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There Is No Such Thing As An Invalid Unit

The Mars Climate Orbiter was a spacecraft launched in the closing years of the 1990s, whose job was to have been to study the Martian atmosphere and serve as a communications relay point for a series of other surface missions. It is famous not for its mission achieving these goals, but for the manner of its premature destruction as its orbital insertion brought it too close to the planet‘s atmosphere and destroyed it. The cause of the space

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Hybrid Technique Breaks Backscatter Distance Barrier

Low cost, long range, or low power when it comes to wireless connectivity, historically you‘ve only been able topick two. But a group at the University of Washington appears to have made a breakthrough in backscatter communications that allows reliable data transfer over 2.8 kilometers using only microwatts, and for pennies apiece. For those unfamiliar with backscatter, it‘s a very cool technology that modulates data onto RF energy i

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In-Band Signaling: Quindar Tones

So far in this brief series on in-band signaling, we looked at two of the common methods of providing control signals along with the main content of a transmission: DTMF for Touch-Tone dialing, and coded-squelch systems for two-way radio. For this installment, we‘ll look at something that far fewer people have ever used, but almost everyone has heard: Quindar tones. What‘s a Quindar? You may never have heard what Quindar tones are, b

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London Calling: The Hackaday UK Unconference Roundup

A trip to London, for provincial Brits, is something of an undertaking from which you invariably emerge tired and slightly grimy following your encounter with the cramped mobile sauna of the Central Line, its meandering international sightseers, and stampede of besuited commuters heading for the City. Often your fatigue after such an expedition will be that following the completion of a Herculean labour, but just sometimes it will instead be the

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Music Box Plays ‘Still Alive‘ Thanks to Automated Hole Puncher

Most projects have one or two significant aspects in which custom work or clever execution is showcased, but thisMusic Box Hole Punching Machineby [Josh Sheldon] and his roommate [Matt] is a delight on many levels. Not only was custom hardware made to automate punching holes in long spools of paper for feeding through a music box, but a software front end to process MIDI files means that in a way, this project is really a MIDI-to-hand-cranked-mus

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Single Board Relay Computer

We all know you can build a computer out of relays, and if you‘re a regular reader of Hackaday, you‘ve probably seen a few. Actually designing and fabricating a computer built around relays is another thing entirely, and an accomplishment that will put you right up there with the hardware greats. The newest inductee of the DIY microcomputer hall of fame is [Jhallen]. He‘s built a microcomputer trainer‘ out of relays. It&ls

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Sawed Off Keyboard

Have you ever had to cut a piece of furniture in two to get it into a new place? Yours truly has, having had to cut the longer part of a sectional sofa in two to get it into a high-rise apartment. That‘s what [Charles]‘ sawed off keyboard immediately reminded us of. It sounds just as crazy, but brilliant at the same time. In [Charles]‘ case he wanted a keypad whose keys were customizable, and that would make a single keypress do

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Hackaday‘s London Meetup Was A Corker

Upstairs at the Marquis Cornwallis pub in central London, around 75 Hackadayers convened, ate well, drank well, and were generally merry. Nearly everyone in attendance brought a hack with them, which meant that there was a lot to see in addition to all that socializing to be done. I spoke with a huge number of people who all said the same thing: that it was fantastic to put faces to the names of the writers, hackers, and other readers. As a write

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A Smaller, Cheaper RISC V Board

Early this year, the world of electronics saw something amazing. The RISC-V, the first Open Source microcontroller was implemented in silicon, and we got an Arduino-derived dev board in the form of the HiFive 1. The HiFive 1 is just a bit shy of mindblowing; it‘s a very fast microcontroller that‘s right up there with the Teensy when it comes to processing power. There‘s support for the Arduino IDE, so all those fancy libraries a

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Hackaday Prize Entry: A PCB To Emulate Coin Cells

TheCoin Cell Emulator CR2016/CR2032 by [bobricius] homes in on a problem some hardware developers don‘t realize they have: when working on hardware powered by the near-ubiquitous CR2016 or CR2032 format 3V coin cells, power can be a bit troublesome. Either the device is kept fed with coin cells as needed during development, or the developer installs some breakout wires to provide power from a more convenient source. [bobricius]‘s solu

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AI: This Decade‘s Worst Buzz Word

In hacker circles, the Internet of Things is often the object of derision. Do we really need the IoT toaster? But there‘s one phrase that while not new is really starting to annoy me in its current incarnation: AI or ArtificialIntelligence. The problem isn‘t the phrase itself. It used to mean a collection of techniques used to make a computer look like it was smart enough to, say, play a game or hold a simulated conversation. Of cou

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A Slew Of NYC Meetups With Tindie And Hackaday This Week

This is a busy, busy week for Tindie and Hackaday. We‘re going to New York, and we have a ton of events planned. First up is the monthly Hackaday meetup. This time, we‘re teaming up with Kickstarter for a pre-Maker Faire Meetup. We‘ll be hosting this at Kickstarter‘s HQ, and already we have an impressive line of speakers set up to talk about Assistive Technology. These speakers include: Anita Perr and R. Luke Dubois from

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The Science Behind Lithium Cell Characteristics and Safety

