You don’t happen to own and operate your own turbojet engine, do you? If you do, have you ever had the urge to “kick the tires and light the fires”? Kicking tires simply requires adding tires to your engine cart, but what about lighting the fires? In the video below the break, [Tech Ingredients] explains that we will require some specialized hardware called a re-heater — also known as an afterburner.
[Tech Ingredients] does a deep dive into the engineering behind turbojets, and explains how the very thing that keeps the turbines from melting also allows an afterburner to work. Also explained is why it can also be called a re-heater, and why there are limitations on the efficiency.
Moving on to the demonstration, two different homebrewed afterburners are put to use. The second iteration does exactly what you’d think it should do, and is a mighty impressive sight. We can only imagine what his neighbors think of all the noise! The first iteration was less successful, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, and we’ll let you view the video below to see what else an afterburner can do. We’ll give you a hint: Worlds Biggest Fog Machine.
Does the thought of thrust turn your turbines? You might enjoy this motor-jet contraption that looks almost as fun as the real thing, but 3D printable!
Afterburners are commonly agreed to be the coolest feature of military fighter aircraft. Injecting raw fuel into the exhaust stream of a jet engine, afterburners are responsible for that red-hot flaming exhaust and the key to many aircraft achieving supersonic flight. [Integza] wanted to see if the same concept could be applied to an electric ducted fan, and set out to find out.
Of course, building an afterburner for an EDF does add a lot of complication. A flame tube was installed downstream of the EDF, fitted with a brass tube drilled carefully to act as a fuel injector. The flame tube was also fitted with an automotive glow plug in order to ignite the fuel, which was lighter refill gas straight from a can. The whole assembly is wrapped up inside a clear acrylic tube that allows one to easily see what’s happening inside with the combustion.
Results were mixed. While the fuel did combust, but in a rather intermittent fashion. In proper operation, an afterburner would run with smooth, continuous, roaring combustion. Additionally, no thrust measurements were taken and the assembly barely shook the desk.
Can I just say that doing a links roundup article in a week that includes April Fool’s Day isn’t a fun job? Because it’s not. I mean, how can you take something like reports of X-rays flowing from Uranus seriously when they release the report on such a day? It sure looks like a legitimate story, though, and a pretty interesting one. Planets emitting X-rays isn’t really a new thing; we’ve known that Jupiter and Saturn are both powerful X-ray sources for decades. Even though Uranus is the odd child of our solar system, finding evidence for X-ray emissions buried in data captured by the Chandra observatory in 2007 was unexpected. Astronomers think the X-rays might be coming from Uranus’ rings, or they might be reflections of X-rays streaming out from the sun. Or, it might be the weird alignment of the gas giant’s magnetic field causing powerful aurorae that glow in the X-ray part of the spectrum. Whatever it is, it’s weird and beautiful, which all things considered isn’t a bad way for things to be.
Another potential jest-based story popped up this week about the seemingly impossible “EmDrive”. It seems that when you appear to be breaking the laws of physics, you’re probably doing it wrong, and careful lab tests showed that fuel-free propulsion isn’t here yet. One would think it was self-obvious that filling a closed asymmetrical chamber with microwaves would produce absolutely no thrust, but EmDrive proponents have reported small but measurable amounts of thrust from the improbable engine for years. A team at TU Dresden found otherwise, though. Even though they were able to measure a displacement of the engine, it appears to be from the test stand heating up and warping as the RF energy flowed into the drive chamber. By changing the way the engine was supported, they were able to cancel out the dimensional changes that were making it look like the EmDrive was actually working.
Want to use surface-mount parts, but don’t want to bother spinning up an SMD board? Not a problem, at least if you follow the lead of David Buchanan and perform no-surface surface-mount prototyping. We stumbled upon this on Twitter and thought it looked cool — it’s got a little bit of a circuit sculpture feeling, and we like the old-school look of plain 0.1″ perfboard. David reports that the flying leads are just enameled magnet wire; having done our share of scraping and cleaning magnet wire prior to soldering, we figured that part of the build must have been painful. We pinged David and asked if he had any shortcuts for prepping magnet wire, but alas, he says he just used a hot blob of solder and a little patience while the enamel cooked off. We still really like the style of this build, and we applaud the effort.
Speaking of stumbling across things, that’s one of the great joys of this job — falling down algorithmically generated rabbit holes as we troll about for the freshest hacks. One such serendipitous was this YouTube channel documenting a really nice jet engine build. We’ve seen plenty of jet engines before, but very few with afterburners like this one has. There’s also something deeply satisfying about the variable-throat nozzle that Praendy built for the engine — it’s a level of complexity that you don’t often see in hobbyist jet engines, and yet the mechanism is very simple and understandable.
The other rabbit hole we discovered was after reporting on this cool TIG tungsten grinding tool. That took us into The Metalist’s back catalog, where we found a lot of interesting stuff. But the real treat was this automatic tube polisher (video), which we have to say kept us guessing up to the very end. If you’ve got 12 minutes and you enjoy metalworking builds at all, watch it and see if you’re not surprised by the cleverness of this tool.
And finally, we had heard of the travails of Anatoli Bugorski before, but never in the detail presented in this disturbing video. (Embedded below.)
Who is Anatoli Bugorski, you ask? He is a Russian particle physicist who, while working in an accelerator lab in 1978, managed to get his head directly in the path of a 76 GeV proton beam. Despite getting a huge dose of radiation, Bugorski not only survived the accident but managed to finish his Ph.D. and went on to a long career in nuclear physics. He also got married and had a son. He was certainly injured — facial paralysis and partial deafness, mainly — but did not suffer anything like the gruesome fates of the Chernobyl firefighters or others receiving massive radiation doses. The video goes into some detail about how the accident happened — two light bulbs are better than one, it turns out. We enjoyed the video, but couldn’t stop thinking that Bugorski was the Russian atomic-age equivalent of Phineas Gage.
The folks at Flitetest decided to add some extra power to an electric DH.100 Vampire RC plane by adding a butane afterburner. After some testing, and a bit of fire, they were able to make it fly.
Their afterburner uses a small butane canister for fuel. A servo motor actuates the valve on the canister, forcing fuel into a tube. This tube is set up to regulate the flow of butane and ensure it vaporizes before reaching the afterburner.
At the afterburner, a circular piece of tubing with holes is used to dispense fuel, much like a barbecue. This tube is connected to one side of a stun gun’s flyback generator, and the metal surrounding it is connected to the other. The stun gun creates sparks across the gap and ignites the fuel.
With the extra components added, the landing gear was removed to save weight and the plane was given a nice coat of paint. They started it up for a test run, and the plane’s body caught fire. After some rework, they managed to take off, start the afterburner, fly around, and belly land the plane. It achieved some additional thrust, but also sounds and looks awesome.
After the break, check out a video walkthrough and demo. We promise you fire.