Ask Hackaday: Saving The World With Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men

This is a solution to global warming. This solution will also produce electricity, produce rain in desertified areas, and transform the Sahara into arable land capable of capturing CO2. How is this possible? It’s simple: all we need to do is build a five-kilometer tall, twenty-meter wide chimney. Hot air, warmed by the Earth’s surface, will enter the base of the chimney and flow through turbines, generating electricity. From there, air will rise through the chimney, gradually cooling and transferring energy from the atmosphere at Earth’s surface to five kilometers altitude. This is the idea behind the Super Chimney, It’s an engineering concept comparable to building a dam across the Strait of Gibraltar, a system of gigantic mirrors in Earth’s orbit, or anything built under an Atoms for Peace project. In short, this is fringe engineering.

This is also, ‘saving the world with wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men.’

The idea of building tens of thousands of fabric chimneys, placing them all around the globe, and cooling the Earth while sequestering carbon dioxide is fantastic. Ideas are simple, implementation is something else entirely. There are also obvious problems with the physics presented in the Super Chimney presentation, but these problems don’t actually make a Super Chimney impossible. We need more eyes on this, so we’re opening this one up as an Ask Hackaday. What do you think of this audacious scheme, and is it even possible?

Actually Building the Tube Man

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Floating Ants and Drops of Liquid with an Acoustic Levitator

Amuse your friends, amaze your enemies, and perplex ants and other insects, insofar as they are capable of perplexment. Accomplish all this and more with this handy dandy homebrew acoustic levitator.

Before anyone gets to thinking about using this technique to build a hoverboard that actually hovers, it’s best that you scale your expectations way, way down. Still, being able to float drops of liquid and small life forms is no mean feat, and looks like a ton of fun to boot. 

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Eclipse 2017: Report from an Extinct Volcano

Location, location, location — what’s critical to real estate is also critical to eclipse watching, and without sounding too boastful, those of us atop South Menan Butte, an extinct volcano in southeast Idaho, absolutely nailed it. Not only did we have perfect weather, we had an excellent camping experience, great food, a magnificent natural setting, and a perch 800 feet above a vast plain stretching endlessly to the east and west. Everything was set up for a perfect eclipse experience, and we were not disappointed.

Happy Campers

The eclipse itself was merely the climax of a weekend that just kept giving, and that really started back in January when I started planning this trip. That was when I first wrote about the eclipse and announced that I’d selected Menan Butte outside of Rexburg, Idaho, as my ideal location. It turns out that while North Menan Butte is public land, South Menan Butte is private property partly owned by one Mr. Brent Gunderson. He actually read my Hackaday post and used it to gauge interest in opening up his land to eclipse watchers.

Thankfully, he decided it was worth it, and he and his neighbor pulled out all the stops. I spoke to Brent briefly at the Saturday night meet and greet picnic dinner he threw on the lawn of his house; he was clearly a busy man but still managed to work the food line and serve up some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. He clearly enjoyed meeting all the people he had corresponded with for months as they arrived at the campground he had set up in an alfalfa field nestled between his home and the Snake River.

I can’t say enough about Brent’s hospitality — where someone might have been tempted to take advantage of desperate eclipse watchers to extort as much money as possible and provide as little as possible in return, Brent and his family just kept giving. The food, the guidance on local services, the accommodation for the disabled and those unable to climb to the best viewing locations, even the merchandise like T-shirts and eclipse glasses — everything was available either for free or at extremely reasonable rates that I suspect barely covered his expenses. Everyone who camped at Brent’s owes him a debt of gratitude for everything he and his family did for us.

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On the Rim

Of course the crown jewel of the experience was the location itself. The Menan Buttes are volcanic cones that were formed about 10,000 years ago, rising 800 feet about the Snake River Plain. I climbed South Menan Butte on Sunday to watch the sun rise and to scout locations for viewing; it was a tough climb but well worth the effort. The view from the top was spectacular, with the Snake River Plain stretching 40 miles to the northwest to the Lemhi Mountains and 20 miles east to the Tetons. The spot I picked was a knob of rock on the north part of the rim, the highest point I could find. I made extensive notes about what I’d need for my expedition and headed back to camp.

When the big day arrived, I set out for the rim at about 4:30 AM. It was still pitch dark, and the unpolluted skies of rural Idaho gave me a lovely view of the Milky Way as I picked my way up the butte. Eyes stared back at my headlight from the sage brush; deer perhaps? Or coyotes. After a hard hour of climbing, I reached my perch and staked my claim, watched another spectacular sunrise, and waited for everyone else to arrive. My son came up first with Chris, a Hackaday reader who also made the trip down from North Idaho and came to our little meetup on Sunday night. My daughters came up next, then my wife bearing breakfast sandwiches for us all. Nothing makes simple food test better than being outdoors.

