Tag Archives: South Africa

High altitude glider aims for the stratosphere

The Centurion House4Hack crew is building a High Altitude Glider and accompanying launch balloon which are slated to be catapulted 40km into the stratosphere on June 14th.

According to Adam Oxford of HTXT.Africa, the X-UAV Mini Talon V-tail will carry an on-board camera, an Atmel-based Arduino board to control the autopilot and an array of weather sensors.

“It’ll be floated up on helium balloons, and will deploy a parachute to control its descent via remote control,” Oxford explained.

“[Centurion House4Hack] partnered with local weather balloon specialists HABEX to put together the equipment needed. As far as we know, however, no-one in South Africa has managed to successfully land a glider launched from that kind of altitude before.”

Project participant Gert van den Berg told HTXT that the team already owned much of the required equipment, with the rest sponsored by local hobby shop High Flyer.

“We’re hoping to get [and stream] some spectacular video,” said van den Berg.

“From at least 20km up. Ideally, we want a controlled landing at a known location too.”

It should be noted that the Centurion House4Hack crew has already begun testing various components at temperatures of -75 Celsius, using dry ice from a local ice cream supplier.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official page here.

Video: Designing a mesh networked conference badge

Andrew Nohawk recently attended ZaCon V, a free South African security conference. In honor of the event, Nohawk decided to design an interactive mesh networked conference badge.

As HackADay’s Mathieu Stephan reports, the slick platform is powered by Atmel’s stalwart ATmega328 microcontroller (MCU). Additional features include a Nokia 5110 LCD, a 433MHz AM/OOK TX/RX module, a few LEDs and an assortment of buttons.

“The badges form a mesh network to send messages. This allows conversations between different attendees to be tracked,” Stephan explained.

“Final cost was the main constraint during this adventure, which is why these particular components were chosen and bought from eBay & Alibaba.”

According to Stephan, the first PCP prototypes were CNC milled and required quite a bit of soldering to finish off the 77 final boards. Meanwhile, the protocol itself was verified using Maltego.

“Of the 77 badges soldered together (at various stages of ‘full working order’ – especially the BYOB people) the front computer captured 9810 transmissions, 49 badges and 201 different relationships,” Nohwak confirmed in a blog post detailing the project.

Interested in learning more? You can access the relevant code, raw sqlite database and Maltego graphs from GitHub here or visit the project’s official blog post here.

3D printing Robohands in conflict zones

Daniel Omar, who lives in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, lost both his arms at just 14 years of age when a government plane dropped a bomb near his village during the country’s protracted civil war.

“Without hands, I can’t do anything,” Daniel told Time Magazine. “If I could have died, I would have.”

Daniel – who is now 16 – only recently picked up a fork to feed himself for the first time in two years using a prosthetic arm with parts make on an Atmel powered MakerBot Replicator 2. The arm was designed by Mick Ebeling, the CEO of Not Impossible Labs, a California nonprofit devoted to technology for the sake of humanity.

Elliot Kotek, the chief of content for Not Impossible Labs, told the official MakerBot blog that the design for Daniel’s prosthetic arm was adapted from the Robohand, an open-source project designed by Richard van As, a South African woodworker who lost several fingers in an accident, and Ivan Owen, a prop maker in Seattle, Washington.

“Richard had already created the Roboarm and he also had modified the original Robohand so that it was enclosed at the top of the hand. This change will better protect the hands from the elements,” Kotek explained. “Richard is really out to make a difference on a humanitarian level. That spirit rubs off on us.”

Indeed, Not Impossible Labs recently transported two MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers to Mother of Mercy Hospital, near the border with independent South Sudan. Ebeling then spent five days in Sudan training seven local fabricators to make prosthetics. Using the two 3D printers, hospital staff can produce one prosthetic a week, with each new arm requiring approximately $100 worth of filament, medical orthoplastic, and metal.

“If Project Daniel can surmount these challenges and scale up, it could transform the lives of tens of thousands of amputees in Sudan, and others around the world,” writes MakerBot’s Blake Eskin. “If you are moved to help, Project Daniel would welcome donations. And if you’re not moved yet, watch the video [above] produced by Not Impossible Labs, which shows Daniel’s wounds and his new prosthetics.”

Planting the seeds of local change with Afrimakers

The official Arduino blog describes Afrimakers as an initiative “born to inspire young African Makers and plant the seed of local change through social entrepreneurship, digital fabrication and regional collaboration.”

Afrimakers is backed by HacKIDemia, which recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help create Maker workshops focused on local challenges in 7 key locations: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Egypt.

“Learning by doing and by playing comes natural to children as they have an innate curiosity,” explained HacKIDemia founder Stefania Druga. “With HacKIDemia hands-on workshops we try to encourage and develop that curiosity and give them tools to transform their dreams into reality. The sooner they start the better.”

Olamide Oladeji, Google ambassador to Universities in Nigeria, expressed similar sentiments.

“My overall goal for the workshops is to imbue permanently the maker culture in many young Nigerians. I hope we can train over 1000 young Nigerians before the end of 2014 to come up with tens of innovative, cost-effective solutions such as intelligent light control, solar lamps, water purifiers, etc. for some of the Nigerian problems afore-listed. Another goal of mine is to have participants learn and make devices which largely incorporate recycled, harmless, e-waste, thus saving costs.”

As part of the initiative, each of the above-mentioned locations is slated to receive a Maker kit packed with equipment, including Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328) boards. Meanwhile, a local team will be recruited and trained by HacKIDemia to organize and run hands-on workshops in local private and public schools.

Two locations in Africa have already been funded. Check out the project’s official Indiegogo page to learn how you can help!