A wall-mounted display made from 18 golden hexagonal mirrors

Peer Into Space Through This James Webb-Style Hexagonal Mirror

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) generated considerable excitement when its first test images were released earlier this year: they proved that the instrument was working and helped its engineers to set up all systems for maximum performance. But the real proof of the pudding came last week, when the first batch of beautiful full-scale pictures was unveiled. If you thought those pictures were pretty enough to hang on your wall, you’re not the only one: [Fredrik], also known as [Cellar Nerd], built a wall-mounted display, shaped like the JWST’s main mirror, that cycles through images taken by the space telescope.

The frame holding the mirror is made of plywood. [Fredrik] designed it in Fusion 360, but decided to cut it by hand using a jigsaw; 3D printing the thing would have resulted in a large number of small pieces that might be hard to fit together with sufficient accuracy. After cutting the wood and painting it black, it was simply a matter of sticking the mirror tiles on top and the basic JWST design was done.

The set of eighteen golden hexagonal mirrors might seem to be the hardest bit to make, but was actually the easiest: [Fredrik] simply bought them ready-made on Amazon. The item’s description didn’t include any precise measurements, so he had to wait until the mirrors arrived before he could make the rest of the setup. The segments also don’t have the nanometer accuracy required for a real telescope: in fact, they’re not even flat enough to be useful as an everyday mirror. But that doesn’t really matter: the whole setup is pretty enough that [Fredrik]’s wife even wanted it to have pride of place in the hallway.

An old 15.6″ laptop display sits behind the frame and shows an image through the gap in the center. The display is quite a bit larger than necessary, so the images are always placed in the middle of the screen and scaled to obtain the correct size. A Raspberry Pi 2 is used to store the images and drive the display; it currently cycles through a fixed set of pictures, but [Fredrik] plans to have it automatically download the latest JWST images once a reliable online source is available.

If the basic design looks a bit familiar, you might have seen this static James Webb mirror that we featured before. We’ve also taken a deep dive into the fascinating engineering behind the JWST’s cryocooling system that gives it its spectacular infrared performance. Continue reading “Peer Into Space Through This James Webb-Style Hexagonal Mirror”

Robot Arm Has The Touch

[Maurizio] built a robot arm, which is always a great accomplishment. But his project includes a very cool touch interface for an Android device that sets it apart from many other similar projects.You can see a very fast summary of the construction in the video below.

The design uses Fusion 360 and there are good explanations of each step in the process. The gripper is adapted from an existing design. Various 3D printed parts make up the wrist, shoulder, elbow, and rotating base.

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Hackaday Links: July 17, 2022

Webb’s first deep-field image. Source: NASA

The folks at NASA are taking a well-deserved victory lap this week after the splashy reveal of the first scientific images from the James Webb Space Telescope. As we expected, the first public release included a lot of comparisons to images obtained from Hubble, as the general public understandably sees Webb as the successor to the venerable space telescope, now in its third decade of service. So for a “let’s see what this baby can do” image, they turned Webb loose on a tiny patch of sky in the southern hemisphere containing galactic cluster SMACS 0723, and sent back images and spectroscopic data from galaxies up to 13 billion light years away. There are plenty of analyses of Webb’s deep field and the other images in the first release, but we particularly liked the takes by both Anton Petrov and Dr. Becky. They both talk about the cooler scientific aspects of these images, and how Webb is much more than just a $10 billion desktop image generator.

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On the left side, there's a smartphone. On the right side, there's a hairdryer turned on. On the smartphone screen, you can see the working end of the hairdryer shown, as well as a jet of air coming out of that end. In the background, there's an LCD screen showing a noise pattern.

