Replica Proton Pack Is A Great Halloween Build

Way back in 1984, the Ghostbusters defended New York City from an onslaught of supernatural phenomena. In their honor, [BALES] created this costume for Halloween, replete with an amazing replica proton pack.

(We know, this is a little late for Halloween 2019, but just think about how early you’re going to be for Halloween 2020!)

While not actually capable of trapping and harnessing entities from the spirit realm, the replica pack nonetheless is impressive. Constructed primarily from EVA foam and PVC pipe, it’s built on a custom built Alice pack frame to make it easy to carry. The cyclotron scores some LEDs, and EL wire completes the neutrino wand. A rough-and-ready paintjob make the gear look well used, and the laser-printed labels go a long way to completing the look.

[BALES] didn’t skimp on the clothing side either. The olive drab overalls, an embroidered patch, and belt were sourced from Amazon, and a custom name badge was produced to complete the ensemble. We’re sure the costume was an absolute hit at Halloween, and gives us plenty ideas of our own. It would pair well with this PKE meter that actually detects radiation, too!

Globe Lamp Tracks The ISS For You

Assuming you don’t work at a major space agency, you probably don’t really need to know the exact location of the International Space Station at all times. If you’d like to know just because it’s cool, this lamp is for you.

The lamp is driven by a Wemos D1, which pulls in data on the space station’s current location from Open Notify. A stepper motor and servo motor serve to control a pan-tilt assembly, aiming a 405nm laser at the inside of a 3D printed globe to indicate the station’s position above Earth. As a nice touch, there’s also a ring of NeoPixel LEDs that are controlled to glow on the sunny side of the planet, too.

This is a fun project that makes it easy to know when to bust out your ham gear to chat to the team overhead, and would also make a great conversation starter. It’s not the first hardware ISS monitor we’ve seen, either! Video after the break.

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AI Knows If The Pitch Is On Target Before You Do

Pitching a baseball is about accuracy and speed. A swift ball on target is the goal, allowing the pitcher to strike out the batter. [Nick Bild] created an AI system that can determine a ball’s trajectory in mid-flight, based on a camera feed.

The system uses an NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier, fitted with a USB camera running at 100FPS. A Nerf tennis ball launcher is used to fire a ball towards the batter. Once triggered, the AI uses the camera to capture two successive images of the ball in flight. These images are fed into a convolutional neural network (CNN), and the software determines whether the ball is heading for the strike zone, or moving off-target. It uses this information to light a green or red LED respectively to alert the batter.

While such a system is unlikely to appear in professional baseball anytime soon, it shows the sheer capability of neural network systems to quickly and effectively analyse data in ways simply impossible for mere humans. [Nick]’s future goals involve running the system on faster hardware, and expanding it to determine effects like spin and more accurate positioning within the strike zone.

We’ve seen CNNs do everything from naming tomatoes to finding parking spaces. Video after the break.

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This FPV Tank Explores The Lawn

Radio control is good and all, and it’s always fun to watch a little vehicle scoot about the backyard. But there’s always something to be said for feeling as though you’re really in control. First person view, or FPV, is the way to do it, and [Brian] has gone down that route with this tidy tank build.

The tank is 3D printed, from the chassis right down to the wheels. There’s even a moving “eye” up front containing the FPV camera, controlled by a servo, allowing the driver to look up and down. A 5.8 GHz transmitter is used to send the signal back to the driver’s goggles. The tracks are a snap-together design that are fully 3D printed, requiring no additional metal links or hardware. Forward propulsion is courtesy of a pair of 12 volt gear motors, driven from an L298N motor driver. An Arduino Nano is used in conjunction with Spektrum RC gear to receive signals and tell the tank where to go.

It’s a tidy build that would be great fun to drive through the bushes or through the house. We’ve seen even tinier builds used to inspect crawlspaces. If you build one of your own, be sure to let us know.

Beer Keg Becomes High-Performance Pizza Oven

Pizza varies all around the world, with several cities having put their own mark on the Italian dish. To make an authentic pie in the Neapolitan style requires extremely high temperatures in order to cook the pizza through in just a couple of minutes. Armed with a beer keg and some ingenuity, [AndrewW1977] got down to work, building a rig that could get the job done.

The build starts by cutting the keg in half. A series of zigzag steel pieces are welded inside, in order to give the refractory cement more surface area to stick to. With the cement poured and set, a handle was welded to the keg for ease of use, as well as a thermometer to monitor internal temperatures.

Initial attempts to cook using the rig used a wood-fired rocket stove design. This had the drawback of taking up to 45 minutes to reach the appropriate temperature, so the build then switched to using God’s Gas, clean burning propane, as a fuel source. With a jet-style burner installed in the base, the oven was ready to start turning out pizzas.

The idea of cooking a hot, fresh pizza in just a couple of minutes has us salivating at the possibilities. We’ve seen other high-speed pizza ovens, too. Video after the break.

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Inkjet Printing On The Cheap With A Continuous Ink System

Inkjet printers are cheap to buy, but expensive to run. Replacement cartridges can easily cost double the price of the hardware itself, leading many to decry the technology entirely. However, the hackers of the world have the problem licked – enter the continuous ink system.

[cprossu] wanted an affordable color printing solution for the hackerspace. A cheap printer was sourced from a thrift store. The model chosen was selected for its lack of cartridge DRM and the availability of kits on eBay for conversion to a continuous ink system. This involves running large refillable tanks of ink instead of small individual cartridges which must be thrown away when empty.

[cprossu] discusses both the challenges you’ll likely face in a general build, as well as the specific work required to handle the conversion on an Epson Artisan 725. There’s also excessive label-maker abuse, which always brings a smile to our face. It’s a conversion well worth considering if you find yourself regularly purchasing expensive cartridges. We’ve even seen similar builds as far back as 2009, right from the ground up!

Building An Engine With An A/C Compressor

Air conditioning compressors aren’t exactly a mainstay of the average hacker’s junk box. Typically, they’re either fitted to a car to do their original job, or they’re on the bench getting refurbished. However, with the right mods, it’s possible to turn one into a functioning internal combustion engine.

The build starts by disassembling the compressor, which contains three double-sided pistons. The housing is drilled with ports to allow gas to flow into and out of the cylinders, as well as to transfer from one side of the piston to the other. Acrylic end plates are fitted to the assembly. One end acts as an intake manifold, delivering air and fuel to the cylinders. The other side acts as the cylinder head, mounting the sparkplugs. Everything is then connected with acrylic tubing and a small square section of acrylic is turned into a carburetor to supply the air-fuel mix. Ignition is handled by coils triggered by the movement of the flywheel.

After an initial failure due to the acrylic manifold cracking, a stronger part is fabricated, and the engine bursts into life. The acrylic end caps give a great view of the combustion process in action. We’d love to see the a dyno graph on how much power and torque the unit puts out, or to see it hooked up to a bicycle or cart.

We’ve seen others attempt their own engine builds, too. If you’ve got an unconventional engine build of your own, be sure to let us know. Video after the break.

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