Hackaday Links: January 3, 2021

Last week we featured a story on the new rules regarding drone identification going into effect in the US. If you missed the article, the short story is that almost all unmanned aircraft will soon need to transmit their position, altitude, speed, and serial number, as well as the position of its operator, likely via WiFi or Bluetooth. The FAA’s rule change isn’t sitting well with Wing, the drone-based delivery subsidiary of megacorporation Alphabet. In their view, local broadcast of flight particulars would be an invasion of privacy, since observers snooping in on Remote ID traffic could, say, infer that a drone going between a pharmacy and a neighbor’s home might mean that someone is sick. They have a point, but how a Google company managed to cut through the thick clouds of irony to complain about privacy concerns and the rise of the surveillance state is mind boggling.

Speaking of regulatory burdens, it appears that getting an amateur radio license is no longer quite the deal that it once was. The Federal Communications Commission has adopted a $35 fee for new amateur radio licenses, license renewals, and changes to existing licenses, like vanity call signs. While $35 isn’t cheap, it’s not the end of the world, and it’s better than the $50 fee that the FCC was originally proposing. Still, it seems a bit steep for something that’s largely automated. In any case, it looks like we’re still good to go with our “$50 Ham” series.

Staying on the topic of amateur radio for a minute, it looks like there will be a new digital mode to explore soon. The change will come when version 2.4.0 of WSJT-X, the program that forms the heart of digital modes like WSPR and FT8, is released. The newcomer is called Q65, and it’s basically a follow-on to the current QRA64 weak-signal mode. Q65 is optimized for weak, rapidly fading signals in the VHF bands and higher, so it’s likely to prove popular with Earth-Moon-Earth fans and those who like to do things like bounce their signals off of meteor trails. We’d think Q65 should enable airliner-bounce too. We’ll be keen to give it a try whenever it comes out.

Look, we know it’s hard to get used to writing the correct year once a new one rolls around, and that time has taken on a relative feeling in these pandemic times. But we’re pretty sure it isn’t April yet, which is the most reasonable explanation for an ad purporting the unholy coupling of a gaming PC and mass-market fried foods. We strongly suspect this is just a marketing stunt between Cooler Master and Yum! Brands, but taken at face value, the KFConsole — it’s not a gaming console, it’s at best a pre-built gaming PC — is supposed to use excess heat to keep your DoorDashed order of KFC warm while you play. In a year full of incredibly stupid things, this one is clearly in the top five.

And finally, it looks like we can all breathe a sigh of relief that our airline pilots, or at least a subset of them, aren’t seeing things. There has been a steady stream of reports from pilots flying in and out of Los Angeles lately of a person in a jetpack buzzing around. Well, someone finally captured video of the daredevil, and even though it’s shaky and unclear — as are seemingly all videos of cryptids — it sure seems to be a human-sized biped flying around in a standing position. The video description says this was shot by a flight instructor at 3,000 feet (914 meters) near Palos Verdes with Catalina Island in the background. That’s about 20 miles (32 km) from the mainland, so whatever this person is flying has amazing range. And, the pilot has incredible faith in the equipment — that’s a long way to fall in something with the same glide ratio as a brick.

“A Guy In A Jet Pack” Reported Flying Next To Aircraft Near LAX

In case you needed more confirmation that we’re living in the future, a flight on approach to Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday night reported “a guy in a jet pack” flying within about 300 yards of them. A second pilot confirmed the sighting. It’s worth watching the video after the break just to hear the recordings of the conversation between air traffic control and the pilots.

The sighting was reported at about 3,000 feet which is an incredible height for any of the jet packs powerful enough to carry humans we’ve seen. The current state of the art limits jet pack tech to very short flight times and it’s hard to image doing anything more than getting to that altitude and back to the ground safely. Without further evidence it’s impossible to say, which has been an ongoing problem with sightings of unidentified flying objects near airports.

While superheros (or idiots pretending to be superheros) flying at altitude over the skies of LA sounds far fetched, the RC super hero hack we saw nine years ago now comes to mind. At 300 yards, that human-shaped drone might pass for an actual person rather than a dummy. This is of course pure speculation and we don’t want to give the responsible members for the RC aircraft community a bad name. It could have just as easily been trash, balloons, aliens, or Mothra. Or perhaps the pilot was correct and it was “some guy” flying past at 3,000 feet. That’s not impossible.

