Electric Boomerang Does Laps

Boomerangs are known for their unique ability to circle back to the thrower, but what if you could harness this characteristic for powered for free flight? In a project that spins the traditional in a new direction, [RCLifeOn] electrifies a boomerang to make it fly laps.

The project started with several of the 3D printed boomerang designs floating around on the internet, and adding motor mounts to the tips. [RCLifeOn] is no stranger to RC adventures, and his stockpile of spare parts from previous flying and floating projects proved invaluable. He added motor mounts and mounted all the electronics, including a RC receiver for controlling the throttle,  but first iteration didn’t have enough lift, so the boomerang and motors were scaled up.

[RCLifeOn] launched the contraptions by letting them spin on the end of a stick until they achieve lift-off. The second iteration still couldn’t quite get into the air, but after increasing the blade angles using a heat gun it was flying laps around the field.

Although we’ve seen spinning drones that are controllable, it would be no small control systems challenge to make it completely RC controlled. In the meantime this project is a fun, if somewhat risky way to mix the traditional with modern tech.

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Satellite Provides Detailed Data On Antarctic Ice

Ever since the first satellites started imaging the Earth, scientists have been using the data gathered to learn more about our planet and improve the lives of its inhabitants. From weather forecasting to improving crop yields, satellites have been put to work in a wide array of tasks. The data they gather can go beyond imaging as well. A new Chinese satellite known as Fengyun-3E is using some novel approaches to monitor Antarctic sea ice in order to help scientists better understand the changing climate at the poles.

While it is equipped with a number of other sensors, one of the more intriguing is a piece of equipment called WindRad which uses radar to measure wind at various locations and altitudes based on how the radar waves bounce off of the atmosphere at various places.  Scientists have also been able to use this sensor to monitor sea ice, and can use the data gathered to distinguish new sea ice from ice which is many years old, allowing them to better understand ice formation and loss at the poles. It’s also the first weather satellite to be placed in an early morning orbit, allowing it to use the long shadows cast by the sun on objects on Earth’s surface to gather more information than a satellite in other orbits might be able to.

With plenty of other imaging sensors on board and a polar orbit, it has other missions beyond monitoring sea ice. But the data that it gathers around Antarctica should give scientists more information to improve climate models and understand the behavior of sea ice at a deeper level. Weather data from satellites like these isn’t always confined to academia, though. Plenty of weather satellites broadcast their maps and data unencrypted on radio bands that anyone can access.

An Alternative Orientation For 3D Printed Enclosures

When it comes to 3D printing, the orientation of your print can have a significant impact on strength, aesthetics, and functionality or ease of printing. The folks at Slant 3D have found that printing enclosures at a 45° provides an excellent balance of these properties, with some added advantages for high volume printing. The trick is to prevent the part from falling over when balance on a edge, but in the video after the break [Gabe Bentz]  demonstrate Slant 3D’s solution of minimalist custom supports.

The traditional vertical or horizontal orientations come with drawbacks like excessive post-processing and weak layer alignment. Printing at 45° reduces waste and strengthens the end product by aligning the layer lines in a way that resists splitting across common stress points. When scaling up production, this orientation comes with the added advantage of minimal bed contact area, allowing the printer to auto-eject the part by pushing it off the bed with print head.

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A white male in a green shirt sitting next to a tall rectangular robot made of green and black components with an aluminum frame. In front of him are a variety of components from several windshield wiper motor assemblies. Casings, gearboxes, and the like are strewn across the wooden table.

A Wiper Motor 101

Need a powerful electric motor on the cheap? [Daniel Simu] and his friend [Werner] show us the ins and outs of using windshield wiper motors.

Through many examples and disassembled components, the duo walk us through some of the potential uses of wiper motors to power a project. Some of the nuggets we get are the linear relationship of torque to current (10-15A max) and speed to voltage (12-15V DC) on these units, and some of the ways the wiring in these motors is a little different than a simple two wire DC motor.

They also discuss some of their favorite ways to control the motors ranging from a light switch to an Arduino. They even mention how to turn one into a big servo thanks to a project on Hackaday.io and a few modifications of their own. [Simu] also discusses some of the drawbacks of wiper motors, the most evident being that these motors use nylon gears which are prone to stripping or failing in other ways when subjected to high torque conditions for too long.

If you recognize [Simu], it may be from his robotic acrobat built with wiper motors. Want to see some more wiper motor hacks? How about a 3D scanner or making sure your wipers always keep the beat?

