A Real All-In-One Printer Should Have A Computer In It, Too

With printers generally being cheaper to replace than re-ink, there are plenty of cast-offs around to play with. They’re a great source for parts, but they’re also tempting targets for repurposing for entirely new uses. Sure, you could make a printer into a planter, but slightly more useful is this computer built into a printer that still prints.

This build is [Mason Stooksbury]’s earlier and admittedly useless laptop-in-a-printer build, which we covered a few months back. It’s easy to see where he got his inspiration, since the donor printer’s flip-up lid is a natural for mounting a display, and the capacious, glass-topped scanner bed made a great place to show off the hybrid machine’s guts. But having a printer that doesn’t print didn’t sit well with [Mason], so Comprinter II was born. This one follows the same basic approach, with a Toshiba Netbook stuffed into an H-P ENVY all-in-one. The laptop’s screen was liberated and installed in the printer’s lid, the motherboard went into the scanner bay along with a fair number of LEDs. This killed the scanner but left the printer operational, after relocating a power brick that was causing a paper jam error.

[Mason]’s Comprinter II might not be the next must-have item, but it certainly outranks the original Comprinter on the utility spectrum. Uselessness has a charm of its own, though; from a 3D-printed rotary dial number pad to a useless book scanner, keep the pointless projects coming, please.

Bike-Mounted Synthetic-Aperture Radar Makes Detailed Images

Synthetic-aperture radar, in which a moving radar is used to simulate a very large antenna and obtain high-resolution images, is typically not the stuff of hobbyists. Nobody told that to [Henrik Forstén], though, and so we’ve got this bicycle-mounted synthetic-aperture radar project to marvel over as a result.

Neither the electronics nor the math involved in making SAR work is trivial, so [Henrik]’s comprehensive write-up is invaluable to understanding what’s going on. First step: build a 6-GHz frequency modulated-continuous wave (FMCW) radar, a project that [Henrik] undertook some time back that really knocked our socks off. His FMCW set is good enough to resolve human-scale objects at about 100 meters.

Moving the radar and capturing data along a path are the next steps and are pretty simple, but figuring out what to do with the data is anything but. [Henrik] goes into great detail about the SAR algorithm he used, called Omega-K, a routine that makes use of the Fast Fourier Transform which he implemented for a GPU using Tensor Flow. We usually see that for neural net applications, but the code turned out remarkably detailed 2D scans of a parking lot he rode through with the bike-mounted radar. [Henrik] added an auto-focus routine as well, and you can clearly see each parked car, light pole, and distant building within range of the radar.

We find it pretty amazing what [Henrik] was able to accomplish with relatively low-budget equipment. Synthetic-aperture radar has a lot of applications, and we’d love to see this refined and developed further.

[via r/electronics]

Remote ADS-B Install Listens In On All The Aircraft Transmissions With RTL-SDR Trio, Phones Home On Cellular

When installing almost any kind of radio gear, the three factors that matter most are the same as in real estate: location, location, location. An unobstructed location at the highest possible elevation gives the antenna the furthest radio horizon as well as the biggest bang for the installation buck. But remote installations create problems, too, particularly with maintenance, which can be a chore.

So when [tsimota] got a chance to relocate one of his Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers to a remote site, he made sure the remote gear was as bulletproof as possible. In a detailed write up with a ton of pictures, [tsimota] shows the impressive amount of effort he put into the build.

The system has a Raspberry Pi 3 with solid-state drive running the ADS-B software, a powered USB hub for three separate RTL-SDR dongles for various aircraft monitoring channels, a remote FlightAware dongle to monitor ADS-B, and both internal and external temperature sensors. Everything is snuggled into a weatherproof case that has filtered ventilation fans to keep things cool, and even sports a magnetic reed tamper switch to let him know if the box is opened. An LTE modem pipes the data back to the Inter, a GSM-controlled outlet allows remote reboots, and a UPS keeps the whole thing running if the power blips atop the 15-m building the system now lives on.

Nobody appreciates a quality remote installation as much as we do, and this is a great example of doing it right. Our only quibble would be the use of a breadboard for the sensors, but in a low-vibration location, it should work fine. If you’ve got the itch to build an ADS-B ground station but don’t want to jump in with both feet quite yet, this beginner’s guide from a few years back is a great place to start.

Mix And Match Parts To Build A Better Mountain Bike Derailleur

Mountain bikers take their sport seriously, and put their bikes through all manner of punishment in the course of a ride. This has given rise to a wide range of specialist equipment, such as suspension, disc brakes and even clutch derailleurs, which help reduce chain slap when riding over rough terrain. However, these specialist derailleurs aren’t available for all applications, so sometimes you’ve gotta hack together your own.

Shimano clutch derailleurs are only really available for 10-speed rear cassettes and up, due to a change in derailleur ratio compared to the earlier 6 to 9 speed cassettes. Using a derailleur designed for 10-speed operation on a rear cassette with fewer gears won’t shift properly.

