Hackaday Links: September 2, 2018

It’s (was, is?) the end of August, and that means the entire dreadlocked population of San Francisco is out in the middle of the Nevada Desert for a week. Yes, it’s Burning Man, and as always we have a host of builds that make you ask, ‘how did they do that, and how did they get that here’.

For the last few years, the greatest logistical feat of art cars is the 747. Yes, it’s the fuselage of a 747, turned into an art car. The top deck is a convertible. The biggest question surrounding this 747 is how do you transport this thing? You can’t fly it in (well, you could, once), it’s not going to fit on a train, and it’s extraordinarily long. Now we have an answer: they did it on a truck. The 747 was stationed in the Mojave, and from there it’s a relatively quick shot up Nevada to Black Rock City. Several power lines had to be raised, and you’re still looking at an enormous logistical endeavour.

I’m saying it now. Sphere, the 1998 movie with Dustin Hoffman. There’s a 25 meter diameter mirror ball that looks like the sphere in Sphere. It’s inflatable, so that takes care of the obvious questions, but we’re still asking how this thing looks in person, how massive wind storms are going to affect what is basically a gigantic sale sail, and what the reflections of the sun will actually do. I suppose being convex, you’re not going to get the accidental architectural parabolic mirror effect that melts cars, but one can always hope.

Want a neat story on the features of Burning Man that doesn’t get a lot of press? IEEE Spectrum did a feature on Black Rock City airport. For one week a year, it is the third busiest airport in Nevada, behind McCarren and Reno. It’s also a towered, yet uncontrolled airport. This makes no logical sense, but it’s something that can happen with FAA regs.

[alicestewwwart] has left us with a quandary. She’s creating highly artistic circuits out of ICs, discrete parts, and wire. These circuits are functional, but we don’t know what to call them. They’re not quite deadbug, because SMD parts don’t have legs, and ‘deadbug’ gets its name from upside down DIPs that looks like dead centipedes. It’s not Manhattan style, although this might be closer to Manhattan than deadbug. So what is it? Leave your answer in the comments.

The Largest Aircraft Ever Built Will Soon Launch Rockets To Space

Deep in the mojave, the largest aircraft ever made will soon be making test flights. This is the Stratolaunch, and it’s measured the largest to ever fly based on wingspan. The Stratolaunch was constructed out of two 747s, and is designed for a single purpose: as a mobile launch platform for orbital rockets.

There are a couple of ways to measure the size of an aircraft. The AN-225 Mriya has the highest payload capacity, but only one of those was ever built (though that might change soon). The Spruce Goose was formerly the largest aircraft by wingspan, but it only flew once, and only in ground effect. The Stratolaunch is in another category entirely. This is an aircraft that contains some of the largest composite structures on the planet. Not only can you park a school bus between the fuselages of the Stratolaunch, you can strap that school bus to the plane and carry it up to 30,000 feet.

But why build this astonishing aircraft? The reasons go back more than a decade, and the end result is a spaceplane.

Continue reading “The Largest Aircraft Ever Built Will Soon Launch Rockets To Space”

Hackaday Links: September 10, 2017

Hackaday is 13! We’re going through a bit of a rebellious phase. There’s hair where there wasn’t hair before. Thirteen years ago (Sept. 5, 2004), [Phil Torrone] published the first Hackaday Post. [Phil] posted a great writeup of the history of Hackaday over on the Adafruit blog — we were saved from the AOL borg because of the word ‘hack’ — and interviewed the former and current editors of your favorite DIY website. Here’s to 13 more years and to [Phil] finding a copy of the first version of the Jolly Wrencher designed in Macromedia Flash.

Hackaday is having an unconference in the UK! Tickets for next weekend’s event went fast, but don’t worry — we’re hosting a Bring A Hack the day before.

Hurricanes are an awesome force of nature. As we learned from Harvey a week ago, livestreamed footage from the eyewall of a hurricane is fascinating. [Jeff Piotrowski] seems to be the streamer of choice. If you’re looking for something to gawk at, here you go.

Another burn is over, and I still have no idea how they moved the fuselage of a 747 from Palmdale to the playa.

You know we’re doing this whole Hackaday Prize thing where we’re giving a ton of money to people for creating cool hardware, right? We’re almost done with that. The last round of The Hackaday Prize is going on right now. The theme is anything goes, or rather there is no theme. The goal of this round is to build cool stuff. This round ends on October 16th, and yes, we’ll have the results for the Assistive Technologies round out shortly.

[Prusa] makes a lot of printers, and that means he needs to make a lot of parts to make a lot of printers. Obviously, a PTFE-cutting robot is the solution to this problem

October 5th is the Open Source Hardware Summit in Denver. Hackaday and Tindie are going, and it’s going to be a blast.  The location has moved in the last week — now it’s about half a mile away from the old venue. The speaker schedule is up, board nominations are open, and somewhere, someone is organizing a Lulzbot/Sparkfun booze cruise the day after the summit. I should be getting a van to add capacity to this trip, so if you’re interested leave a note in the comments.

Restoring A Retro 747 Control Display Unit

Anyone who’s into retro aviation gear falls in love with those mysterious displays, dials, keypads, banks of knife switches. There’s a lot of sexy in those devices, built with high standards in a time when a lot of it was assembled by hand.

[Jeremy Gilbert] bought a 747-200’s Control Display Unit (CDU)– the interface with the late ’70s in-flight computer–and is bringing it back to life in a Hackaday.io project. His goal is to get it to light up and operate just as if it were installed in a 747.

Of particular interest is the display, which turned out to consist of a series of 5×7 matrices (seen on the right) controlled by chips no one uses any more. However, [Jeremy] found a blog post where someone had hacked out Arduino code for a cousin of the chip, saving him a lot of time. However, he’s got a lot more sleuthing yet to do.

If you’re into retro displays, we’ve mentioned a number of good ones, including the legendary Apollo DSKY and an awesome retrocomputer.