The first 3D printed house in Saudi Arabia took only two days to complete. 3D printed houses have been popping up all around the world throughout 2018 and the Saudi Kingdom did not want to be left without its own
3D printing food: lab creates 3D food printer that cooks its prints with a laser
A researcher out of Columbia University created a 3D food printer that cooks its food with a laser. 3D printed food is spreading quickly, but most printed food objects have to go in an oven after they come out of the 3D printer to be cooked.
6-axis metal 3D printer developed by Portuguese and Norwegian collaboration
A new form of 6-axis 3D printing capable of producing large metal parts has come out of a collaboration between the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s R&D partner SINTEF.
KAIST & Harvard researchers 3D print shape-conformable batteries for wearables
A research group led by Professor Il-Doo Kim from the Department of Materials Science at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has successfully 3D printed custom-shaped batteries. As electronics continue to shrink
The link uses standard WiFi hardware in a slightly unusual way to create a digital data link that acts more like an analog system, with a preference for delivering low latency video and a graceful drop-off when signal quality gets poor. A Raspberry Pi Zero, Alfa NEH WiFi card, external antenna, battery, and a 3D printed enclosure result in a self-contained unit. Two are needed: one for each end of the link. One unit goes on the drone and interfaces to the flight controller, and the other is for the ground station.
A companion android app allows for just about any old Android phone to serve as video feed, on-screen display of telemetry data, and touchscreen interface.
The software is DroneBridge (GitHub repository) and it implements Wifibroadcast which uses WiFi radios, but without the usual WiFi functionality. A Raspberry Pi is the usual platform, but there’s also an ESP32 port. The software is capable of even more, but so far suits [GlytchTech]’s needs just fine, and he was able to refine his original Watch_Dogs-inspired hacking drone with it.
2018: As The Hardware World Turns
By Brian Benchoff
2018 is almost over, and we have another year in the dataset: an improbable number of celebrities died in 2016. The stock market is down, and everyone thinks a crash is coming. Journalists are being killed around the world. Fidget spinners aren’t cool anymore. Fortnite. Trade wars.
But not everything is terrible: Makerbot released a new printer and oddly no one complained. It was just accepted that it was an overpriced pile of suck. Elon Musk is having a great year, press and Joe Rogan notwithstanding, by launching a record number of rockets and shipping a record number of cars, and he built a subway that we’re not calling a subway. FPGA development is getting easier with new platforms and new boards. There is a vast untapped resource in 18650 cells just sitting on sidewalks in the form of scooters, and I’m going to keep mentioning this until someone actually builds a power wall out of scooters.
What we haven’t seen in 2018
When it comes to small, portable Linux devices, there hasn’t been a better year than 2016. That’s the year that brought us dozens of new, fun boards that would certainly be the future of embedded computing. Take a look at the Pine64, the first 64-bit Linux-based single board computer. OrangePi did something that can be described as ‘cattywampus’. Even Intel got in the game, but they forgot to write documentation.
How about 2018? Well, Raspberry Pi released the Pi 3 Model A+, but that’s really just a Pi 3 Model B with fewer parts. Other than that, there’s not much. 2018 did not see dozens of single board computers based on smartphone SOCs. C.H.I.P. died, which is great for anyone who has to type ‘C.H.I.P.’ frequently, less so for people who were counting on Open Linux modules that had complete register documentation.
What caused the development of tiny Linux SBCs to stall? The reasons for this range from companies waiting for next-generation SOCs to come out (doubtful), to the fact that people simply aren’t buying them. Could it be that the general public is realizing that a cheap ARM board with zero software support is a false economy? I highly doubt this is the case, but then again I have a very low opinion of people.
The RISC-V proposition has always been a weird one. Yes, it’s a big-O Open architecture for everything from microcontrollers to Systems on a Chip. But it’s just a design. You need fab houses cranking out silicon wafers with RISC-V chips on them. That’s expensive at first, but then the price starts to drop. It looks like 2019 is shaping up to be the year that everyone can get their hands on a RISC-V chip.
