A pinwheel sits in an aquarium to simulate an offshore wind turbine. Bubbles come up from the "seabed" to encircle it to demonstrate a bubble curtain with an image of a sound waveform overlaid with the video to show the sound confined to the area within the bubble curtain.

Keeping The Noise Down Under The Sea

Since sound is the primary sense used by most ocean life, disruptions to the natural noise levels in the ocean from human activities can be particularly problematic for marine life. [DW Planet A] has a video describing some of the ways we can mitigate these disruptions to our friends under the sea.

Being noisy neighbors isn’t just a problem for whales but for everything down to the plankton at the base of the food web. Underwater construction like offshore wind installations get flak for being noisy, but technologies like bubble curtains can reduce noise output by up to 90% to the surrounding waters while still getting those nice low carbon energy benefits that prevent further ocean acidification and warming. Continue reading “Keeping The Noise Down Under The Sea”

A black quadcopter sits on a grey surface. In place of traditional propellers are four figure eight propellers with sharp tips where the top and bottom of the eight would be.

Toroidal Propellers Make Drones Less Annoying

Despite being integral to aviation for more than a century, propellers have changed remarkably little since the Wright Brothers. A team at MIT’s Lincoln Lab has developed a new propeller shape that significantly reduces the noise associated with drones. [PDF via NewAtlas]

Inspired by some of the experiments with “ring wings” in the early 20th Century, researchers iterated on various toroidal propeller geometries until arriving at one that significantly reduces the sound produced by the rotors, particularly in the range of human hearing. The team suspects the reduction in noise is due to vortices being distributed over the whole propeller instead of just the tips.

Experiments show the drones can get twice as close before becoming a nuisance for human ears which should be great news for anyone hoping to launch Skynet commercial drone deliveries. Since the rotors are easily fabricated via 3D printing they should be easy to adapt to a number of different drones.

If you want to explore some more interesting drones, checkout this one that can fly and swim or this one that only uses a single propeller.

Printed Propeller Blades Repair Indoor Flyer

Fair warning for readers with a weak stomach, the video below graphically depicts an innocent rubber band airplane being obliterated in mid-air by a smug high-tech RC helicopter. It’s a shocking display of airborne class warfare, but the story does have a happy ending, as [Concrete Dog] was able to repair his old school flyer with some very modern technology: a set of 3D printed propeller blades.

Now under normal circumstances, 3D printed propellers are a dicey prospect. To avoid being torn apart by the incredible rotational forces they will be subjected to, they generally need to be bulked up to the point that they become too heavy, and performance suffers. The stepped outer surface of the printed blade doesn’t help, either.

But in a lightweight aircraft powered by a rubber band, obviously things are a bit more relaxed. The thin blades [Concrete Dog] produced on his Prusa Mini appear to be just a layer or two thick, and were printed flat on the bed. He then attached them to the side of a jar using Kapton tape, and put them in the oven to anneal for about 10 minutes. This not only strengthened the printed blades, but put a permanent curve into them.

The results demonstrated at the end of the video are quite impressive. [Concrete Dog] says the new blades actually outperform the originals aluminum blades, so he’s has to trim the plane out again for the increased thrust. Hopefully the extra performance will help his spindly bird avoid future aerial altercations.

On the electrically powered side of things, folks have been trying to 3D print airplane and quadcopter propellers for almost as long as desktop 3D printers have been on the market. With modern materials and high-resolution printers the idea is more practical than ever, though it’s noted they don’t suffer crashes very well.

Continue reading “Printed Propeller Blades Repair Indoor Flyer”

Surfboard Gets Jet Upgrades

Surfing is a fun and exciting sport but a lot of beginners can get discouraged with how little time is spent actually riding waves while learning. Not only are balance and wave selection critical skills that take time to learn, but a majority of time in the water is spent battling crashing waves to get out past the breakers. Many people have attempted to solve this problem through other means than willpower alone, and one of the latest attempts is [Andrew W] with a completely DIY surfboard with custom impeller jet drives.

The surfboard is hand-made by [Andrew W] himself using a few blocks of styrofoam glued together and then cut into a generic surfboard shape. After the rough shaping is done, he cuts out a huge hole in the back of the board for the jet drive. This drive is almost completely built by [Andrew] as well including the impeller pumps themselves which he designed and 3D printed. The pair of impellers are driven by some beefy motors and a robust speed controller that connects wirelessly to a handheld waterproof throttle to hold while surfing. Once everything was secured in the motor box the surfboard was given a final shaping and then glassed. The final touch was an emergency disconnect attached to a leash so that if he falls off the board it doesn’t speed away without him.

The build is impressive not only for [Andrew]’s shaping skills but for his dedication to a custom jet drive for the surfboard. He spent over a year refining the build and actually encourages people not to do this as he thinks it took too much time and effort, but we’re going to have to disagree with him there. Even if you want to try to build something a lot simpler, builds like these look like a lot of fun once they’re finished. The build seems flawless and while he only tested it in a lake we’re excited to see if it holds up surfing real waves in an ocean.

