Tiny Gasoline Engine Fitted With A Custom Billet Waterpump

We don’t typically use gasoline engines smaller than 50 cc or so on a regular basis. Below that size, electric motors are typically less messy and more capable of doing the job. That doesn’t mean they aren’t cute, however. [JohnnyQ90] is a fan of tiny internal combustion engines, and decided to whip up a little water pump for one of his so it could do something useful besides make noise.

The pump is built out of billet aluminium, showing off [JohnnyQ90]’s machining skills. The two pieces that make up the main body and cover plate of the pump are impressive enough, but the real party piece is the tiny delicate impeller which actually does the majority of the work. The delicate curves of the pump blades are carefully carved out and look exquisite when finished.

The pump’s performance is adequate, and the noise of the tiny gasoline engine makes quite a racket, but it’s a great display of machining skill. If so desired, the pump could also do a great job for a small liquid delivery system if hooked up to a quiet electric motor, too. The aluminium design has the benefit of being relatively leak free when assembled properly, something a lot of 3D printed designs struggle to accomplish.

We’ve seen [JohnnyQ90]’s micro engine experiments before, too — like this small generator build. Video after the break.

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3D Printing A Centrifugal Water Pump

Once upon a time, 3D printing was about churning out tiny Yodas and Pikachus, but these days, useful things are regularly 3D printed too. A great example is this centrifugal water pump that can really deliver the juice, courtesy of  [Connor].

The pump’s housings and impeller are all 3D printed in PLA, as well as the inlet which is designed for a 2L soda bottle to screw into. Gaskets are printed in pliable TPU to help seal the housings. There are a few ball bearings inside to allow the impeller to spin nicely, too, with hex head fasteners used to hold everything together and a long bolt used as the main impeller shaft. Notably, no shaft seal is included, so the pump does leak a bit, but it’s not a major concern assuming you’re just pumping water and don’t mind spilling a bit of excess. Turned with a drill at 1800 rpm, the pump is able to achieve a flow rate of 13 litres per minute, or a maximum head of 1.2 meters. The design is on Onshape, for the curious.

It’s a great example of how 3D printing can allow the creation of machines with complex geometry without the need for advanced machining skills. Instead, all the hard work is done on the CAD side of things. We’ve seen 3D printed pumps put to real work before, too, like this fertilizer dispenser. Video after the break.

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Air-Assist Analysis Reveals Most Effective — And Quietest — Methods

If there’s one thing that continues to impress us about the Hackaday community as the years roll by, it’s the willingness to share what we’ve learned with each other. Not every discovery will be news to everyone, and everything won’t be helpful or even interesting to everyone, but the mere act of sharing on the off chance that it’ll help someone else is really what sets the hardware hacking world apart.

Case in point: this in-depth analysis of laser cutter air-assist methods. Undertaken by [David Tucker], this project reads more like a lab writeup than a build log, because well, that’s pretty much what it is. For those not into laser cutters, an air assist is just a steady flow of air to blow smoke and cutting residue away from the beam path and optics of a laser cutter. It’s simple, but critical; without it, smoke can obscure and reflect the laser beam, foul lenses and mirrors, and severely degrade cut quality.

To see what air-assist methods work best, [David] looked at four different air pumps and compressors, along with a simple fan. Each of these methods was compared to a control of cuts made without air assist. The test was simple: a series of parallel lines cut into particle board with the beam focused on the surface at 80% power, with the cut speed slowly decreasing. It turned out that any air-assist was better than nothing, with the conspicuous exception of using just a fan, which made things worse. Helpfully, [David] included measurements of the noise levels of the compressors he tested, and found there’s no advantage to using an ear-splitting shop compressor over a quieter aquarium air pump. Plus, the aquarium pumps are cheap — always a bonus.

Not sure how to get up to speed with lasers? Laser Cutting 101 might be a great place to start.

Fertilizing Plants With A Custom 3D-Printed Pump

For all but the most experienced gardeners and botanists, taking care of the soil around one’s plants can seem like an unsolvable mystery. Not only does soil need the correct amount of nutrients for plants to thrive, but it also needs a certain amount of moisture, correct pH, proper temperature, and a whole host of other qualities. And, since you can’t manage what you can’t measure, [Jan] created a unique setup for maintaining his plants, complete with custom nutrient pumps.

While it might seem like standard plant care on the surface, [Jan]’s project uses a peristaltic pump for the nutrient solution that is completely 3D printed with the exception of the rollers and the screws that hold the assembly together. With that out of the way, it was possible to begin adding this nutrient solution to the plants. The entire setup from the pump itself to the monitoring of the plants’ soil through an array of sensors is handled by an ESP32 running with help from ESPHome.