Graphics cards are affordable again
The markets are down 7% this year. Bitcoin is down slightly more.
At this time last year, a single Bitcoin was worth sixteen thousand dollars, USD. Now, it’s worth less than a quarter of that. Unlike earlier Bitcoin bubbles, the price has not corrected — this is a year-long bubble bursting. Those people who thought Bitcoin would be worth $500,000 USD by 2020 have some debts to pay off.
The Bitcoin price crash is having a few unintended consequences. Power companies in western Washington aren’t freaking out anymore because miners are turning their machines off. Bitmain, one of the largest suppliers of ASIC miners, is having trouble with TSMC. It’s almost unprofitable for anyone to mine Bitcoin, and nobody knows what will happen to the network when that happens. But there’s an upside: graphics cards are more affordable. A completely acceptable 1070Ti (perfect for Fortnite, the game of the year for 2018) has fallen from $650 to $450. We’re seeing fewer people pitching ‘blockchain solutions’ in the Hackaday tipline.
The lesson from the Bitcoin crash? If you ever get a time machine, buy some Bitcoin in 2009. Sell them in December, 2017. Put twenty Lamborghinis in your Lamborghini account. If you’re building a PC soon, put that money you’re saving on a graphics card into a nice power supply.
We’re finally turning our back on Facebook
This is a year that rocked Facebook. It started years ago when a Facebook app developer (no, not someone working for Facebook, this is a third party who wrote a Facebook ‘app’) gathered information on about 200,000 of his app’s users and eighty seven million of those app user’s friends. This data was sold to Cambridge Analytica, where the data was used in the presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, and in the UK’s Brexit referendum.
What will 2019 hold for Facebook? I forsee the ‘un-cooling’ of Facebook. In 2006, you were cool if you had a Facebook. You could only have a Facebook if you had a college email address. It was an exclusive club. 2019 will be the year that you’re only cool if you don’t have a Facebook account. We’re looking at ‘I deleted my Facebook’ hipsterism. Everyone else is going to lose, though, because I deleted mine in 2009. I’m way cooler than you.
Red Star OS is the only Linux distro better than Hannah Montana Linux
This is becoming a thing because I’ve been doing it for five years. Hackaday’s North Korea readership plunged 50% this year. One person probably switched VPNs.
But on the whole, things are looking up for Hackaday. This year we published the most articles of any previous year. 2018 saw another year of the Hackaday Prize, where we awarded $250,000 to the most amazing projects on the Internet. The community is growing, and Hackaday is going gangbusters. We’ve gone to more events than we can count this year.
This has been a strange year. The market is falling, which means everyone thinks there’s going to be a crash, which probably means there won’t be. But things are looking up, and we’re looking forward to another year of hacks in 2019.
Top Secret Teardown Reveals Soviet Missile Secrets
By Al Williams
Technology has moved at such a furious pace that what would have been most secret military technology a few decades ago is now surplus on eBay. Case in point: [msylvain59] picked up a Soviet-era K-13 IR seeker used to guide air-to-air missiles to their targets. Inside is a mechanical gyroscope turning at over 4,000 RPM, a filter made of germanium to block visible light, and a photoresistor. It sobering to think you can get all of this in a few small packages these days, if not integrated into one IC.
Fitting on top of a missile, the device isn’t that large anyway, but it is nothing like what a modern device would look like. A complex set of electronics processes the signal and moves steering actuators that control fins and other controls to guide the missile’s flight. You can see a video of the device giving up its secrets, below.
It isn’t just the IR sensor that looks different from a modern design would. The actuators, the control logic — everything, really — we would do in a much easier way today. Of course, you’d still have to make sure the equipment met shock requirements of the launch, although perhaps not the impact. But if anything, that would be easier with fewer smaller components.
Honestly, we got winded just watching him remove the outer housing. Then there was plenty of potting material — probably to help with shock resistance and environmental requirements.
We will agree you probably won’t ever design an IR tracker for a warhead. If you did, it wouldn’t look at all like this. But it is illustrative to look at how designers made things work without the host of microcontrollers and miniature devices we have today.