We anxiously await the results of the FAA’s investigation on this one.

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Beautiful Rocketeer Jetpack Replica Boasts Impressive Metalwork

Fans of the Rocketeer comic book and movie franchise will be familiar with its hero’s 1930s-styled rocket backpack.  It’s an intricate construction of complex streamlined curves, that has inspired many recreations over the years.

Most Rocketeer jetpacks are made from plastic, foam, and other lightweight materials that will be familiar to cosplayers and costumers. But [David Guyton]’s one is different, he’s made it from sheet steel.

The attraction in his video is not so much the finished pack, though that is an impressive build. Instead it’s the workmanship, nay, the craftsmanship, as he documents every stage of the metalwork involved. The panel beating tools of a sheet metalworker’s trade are surprisingly simple, and it’s tempting to think as you watch: “I could do that!”. But behind the short video clips and apparent speed of the build lies many hours of painstaking work and a huge amount of skill. Some of us will have tried this kind of sheet work, few of us will have taken it to this level.

The video is below the break, it takes us through the constituent parts of the build, including at the end some of the engine details which are cast in resin. Watch it with a sense of awe!

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Finally. A Working JetPack

Well, it’s either an extremely well edited video, or [JetPack Aviation] has actually come up with a working JetPack.

According to their site, this JetPack has been in development for the past 25 years, and the current revision is capable of speeds of up to 100mph, and lasts for over 10 minutes. Just last week they flew it around the Statue of Liberty for a promo — yet this is the first time we’re hearing of it…

There’s a documentary coming out next year about the development of it, so it seems like a lot of effort to go to if it’s simply a hoax…

Watch their maiden JetPack flight after the break, and let us know what you think!

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Finally, A Working Jet Pack

Well, kind of. This is one of [Jason Kerestes’] latest projects as a masters engineering student at the Arizona State University — A jet pack designed to increase your running speed by quite literally giving you a boost.

It’s one of the proposed solutions to the 4MM (4 Minute Mile) project, which is part of the ASU Program called iProjects, which brings students and industry together to solve problems. The 4MM project is trying to find a way to make any soldier able to run the 4 minute mile — quite ambitious, but DARPA is actually working on it with [Jason]!

The whole rig only weighs 13lbs and features two electric turbines which provide the thrust. They originally tested the concept by seeing if you could pull a person with an electric golf cart around a track to make them run faster — turns out, you can. Further more scientific testing led them to find that there is a specific thrust to body-weight ratio that works best, with the direction of thrust about 25 degrees below horizontal.  Continue reading “Finally, A Working Jet Pack”

Pneumatic Rocket Man

Here’s a fun May the 4th be with you project… A pneumatically powered Boba Fett jetpack-launching-mannequin!

[Rodger Cleye], best known for his crazy quadrotor projects, wanted to try experimenting with pneumatic power for a change. He managed to obtain a fire extinguisher which he’s routed through a home-made PVC air delivery system on the back of his faithful test dummy — this time decked out in a complete [Boba Fett] costume.

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The Thunderball Jetpack Becomes A Quadcopter

thunderball

At the beginning of the fourth Bond film, 007 escapes from a French château with a jetpack. While the jetpack has yet to take off for those of us who aren’t secret agents, there is a way for anyone to fly just like Bond. It can’t lift a full-scale human yet, but [Rodger]’s Project Thunderball can let a mannequin hover for several minutes.

The stand in for [Sean Connery] in [Rodger]’s build is a 2.2 lb mannequin – actually an ‘inflatable companion’, if you will – stuffed with styrofoam peanuts. The actual jet pack is a quadcopter souped up with larger motors, propellers, and enough batteries to deliver 1kW. There’s no belt for this quad; the mannequin rides the machine like you would a horse, straddling the electronics while very high-speed props spin just inches away from the tender bits of an inflatable plastic doll.

[Rodger] is able to get about 8 minutes of hover time out of his quadpack, an impressive feat that also allows his flying machine to deliver beer and pizzas.

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