First things first: the tease on this video, that an electric supercar can be charged from a massive lemon battery array, is exactly that – a tease. Despite that, it makes for an interesting story and a great attempt to get kids exposed to science and engineering.
The story goes that [Mark] was approached by Volkswagen to help charge the batteries on their entry for the upcoming Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the annual “Race to the Clouds” in Colorado. Racers are tortured by a 4,700′ (1,440 m) vertical climb over a 12.42 mile (20 km) course that features 156 switchback turns. Volkswagen’s entry is an electric supercar, and they sent [Mark] a portable battery cart to charge up the best way he saw fit.
Teaming up with [William Osman], the first attempt was a massive array of lemon cells, made with waterjet-cut strips of zinc and copper held in a plywood frame. Studded with 1,232 lemons, the battery performed just about as well as you’d expect it would. Plan B was cute, and another of [Mark]’s attempts to pad his “Funnest Uncle Ever” score a bit. He devised a zip line with regenerative braking to charge a cordless drill battery, and then indirectly harvested the energy in the battery by turning it into lemonade for a bunch of kids. The sugared-up kids rode the zip line till the battery was charged.
That was still a drop in the bucket, though, so Plan C saw [Mark] install a large solar array on his roof; the tie-in here was that the lemon-powered kids got to design a cleaning system for the solar array. A weak link, to be sure, but the kids had fun, and we can’t deny that the car will at least be partially lemon-powered when it heads up the hill.
Continue reading “Charging An Electric Supercar With Lemons, Kids, And The Sun”
Our hats off to [SpeedyCop] and his [Gang of Outlaws] for turning a junked former Vietnam War helicopter into both an amphibious vehicle and a road race car. Yes, that’s right. It’s both driven on water and raced in the 24 Hours of LeMons at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
It started life as a 1969 Bell OH-58 Kiowa (US Army Vietnam Assault helo) and had not only served in Vietnam but also for a federal drug task force. It was chopped up for parts and the body found its way to [SpeedyCop] and friends. The body now sits on an 80s Toyota van chassis, has a Mazda Miata rear suspension, and Audi 3.0 V6 engine.
The pontoons were originally added to hide the seam between the helicopter body and the van but they then inspired the idea of making it amphibious. And with the addition of a four-blade, 7000 RPM propeller from a parasail boat, the idea became reality, as you can see in the video after the break (we suspect the trailing line is a rope to pull it back to shore in case of engine failure).
Continue reading “Vietnam War Helicopter Turned Amphibious Racecar”
What’s to be gained from reverse engineering a four-decade-old video game? As it turns out, quite a lot, and as you’ll learn from [Norbert]’s recent talk at the ViennaJS meetup, it’s not just about bringing a classic back to life.
Continue reading “Forty-Year-Old Arcade Game Reveals Secrets of Robot Path Planning”
Last year, when [Alex] was asked by his friend [Martin] to help him out with building some LED POV modules for a race car, his response was a enthusiastic “YES!”
[Martin’s] goal was to involve fans more deeply in the race, so he decided that the POV modules would carry messages from fans on-board, printing them in the night as the race cars screamed around the track. The pair started prototyping and testing a design, wrapping things up shortly before this year’s 24 hours of Nürburgring.
The modules consist of an Arduino-compatible AVR, a GPS module, a 16-LED light bar, and the circuitry for driving the LEDs. While most of the components are pretty standard fare, the we don’t often see a GPS sensor built into a POV display. [Alex] says that the sensor is used to calculate the speed of the cars, ensuring a uniform font size.
They took their LED displays to the 24 hours of Nürburgring, where they were invited by Audi to install the modules on a pair of R8 Le Mans race cars. As you can see by the pictures on his blog and Flickr set, the POV units worked out nicely without having to stretch the camera exposure times too far.
If you’ re interested to hear a bit more about how the displays were built, check out this entry in[Alex’s] blog, where he goes through some additional details.
Update:[Alex] pointed us to the videos!