A common complaint around modern passenger vehicles is that they are over-reliant on electronics, from overly complex infotainment systems to engines that can’t be fixed on one’s own due to the proprietary computer control systems. But even still, when following the circuits to their ends you’ll still ultimately find a physical piece of hardware. A group of Honda Insight owners are taking advantage of this fact to trick the computers in their cars into higher performance with little more than a handful of resistors.
The relatively simple modification to the first-generation Insight involves a shunt resistor, which lets the computer sense the amount of current being drawn from the hybrid battery and delivered to the electric motor. By changing the resistance of this passive component, the computer thinks that the motor is drawing less current and allows more power to be delivered to the drivetrain than originally intended. With the shunt resistor modified, which can be done with either a bypass resistor or a custom circuit board, the only other change is to upgrade the 100 A fuse near the battery for a larger size.
With these two modifications in place, the electric motor gets an additional 40% power boost, which is around five horsepower. But for an electric motor which can output full torque at zero RPM, this is a significant boost especially for a relatively lightweight car that’s often considered under-powered. It’s a relatively easy, inexpensive modification though which means the boost is a good value, although since these older hybrids are getting along in years the next upgrade might be a new traction battery like we’ve seen in the older Priuses.
Thanks to [Aut0l0g1c] for the tip!
So many of the batteries made today are lithium batteries of some sort, from mobile phones, laptops, and drones to electric cars and grid storage solutions. But this technology is relatively new; even as late as the 90s and early 00s the only widely-available batteries for things like power tools or the new hybrid vehicles coming on the market were nickel-metal hydride (NiMH). While it was good for the time, they don’t hold up to all of the advantages lithium has. There’s still plenty of hybrid vehicles on the road using these batteries, so if you’re driving an older Prius and want to give it a modern refresh, there’s a quick option to swap your old batteries.
Despite lithium technology being available for several decades, the switch to lithium for the Toyota Prius wasn’t instant, with many variants still using NiMH batteries as late as the 2020s largely because the NiMH batteries are less expensive and less maintenance-intensive than lithium batteries are. As these batteries lose capacity, the cars are still driveable but the advantages of the hybrid drivetrain won’t be as accessible anymore. The upgrade, from a company called Project Lithium, replaces these batteries with modern lithium technology that can improve the efficiency and performance of these cars even above their original capabilities since lithium batteries have more power density.
With the Toyota Prius being among the most reliable vehicles on the road thanks to the electric motor in the hybrid drivetrain taking a lot of stress off of the internal combustion engine, it’s often worth upgrading these old batteries to modern ones to squeeze every last mile from these workhorses as possible. With many of the replacement processes being almost as simple as lifting out an old battery and placing a new one in, it can be a no-brainer if that’s the only issue with the vehicle otherwise. This is also true of all-electric vehicles as well, although the process to replace the battery can be a little more involved.
Thanks to [JohnU] for the tip!
Well, this week’s Links article is likely to prove a bit on the spicy side, thanks in no small part to the Chinese balloon that spent the better part of the week meandering across the United States. Putting aside the politics of the whole thing — which we’ll admit is hard to do, given the state of the world today — there are some interesting technical aspects to this story, which the popular press has predictably ignored. Like the size of this thing — it’s enormous. This is not even remotely on the same scale as the hundreds of radiosonde-carrying balloons sent aloft every day, at least if the back-of-the-envelope math thoughtfully sent to us by [Dr_T] holds up. If the “the size of three buses” description given in most media reports is accurate, that means a diameter of about 40 meters, for a volume of 33,500 cubic meters. If it’s filled with helium — a pretty safe bet — that makes its lifting capacity something like three metric tons. So maybe it was a good idea to wait until it was off the Carolinas to shoot it down.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: February 5, 2023”
Fair warning: if you ever thought there was nothing particularly interesting with optical viewfinders, prepare to have your misconception corrected by [volzo] with this deep-dive into camera-aiming aids that leads to an interesting hybrid smartphone viewfinder.
For most of us, the traditional optical viewfinder is very much a thing of the past, having been supplanted by digital cameras and LCD displays. But some people still want to frame a photograph the old-fashioned way, and the optical principles that make that possible are actually a lot more complicated than they seem. [volzo]’s blog post and video go into a great deal of detail on viewfinder optics, so feel free to fall down that rabbit hole — it’s worth the trip. But if you’d rather cut to the chase, the actual viewfinder build starts at about the 23:00 mark in the video.
