If you’re reading this sentence, there’s a pretty good chance that you interact with electricity more than just as an end-user. You’re a hacker. You aren’t afraid of a few volts, and your projects may involve both DC and AC voltage. Depending on what you’re working on, you might even be dealing with several thousand volts. And it’s you who Big Clive made the video below the break for.
“Familiarity breeds contempt” as the old saying goes, and the more familiar we are with electronics, the more cavalier we may tend to get. If we allow ourselves to get too lax, we may be found working on live circuits, skimping on safety for the sake of convenience, or jokingly saying “safety third!” far too often as we tear into a hazardous situation without scoping it out first.
Who better to bring us down to earth than Big Clive. In this video, he explains how electricity has the potential to impede the beating of our hearts, the action of our lungs, and even break bones. You’ll find a candid discussion about what electric shock does to a person, how to avoid it, and how to help if someone near you suffers electric shock.
Of course, if safety isn’t your thing, then maybe you’re ready to Shake Hands With Danger.
Continue reading “The Unofficial Guide To (Avoiding) Electrocution”
[Bart Schroder] was busy designing high voltage variable speed motor drives and was lamenting the inability of a standard scope to visualise the waveforms around the switch transistors. This is due to the three phase nature of such motors being driven with three current waveforms, out of phase with each other by 120 degrees, where current flows between each pair of winding taps, without being referenced to a common notion of ground. The average scope on your bench however, definitely is ground-referenced, so visualising such waveforms is a bit of a faff. Then there’s the fact that the motors run at many hundreds of volts, and the prospect of probing that with your precious bench instrument is a little nerve-wracking to say the least. The solution to the issue was obvious, build your own isolated high voltage oscilloscope, and here is the Cleverscope CS448 development journey for your viewing pleasure.
The scope itself is specification-wise nothing too flash, it’s the isolated channels that make it special. It does however have some niceties such as an extra eight 100 Mbps digital inputs and a handy 65 MHz signal generator. Also, don’t reach for your wallets just yet, as this is a specialised instrument with an even smaller potential user base than a normal scope, so these units are rather pricey. That all said, it’s not the existence of the scope that is the focus here, it’s the journey from problem to solution that interests us the most. There is much to learn from [Bart’s] journey, for example, where to place the frontend ADC? Isolated side or not? The noise floor of the signal chain dictated the former.
Continue reading “Isolated Oscilloscope Design Process Shows How It’s Done”
Computers, from the simplest to the most complex, aren’t very useful if they can’t provide feedback to a user. Whether that interface takes the form of a monitor, a speaker, or a simple LED, there’s almost always some kind of output. One of the most ubiquitous is the ever-present seven-segment display. They’re small, they’re easy to use, and, perhaps most important, they’re cheap.
While the displays themselves are relatively compact, they often require some sort of driver circuitry — something that translates a digit into voltage at the correct pins. These drivers can take up valuable space, especially on a breadboard, and can sometimes make using seven-segment displays cumbersome. Thankfully, [John Lonergan] has a great solution: driver boards that sit completely beneath the displays. His dual seven-segment hex display project was born out of necessity — he needed it for the breadboard CPU SPAM-1, which was getting a bit too bulky. Each module is two seven-segment displays atop a small PCB. Beneath the displays lives an 8-bit PIC microcontroller, which acts as a driver for both of the displays.
It’s so easy to restrict ourselves to thinking in two dimensions when working on electronic design — even designing multilayer PCBs often feels like working on several, distinct two-dimensional areas rather than one three-dimensional one. The concept of stacking components to save space, while fairly straightforward to implement, is a great example of the kind of problem-solving we love to see here at Hackaday. Of course, if you like the idea of 3D circuit design, you have to check out some of these incredible circuit sculptures we’ve featured in the past.
Continue reading “Three-Dimensional Design Yields Compact Seven-Segment Hex Displays”
When you need to record the angle of something rotating, whether it’s a knob or a joint in a robotic arm, absolute rotary encoders are almost always the way to go. They’re cheap, they’re readily available, and it turns out you can make a pretty fantastic one out of a magnetic sensor, a zip tie, and a skateboard bearing.
When [Scott Bezek] got his hands on a AS5600 magnet sensor breakout board, that’s just what he did. The sensor itself is an IC situated in the middle of the board, which in Scott’s design sits on a 3D-printed carrier. A bearing mount sits atop it, which holds — you guessed it — a bearing. Specifically a standard 608 skateboard bearing, which is snapped into the mount and held securely by a zip tie cinched around the mount’s tabs. The final part is a 3D-printed knob with a tiny magnet embedded within, perpendicular to the axis of rotation. The knob slides into the bearing and the AS5600 reads the orientation of the magnet.
Of course, if you just wanted a rotary knob you could have just purchased an encoder and been done with it, but this method has its advantages. Maybe you can’t fit a commercially-available encoder in your design. Maybe you need the super-smooth rotation provided by the bearing. Or maybe you’re actually building that robotic arm — custom magnetic encoders like this one are extremely common in actuator design, and while the more industrial versions (usually) have fewer zip ties, [Scott]’s design would fit right in.
