Got any plans for tonight? No? Well then you’re in luck, because NASA is just a few hours from intentionally smashing a probe into the minor planet Dimorphos as part of Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — marking the first time humanity has ever intentionally tried to knock a space rock off-course. If it works, we’re one step closer to having a viable planetary defense system in case we ever detect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. If it doesn’t work. . . well, we’ve still got time to come up with another plan.
To be clear, the 170 meter (560 feet) wide Dimorphos DOES NOT pose any threat to us, nor will it after NASA smacks it around with an ion-propelled spacecraft. This is simply a test to see if a small spacecraft impacting an asteroid head-on can slow it down enough to appreciably change its orbital trajectory. We won’t know for a week or so if the impact did the trick, but it should still be fascinating to watch the crash happen live.
We’ve embedded the two NASA streams below. The first one will start about a half an hour before impact and is going to show live navigational images of Dimorphos as the DART spacecraft zeros in on its target, and the second stream will cover the main event. Keep in mind this isn’t a Hollywood film we’re talking about — don’t expect any dramatic explosions when the clock hits zero. When the telemetry stops coming back, that means it was a bullseye.
Continue reading “Watch NASA Crash A Probe Into An Asteroid Tonight”
The world faces many terrestrial crises right now, so it’s easy to forget that giant space rocks may one day threaten the very existence of entire civilizations. Yes, the threat of asteroid strikes is a remote one, but nevertheless something humanity may have to face one day, and one day soon.
NASA takes the issue seriously, and has staffed its Planetary Defence Coordination Office since 2016. In service to these efforts, it’s also developing a mission to research how dangerous androids may be deflected. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, is set to launch within the next year. Continue reading “NASA Are Squaring Up Against The Asteroid Threat”
The holy grail of computer languages is to write code once and have it deploy effortlessly everywhere. Java likes to take credit for the idea, but UCSD P-Code was way before that and you could argue that mainframes had I/O abstraction like Fortran unit numbers even earlier. More modern efforts include Qt, GTK, and other things. Naturally, all of these fall short in some way. Now Google enters the fray with Flutter.
Continue reading “Should You Build For Windows, Mac, IOS, Android, Or Linux? Yes!”
For most of us, a good part of our childhood involved running around someone’s backyard (or inside the house) trying to score hits with a toy NERF gun. The fun level was high and the risk of personal injury was low. Now that we’re all mostly adults, it’s probably time to take our NERF game to the next level with some risk of serious personal harm.
In an effort to help his brother get back at him for being somewhat of a bully in their youth, [Allen Pan] gifted him with an upgraded NERF gun. Specifically, one with darts that pack a punch. Each of the “Elite” darts was equipped with a 300 V capacitor packed into the interior of the dart. New tips were 3D printed with special metal tips that allow the capacitor to discharge upon impact.
Besides the danger, there’s a good bit of science involved. Parts were scavenged from a new (and surprisingly expensive) disposable camera, and a customized circuit was constructed around the barrel of the dart gun that allows the darts to charge up when they’re loaded. It’s an impressive build that would be relatively simple to reconstruct for yourself, but it’s probably not the worst thing we’ve seen done with high voltage and a few small capacitors.
Thanks to [Itay] for the tip!
Continue reading “You Should Not Try These Taser NERF Darts”
If you’re anything like us, you feel slightly guilty when you send a job to a printer only to find that twenty pages have printed wrong. Maybe it’s a typo, maybe it’s the dreaded landscape versus portrait issue. Whatever it is, trees died for your mistake, and there’s nothing you can do about it except to recycle the waste. But first, wipe that guilt away by using this one-stroke paper airplane maker to equip the whole office for an epic air battle.
We have to admit, automated paper handling has always fascinated us. The idea that a printer can reliably (sometimes) feed individual sheets of a stack is a testament to good design, and don’t even get us started about automatic paper folding. [Jerry de Vos]’ paper airplane maker doesn’t drive the sheets through the folder — that’s up to the user. But the laser-cut plywood jig does all the dirty work of creating a paper airplane. The sheet is clipped to an arm that pulls the paper through a series of ramps and slots that force the paper gently into the five folds needed for the classic paper dart. It’s fascinating to watch, and even though everyone seems to be using it very gingerly lest the paper tear, we can see how adding some rollers and motors from a scrapped printer could entirely automate the process. Think of the fun a ream of paper could provide around the office then.
Continue reading “Turn Failed Prints Into Office Fun With A Paper Airplane Maker”
When choosing weapons to defend yourself in the next zombie apocalypse, dart jamming whilst firing your Nerf Gun can be a deal-breaker. This clogging is an issue with many “semi-automatic” Nerf Guns. When our trigger-happy fingertips attempt to shoot a dart that hasn’t finished loading into the firing chamber, the halfway-loaded dart folds onto itself and jams the chamber from firing any more darts. The solution, as intended by Nerf, would be to open the chamber lid and manually clear the pathway. The solution, according to [Technician Gimmick], however, is active sensing, and the resulting “smart” dart gun is the TR-27 GRYPHON.
To prevent jamming from occurring altogether, [Technician Gimmick] added a trigger-disable until the dart has fully loaded into the firing chamber. An IR LED, harvested from a mouse scroll wheel, returns an analog value to the microcontroller’s analog-to-digital converter, allowing it to determine whether or not a dart is ready for firing. The implementation is simple, but the results are fantastic. No longer will any gun fire a dart until it has completely entered the chamber.
The TR-27 GRYPHON isn’t just a Nerf Gun that enables “smart” dart sensing. [Technician Gimmick] folded a number of other features into the Nerf Gun that makes it a charmer on the shelf. First, a hall-sensor array identifies the current cartridge loaded into the Nerf Gun and it’s carrying capacity. To display this value and decrement appropriately, [Technician Gimmick] added a dual-seven segment display, a trick we’ve seen before. Finally, a whopping 3S LiPo battery replaces the original alkaline batteries, and the voltage-reducing diodes have been cropped, enabling a full 12.6 Volt delivery to the motors at full charge.
We’re glad to see such a simple trick go such a long way as to almost entirely eliminate Nerf dart jams. For all those braving the Humans-Versus-Zombies frontier this season, may this clever trick keep you alive for just a bit longer.
Continue reading “Active “Dart-Sensing” Makes Your Nerf Gun Smarter”
[TopCityGear] was trying out a piece of PVC as a blow gun barrel when he thought he’d try to give it a little more power than what his lungs could put out. What he came up with is this air-powered Nerf gun that definitely leaves a mark. The video after the break is a show-and-tell, a build log, and finally a demonstration of its power. He adds a nail to a Nerf dart and drives it through a board, then leaves a huge welt on his poor friends chest with a plain old foam dart. It reminds us of those riot guns that shoot bean bags.
The air is stored in that twelve-inch PVC reservoir. On the rear cap there’s a Schrader valve for pressurizing the tank with a compressor or even a bike pump. The grip is a gutted cordless drill whose battery doubles as the power source for the electric sprinkler valve which fires the gun. The screw fitting just in front of the hand grip lets him remove the barrel so that the projectile can be inserted.
This reminds us of that gun which shoots water-filled ping-pong balls.
Continue reading “How To Build An Extremely Powerful Nerf Gun”