Hackaday Links: March 29, 2020

It turns out that whacking busted things to fix them works as well on Mars as it does on Earth, as NASA managed to fix its wonky “mole” with a little help from the InSight lander’s robotic arm. Calling it “percussive maintenance” is perhaps a touch overwrought; as we explained last week, NASA prepped carefully for this last-ditch effort to salvage the HP³ experiment, and it was really more of a gentle nudge that a solid smack with the spacecraft’s backhoe bucket. From the before and after pictures, it still looks like the mole is a little off-kilter, and there was talk that the shovel fix was only the first step in a more involved repair. We’ll keep an ear open for more details — this kind of stuff is fascinating, and beats the news from Earth these days by a long shot.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic news isn’t all bad. Yes, the death toll is rising, the number of cases is still growing exponentially, and billions of people are living in fear and isolation. But ironically, we’re getting good at community again, and the hacker community is no exception. People really want to pitch in and do something to help, and we’ve put together some resources to help. Check out our Hackaday How You Can Help spreadsheet, a comprehensive list of what efforts are currently looking for help, plus what’s out there in terms of Discord and Slack channels, lists of materials you might need if you choose to volunteer to build something, and even a list of recent COVID-19 Hackaday articles if you need inspiration. You’ll also want to check out our calendar of free events and classes, which might be a great way to use the isolation time to better your lot.

Individual hackers aren’t the only ones pitching in, of course. Maybe of the companies in the hacker and maker space are doing what they can to help, too. Ponoko is offering heavy discounts for hardware startups to help them survive the current economic pinch. They’ve also enlisted other companies, like Adafruit and PCBWay, to join with them in offering similar breaks to certain customers.

More good news from the fight against COVID-19. Folding@Home, the distributed computing network that is currently working on folding models from many of the SARS-CoV-2 virus proteins, has broken the exaFLOP barrier and is now the most powerful computer ever built. True, not every core is active at any given time, but the 4.6 million cores and 400,000-plus GPUs in the network pushed it over from the petaFLOP range of computers like IBM’s Summit, until recently the most powerful supercomputer ever built. Also good news is that Team Hackaday is forming a large chunk of the soul of this new machine, with 3,900 users and almost a million work units completed. Got an old machine around? Read Mike Sczcys’ article on getting started and join Team Hackaday.

And finally, just because we all need a little joy in our lives right now, and because many of you are going through sports withdrawal, we present what could prove to be the new spectator sports sensation: marble racing. Longtime readers will no doubt recognize the mad genius of Martin and his Marble Machine X, the magnificent marble-dropping music machine that’s intended as a follow-up to the original Marble Machine. It’s also a great racetrack, and Martin does an amazing job doing both the color and turn-by-turn commentary in the mock race. It’s hugely entertaining, and a great tour of the 15,000-piece contraption. And when you’re done with the race, it’s nice to go back to listen to the original Marble Machine tune — it’s a happy little song for these trying times.

Shovel…guitar?

We didn’t believe this hack at all when we saw it, or rather heard it. Surly a guitar made out of a shovel couldn’t sound decent. But the video (after the jump, skip to 2:40 for the jam) to our untrained ears sounded pretty rad. Could be the supremely well done wood work, proper use of tools, high tech pickups, or maybe Russian magic, we don’t know.

In fact, if you continue the video it doesn’t stop there. The creators also made a 2 string bass and a few other instruments from shovels. Do I smell a new shovel hero?

Related: Guitars made out of things that should not be guitars.

[Thanks Paul]

Continue reading “Shovel…guitar?”

Live Fire Half-life

We don’t know how we missed this when it first came out, but there is a hack out there that combines a .22 caliber pistol with the video game Half-life. Simple is best and that motto is in use here. A wall was built down range to use as a projection screen. Accelerometers mounted on the drywall report vibration data from the bullet strike which is used to triangulate its location. This targeting data is then sent to the game interface.

As you can see in the video after the break this works like a charm. The [Waterloo Labs] personnel that developed this are also responsible for that iPhone controlled car. The antics we witnessed in that project carry over to this one as they illustrate using the setup to play Half-life with a couple of shovels at 2:12 into the clip. Continue reading “Live Fire Half-life”

Robot That Shovels Snow Automatically

Those of you that live in snowier climates will drool over the I-Shovel, a battery powered robot that shovels the snow off your driveway, saving you countless hours of backbreaking labor over the course of a single winter. Its inventors claim that, despite its relatively underpowered motor, it keeps the driveway clear even in heavy snowfall; the trick, apparently, is that the robot constantly monitors the amount of snow on the driveway and springs into action whenever a significant but manageable layer has built up. Unfortunately, the I-Shovel is still a prototype, but with any luck you’ll be able to actually buy one soon. If you’re impatient, of course, you could always try building your own.

[via Toolmonger]