Continue reading “3D Printed Absolute Encoder Is Absolutely Wonderful”
It has become the norm for single-board computers to emerge bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Raspberry Pi, as the board from Cambridge sets the hardware standard for its many competitors. This trend has taken an interesting new turn, as a new board has emerged that doesn’t sport the familiar 40-pin connector of the Pi Model B, but the more compact from factor of the Compute Module 4. The Radxa CM3 sports a Rockchip RK3566 quad core Cortex-A55 running at 2.0 GHz, and is to be made available in a variety of memory specifications topping out at 8 GB. It is hardware compatible with the Pi CM4, and should be usable with carrier boards made for that module.
We’ve looked at the CM4 as the exciting face of the Raspberry Pi because the traditional boards have largely settled into the same-but-faster progression of models since the original B+ in 2014. The compute module offers an accessible way to spin your own take on Raspberry Pi hardware, and it seems that this new board will only serve to broaden those opportunities. Radxa are the company behind the Rock Pi series of more conventional Raspberry Pi clones, so there seems every chance that it will reach the market as promised.
Will it make sense to buy one of these as opposed to the Pi CM4? On paper it may have some hardware features to tempt developers, but like all Pi clones it will have to bridge the software gap to be a real contender. The Raspberry Pi has never been the fastest board on the market at any given time, but it has gained its position because it comes with a well-supported and properly updated operating system. For this board and others like it that will be a tough standard to match.
Curious as to what the first Raspberry Pi form factor clone was? We think it’s the SolidRun Carrier-one from 2013.
Via CNX Software.
As any musician, podcaster, or youtuber will be quick to tell you, there’s no substitute for a good microphone. They’ll also be quick to tell you all about their favorite microphone, why it’s better than all the others, and how much it cost (oh, and how round it sounds, whatever that means). But what if you could build your own that sounds as good, if not better, and do it for only $30?
That’s what [Matt] from DIY Perks set out to discover when he built his DIY USB-C Microphone. He was able to source the same microphone capsule that can be found in his high-end, $600 CAD E100S, and built a simple pre-amplifier that bumps its quiet output up to line-level. He even connected it to the mic module with some custom cable made from two tiny enameled wires that won’t transmit bumps and vibrations, wrapped inside desoldering braiding which acts as a shield. He fed the output from the pre-amp into a cheap USB audio interface and voilà! — top-notch sound for next to nothing. Make sure you check out the video below to hear a comparison between the mic and its professional counterparts.
Of course, sounding good isn’t quite enough. [Matt] wasn’t satisfied until the piece looked the part as well, which is why he encased the mic module in custom-bent brass mesh shielding and tubing (which also helps to reduce electrical interference). The brass cage sits suspended via rubber o-rings on a beautiful bent brass mount, which sits atop an articulated brass arm of [Matt]’s own design. Finally, the arm is mounted to a wood and brass enclosure that also serves to house the electronics.
And, in true open-source fashion, the video description is full of links to parts, schematics, and templates in case you want to build one of these beauties for yourself. Between this fantastic build and this other, super-overkill scratch-built USB microphone we featured earlier in the year, there has never been a better time to make yourself a mic you won’t have to trade your car for.
Thanks to [RichV] and [BaldPower] for the tip!
Continue reading “Cheap DIY Mic Sounds (And Looks) Damn Good”
Hypersonic speeds are defined by those exceeding Mach 5, and lately there’s been a lot of buzz about unmanned hypersonic vehicles making test flights. Vehicles returning from orbital flight also travel at hypersonic speeds as they do their best to transition back to the terrestrial realm. Before anything leaves ground though, these machines are tested in wind tunnels. [Scott Manley]’s video “How Hypersonic Wind Tunnels Recreate Mach 20” (embedded below) does a wonderful job of explaining the engineering behind wind tunnels for testing hypersonic vehicles.
While the earliest wind tunnels such as that used by the Wright Brothers were powered by simple fans, it is not possible for any propeller to surpass subsonic speeds. This is evidenced by there not being any propeller driven aircraft that can exceed Mach 1. Since an aircraft can’t reach those speeds with a propeller, it follows that a wind tunnel cannot be driven by propellers, fans, or any such device, and exceed Mach 1 wind speed, either. So it begs the question: Just how do they do it?
You might think that the answer lays in Bernoulli’s law – but it does not. You might think it involves compressing the air into smaller and smaller tubes and pipes. It doesn’t. As [Scott Manley] so expertly explains in the video below the break, it has quite a lot in common with actual rocket science.
You may be interested to know that we’ve covered some DIY wind tunnel builds as well as a small desktop wind tunnel in the past. While not hypersonic, they’re exactly what you’d want to have if you’re an aerospace hacker of any kind.
Thanks [Zane Atkins] for the tip!
Continue reading “Mach 20 In A Wind Tunnel: Yes, It’s Rocket Science”