Engineering is Awesome

Hackaday - 3D Printering: Making a part in Solidworks


Brian has graciously allowed me to hop on the 3D Printering bandwagon to write a brief intro to the wonderful world of Solidworks. We’ll be making the same ‘thing’ as done in the previous ‘Making a Thing’ tutorials:


Admittedly, most Hackaday readers probably don’t have Solidworks as it is a very expensive program. The main reason we are posting this tutorial is so that you can understand the work flow and compare it to some of the free/open packages out there.

As Brian has touched on in his FreeCAD post, the part features of parametric models can be modified at any time. For example, let’s say I made a solid block, then added a specific size hole in the center of one face. Later, if I wanted to change the size or shape of the block, the hole would stay the same size and stay in the center of that face no matter the other changes to the object. See the graphic below, all that was changed was the size of the block, the hole stayed the same size and position (center of the face). This is different than if you were to ‘scale’ the entire object as the hole would also become stretched along with the block.

Here is a quick tutorial on 3d CAD in Solidworks.  While most readers don’t have access to it, these same ideas apply to many other cad programs.  The links above list tutorials in mostly free softwares.  123d Design from Autodesk is free and their Inventor program is freely available to anyone with a student email address through their student program,  Another software that could be used for very quick and non technical parts is Tinkercad, it is web based and free.


Fusion power. This is really important; 2 big steps forward from the Livermore scientists.


Fusion power. This is really important; 2 big steps forward from the Livermore scientists.

Structural steel in bridge design has one fatal flaw — bridges are usually over water, often over salt water, making failure through corrosion almost inevitable.

Even more frustrating, steel bridges usually corrode and weaken at the one place where inspection is costly and difficult, the gusset.

New York-based, HNTB Corp. national chief bridge engineer Ted Zoli had a better idea. Instead of doing what every engineer does and just focus on materials, he thought, why not focus on the design and try to eliminate some of the inevitable costs associated with bridge maintenance?

Solar panels on Blackfriars bridge in LondonSolar panels on Blackfriars bridge in London Photograph: /Network Rail

After nearly five years in the making, Network Rail has today cut the ribbon on the world’s largest solar-powered bridge at Blackfriars Bridge across the River Thames.

As part of a project with solar installation firm Solarcentury, the roof of the bridge has been covered with 4,400 photovoltaic panels, providing up to half of the energy for London Blackfriars station.

First Capital Connect, which runs Blackfriars, expects the panels to cut the stations’ carbon emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes a year, further reducing the carbon footprint of its train routes to the south east of England.


Panasonic plans to make 1000 exoskeleton suits in 2015 for $5000 a piece

From Nextbigfuture:

Yahoo Japan via Japancrush reports that the first affordable, mass-produced robotic exoskeleton will be on sale next year from Panasonic. For 500,000 yen, or slightly under $5,000, this full-body power garment will let you hoist 100-kilo (220-pound) objects and move at speeds up to 8 kph (5 mph).

Activelink, the Panasonic subsidiary responsible for the suit, plans to begin rollout of the first batch of 1000 starting in 2015. At its heart will be a lithium-ion battery pack that can provide for several hours of general purpose activity.

[read more]


With the help of new Kickstarter project Strawbees, anybody, even kids, can harness their inner engineer.


These four students built a face-tracking marshmallow cannon

Full Story: TheNextWeb

The students built this using an Arduino, a protoshield, 4 servos, and a laptop with a webcam running Python, and OpenCV.  The launcher uses a solenoid and an compressed air tank.  They built a website to document their their mechanical, electrical, and code portions of their project.  They built this rig in 3 months for $250 at Olin College in Massachusetts.  


If you happen to be a LEGO aficionado or just consider yourself a space geek, you’re in luck! LEGO has now released its model of NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, to the public. The set is now available for purchase at LEGO’s website for $29.99 USD.

The idea to create a LEGO set to model Curiosity came from the mind of mechanical engineer and NASA employee Stephen Pakbaz, who worked on the Mars Science Laboratory mission at JPL. To make his idea a reality, Stephen drew up a some plans and pitched them on LEGO’s “Cuusoo” site which allows fans to vote for their favorite user-created designs. In June of 2013, after gaining nearly 10,000 votes on the site, Pakbaz’s idea was conditionally approved by LEGO to begin production later in the year.

Along with the Curiosity Rover, a number of other space-related projects have popped up on Cuusoo and already have substantial support. The Apollo 11 lander, NASA’s Crawler Transporter, the Hubble Space Telescope, and New Horizons spacecraft have all been proposed on the community website and are now awaiting further support and approval.

Public recognition of space technology is one of the most important steps to furthering the cause of space exploration. While these LEGO sets may simply be seen as “toys” by many, their importance in inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers cannot be overstated.

Show your support of NASA here:

Learn more about NASA-based LEGO sets, where you can find them, and how to support them:

Images Courtesy of LEGO


Researchers Create Micro-Flyer That “Swims” in Air Like Jellyfish: Popular Science

Every part was made and assembled using Solidworks.



If you know of a interesting engineering project with a video or photos and a write up of who, what, where, when, and why then please submit it to us!  We are always looking for new and exciting projects to showcase.

Hydro: The Low Cost Waterjet Cutter - Hackaday

Waterjet cutters are generally huge machines, with equally large price tags. But what if there was a hobbyist level waterjet cutter that was actually affordable? Well, for their Senior Design Project at the University of Pennsylvania, [Adam Libert] and his team made one that could retail for less than $5000.

[Adam] was the lead mechanical designer on this amazing project, and he designed the fully waterproof XY gantry, capable of withstanding the water and abrasive from the cutter. The entire machine is only 2′ x 2′ by about 5′ tall, making it extremely portable and easy to move through doorways — and it runs off of plain old 120VAC and shop air. It is capable of cutting through up to 1/4″ aluminum and 1/8″ steel with a working area of 12″ x 14″ at a tolerance of 0.005″.

More information