Hackaday Links: February 24, 2019

Back To The Future Part II, released in 1989, told us the far-off future of 2015 would have flying cars, drones working for national newspapers, and self-lacing sneakers. Our best hope for flying cars is Uber, and that’s going to be hilarious when it fails. (Note to Uber: buy KSMO, Santa Monica airport, as an air taxi hub because that’s the most hilarious of all possible realities.) National newspapers — heck, even newspapers — don’t exist anymore. Self-lacing sneakers? Nike’s self-lacing sneakers brick themselves with a firmware update. Don’t worry, it’s only the left shoe.

HackSpace magazine Vol. 16 is out, and there’s a few pages dedicated to Tindie from the person who runs it, our fabulous [Jasmine]. There’s some good tips in here for Tindie sellers — especially shipping — and a good introduction to what Tindie actually is. The three-second elevator pitch of, ‘Etsy but for DIY electronics’ is not in the feature, though.

Is it duct tape or duck tape? That’s a silly question, because it’s ‘duck’ tape, but that’s not important. Gaffer tape is superior. [Ross Lowell], the inventor of gaffer tape, passed away last week at the age of 92.

[Peter Stripol] has a hobby of building ultralights in his basement. Actually, he has a hangar now, so everything’s good. His first two planes flew as Part 103 ultralights, however, there were design problems. [Peter] is using an electric powerplant, with motors and batteries, which is much lighter than a gas-chugging Rotax. However, he was still basing his designs on traditional ultralights. His now third build will be slightly more trimmed down, probably a little bit faster, and might just use 3D-printed control surfaces. Check out the intro to the mk3 airplane here.

[Matthias Wandel], the woodworking Canadian famous for designing the pantorouter, just built a three-legged stool. Sure, that doesn’t sound impressive, but check this out. All the weird mortises were done on the pantorouter, and there are some weird mortises here.

You’re only cool if you got chainz, so here’s some PCB chainz. This was done by [@jeffwurz] with OSHPark PCBs. The design, from as far as we can tell, is simple. It’s just a PCB without a soldermask, and a small cutout in one of the links. Assemble it into a chain, and if you’re clever, solder some resistor leads across the gap to make it a bit more solid.

ASMR, or officially, ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’, is the tingling sensation moving down your back induced by specific auditory (or visual) stimuli. That’s the scientific definition. On the Internet, it’s people breathing into microphones and smacking their lips. Yes, there are videos of this. Thousands of them. There are 11-year-old girls raking in the YouTube money posting ASMR videos. It’s weird and gross, and don’t get me started on slime videos. You’ve also got unboxing videos. The Raspberry Pi foundation found a way to combine ASMR with unboxing videos. I gotta respect the hustle here; ASMR and unboxing videos are some of the most popular content available, and the Pi foundation is not only combining the two, but doing so ironically. It’s exactly the content everyone wants to see, and it’ll bring in people who hate ASMR and unboxing videos. Someone over at the Pi foundation really knows what they’re doing here.

Adopting An Orphaned Ultralight

Owning and flying your own small airplane offers a nearly unmatched level of freedom and autonomy. Traveling “as the crow flies” without having to deal with traffic on the ground immediately shrinks your world, and makes possible all sorts of trips and adventures. Unfortunately the crippling downsides of plane ownership (storage and maintenance costs, knowledge that you might die in a fiery crash, etc), keeps most of us planted squarely on terra firma.

But not [ITman496]. His dream of owning an ultralight has recently come true, and he’s decided to share his experience with the world. He’s got a long way to go before he slips the surly bonds of Earth, but there’s no better place to start than the beginning. In a recent blog post he documents the process of getting his new toy home, and details some of the work he plans on doing to get it airworthy.

The plane in question is a Mini-MAX that [ITman496] has determined is not only older than he is, but has never flown. It was built by a retired aircraft mechanic who unfortunately had problems with his heart towards the end of assembly. He wisely decided that he should find a safer way to spend his free time than performing solo flights in an experimental aircraft, so he put the plane up for sale.

After a considerable adventure transporting the plane back home, [ITman496] found it was stored in such good condition that the engine started right up. But that doesn’t mean it’s ready for takeoff by any stretch of the imagination. For his own safety, he’s planning on tearing down the entire plane to make sure everything is in good shape and assembled correctly; so at least he’ll only have himself to blame if anything happens when he’s in the air.

One the plane’s structure is sound, he’ll move on to some much needed engine modifications including a way to adjust the air-fuel mixture from inside the cockpit, improvements to the cooling system, and installation of a exhaust system that’s actually intended for the two-stroke engine he has. When that’s done, [ITman496] is going to move onto the real fun stuff: creating his own “glass cockpit”.

For Hackaday readers who don’t spend their time playing make believe in flight simulators, a “glass cockpit” is a general term for using digital displays rather than analog gauges in a vehicle. [ITman496] has already bought two daylight-readable 10.1″ IPS displays which he plans on driving over HDMI with the Raspberry Pi. No word on what his software setup and sensor array will look like, but we’re eager to hear more as the project progresses.