The design is an interesting combination of lenses and beamsplitters that live in a 3D-printed enclosure. The whole thing slips over one end of a smartphone and combines an optical view of the scene that corresponds to the camera’s field of view with a small digital overlay from the phone’s screen. The overlay is quite simple: just some framing gridlines and a tilt indicator that’s generated by a little Android app. But it’s clear that much more information could be added now that [volzo] has all the optical issues sorted out.
We appreciate this deep dive into something that appears to be mundane and outdated, which actually proves to be non-obvious and pretty interesting. And if you have any doubt about the extreme cleverness of the camera engineers of yore, look no further than this sort-of solar-powered camera from the 1960s.
Continue reading “Interesting Optical Journey Results In Hybrid Viewfinder For Smartphones”
“Don’t worry, that’ll buff right out.” Alarming news this week as the James Webb Space Telescope team announced that a meteoroid had hit the space observatory’s massive primary mirror. While far from unexpected, the strike on mirror segment C3 (the sixth mirror from the top going clockwise, roughly in the “south southeast” position) that occurred back in late May was larger than any of the simulations or test strikes performed on Earth prior to launch. It was also not part of any known meteoroid storm in the telescope’s orbit; if it had been, controllers would have been able to maneuver the spacecraft to protect the gold-plated beryllium segments. The rogue space rock apparently did enough damage to be noticeable in the data coming back from the telescope and to require adjustment to the position of the mirror segment. While it certainly won’t be the last time this happens, it would have been nice to see one picture from Webb before it started accumulating hits.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: June 12, 2022”
The 90s were a dark time for audio equipment, literally and figuratively. Essentially the only redeeming quality from the decade of nondescript black plastic boxes was the low cost. Compared to the audio equipment of the 60s, largely produced in high-end enclosures with highly desirable tube amplifiers, the 90s did not offer much when it came to hi-fi stereo sound. However, those cheap black boxes from the 90s turn out to be surprisingly perfect for project enclosures for other amplifier builds, such as this 60s-era tube amp recreation.
This mesh of the best of two distinct decades comes from [Alvenh] and begins by preparing the old enclosure for its new purpose. This means a lot of work fabricating a custom metal face plate for the new amplifier and significantly modifying the remaining case. After the box is complete, the amplifier build began. It uses a tube-based preamp and a solid-state power amplifier since [Alvenh]’s experience suggested that the warm tube sound was generated mostly in the preamp. This means that his design is a hybrid but still preserves the essential qualities of a full tube build.
The build also includes a radio module that has the ability to cover the 2m and 70cm bands popular in ham radio. This module also has been found to have much better audio quality than the standard AM/FM receiver typically used in projects like this. With the radio module added to the custom enclosure, as well as a phono amp and a power supply, [Alvenh] has an excellent audio amplifier in an inexpensive case which preserves the tube sound from the true hi-fi eras of decades past.
Continue reading “Hi-Fi Combines Best Of 60s And 90s Technology”
3D printed parts are generally no way near the strength of an equivalent injection moulded part and techniques such as a sustained heat treatment, though effective usually distort the part beyond use.
[CNC Kitchen] was investigating the results (video, embedded below) of a recent paper, that described a novel ABS filament reinforced by a “star” shaped Polycarbonate core, an arrangement the authors claim is resilient to deformation during the annealing process often necessary to increase part strength. While the researchers had access to specialised equipment needed to manufacture such a composite material, [CNC Kitchen’s] solution of simply using his dual extruder setup to directly print the required hybrid filament is something we feel, strongly resonates with the now old school, RepRap “print your printer” sentiment.
The printed filament seems to have reasonable dimensional accuracy and passing the printed spool through a heater block without the nozzle attached, ensured there would be no obvious clogs. The rest of the video focuses on a very thorough comparison of strength and deformation between the garden variety Polycarbonate, ABS and this new hybrid filament after the annealing process. Although he concludes with mixed results, just being able to combine and print your own hybrid filament is super cool and a success in its own right!
Interested in multi-material filaments? Check out our article on a more conventional approach which does not involve printing it yourself!
Continue reading “Can A 3D Printer Print Better Filament For Itself?”