It’s not an overstatement to say that the International Space Station (ISS for short) is an amazing feat of engineering, especially considering that it has been going for over two decades. The international collaboration isn’t just for the governments, either, as many images, collected data and even some telemetry have been made available to the public. This telemetry inspired [Bryan Murphy] and his team to create the ISS MIMIC, a 1:100 scale model of the ISS that reflects its space counterpart.
The model, covered by [3D Printing Nerd] after the break, receives telemetry from the real ISS and actually reflects the orientation of the solar panels accordingly! It also uses this entirely public information to show other things like battery charge level, power production, position above the earth and more on a display. An extra detail we appreciated is the LEDs near the solar panels, which are red, blue or white to indicate using battery, charging battery and full battery respectively. The ISS orbits the earth once every 90 minutes, which can be seen by the LEDs changing color as the ISS enters the shadow of the earth, or exits it.
What could you do to make this better you might ask? Make the it open-source of course! The ISS MIMIC is fully open-source and uses common tools like 3D printing with PLA, Raspberry Pis and Arduinos to make it as accessible as possible for education (and hackers). Naturally, the goal of this project is to educate, which is why it’s open-source and aims to teach programming, electronics, mechatronics and problem solving.
[Teaching Tech’s] latest video discusses “3D printed Velcro.” But as even he admits, Velcro is a trademark, so we think it is more appropriate to talk about hook and loop fasteners. In fact, you can see the good-natured official video about the trademark below [Teaching Tech’s] video. Regardless, his experiments with several 3D-printed Vel… fastener designs are worth watching.
Some of the designs were rather large, like we would have expected. However, some of the designs were fairly small and looked almost like real Velcro. However, since the pattern is not as random as the fabric portions of the real deal, it seems like alignment between parts is more critical when you are joining the two halves.
Heat pumps are taking the world by storm, and for good reason. Not only are they many times more efficient than electric heaters, but they can also be used to provide cooling in the summer. Efficiency aside, though, they’re not perfectly designed devices, largely with respect to their climate control abilities especially for split-unit setups. Many of them don’t have remotely located thermostats to monitor temperature in an area, and rely on crude infrared remote controls as the only user interface. Looking to make some improvements to this setup, [Danilo] built a setup more reminiscent of a central HVAC system to control his.
Based on an ESP32 from Adafruit with an integrated TFT display, the device is placed away from the heat pump to more accurately measure room temperature. A humidity sensor is also included, as well as an ambient light sensor to automatically reduce the brightness of the display at night. A large wheel makes it quick and easy to adjust the temperature settings up or down. Armed with an infrared emitter, the device is capable of sending commands to the heat pump to more accurately control the climate of the room than the built-in controls are able to do. It’s also capable of logging data and integrating with various home automation systems.
While the device is optimized for the Mitsubishi heat pumps that [Danilo] has, only a few lines of code need to be changed to get this to work with other brands. This is a welcome improvement for those frustrated with the inaccurate climate controls of their heat pumps, and since it integrates seamlessly into home automation systems could also function in tandem with other backup heat sources, used in cold climates when it’s too cold outside to efficiently run the heat pump. And, if you don’t have a heat pump yet, you can always try and build your own.
[Tom’s] ultimate goal is to put his new tiny air engine on a small model aircraft. To enable consistent performance, his engine needs a regulator, but off-the-shelf models for industrial use were too hefty for his use. Thus, he set about equipping his engine with a lightweight regulator of his own 3D-printed design.
His latest ball-valve air engine was then designed to run on this lower regulated pressure of approximately 30 psi. It initially proved less efficient than his previous designs, but some engineering analysis revealed the problem. [Tom] does a great job of stepping through his process of understanding how these engines perform, and how he uses these findings to guide his design choices going forward.
It’s also great to see a YouTuber not just building fun things, but taking measurements and doing some real engineering. [Tom’s] air engines keep getting better, and we can’t wait to see where he takes his designs next.
It may have taken ten years to come through on this particular Kickstarter, but a promise is a promise. In late August 2023, backers who had since likely forgotten all about the project started receiving their oscilloscope watches from creator [Gabriel Anzziani]. Whatever the reason(s) for the delay, the watch looks great, and is miles ahead of the prototype pictures.
As you may have guessed, it functions as both a watch and an oscilloscope. The watch has 12- and 24-hour modes as well as an alarm and calendar, and the ‘scope has all the features of the Xprotolab dev board, which [Gabriel] also created: ‘scope, waveform generator, logic analyzer, protocol sniffer, and frequency counter.
Internally, it has an 8-bit Xmega microcontroller which features an internal PDI, and the display is a 1.28″ E ink display. When we covered this ten years ago, the screen was the type of Sharp LCD featured in the Pebble watch. [Gabriel]’s ‘scope watch features eight buttons around the edge which are user-programmable. One of [Gabriel]’s goals was for people to make their own apps.
The build uses a 3D-printed frame printed in opaque grey, with a diffuser element printed in a more translucent white. This is key to allowing the LED to nicely glow through the lamp without ugly distracting hotspots spoiling the effect. The lamp mounts 36 WS2812B LEDs in strip form. These are controlled from an Arduino Nano running the FastLED library for lightweight and easy control of the addressable LEDs. Smooth rainbow animations are made easy by the use of the HSV color space, which is more suitable for this job than the RGB color space you may otherwise be more familiar with.
[andrei.erdei] does a great job of explaining the build, including the assembly, electronics, and code aspects. The latter could serve as a particularly good resource if you’re just starting out on your own builds in the blinky, glowable space. Video after the break.
[Devin Coldewey] shared his experiences with some of the more unusual VR concepts on display at SIGGRAPH 2023. Some of these ideas are pretty interesting in their own right, and even if they aren’t going to actually become commercial products they give some insight into the kinds of problems that are being worked on. Read on to see if anything sparks ideas of your own.
In the area of haptics and physical feedback, Sony shared research prototypes that look like short batons in which are hidden movable weights. These weights can shift up or down on demand, altering their center of gravity. [Devin] states that these units had a mild effect on their own, but when combined with VR visuals the result was impressive. There’s a video demonstration of how they work. Continue reading “See Some Of The Stranger VR Ideas From SIGGRAPH”→