Hackaday Links: December 1, 2019

We can recall a book from our youth that cataloged some of the most interesting airplanes in the world. One particularly interesting beast was dubbed “The Super Guppy”, a hilariously distended cargo plane purpose-built for ferrying Saturn rocket sections around the US in the 1960s. We though the Guppies were long gone, victims like so many other fascinating machines of the demise of the Apollo program. It turns out we were only 4/5 right about that, since one of the original five Super Guppies is still in service, and was spotted hauling an Orion capsule from Florida to Ohio for vacuum testing. The almost 60-year-old plane, a highly modified C-97 Stratofreighter, still has a big enough fan-base to attract 1500 people to brave the Ohio cold and watch it land.

The news this week was filled with reports from Texas of a massive chemical plant explosion that forced the evacuation of 50,000 people from their homes the day before Thanksgiving. The explosion and ensuing fire at the TPC Group petrochemical plant were spectacular; thankfully, there were no deaths and only two injuries reported from the incident. The tie-in to the hacker community lies in what this plant made: butadiene, or synthetic rubber. The plant produced about 16% of the North American market’s supply of butadiene, which we know from previous coverage is one of the polymers in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS. It remains to be seen if this will put a crimp in ABS printer filament supplies, or any of the hundreds of products that butadiene is in, including automotive tires and hoses.

Remember when “Cyber Monday” became a thing? We sure do; in the USA, it was supposed to be the first workday back from the Thanksgiving break which would afford those lacking a fast Internet connection at home the opportunity to do online shopping on company time. The idea seems so year 2000 now, but the name stuck, and all kinds of sales and bargains are now competing for your virtual attention and cyber dollars. That includes Tindie, of course, where the Cyber Monday Sale is running through December 6. There’s tons to chose from, including products that got started as Hackaday.io projects and certified open-source hardware products. Be sure to check out the Tindie Twitter feed and blog for extra discount codes, too.

Speaking of gift-giving, we got an interesting tip about a product we never knew we needed. Called “WorkBench”, it’s a modular development system that takes care of an oft-neglected side of prototyping: the physical and mechanical layout. Too often we just start with a breadboard on the bench, and while that’ll do for lots of smaller projects, as the build keeps growing and the breadboards keep coming, things can get out of hand. WorkBench aims to tidy things up by providing a basal platen onto which breadboards, microcontrollers, perfboards, or just about anything else can be snapped. Handles make the whole thing portable, and a clear acrylic cover protects your hard work.

We love to hear stories about citizen science, especially when the amateurs scoop the professionals. Astronomy seems to be a hotbed for this brand of discovery, usually as a lone astronomer peering into the night sky to see a comet or asteroid nobody has seen before. Catching a glitching pulsar in the act is an entirely different level of discovery, though. Back in February, Steve Olney detected a 2.5 parts-per-million increase in the 89-millisecond period of emissions for the Vela pulsar using his RTL-SDR-based observatory. Steve has some fascinating information about pulsars and his observatory on his website. Color us impressed that he was able to pull off this observation without the benefit of millions of dollars in equipment and a giant parabolic dish antenna.

Hackaday Links: November 25, 2018

Bad Obsession Motorsport have been stuffing the engine and suspension from a 4WD Celica into an old Mini since forever. It is a wonderful homage to Police Squad and some of the best machining and fabrication you’ll see on YouTube. The latest episode tackled the electrical system and how to drive an alternator in an extremely cramped engine bay. The solution was a strange flex-shaft confabulation, and now the Bad Obsession Motorsport guys have a video on how they attached an alternator to a car where no alternator should go. It’s forty minutes of machining, go watch it.

Last Friday was Black Friday, and that means it’s time to CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME. Tindie’s having a sale right now, so check that out.

I’m the future of autonomous flight! This week, I got a market research survey in my email from Uber, wanting me to give my thoughts on autonomous ridesharing VTOL aircraft. Uber’s current plan for ridesharing small aircraft involves buying whatever Embraer comes up with (Uber is not developing their own aircraft), not having pilots (this will never get past the FAA), and turning a random parking lot in LA into the busiest airport in the world (by aircraft movements, which again is something that will never get past the FAA). Needless to say, this is criminally dumb, and I’m more than happy to give my thoughts. Below are the relevant screencaps of the survey:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The crux of this survey is basic market research; how much would I pay for a VTOL ride sharing service versus buying a new (autonomous) car versus using an autonomous Uber. You’ve also got a Likert scale thingy asking me if I’m comfortable flying in a battery-powered aircraft. Protip: I highly doubt anyone given this survey has flown in a battery-powered aircraft. Proprotip: the easiest way to screw up the scoring for a Likert scale is to answer ‘1’ for the first question, ‘2’ for the second, etc., and wrap back around to ‘1’ for the sixth question.