Observe Airflow Using Smartphone And Background-Oriented Schlieren

Multiple people have recently¬†shared this exciting demonstration (nitter) with us – visualizing airflow using a smartphone, called ‘background-oriented schlieren’. On a hot summer day, you might see waves in the air – caused by air changing density as it warms up, and therefore refracting the light differently. Schlieren photography is an general set of techniques for visualizing fluid flow, but of course, it can also be applied to airflow. In this case, using some clever optical recognition tricks, this schlieren method lets you visualize flow of air using only your Android smartphone’s high resolution camera and a known-pattern printed background! Continue reading “Observe Airflow Using Smartphone And Background-Oriented Schlieren”

It Turns Out You Can’t Just Fly A Drone Under Water

The differences between a drone and an underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) aren’t actually that large. Both have powerful motors that move large volumes of fluid (yes, air is a fluid), a camera, a remote, and an onboard battery. So when [RCLifeOn] got his hands on a cheap used drone, he reckoned that it could fly underwater just as well as it did in the air.

To his credit, the principle was sound, and the initial tests looked promising. However, we will spoil the ending and tell you it doesn’t work out as well as he hoped due to water leakage. He printed a case with a large panel for accessing electronics inside and an acrylic window for the camera. The panel pressed up against a gasket via the few dozen metric screws along the perimeter. Despite the design being quite whimsical, he quickly regrets the screws as getting inside is tiring on the wrists. He epoxies the hatch to the hull and drills holes to charge the battery to stop the seemingly never-ending water leaks. After its maiden journey, water got inside and fried some of the motor controllers. So for the second test run, he used what limited capabilities it had left.

Despite the project not working out how he expected, it’s a great example of how some reused parts and some 3d printing can make something entirely different. So perhaps next time, instead of throwing that broken drone away, see if it could be given just a bit of love. Possibly the propellers can be combined or make do with only three motors. Or just go the [RCLifeOn] route and make it into something new entirely.

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Beautiful Inductors, Now Not Such A Lost Art

As ferrite technology has progressed into a mastery of magnetic permeability, the size of inductors has gone down to the point at which they are now fairly nondescript components. There was a time though when inductors could be beautiful creations of interleaving layers of copper wire in large air-cored inductors, achieved through clever winding techniques. It’s something that’s attracted the attention of [Brett], who’s produced a machine capable of producing something close to the originals.

Part of the write-up is an investigation of the history, these coils were once present even at the consumer level but are now the preserve of only a few highly secretive companies. They are still worth pursuing though because they can deliver the high “Q” factor that is demanded in a high quality tuned circuit. The rest of the write-up dives in detail into the design of the wire feeder, and the Arduino motor control of the project. There should be enough there for any other experimenters to try their hands at layered inductors, so perhaps we’ll see this lost art make a comeback.

Custom coils are a regular requirement for anything from radios, to musical instruments, to switching power supplies, so it’s not surprising that quite a few projects featuring them have made it here. One of the more unusual of late has been one that winds toroids.

A Home Made Sewing Machine May Be The Only One

The sewing machine is a tool that many of us will have somewhere around our workshop. Concealed within it lies an intricate and fascinating mechanism. Some of us may have peered inside, but very few indeed of us will have gone to the effort of building our own. In case you had ever wondered whether it was possible, [Fraens] has done just that, with what he claims may be the only entirely homemade sewing machine on the Internet.

If you’ve ever studied the history of sewing machines you’ll notice that it bears a striking resemblance to some of the earliest commercial machines, with a relatively short reach and an entirely open construction. The main chassis appears to be laser-cut acrylic while all the fittings are 3D-printed, with machined brass bushes and aluminum rods for the other metal parts. The design utilizes a hand crank, but is also pictured with a DC motor. It makes for a fascinating illustration of how sewing machines work. Sadly we can’t see any design file links (Update: He’s contacted us to tell us they’re now on Thingiverse.), so you might have to be inventive if that’s the way you want to build your own. Take a look at it in the video below the break.

Fancy a sewing machine but don’t fancy making your own? We’ve got the guide for that, and for filling the rest of your textile bench.

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