Hack A Folding Bike To Help You Catch Some Pike

For many of us, this whole pandemic thing has produced some unexpected upsides. One of [George Turvey]’s was finding a nice new scenic route to work that goes by a lake with bike trails. [George] thought it might be nice to go fishing after work, and use a folding bike to cover a lot of ground while looking for good spots on the shore. There was just one problem — riding a bike while transporting tackle is awkward.

The bike comes with a front mount that’s meant to hold the special bags they make, so that became square one for designing a rod and tackle holder. Then [George] had to weigh the pros and cons of additive vs. subtractive methods for prototyping the holder, or at least the connection between it and the mount on the bike.

Milling won out, at least for the initial proof of concept, and result is a modular mock-up that combines a milled Kydex connector and tackle box holder with a double-barrel PVC rod holder. This way, [George] had a prototype in a fraction of the time it would have taken to design and print it. Cast your line past the break to see how fast [George] can switch gears into fishing mode.

3D printing definitely has a place in the fishing world. How else are you gonna design your own lures?

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No-Melt Nuclear ‘Power Balls’ Might Win A Few Hearts And Minds

A nuclear power plant is large and complex, and one of the biggest reasons is safety. Splitting radioactive atoms is inherently dangerous, but the energy unleashed by the chain reaction that ensues is the entire point. It’s a delicate balance to stay in the sweet spot, and it requires constant attention to the core temperature, or else the reactor could go into meltdown.

Today, nuclear fission is largely produced with fuel rods, which are skinny zirconium tubes packed with uranium pellets. The fission rate is kept in check with control rods, which are made of various elements like boron and cadmium that can absorb a lot of excess neutrons. Control rods calm the furious fission boil down to a sensible simmer, and can be recycled until they either wear out mechanically or become saturated with neutrons.

Nuclear power plants tend to have large footprints because of all the safety measures that are designed to prevent meltdowns. If there was a fuel that could withstand enough heat to make meltdowns physically impossible, then there would be no need for reactors to be buffered by millions of dollars in containment equipment. Stripped of these redundant, space-hogging safety measures, the nuclear process could be shrunk down quite a bit. Continue reading “No-Melt Nuclear ‘Power Balls’ Might Win A Few Hearts And Minds”

Do You Know Where Your Children Are? Check The Weasley Clock

What’s the coolest thing you could build for a Harry Potter fan, aside from a working magic wand or Quidditch broomstick? We would have to say a Weasley clock that shows the whereabouts of everyone in the family is pretty high on the list, especially if that fan is a wife and mother.

Here’s how it works: they’ve set up geofences to define the boundaries of home, each person’s school or workplace, and so on. The family’s locations are tracked through their phones’ GPS using Home Assistant, which is hosted on a Raspberry Pi. Whenever someone’s location changes, the Pi alerts the clock over MQTT, and it moves the 3D-printed hands with servos.

The clock has some interesting granularity to it as well. As someone gets closer to home, their pointer’s distance reflects that in its proximity to the Home slice. And Home itself is divided into the main house and the shop and reflected by the pointer’s position.

We particularly like the attention to detail here, like the art poster used for the clock’s face that includes all the Weasley’s whereabouts in the background. It’s built into a thrift store grandmother clock, which is smaller than a grandfather clock but no less majestic. In the future there are plans to implement the clock’s chimes to announce that someone is back home.

No matter what you’re into, the whereabouts clock idea can probably fit that universe. For instance, here’s one that uses LEGO mini-fig heads to locate roommates.

Breakaway Keyboard PCB Makes Customization A Snap

Once upon a time, keyboards were something that you took with you from computer to computer, because most of them were built quite nicely. After a few dark decades of membrane keyboards being the norm, the rise of the mechanical keyboard community has shined a light on what is possible with open source designs. Anyone can join in, because quality clackers now exist on every level, whether you want to design the perfect split ortho with OLEDs, rotary encoders, and rear view mirrors, or just want to fork over some money and get to punching switches.

Break me off a piece of that candy bar keeb.

Building your own keyboard doesn’t have to be daunting. It can be as easy or as involved as you want. There’s still a fair amount of soldering simply because it’s a keyboard. But there are plenty of options if you don’t want to do a whole lot beyond soldering switches (or hot swap sockets!) and putting a case together.

Take for instance the JNAO (Just Need An Ortho) build that [Jared] just finished. It starts with a PCB and on-board controller, and the idea is to customize it from there. You’re left to 3D print, laser cut, or otherwise carve your own case and a plate to stabilize the key switches, and then get down to business deciding on switches and keycaps.

