Hackaday Links: December 3, 2023

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Sure, it does less than originally promised, but hey — at least it’s more expensive. That about sums up Tesla fans’ feelings after the long-awaited Cybertruck reveal at the Texas Gigafactory on Thursday, where Elon Musk himself handed over the keys — or their Cyber equivalent — to a few new owners. These are expensive machines — $61,000 for the two-motor model, and just shy of $100,000 for the three-motor all-wheel-drive model with all the bells and whistles. That’s considerably more than they were expected to cost back in 2019, a fact which may be at least partially behind the drop in Tesla shares after the launch.

Curiously, Elon seemed to fixate on the survivability and toughness of the truck, perhaps in an attempt to rehabilitate the image of the truck after his “demo-hell” sneak peek a few years back, where the prototype’s “bulletproof” windows lost a fight with a metal ball. The demo this time was a considerably less energetic affair, with a baseball softly lobbed at the window. Elon also spent a lot of time going on about the bulletproofing of the truck’s “exoskeleton,” complete with video of various weapons trying to breach it. He also referred to the suitability of the Cybertruck for a post-apocalyptic world, which we very much doubt since we’re pretty sure these things won’t even start unless they can connect to the interwebz. Regardless, we find his apocalyptic fixations a little disturbing; when the richest man in the world is thinking this way, it might be a good idea to wonder what he knows.

Switching to internal combustion engines, we spied a “just rolled into the shop” story about a Ford F150 engine with catastrophic damage that seemed worth sharing as a cautionary tale if nothing else. The V6 Ecoboost engine was on a truck bought at auction — always a crapshoot — that the new owner claimed “had a little ticking sound.” He tried a few things, the sound got steadily worse, and then — well, when you can see daylight from one side of the engine block to the other, it’s not a good thing. There was damage from the top of the engine right down into the oil pan, where the remains of the failed piston and connecting rod came to rest. Amazingly, the owner said the engine still ran after the piston let loose; Built Ford Tough indeed! We know, we know — EVs will make all these issues go away. And while we agree that that’s a good thing overall, at the same time we’ll miss seeing teardowns like these.

In other Ford news, it looks like the pickup truck of the future will have a 3D printer and robotic arm built into its bed, for — reasons? The automaker has a patent pending with the German patent and trademark office whose title translates to “Passenger Car Configured To Perform Additive Manufacturing Operations,” and from the drawings appears to be an arm that’s attached to a rail across the width of the truck bed with some sort of fanciful print head attached. Exactly what this machine would print is an open question, but you could imagine uses on construction sites and the like. Or, perhaps they’ll equip it with a metal-printing head and allow users to print new engine blocks as they need them.

Good news everyone: contrary to what you might think, the Internet does not pose a risk to mental health. This comes from a study out of the University of Oxford, which examined mental health data from 2.4 million people between the ages of 15 and 89 over the period between 2005 and 2022. They found that Internet use had “little to no” impact on “global well-being.” The researchers came to this conclusion by comparing Internet use with results from the Gallup World Poll, which asks survey respondents to rate things like, “Did you smile or laugh a lot lately?” and “Did you feel well-rested?” They found no statistically significant change in well-being over the test period, but honestly, that standard seems like a moving target — the world is an objectively different place than it was in 2005, after all. And really, just a few minutes on Reddit or the comments section on YouTube should be enough to convince you that these results should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

And finally, we’re not sure what to make of this anti-sleep laser system drivers in China are being subjected to. It appears to be a series of laser projectors set up from one highway sign stanchion to another, in addition to blinkenlights adorning their uprights. The display is eye-catching, to say the least, but in these days of flashing light warnings on YouTube videos, this seems a little overboard.

27 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: December 3, 2023

        1. I read in my grandmother’s diary about her honeymoon trip to Yellowstone in 1921 in a Ford model T. “Motor threw a rod climbing mountain. Frank took it apart while I made lunch. He fished the pieces out of the oil pan, melted them back together, and we were on our way again in about 3 hours”.

          I think this means the babbitt (a soft metal like brass) fell out of the connecting rod bearing. He collected the pieces, melted them in a tin can, and poured the molten metal back into the fill hole in the connecting rod. Then he put the engine back together, and they were on their way. Imagine doing any repairs like this on a modern car!

