For just over sixteen years we’ve been publishing fresh hacks every day. We’ve just passed another milestone: the one millionth Hackaday comment was made just a few minutes ago.
A million of anything is impressive, but it’s not the sheer volume that’s on my mind today, but how time and again I’m gobsmacked by the insightful comments I find on these pages, and the people who put them there. We find leads for futures stories, answers to unknowns voiced in the articles, and have conversations with thousands of people whose paths we never would have crossed otherwise.
Not a week goes by that I don’t lose myself in a comment thread, usually taking me down the rabbit hole of exploring a bit of technology previously hidden to me but revealed by a few words. How many Hackaday articles were spawned by someone posting just the right link in the comment section?
Too often the people who moved the world with interesting technologies move through their careers and beyond without anyone to really tell their stories to, and those are some of the best stories from the people working with the tech on a daily basis for decades. But then we publish an article that puts a spotlight on their corner of knowledge and we get to hear how it was from their perspective. It’s so gratifying to get these moments of insight on who and what have kept humanity’s relay-race of science forward.
So thank you! Keep those comments and those stories coming!
Continue reading “Hackaday Passes 1,000,000 Comments”
Despite a glut of introvert memes, humans need sunlight. If vitamin D isn’t your concern, the sun is a powerful heater, and it helps plants grow. Sadly for [mime], their house is not positioned well to capture all those yummy sunbeams. Luckily for us, their entry into the 2020 Hackaday Prize is their sun-tracking apparatus that redirects those powerful rays throughout the house. It uses a couple of mirrors to redirect the light around their shed and into the house. For those who work in a dim office, no amount of work is too great for a peek of natural sunlight.
Movie spoiler alert: We saw this trick in the 1985 movie Legend and it was enough to vanquish the Lord of Darkness.
This project started in 2014 and sat on hiatus for more than five years, but it is back and prime for improvements fueled by half-a-decade of experience. The parts that aren’t likely to change are the threaded struts that adjust the positioning mirror’s angle, the driving motors, and power circuitry. Their first plan was to build a solar-powered controller with an Arduino, DC motors, and sun telemetry data, but now they’re leaning toward stepper motors and a computer in the house with a long cable. They are a finalist this year, so we will keep our eyes peeled for further development.
It’s all those little things. A month ago, I was working on the axes for a foam-cutting machine. (Project stalled, will pick back up soon!) A week ago, somewhere else on the Internet, people were working on sliders that would ride directly on aluminum rails, a problem I was personally experiencing, and recommended using drawer-glide tape — a strip of PTFE or UHMW PE with adhesive backing on one side. Slippery plastic tape solves the metal-on-metal problem. It’s brilliant, it’s cheap, and it’s just a quick trip to the hardware store.
Just a few days ago, we covered another awesome linear-motion mechanical build in the form of a DIY camera rig that uses a very similar linear motion system to the one I had built as well: a printed trolley that slides on skate bearings over two rails of square-profile extruded aluminum. He had a very nice system of anchoring the spacers that hold the two rails apart, one of the sticking points in my build. I thought I’d glue things together, but his internal triangle nut holders are a much better solution because epoxy doesn’t like to stick to anodized aluminum. (And Alexandre, if you’re reading, that UHMW PE tape is just what you need to prevent bearing wear on your aluminum axes.)
Between these events, I got a message thanking me for an article that I wrote four years ago on debugging SPI busses. Apparently, it helped a small company to debug a problem and get their product out the door. Hooray!
So in one week, I got help from two different random strangers on a project that neither of them knew I was working on, and I somehow saved a startup. What kind of crazy marvelous world is this? It’s become so normal to share our ideas and experience, at least in our little corner of the Internet, that I sometimes fail to be amazed. But it’s entirely amazing. I know we’ve said it before, but we are living in the golden era of sharing ideas.
Thanks to all of you out there, and Read More Hackaday!
I loved my science courses when I was in Junior High School; we leaned to make batteries, how molecules combine to form the world we see around us, and basically I got a picture of where we stood in the scheme of things, though Quarks had yet to be discovered at the time.
In talking with my son I found out that there wasn’t much budget for Science learning materials in his school system like we had back in my day, he had done very little practical hands-on experiments that I remember so fondly. One of those experiments was to look and draw the stages of mitosis as seen under a Microscope. This was amazing to me back in the day, and cemented the wonder of seeing cell division into my memory to this day, much like when I saw the shadow of one of Jupiter’s moons with my own eyes!
Now I have to stop and tell you that I am not normal, or at least was not considered to be a typical young’un growing up near a river in rural Indiana in the 60’s. I had my own microscope; it quite simply was my pride and joy. I had gotten it while I was in the first or second grade as a present and I loved the thing. It was just horrible to use in its later years as lens displaced, the focus rack became looser if that was possible, and dirt accumulated on the internal lens; and yet I loved it and still have it to this day! As I write this, I realize that it’s the oldest thing that I own. (that and the book that came with it).