The interesting thing about the JNAO is the breakaway row of keys on the bottom. The standard grid is 12×5, but if you don’t need the dedicated number row along the top like [Jared], you’re not stuck with it. And you’re not stuck with the default layout, either. Flashing to a standard Planck layout didn’t go as easily as [Jared] might have liked, but we think he was wise to get the firmware squared away before ever turning on the soldering iron.

Don’t know what to do with such a small keyboard? They’re pretty much perfect for cyberdeck builds.

Panic Button Is An Audio-Visual Parachute Out Of Zoom Calls

Everyone has been learning how to stream this year whether they want to or not. This has given rise to the embarrassment paradox, which states that the more urgently you need to kill your camera and microphone feeds in a videoconference call, the more difficult and time-consuming it will be. Zoom in particular will toggle the mic and camera with keyboard shortcuts, but when your toddler waddles into the room swinging a used diaper around in the air, keyboard shortcuts will seem woefully under-powered.

What you need is a single sturdy button that sends both of these toggle commands as quickly as possible. [Simon Prickett]’s panic switch does exactly that. It’s a delightfully tactile arcade button connected to a Trinket M0, which can emulate a keyboard quite easily as an Arduino or CircuitPython device.

This little keyboard doesn’t send these macros directly, because that would be way too risky. What if you were reading Hackaday instead of staring into the tiled faces of your coworkers? Then it wouldn’t work, because Zoom is out of focus.

Instead, it sends an obscure four-key macro to the computer that triggers an AppleScript. [Simon]’s AppleScript checks to see if Zoom is running. If not, it has the system announce the fact. If it is running, then the script sends cmd+shift+a and cmd+shift+v to Zoom directly to toggle the audio and video. Check out the demo after the break.

As you might expect, we’ve seen a couple of videoconference survival hacks over the past few months. Need to show something or work with your hands, but only have one camera? All you need is a mirror, a clothespin, and a length of wire for a simple split-screen setup.

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Porsche’s Printed Pistons Are Powerful And Precise

The 700-horsepower Porsche 911 GT2 RS is already pretty darn fast — over three times faster than the average regular-person car on the road today. For the sports car enthusiast, there’s likely no ceiling on the need for speed and performance. And so, Porsche was able to wrangle another thirty horsepower out of their limited-run supercar by printing a set of ultra-lightweight pistons.

Pistons being lasered into existence. Image via The Drive

These pistons are printed from high-purity aluminium alloy powder that was developed by German auto parts manufacturer Mahle. Porsche is having these produced by Mahle in partnership with industrial machine maker Trumpf using the laser metal fusion (LMF) process. It’s a lot like selective laser sintering (SLS), but with metal powder instead of plastic.

The machine dusts the print bed with a layer of powder, and then a laser melts the powder according to the CAD file, hardening it into shape. This process repeats one layer at a time, and supports are zapped together wherever necessary. When the print job is finished, the pistons are machined into their shiny final form and thoroughly tested, just like their cast metal cousins have been for decades. Continue reading “Porsche’s Printed Pistons Are Powerful And Precise”

RadioGlobe Takes The World Of Internet Radio For A Spin

There’s no denying that the reach and variety of internet radio is super cool. The problem is that none of the available interfaces really give the enormity of the thing the justice it deserves. We long for a more physical and satisfying interface for tuning in stations from around the globe, and [Jude] has made just the thing.

RadioGlobe lets the user tune in over 2000 stations from around the world by spinning a real globe. It works by using two absolute rotary encoders that each have a whopping 1024 positions available. One encoder is stuck into the South Pole, and it reads the lines of longitude as the user spins the globe.

The other encoder is on the left side of the globe, and reads whatever latitude is focused in the reticle. Both encoder are connected to a Raspberry Pi 4, though if you want to replicate this open-source project using the incredibly detailed instructions, he says a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ will work, too.

In the base there’s an LCD that shows the coordinates, the city, and the station ID. Other stations in the area are tune-able with the jog wheel on the base. There’s also an RGB LED that blinks red while the station is being tuned in, and turns green when it’s done. We totally dig the clean and minimalist look of this build — especially the surprise transparent bottom panel that lets you see all the guts.

There are three videos after the  break – a short demo that gives you the gist of how it works, a longer demonstration, and a nice explanation of absolute rotary encoders. Those are just the tip of the iceberg, because [Jude] kept a daily vlog of the build.

Maybe you just long for a web radio that dials in vintage appeal. This antique internet radio has a lot of features, but you wouldn’t know it from the outside.

Continue reading “RadioGlobe Takes The World Of Internet Radio For A Spin”