Enjoy A Refreshing Beverage With The Chilled Drink Calculator

Hackers are quite often the price conscious type, unwilling to pay jacked up prices for cold beverages when they can be purchased warm and in bulk for much lower cost. However, when guests are on the way and time is running out, it’s crucial to chill the drinks down to the right temperature, and fast. To take the guessing out of the process, [Álvaro Díez] and [Tibor Pal] collaborated to create the Chilled Drink Calculator.

It’s a resource jam-packed full of everything you need to know to get your drinks cold, pronto. Based on heat transfer equations and data from empirical studies, the calculator is able to show you just how long it will take to cool practically any beverage to any temperature. There are presets for different types of container and cooling method, as well as information on the ideal serving temperatures for things like wine, beer and soft drinks. There’s even information on helpful hacks to help cool things down more quickly – with the salt and ice bath being devastatingly effective with minimal equipment requirements.

Keep the calculator in your bookmarks for the next time your pals show up with a case of beer that’s been sitting in the sun all day in the back of a pickup truck (Authors note: looking at you, Terry). Alternatively, consider building an advanced cooling apparatus.

Cramming Dual SIMs & A Micro SD Card Into Your Phone

There are plenty of dual SIM phones on the market these days, but most of them are a hamstrung by packaging issues. Despite their dual SIM capability, this usually comes at the expense of the microSD card slot. Of course, hackers don’t accept such nonsense, and [Tweepy] went about crafting a solution. Sadly the make and model of phone aren’t clear.

It’s a simple case of very carefully shaving both the microSD card and the nano-SIM down until both can fit in the card tray. The SIM is slimmed down with the application of a heat gun helping to remove its plastic backing, saving precious fractions of a millimeter. The SD card is then filed down to make just enough space for the SIM to fit in underneath. Thanks to the springiness of the contacts in the phone, it’s just barely possible to squeeze both in, along with some Kapton tape to hold everything in place.

Your mileage may vary, depending on the construction of your SD card. Overall though, it’s a tidy hack that should prove useful to anyone with a dual SIM phone and limited storage. We saw a similar hack a few years ago, too.

[Thanks to Timothy for the tip!]

Fire Breathing N64 Puts Blast Processing In The Shade

Consoles over the years have innovated, bringing new features and experiences with each subsequent generation. Rumble, motion controls and more recently VR have all come to the fore as companies vie for supremacy in the marketplace. Nobody’s really had the guts to tackle fire, though. Until now.

The case and spinning logo alone would have made the front page; the fire is simply next level. Our parents were always telling us to sit further from the TV… and now we know why.

The build is based on the Nintendo 64. The motherboard is removed from the original case, and fitted to a sheet metal enclosure of impressive craftsmanship. This allows the fitment of the machine’s party piece — twin jets of flame, triggered by an extra button on the controller. There’s also a spinning N64 logo built into the front of the case, backlit in a foreboding red — hinting to the player that this is no regular console.

The console is capable of shooting flames up to 4 feet long, and if you have to ask why, you’re likely on the wrong website. We’d love to see the jets triggered by rumble, ideally on a per player basis — making bouts of Mario Kart and Smash Brothers more perilous than ever.

As it turns out, fire’s also a great way to visualise sound waves. Video after the break.

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LED Driver Board Could Be Your Ticket To FPGA Development

Microcontrollers are a great way to learn about developing for embedded systems. However, once you outgrow their capabilities, FPGAs bring muscle that’s hard for even the fastest-clocked micros to match. If you’re doing anything with high-speed signals, loads of RAM, or something that requires lots of parallel calculation, you can’t go past FPGAs. Dev boards can be expensive, but there are alternatives. There’s a nifty project on Github trying to repurpose commodity hardware into a useful FPGA development platform.

Chubby75 is a project to reverse engineer the RV901T LED “Receiver Card”. This device is used to receive signals over Ethernet, and clock data out to large LED displays. This sort of work is highly processor intensive for microcontrollers, but a cinch for FPGAs to manage. The board packs a user-reprogrammable Spartan 6 FPGA, along with twin Gigabit Ethernet ports and 64MB of SDRAM. Thanks to the fact that its firmware is not locked down, it has the potential to be repurposed into all manner of other projects. The boards are available for under $30 USD, making them a prime target for thrifty hackers.

