Scratch-Built Electric Buggy Tears Up The Dunes

It’s a fair bet to say that the future of personal transportation will probably be electric. In support of that, every major car manufacturer either has an electric drivetrain option available now, or they’re working furiously on developing one. And while it’s good that your suburban grocery grabber will someday be powered by the sun, what about the pressing need for EVs that are just plain fun to drive?

To fill the fun gap, at least for now, [James Biggar] built what you can’t buy: an all-electric dune buggy. And lest you think this was a kit build, be assured that the summary video below shows this little sand rail was 100% scratch-built. The chassis is fabricated from bent tubing, and welded up using a clever plywood template to get the angles just right. The buggy has four-wheel independent suspension and a wide, aggressive stance to handle rough terrain. The body panels are sheet aluminum bent on a custom-built brake, which was also used to form the Plexiglas windshield with a little help from a heat gun.

While the bodywork makes the buggy pretty sick looking, the drivetrain is just as impressive. [James] used an ME1616, a liquid-cooled 55-kW beast. A chain drive couples the motor to a differential from a Honda CR-V which has a limited-slip modification installed. The batteries are impressive, too — 32 custom-made lithium-iron-phosphate batteries made from 32650 cells in vacuum-formed ABS plastic shells that nest together compactly. It all adds up to a lot of fun in the dirt; skip to 23:37 in the video to see what this thing can do.

Honestly, the level of craftsmanship here is top-notch, and is all the more impressive in that it’s not fancy — just good, solid methods and lots of hard work. We’d love to have the time and resources to put into something like this — although a drop-in crate motor EV might be a satisfying build too.

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Custom-Fit Small Shop Crane Lightens The Load

On the shortlist of workshop luxuries, we’d bet a lot of hackers would include an overhead crane. Having the ability to lift heavy loads safely and easily opens up a world of new projects, and puts the shop into an entirely different class of capabilities.

As with many of us, [Jornt] works in a shop with significant space constraints, so the jib crane he built had to be a custom job. Fabricated completely from steel tube, the build started with fabricating a mast to support the crane and squeezing it into a small slot in some existing shelves in the shop, which somehow didn’t catch on fire despite being welded in situ. A lot of custom parts went into the slewing gear that mounts the jib, itself a stick-built space frame that had to accommodate a pitched ceiling. A double row of tubing along the bottom of the jib allows a trolley carrying a 500 kg electric winch to run along it, providing a work envelope that looks like it covers the majority of the shop. And hats off for the safety yellow and black paint job — very industrial.

From the look of the tests in the video below, the crane is more than up to the task of lifting engines and other heavy loads in the shop. That should prove handy if [Jornt] tackles another build like his no-compromises DIY lathe again.

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Bike On Over To The Campground

Like many of us, [Paul] enjoys occasionally hitching up his tow-behind camper and heading out to the wilderness to get away from it all at his favorite campsite. Unlike the vast majority of those who share his passion for the outdoors, though, [Paul] is hitching his camper up to a bicycle. Both the camper and the bike are custom built from the ground up, and this video shows us a little more details on [Paul]’s preferred mode of transportation.

While he is known for building custom vehicles of one sort or another, this latest one is a more traditional bicycle frame that he has modified only slightly to fit a recumbent-style seat and a small gas-powered motor. Even though the motor is decades old, it started right up and gives the power needed to pull the custom camper. [Paul] builds one-person campers like this out of corrugated plastic for durability and light weight, and this one is specifically designed for his size and sleeping style. It includes everything needed for a night under the stars, too, including a stove, storage compartments, and a few windows.

With the bike and camper combined weighing in at just over 200 pounds, the motor can be used as a pedal-assist device thanks to the clever engineering behind a front-wheel-drive pedal system on this bike. With all of that custom fabrication, [Paul] is free to head out to the wilderness without all the encumbrances (and high price) of traditional motor vehicle-based camping. For those curious about some of [Paul]’s other vehicle creations, take a look at this tiny speedboat for one.

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Making Your Own Mclaren F1 LM

It isn’t often we get a project that has an eighteen-year-long timeline, as staying focused on one project for that long is a significant investment of someone’s lifetime. But when you’re making your own carbon copy Mclaren, you need to be prepared for it to take a while. Unfortunately, there are only 6 of them in the world so for most people if you want one, you need to make your own.

Granted, in those eighteen years, [Brough Built] freely admits there were some gaps. He scrapped most of the earlier work, and today’s current iteration took about three years. This car is made of steel, aluminum, foam, carbon fiber, and sweat. It is a close copy of the F1, and it has all the features you would expect to see on the real thing, like the centered driver’s seat and the gold cladding in the engine bay.

A BMW V12 engine mated to an Audi six-speed gearbox provides the power inside the car. A custom clutch assembly was machined to make it all work. Overall, this is an incredible build with time, and precision just poured into it. Folding and cutting all that metal alone, not to mention all the meticulous welds on everything from the gas tank to the door panels.

Making your own car is a complex and long journey that can be incredibly rewarding. Perhaps not a copy of an existing vehicle but something new; check out this soap shaped hand-made electric car.

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Hackaday Links: October 31, 2021

Global supply chain issues are beginning to hit closer to home for the hacker community, as Raspberry Pi has announced their first-ever price increase on their flagship Pi 4. The move essentially undoes the price drop on the 2GB version of the Pi 4 that was announced in February, and sets the price back up from $35 to $45. Also rolled back is the discontinuation of the 1GB version, which will now be available at the $35 price point. The announcements come from Eben Upton himself, who insists the price increase is only temporary. We applaud his optimism, but take it with a grain of salt since he also said that 2021 production across the board will stay at the seven million-unit level, which is what they produced in 2020. That seems to speak to deeper issues within the supply chain, but more immediately, it’s likely that the supply of Pi products will be pinched enough that you’ll end up paying above sticker price just to get the boards you need. Hope everyone is stocked up.

