Hackaday Links: April 17, 2022

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There are plenty of stories floating around about the war in Ukraine, and it can be difficult to sort out which ones are fact-based, and which are fabrications. Stories about the technology of the war seem to be a little easier to judge, and so stories about an inside look at a purported Russian drone reveal a lot of interesting technical details. The fixed-wing UAV, reported to be a Russian-made “Orlan,” looks quite the worse for wear as it’s given a good teardown by someone wearing Ukraine military fatigues. In fact, it looks downright homemade, with a fuel tank made from what looks like an old water bottle, liberal use of duct tape to hold things together, and plenty of hot glue sprinkled around — field-expedient repairs, perhaps? The big find, though, is that the surveillance drone carried a rather commonplace — and cheap — Canon EOS Rebel camera. What’s more, the camera is nestled into a 3D printed cradle, strapped in with some hook-and-loop tape, and its controls are staked in place with globs of glue. It’s an interesting collection of hardware for a vehicle said to cost the Russian military something like $100,000 to field. The video below shows a teardown of a different Orlan with similar results, plus a lot of dunking on the Russians by a cheery bunch of Ukrainians.

One of the best things about 3D printing is that it gives you not only the ability to create parts that never existed before, but also to recreate parts from existing mechanisms that are difficult or impossible to come by. And perhaps nowhere is this latter use case put to the test more than in the automotive world, where styles change on a whim and broken or missing parts can put a real crimp in your ride. Perhaps sensing the potential loss of revenue from parts that are printed rather than purchased, Honda has issued a takedown order for any models related to their brands. Models for anything from high-wear interior trim parts to functional parts were included in the takedown issued to Prusa’s Printables; it’s not clear if similar orders were issued to other model repositories. What’s interesting is that Prusa reports the Scary Legal Letter was accompanied by a long list of specific models it wanted removed, meaning some corporate lawyers — or more likely, their interns — trolled through the site looking for anything even slightly Honda-esque. We get the the need to protect IP, but preventing people from printing a replacement windshield washer tank cap seems overly aggressive.

If you happened to have had a spare $500,000 lying around, looks like you missed your chance to pick up five Orlan drones bid on a piece of space history — a sample of the first lunar regolith collected by the Apollo 11 mission. The moon dust is part of the “contingency sample” that Neil Armstrong was supposed to collect immediately after stepping onto the surface of the Moon; in case they had to book it out of there in a hurry, NASA wanted to make sure they had at least one souvenir. But, like any tourist, Armstrong was fiddling with his camera and didn’t get around to collecting the contingency sample for a couple of minutes, during which scientists back on Earth were no doubt horrified by thoughts of the LM sinking into the lunar dust. How exactly a plastic bag filled with dust in Armstrong’s pocket would have made such a scenario any better is a mystery, but regardless, everything went according to plan and after a weird journey back on Earth, the samples made it to the auction block this week, where they were sold to an anonymous collector for half a million dollars. We really should have been more on the ball with this story, and if anyone out there missed out on the bidding because we failed to give you a heads-up, we sincerely apologize.

In another bit of algorithmic serendipity, most of us in the Hackaday writer’s secret underground lair got a video recommended to us that we simply have to pass on. It shows the process by which certain heatsinks are made, and it’s a strangely hypnotic thing to watch. The process, called skiving, uses a wide and incredibly sharp blade to skim very thin sections from a block of copper or aluminum and then tilt them up to stand vertically. Increment down the block, repeat the process, and soon you’ve got a solid block of material turned into a beautiful heatsink, and without any waste, at least compared to how much swarf would be generated by traditional machining. In fact, it occurs to us that were not sure how to classify this operation — it’s certainly not additive machining, like 3D printing, but neither likewise does it fit into the subtractive machining bucket. Whatever it is, be sure to check out the other skiving videos on the channel — you won’t be disappointed.

And finally, if you’ve got a spare 90 minutes, we heartily suggest you find something better to do than watch the full video of the original Windows 95 launch. Unless, of course, you love that cringe, because there’s plenty of cringeworthy material here. For those not willing to commit to the full experience, Gizmodo has done an admirable job pulling out the best parts, which includes silliness from the likes of Bill Gates (of course), Steve Ballmer, and Jay Leno — we’d forgotten about his appearance. Between the checks written to Leno and the Rolling Stones for the rights to “Start Me Up” — did anyone actually read all the lyrics? — this party set Microsoft back quite a few bucks. But, given that some major players are still running Windows 95 today, it was probably a drop in the bucket.

26 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: April 17, 2022

  1. “We get the the need to protect IP, but preventing people from printing a replacement windshield washer tank cap seems overly aggressive.”

    Once 3D printing and scanning matures It’ll do to design IP what CD/DVD burners did to the content industry. “You wouldn’t download a car” will soon be said in irony.

    1. i always figured those were some kind of extrusions. but i don’t think copper lends itself to being extruded like aluminum does. so i always thought it was some kind of extrusion friendly alloy and not pure copper.

      1. Lots of interesting info in the full video comments (I hate shorts, I just find them annoying)


        They dull the blade of the so that it will enter the copper correctly and cut a uniform thickness (my guess would be that if the blade is too sharp the tip of the fin or burr would be thinner than the base of the fin – but this is the very first time I’ve heard of Skiving, which is a very interesting process).
        The processing tool is made from steel, which is often used in chisels and knifes, it has a steel hardness 58 or higher.

