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slashdot le : 13/05/2021 20:00:08
System76 today unveiled its newest product -- the "Launch Configurable Keyboard." It is a mechanical keyboard made in the USA with a focus on open source. The Launch has both open source firmware and hardware. Even the configuration software -- which runs on Linux, Windows, and macOS -- is open source. From a report: "With a wide swath of customization options, the Launch is flexible to a variety of needs and use cases. The keyboard's thoughtful design keeps everything within reach, vastly reducing awkward hand contortions. Launch comes with additional keycaps and a convenient keycap puller, meaning one can swap keys based on personal workflow preferences to maximize efficiency. Launch also features a novel split Space Bar, which allows the user to swap out one Space Bar keycap for Shift, Backspace, or Function to reduce hand fatigue while typing. Launch uses only three keycap sizes to vastly expand configuration options," says System76. The keyboard, which has a removable USB-C cable for connectivity, is priced at $285.

slashdot le : 07/05/2021 13:00:06
A new printer called Forust is using scrap wood to 3D print wooden objects that are as structurally sound as regular carved wood. Created by Andrew Jeffery and a team of researchers at Desktop Metal, the printer prints using fine sawdust that is formed into solid objects. Gizmodo reports: The printer works similarly to an inkjet printer and squirts a binding agent onto a layer of sawdust. Like most 3D printers, the object rises out of the bed of sawdust and then, when complete, can be sanded and finished like regular wood. Jeffrey sees the system as a way to save trees. "Two years ago we started looking into how we might be able to 3D print in new material," he said. "Wood waste was one of the materials we started with early on and realized it could be repurposed and upcycled with 3D printing technology. From there, we focused on building out the process using wood byproducts in order to create real wood-crafted results. We formed the company really to save forests."

slashdot le : 03/05/2021 05:00:08
Developer dekuNukem has detailed a methodology for refilling the DRM-protected detergent cassettes for a $486 portable dishwasher called Bob. Gizmodo reports: Bob is basically a small dishwasher that sits on your counter. It holds half a dozen dishes and some silverware, and you add water to the system by hand. It looks like a great alternative to a larger installed dishwasher or something nice for an apartment dweller. But it has a secret bit of DRM built in that keeps you wedded to the company's products. The Bob uses cassettes, called Rock and Pop (LOL!), that contain concentrated detergent and rinse liquids. The cassettes are similar to inkjet cartridges in that they store a small amount of information on a built-in chip -- in this case, a simple I2C EEPROM that can store a small amount of information. This chip stores the number of washes and will "cancel" a cassette when it's technically empty. The machine will then order new cassettes automatically. To Bob's credit, you can use your own detergent, but it isn't easy. And the cassettes aren't cheap.

"With shipping and VAT added, it costs a whopping $60 for 90 washes! That is 48p (67c) per wash. It might not sound like much, but it quickly adds up," wrote dekuNukem. "Over a year of daily washes, it would have cost $242 in Bob cassettes alone! Imagine paying that much recurring cost for a dishwasher!"

Using an EEPROM reader, they were able to pull the data from the cassette and even modify it, resulting in a simple system to reset the cartridges back to their original wash counts or, in one case, forcing the cassette to run about 70 more washes than originally advertised. Once dekuNukem figured out the coding mechanism, they had to figure out a way to refill the cassettes. They searched the internet for concentrated detergent offerings and found one that matched the website description exactly. "Refilling it yourself is more than 60 times cheaper, resulting in a massive 98% cost saving compared to buying new!" they wrote.
The plans are available on dekuNukem's Github. You can also purchase the Cassette Rewinder, a pre-soldered board that will automatically reset the cassette EEPROM, for $29.99.

slashdot le : 25/04/2021 22:00:09
"NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther on Sunday, April 25, 2021 than in any tests it went through on Earth," reports NASA: The helicopter took off at 1:31 a.m. EDT (4:31 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time, rising 16 feet (5 meters) — the same altitude as its second flight. Then it zipped downrange 164 feet (50 meters), almost half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second). [Roughly 4.5 miles an hour.]

After data came back from Mars starting at 10:16 a.m. EDT (7:16 a.m. PDT), Ingenuity's team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California was ecstatic to see the helicopter soaring out of view. They're already digging through a trove of information gathered during this third flight that will inform not just additional Ingenuity flights but possible Mars rotorcraft in the future. "Today's flight was what we planned for, and yet it was nothing short of amazing," said Dave Lavery, the project's program executive for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars missions."

NASA's chief pilot for the Mars helicopter calls this flight a big step "in which Ingenuity will begin to experience freedom in the sky," according to CNN.

From the sky Ingenuity snapped a photo of its own shadow on Mars, and earlier sent back the very first aerial color image — taken 17 feet (5.2-metre) above the surface of Mars by Ingenuity's high-resolution color camera with a 4208-by-3120-pixel sensor.

slashdot le : 23/04/2021 10:00:08
NASA successfully carried out a second flight on Mars on Thursday of its mini helicopter Ingenuity, a 52-second sortie that saw it climb to a height of 16 feet. Phys.Org reports: "So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations," said Bob Balaram, Ingenuity's chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California. "We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity," Balaram said in a statement. The US space agency conducted the first flight of the four pound (1.8 kilogram) rotorcraft on Monday, the first powered flight ever on another planet. That time Ingenuity rose to a height of 10 feet and then touched down after 39.1 seconds.

For the second flight, which lasted 51.9 seconds, Ingenuity climbed to 16 feet, hovered briefly, tilted and then accelerated sideways for seven feet. "The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions," said Havard Grip, Ingenuity's chief pilot. "Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. "It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars."