Here is an interview with Steve Sammartino (Australia) and Raul Oaida (Romania) on their efforts to build the car. The project built a fullsize car out of lego ($60,000 worth of legos) with a lego engine that works on air. It really is an interesting interview.
Posts about home engineering
Engineering Solutions to Make Our Living Spaces Less Noisy
I am sensitive to noise so the engineering tools available to reduce noise is something I am interested in. I wish those building apartments, condos and hotels paid more attention to these options.
A compounding issue is that it takes only a very small gap to let in a lot of sound.
“If you have a weakness in a wall that is only 1 percent of the total area, the sound transmitted through could double,”
There are many products to aid in reducing sound into your home. Sound Sense shows a wide variety of products available to aid in those efforts.
Soundproofing 101 provides some good basic explanations of the issues involved in soundproofing solutions.
It does sound extreme but I have considered this for a bedroom. Or even scaling it down into a enclosed sleep chamber, just to let me have a quite space to sleep.
MudWatt: Make Power From Mud!
Keegan Cooke and Kevin Rand created MudWatt kits as a way to engage kids/students with science. From the website:
Unfortunately, our experience in school wasn’t unique. In 2011, less than one-third of 8th graders in the U.S. were deemed proficient in science. Today, 70% of the fastest growing careers are in STEM fields. The supply of STEM education is not meeting the demand.
Most of the world’s mud contain microbes that produce electricity when they eat. That is the engine driving the MudWatt. Colonies of special bacteria (called shewanella and geobacter) generate the electricity in a MudWatt.
The electricity output is proportional to the health and activity of that bacterial colony. By maintaining these colonies in different ways, you can use MudWatt to run all kinds of great experiments. Thus the MudWatt allows kids to engage with science, using their natural curiosity to experiment and learn. Engaging this too-often-neglected human potential will bring joy to those kids (as kids and as grown-ups) and benefit our society.
With standard topsoils, typical power levels are around 100 microWatts, which is enough to power the LED, buzzer, clock, etc..
DIY Air Filters for Your House
In January 2013 PhD student Thomas Talhelm, was living in Bejing, China with very bad air pollution and wondered why air purifiers cost so much. He bought a HEPA filter on Taobao, strapped it to a simple fan, bought a particle counter, ran some tests, and published the results.
As the effort gained publicity and people said they had trouble finding the right type of fan and a trustworthy HEPA, Thomas and his friends Gus and Anna decided to launch Smart Air in September 2013 to ship fans and the best HEPAs they could find to people all over China.
Smart Air believes that if more people saw their open source data and testing, more people would know that clean air doesn’t have to cost thousands of RMB (hundred of USD). The simplest solution (a fan, filter and strap to hold the filter to a fan) costs 200 RMB (under US $35).
I love simple solutions. And I love entrepreneurship combined with engineering to provide customers value.
Related: Air Pollution Resulted in 223,000 Cancer Deaths in 2010 – Extremely Bad Haze in Johor Bahru and Singapore – Using Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies in Roadless Areas – Pay as You Go Solar in India
It is also great that they provide useful data including: HEPAs lasted 90 days without any drop in effectiveness, then effectiveness dropped by 4% between days 100-130. It’s up to you to decide whether that 4% is enough to warrant changing your filter after 3 months of nightly use.
Segun Oyeyiola Converted a Volkswagen Beetle to Use Renewable Power
Not only did Oyeyiola install a giant solar panel on top of the Beetle; he also inserted a wind turbine under the hood. As Preston explains, that allows air to flow into the grill while the car is moving, subsequently turning the turbine’s rotors and charging the battery at the back of the car. Oyeyiola also built a strong suspension system to deal with the weight of the battery itself.
It’s not perfect. The battery takes four to five hours to charge, but Oyeyiola says he’s working on that. The biggest challenges, he says, came from finding the best materials to use, and the people telling him he was wasting his time.
My message to my fellow students is that Rome was not built in a day. It is better to start anything you want to do now and don’t never, I repeat, never expect someone to believe in your dreams because they may not understand it as you do. Endeavor to follow your heart and do what will make you happy and that which will not affect your fellow being negatively.
It is so great to read what creative engineers all over the globe are able to accomplish.
Do It Yourself Solar Furnace for Home Heating
“Just mount it on the side. If you touch the side of the house, even at —20 C, it’s still hot. We should be gathering that heat and driving it inside as quickly as possible.”
