The ISS Is Getting A New WC

Every home needs renovations after a few decades, and the International Space Station is no different. This fall, they’ll be getting a new Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), aka a new toilet.

Though the news coincides with increased traffic to the ISS, this move stems from a more serious issue with bacterial contamination during longer-term space travel. Today’s ISS toilets already recycle urine back into potable water and scrub the air reclaimed from solid waste as it gets compacted and stored. The new UWMS will act more like a food dehydrator, reducing the water content as much as possible to save on space, and petrifying the poo to inactivate the bacteria.

The current commode on the American side of the ISS was designed in the 1990s and is based on the Space Shuttle’s facilities. It has a funnel with a hose for urine and a bag-lined canister with a seat for solid waste, both of which are heavily vacuum-assisted.

Though the current toilet still does everything it’s supposed to do, there is room for improvement. For instance, women find it difficult to engage both parts of the system at the same time, and almost everyone prefers the toe bars on the Russian toilet to the more encumbering thigh bars on the American throne. Also, the current commode’s interface is more complicated than it needs to be, which takes up valuable crew time. Continue reading “The ISS Is Getting A New WC”

Smart Toilet Paper Holder Keeps Track Of White Gold

As we all woke up in 2020 on New Year’s Day, few of us would have predicted how terrible everything would get in just a few short months. Worldwide shortages of toilet paper were just the tip of the iceberg, making everyone more keenly aware of their stocks at home. This was something [thepenguinmaster] decided to take a stab at managing in the cloud. Enter the Smart Toilet Paper Roll.

The device consists of a 3D printed toilet roll holder, outfitted with sensors to track usage of the precious material. A magnetic rotary encoder is used to monitor rotation of the roll, with a LIDAR device used to sense when a user’s hand is in close proximity. Data is trucked to the cloud by an Avnet Azure Sphere MT3620. The link with Azure allows for the automatic generation of graphs and access from anywhere over the Internet.

The project goes to show that just about anything around the house can be monitored over the Internet. We’d love to see the tracker go even further, measuring usage on a per-sheet basis and automatically ordering more when supplies get low. We’ve seen similar work before, too.

Flying Convenience Not So Convenient

It’s a situation that plays out every day, all over the world – you walk into work, and there’s a full-scale foam toilet sitting on the bench, demanding to be used in a crackpot project. This time, it happened to be at the [FliteTest] workshop, and naturally, they set about making it fly.

The team at [FliteTest] are well resourced, with a laser cutter being used to quickly produce a set of custom foam board wings. However, after wing failures on their previous projects, this time the team opted for a riveted aluminium wing spar to add strength. A twin-boom tail is used to try to avoid the cistern from interfering with airflow over the elevator, and careful attention is paid to make sure the center of gravity is in the right position for stable flight.

Despite the team’s laudable efforts, the toilet (somewhat unsurprisingly) flies like crap. It just goes to show, you can strap a brushless power system on to just about anything, but aerodynamics will still be standing ready to bring it all crashing down to Earth.

We’ve seen some great builds from [FliteTest] over the years – before the throne, it was an IKEA chair that soared amongst the clouds.┬áVideo after the break.

[Thanks to Baldpower for the tip!] Continue reading “Flying Convenience Not So Convenient”