To describe the constraints on developing consumer battery technology as ‘challenging‘ is an enormous understatement. The ideal rechargeable battery has conflicting properties it has to store large amounts of energy, safely release or absorb large amounts of it on demand, and must be unable to release that energy upon failure. It also has to be cheap, nontoxic, lightweight, and scalable. As a result, consumer battery technologies rep

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Chest of Drawers Stores Audio Memories

Some people collect stamps, some collect barbed wire, and some people even collect little bits of silicon and plastic. But the charmingly named [videoschmideo] collects memories, mostly of his travels around the world with his wife. Trinkets and treasures are easy to keep track of, but he found that storing the audio clips he collects a bit more challenging. Until he built this audio memory chest, that is. Granted, you might not be a collector of

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A Jet Engine On A Bike. What‘s The Worst That Could Happen?

On today‘s edition of don‘t try this at home,‘ we‘re transported to Russia to see [Igor Negoda]‘s working jet bicycle. This standard mountain bike comes equipped with a jet engine capable of 18kg of thrust, fixed to the frame under the seat with an adjustable bracket to change it‘s angle as needed. A cell phone is zip-tied to the frame and acts as a speedometer if it works, it‘s not stupid and an engine

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Better Stepping With 8-Bit Micros

The electronics for motion control systems, routers, and 3D printers are split into two camps. The first is 8-bit microcontrollers, usually AVRs, and are regarded as being slower and incapable of cool acceleration features. The second camp consists of 32-bit microcontrollers, and these are able to drive a lot of steppers very quickly and very smoothly. While 32-bit micros are obviously the future, there are a few very clever people squeezing the

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Building a Working Game of Tetris in Conway‘s Game of Life

If you haven‘t been following along with Conway‘s Game of Life, it‘s come a long way from the mathematical puzzle published in Scientific American in 1970. Over the years, mathematicians have discovered a wide array of constructs that operate within Life‘s rules, including many that can be leveraged to perform programming functions logic gates, latches, multiplexers, and so on. Some of these creations have gotten rather h

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Hackaday Links: September 17, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: APPLE HAS RELEASED A NEW RECTANGLE. IT IS BETTER THAN THE PREVIOUS RECTANGLE, WHICH WAS A LESSER RECTANGLE. SOME PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY WITH THE NEW RECTANGLE BECAUSE OF [[CHANGES]]. THE NEW RECTANGLE HAS ANIMATED POO. Mergers and acquisitions? Not this time. Lattice Semiconductor would have been bought by Canyon Bridge a private equity firm backed by the Chinese government for 1.3B. This deal was shut down by the US governmentbecaus

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Hackaday Prize Entry: You Can Tune A Guitar, But Can You Reference REO Speedwagon?

Just for a second, let‘s perform a little engineering-based thought experiment. Let‘s design a guitar tuner. First up, you‘ll need a 1/4 input, and some op-amps to get that signal into a microcontroller. In the microcontroller, you‘re going to be doing some FFT. If you‘re really fancy, you‘ll have some lookup tables and an interface to switch between A440, maybe A430, and if you‘re a huge nerd, C256. The

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Word Clock Five Minutes At A Time

As this clock‘s creator admits, it took far more than five minutes to put together, but it does display the time in five minute increments. After acquiring five 4-character, 16 segment display modules that were too good to pass up, they were promptly deposited in the parts pile until [JF] was cajoled into building something by a friend. Given that each display‘s pins were in parallel, there was a lot of soldering to connect these disp

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3D Prints That Fold Themselves

3D printing technologies have come a long way, not only in terms of machine construction and affordability but also in the availability of the diverse range of different printing materials at our disposal. The common consumer might already be familiar with the usual PLA, ABS but there are other more exotic offerings such as PVA based dissolvable filaments and even carbon fiber and wood infused materials. Researchers at MIT allude to yet another p

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Take a Time-Lapse or Bake a Cake with this Kitchen Timer Panning Rig

Seems like the first thing the new GoPro owner wants to do is a time-lapse sequence. And with good reason - time-lapses are cool. But they can be a bit bland without a little camera motion, like that provided by a dirt-cheap all-mechanical panning rig. Let‘s hope [JackmanWorks]‘ time-lapse shots are under an hour, since he based his build on a simple wind-up kitchen timer, the likes of which can be had for a buck or two at just about

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Cheap And Easy Motion Tracking

[Koppany Horvarth] set out to create a dirt-cheapoptical tracking rigfor VR that uses only two cameras and a certain amount of math to do its thing.He knew he could do theoretically, and wouldn‘t cost a lot of money, but still required a lot of work and slightly absurd amount of math. While playing around with a webcam that he‘d set up to run an object-tracking Python script and discovered that his setup tended to display a translucen

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A Lightsaber, With Rave Mode

How often after being exposed to Star Wars did you dream of having your own working lightsaber? These days well, we don‘t quite have the technology to build crystal-based weapons, but tailor-made lightsabers like redditor [interweber]‘s are very much real. Piggybacking off the Korbanth Graflex 2.0 kit a sort of bare-bones lightsaber ready to personalize [interweber] is using a Teensy 3.5 to handle things under the hilt. Instead of

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