Continue reading “Surfboard Gets Jet Upgrades”

RC Minecraft Boat Patrols The Pool For Treasure

Looking to recreate those relaxing¬†Minecraft fishing sessions in real life, [electrosync] recently set out to 3D print himself a blocky remote controlled boat, complete with a similarly cubic occupant to ride in it. Each element of the build, from the oars to the bobber on the end of the fishing line, has been designed to look as faithful to the source material as possible. In fact, the whole thing is so accurate to the game that it’s almost surreal to see it rowing around the pool.

That said, some of the resemblance is only skin deep. For example the rowing action, though it appears to be properly synchronized to the boat’s movement through the water, is completely for show. A standard propeller and rudder arrangement under the boat provide propulsion and directional control, and [electrosync] notes its actually powerful enough to push the boat very near to its scale top speed from the game, despite the exceptionally poor hydrodynamics of what’s essentially just a rectangle.

A look under the deck.

Speaking of which, [electrosync] even went through the trouble of printing the hull in wood-fill PLA and coating it in polyester resin to make sure it was watertight. Granted he could have just made the boat out of wood in the first place, saving himself the nearly 60 hours it took to print the hull parts, but that would have been cheating.

Beyond the servos and motors that move the boat and the oars, [electrosync] had to give his 3D printed fisherman a considerable amount of dexterity. Servos embedded into the 3D printed parts allow “Steve” to rotate at the hips and raise and lower his arm. With a fishing pole slipped into a hole printed into the hand, he’s able to cast out his magnetic bobber and see whats biting.

We’ve actually seen quite a number of projects that allow virtual objects inside¬†Minecraft to interact with the real world, but comparatively few efforts to recreate objects from the game’s blocky universe, so the change of pace is nice.

Continue reading “RC Minecraft Boat Patrols The Pool For Treasure”

Prop-Driven Cardboard RC Car Doesn’t Skimp On Performance

[Kryzer Channel] takes making a DIY RC car to a whole new level with this prop-driven electric car that is made almost entirely out of cardboard (YouTube video, also embedded below.) By attaching an electric motor with a push prop to the back of the car, [Kryzer] avoids the need for any kind of drive system or gearing. Steering works normally thanks to some scratch-built linkages, but the brake solution is especially clever.

Braking is done by having a stocky servo push a reinforced stub downward, out of a hole in the center of the car. This provides friction against the road surface. After all, on an RC car a functional brake is simply not optional. Cutting the throttle and coasting to a stop works for a plane, but just won’t do for a car.

Winding thread around metal components then saturating with CA glue makes a durable assembly.

Layers of corrugated cardboard and hot glue make up the bulk of the car body, and some of the assembly techniques shown off are really slick and make the video really worth a watch. For example, the construction of the wheels (starting around 2:24) demonstrates making them almost entirely out of cardboard, saturated with CA glue for reinforcement, with a power drill acting as a makeshift lathe for trimming everything down. A section of rubber inner tube provides the tire surface and a piece of hard plastic makes a durable hub. Wraps of thread saturated in CA glue, shown here, is another technique that shows up in several places and is used in lieu of any sort of fasteners.

The well-edited video (embedded below) is chock full of clever assembly and construction. Unsurprisingly, this is not [Krazer]’s first cardboard vehicle: their video channel has other impressive cardboard models and racers to show off.

Continue reading “Prop-Driven Cardboard RC Car Doesn’t Skimp On Performance”

Quick 3D-Printed Airfoils With These OpenSCAD Helpers

You know how it is. You’re working on a project that needs to move air or water, or move through air or water, but your 3D design chops and/or your aerodynamics knowledge hold you back from doing the right thing? If you use OpenSCAD, you have no excuse for creating unnecessary turbulence: just click on your favorite foil and paste it right in. [Benjamin]’s web-based utility has scraped the fantastic UIUC airfoil database and does the hard work for you.

While he originally wrote the utility to make the blades for a blower for a foundry, he’s also got plans to try out some 3D printed wind turbines, and naturally has a nice collection of turbine airfoils as well.

If your needs aren’t very fancy, and you just want something with less drag, you might also consider [ErroneousBosch]’s very simple airfoil generator, also for OpenSCAD. Making a NACA-profile wing that’s 120 mm wide and 250 mm long is as simple as airfoil_simple_wing([120, 0030], wing_length=250);

If you have more elaborate needs, or want to design the foil yourself, you can always plot out the points, convert it to a DXF and extrude. Indeed, this is what we’d do if we weren’t modelling in OpenSCAD anyway. But who wants to do all that manual labor?

Between open-source simulators, modelling tools, and 3D printable parts, there’s no excuse for sub-par aerodynamics these days. If you’re going to make a wind turbine, do it right! (And sound off on your favorite aerodynamics design tools in the comments. We’re in the market.)