It’s a feature of summer for us, the round of hacker camps in which members of our community gather in fields and spend a few days relaxing and doing what we do best. This summer I’ll have been to four of them by September, one of which was unexpected because a last-minute ticket came my way. For Hackaday they’re a chance to connect with our readers and maybe see come of the coolest stuff in person.
If you consult the wiki for your hacker camp of choice then you’ll usually find a page of tips about what to bring. Starting with a tent and a sleeping bag and probably going on to sunscreen, a hat, and maybe how to avoid dehydration. I’d probably add spare toilet paper and disinfectant spray in case the toilets are nightmarish. All very practical stuff, but expressed in a dry list format that doesn’t really tell you what to expect. A hacker camp can be overwhelming if you’ve not been to one before, so how do you get the best out of it? Here are a few tips based on our experience. Continue reading “The Hackaday Summer Camp Survival Guide”→
[jasonwinfieldnz] uses twelve small powerbanks day to day – powering LED strips around his trampoline, presumably, to avoid the mess of wires and make the assembly easily portable. However, if you have twelve powerbanks, you’ll find yourself hogging all the household’s microUSB cables every so often, as they eventually discharge. This was not good enough for our hacker, and he decided to build a charging station to refill them all at once.
If you need 5 volts and many amps, an ATX PSU isn’t your worst bet. From there, he only had to add twelve microUSB connectors to – and condensed the entire contraption into a beautiful charging station. For the microUSB part, he hacked some microUSB cable ends off and embedded them into the case. An embedded voltage and current module is of big help – letting you see at a glance when charging has really finished. Using copper tape as bus bars and banana plugs for charging input, this project is easy to build and solves the problem well.
The 3D printing files and cutting templates are right there on the project page, so if any of us hackers has a problem that twelve powerbanks could help with, [Jason]’s project is quite repeatable. If your devices are more diverse, you could use a pegboard to build a stylish charging station for them! If, on the other hand, you have a single device you need to plug multiple cords into, moldable plastic is there to help.
In the Star Trek episode Space Seed, [Khan] famously said, “Improve a mechanical device, and you may double productivity. But improve man, you gain a thousandfold.” Most of our hacks center on the mechanical or electromechanical kind, but we do have an interest in safely improving ourselves. The problem is that most of us don’t want to mess with our DNA or have surgery, so it sort of limits our options.
We are always interested in less invasive hacks, so we certainly took note of Bionic Reading. However, a recent paper claims to debunk the claims of benefits. The company promoting the technology claims a Swiss University study showed that while the results were not clear, “the majority had a positive effect.” They also claim, anecdotally, that the technique can help those with dyslexia. What’s the truth? We don’t know, but it is an interesting discussion to follow.
If you haven’t seen it before, Bionic Reading — which, by the way, may not be free to use — is a way of using a dark font to emphasize certain key parts of words. For example, you can read this article using Bionic Reading. [Daniel Doyon] analyzed reading by 2,074 testers and found that participants actually read slower when using the Bionic Reading technique.
Golf is a sport that has always enjoyed a good gadget or eight. Whether it’s something to measure the wind, or the latest putter guaranteed to save your game, golf enthusiasts have always flocked to such toys. [Nick O’Hara] has something that might just be a little too exciting for the golf set, though, in the form of his golf club launcher.
The golf club launcher essentially takes the role of a normal golf bag, with a rotating magazine containing all the necessary clubs for a day out on the green. The magazine is rotated into position on request, and the required club is launched out towards the player thanks to a pneumatic cylinder fired at 120 psi. A compressor in the base keeps the system charged with air for repeated launches.
The launcher even has a voice assistant built in. Telling the caddy the distance to the hole, and variables like wind and elevation, allows the device to select the right club for the conditions before blasting it towards the player.
With so many of us working from home over the last two years, it’s really become apparent that people generally dislike sitting all day with pants on. Until such a utopian time when all clothing is considered unisex, and just as many men as women are kicking it in loose, flowing skirts and dresses, you may want to remember to actually wear something on your lower half, uncomfortable though pants may be. But there is another way — you could build [Everything Is Hacked]’s pants filter and continue to be a chaos agent. Check out the video after the break.
That’s right, whether you forego or just forget to dress yourself below the equator, the pants filter has you covered. It works like you might expect — machine learning tracks body landmarks and posture to figure out where your NSFW region is and keep it under wraps.
By default, it blurs everything below the belt, or you can draw on pants if you’re inclined to be in revealing tighty-whities and prefer more coverage. You can adjust the width of the pants to cover the covid-19 you may have put on since 2020, and even change the pants to match your shirt.
We love that [Everything Is Hacked] had the um, gumption to test the pants filter in public at what appears to be a local taco joint. After the first few rounds of weird looks, he switched to a pants moustache to save face.
[Mark Rober] has a bird feeder in his back yard. Also, squirrels who eat the seed. So, as one does, he built a nine part squirrel obstacle course with a reward of walnuts at the end, and filmed them beating the course.
(Spoiler – this is all much better in the video, which we’ve placed below the break).
His four backyard squirrels enter a ‘Casino’ and avoid the plushie ‘security’. From there it’s across a rod mounted on bearings, leap into a crate under a helicopter, which zip-lines to a brick wall with randomly moving bricks, and into their hideout.
The hideout elevator shaft leads to a sewer, which leads to the famous room from Mission Impossible where [Tom Cruise] has to avoid the floor, but to get to the hatch in the top they have to lower a ladder by ‘hacking into’ the control system (by pushing a keyboard shaped button) and lowering a rope ladder.
Next they go through a tube maze to a room full of laser beams (3D printer filament) and finally they can jump onto the platform with Fort Knutz. If they get the vault door open, they’re rewarded with a shower of walnuts.
Learning anything new, especially so broad and far reaching as electronics, can be hard. [IMSAI Guy] knows this because he gets asked regularly “how do I learn electronics?” Many of you reading this will have a few ideas to pass along (and we encourage you to share your take on it in the comments below) but there is an even greater number of people who are asking the same question, and [IMSAI Guy]’s take on it is one that this particular Hackaday writer can relate to.
According to [IMSAI Guy], an excellent place to start is the ARRL Handbook. The ARRL Handbook is an electronics and RF engineering guide published by the Amateur Radio Relay League in the US. It’s a wonderful reference, and past editions can be had very inexpensively and are every bit as handy. Many hams will have a copy they could be talked out of, and you can likely find one at your local library. Where to start in the Handbook, then?
[IMSAI Guy] recommend starting with whatever catches your fancy. As an example, he starts with Op Amps, and rather than diving straight into the math of how they work or even worrying to much about what they are- he just builds a circuit and then plays with it to intrinsically understand how it works, a “learn by doing” approach that he has found extremely helpful just as many of us have. We also appreciated is very straightforward approach to the math: Don’t bother with it unless you need to for some reason, and definitely don’t start by learning it first.
In fact, that same reasoning is applied to any subject: Learn it as you need it, and don’t start by learning but rather by doing. The learning will come on its own! Be sure to check out the entire video and let us know what you think, and how you approached learning electronics. Thanks to [cliff] for the great Tip!