        1. Metals cut by means of crack propagation ahead of the leading edge of the blade.

          In metals like steel there’s a tendency for the cracks to head toward the surface, so you have to keep pushing the blade down into the metal. If you give the blade the correct positive rake (more than 90 degrees between the surface of the workpiece and the upper surface of the blade), displaced metal sliding along the upper surface of the blade applies enough force to pull the blade into the metal for a constant-depth cut.

          Metals like copper and brass are ductile enough that a blade with positive rake will pull deeper into the material. That increases the amount of metal pushing down on the upper surface of the blade, puling the cutting edge even deeper into the workpiece. If the blade is held solidly enough that it won’t advance, the workpiece itself will bend and ‘climb’ the blade. Either way, you go from nice light cuts to a crash in a fraction of a second.

          Because of that it’s normal to cut copper and brass by scraping, using a blade with zero rake (leading edge perpendicular to the workpiece surface) or negative rake (less than 90 degrees between the leading edge of the blade and the surface of the workpiece) which will try to push the cut out toward the surface.

      2. Most of the aluminium ones are extruded but copper has a much higher melting temperature and extruding copper would be complex and expensive.

        I’m assuming the first “fin” would start at a depth from the top of the copper and end at the surface to be removed completely so that all the remaining fins have a predominantly rectangular shape.

  2. i remember the win95 launch. there were banners everywhere. couldn’t go to a shopping center without seeding 20 of them. enough where you almost thought that microsoft overthrew the government.

    1. There was a problem that had to be solved. Micro$oft wasn’t getting the industry support from manufacturers to write Win95 drivers for their hardware and weren’t really going to budge until Windows was launched. Micro$oft had seen this coming during the long development time of Win95A, Win 95 A being the first version of Win 95 released.

      Micro$oft made a basic effort to write generic drivers that left the manufacturers of more complex devices out in the cold, a lot of the Plug ‘n’ Prey ID’s were ambiguous and the end result was that Version A would frequently lock up and turn itself into a 300MB mouse driver over a frozen screen. It was a buggy pre-release that often froze up released early to prompt industry acceptance of writing Win95 drivers.

      System designers (really just choosing the components) quickly found which components worked together well and which didn’t and this hit the bottom line of many manufacturers quickly and prompting them to write divers. A this stage there was a lot of money made out of searching for and installing drivers.

      Then Win 95 B was released It didn’t really address the driver issue as the industry was dragging it’s feet but it did address many software issues and Win95B was quite stable even though it lacked a lot f drivers. So still much money being made finding and installing drivers.

      The Last version Win 95 C had minor improvements to the Windows environment and stability especially with more complex hardware such as AGP video. It did however have a very wide range of drivers and would work out of the box with just about any hardware. Only the newest hardware needed manual driver install and often the disk was included wit the product.

      Then the next problem, the Win95 default configuration was still full of security holes and that was addressed in Win 98.

      1. Hah! Wait until you need an ECU – good luck finding one. Even if you find a used ECU it will cost many thousands. Of course the manufacturer/reseller will whine about the “chip shortage”. Yeah, the intentional chip shortage.

          1. If the manufacturer can’t sell you an ECU because they don’t have chips to put in it, then they’re definitely not going to be making a profit. Ditto the chip manufacturer that can’t sell a chip they don’t have.
            The only people profiting are the people in the middle who managed to buy chips before they went out of stock, and can now charge what they like.

  3. It seems like all that Honda are taking issue with is the use of their name, in which case the community just needs to agree upon some kind of alternative name to call them. My first reaction was f#$@k Honda, turned into Fonda, but that’s too Jane. Maybe hAnda? As in handy for Honda?

    1. I knew that, so I wonder how this can be for sale. There’s a small finite amount of moon samples, I can’t believe any of it is surplus. If they don’t need it, put it in a.museum.

      1. Seems like some people are realizing that Apollo lunar samples will soon lose a lot of value, as a number of countries are working at going to the moon and bringing back samples, and are trying to unload the stuff. Seems like it’s already too late; is anybody going to care if a sample is from 1969 or 2024?

  4. The drone part is a little disingenuous. Wikipedia suggests that the $100k price tag is for a complete ‘system’ with a controller and multiple aircraft. So… the cost per drone is somewhere BELOW 50k. Honestly, I think using off the shelf components for a drone is pretty smart. The US Government would spend millions developing an imaging system… the Russians went to Best Buy and bought a camera that fit the needed specs. A real life example of the fake ‘space pen’ anecdote! Getting a military drone for even 100k is a steal. The US RQ-7 seems to be a similar tactical recon platform… and we pay $750k each for them.

    1. Do you realize that using components made by your “enemy” in military equipment might be a good money saver and theft helper in peace time, but not a great idea for war time?
      Now Russia cannot produce or fix pretty much any weapons that use electronics, because vast majority of semiconductors and anything that uses semiconductors is imported from “enemy countries”.
      But all in all, I’m glad they made those decisions, it makes their army weaker and equipment harder to fix or replace.

      1. I mean, yes, but the list of nations that can match your goal of complete technological independence is pretty darned short. Again… Is it cheaper to develop an entirely domestic toolchain in Russia for every component of an advanced imaging system… Or to just buy more Canon DSLRs than you could every possibly need before you start a world war?

        Do you think American equipment ISN’T full of Chinese components? Because it is. Your goal isn’t a bad one but diminishing returns are real… At a certain point… Buying 100 times what you think you need just in case you can’t get them in the future is the only thing to do.

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