It was cold while we waited — in the lower 50s and windy. Partiality finally started at about 10:30. By then my perch was fully populated with other watchers, and all were welcome. To me, the most surprising thing about the eclipse was how much the experience was heightened by sharing it with complete strangers. We had a couple who drove up from San Diego, a young family huddled under blankets, and a group of young people who had traveled all the way from Slovenia for a grand tour of the National Parks before coming to the eclipse. I shared around my supply of Hackaday eclipse glasses, most of which were instantly torn apart and their filters taped over smartphone cameras. Everyone’s a hacker when the occasion calls for it.

Last Light

I truly was not prepared for what the last moments of partiality and the sudden onset of totality would be like. We had cameras trained to the northwest, waiting for the Moon’s shadow to race toward us across the plain. I desperately hoped it would be more than just a gradual darkening, and I was not disappointed. Here’s my raw video of the onset; I left the audio in because it shows how giddy everyone was:

It’s hard to describe — and harder to capture on a camera — just how freaky the light quality is just before totality. It looks almost like a bad CGI render, with hard edges on everything as the Sun approaches becoming a point source. The camera also doesn’t capture the way the darkness builds up as it approaches, like a tsunami swelling across an ocean horizon. And while there was no defined shadow edge, we could clearly see the false twilight eating up the plain before us.

Everything I had heard about totality was true, and more. The temperature dropped abruptly, the wind picked up and shifted direction, and the critters around us, like insects and the swallows that feed on them, came out in droves. We saw a 360

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We’re Hiring

Hackaday has been expanding into all kinds of new areas. We find ourselves stretched a bit thin and it’s time to ask for help. Want to lend a hand while making some extra dough to plow back into your projects? These are work-from-home (or wherever you like) positions and we’re looking for awesome, motivated people to help guide Hackaday forward!

Contributors are hired as private contractors and paid for each post. You should have the technical expertise to understand the projects you write about, and a passion for the wide range of topics we feature. If you’re interested, please email our jobs line, and include:

Details about your background (education, employment, etc.) that make you a valuable addition to the teamLinks to your blog/project posts/etc. which have been published on the InternetOne example post written in the voice of Hackaday. Include a banner image, at least 150 words, the link to the project, and any in-links to related and relevant Hackaday features

What are you waiting for? Ladies and Gentlemen, start your applications!

Posted in Hackaday ColumnsTagged hiring, jobs, writers Post navigation← Eclipse 2017: Report from an Extinct VolcanoHackaday Prize Entry: Bloodhound Autonomous Radiolocation Drone → 17 thoughts on “” Ostracus says:August 24, 2017 at 11:28 am

“Hackaday has been expanding into all kinds of new areas. ”

What new areas?

Report comment Replytrue says:August 24, 2017 at 11:45 am

Well, not every post is about a quadrotor, RasPi or Arduino anymore. Only like 2/3 now. 🙂

Report comment ReplyRen says:August 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm

You forgot badges.

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Remote Controlled Nerf Bomb

There was a third-party multiplayer upgrade pack for one of the Quake games back in the ’90s that included a whole slew of non-standard weapons. Among them one of the most memorable was a gravity well, that when thrown into the middle of a crowded room full of warring players would suck them into a vortex. Assuming its user had made it to safety in time, they would then be left the victor. The hyper-violent make-believe world of a first-person shooter is probably best left in a Pentium server from the ’90s, with few direct parallels in the real world. Maybe laser tag, or Nerf battles, are the closest you’ll get.

If you are a Nerf enthusiast, then you’ll appreciate

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Mindstorms Soccer Robot Inspired by Real Soccer Robot

, a 17-year-old robot fan from the Nertherlands, had an opportunity to watch a RoboCup soccer match played by autonomous robots, and was inspired to create his own Mindstorms version of the robot for a school project.

The robot he created is around 80 cm in diameter and is controlled by four daisy-chained EV bricks. There are nine large motors for controlling the wheels, two more large motors for grabbing the ball, and two medium motors for the ball-shooting mechanism. It uses a Pixycam for ball detection, and it can identify and move toward the ball so long as it’s within 2.5 m. A gyro sensor determines the robot’s rotational direction.

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Analysing 3D Printer Songs For Hacks

3D printers have become indispensable in industry sectors such as biomedical and manufacturing, and are deployed as what is termed as a 3D print farm. They help reduce production costs as well as time-to-market. However, a hacker with access to these manufacturing banks can introduce defects such as microfractures and holes that are intended to compromise the quality of the printed component.