If you’re not lucky enough to find a mostly-complete kit plane nearby on Craigslist, you could always just make your own airplane out of sheets of foam.

Fail of the Week: Leaf Blowers Can’t Fly

Leaf blowers, the main instrument of the suburban Saturday symphony, are one of the most useful nuisances. It doesn’t take much work with a rake to convince even the most noise-averse homeowner to head to the Big Box Store to pick one up to speed lawn chores. Once you do buy one, and feel the thrust produced by these handheld banshees, you might wonder, If I let go of this thing, would it fly? 

[Peter Sripol] had that very thought and set about building a couple of leaf blower powered planes to answer the question. It’s probably not a spoiler alert to report that the answer is no, but the video below is a fun watch anyway. The surprising thing is just how close both planes came to succeeding. The first plane was a stripped-down Ryobi two-stroke leaf blower suspended from a giant wing and tail section that very nearly got off the ground. Version 1.1 gained a retractable electric boost propeller – strictly for take-offs – and lost a lot of excess weight. That plane practically leaped into the air, but alas, servo problems prevented [Peter] from shutting down the electric and flying on Ryobi alone. Even a servo fix couldn’t save the next flight, which cratered right after takeoff. A version 2.0, this time using a brutally modified electric leaf blower, was slightly more airworthy but augured in several times before becoming unflyable.

What can we learn from all this? Not much other than it would take a lot of effort to make a leaf blower fly. We appreciate all of [Peter]’s hard work here, but we think he’s better off concentrating on his beautiful homebrew ultralight instead.

Continue reading “Fail of the Week: Leaf Blowers Can’t Fly”

Hackaday Links: July 1, 2018

Remember when computer mice didn’t have scroll wheels? The greatest mouse of all time, the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0, is back in production. This mouse was released in 2003, before the popularity of ‘gaming’ mice from the likes of Razer, and at the time it was the standard mouse for RTS and FPS professional gamers. After producing a few million of these mice, the molds died or the sensors were out of stock, Microsoft stopped shipping the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0, and the ones that were out in the wild slowly died. Now this fantastic mouse is back, and it’s only going to set you back $40. Believe me when I say this is one of the greatest user interface devices ever created, right up there with the Model M keyboard.

Another week, another update on building an airplane in a basement. [Peter Sripol] has basically finished the fuselage of his homebuilt ultralight with working elevator, rudder, and landing gear that looks like it might hold up.

The Pebble was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever, and now it’s dead. Pebble was bought by Fitbit for $40M, and now the Pebble servers are off, as of June 30th. Of course there are community-based projects to keep the Pebble working, notably the rebble project.

It’s time for Steam’s summer sale, and your wallet is crying. The standout deal is the Steam Link, a sort of ‘thin client for Steam’ that plugs into your TV, looks on the network for your battlestation, and allows you to play Fortnite or whatever on the big screen. The Steam Link normally sells for $50, but with the summer sale it’s two dollars and fifty cents.

Here are a few experiments in CNC joinery. [Mirock] has a CNC machine and a few pieces of wood, and explored what is possible when you want to join two boards at ninety degrees to each other. Why is this interesting? One of the joints on this simple box project consists of a circle with a hole on one board, and a pin on the other. This is basically a Knapp joint, a ‘dovetail’ of sorts that was developed in the 1860s. This was the first popular machine-made joint in woodworking, and if you ever see it on an antique, it solidly dates that piece to any time between 1870-1900. Of course, now that you can just buy a CNC router, an infinite variety of joints are possible, and [Mirock] can experiment with all sorts of combinations of pins and tails and mortises and tenons.

Building An Ultralight In A Basement is Just So Beautiful to See

[Peter] is at it again. Not content with being one of the best RC confabulators on YouTube, and certainly not content with the first airplane he built in his basement, [Peter Sripol] is building another airplane in his basement.

The first airplane he built was documented on YouTube over a month and a half. It was an all-electric biplane, built from insulation foam covered in fiberglass, and powered by a pair of ludicrously oversized motors usually meant for large-scale RC aircraft. This was built under Part 103 regulations — an ultralight — which means there were in effect no regulations. Anyone could climb inside one of these without a license and fly it. The plane flew, but there were a few problems. It was too fast, and the battery life wasn’t really what [Peter] wanted.

Now [Peter] is onto his next adventure. Compared to the previous plane, this has a more simplified, traditional construction. It’s a high wing monoplane with an aluminum frame. There are two motors again, although he’s still in the process of finding lower kV motors. This plane should also fly slower, longer, something you really want in an ultralight.

As far as tools required for this build, it’s surprising how few are needed to put the plane together. Of course, there are a few excessively large pop rivet guns and there will be some extra special aviation-grade bolts, but the majority of this plane will be made out of standard aluminum, insulation foam, a bit of wood, and some fiberglass. Watching [Peter] churn out high-end fabrication with these simple parts is so satisfying. If you have a drill press with a cross slide vise, you too can build a plane in your basement.

This is shaping up to be a truly fantastic build. [Peter] has already proven that yes, he can indeed build an airplane in his basement. This time, though, he’s going to have a plane that will stay in the air for more than just a few minutes.

