Learn Quantum Computing With Spaced Repetition

Everyone learns differently, but cognitive research shows that you tend to remember things better if you use spaced repetition. That is, you learn something, then after a period, you are tested. If you still remember, you get tested again later with a longer interval between tests. If you get it wrong, you get tested earlier. That’s the idea behind [Andy Matuschak ‘s]and [Michael Nielsen’s] quantum computing tutorial. You answer questions embedded in the text. You answer to yourself, so there’s no scoring. However, once you click to reveal the answer, you report if you got the answer correct or not, and the system schedules you for retest based on your report.

Does it work? We don’t know, but we have heard that spaced repetition is good for learning languages, among other things. We suspect that like most learning methods, it works better for some people than others.

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Car Alternators Make Great Electric Motors; Here’s How

The humble automotive alternator hides an interesting secret. Known as the part that converts power from internal combustion into the electricity needed to run everything else, they can also themselves be used as an electric motor.

The schematic of a simple automotive alternator, from US patent 3329841A filed in 1963 for Robert Bosch GmbH .
The schematic of a simple automotive alternator, from US patent 3329841A filed in 1963 for Robert Bosch GmbH.

These devices almost always take the form of a 3-phase alternator with the magnetic component supplied by an electromagnet on the rotor, and come with a rectifier and regulator pack to convert the higher AC voltage to 12V for the car electrical systems. Internally they have three connections to the stator coils which appear to be universally wired in a delta configuration, and a pair of connections to a set of brushes supplying the rotor coils through a set of slip rings. They have a surprisingly high capacity, and estimates put their capabilities as motors in the several horsepower. Best of all they are readily available second-hand and also surprisingly cheap, the Ford Focus unit shown here came from an eBay car breaker and cost only £15 (about $20).

We already hear you shouting “Why?!” at your magical internet device as you read this. Let’s jump into that.

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Automate Your Life With Node-RED (Plus A Dash Of MQTT)

For years we’ve seen a trickle of really interesting home automation projects that use the Node-RED package. Each time, the hackers behind these projects have raved about Node-RED and now I’ve joined those ranks as well.

This graphic-based coding platform lets you quickly put together useful operations and graphic user interfaces (GUIs), whether you’re the freshest greenhorn or a seasoned veteran. You can use it to switch your internet-connected lights on schedule, or at the touch of a button through a web-app available to any device on your home network. You can use it as an information dashboard for the weather forecast, latest Hackaday articles, bus schedules, or all of them at once. At a glance it abstracts away the complexity of writing Javascript, while also making it simple to dive under hood and use your 1337 haxor skills to add your own code.

You can get this up and running in less than an hour and I’m going to tackle that as well as examples for playing with MQTT, setting up a web GUI, and writing to log files. To make Node-RED persistent on your network you need a server, but it’s lean enough to run from a Raspberry Pi without issue, and it’s even installed by default in BeagleBone distributions. Code for all examples in this guide can be found in the tutorial repository. Let’s dive in!

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All You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Compilers

They say that in order to understand recursion, you must first understand recursion. Once you master that concept, you might decide that it’s time to write your own compiler that can compile itself as a fun side project. According to [Warren] aka [DoctorWkt], who documented every step of writing this C compiler from scratch, a true compiler will be able to do that.

Some of the goals for the project included self-compiling, focusing on a real hardware platform, practicality, and simplicity. [Warren] outlines a lot of the theory of compilers as well, including all the lexical, grammar, and semantic analysis and then the final translation into assembly language, but really focuses on making this compiler one for practical use rather than just a theoretical implementation. He focuses on Intel x86-64 and 32-bit ARM platforms too, which are widely available.

This project is a long read and very thoroughly documented at around 100,000 words, so if you’ve ever been interested in compilers this is a great place to start. There are a lot of other great compiler tools floating around too, like the Compiler Explorer which shows you generated code as you write in a higher level language.

[via Hackaday.io]

Journey Through The Inner Workings Of A PCB

Most electronics we deal with day to day are comprised of circuit boards. No surprise there, right? But how do they work? This might seem like a simple question but we’ve all been in the place where those weird green or black sheets are little slices of magic. [Teddy Tablante] at Branch Eduction put together a lovingly crafted walkthrough flythrough video of how PCB(A)s work that’s definitely worth your time.

[Teddy]’s video focuses on unraveling the mysteries of the PCBA by peeling back the layers of a smartphone. Starting from the full assembly he separates components from circuit board and descends from there, highlighting the manufacturing methods and purpose behind what you see.

What really stands out here is the animation; at each step [Teddy] has modeled the relevant components and rendered them on the PCBA in 3D. Instead of relying solely on hard to understand blurry X-ray images and 2D scans of PCBAs he illustrates their relationships in space, an especially important element in understanding what’s going on underneath the solder mask. Even if you think you know it all we bet there’s a pearl of knowledge to discover; this writer learned that VIA is an acronym!

If you don’t like clicking links you can find the video embedded after the break. Credit to friend of the Hackaday [Mike Harrison] for acting as the best recommendation algorithm and finding this gem.

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A 3D Printer Scratch Built For Your Viewing Pleasure

Today it’s almost always cheaper to buy an imported 3D printer kit than it is to source your own parts and build one yourself. But that doesn’t stop people from doing it anyway. Whether they’re looking for something a bit more solid, or just want to do things their own way, there are still valid reasons to design and build your own machine. Luckily for us in the audience, [Rob Mech] decided to document the build of his custom “LayerFused C201” printer on his YouTube Channel.

If you’ve ever dreamed of taking the plunge and building a 3D printer exactly the way you want, but were never able to manage the time, this seven video series might be the next best thing. Each video takes you through a different step of the construction, from building the frame out of aluminum extrusion all the way to wiring up the endstop switches and the 32-bit SKR v1.3 controller. There’s even a video that introduces the viewer to the concept of a “Frankenstein” printer that uses cobbled together parts just long enough to produce its own final components.

All told, [Rob] says the Bill of Materials for the LayerFused C201 comes to at least $200, but that’s going to take shopping around for the lowest possible prices and potentially even salvaging some components from other machines and projects. Like we said, building a cheap printer is absolutely not the goal here; it’s all about building a printer you want to use. Continue reading “A 3D Printer Scratch Built For Your Viewing Pleasure”

How To Get Started With Fadecandy And LEDs

The internet is awash with millions of stunning LED projects, and for that, we are all very thankful. For those outside the hacker/maker matrix, it can be difficult to know how to approach such a build. Never fear, for [Amy Goodchild] has put together a beginner’s guide to building pretty glowables, using Fadecandy and Processing.

Fadecandy is a platform specifically designed to drive WS2812B LEDs for artistic purposes. This allows users to focus on the visual side of things without getting bogged down with the hassle of selecting the right microcontroller and choosing the applicable libraries. It works great in combination with Processing, a piece of software designed for coders experimenting with visual arts. Through a USB link, any graphics drawn by processing can be mapped to the LEDs attached to the Fadecandy controller.

[Amy] does a great job of explaining how to do everything required, from purchasing the right equipment, through wiring everything up, and then getting it all humming along with the correct software. If you’ve ever wanted to build a big flashy project with a ton of LEDs, this would be a great place to start.

We’ve seen Fadecandy put to good use before, too. Video after the break.

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