Every wanted a mini wind tunnel to check the aerodynamics of scale model cars, drones, or other small objects? Then check out [dannyesp]’s mostly-3D-printed DIY wind tunnel (video, embedded below). Don’t forget to also browse the additional photos in this Reddit thread.
There’s not much for plans available, since as [dannyesp] admits, this device was very much the product of trial-and-error and junk bin parts. The video and photos are more than enough for any enterprising hacker to work with.
The core of the device is a large fan made from a junked drone motor. This fan is located at the rear of the tunnel. A small anemometer is placed at the front, where some 3D-printed baffles also work to smooth out turbulent incoming air.
The foggy trails of vapor come from a hacked-up vape pen. Vapor gets piped through some tubing to the front of the tunnel. There, the vapor trails are drawn towards the low-pressure area at the rear, traveling over and around the object on the way. [dannyesp] also mentions that the platform holding the object is mounted on a rail, which incorporates some kind of pressure sensor in an attempt to quantify wind drag.
We want to take a moment to appreciate just how clean this “junk parts” project looks — even though it is made from things like broken photo frames. All of this comes down to thoughtful assembly. A hack doesn’t have to look like a hack job, after all. We also love the little control box that, instead of having a separate power indicator, lights up like a little nightlight when it has power.
[Gerrit Braun], co-founder of the [Miniatur Wunderland] model railway and miniature airport attraction in Hamburg, takes his model building seriously. For more than five years, he and his team have been meticulously planning, testing, and building a 1:87 scale of Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix. Models at the Wunderland are crafted to the Nth detail and all reasonable efforts, and some unreasonable ones, are taken to achieve true-to-life results. In the video down below, part of Gerrit’s diary of the project, he discusses the issues and solutions to simulating realistic television broadcasts (the video is in German, but it has English language subtitles).
The goal is to model the large billboard-sized monitor screens set up at viewing stands. In real life, these displays are fed with images coming in from cameras located all over the circuit, the majority of which are operated by a cameraman. The miniaturization of cameras has come a long way in recent years — the ESP32-CAM module or the Raspberry Pi cameras, for example. But miniaturizing the pan-and-tilt actions of a cameraman, while perhaps possible, would not be reliable over the long time (these exhibits at Wunderland are permanent and operate almost daily). Instead, the team is able to use software to extract a cropped window from high-resolution video, and moving the position of this cropped window simulates the pointing of the camera. More details are in the video.
The skill and creativity of [Gerrit] and his team is incredible. Other videos on this project cover topics like the sound system, PCB techniques used for the roads, and the eye-popping use of an electric standing desk to lift an entire city block so workers can gain access to the area. Fair warning — these are addictive, and the video below is #76 of an unfinished series. We wrote about Wunderland back in 2016 when [Gerrit] and his twin brother [Frank] teamed with Google Maps to make a street view of their replica cities. Thanks to [Conductiveinsulation] who sent us the tip, saying that the discussion about interconnected triangular PCB tiles on this week’s Podcast #122 reminded him of this for some reason. Have any of our readers visited Miniatur Wunderland before? Let us know in the comments below.
Over on Hackaday.io we have a lot of people playing around with the possibilities presented by cheap printed circuit boards. Whether that means making a quadcopter from fiberglass or a speaker from etched copper, we’ve seen just about everything. Now, finally, we have a miniature magnetic racetrack. It’s an ant highway, or a linear motor wrapped around into a circle. Or a tiny-scale model railroad. Either way it’s very, very cool.
The ant highway comes from [bobricius], one of the many makers tinkering around with coils and traces. This time he’s built a ten centimeter square board that is, effectively, a linear motor. It’s a three-phase motor made out of PCB coils, with a small magnetic ‘car’ that’s pushed forward. These coils are controlled by an ATtiny10 and a trio of MOSFETs. Wrap that linear motor into a circle and you have a neat little circular track that’s the smallest model car raceway you’ve ever seen.
As with all of [bobricius]’ circuit boards, this one demands a video, and that’s available below. This is an interesting bit of technology, and it’s more than just a raceway for tiny magnetic cars. This could be the beginnings of an analog clock with a digital heart, or the start of the smallest model train layout you’ve ever seen. There’s impressive work being done with PCB motors now that printed circuit boards are so cheap, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.