27 Litres And 12 Cylinders, With A Practical Station Wagon Body

If you were to name one of the most famous individual road cars in the world, what would it be? If you’re British and of a Certain Age, then it’s possible your nomination is for sale, because “The Beast”, the one-off creation of [John Dodd] using a 27-litre Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engine, is up for auction. The Late Brake Show’s [Jonny Smith] has given it a drive, and we’ve pasted the resulting video below the break.

A second-hand motor isn’t usual Hackaday fare, but it’s the manner of this car’s building which we think will draw you in. [John] originally acquired somebody’s failed project featuring not a Merlin but its de-tuned derivative intended for tanks. He solved the problem of finding a transmission able to handle the immense power, and built it up with a pretty 1970s coupe body. After a fire a few years later he commissioned a new body from a dragster manufacturer, which is the wildly period estate car you’ll see in the video. It famously originally had a Rolls-Royce Cars grille, for which he ended up in court in the 1980s as the carmaker sought successfully to have it removed.

The tale of this car is one of epic scale hackery, as there is quite simply nothing else like it. It was once the world’s most powerful road car, and remains capable of well over 200 miles per hour. Sadly we couldn’t afford to buy it even if we could fit its immense length in our parking space.

Hungry for more epic British car hackery? Have we got the roadster for you!

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The USB Protocol, Explained

If you can explain what a USB PID, a J state, a K state, and an SOF are, you can probably stop reading now. But if you don’t know or you want a refresher, you can spend 15 minutes watching [Sine Lab’s] straightforward explanation of the USB protocol details. You can find the video below.

The motivation for this is he wants to add USB to his projects using an ATMega with a hardware USB implementation. Honestly, most of the time, you’ll just consume some premade library and get it working that way. However, understanding the terminology can help you, especially if things don’t go as planned.

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Low-Power Wi-Fi Includes E-Paper Display

Designing devices that can operate in remote environments on battery power is often challenging, especially if the devices need to last a long time between charges or battery swaps. Thankfully there are some things available that make these tasks a little easier, such as e-ink or e-paper displays which only use power when making changes to the display. That doesn’t solve all of the challenges of low-power devices, but [Albertas] shows us a few other tricks with this development board.

The platform is designed around an e-paper display and is meant to be used in places where something like sensor data needs to not only be collected, but also displayed. It also uses the ESP32C3 microcontroller as a platform which is well-known for its low power capabilities, and additionally has an on-board temperature and humidity sensor. With Bluetooth included as well, the tiny device can connect to plenty of wireless networks while consuming a remarkably low 34 µA in standby.

With a platform like this that can use extremely low power when not taking measurements, a battery charge can last a surprisingly long time. And, since it is based on common components, adding even a slightly larger battery would not be too difficult and could greatly extend this capability as well. But, we have seen similar builds running on nothing more than a coin cell, so doing so might only be necessary in the most extreme of situations.

More Drill Press Mods: Adding A VFD Means No More Belt Changes

A decent drill press is an essential machine tool for almost any kind of shop, and marks a significant step up in precision compared to a hand drill. The ability to drill square, true holes is one thing, but the added power over what’s possible with a portable tool is the real game changer. If only you didn’t have to switch around those damn belts to change speeds, though.

You don’t, of course, if you go through the effort to add a variable frequency drive to your drill press like [Midwest Cyberpunk] did, along with some other cool mods. The donor tool for these mods came from — where else? — Harbor Freight. Some will quibble with that choice, but the tool was pretty cheap, and really all [Midwest] was interested in here was some decent castings and a quill with acceptable runout, since the entire power train of the tool was slated for replacement. The original motor gave way to a beefy Baldor 3-phase/240-volt motor controlled by a VFD mounted on a bracket to the left of the drill press head, allowing the stock belt and step pulley transmission to be greatly simplified. Continue reading “More Drill Press Mods: Adding A VFD Means No More Belt Changes”

Making Dry Ice At Home Is Just As Hard As It Sounds

Along the road to developing his own cryocooler to produce liquid nitrogen, there are a number of interesting rabbit holes [Hyperspace Pirate] has found himself taking a look at. For example, using dry ice for a pre-cooling stage and subsequently wondering what it’d take to make this dry ice oneself.

Getting the CO2 required for the dry ice is the easy part, requiring nothing more complicated than baking soda and a suitable acid (like hydrochloric acid). The other options to gather CO2 include using yeast, capturing the gas from the air people breathe out, calcium hydroxide, etc., none of which are as easy or convenient.

The acid is mixed with the baking soda, with the produced gas led through a bubbler and subsequent dehumidification stage before being collected. For the more involved part of getting dry ice, a bit more science is needed. First, a compressor is used to get pressurized CO2 into a previously evacuated tank at 160 psi (~12 bar). For the next phase the compressed gas has to be compressed further so that it condenses into a liquid. This involves a second compressor stage and a repurposed paintball tank. At the needed pressure of 1000 psi (69 bar), safety is essential.

With liquid carbon dioxide in the paintball tank, all it takes at this point is to turn the tank upside-down to get the liquid part near the exhaust valve and crank it open. Capturing the dry ice at this point is another fascinating challenge, which was partially solved by a 3D printed mold, with plenty of room for improvement still.

Given the cost and effort involved in producing it, just buying dry ice at the local store looks like it’s still the way to go for your Halloween fog machine this year. But it’s a fascinating experiment regardless, especially since it actually produced results — unlike some of the attempts we’ve covered previously.

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Retrotechtacular: The Revolutionary Visual Effects Of King Kong

Today, it’s easy to take realistic visual effects in film and TV for granted. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has all but done away with the traditional camera tricks and miniatures used in decades past, and has become so commonplace in modern productions that there’s a good chance you’ve watched scenes without even realizing they were created partially, or sometimes even entirely, using digital tools.

But things were quite different when King Kong was released in 1933. In her recently released short documentary King Kong: The Practical Effects Wonder, Katie Keenan explains some the groundbreaking techniques used in the legendary film. At a time when audiences were only just becoming accustomed to experiencing sound in theaters, King Kong employed stop-motion animation, matte painting, rear projection, and even primitive robotics to bring the titular character to life in a realistic way.

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Hackaday Podcast 209: HDMI Tempest, Norm Upscaled, Seeing Electrons, And When The Radios Go Silent

It was one of those weeks, where Elliot and Dan found a bounty of interesting hacks to choose from for the podcast, making it hard to pick. But pick we did, and we found so many deep and important questions. What good is a leaky HDMI cable? Good for falling down a TEMPEST-like rabbit hole, that’s what. Why would you use a ton of clay to make a car? Because it’s cool, that’s why. What does an electron look like? A little like a wiggling wire, but mostly it looks like a standing wave… of waves.

Is artificial intelligence going to take over all the code and start suing us for copyright violations? Maybe yes, maybe no, but we’re definitely in a strange, new world. And when all our media is on demand, what is the spectrum that broadcasters currently use going to be good for?

It’s not all heavy questions, of course; we found a lot of fun hacks, like an extreme drill press makeover, a couple of low-power cyberdecks, the return of Norm Abram in glorious AI-generated HD, getting up close and personal with flip dot displays, and a sled that lets you go uphill as easily as going downhill.

Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

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