Researchers at the Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Georgia Institute of Technology have published a study on cyber physical attacks and their detection techniques. By monitoring the movement of the extruder using sensors, monitored sounds made by the printer via microphones and finally using structural imaging, they were able to audit the printing process.

A lot of studies have popped up in the last year or so including papers discussing remote data exfiltration on Makerbots that talk about the type of defects introduced. In a paper by

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Don’t Miss Watching this Solar Eclipse High Altitude Balloon Online

let us know about an exciting project that he and his team are working on at the Solid State Depot Makerspace in Boulder: the Solar Eclipse High Altitude Balloon. Weighing in at 1 kg and bristling with a variety of cameras, the balloon aims to catch whatever images are able to be had during the solar eclipse. The balloon’s position should be trackable on the web during its flight, and some downloaded images should be available as well. Links for all of that are available from the project’s page.

High altitude balloons are getting more common as a platform for gathering data and doing experiments; an embedded data recorder for balloons was even an entry for the 2016 Hackaday Prize.

If all goes well and the balloon is able to be recovered, better images and video will follow. If not, then at least a post-mortem of what the team thinks went wrong will be posted. Launch time is approximately 10:40 am Mountain Time (UTC -07:00) on Aug 21 2017, so set your alarm!

Posted in gps hacks, radio hacksTagged amateur radio, Ballloon, citizen science, eclipse, gps, high altitude balloon, high altitude research, solar eclipse Post navigation← A Digital LCD Makeover For An Analogue CRT Spectrum Analyser Leave a Reply Cancel replyEnter your comment here…

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Krita Foundation in Trouble

Published    8/1/2017

Even while we’re working on a new beta for Krita 3.2 and a new development build for 4.0 (with Python, on Windows!), we have to release some bad news as well.

The Krita Foundation is having trouble with the Dutch tax authorities. This is the situation:

In February, we received an audit from the tax inspector. We were quite confident we wouldn’t have any problems because when we setup the Krita Foundation in 2013, we took the advice of a local tax consultant on how to setup the Foundation and its administration. We registered for VAT with the tax authorities and kept our books as instructed by the consultant.

However, the tax inspector found two problems springing from the fact the Foundation sells training videos and books, so it is not 100% funded by donations. This means that the tax authorities see the Foundation is as partly a company, partly as not a company.

We claimed back VAT for things bought by the Foundation. But we should only have claimed the VAT back to the percentage of income generated from sales, which is about 15%. (The rest of our income is donations.)The Foundation was created to be able to have Dmitry work full-time on Krita. Because we sell stuff, the tax inspector has determined that we’re a company, and should have paid VAT in the Netherlands over the work Dmitry has been doing in Russia. Even though there is no VAT in Russia on the kind of work Dmitry is doing. But because we’re not a company, we cannot reclaim the VAT.

In other words, because we’re mostly not a company, we should not have claimed back the VAT we paid; but we’re also considered fully a company, so we should have paid VAT in the Netherlands over Dmitry’s work, which we could not have claimed back because the Foundation is mostly not a company. (It didn’t matter that Dmitry owns the copyright on his work, and that the Foundation doesn’t own anything related to Krita except for the trademark…)

The result is a tax bill of 24,000 euros. We have consulted with an accountant, and together we got the bill reduced to 15,006 euros, including fines and interest, but the accountant’s bill came to 4,000 euros.

The discussions with the tax inspector and accountant have taken months to resolve. The stress that caused has not just eaten into our coding productivity, it also meant we had no certainty at all, so we missed our usual May fundraiser. At one point, we were almost certain the Krita Foundation would go broke.

We ended 2016 with about 30,000 euros in the bank, enough to keep us going until June: it has dwindled to

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Yoshi Engineering is hiring

hide – About YoshiYoshi believes two things will radically change the automotive industry in the coming years: self-driving cars, and alternative fuels. While we don’t claim to know when or how exactly these may develop, Yoshi is positioning itself to ride the tidal wave of each of these trends as they grow.

Yoshi has a strong team with many years of engineering experience between us. We’re a YC S16 company tackling one of the world’s largest markets: automotive fueling /servicing. Come help define the roadmap for a product that is at the forefront of a massive change.

We are based in SF.

– ExperienceWe work on everything from routing algorithms to dev ops. We are looking to hire a well rounded engineer capable of self direction. As important as ability is independence and common sense. A variety of experience is excellent, but better is the ability to solve issues where library documentation may be missing and for which there’s no stack overflow answer.

Familiarity with popular web frameworks and backend engineering are helpful, but not essential.

– ResponsibilitiesWorking on core resources which support our various platforms for- communications – order management and routing- billing – operations and customer service

Email engineering

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