Electric Surfboard Gets An Overhaul

One of the realities of building your own hardware is that it will more often than not lead to constant tinkering and revisions. [Simon]’s 3D printed electric surfboard is no exception as it recently got an overhaul. The motors were upgraded from 5000 W to 7500 W, most parts were redesigned to use bearings, and the impellers were swapped out. Luckily, almost all the electronics inside were suitable for reuse.

We previously covered the surfboard in question, and we’re always excited to see an old project revisited. The bearing reduces vibrations and allows the system to last longer. Despite the water cooling on the motors, the temperatures were still getting relatively high when running full tilt. So rather than buying more efficient (and more expensive) motors, he opted to reduce the load on the motors by changing out the impeller from a double to a single. But this meant cutting and grinding a new shaft as now needed to be one impeller shorter.

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Stable Diffusion And Why It Matters

You might not have heard about Stable Diffusion. As of writing this article, it’s less than a few weeks old. Perhaps you’ve heard about it and some of the hubbub around it. It is an AI model that can generate images based on a text prompt or an input image. Why is it important, how do you use it, and why should you care?

This year we have seen several image generation AIs such as Dall-e 2, Imagen, and even Craiyon. Nvidia’s Canvas AI¬†allows someone to create a crude image with various colors representing different elements, such as mountains or water. Canvas can transform it into a beautiful landscape. What makes Stable Diffusion special? For starters, it is open source under the Creative ML OpenRAIL-M license, which is relatively permissive. Additionally, you can run Stable Diffusion (SD) on your computer rather than via the cloud, accessed by a website or API. They recommend a 3xxx series NVIDIA GPU with at least 6GB of RAM to get decent results. But due to its open-source nature, patches and tweaks enable it to be CPU only, AMD powered, or even Mac friendly.

This touches on the more important thing about SD. The community and energy around it. There are dozens of repos with different features, web UIs, and optimizations. People are training new models or fine-tuning models to generate different styles of content better. There are plugins to Photoshop and Krita. Other models are incorporated into the flow, such as image upscaling or face correction. The speed at which this has come into existence is dizzying. Right now, it’s a bit of the wild west. Continue reading “Stable Diffusion And Why It Matters”

The Coolest 1990s Film Scanner To Work With Windows 11

Unless you happen to be a retro enthusiast, it’s fair to say that any photography you do (whether on your phone or a dedicated camera) is going to be digital. The world of photography has all but completely moved away from film, but the transition was not instantaneous. Instead there was a period of about ten years from the mid-90s when film and digital existed side-by-side in some form. A profitable sideline for photography shops was providing scans of film, and there were a series of high-end scanners aimed at that market.

[Kai Kaufman] shares the experience of making one of these work with a modern Windows version, and it’s interesting both because of the scanner itself and the epic tale of software detective work required to bring it up to date. The scanner in question is a Pakon F135, the product of a Kodak acquisition, and an all-in-one device that simply spools in a roll of film and does all the hard work of identifying the frames, cropping the images, and reading any other data from the film.

You may never have seen one of these machines, but if you ever had your photos on a CD as well as printed back in the day you’ve probably had its output. The problem in 2022 is that these machines have drivers which only work with relatively ancient 32-bit Windows versions, so most of the write-up involves some significant detective work into the drivers.

Not every reader will be an expert on Windows driver de-compilation, but perhaps the most interesting pieces of the puzzle come from his detective work in finding the origin of some components. Example code from Microsoft and from a chip design company both make the job much easier, and the final result is a fully functioning 64-bit driver for the device. Not many people will have a Pakon film scanner, but for those who do it seems life may just have become a bit easier.

Thanks [adilosa] for the tip!

Digging Out An Underground Workshop

[Michael] of Teaching Tech moved, and with a large crawlspace under the house, he decided to turn it into a workshop.

There were a few challenges that needed to be addressed first. He had to dig out the crawlspace to provide a level surface, though the depth was limited by the concrete footers the building stands on. The house is sitting on and around large amounts of limestone, which is excellent from a stability standpoint but causes problems for [Michael]. Water can easily travel through limestone, meaning it ends up in his newly dug-out crawlspace. He dug trenches for water to exit and laid down gravel. After a few attempts to level the floor, he found some recycled plastic floor mats and finally got them where he liked them.

Wheeling his tools down a long and steep hill to the shop looks like most of the challenge. But with a few additions to the shop, like hard tube dust extractions and a french cleat system, he has an incredibly functional dedicated shop space.

If your crawlspace is too small for people, a tiny remote-controlled forklift could turn it into the storage space you need.

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