Hackaday Links: August 14, 2022

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What’s this? News about robot dogs comes out, and there’s no video of the bots busting a move on the dance floor? Nope — it looks like quadruped robots are finally going to work for real as “ground drones” are being deployed to patrol Cape Canaveral. Rather than the familiar and friendly Boston Dynamics “Big Dog” robot, the US Space Force went with Ghost Robotics Vision 60 Q-UGVs, or “quadruped unmanned ground vehicles.” The bots share the same basic layout as Big Dog but have a decidedly more robust appearance, and are somehow more sinister. The dogs are IP67-rated for all-weather use, and will be deployed for “damage assessments and patrols,” whatever that means. Although since this is the same dog that has had a gun mounted to it, we’d be careful not to stray too far from the tours at Kennedy Space Center.

If you’re living out in the sticks, your choices for high-speed internet are sometimes limited to Starlink or paying out tens of thousands of dollars to have utilities extended to your house. Or, if you’re Jared Mauch from Scio Township in Michigan, there’s another way — take the hacker credo to extremes and build your own ISP. Having been quoted $50,000 by Comcast to extend lines to his house, about five years ago he decided instead to just start his own ISP by laying two miles of underground fiber to connect to the nearest network provider. He installed all the gear needed to service his own house plus his surrounding neighbors. He has built up his network to 14 miles of fiber servicing about 70 customers. He now has a contract with the State of Michigan to extend service to 417 addresses in Scio and surrounding towns. At $55/mo for 100 Mbps or $79/mo for 1 Gbps, it sounds like he could easily cover the $50k Comcast wanted, but in reality, increased costs are really eating into the bottom line of his mini-ISP. Still, hats off to Jared for getting this off the ground.

Hopefully, by now you’ve heard about our new Cyberdeck Contest! We’re really excited by this one — cyberdecks are a fun way to celebrate the cyberpunk aesthetic while potentially building something that really turns out to be useful. The cyberdecks we particularly love are the ones that bristle with sensors and radios, but we’re keen to see anything that you can come up with. We know it’s a hard time to be putting a Pi into any project, but maybe that’s a good thing — it’ll force you to think outside the Pelican case a bit and maybe look at atypical architectures. You can check out all the details on the contest page, and scope out the current competition here.

We don’t go to bars much — OK, ever — but from what we gather, a big part of the experience can be the social interaction with the bartender. There’s the old trope about getting a little liquid courage on board and pouring one’s heart out to the barkeep, which really sounds just awful for the person making the drinks. So, mixologists would appear to have some measure of job security, right? Maybe not, if you don’t mind crying into your beer in front of a dual-wielding Robo-tender with a personality. The bot is a little terrifying — the link is just an abstract, but has an embedded video showing it in action at around the 8:30 mark. We’ll let you decide if you’d be willing to have this thing mix drinks and chat you up for tips.

And finally, astronomy buffs are living their best life these days, as breathtaking images pour in from the new James Webb Space Telescope, not to mention the seemingly endless bounty of pictures coming down from the ever-expanding fleet of Mars rovers. It’s hard to keep up with what NASA makes publically available, so space nerds might want to look at what Z3R0C1PH3R has done to automate the process of downloading interesting astronomy pictures. The script automatically downloads an image from NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day via its API — far and away the best use of taxpayer dollars we’ve heard of in a long time — and creates a voiceover of the image description using Amazon’s Polly text-to-speech API. It’s a nice piece of work, and subscribing to the YouTube channel is a great way to keep up on what’s going on at APOD.

14 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: August 14, 2022

  1. No doubt Comcast and the other last-century dinosaur ISPs are already working up laws in Michigan to prevent this guy (and others like him) from competing with them.

    1. But that’s how ISPs started. The first one here was a few computers in a closet, not a very fast connection. You paid and got a limited number of hours.

      It took a few years for the big boys to move in, often by buying up those small pioneer companies. I vaguely know someone who had an ISP, sold out when it was time, and I assume his now richness came from the sale.

    2. I doubt it. In the actual article about the guy he said he pretty much spent $50,000 for his own hookup and as mentioned here with long fiber runs to his neighbors eating his bottom line…It likely wasn’t profitable for Comcast. Which is why they didn’t do it.

      This is where 5G home internet would really shine.

  2. Big Dog was a gas-powered DARPA-funded from around 2005…

    The 4-legged robot Boston Dynamics sells is called Spot. Neither Spot nor the Ghost robots look much like Big Dog

  3. IP67 means the device kept dry while submerged in a tank at 1m depth for 30 min. It’s good to know that this is a static pressure test. Heavy rainfall can give a much higher water pressure than an IP67 device can withstand.

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