Don’t worry, though: I answered all the questions truthfully, but Uber Air will never happen. The FAA won’t let this one fly, and no company will ever carry passengers without a licensed pilot on board.

Tindie’s Cyber Monday Deals

The holiday season is upon us, so you know what that means. It’s time to consume! Whether that means large quantities of carbohydrates or consumer electronics, ’tis the season to buy, buy, buy.

Hundreds of Tindie items are on sale right now, and everyone will find something unique, cutting edge, and sold by the people who designed it. Tindie is artisanal electronics with a cute robot dog mascot. It can’t get any better than that.

These discounts are offered by the great DIY hardware creators themselves, the ones who are making cool stuff that you want. What’s that, you say? It’s neither Black Friday nor Cyber Monday right now? It doesn’t matter, this sale started on Black Friday and will last until at least Mail Order Tuesday.

What’s cool on Tindie? Everything! There are button breakouts for old-school brick Game Boys, space chicken stickers from the guy that built the ESP8266 Deauther, a tiny digital audio player, track ocean vessels with the dAISy AIS receiver, or learn to solder with this blinky fire engine kit.

If you’re looking for even more deals, the Hackaday Store is blowing out everything. It’s a literal fire sale after I suggested deep frying the bird this year.

Hackaday Store Discounts To Satiate The Shopping Urge

Score everything in the Hackaday store for 50% off right now.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, a time when people migrate back home to spend time with families, fill themselves with Turkey and cranberry sauce, and are inevitably dragged out to the big box stores in search for that one great deal to satisfy their consumer urge.

Whether you observe the holiday or not, you can grab some geeky stuff from the Hackaday Store without the early rise or the need to be in a specific place. You’ll find a collection of some of our favorite hardware, sweet Hackaday apparel, and our beloved print goods sprinkled in. Give it a look.

Facedancer21

Fly a quad indoors with the CrazyFlie 2.0, impersonate USB devices with the Facedancer21, and have a blast with our favorite clock kit, the Bulbdial Clock.

MeARM Pocket Sized Robot ArmGoodfet ProgrammerUSB Tester Bundle

Assemble and program your own robotic MeARM, be the master of all things serial bus with the GoodFET42, and monitor the juice flowing to your USB device with the USB Tester 2.0.

Hundreds of Tindie Items are also on sale this weekend. Tindie where you go to find unique and cutting edge hardware sold by those that designed it. Check out to the Tindie sale page for a complete listing of items going on sale now and throughout the weekend.

Contribute To Open Source On #OpenCyberMonday

Today is Cyber Monday, the day when everyone in the US goes back to work after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday is a celebration of consumerism, and the largest online shopping day of the year. Right now, hundreds of thousands of office workers are browsing Amazon for Christmas presents, while the black sheep of the office are on LiveLeak checking out this year’s Black Friday compartment syndrome compilations.

This is the season of consumption, but there’s still time to give back. We would suggest #OpenCyberMonday, an effort to donate to your favorite Open Source foundations and projects.

It’s not necessary to explain how much we all rely on Open Source software, but it goes even further than the software powering the entire Internet. Hackaday is built on WordPress, and the WordPress Foundation is responsible for very important, very widely used Open Source software. The Wikimedia Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to the compilation of all knowledge. The Internet Archive is a temporal panopticon, preserving our digital heritage for future generations. The Open Source Hardware Association is doing their best to drag physical objects into the realm of Open Source – a much more difficult task than simply having the idea of Copyleft.

While everyone else is busy buying Internet-connected toasters and wearable electronics, take a few minutes and give a gift everyone can enjoy. Make a donation to the Open Source initiative of your choice A list of these foundations can be found on opensource.org. This isn’t a comprehensive list of worthy Open Source initiatives, so if you have any other suggestions, put it out on the Twitters.

Hardware Hacker’s Black Friday / Cyber Monday Guide

Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and, apparently for some just because it’s a long holiday weekend, hacker-licious sales abound right now. Here’s a run-down gathered from our intrepid Hackaday team who spared little effort in gathering this information. After all, being the hub of hackerdom, everyone just tells us this stuff. Be sure to check the actual details on the site because after reading about all these awesome opportunities to stock up for winter projects, our head is spinning. What to buy? What to give?

Continue reading “Hardware Hacker’s Black Friday / Cyber Monday Guide”