Researchers at the University of Southern California have found a way to make an effective and competitive redox flow battery out of the iron industry’s waste products. Luckily for us, the results of the paper were posted on an open journal and we could take a look into the tech behind this battery.
As electric utilization, adoption of electric cars, and the use of renewable power continues to rise, engineers all over are searching for the perfect utility scale battery. We have all heard about Tesla’s 100MW lithium battery pack in South Australia. The system is a massive success and has already paid itself back. However, engineers all over were quick to point out that, until we have a breakthrough, Lithium cells are just not the right choice for a utility system in the long run. There has to be a better solution. Continue reading “A Redox Flow Battery Made From Iron Industry Waste” →
[Fran Blanche] tears down this fascinating display in a video teardown, embedded below.
These displays can support up to 64 characters of the buyer’s choosing which is controlled by 6 bits, surprisingly only requiring 128 mW per bit to control; pretty power-light for its day and age. Aside from alphanumeric combinations the display also supported “color plates” which we found quite fascinating. The fully decked model would only cost you $1,206 US dollars per unit in today’s money or five rolls of toilet paper at latest street price. And that’s just one digit.
If you dig through the documents linked here, and watch her video you can get an idea of how this display works. There are six solenoids attached to rods at the rear of the device. A lamp shines through a lens onto the back of a plate assembly. Each plate is a strategically perforated grid. When the solenoids activate the selected plates tilt interfering with a stationary grid. This causes the light to be blocked in some regions only.
It seems clear why this never took off. Aligning these seems like a production nightmare compared to things like flip displays and Nixie tubes. Still, the characters have quite a lot of charm to them. We wouldn’t mind seeing a 3D printable/laser cut version of this display type. Get working!
Continue reading “BINA-VIEW: A Fascinating Mechanical Interference Display” →
[Gui Cavalcanti], whose name you might recognize from MegaBots, got on a call with a medical professional in San Francisco and talked about respirators. The question being, can we design and deploy an open source version in time to help people?
Unnerving reports from Italy show that when the virus hits the susceptible population groups the device that becomes the decider between life and death is a ventilator. Unfortunately they are in short supply.
The problem gets tricky when it comes to what kind of respirator is needed CPAP, BIPAP, or Hi-Flo oxygen NIV are all out. These systems aerosolize the virus making it almost guaranteed that anyone around them will get infected.
What we need is a Nasal cannula-based NIV. This system humidifies air, mixes it with oxygen and then pushes a constant stream of it into people’s lungs. If we can design a simple and working system we can give those plans to factories around the globe and get these things made. If the factories fail us, let’s also have a version people can make at home.
If you aren’t sure if a ventilator is something you can work on there are other problems. Can you make algorithms to determine if a person needs a ventilator. Can we recycle n95 masks? Can we make n95 masks at home? Workers also require a negative pressure tent for housing patients. This will be especially useful if we need to build treatment facilities in gyms or office spaces. Lastly if you’re a medical professional, can you train people how to help?
Let’s beat this thing. The ultimate medical hackathon begins.
We’re trying to figure out whether Sonos was doing the right thing, and it’s getting to the point where we need pins, a corkboard, and string. Sonos had been increasing the functionality of its products and ran into a problem as they hit a technical wall. How would they keep the old speakers working with the new speakers? Their solution was completely bizarre to a lot of people.
First, none of the old speakers would receive updates anymore. Which is sad, but not unheard of. Next they mentioned that if you bought a new speaker and ran it on the same network as an old speaker, neither speaker would get updates. Which came off as a little hostile, punishing users for upgrading to newer products.
The final bit of weirdness was their solution for encouraging users to ditch their old products. They called it, “trading in for a 30% discount”, but it was something else entirely. If a user went into the system menu of an old device and selected to put it in “Recycle Mode” the discount would be activated on their account. Recycle Mode would then, within 30 days, brick the device. There was no way to cancel this, and once the device was bricked it wouldn’t come back. The user was then instructed to take the Sonos to a recycling center where it would be scrapped. Pictures soon began to surface of piles of bricked Sonos’s. There would be no chance to sell, repair, or otherwise keep alive what is still a fully functioning premium speaker system.
Why would a company do this to their customers and to themselves? Join me below for a guided tour of how the downsides of IoT ecosystem may have driven this choice.
Continue reading “Ethics Whiplash As Sonos Tries Every Possible Wrong Way To Handle IoT Right” →
[Arnav Wagh] has been doing some cool experiments in soft robotics using his home 3D printer.
Soft robots have a lot of advantages, but as [Arnav] points out on his website, it’s pretty hard to get started in the same way as one might with another type of project. You can’t necessarily go on Amazon and order a ten pack of soft robot actuators in the way you can Arduinos.
The project started by imitating other projects. First he copied the universities who have done work in this arena by casting soft silicone actuators. He notes the same things that they did, that they’re difficult to produce and prone to punctures. Next he tried painting foam with silicone, which worked, but it was still prone to punctures, and there was a consensus that it was creepy. He finally had a breakthrough playing with origami shapes. After some iteration he was able to print them reliably with an Ultimaker.
Finally to get it into the “easy to hack together on a weekend” range he was looking for: he designed it to be VEX compatible. You can see them moving in the video after the break.
Continue reading “Experiments In Soft Robotics” →
[Adnan.R.Khan] had a sliding door latch plus an Arduino, and hacked together this cool but simple app controlled door lock.
Mechanically the lock consists of a Solarbotics GM3 motor, some Meccano, and a servo arm. A string is tied between two pulleys and looped around the slide of a barrel latch. When the motor moves back and forth it’s enough to slide the lock in and out. Electronically an Arduino and a Bluetooth module provide the electronics. The system runs from a 9V battery, and we’re interested to know whether there were any tricks pulled to make the battery last.
The system’s software is a simple program built in MIT App Inventor. Still, it’s pretty cool that you can get functionally close to a production product with parts that are very much lying around. It also makes us think of maybe keeping our childhood Meccano sets a little closer to the bench!
[Phillip]’s project is not just great for learning new words, it also shows just how complex natural systems can be.
As we know from news around the word, reefs are delicate systems prone to damage from just about any imaginable threat. Escaped aquarium fish, sunscreen, and the wayward feet of well meaning tourists to name a few. So it’s no wonder that aquarium hobbyists sometimes go to incredible lengths to simulate the natural environments these creatures live in.
While [Phillip] is still tinkering with his designs for this project, we found the data he included really interesting. His goal is to be able to plug in any coordinate on the earth and have the lights replicate the location. That includes not just the sun, but also the light from the moon as many corals seem to only spawn during certain tides. Of course no LED is perfect so he’s even experimenting with putting light sensors under the water to provide a feedback loop to make it perfect.
We really like the ambition of this project and we hope he continues.