On the topic of supply chain issues and their threat to Christmas gift-giving, here’s one product we hope is stranded in a container off Long Beach or better still, bobbing along in the Strait of Juan De Fuca: a toddler’s toy telephone that actually makes and receives calls. Anyone born in the last 60 years probably had one of the Fisher-Price Chatter telephone, a toy that in its original form looked like a desk telephone on wheels that was dragged behind the child, popping along and providing endless hours of clicky amusement as kids twisted the dial and lifted the receiver. Come to think of it, the Chatter telephone may be as close to a dial phone as anyone born since 1990 may have come. Anyway, some genius stuck a Bluetooth module into the classic phone to let it hook up to an app on an actual phone, allowing kids (or more likely their nostalgia-soaked parents) to make and receive calls. It’s actually priced at a reasonable $60, so there might be some hacking potential here.

Also tangential to supply chains, we stumbled across a video guide to buying steel that might interest readers. Anyone who has seen the displays of steel and other metals at the usual big-box retailers might wonder what the fuss is, but buying steel that way or ordering online is a great way to bust a project’s budget. Fabricator and artist Doug Boyd insists that finding a local steel supplier is the best bang for your buck, and has a bunch of helpful tips for not sounding like a casual when you’re ordering. It’s all good advice, and would have helped us from looking foolish a time or two at the metal yard; just knowing that pipe is measured by inside diameter while tubing is measured by outside dimensions is worth the price of admission alone.

With all the money you save on steel and by not buying Raspberry Pis, perhaps you’ll have a couple of hundred thousand Euros lying around to bid on this authentic 1957 Sputnik I satellite. The full-scale model of Earth’s first artificial satellite — manhole covers excluded — was a non-flown test article, but externally faithful to the flown hardware that kicked off the first Space Race. The prospectus says that it has a transmitter and a “modern power supply”; it’s not clear if the transmitter was originally part of the test article or added later. The opening bid is €85,000 and is expected to climb considerably.

And finally, there’s something fascinating about “spy radios,” especially those from the Cold War era and before, when being caught with one in your possession was probably going to turn out to be a very bad day. One such radio is the Radio Orange “Acorn” receiver, which is in the collection of the Crypto Museum. The radio was used by the Dutch government to transmit news and information into the occupied Netherlands from their exile in London. Built to pass for a jewelry box, the case for the radio was made from an old cigar box and is a marvel of 1940s miniaturization. The radio used three acorn-style vacuum tubes and was powered by mains current; another version of the Radio Orange receiver was powered by a bike dynamo or even a water-powered turbine, which could be run from a tap or garden hose. The video below shows the water-powered version in action, but the racket it made must have been problematic for its users, especially given the stakes.

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Big homemade lathe

Heavy Metal Lathe Build Doesn’t Spare The Steel

It’s common wisdom that the lathe is the essential machine tool, and the only one that can make copies of itself. While we won’t argue the primacy of the lathe in the machine shop, this scratch-built, heavy-duty lathe gives the lie to the latter argument — almost.

We’re used to seeing homebrew lathes, of course, and we’ve featured more than a few of them before. But two things make [Jornt]’s build stand out: how few specialized tools were needed to build it, and the sheer size and bulk of the finished product. Where most homebrew lathes tend to be the bench top variety and feature cast aluminum parts, [Jornt] went with steel for his build, and a lot of it. The base and bed of the machine are welded from scrap steel I-beams, and the ways are made from angle iron that has been ground flat with a clever jig to hold an angle grinder. The angle grinder plays a prominent role in the build, as do simple tools like a hand drill, files, and a welder — and yes, the unfinished lathe itself, which was used to bore out the bearing blocks for the headstock.

The completed lathe, powered by a treadmill motor in a way that [Jeremy Fielding] would no doubt endorse, comes in at a beefy 450 kg. It honestly looks like something you could buy from a catalog, and has most of the features of commercial machines. One thing we’d love to see on this lathe is the electronic lead screw that [James Clough] developed for his off-the-shelf lathe.

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Simple Tip Helps With Powder Coating Perfection On Difficult Parts

To say that that the commercially available garden path lights commonly available at dollar stores are cheap is a vast overstatement of their true worthlessness. These solar-powered lights are so cheaply built that there’s almost no point in buying them, a fact that led [Mark Presling] down a fabrication rabbit hole that ends with some great tips on powder coating parts with difficult geometries.

Powder coating might seem a bit overkill for something as mundane as garden lights, but [Mark] has a point — if you buy something and it fails after a few weeks in the sun, you might as well build it right yourself. And a proper finish is a big part of not only getting the right look, but to making these totally un-Tardis-like light fixtures last in the weather. The video series below covers the entire design and build process, which ended up having an aluminum grille with some deep grooves. Such features prove hard to reach with powder coating, where the tiny particles of the coating are attracted to the workpiece thanks to a high potential difference between them. After coating, the part is heated to melt the particles and form a tough, beautiful finish.

But for grooves and other high-aspect-ratio features, the particles tend to avoid collecting in the nooks and crannies, leading to an uneven finish. [Mark]’s solution was to turn to “hot flocking”, where the part is heated before applying uncharged coating to the deep features. This gets the corners and grooves well coated before the rest of the coating is applied in the standard way, leading to a much better finish.

We love [Presser]’s attention to detail on this build, as well as the excellent fabrication tips and tricks sprinkled throughout the series. You might want to check out some of his other builds, like this professional-looking spot welder.

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