Monthly Archives: April 2018

Retrotechtacular: Synchros Go to War (and Peace)

Rotation. Motors rotate. Potentiometers and variable capacitors often rotate. It is a common task to have to rotate something remotely or measure the rotation of something. If I asked you today to rotate a volume control remotely, for example, you might offer up an open loop stepper motor or an RC-style servo. If you wanted to measure a rotation, you’d likely use some sort of optical or mechanical encoder. However, there’s a much older way to do those same tasks and one that still sees use in some equipment: a synchro.

The synchro dates back to the early 1900s when …read more

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Posted in Hackaday Columns, hardware, position sensor, selsyn, synchro, world war II | Leave a comment

Friday Hack Chat: Control Schemes For Robotics

The Hackaday Prize is in full swing if you haven’t heard. It’s the Academy Awards of Open hardware, and the chance for you — yes, you — to create the next great piece of hardware and a better future for everyone. Right now, we’re in the Robotics Module Challenge portion of the prize. This is your chance to build a module that could be used in robotics projects across the world! Show off your mechatronic skills and build a robotics module that’s transferable to other builds!

Not coincidentally, for this week’s Hack Chat, we’re talking all about Robotics Modules. We’re …read more

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Posted in 2018 Hackaday Prize, Hack Chat, Hackaday Columns, Hackaday Prize, robotics, robotics modules, The Hackaday Prize | Leave a comment

Reflow Rig Makes SMD Soldering a Wok in The Park

For a DIY reflow setup, most people seem to rely on the trusty thrift store toaster oven as a platform to hack. But there’s something to be said for heating the PCB directly rather than heating the surrounding air, and for that one can cruise the yard sales looking for a hot plate to convert. But an electric wok as a reflow hotplate? Sure, why not?

At the end of the day [ThomasVDD]’s reflow wok is the same as any other reflow build. It has a heat source that can be controlled easily, temperature sensors, and a microcontroller that can …read more

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Posted in arduino, control, hot plate, max 6675, pid, proportional-integral-derivative, reflow, smd, ssr, thermocouple, tool hacks | Leave a comment

Firing Bullets Through Propellers

Early airborne combat was more like a drive-by shooting as pilot used handheld firearms to fire upon other aircraft. Whomever could boost firepower and accuracy would have the upper hand and so machine guns were added to planes. But it certainly wasn’t as simple as just bolting one to the chassis.

This was during World War I which spanned 1914 to 1918 and the controllable airplane had been invented a mere eleven years before. Most airplanes still used wooden frames, fabric-covered wings, and external cable bracing. The engineers became pretty inventive, even finding ways to fire bullets through the path …read more

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Posted in aerial, airplane, combat, Engineering, Fokker Zentralsteuerung, gear, history, machine gun, Original Art, propeller, synchronizer, weapons hacks, world war I, WWI | Leave a comment

Beat This Mario Block Like it Owes You Money

People trying to replicate their favorite items and gadgets from video games is nothing new, and with desktop 3D printing now at affordable prices, we’re seeing more of these types of projects than ever. At the risk of painting with too broad a stroke, most of these projects seem to revolve around weaponry; be it a mystic sword or a cobbled together plasma rifle, it seems most gamers want to hold the same piece of gear in the physical world that they do in the digital one.

But [Jonathan Whalen] walks a different path. When provided with the power to …read more

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Posted in 3d Printer hacks, 3d printing, arduino nano, mario, nintendo hacks, prop building, vibration sensor | Leave a comment

Émilie du Châtelet: An Energetic Life

Émilie du Châtelet lived a wild, wild life. She was a brilliant polymath who made important contributions to the Enlightenment, including adding a mathematical statement of conservation of energy into her French translation of Newton’s Principia, debunking the phlogiston theory of fire, and suggesting that what we would call infrared light carried heat.

She had good company; she was Voltaire’s lover and companion for fifteen years, and she built a private research institution out of a château with him before falling in love with a younger poet. She was tutored in math by Maupertuis and corresponded with Bernoulli and …read more

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Posted in Biography, Émilie du Châtelet, Featured, fire, Isaac Newton, Original Art, philosophy, phlogiston, Principia, science, the Enlightenment, Voltaire | Leave a comment

Making 3D Objects The Scroll Saw Way

These days most have come to think that if you want to make a complex 3D object with all curved surfaces then a 3D printer is the only way to go. Many have even forgotten that once such things could be hand carved. [JEPLANS], on the other hand, is a master at making these objects using only a scroll saw as he’s done with his latest, a miniature camel cut from a single block of maple.

His process has a lot of similarities to 3D printing. He starts with a computer drawn design, in this case for the camel’s front …read more

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Posted in classic hacks, scrollsaw, wood working | Leave a comment

A Buyer’s Guide to Lathe Options

Lathes are complicated machines, and buying one requires weighing a lot of options. We’ve already talked about buying new Asian, or old American machines (with apologies to the Germans, British, Swiss, and all the other fine 20th century machine tool making-countries). We also talked about bed length and swing, and you ain’t got nothin’ if you ain’t got that swing. Let’s talk about the feature set now. If you’re buying new, you’ll shop on these details. If you’re buying used, knowing the differences will help you pick a good project machine.

Imperial or Metric?

First and foremost — Imperial or …read more

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Posted in buyer's guide, Engineering, Featured, lathe, machine tools, options, power feed, tool post | Leave a comment

Heat Seeking Robot and Camera Tear Down

[Marco Reps] found an HT02 thermal imaging camera in his mailbox. He found the resolution was fine for looking at big objects but worthless for examining circuit boards. So he decided to just tear it into pieces — an urge we totally understand.

Inside was a thermopile sensor that was easy to reverse engineer. So [Marco] decided to rework a Raspberry Pi robot to use the camera and turn it into a heat seeker.

The camera is relatively inexpensive compared to other similar devices and apparently uses a cheaper sensor type. However, the sensor itself was easy to use. [Marco] …read more

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Posted in digital cameras hacks, robot, robots hacks, thermal imaging, thermopile | Leave a comment

Dissecting the AVR debugWire

Anyone who’s ever written more than a dozen or so lines of code knows that debugging is a part of life in our world. Anyone who’s written code for microcontrollers knows that physical debugging is a part of our life as well. Atmel processors use a serial communications protocol called debugWire, which is a simpler version of JTAG and allows full read/write access to all registers and allows one to single step, break, etc. [Nerd Ralph], a prominent fixture here at Hackaday has dug into the AVR debugWire protocol and enlightened us with some valuable information.

While the protocol side …read more

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Posted in AVR, debug, debugwire, Microcontrollers | Leave a comment