Arduino Car HUD Does The Job

Many cars these days come with a basic Heads Up Display, or HUD. Typically, these display speed, though some also throw in a tachometer or navigational graphics too. Of course, if your car doesn’t have one of these stock, hacking in your own is always an option.

[PowerBroker2] developed this HUD in a somewhat circuitous way, but it’s effective nonetheless. An ELM327 Bluetooth OBD-II reader is hooked up to the car, collecting data on speed and RPM. This data is passed to an ESP-32 and Teensy 3.5. From reading the code, it appears the Teensy is responsible for logging data from the CAN bus on an SD card, and running a small OLED display. The ESP32 is then charged with running the LED display that actually forms the HUD. It’s then combined with a 3D-printed housing, some plexiglass, and reflective windshield film to complete the effect.

It’s a build that probably packs in more hardware than is strictly needed to get the job done, but it does indeed get the job done. Other builds we’ve seen use LED strips as a quick and tidy way to get the job done. Video after the break. Continue reading “Arduino Car HUD Does The Job”

Ford’s Powershift Debacle

In the automotive world, change is a constant, and if you’re not keeping up, you’re falling behind. New technologies and methodologies are key to gaining an edge in the market, and companies invest billions each year trying to find the next big thing, or even the next minor incremental improvement.

In just such a quest, Ford Motor Company decided to explore an alternative to the traditional automatic gearbox, aiming for greater fuel efficiency in their small cars. On paper, there were gains to be had. Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan. Continue reading “Ford’s Powershift Debacle”

A Dual Screen Luggable With Integrated RTL-SDR

It’s been fascinating to watch the development of bespoke mobile computers go from a few sheets of foam board and a Raspberry Pi into hardware that looks like it’s actually been transported here from an alternate reality. Granted a Raspberry Pi is more often than not still onboard, but the overall design and construction techniques of these very personal computers has improved by leaps and bounds.

The latest of these cyberdecks, a dual screen “luggable” reminiscent of classic computers like the Compaq Portable or Kaypro, comes our way from [dapperrogue]. Powered by the Raspberry Pi 4 and featuring a scratch-built mechanical keyboard to perfectly fit the machines’s specific dimensions, this is easily one of the more practical builds we’ve seen. As visually striking as they may be, few would argue that the small offset display that seems characteristic of most decks are ideal from a usability standpoint.

While the keyboard plate was milled out on a CNC, [dapperrogue] says the design of the HDPE body panels and rear polycarbonate viewing window were simple enough they could be done by hand on a band saw. The PETG internal frame uses a Voronoi pattern that not only reduces the amount of time and material required to print it, but maximizes airflow. The fact that it looks like some kind of alien biological life form only helps the retro-futuristic aesthetics.

There’s still plenty of room inside the enclosure, which is good, as [dapperrogue] says there’s more goodies to come. Adding internal battery power is a logical next step, and now that the Pi 4 can boot to external drives, and SSD is also on the list of future upgrades.

For readers who might be getting a sense of déjà vu from this project, [dapperrogue] notes this design was inspired by the phenomenal Reviiser that [Dave Estes] released earlier this year.

Dual-Wielding Robot Carves 3D Shapes From Foam With Warped Wire

“Every block of expanded polystyrene foam has a statue inside it and it is the task of the dual-arm hot wire-wielding robot to discover it.” — [Michelangelo], probably.

Be prepared to have your mind blown by this dual-wielding hot-wire 3D foam cutter (PDF). We’ve all seen simple hot-wire cutters before, whether they be manual-feed cutters or CNC-controlled like a 3D-printer. The idea is to pass current through a wire to heat it up just enough to melt a path as it’s guided through a block of polystyrene foam. Compared to cutting with a knife or a saw, hot-wire cuts are smooth as silk and produces mercifully little of that styrofoam detritus that gets all over your workspace.

But hot-wire cutters can’t do much other than to make straight cuts, since the wire must be kept taut. “RoboCut”, though, as [Simon Duenser] and his colleagues at ETH Zurich call their creation, suffers from no such limitations. Using an ABB YuMi, a dual-arm collaborative robot, they devised a method of making controlled curved cuts through foam by using a 1-mm thick deformable rod rather than a limp and floppy wire for the cutting tool. The robot has seven degrees of freedom on each arm, and there’s only so much the rod can deform before being permanently damaged, so the kinematics involved are far from trivial. Each pass through the foam is calculated to remove as much material as possible, and multiple passes are needed to creep up on the final design.

