When [bdk6] tried painting aluminum for electronic projects, he found it didn’t tend to stay painted. It would easily scratch off or, eventually, even flake off. The problem is the paint doesn’t want to adhere to the aluminum oxide coating around the metal. Research ensued, and he found an article in an old ham radio magazine about a technique that he could adapt to get good results painting aluminum.
Actually, paint apparently adheres poorly, even to non-oxidized aluminum. So the plan is to clean and remove as much aluminum oxide as possible. Then the process will convert the aluminum surface to something the paint sticks to better. Of course, you also need the right kind of paint.
The key ingredients are phosphoric acid and zinc phosphate. Phosphoric acid is found in soft drinks, but is also sold as a concrete and metal prep for painting. The zinc phosphate is part of a special paint known as a self-etching primer.
Cleaning takes soap, elbow grease, and sandpaper. The next step is a long soak in the phosphoric acid. Then you apply a few coats of self-etching primer and sand. Once it is all set, you can paint with your normal paint. That’s usually epoxy-based paint for [bdk6].
While you might have bought the best pair of skis in the 90s or 00s, as parts on boots and bindings start to fail and safety standards for ski equipment improve, even the highest-quality skis more than 15 or 20 years old will eventually become unsafe or otherwise obsolete. There are plenty of things that can be done with a pair of old skis, but if you already have a shot ski and an Adirondack chair made of old skis, you can put another pair to use building one of the fastest sleds we’ve ever seen.
[Josh Charles], the creator of this project, took inspiration from his father, who screwed an old pair of skis to the bottom of an traditional runner sled when he was a kid. This dramatically increased the speed of the sled, but eliminated its ability to steer. For this build [Josh] built a completely custom frame rather than re-use an existing sled, which allowed him to not only build a more effective steering mechanism for the skis, but also to use bicycle suspension components to give this sled better control at high speeds.
Metalworking might conjure images of large furnaces powered by coal, wood, or electricity, with molten metal sloshing around and visible in its crucible. But metalworking from home doesn’t need to use anything more fancy than a microwave, at least according to [Denny] a.k.a. [Shake the Future]. He has a number of metalworking tools designed to melt metal using a microwave, and in this video he uses them to make a usable aluminum pencil with a graphite core.
Before getting to the microwave kiln, the pencil mold needs to be prepared. A 3D-printed pencil is first created with the graphite core, and then [Denny] uses a plaster of Paris mixture to create the mold for the pencil. The 3D printed plastic is left inside the mold and placed in the first microwave kiln, which is turned on just enough to melt the plastic out of the mold, leaving behind the graphite core. From there a second kiln goes into the microwave to melt the aluminum.
Once the molten aluminum is ready, it is removed from the kiln and poured in the still-warm pencil mold. This is where [Denny] has another trick up his sleeve. He’s using a household vacuum cleaner to suck the metal into place before it cools, creating a rudimentary but effective vacuum forming machine. The result is a working pencil, at least after he wears down a few razor blades attempting to sharpen the metal pencil. For more information about how [Denny] makes these microwave kilns, take a look at some of his earlier projects.
Having a 3D printer or a CNC machine available for projects is almost like magic. Designing parts in software and having them appear on the workbench is definitely a luxury. But for a lot of us, these tools aren’t easily available and projects that use them can be out-of-reach. That’s why one of the major design goals of this robotics platform was to use as many off-the-shelf components as possible.
The robot is called the OpenScout and, as its name implies, intends to be a fully open-source robotics platform for a wide range of use cases. It uses readily-available aluminum extrusion as a frame, which bolts together without any other specialized tools like welders. The body of the robot is articulating, helping it navigate uneven terrain outdoors. The specifications also call for using an Arduino to drive the robot, although there is plenty of space in the robot body to house any robotics platform you happen to have on hand.
For anyone looking to get right into the useful work of what robots can do, rather than spending time building up a platform from scratch, this is an excellent project. It’s straightforward and easy to build without many specialized tools. The unique articulating body design should make it effective in plenty of environments. If you do have a 3D printer, though, that opens up a lot of options for robotics platforms.
Hydrogen fuel is promising, and while there’s plenty of hydrogen in the air and water, the problem is extracting it. Researchers have developed a way to use aluminum nanoparticles to rip hydrogen out of water with no additional energy input. It does, however, require gallium to enable the reaction. The reaction isn’t unknown (see the video below), but the new research has some interesting twists.
Aluminum, of course, is cheap and plentiful. Gallium, not so much, but the process allows recovery and reuse of the gallium, so that makes it more cost-effective. There is a patent pending for the process and — of course — the real trick is making the aluminum nanoparticles. But if you have that, this is a simple way to extract hydrogen from water with no extra energy and at room temperature. Since the reaction of creating aluminum oxide and releasing hydrogen with gallium is pretty well-known, it appears the real research here is determining the optimal properties of the aluminum and the ratio of aluminum to gallium.
While gallium isn’t a common item around the typical hacker’s workshop — unless you count the stuff bound up in semiconductors — it isn’t that expensive and it is relatively easy to handle. Hydrogen, though, not so much — so if you do decide to use this method to produce hydrogen, be careful!
We’ve seen gallium robots and even an antenna. So if you do get some of the liquid metal, there are plenty of experiments to try.
When it comes to renewable energy, there are many great sources. Whether it’s solar, wind, or something else, though, we need a lot of it. Factories around the globe are rising to the challenge to provide what we need.
We can build plenty of new solar panels, of course, but we need to think about what happens when they reach end of life. As it turns out, with so much solar now out in the field, a major new recycling industry may be just around the corner.
If you’ve been on the Internet long enough to know about Hackaday, we’ll wager you’re familiar with the concept of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) — a tingling sensation in the scalp that’s said to be triggered by certain auditory stimuli. There are countless videos on YouTube that promise to give you “the tingles” using everything from feather dusters to overly starched shirts, but for us, the tool of choice is apparently a Lincoln Electric Magnum PRO 100SG spool gun in the hands of [Bob].
Admittedly we can’t promise the latest Making Stuff video will induce a euphoric physical sensation for all viewers, but at the very least, we think you’ll agree that watching [Bob] and his brother methodically welding together the twelve foot hull of what will eventually be a custom jet boat is strangely relaxing.
While we usually associate [Bob] with scratch builds, this time he’s actually working his way through a commercial kit. Sold by Jet Stream Adventure Boats, the kit includes the pre-cut aluminum panels that make up the hull, stringers, and top deck — niceties like a windshield and seats are offered as extras. The engine and jet drive need to be salvaged from an existing personal watercraft (PWC), but that will have to wait for a future video. For now, there’s a boat-load (get it?) of tack welding to be done.
The build process looks to go pretty smoothly, except for when they attempt to put the bow of the boat together. Unable to get the two side panels to meet properly, [Bob] eventually has to contact the manufacturer. After some back and forth, it turns out that a bit must have broken on the CNC when the hull panel went through, as a key cut was made nearly 8 inches (20 cm) too short. He was able to complete the cut with a jigsaw and continue on with the build, but we’re still scratching our heads at how this wasn’t caught before it got shipped out.
It won’t be the first homemade boat we’ve covered, but given [Bob]’s attention to detail, we’re particularly excited to see how this one develops in future videos. Especially since he’s foolishly bravely asked the commenters to come up with a name for his new craft.