Mechanized One-Man Sawmill

The title of ‘maker’ is conventionally applied to the young-adult age group. In the case of 84 year-old Ralph Affleck, a lifelong sawmiller, ‘maker’ perhaps undersells the accomplishment of building a fully functioning sawmill that can be operated by a single individual.

Starting in the trade at the age of 16 under his father’s tutelage, fifty years of working in sawmills saw him still loving what he did as retirement loomed. So, with pen, paper, and a simple school ruler he designed the entire shop from scratch. Decades of expertise working with wood allowed him to design the machines to account for warping and abnormalities in the timber resulting in incredibly accurate cuts.

With no other examples to guide his design — aside from perhaps old style steam-powered sawmills, and newer portable ones that he feels are inadequate for the job — much of the shop is built from scratch with scavenged parts. And, that list is impressive: four hydraulic cylinders from a Canberra bomber, levers from an old locomotive, differentials and gearboxes from a MAC and 1912 Republic trucks, a Leyland engine that operated for 13 years without the need for maintenance, and an assortment of old military and air force vehicle parts. This is complimented by his log skidder — also custom — that would look at home in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Built from two tractors, it combines three gearboxes for 12 forward and 8 reverse gears(what!?), and can hit 42mph in reverse!

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Adding ESATA To An Acer Aspire 1

esata

In another installment of her ongoing efforts to mod the Acer Aspire 1, [tnkgrl] has added eSATA capabilities. During the hard drive upgrade she did, she used the spare PATA connection, leaving an SATA connection free. This time she has gone in and extended it to be accessible outside the case. To do that, she scavenged an eSATA connector from a desktop and simply wired it into the connections on the motherboard. She then mounted it flush as seen in the picture above.  In the past she’s covered adding RAM, internal Bluetooth and the hard drive upgrade.

Add Some LED Enhancement To Your Netbook Lid

[Mathieu] needed to open up his Acer Aspire One to do a hard drive replacement and decided to add a bit of pizzazz while he was in there. The image above is the lid of the netbook adorned with RGB LEDs and a spray painted stencil.

He previously purchased a set of surface mount RGB packages on eBay and thought that they were perfect for this hack. after removing the case he found that by using a flex PCB he would be able to fit the LEDs inside, and pass the connections through to the main computer housing. The leads connect to a Teensy board, which is held in place with a liberal application of hot glue. [Mathieu] removed the USB connector and soldered jumper wires to one of the computers ports. In the video after the break you can see that he uses the programming software to write some code to the Teensy, driving the LEDs. We’d like to see it set to listen for serial communications and react accordingly. That way you could use it for notifications, as an audio VU meter, to track torrent progress, etc.

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Hackaday Links: August 1, 2010

PCB Group Orders

[Phil] wrote in to let us know about the DorkbotPDX group orders. The site makes group PCB orders until a cutoff date or the panel is full. You get three copies of your design with no setup fee for just $5/square inch including domestic postage. Not a bad price. We aren’t affiliated with them, but we’re always looking for board production options for hobbyists. BatchPCB is another popular one, and if you need help getting your design ready we’ve got your covered.

Aspire One MAME cabinet

[Tim] built a MAME cabinet using foam board and some USB peripherals. Inside you’ll find an Acer Aspire One netbook. This build is quick, cheap, and if you get tired of it you won’t feel you’re stuck with it in the way owners of other MAME cabinet builds might.

Embedded Cake

If you are an embedded programmer who happens to be marrying another embedded programmer take note. This wedding cake is perfect for you; decorated with character LCD screens, solderless breadboards, and development boards along with the wires that connect them all together. [Francirius], a read from Chile, says this cake was the handy work of [Paulina Verdejo].

Dell Mini 9 3G Install

dell

[Rob] sent in his Dell mini 9 3G install. He bought the Dell without the 3G option, but found that he really wanted it. He installed a mini pcie bracket and found a sim connector that matched the specs he needed. Apparently they use one that it rare as it uses the first pin to indicate whether or not there’s a card loaded. He pulled the mini pcie 3G card from a cheap USB adapter. After soldering it all in place and firing up OS X, he was able to connect, without issue. He says the reception wasn’t great, so he’ll need to add an antenna. This is similar to the process seen on the Acer aspire one 3G hack. Since you’re already in there, you might as well add a GPS while you’re at it.

Hackit: Netbook Haters?

eee

Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.

We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.

What’s your experience with netbooks? Do you have one that you adore or are you annoyed by their shortcomings? Models we’ve covered in the past include the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC, Dell Mini 9, and MSI Wind.

[Photo: Onken Bio-pot]

Fail Of The Week: How Not To Electric Vehicle

If you ever doubt the potential for catastrophe that mucking about with electric vehicles can present, check out the video below. It shows what can happen to a couple of Tesla battery modules when due regard to safety precautions isn’t paid.

The video comes to us by way of [Rich], a gearhead with a thing for Teslas. He clearly knows his way around the EV world, having rebuilt a flood-soaked Tesla, and aspires to open an EV repair shop. The disaster stems from a novelty vehicle he and friend [Lee] bought as a side project. The car was apparently once a Disney prop car, used in parades with the “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” theme. It was powered by six 6-volt golf cart batteries, which let it maintain a stately, safe pace on a crowded parade route. [Rich] et al would have none of that, and decided to plop a pair of 444-cell Tesla modules into it. The reduced weight and increased voltage made it a real neck-snapper, but the team unwisely left any semblance of battery management out of the build.

You can guess what happened next, or spin up to the 3:00 mark in the video to watch the security camera mayhem. It’s not clear what started the fire, but the modules started cooking off batteries like roman candles. Quick action got it pushed outside to await the fire department, but the car was a total loss long before they showed up. Luckily no other cars in the garage were damaged, nor were there any injuries – not that the car didn’t try to take someone out, including putting a flaming round into [Lee]’s chest and one into the firetruck’s windshield.

[Rich] clearly knew he was literally playing with fire, and paid the price. The lesson here is to respect the power of these beefy batteries, even when you’re just fooling around.

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