We’re fans of unusual forms of transport here, so when we saw an article featuring a home-made motorcycle chariot we knew we had to share it with you. You’ll probably notice it comes from the keyboard of our colleague [Lewin Day] as he moonlights writing for The Drive, and he’s brought along a lot of context and history to the dual-Husqvarna chariot built by [Jack Field].
The machine itself is a chariot in the ancient Roman fashion, a two-wheeled platform on which the rider stands and holds the reins. Instead of a team of horses though there is the aforementioned pair of Husqvarna motorcycles, and a pair of rods to their handlebars with throttle and brake controls take the place of reins. It’s fair to say that this might not be the least hazardous of conveyances, but it appears both rideable and controllable, and will appear at motorcycle shows. truth be told we’d like to have a go ourselves, but since it’s in Australia we think there’s little chance. Unexpectedly the motorcycle chariot is not a new idea, with their being used for full-scale races back in the 1930s. There’s a trip into that world with some exciting but lethal-looking racing action to view, but it seems that these machines exist here in 2022 mostly for show.
While it doesn’t have the recognition of DEF CON or even HOPE, the Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) holds the record for the longest continually running computer convention, dating all the way back to 1976. TCF has offered vendor spaces, a swap meet, workshops, and keynote talks for almost as long as the personal computer has existed. But until now, all that knowledge was only available to those in the Northeast US that were willing to follow the itinerant event as its bounced between venues over the decades.
Two years might not sound like much, especially given the fact that there’s still 40+ years unaccounted for. But thanks to the incredible amount of content that is squeezed into each year’s event, the TCF YouTube channel is currently playing host to more than 80 presentations that run the gamut from live musical performances to deep-dives on the Apollo Guidance Computer and quantum computing. Whatever you’re interests happen to be, there’s a good chance you’ll find a presentation or two that talks about it in this impressive collection.
When we made our last visit to this legendary convention, our only real complaint was the fact that none of the presentations were being recorded. With over 40 talks crammed into a six hour event, attendees couldn’t hope but to see more than a fraction of what was on the schedule. The nature of going virtual obviously made it much easier to preserve all this incredible content for later viewing, but it’s unclear if the organizers will be able to maintain that momentum in 2023 when it’s expected TCF will once again be in-person.
Computer memory has taken on many forms over the years, from mercury-based delay-line tubes to handwoven magnetic core. These days, volatile storage using semiconductors has become ubiquitous with computing, but what if there was a better way? [Michael Kohn] has been working on a new standard for computer memory that uses glow in the dark stickers.
Clearly we jest, however we’re still mighty impressed by the demonstration. Eight delightful star-shaped phosphorescent stickers represent eight bits of memory, totaling one byte. The glow in the dark material is stuck to the inside of short cylinders, each of which contains a white LED and a phototransistor. The memory array is wired up to an iceFUN FPGA board, which is then connected via level shifters to a Western Design Center MENSCH single board computer.
We often write a post and then learn something new and cool from the comments. The same thing happened when [Andreas] posted a video about monitoring fluid levels. Commenters told him that the best fluid level sensor was a hacked blood pressure monitor. He didn’t know that, and we didn’t either, until we watched his video, below.
It is well-known that an air-tight tube in a tank that is closed at the top and open inside the tank will develop a pressure that corresponds to the liquid level in the tank. This is a common approach when you want the pressure sensor to be far away from the tank in, say, an enclosed building. So why use a blood pressure monitor? Because a common enhancement to the system is to use a pump to pressurize the measurement tube first so the system can tolerate small leaks. The blood pressure monitor has everything you need: a pump, a valve, and a pressure sensor.
Here’s a fun quick hack from [Timo Birnschein] about using the 3D laser engraving (or ‘stamp’ engraving) mode of certain laser cutter toolchains to create a handy countersink shape in a laser-cut and engraved workpiece. Since [Timo] uses a small laser cutter to cut out and mark project boards for their electronics builds, having an extra messy, manual countersinking operation with subsequent clean-up seemed like a waste of time and effort, if the cutter could be persuaded to do it for them.
Designs are prepared in Inkscape, with an additional ‘3D engraving’ layer holding the extra processing step. [Timo] used the Inkscape feathering tools to create a circular grayscale gradient, leading up to the central cut hole (cuts are in a separate layer) which was then fed into Visicut in order to drive the GRBL-based machine, However, you could do it with practically any toolchain that supports laser power control during a rastering operation. The results look perfectly fine for regions of the workpiece not on show, at least, but if you’re only interested in the idea from a functional point of view, then we reckon this is another great trick for the big bag of laser hacks.
Vizy is a Linux-based “AI camera” based on the Raspberry Pi 4 that uses machine learning and machine vision to pull off some neat tricks, and has a design centered around hackability. I found it ridiculously simple to get up and running, and it was just as easy to make changes of my own, and start getting ideas.
I was running pre-installed examples written in Python within minutes, and editing that very same code in about 30 seconds more. Even better, I did it all without installing a development environment, or even leaving my web browser, for that matter. I have to say, it made for a very hacker-friendly experience.
Vizy comes from the folks at Charmed Labs; this isn’t their first stab at smart cameras, and it shows. They also created the Pixy and Pixy 2 cameras, of which I happen to own several. I have always devoured anything that makes machine vision more accessible and easier to integrate into projects, so when Charmed Labs kindly offered to send me one of their newest devices, I was eager to see what was new.
I found Vizy to be a highly-polished platform with a number of truly useful hardware and software features, and a focus on accessibility and ease of use that I really hope to see more of in future embedded products. Let’s take a closer look.
Let’s face it: this world is pretty broken right now. From environmental crisis to disease and famine, shortages of just about everything, infrastructure failures, not to mention wars and social breakdown, things are getting pretty hairy out there. While it’s tempting to just curl up and pretend everything is good, that’s probably not going to work as even a short-term plan.
Luckily, we hackers are uniquely positioned for situations like this. After all, we fix stuff, and we’re certainly living in a target-rich environment of stuff that needs fixing. What’s more, nothing gives us as much fulfillment as taking a situation that everyone else thinks is beyond help and turning it into a solved problem.
These are the times that people like us can really shine, and the 2022 Hackaday Prize is the perfect forum for that. With this year’s theme of Sustainability, Resiliency, and Circularity, there’s plenty of scope for all of us to make a contribution. To help us get kicked off, Majenta Strongheart, Head of Design and Partnerships at Supplyframe, will drop by the Hack Chat with all the details on this year’s Prize.
Come prepared to pick her brain on how the Prize is going to work this year, find out about the different challenge opportunities, and learn everything there is to know about this year’s competition. It’s the Greatest Hardware Design Challenge on Earth, and we need it now more than ever.