          1. Your grandparents experience reminds me of a chapter in the book “Anything Can Happen”.
            Also around a hundred years ago, the author (a recent immigrant) had a wheel on his truck break in the desert near Las Vegas. Cash limited, he could not afford a replacement wheel at a junk yard, so he bought a wheel he could afford. The junk man told him it wouldn’t fit his truck, as the hub was too large.

            While walking to town, he had noticed a discarded lead battery along the road and a piece of sheet metal. While walking back, he was given a ride by a man back to the truck. During the ride he mentioned he was going to use the wheel to replace the broken one. The driver said that was the wrong make of wheel and that it wouldn’t work. They ended up betting $20. The author asked the driver to make a couple of stops on the way back, where he picked up the battery and sheet metal. When they arrived at the truck, the author built a fire, and placed the battery on the sheet metal and over the fire. The battery lead melted, and using the sheet metal, he poured the molten lead into the hub of replacement wheel and quickly placed the wheel on the truck, where the cooling lead filled in the extra space. The other man paid the author the $20, and asked how he knew it would work.
            The author replied, “In America, people will bet on anything.” He drove to the junk yard, bought the proper wheel with his winnings, and continued on to California.

          2. Comment is actually to Ren…

            “…he poured the molten lead into the hub of replacement wheel and quickly placed the wheel on the truck, where the cooling lead filled in the extra space.”

            I can see pouring molten lead into the hub of a wheel sitting on the ground… but tilting said wheel upright without the lead spilling out seems… dubious. I feel like someone is taking some serious artistic license with that story.

  1. “These are expensive machines — $61,000 for the two-motor model, and just shy of $100,000 for the three-motor all-wheel-drive model with all the bells and whistles.”

    Not cheap, but compared to large pickup trucks they are not charging an extreme premium, also factor in inflation for the last few years and I’m surprised that the high-end configurations are under $100K at all. In fact I am skeptical that the under a $100K isn’t a reporting error (or just falling for marketing).

    1. There are a lot of pickup trucks around with price tags at or more than $100K.

      The problem with the CT roll-out is that it was teased for 4 years. In other words, peaked too early.

  2. I’m a person who can experience significant pain from flashing lights (though thankfully not seizures!), and those didn’t seem too bad. I hope that they did thorough testing though.

  3. > Regardless, we find his apocalyptic fixations a little disturbing; when the richest man in the world is thinking this way, it might be a good idea to wonder what he knows.

    Or question his sanity…

  4. I guess the advantage of an IC engined vehicle post apocalypse is that they can be persuaded to run on many types of hydrocarbon and can be considerably simpler to repair and maintain than an EV.

    But, incredibly ironic really, the kind of person who’d want an apocalypse proof vehicle is probably least likely to buy an EV because (as well as being more likely to be a climate change denier) they’ve realised that there’ll be no electricity to charge them with and the kind of person who does want to buy an EV isn’t likely to be nuts enough to believe the apocalypse is nigh and is increasingly less amenable to buying from a company who’s figurehead has gone off the rails so spectacularly.

    Elon knows nothing and it’s becoming increasingly obvious to anyone who’s not mainlining his brand of koolade that he’s lost the plot.

    1. “…the kind of person who’d want an apocalypse proof vehicle is probably least likely to buy an EV because… they’ve realised that there’ll be no electricity to charge them with”

      True preppers are bound to have a supply of solar panels on hand. Likely to last longer than readily-available gasoline if the world has gone to pot (though it may be a few days of charging before you can make your weekly scavenging run ;-) ).

    2. It’s always worth remembering the rich aren’t necessarily smarter or better at business than anyone else, they can just afford a lot more spaghetti to throw at the wall until it sticks.

      1. Absolutely so, it’s always interesting to see how many of the ‘self made’ billionaires people laud as ‘genius’ or ‘visionary’ actually started off with the sort of family wealth and privilege which most of us can and will only ever be able to dream of.

        Musk is no exception to that.

        The only two super rich tech people (I’m sure there will be more, I just can’t think of who at the moment) who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps from relatively poor childhoods were/are Jobs and Wozniak.

  5. I own a similar vintage F150 Ecoboost (2013). My truck decided to commit suicide via jumping the timing at around 75,000 miles a couple of years ago. I opted to replace the motor with a Powertrain motor since buying a replacement vehicle at the time was insane. The whole experience soured me on Ford and ICE vehicles in general. I would love to replace it with an electric truck, but the prices are ridiculous for brand new and the used ones aren’t much better. If the Cyber truck was more reasonable I’d be tempted to get it, but they look really stupid.

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