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Your Surface RT Can Become Useful Again, With Raspberry Pi OS

Over the years there have been so many times when Microsoft came up with a product that so nearly got it right, but which tanked in the market because the folks at Redmond had more of an eye to what fitted their strategy than what the customer wanted. The Surface RT was one of these: while the hardware was at least as good if not better than Apple’s iPad, its ARM CPU and an ill-advised signed-apps-only policy meant the tablet couldn’t access the huge existing library of Windows software.

Consumers didn’t want a tablet with next-to-no apps, so it failed miserably. Never mind though, because [Michael MJD] has a video showing how an RT can be given a new life from an unlikely source, with the installation of Raspberry Pi OS.

The video pretty closely follows this guide, and involves creating a Raspberry Pi OS install medium modified with RT-specific kernel modules and device tree. It’s possible because the 32-bit ARM architecture is one of those which Raspberry Pi OS targets, and while a few things such as graphics acceleration don’t work, it’s still successful (if a little slow).

Oddly this is a technique not unlike one from the earliest days of the Raspberry Pi, when we remember people in Raspberry Pi Jams showing off the ancestor of the modern OS running on cheap ARM-based netbooks. In those cases the hack relied on transplanting the Pi userland over the device’s existing kernel, we’d be interested in an explanation of how the RT can use the Pi kernel without the famous Broadcom BLOB intended for the Pi.

We have a soft spot for the RT, as we said a good product held back by a very bad software decision. Seeing it take a new life years later is thus pleasing to us.

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Will There Be Any Pi Left For Us?

Our world has been abuzz with the news that Raspberry Pi are to float on the London Stock Exchange. It seems an obvious move for a successful and ambitious company, and as they seem to be in transition from a maker of small computers into a maker of chips which happen to also go on their small computers, they will no doubt be using the float to generate the required investment to complete that process.

New Silicon Needs Lots Of Cash

An RP1 chip on a Raspberry Pi 5.
The most important product Raspberry Pi have ever made.

When a tech startup with immense goodwill grows in this way, there’s always a worry that it could mark the start of the decline. You might for instance be concerned that a floated Raspberry Pi could bring in financial whiz-kids who let the hobbyist products wither on the vine as they license the brand here and there and perform all sorts of financial trickery in search of shareholder value and not much else. Fortunately we don’t think that this will be the case, and Eben Upton has gone to great lengths to reassure the world that his diminutive computers are safe. That is however not to say that there might be pitfalls ahead from a hobbyist Pi customer perspective, so it’s worth examining what this could mean.

As we remarked last year, the move into silicon is probably the most important part of the Pi strategy for the 2020s. The RP2040 microcontroller was the right chip with the right inventory to do well from the pandemic shortages, and on the SBCs the RP1 all-in-one peripheral gives them independence from a CPU house such as Broadcom. It’s not a difficult prediction that they will proceed further into silicon, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see a future RP chip containing a fully-fledged SoC and GPU. Compared to their many competitors who rely on phone and tablet SoCs, this would give the Pi boards a crucial edge in terms of supply chain, and control over the software.

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Hackaday Podcast Episode 255: Balloon On The Moon, Nanotech Goblets, And USB All The Way

This week, Dan joined Elliot for a review of the best and brightest hacks of the week in Episode 0xFF, which both of us found unreasonably exciting; it’s a little like the base-2 equivalent of watching the odometer flip over to 99,999. If you know, you know. We had quite a bumper crop of coolness this week, which strangely included two artifacts from ancient Rome: a nanotech goblet of colloidal gold and silver, and a perplexing dodecahedron that ends up having a very prosaic explanation — probably. We talked about a weird antenna that also defies easy description, saw a mouse turned into the world’s worst camera, and learned how 3D-printed signs are a whole lot easier than neon, and not half bad looking either. As always, we found time to talk about space, like the legacy of Ingenuity and whatever became of inflatable space habitats. Back on Earth, there’s DIY flux, shorts that walk you up the mountain, and more about USB-C than you could ever want to know.

And don’t forget that to celebrate Episode 256 next week, we’ll be doing a special AMA segment where we’ll get all the regular podcast crew together to answer your questions about life, the universe, and everything. If you’ve got a burning question for Elliot, Tom, Kristina, Al, or Dan, put it down in the comment section and we’ll do our best to extinguish it.


Grab a copy for yourself if you want to listen offline.

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