with the bonus that it’s now easy to steer and no longer requires [Ivan] to lie down inside to fit.