Hackaday Podcast 066: The Audio Overdub Episode; Tape Loop Scratcher, Typewriter Simulator, And Relay Adder

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys stomp through a forest full of highly evolved hardware hacks. This week seems particularly plump with audio-related projects, like the thwack-tackular soldenoid typewriter simulator. But it’s the tape-loop scratcher that steals our hearts; an instrument that’s kind of two-turntables-and-a-microphone meets melloman. We hear the clicks of 10-bit numbers falling into place in a delightful adder, and follow it up with the beeps and sweeps of a smartphone-based metal detector.

Direct download (~60 MB)

Places to follow Hackaday podcasts:

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 066: The Audio Overdub Episode; Tape Loop Scratcher, Typewriter Simulator, And Relay Adder”

FDA Approves Ventilator Designed By NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Yesterday NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that their ventilator design has received Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. This paves the way for the design to be manufactured for use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

JPL, which is tightly partnered with the California Institute of Technology, designed the ventilator for rapid manufacturing to meet the current need for respiratory tools made scarce by the pandemic. The design process took only 37 days and was submitted for FDA approval around April 23rd. They call it VITAL — Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally — a nod to NASA’s proclivity for acronyms.

Continue reading “FDA Approves Ventilator Designed By NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory”

Hackaday Podcast 065: Game Boy Hacks Galore, Cable Robo Elbow, Pi Cam Solargraphy, And The Deepest Sub Is Crushing It

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams cover the hacks that made us happy over the past week. There’s an incredible cable-driven robotic elbow hack whose quality is only eclipsed by the fantastic explanation of how it works (like a block and tackle). Getting data like WiFi credentials into your embedded project may be just a blinking Android app away. Try your hand at digital solargraphy with creative use of f-stop and post processing. And Mike ogles an RC F-35 project while Elliot goes gaga for the deepest of all submarine designs.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (~60 MB)

Places to follow Hackaday podcasts:

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 065: Game Boy Hacks Galore, Cable Robo Elbow, Pi Cam Solargraphy, And The Deepest Sub Is Crushing It”

New Contest: Making Tech At Home

Put that parts bin to good use and build something! That’s the gist of the Making Tech at Home contest where your inner pack rat can shine by building from the parts you have on hand.

So what are you supposed to build? We’re not particular, we just want it to be cool. Grab everyone’s attention with an awesome project, and then win our hearts with the story of where you found the components.

Daniel Domínguez’s Parts Bin Self Portrait is an excellent example

An excellent example is the Parts Bin Self Portrait seen here that was a runner-up in the Circuit Sculpture contest. [Daniel Domínguez] talks about cutting out his silhouette from a scrap of prototyping board, pulling dev boards out of the parts box, and finding a ceiling fan on the side of the road which ended up donating the wire from the windings of its motor.

Your story is what’s important here. You can build a sleek and beautiful bit of gear that doesn’t look hacky at all — tell us about what the finished project does, but we also need to hear what parts you had on hand, where they came from, and what led you to use them. There is an element of satisfaction when that broken thermostat that you’ve been squirreling way for ten years, or the accidentally ordered reel of 0402 resistors, ends up getting used. Dust off that electronics hoard and get building!

Prizes Sent Out Throughout the Contest

This contest runs until July 28th, but you won’t have to wait that long to score some loot. Thirty entries will win a grab bag of stuff from Digi-Key and we’ll pick a few projects every week as we work toward that number. Help us decide what to send in those grab bags by voting for the gear you like the most.

Once the contest wraps up, three top winners will receive a mega grab bag stuffed with $500 worth of components. You know… to add to your parts bin for all those future builds.

If you’re anything like us, people deliver their broken stuff to you because they’ve heard you build things out of broken electronics. You feel torn about keeping old hardware around, but feel guilty about sending it to the landfill. When you order parts you get multiples just so you have them on hand for the next project. You were made for this competition, and no matter who the prizes go to, we want a look inside your parts bin.

KiCad Panelization Made Easy

There’s a new Python-based script that will panelize your KiCad circuit boards from the command line. The project by [Jan Mrázek] is called KiKit and works on .kicad_pcb files to arrange them in a grid with your choice of mousebites or v-cuts for separating the boards after production.

When working with smaller boards it’s common practice to group them together into panels. This is done to speed up PCB assembly as multiple boards can have solder paste applied, go through a pick and place machine, and be sent into the reflow oven as a single unit. Often this is done manually, but in many cases this script will save you the time while delivering the results you need.

Let’s say you really wanted to make a whole bunch of those Xling open source Tamagotchi-like key fobs we saw a couple of weeks back. Using KiKit you can gang up six of the boards at a time, using “mousebites” to keep them together during production but make it easy to separate them after all the components are soldered:

/usr/local/bin/kikit panelize grid --space 3 --gridsize 2 3 --tabwidth 3 --tabheight 3 --htabs 2 --vtabs 1 --mousebites 0.5 1 0.25 --radius 1 Xling/hardware/xling.kicad_pcb xling_panel.kicad_pcb

You can see that the parameters let you set space between the boards, number of boards in the grid, width of the tabs, tab dimensions, number of tabs between boards, and even the radius of the curve where the tabs meet the board. These settings were pulled from the examples page, which demonstrates outcomes for many different settings options.

If you want to give this a try, we suggest installing directly from the repository, as improvements are ongoing and the pip3 version didn’t have all of the options shown in the examples. For us this was as easy as sudo python3 setup.py install and then calling the script with the full path /usr/local/bin/kikit.

Results from this board are both impressive and cautionary. You can see the top edge of the design is recessed yet the most up-to-date version of KiKit was still able to make the connection. However, how this affects the USB connector on the bottom of the board design may be something to consider before pulling the trigger on your panel order.

Hackaday Podcast 064: The COBOL Cabal, The Demoscene Bytes, And The BTLE Cure

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys pan for gold in a week packed with technological treasure. The big news is Apple/Google are working on contact tracing using BTLE. From adoption, to privacy, to efficacy, there’s a lot to unpack here and many of the details have yet to take shape. Of course the episode also overflows with great hacks like broken-inductor bike chain sensors, parabolic basketball backboards, bizarre hose clamp tools, iron-on eTextile trials, and hot AM radio towers. We finish up discussing the greatest typing device that wasn’t, and the coming and going of the COBOL crisis.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (~60 MB)

Places to follow Hackaday podcasts:

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 064: The COBOL Cabal, The Demoscene Bytes, And The BTLE Cure”

Automate Your Xbox

First the robots took our jobs, then they came for our video games. This dystopian future is brought to you by [Little French Kev] who designed this adorable 3D-printed robot arm to interface with an Xbox One controller joystick. He shows it off in the video after the break, controlling a ball-balancing physics demonstration written in Unity.

Hats off to him on the quality of the design. There are two parts that nestle the knob of the thumbstick from either side. He mates those pieces with each other using screws, firmly hugging the stick. Bearings are used at the joints for smooth action of the two servo motors that control the arm. The base of the robotic appendage is zip-tied to the controller itself.

The build targets experimentation with machine learning. Since the computer can control the arm via an Arduino, and the computer has access to metrics of what’s happening in the virtual environment, it’s a perfect for training a neural network. Are you thinking what we’re thinking? This is the beginning of hardware speed-running your favorite video games like [SethBling] did for Super Mario World half a decade ago. It will be more impressive since this would be done by automating the mechanical bit of the controller rather than operating purely in the software realm. You’ll just need to do your own hack to implement button control.

Continue reading “Automate Your Xbox”