[SzurkeEg] was inspired by earlier work, and realised that by combining parts from several generations of Shimano hardware, it was possible to build a working clutch derailleur for 6 to 9 speed rear cassettes. The main parallelogram is what handles the positioning of the derailleur, and is sourced from a 9-speed part to get the gear indexes correct.The rest of the parts are sourced from later models with the clutch feature built in.

It’s a smart mechanical hack, and one that isn’t necessarily the most intuitive. But by having a go, and seeing what’s possible, now a whole generation of mountain bikes can tear up the trail like never before. We’ve seen Shimano gear hacked before, too. Video below the break. Continue reading “Mix And Match Parts To Build A Better Mountain Bike Derailleur”

Locating Targets With Charm Courtesy Of A Life Size Portal Turret

What better way to count down the last 7 weeks to a big hacker camp like SHA2017 than by embarking on a last-minute, frantic build? That was [Yvo]’s thought when he decided to make a life-sized version of the adorably lethal turrets from the Valve’s Portal video games. Since that build made it to the finish line back then with not all features added, he finished it up for the CCC camp 2019 event, including the ability to close, open, target and shoot Nerf darts.

Originally based on the miniature 2014 turret (covered on Hackaday as well), [Yvo] details this new project in a first and second work log, along with a detailed explanation of how it all goes together and works. While the 2017 version took a mere 50 days to put together, the whole project took about 300 hours of 3D printing. It also comes with four Nerf guns which use flywheels to launch the darts.  The wheels are powered using quadcopter outrunner motors that spin at 25,000 RPM. The theoretical speed of a launched dart is over 100km/h, with 18 darts per gun and a fire rate of 2 darts per second.

The basic movement control for the system is handled by an Arduino Mega, while the talking and vision aspects are taken care of by a Raspberry Pi 3+, which ultimately also makes the decisions about how to move the system. As one can see in the video after the link, the system seems to work pretty well, with a negligible number of fatalities among company employees.

Though decidedly not a project for the inexperienced tinkerer, [Yvo] has made all of the design files available along with the software. We’re still dubious about the claims about the promised cake for completing one of these turrets, however.

Continue reading “Locating Targets With Charm Courtesy Of A Life Size Portal Turret”

Bearing-reinforced Stepper Tackles Hefty Axial Loads

These days, it’s common among us hackers to load a stepper motor with forces in-line with their shaft–especially when we couple them to leadscrews or worm gears. Unfortunately, steppers aren’t really intended for this sort of loading, and doing so with high forces can destroy the motor. Fear not, though. If you find yourself in this situation, [Voind Robot] has the solution for you with a dead-simple-yet-dead-effective upgrade to get your steppers tackling axial loads without issue.

In [Voind Robot’s] case, they started with a worm-gear-drive on a robot arm. In their circumstances, moving the arm could put tremendous axial loads onto the stepper shaft through the worm–as much as 30 Newtons. Such loads could easily destroy the internal stepper motor bearings in a short time, so they opted for some double-sided reinforcement. To alleviate the problem, the introduced two thrust bearings, one on either side of the shaft. These thrust bearings do the work of redirecting the force off the shaft and directly onto the motor casing, a much more rigid place to apply such loads.

This trick is dead simple, and it’s actually over five years old. Nevertheless, it’s still incredibly relevant today for any 3D printer builder who’s considering coupling a leadscrew to a stepper motor for their Z-axis. There, a single thrust bearing could take out any axial play and lead to an overall rigid build. We love simple machine-design nuggets of wisdom like these. If you’re looking for more printer-design tricks, look no further than [Moritz’s] Workhorse Printer article.

Kitty Litter And Broken Light Bulbs Power This Homebrew Gas Chromatograph

We’re always on the lookout for unexpected budget builds here at Hackaday, and stumbling across a low-cost, DIY version of an instrument that sells for tens of thousands of dollars is always a treat. And so when we saw a tip for a homebrew gas chromatograph in the tips line this morning, we jumped on it. (Video embedded below.)

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, gas chromatography is a chemical analytical method that’s capable of breaking a volatile sample up into its component parts. Like all chromatographic methods, it uses an immobile matrix to differentially retard the flow of a mobile phase containing the sample under study, such that measurement of the transit time through the system can be made and information about the physical properties of the sample inferred.

The gas chromatograph that [Chromatogiraffery] built uses a long stainless steel tube filled with finely ground bentonite clay, commonly known as kitty litter, as the immobile phase. A volatile sample is injected along with an inert carrier gas – helium from a party balloon tank, in this case – and transported along the kitty litter column by gas pressure. The sample interacts with the column as it moves along, with larger species held back while smaller ones speed along. Detection is performed with thermal conductivity cells that use old incandescent pilot lamps that have been cracked open to expose their filaments to the stream of gas; using a Wheatstone bridge and a differential amp, thermal differences between the pure carrier gas and the eluate from the column are read and plotted by an Arduino.

The homebrew GC works surprisingly well, and we can’t wait for [Chromatogiraffery] to put out more details of his build.

Continue reading “Kitty Litter And Broken Light Bulbs Power This Homebrew Gas Chromatograph”