For anyone struggling with growing plants indoors, this project could be a great first step to improving vegetable yields or even just helping along a decorative houseplant. The real gem is the 3D printed pump, though, which may have wider applications for anyone with a 3D printer and who also needs something like an automatic coffee refilling machine.

Liquid Lite Brite Robot

Liquid handling workstations are commonly used in drug development, and look like small CNC machines with droppers on the ends which can dispense liquid into any container in a grid array. They are also extraordinarily expensive, as is most specialty medical research equipment. This liquid handling workstation doesn’t create novel drugs, though, it creates art, and performs similar functions to its professional counterparts at a much lower cost in exchange for a lot of calibration and math.

The art is created by pumping a small amount of CMYK-colored liquids into a 24×16 grid, with each space in the grid able to hold a small amount of the colored liquid. The result looks similar to a Lite-Brite using liquids instead of small pieces of plastic. The creator [Zach Frew] created the robot essentially from scratch using an array of 3D printers, waterjets, and CNC machines. He was able to use less expensive parts, compared to medical-grade equipment, by using servo-controlled valves and peristaltic pumps, but makes up for their inaccuracies with some detailed math and calibration.

The results of the project are striking, especially when considering that a lot of hurdles needed to be cleared to get this kind of quality, including some physical limitations on the way that the liquids behave in the first place. It’s worth checking out not just for the art but for the amount of detail involved as well. And, for those still looking to scratch the 90s nostalgia itch, there are plenty of other projects using the Lite Brite as inspiration.

Thanks to [Thane Hunt] for the tip!

DIY Lasers Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, October 7th at noon Pacific for the DIY Lasers Hack Chat with Les Wright!

It’s not too much of a reach to say that how we first experienced the magic of lasers sort of dates where we fall on the technology spectrum. For the youngest among us, lasers might have been something trivial, to be purchased for a couple of bucks at the convenience store. Move back a few decades and you might have had to harvest a laser from a CD player to do some experiments, or back further, perhaps you first saw a laser in high school physics class, with that warm, red-orange glow of a helium-neon tube.

But back things up only a few decades before that, and if you wanted to play with lasers, you had to build one yourself. It was a popular if niche hobby with a dedicated following of amateur physicists who scrounged around for the unlikely parts needed: ruby rods, quartz-glass tubes, and exotic dyes. Couple them together with high-voltage power supplies, vacuum pumps made from converted refrigerator compressors, and homemade optical benches, and if the stars aligned, these parts could be coaxed into producing a gloriously intense burst of light, which as often as not hooked its creator as a lifelong laser addict.

We’re not sure which camp Les Wright falls into, but from the content of his growing YouTube channel, we’d say he’s caught the laser bug. We recently took a look at his high-performance nitrogen laser, which he’s been having fun with as the basis for a tunable dye laser. Along the way he’s been necessarily mucking around with high-voltage power supplies, oscilloscopes, and the occasional robot or two.

Les will stop by the Hack Chat to talk about everything going on in his lab, with a focus on his laser experiments. Join us with your questions on DIY lasers, and stop by to pick up some tricks that might help you catch the laser bug too.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, October 4 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones baffle you as much as us, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

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Eight Motors Can Sure Pump A Lot Of Water

Once upon a time, 3D printing was more of a curiosity than a powerful tool, with many printing trinkets and tchotchkes rather than anything of real use. However, over the years as technology and techniques have progressed, we now see more application-ready builds. This water pump from [Let’s Print] is a great example.

The pump consists of two major pieces – a drive unit, and an impeller. The drive unit consists of a gearbox that combines the power of eight electric motors, driving a single shaft. This is all achieved with striking yellow ABS gears in a black housing. The build video does a great job of explaining how to make the project work with different motors, and how to properly use the bolt adjuster to set the backlash on the gear train. The drive unit is then used to turn a 3D-printed impeller pump which is capable of delivering a great deal of water very quickly.

When fired up, the leaky assembly makes an awful racket and a huge mess, but sure as heck shifts a lot of water while it does so. Watching the water spray off the gears as it leaks through the bearings is a great sight, and it’s clear that the device works well. We’d love to see a cost and performance analysis of this pump versus a commercial offering.

While it’s certainly not the most rugged build, it’s a fun one that nevertheless gets the job done. We’d love to see this running a foam machine or a classic slip and slide. Video after the break.

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