It is great to see do it yourself solutions that easily tap the energy provided by the sun to heat your house.
I had a friend that had a south facing greenhouse (attached to her house) that had 2 huge water tanks. They would heat up in the sun and give off heat all night (the stone floor would do the same thing).
Related: Brian’s Pop Can Solar Heater – Solar DIY Space Heating Projects – How to Build a Soda Can Heater – Pay as You Go Solar in India – Soda-can furnaces powered by solar energy heat Denver neighborhood – Green Building with Tire Bales – Cost Efficient Solar Dish by Students (2008)
3d Printers Can Already Save Consumers Money
I first wrote about 3d printing at home here, on the Curious Cat Engineering blog, in 2007. Revolutionary technology normally takes quite a while to actually gain mainstream viability. I am impressed how quickly 3d printing has moved and am getting more convinced we are underestimating the impact. The quality of the printing is improving amazingly quickly.
As is so often the case these day, our broken patent system is delaying innovation in our society. For 3d printing there is a good argument the delays due to the innovation crippling way that system is operating today will be avoided as critical 3d patents expire in 2014. Patents can aid society but the current system is not, instead it is causing society great harm and delaying us being able to use new innovations.
“For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for showtime,” said Associate Professor Joshua Pearce, Michigan Technological University.
3D printers deposit multiple layers of plastic or other materials to make almost anything, from toys to tools to kitchen gadgets. Free designs that direct the printers are available by the tens of thousands on websites like Thingiverse (a wonderful site). Visitors can download designs to make their own products using open-source 3D printers, like the RepRap, which you build yourself from printed parts, or those that come in a box ready to print, from companies like Type-A Machines.
3D printers have been the purview of a relative few aficionados, but that is changing fast, Pearce said. The reason is financial: the typical family can already save a great deal of money by making things with a 3D printer instead of buying them off the shelf.
In the study, Pearce and his team chose 20 common household items listed on Thingiverse. Then they used Google Shopping to determine the maximum and minimum cost of buying those 20 items online, shipping charges not included.
Next, they calculated the cost of making them with 3D printers. The conclusion: it would cost the typical consumer from $312 to $1,944 to buy those 20 things compared to $18 to make them in a weekend.
Open-source 3D printers for home use have price tags ranging from about $350 to $2,000. Making the very conservative assumption a family would only make 20 items a year, Pearce’s group calculated that the printers would pay for themselves quickly, in a few months to a few years.
The group chose relatively inexpensive items for their study: cellphone accessories, a garlic press, a showerhead, a spoon holder, and the like. 3D printers can save consumers even more money on high-end items like customized orthotics and photographic equipment.
Home Engineering: Automatic Screen Door Closer
A simple solution to a common problem. Using a small pulley, some nylon string and a bottle of sand to create an automatic sliding patio door. It is wonderful to see how creative people can find solutions to improve our lifestyles. Don’t just accept limitation, find ways to make things better.
Promoting Innovation in Sierra Leone
Another inspirational kid that shows that the potential for human good is much greater than the talking heads and politicians that litter the TV screen so often.
In the video Kelvin says, “That is my aim: to Promote Innovation in Seira Leone, among young people.” See another video as Kelvin explains his homemade battery.
Support these young engineers in Sierra Leone via innovate Salone.
Related: Inspirational Engineer Build Windmill Using Trash – Supporting the Natural Curiosity of Kids – What Kids can Learn If Given a Chance – I was Interviewed About Encouraging Kids to Pursue Engineering
Arduino Introduction Video Tutorial
Arduino is a very cool open source programable hardware engineering initiative. It is great for kids and adults who like to learn and create electronic devices. The Arduino Starter Kit is a great education gift for those interested in such things.
The video explains how to build a basic circuit with the Arduino board, and how to use each of the basic components such as LEDs, switches, and resistors. See more videos on related topics. Massimo Banzi, the co-creator and CEO of Arduino, and seen in the videos, also has a book: Getting Started with Arduino.
Special Summer Fun Issue of Make Magazine
Make is really is a wonderful way to find ideas. Some people have the imagination to come up with all sorts of projects to try, I don’t. But Make takes care of that for you and provides really interesting ideas for things to try out yourself.
The summer fun guide includes over 50 projects for kids of all ages.