If you want to understand more about how all gyros work, start here. We don’t know what the K-13 cost new, but we know this much less complex gyro cost about $15,000 in today’s dollars.
Doomba Transports Your Living Room to Hell
By Tom Nardi
Despite being over 25 years old, the original DOOM is still a favorite among gamers and hackers alike. For years now, running the 1993 demonic shooter has been a critical milestone when hacking or reverse engineering a piece of gear, and at this point we’ve seen it run on everything from voting machines to cameras.
But this time around, DOOM isn’t actually running on the device being hacked. Instead, the Roomba 980 that [Rich Whitehouse] has doing his bidding is being used to generate new DOOM levels based on the maps it makes of rooms while going about its business. To be fair they’re pretty simplistic maps, and most of us don’t live in a home quite palatial enough to even fill out shareware trial of id Software’s classic, but it’s still a neat trick.
For those who might not be up to date with the latest and greatest in the world of robotic helpers, newer model Roomba vacuums are equipped with a camera and the ability to generate 3D maps of its environment using a technique called Vision Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (VSLAM). Ostensibly this capability is used to create accurate maps of hazards in the cleaning area, but of course it did set off some privacy alarm bells when introduced due to the possibility that scans of users homes could end up being used for nefarious purposes. Roomba manufacturer iRobot swears they aren’t doing anything suspect with the data their robots collect while traveling through the user’s home, but that hasn’t stopped [Rich] from using the technology as a portal to Hell.
Using “DOOMBA”, the user is able to download the mapping data off of their Roomba 980 (it might work on other models, but hasn’t been tested yet) over the local network and import it into Noesis, a 3D model viewing program developed by [Rich]. The imported map is essentially just a 2D diagram of the home’s floor plan, which on its own wouldn’t make for a terribly interesting DOOM level, so the software will take the liberty of seeding it with weapons, baddies, and all the other varied delights of the netherworld. The user can fiddle around with these settings to try and fine-tune their homespun hellscape, or just let “DOOMBA” randomize it all so they can get on with the ripping and tearing.
Word Clock Don’t Need No Stencil Font
By Lewin Day
Word clocks use natural language to display the time. They’ve been in vogue in the last 20 years or so, as low-cost digital technology makes them particularly cost effective and easy to build for the average maker. The hardware and software is a solved problem, so presentation is everything. Luckily, [watsaig]’s effort does not disappoint.
The build began with a timeframe of just seven days — a narrow window given [watsaig]’s lack of experience with lasercutting and woodworking. Not content to let that get in the way, it was time to get to work. Wood was sourced from Amazon and designs laid out, before lasercutting began in earnest.
[watsaig] decided to fill all of the letters with epoxy to achieve a flat finished surface that also served as diffuser for the LEDs. To avoid using an unsightly stencil font, the centers (the cut out portion) of letters like O, A, and R had to be placed by hand. Unfortunately his turned out quite badly. When using a squeegee method to work epoxy into the letters, the inserts tended to shift, ruining the face plate.
Undeterred, the clock face was recreated from scratch, and it was determined that a pipette was a far more suitable tool, allowing the letters to be filled with epoxy without unduly disturbing the letter inserts. The final result is visually attractive, finished with a wonderful stain and giving a pleasing glow thanks the careful attention to diffusion and masking. The hidden Happy Birthday message may have been lost in the rush, but it’s the thought that counts, after all.
When Python was created, [Guido van Rossum] knew that one day it would be fully realized and take its final form. Clearly, that day has arrived since there now exists a way to send a word query and receive a lengthy list of potential portmanteaus. Some may regard this as merely quaint, but it will be the most important thing to happen in binary until the singularity.
Perhaps we are overpromising a smidge, but it may be fun to spend an afternoon getting your own whimsicalibrated pun resource churning out some eye-roll-worthy word combos. The steps are broken up neatly and explained at a high level with links for more in-depth explanations so a novice can slog through it, but a whiz can wrap it up while the boss is looking the other way.