The video below shows the mesmerizing sweeps needed to release the Stanford bunny trapped within the foam, as well as other common 3D test models. We’re not sure it’s something easily recreated by the home-gamer, but it sure is fun to watch.

Continue reading “Dual-Wielding Robot Carves 3D Shapes From Foam With Warped Wire”

Remotely Navigate The Apocalypse In Mid-Century Style

One of the few positives to come of this pandemic is that the restrictive nature of scarcity can be a boon to creativity. Plus, the doom and gloom of it all is causing people to loosen up and do things they never felt free enough to do before in the demanding world of the before times.

For example, [ossum] makes R/C vehicles on commission to exacting standards, but took a break from perfection to build this remote control hellscape-faring van by the seat of his pants. It’s quite a resourceful build that combines pieces from previous projects with a few standard R/C parts and a handful of clever hacks.

The body is a test print of a 1957 Chevy Suburban van that [ossum] made for someone a few years back. It’s mounted on a scrap metal chassis and moves on printed tank treads designed for a different vehicle.

Since glass is a liability in an apocalypse (and because [ossum] doesn’t have a resin printer yet), the windows have fortified coverings that are printed, patina’d, and detailed with tiny rivet heads.

As far as hacks go, our favorite has to be the clothespin steering. [ossum] only had one electronic speed controller, so he used a servo to actuate a pair of spring-loaded clips, alternating between the two to move the tank-van. There’s a short video after the break that shows the rack and clothes-pinion steering, and it’s loaded up right after a brief demo of the van.

We realize that everyone’s apocalyptic needs are different, but there’s more than enough here to get you started. Don’t have access to enough R/C parts? Gear boxes and drive shafts can be printed, too.

Continue reading “Remotely Navigate The Apocalypse In Mid-Century Style”

Scientific Calculator Whipped Up In Python

Scientific calculators were invaluable to most of us through high school and college, freeing us from the yoke of using tables to calculate logarithms and trigonometric functions. Once out in the real world, it’s no longer necessary to use an education board approved device to do your maths – you can do it all on your PC instead. For those keen to do so, [AstusRush]’s latest Python work may be just the ticket!

Far exceeding the capabilities of the usual calculator apps, there’s plenty of useful features under the hood. Particularly exciting is the LaTeX display, which shows equations in textbook-quality human-readable format. There’s also a graphing suite, and capability to handle matricies and vectors. LAN chat is implemented too, useful for working in teams.

It’s a useful tool that may suit better than a full-fat MATLAB install, particularly at the low, low price of free. This is one calculator that CASIO will have to keep their nose out of!

Original Xbox Gets The Steam Overhaul

When Microsoft released the original Xbox, it deviated from the design of traditional game consoles in that it used several off-the-shelf computer components. The fact that Microsoft would want their game console to resemble a PC isn’t particularly surprising in hindsight, but we doubt anyone at Redmond ever imagined folks like [Ryan Walmsley] would be cramming in full-fledged computers nearly 20 years later.

[Ryan] tells us he was looking for a way to play some older games from the early 2000s, and thought it was a good opportunity to put together a quiet set-top computer. The final hardware is more than capable of running older titles, and can even be used with Steam Link to stream newer content from his primary gaming computer.

Even with a diminutive Gigabyte GA-H81N Mini ITX motherboard, things are pretty tight inside the Xbox. Fairly tight wire management was required to prevent any airflow obstructions, especially since [Ryan] decided to put the system’s 80 watt laptop-style power supply inside the case. While this made the build a bit more complicated, it does make the final product a lot cleaner and makes it feel just that much more like a proper game console.

Benchmarks show the machine has decent performance, all things considered. [Ryan] says there are some potential upgrades down the line, but as with most gaming PC builds, cost is the limiting factor. Until he’s ready to spend the cash on revamping the internals, he says that streaming newer games over the the network has been working great.

For those looking for a slightly more modern alternative to this project, we’ve also seen a gaming PC shoehorned into an Xbox 360 with similarly impressive results.