When working with limited space or even with limited funding, finding a tool that can do many things for less space or cost than its separate counterparts is a tempting option. The most common downside is that these tools often can’t perform as well as the single-purpose tools they replace, with the obvious example being a pocket-sized multitool or Swiss Army knife. Even things like combination drill and driver tools, adjustable crescent wrenches, or even a kitchen stand mixer can’t quite perform as well as their dedicated counterparts. So when we find a tool that can do two things equally well, like this rock tumbler that can also make a delicious bowl of ice cream, it’s definitely noteworthy.
The project comes to us by way of [North_Stordeur] whose main goal was to create a delicious bowl of ice cream but was deterred by the cost of purpose-built ice cream makers. Making ice cream isn’t a particularly complex process, though, and [North_Stordeur ] realized that grinding down ice for ice cream shares similarities with tumbling and polishing rocks. Normally, the rocks to be polished are placed in a drum with grit and a liquid, then the drum is placed on the tumbler and spun, which causes the rocks to bounce around inside the drum with the grit and smooth out relatively quickly. Replacing sugar for grit, ice for rocks, and milk for the liquid, the ice eventually is worn all the way down, creating an excellent bowl of ice cream.
Truly, the only downside we could see with a build like this is that the drum in the National Geographic rock tumbler that [North_Stordeur] chose for this project looks like it would only make a single serving at a time. However, with picky eaters around who like their own additions to ice cream, this might be a perk as everyone can make exactly the style they like with their own choice of flavors. It’s an excellent discovery for anyone already grinding and polishing rocks or someone who has already built a DIY ball mill for any number of other uses.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Hackaday is constantly hounded by companies that want us to review their latest and greatest gadget. After all, getting us to post about their product is cheaper, easier, and arguably more effective than trying to come up with their own ad campaign. But if you’ve been with us for awhile, you’ll also know that in-house reviews aren’t something we actually do very often.
The reason is simple: we’re only interested in devices or products that offer something useful or unique to this community. As such, the vast majority of these offers get ignored. I’ll give you an example. For whatever reason, multiple companies have been trying desperately to send me electric bikes with five-figure price tags this year. But since there’s no obvious way to turn that into useful content for the readers of Hackaday, I’m still stuck pedaling myself around like it’s the 1900s. I kid of course…I haven’t dared to get on a bike in a decade.
So I don’t mind telling you that, when InfiRay contacted me about reviewing their P2 Pro thermal camera, the email very nearly went into the trash. We’ve seen these kind of phone-based thermal cameras before, and it seemed to be more of the same. But after taking a close look at the specs, accessories, and claims laid out in the marketing material, I thought this one might be worth checking out first-hand.
One of the most common ways of measuring the speed of a vehicle is by using radar, which typically involves generating radio waves, directing them at a moving vehicle, and measuring the various ways that they return to the device. This is a tried-and-true method, but can be expensive and technically complex. [GeeDub] wanted an easier way of measuring vehicles passing by his home, so he switched to using sonar instead to measure speeds based on the sounds the cars generate themselves.
The method he is using is similar to passive sonar in submarines, which can locate objects underwater based on the sounds they produce. After a false start attempting to measure Doppler shift, he switched to time correlation using two microphones, essentially using stereo audio input to detect subtle differences in arrival times of various sounds to detect the positions of passing vehicles. Doing this fast enough and extrapolating the data gathered, speed information can be calculated. For the data gathering and calculation, [GeeDub] is using a Raspberry Pi to help keep costs down, and some further configuration of the microphones and their power supplies were also needed to ensure quality audio was gathered.
With the system in place in a window, it detected around 9,000 vehicles over a three-day period. The software generates a normal distribution of vehicle speeds for this time, with the distribution centered on around 35 MPH, slightly above the posted speed limit of 30. As long as there’s a clear line of sight to the road using this system it’s just as effective as some other passive systems we’ve seen to measure vehicle speed. Of course, active speed measurement systems are not out of the realm of possibility if you’re willing to spend a little more.
[Adrian Smith] recently scored an avionics module taken from a British Aerospace 146 airliner and ripped it open for our viewing pleasure. This particular aircraft was designed in the early 1980s when the electronics used to feed the various displays in the cockpit were very different from modern designs. This particular box is called a ‘symbol generator’ and is used to generate the various real-time video feeds that are sent to the cockpit display units. Various instruments, for example, the weather radar, feed into it, and it then reformats the video if needed, mixing in any required additional display.
There are many gold-plated chips on these boards, which indicates these may be radiation-hardened versions of familiar devices, most of which are 54xx series logic. 54xx series logic is essentially the same functionally as the corresponding 74xx series, except for the much wider operating temperature range mandated by military and, by extension, commercial aviation needs. The main CPU board appears to be based around the Intel 8086, with some Zilog Z180 compatible processors used on the two video display controller boards. We noted the Zilog Z0853604, which is their counter/timer/GPIO chip. Obviously, there are many custom ASICs produced by Honeywell as well as other special order items that you’ll never find the datasheet for. Now there’s a challenge!
Finally, we note the standard 400 Hz avionics-standard power supply, which, as some may know, is the standard operating frequency for the AC power system used within modern aircraft systems. The higher frequency (compared to 50 or 60 Hz) means the magnetic components can be physically smaller and, therefore, lighter for a given power handling capability.