Thus far, the team have begun poring through the hardware documentation and are looking to develop a toolchain to allow the boards to be easily reprogrammed. With the right tools, these boards could be the next thing in cheap FPGAs, taking over when the Pano Logic thin clients become thin on the ground.

[Thanks to KAN for the tip!]

Keezer Controller Keeps The Kegs Pouring

It’s always a good idea to keep a few brews in the fridge ready to go, but being able to offer your guests a fresh-poured draught beer is another step above. It’s not trivial, but with a few kegs, a freezer and the right CO2 parts, it’s achievable for the average hacker. [Ben Brooks] had a keezer (keg freezer) setup that had been doing the job quite well, but wanted to take things up a notch.

Wishing to know when it was time to start brewing more beer, [Ben] needed a way to measure how much was left in the individual kegs. Opting to weigh them, initial experiments with a hand-made capacitive sensor failed when moisture in the freezer began to ruin the sensor’s performance. Switching to a strain-gauge based setup enabled more accurate readings to be taken with no drift over time. Solenoids were added to enable the taps to be shutdown outside of beer o’clock, and a Particle Photon and Raspberry Pi were put to work to give the whole project a slick web interface. There’s even a monitor to show guests what’s on tap!

It’s a tidy improvement to a home keg setup, and ensures [Ben]’s guests won’t be left thirsty in the middle of a party. We’ve seen other instrumented beer rigs before, too. If you’re working on your own homebrewing masterpiece, be sure to drop us a line.

Cheap Electric Scooter Gets A Big Brake Upgrade; Unlocks Proper Drift Mode

The last few years have seen a huge rise in the prominence of electric scooters. Brushless motors, lithium batteries, and scooter sharing companies have brought them to the mainstream. However, electric scooters of a variety of designs have been around for a long time, spawning a dedicated subculture of hackers intent on getting the best out of them.

One such hacker is yours truly, having started by modifying basic kick scooters with a variety of propulsion systems way back in 2009. After growing frustrated with the limitations of creating high-speed rotating assemblies without machine tools, I turned my eye to what was commercially available. With my first engineering paycheck under my belt, I bought myself a Razor E300, and was promptly disappointed by the performance. Naturally, hacking ensued as the lead-acid batteries were jettisoned for lithium replacements.

Over the years, batteries, controllers and even the big old heavy brushed motor were replaced. The basic mechanical layout was sound, making it easy to make changes with simple hand tools. As acceleration became violent and top speeds inched closer to 40 km/h, I began to grow increasingly frustrated with the scooter’s one glaring major flaw. It was time to fix the brakes.

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Mix And Match Parts To Build A Better Mountain Bike Derailleur

Mountain bikers take their sport seriously, and put their bikes through all manner of punishment in the course of a ride. This has given rise to a wide range of specialist equipment, such as suspension, disc brakes and even clutch derailleurs, which help reduce chain slap when riding over rough terrain. However, these specialist derailleurs aren’t available for all applications, so sometimes you’ve gotta hack together your own.

Shimano clutch derailleurs are only really available for 10-speed rear cassettes and up, due to a change in derailleur ratio compared to the earlier 6 to 9 speed cassettes. Using a derailleur designed for 10-speed operation on a rear cassette with fewer gears won’t shift properly.

[SzurkeEg] was inspired by earlier work, and realised that by combining parts from several generations of Shimano hardware, it was possible to build a working clutch derailleur for 6 to 9 speed rear cassettes. The main parallelogram is what handles the positioning of the derailleur, and is sourced from a 9-speed part to get the gear indexes correct.The rest of the parts are sourced from later models with the clutch feature built in.

It’s a smart mechanical hack, and one that isn’t necessarily the most intuitive. But by having a go, and seeing what’s possible, now a whole generation of mountain bikes can tear up the trail like never before. We’ve seen Shimano gear hacked before, too. Video below the break. Continue reading “Mix And Match Parts To Build A Better Mountain Bike Derailleur”