Mini Falcon 9 Uses NASA Software

[T-Zero Systems] has been working on his model Falcon 9 rocket for a while now. It’s an impressive model, complete with thrust vectoring, a microcontroller which follows a predetermined flight plan, a working launch pad, and even legs to attempt vertical landings. During his first tests of his model, though, there were some issues with the control system software that he wrote so he’s back with a new system that borrows software from the Space Shuttle.

The first problem to solve is gimbal lock, a problem that arises when two axes of rotation line up during flight, causing erratic motion. This is especially difficult because this model has no ability to control roll. Solving this using quaternion instead of Euler angles involves a lot of math, provided by libraries developed for use on the Space Shuttle, but with the extra efficiency improvements the new software runs at a much faster rate than it did previously. Unfortunately, the new software had a bug which prevented the parachute from opening, which wasn’t discovered until after launch.

There’s a lot going on in this build behind-the-scenes, too, like the test rocket motor used for testing the control system, which is actually two counter-rotating propellers that can be used to model the thrust of a motor without actually lighting anything on fire. There’s also a separate video describing a test method which validates new hardware with data from prior launches. And, if you want to take your model rocketry further in a different direction, it’s always possible to make your own fuel as well.

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Omnidirectional Walker With Wheeled Feet

[James Bruton] is on a quest to explore all the weird and wonderful methods of robot locomotion, and in his latest project created an omnidirectional walker that can move in any direction instantaneously.

The walker actually makes use of three independent four-legged Strider mechanisms, connected in a triangle at 120deg. Wheels are attached to the bottom of each leg, oriented at a right angle to the leg’s plane of motion to allow the foot to slide. Varying the relative speed and direction of each of the mechanisms lets the robot move in any direction, similar to his ball-wheeled robot. Each strider mechanism uses a single motor and looks similar to Strandbeest walkers, but it lifts its feet to traverse rougher terrain. [James] demonstrates this with some obstacles, and found that moving in such an orientation that all three sets of legs provide the best results.

[James] planes to build a larger rideable version, but we think he should mount a chest of Sapient Pearwood to carry all his stuff and name it The Luggage.

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A New Way To Produce PCBs With Your 3D Printer

With the low-cost PCB fabrication services available to hackers and makers these days, we’ll admit that making your own boards at home doesn’t hold quite the appeal that it did in the past. But even if getting your boards professionally made is cheaper and easier than it ever has been before, at-home production still can’t be beat when you absolutely must have a usable board before the end of the day.

If you find yourself in such a situation, this new method of DIY PCB production detailed by [Adalbert] might be just what you need. This unique approach uses a desktop fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer throughout all of its phases, from creating a stencil based on the exported board design, to warming the UV soldermask to accelerate the curing process. It may not be an ideal choice for densely packed boards with fine-pitch components, but could definitely see it being useful for many prototypes.

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Hackaday Prize 2022: Digital Dice Towers Built In Beautiful Retro Cases

Retro hardware often looks fantastic, but we may find we no longer need it for its original function. [John Anderson] found that to be the case with some old Heathkit gear, and set about giving them a fun overhaul.

With the help of AVR microcontrollers, the devices have been repurposed into electronic dice towers for playing Dungeons & Dragons. A seed is generated based on the chip’s uptime, and supplied to a pseudorandom number generator that emulates dice rolls. The devices can be configured to roll a variety of dice, including the usual 6, 8, 10, and 20-sided varieties. Plus, they can be set to roll multiple dice at a time — useful when you’re rolling complicated spells and attacks in combat.

[John] has converted a variety of Heathkit devices, from Morse code trainers to digital multi-meters. They provide their beautiful cases and a great retro aesthetic, and we think they’d make fitting table decoration for retro cyberpunk tabletop games, too.

Creating your own electronic dice is a great way to get familiar with programming microcontrollers. Video after the break.

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Biomimetic Surfaces: Copying Nature To Deter Bacteria And Keep Ship Hulls Smooth

You might not think that keeping a boat hull smooth in the water has anything in common with keeping a scalpel clean for surgery, but there it does: in both cases you’re trying to prevent nature — barnacles or biofilm — from growing on a surface. Science has looked to nature, and found that the micro-patterning formed by the scales of certain sharks or the leaves of lotus plants demonstrate a highly elegant way to prevent biofouling that we can copy.

In the case of marine growth attaching to and growing on a ship’s hull, the main issue is that of increased drag. This increases fuel usage and lowers overall efficiency of the vessel, requiring regular cleaning to remove this biofouling. In the context of a hospital, this layer of growth becomes even more crucial. Each year, a large number of hospital patients suffer infections, despite the use of single-use catheters and sterile packaging.

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DOOM Runs On The EMFCamp Tidal Badge

If it’s got a chip and a screen, someone’s trying to run DOOM on it. The latest entry in this fad is from [Phil Ashby], who figured out how to get the game running on the EMFCamp Tidal Badge as seamlessly as possible.

The badge is based on the ESP32-S3. It’s the latest version of the ESP32, which can run the iconic shooter pretty easily. However, [Phil] set himself a trickier challenge. He wanted to port DOOM to the badge while having it remain compatible with the MicroPython platform already on it. Plus, he wanted to be able to distribute it easily with the TiDAL Hatchery, a platform for sharing apps for the badge.

In the end, it took some deft hacking to make the game run on a microcontroller platform that isn’t really set up for running “applications.” It took some tricks to scale the video output and get the colors right, of course, but it’s there and working.

The state of the art is now so advanced that they managed to port DOOM into DOOM so you can DOOM while you DOOM. Video after the break.

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