Continue reading “Building An Ultralight In A Basement is Just So Beautiful to See”

Aluminum No Match For 3D Printed Press Brake Dies

If you’re looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, you can scratch “Doing small-scale manufacturing of ultralight aircraft” off your list right now. Turns out there’s no money in it. At least, not enough money that you can outsource production of all the parts. Not even enough to setup a huge shop full of customized machining tools when you realize you have to make the stuff yourself. No, this sounds like one of those “labors of love” we always hear so much about.

So how does one do in-house manufacturing of aircraft with a bare minimum of tools? Well, since you’re reading this on Hackaday you can probably guess that you’ve got to come up with something a bit unorthodox. When [Brian Carpenter] of Rainbow Aviation needed a very specific die to bend a component for their aircraft, he decided to try designing and 3D printing one himself.

Printing a die on the Zortrax M200

He reasoned that since he had made quick and dirty dies out of wood in the past, that a 3D printed one should work for at least a few bends before falling apart. He even planned to use JB Weld to fill in the parts of the printed die which he assumed would start cracking and breaking off after he put it through a few cycles. But even after bending hundreds of parts, wear on the dies appears to be nearly non-existent. As an added bonus, the printed plastic dies don’t mar the aluminum pieces they are bending like the steel dies do.

So what’s the secret to printing a die that can bend hundreds of pieces of aluminum on a 20 ton brake without wearing down? As it turns out…not a whole lot. [Brian] attributes the success of this experiment to designing the die with sufficiently accurate tolerances and having so high of an infill that it may as well be solid plastic.

In fact, the 3D printed die worked out so well that they’ve now expanded the idea to a cheap Harbor Freight brake. Before this tool was going more or less unused as it didn’t have features they needed for the production of their parts, namely a radius die or backstop. But by 3D printing these components [Brian] was able to put the tool back to work.

We’ve previously covered the art and science of bending sheet metal, as well as a homebuilt brake that let’s you do it on a budget even Rainbow Aviation would scoff at. So what are you waiting for? Go build an airplane.

Thanks to [Oahupilot] for the tip.

Continue reading “Aluminum No Match For 3D Printed Press Brake Dies”

Hackaday Links: November 19, 2017

[Peter]’s homebuilt ultralight is actually flying now and not in ground effect, much to the chagrin of YouTube commenters. [Peter Sripol] built a Part 103 ultralight (no license required, any moron can jump in one and fly) in his basement out of foam board from Lowes. Now, he’s actually doing flight testing, and he managed to build a good plane. Someone gifted him a ballistic parachute so the GoFundMe for the parachute is unneeded right now, but this gift parachute is a bit too big for the airframe. Not a problem; he’ll just sell it and buy the smaller model.

Last week, rumors circulated of Broadcom acquiring Qualcomm for the sum of One… Hundred… Billion Dollars. It looks like that’s not happening now. Qualcomm rejected a deal for $103B, saying the offer, ‘undervalued the company and would face regulatory hurdles.’ Does this mean the deal is off? No, there are 80s guys out there who put the dollar signs in Busine$$, and there’s politicking going on.

A few links posts ago, I pointed out there were some very fancy LED panels available on eBay for very cheap. The Barco NX-4 LED panels are a 32×36 panels of RGB LEDs, driven very quickly by some FPGA goodness. The reverse engineering of these panels is well underway, and [Ian] and his team almost have everything figured out. Glad I got my ten panels…

TechShop is gone. With a heavy heart, we bid adieu to a business with a whole bunch of tools anyone can use. This leaves a lot of people with TechShop memberships out in the cold, and to ease the pain, Glowforge, Inventables, Formlabs, and littleBits are offering some discounts so you can build a hackerspace in your garage or basement. In other TechShop news, the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘what are they going to do with all the machines?’. Nobody knows, but the smart money is a liquidation/auction. Yes, in a few months, you’ll probably be renting a U-Haul and driving to TechShop one last time.

3D Hubs has come out with a 3D Printing Handbook. There’s a lot in the world of filament-based 3D printing that isn’t written down. It’s all based on experience, passed on from person to person. How much of an overhang can you really get away with? How do you orient a part correctly? God damned stringing. How do you design a friction-fit between two parts? All of these techniques are learned by experience. Is it possible to put this knowledge in a book? I have no idea, so look for that review in a week or two.

Like many of us, I’m sure, [Adam] is a collector of vintage computers. Instead of letting them sit in the attic, he’s taking gorgeous pictures of them. The collection includes most of the big-time Atari and Commodore 8-bitters, your requisite Apples, all of the case designs of the all-in-one Macs, some Pentium-era PCs, and even a few of the post-97 Macs. Is that Bondi Blue? Bonus points: all of these images are free to use with attribution.

Nvidia is blowing out their TX1 development kits. You can grab one for $200. What’s the TX1? It’s a really, really fast ARM computer stuffed into a heat sink that’s about the size of a deck of cards. You can attach it to a MiniITX breakout board that provides you with Ethernet, WiFi, and a bunch of other goodies. It’s a step above the Raspberry Pi for sure and is capable enough to run as a normal desktop computer.