Today we have better tools and they’re pretty easy to come by. I want to encourage you to do some science with them. (Don’t just look at your solder joints!) Check out the video about seeing mitosis of onion cells through the microscope, then join me below for more on the topic!
Continue reading “Video: Bil Herds Looks At Mitosis”
How do you come up with new ideas? As much as it sometimes seems like they arrive in a flash out of the blue, they don’t just come out of nowhere. Indeed, we all have well-stocked mental toolboxes that say “this thing can be used to do that” and “if you want to get there, start here”.
One incredibly fertile generator of “new” ideas is simply putting old ideas next to each other and realizing that a chain of two or three can get you to someplace new. It just happened to me while listening to Mike and myself on this week’s Hackaday Podcast.
Here’s the elevator pitch. You take something like the player-pianoesque MIDI barrel piano that we featured last Thursday, and mix it together with the street-painting bicycle trailer that we featured on Friday. What do you get? A roll of paper that can be drawn on by normal kids, rolled up behind a bicycle, with a tank that they can pressurize with a bike pump, that will spray a pixelated version of their art as they roll down the sidewalk.
Now how can I make this real? One of my neighbors has a scrap bike trailer…
But see what I mean about ideas? I just took two existing ideas and rubbed them together, and in this case, they emitted sparks. And I’ve got a mental catalogue of all of the resources around me, some of which fell right into place. This role as fountain of good proto-ideas is why I started reading Hackaday fifteen years ago, and why it’s still a daily must-read for folks like us everywhere. A huge thank you to everyone who’s sharing! Read more Hackaday!
Today marks exactly 15 years since Hackaday began featuring one Hack a Day, and we’ve haven’t missed a day since. Over 5,477 days we’ve published 34,057 articles, and the Hackaday community has logged 903,114 comments. It’s an amazing body of work from our writers and editors, a humbling level of involvement from our readers, and an absolutely incredible contribution to open hardware by the project creators who have shared details of their work and given us all something to talk about and to strive for.
What began as a blog is now a global virtual hackerspace. That first 105-word article has grown far beyond project features to include spectacular long-form original content. From our community of readers has grown Hackaday.io, launched in 2014 you’ll now find over 30,000 projects published by 350,000 members. The same year the Hackaday Prize was founded as a global engineering initiative seeking to promote open hardware, offering big prizes for big ideas (and the willingness to share them). Our virtual connections were also given the chance to come alive through the Hackaday Superconference, Hackaday Belgrade, numerous Hackaday Unconferences, and meetups all over the world.
All of this melts together into a huge support structure for anyone who wants to float an interesting idea with a proof of concept where “why” is the wrong question. Together we challenge the limits of what things are meant to do, and collectively we filter through the best ideas and hold them high as building blocks for the next iteration. The Hackaday community is the common link in the collective brain, a validation point for perpetuating great ideas of old, and cataloging the ones of new.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the last 15 years of Hackaday is how much the technological landscape has changed. Hackaday is still around because all of us have actively changed along with it — always looking for that cutting edge where the clever misuse of something becomes the base for the next transformative change. So we thought we’d take a look back 15 years in tech. Let’s dig into a time when there were no modules for electronics, you couldn’t just whip up a plastic part in an afternoon, designing your own silicon was unheard of, and your parts distributor was the horde of broken electronics in your back room.
Continue reading “Hackaday Celebrates 15 Years And Oh How The Hardware Has Changed”
Today at about 10:00 AM Pacific time, Hackaday’s site host had an outage. All websites on the WordPress VIP Go platform were down, and that includes Hackaday. For about 45 minutes you couldn’t load any content, and for a bit more than two hours after that all we could display was a default WordPress theme with an alarmingly bright background.
At first, we were looking at a broken home page with nothing on it. We changed some things around on the back end and we had a black text on white background displaying our latest articles. Not ideal, but at least you could catch up on your reading if you happened to check in right at that time.
But wait! Unintended consequences are a real drag. Our theme doesn’t have comments built into the front page and blog page views, but the WordPress stock themes do. So comments left on those pages were being blasted out to your RSS feeds. I’d like to apologize for that. Once it was reported, we turned off comments on those pages and deleted what was there. But if you have a caching RSS reader you’ll still see those, sorry about that.
As I type this, all should be back to normal. The front end was restored around 1:00 PM Pacific time. We’ve continued our normal publishing schedule throughout, and we hope you have had a good laugh at this debacle. It might be a few days before I’m able to laugh about it though.