A circular wheeled robot sits on a white background. There is a green tank of butane/propane in the center surrounded by wires and electronics.

Doomba: Purifying Your Floors With Fire

If you’ve ever thought that your floor cleaning robot eating the fringe on your rug wasn’t destructive enough, [Kyle Brinkerhoff] is working on a solution — Doomba.

This blazingly fast RC vehicle has a tank of butane/propane gas nestled snugly amid its electronics and drive system to fuel a (not yet implemented) flamethrower. Watching how quickly this little bot can move in the video below certainly made our hearts race with anticipation for the inevitable fireworks glory of completed build. Dual motors and a tank-style drive ensure that this firebug will be able to maneuver around any obstacle.

As of writing, the flamethrower and an updated carriage for the drivetrain are underway. Apparently, spinning very quickly in circles can be just as disorienting for robots as it is for us biological beings. During the test shown below, the robot kicked out one of its drive motors. [Kyle] says the final touch will be putting the whole assembly inside an actual Roomba shell for that authentic look.

With spooky season upon us, it’s always good to have the cleansing power of fire at hand in case you find more than you bargained for with your Ghost-Hunting PKE Meter. While there’s no indication whether Doomba can actually run DOOM, you might be interested in this other Doomba Project that uses Roomba’s maps of your house to generate levels for the iconic shooter.

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A person sits on a couch in the background wearing a VR headset. A keyboard is on their lap and a backpack studded with antennas and cables sits in the foreground.

2022 Cyberdeck Contest: Cyberpack VR

Feeling confined by the “traditional” cyberdeck form factor, [adam] decided to build something a little bigger with his Cyberpack VR. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a WiFi-equipped porcupine, then this is the cyberdeck you’ve been waiting for.

Craving the upgradability and utility of a desktop in a more portable format, [adam] took an old commuter backpack and squeezed in a Windows 11 PC, Raspberry Pi, multiple wifi networks, an ergonomic keyboard, a Quest VR headset, and enough antennas to attract the attention of the FCC. The abundance of network hardware is due to [adam]’s “new interest: a deeper understanding of wifi, and control of my own home network even if my teenage kids become hackers.”

The Quest is setup to run multiple virtual displays via Immersed, and you can relax on the couch while leaving the bag on the floor nearby with the extra long umbilical. One of the neat details of this build is repurposing the bag’s external helmet mount to attach the terminal unit when not in use. Other details we love are the toggle switches and really integrated look of the antenna connectors and USB ports. The way these elements are integrated into the bag makes it feel borderline organic – all the better for your cyborg chic.

For more WiFi backpacking goodness you may be interested in the Pwnton Pack. We’ve also covered other non-traditional cyberdecks including the Steampunk Cyberdeck and the Galdeano. If you have your own cyberdeck, you have until September 30th to submit it to our 2022 Cyberdeck Contest!

Overhead satellite view of a coal-fired power plant next to a heat map showing the suitability of terrain in the region for siting a nuclear power plant

Coal To Nuclear Transition To Decarbonize The Grid

We love big projects here at Hackaday, and one of the biggest underway is the decarbonization of the electric grid. The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently published a report (PDF) on how placing nuclear reactors on coal plant sites in the US could help us get closer to the zero carbon grid of our dreams.

After evaluating both operating and recently retired coal-fired plants in the US, the researchers determined that around 80% of medium and large coal plants would be good candidates for coal to nuclear (C2N). Up to 263 GWe could be installed at over 315 different sites around the country which would be more than the 145 GWe expected to go offline as the remaining coal plants in the country shut down. Siting nuclear reactors at these existing sites could reduce installation costs 15-35% while also providing jobs for workers in the area who might otherwise be displaced when the coal plants shut down. Local greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) could drop up to 86% along with a significant drop in other air pollutants which would be another win for the fenceline communities living and working around these coal plants.

Nuclear power is certainly not without its drawbacks, but new reactor designs like TerraPower’s Natrium promise lower costs than current light water reactor designs while also being able to reuse the spent fuel from our current nuclear fleet. TerraPower is developing the first C2N project in the US at the Naughton Power Plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

We’ve recently covered Cogeneration and District Heating which would get a boost from more nuclear power, but, if that’s too grounded for you, might we suggest Space-Based Solar Power?

An orange and white cat eats from a bowl with a hinged cover. The cat and the bowl are on top of an MDF platform.

Load Cells To Get The Right Pet The Right Food

If you have more than one pet, you may know how hard it is to tell how much each furry friend is eating. If you introduce prescription foods, then this minor annoyance can have a major impact on your pet’s health. Facing this dilemma, [tomasdiazwahl] set out to make a pet feeder that feeds his pets exactly what they need when they approach the feeder.

Using the ever-popular Arduino Uno, the feeder is connected to a platform that uses load cells to detect the pet’s weight. The weight data is then used to identify which animal is looking for food. Once the pet is identified, the correct food bowl opens. It seems this prototype only has one food chamber to keep unauthorized pets from eating the special food, but the basic idea should be extensible to two or more chambers. While some existing solutions read the pet’s microchip or NFC collars to determine who’s at the feeder, [tomasdiazwahl] decided against these given the fickleness of trying to reliably get a reader at the correct position relative to the pet. As long as you don’t have multiple pets with the same weight, it should work just fine.

This project has a nice mix of woodworking, 3D printing, and electronics showing what can be accomplished when you aren’t afraid to mix techniques. We also really appreciate that [Tomasdiazwahl] spent the extra time to include a testing procedure and safety mechanism into the project. Designing a device to improve your pet’s health shouldn’t come with a safety risk!

This isn’t the first cat feeder we’ve covered that uses weight to tell the difference between the pets, and if you want a simpler project to start with, check out this Simple Auger Pet Feeder.

A hand holds a round disc of noodles wrapped in a translucent film with herb specs embedded in it.

Reimagined Ramen Comes In Edible Package

Hackers and college students alike reach for ramen when they want to fuel up on a budget, but, if you’re concerned about packaging waste, the plastic film and foil packets start to weigh on your conscience. [Holly Grounds] was sick of this compromise and came up with a way to have your packaging and eat it too.

[Holly] first experimented with different bioplastics until she developed a recipe for “an edible, tasteless starch-based bioplastic, that dissolves in contact with boiling water.” With that accomplished, she next integrated flavoring into the bioplastic wrapper so that there’s no foil packet. She found that herbs and spices worked, but larger solids like shrimp couldn’t be incorporated into the film.

For the finishing touch, she fashioned the noodles into a disk so they fit better in a bowl for cooking. To cook the noodles, you remove a puck from the wax paper sleeve holding multiple servings, add boiling water, stir, and enjoy. [Holly] says that her ramen packets are quicker to prepare than existing packets since there are fewer steps and the shape is optimized for cooking. That’s a win-win for the planet and convenience.

If you want to see another pasta packaging marvel, we’ve previously covered Flat Pack Pasta. Have your own project to reduce packaging waste? Submit it to the Save the World Wildcard round of the Hackaday Prize which closes on October 16th!

An image of the track system of the Calico wearable on top of a garment. Different possible positions of the device (elbow, shoulder, etc) are shown by red dots overlayed on the top of the image.

The Calico Wearable Rides The Rails

If you’re feeling underwhelmed by yet another smartwatch announcement, then researchers at the University of Maryland may have just the wearable for you. Instead of just tracking your movement from one spot, Calico winds around you like a cartoon sidekick.

Using a “railway system,”(PDF) the Calico can travel around a garment to get better telemetry than if it were shackled to a wrist. By moving around the body, the robot can track exercise, teach dance moves, or take up-close heart measurements. Tracks can be magnetically linked across garments, and Calico can use different movement patterns to communicate information to the user.

This two-wheeled robot that rides the rails is built around a custom PCB with a MDBT42Q microcontroller for a brain which lets it communicate with a smartphone over Bluetooth Low Energy. Location is monitored by small magnets embedded in the silicone and plastic living hinge track, and it can use location as a way to provide “ambient visual feedback.”

The researchers even designed a friendly cover for the robot with googly eyes so that the device feels more personable. We think animated wearables could really take off since everyone loves cute animal companions, assuming they don’t fall into the uncanny valley.

If you love unusual wearables as much as we do, be sure to check out Wearable Sensors on Your Skin and the Wearable Cone of Silence.

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