Open Source Telescope Controller Puts Smart Features In Old Telescopes

In times like these, we all need to look beyond ourselves. This project might help: OnStep is an open-source telescope controller, a device that controls a telescope to point at something interesting in the sky. Want to take a look at M31? Use an app on a PC or smartphone, select the object and the OnStep will pan and tilt your telescope until the Andromeda Galaxy pops into view.

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Making PCBs With A Vinyl Cutter

You might assume that you need a lot of expensive stuff to make your own PCBs, but that isn’t the case: you can do it with a vinyl cutter and a few common chemicals and tools. [Emiliano Valencia] has laid out the entire process. While we’ve seen plenty of make your own PCB guides before, this one goes a bit further as it covers using the vinyl cutter to make solder masks, so you can use it for surface mount designs.

The end result of the process that [Emilano] lays out is the tinyDice, a cute little electronic die that can fit on a keyring. The whole process is very well written up, and even experienced PCB makers will probably find a few useful tricks here.

The really interesting part for us was using the vinyl cutter to make three parts of the process: the etching mask, the solder mask that protects the traces and the solder stencil that applies the solder to the pads for surface mounting. Continue reading “Making PCBs With A Vinyl Cutter”

Measuring UV-C For About $5

Looking to sterilize something? Give it a good blast of the old UV-C. Ultraviolet radiation in the shortest wavelength band breaks down DNA and RNA, so it’s a great way to kill off any nasties that are lurking. But how much UV-C are you using? [Akiba] at Hackerfarm has come up with the NukeMeter, a meter that measures the output of their UV-C sterilizer the NukeBox. It is built around a $2.50 sensor and a $3 Arduino.

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Array Of Useless Machines Is Useless

What’s the collective noun for a group of useless machines? A passel of useless machines? A failure? A waste? A 404?  Whatever you want to call it, [Martin Raynsford] has produced one here with this collection of 24 useless machines arranged into a 5 by 6 array. He produced it for an event at a hackerspace to amuse visitors, and it certainly seems to do the job in the video after the break.

[Martin] built the case by modifying the design of his Useless Machine kit, stretching out the case to hold multiple mechanisms. The original plan was to use a 6 by 6 matrix, but that wouldn’t fit into the laser cutter, so it ended up with 24 mechanisms in a 5 by 6 array. All of those are driven by 2 AAA batteries, and the mechanisms are efficient enough that it survived a full day of button flipping before it began to run out of juice.

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The Options For Low Cost ROV Tethers

Wireless connections are cool and all, but sometimes you just need a bit of copper. This interesting article on SV Seeker discusses the various ways of making a tether for a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). They experimented with a number of different cables, including gel-filled Cat 5 designed for burial and wrapping the cable in polypropylene rope to keep it protected and buoyant. They also looked at using a single core solid coax cable with an Ethernet to coax converter on either end wrapped in stretch webbing. The upside of using coax would be the length: it can handle over a mile of cable, which should be more than enough for this project. The downside is that they found that the coax stretches under strain, messing with the signal.

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Hubble Telescope Power Supply Tester On EBay

Got $75K spare? Then this is the eBay deal for you! [jvanorsdal] pointed us to this eBay bargain: the VPI Vehicle Power Interface Rack & Console Hubble Space Telescope. This was the actual system used to test the power systems of the Hubble Space Telescope before it was launched, so it’s a genuine piece of space history.

For the price you get two, yes two CRT displays, six HP power supplies and a huge amount of hand-wired history. Even if you aren’t going to bid, it is worth taking a look at the insides of this thing, as it is all hand-soldered and the cable routing is a thing of beauty. I have absolutely no use for this, but I totally want it for my living room.

There are a few gotchas, though. Because it is NASA space hardware, you can’t export it to places like Iran, and the shipping cost for the US is a cool $1.5K. Considering the size of the thing, that is not so bad, perhaps: it is built into a three rack metal cabinet with built-in wheels that measures over 7 feet long and weighs over 800 lbs.

Interested? It is on sale for $75k, and there is a handy buy it now button on the site.

We all love space history here at Hackaday. Back in 2019, our own [Tom Nardi] got to spend an evening with the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

RasterCarve Converts Images To CNC

CNC machines are an essential part of the hacker’s toolset. These computer-controlled cutters of wood, metal and other materials can translate a design into a prototype in short order, making the process of iterating a project much easier. However, the software to create these designs can be expensive, so [Franklin Wei] decided to write his own. In particular, he decided to write his own program to engrave images, converting a photo into a toolpath that can be cut. The result is RasterCarve, a web app that converts an image into a GCode that can be fed into a CNC machine.

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