Introducing Wrencher-2: Hackaday’s Exciting New Venture

Introducing Wrencher-2: Hackaday’s Exciting New Venture

Over the last year it’s fair to say that a chill wind has blown across the face of the media industry, as the prospect emerges that many content creation tasks formerly performed by humans instead being swallowed up by the inexorable rise of generative AI. In a few years we’re told, there may even be no more journalists, as the computers become capable of keeping your news desires sated with the help of their algorithms.

Here at Hackaday, we can see this might be the case for a gutter rag obsessed with celebrity love affairs and whichever vegetable is supposed to cure cancer this week, but we continue to believe that for quality coverage of the latest and greatest in the hardware hacking world, you can’t beat a writer made of good old-fashioned meat. Indeed, in a world saturated by low-quality content, the opinions of smart and engaged writers become even more valuable. So we’ve decided to go against the trend, by launching not a journalist powered by AI, but an AI powered by journalists.

Announcing Wrencher-2, a Hackaday chat assistant in your browser

Wrencher-2 is a new paradigm in online chat assistants, eschewing generative algorithms in favour of the collective expertise of the Hackaday team. Ask Wrencher-2 a question, and you won’t get a vague and made-up answer from a computer, instead you’ll get a pithy and on-the-nail answer from a Hackaday staffer. Go on – try it!

 WRENCHER-2

How may we help you today?

Talk to Hackaday

To give it a spin for all you folks we recruited our friend Roger from Fulchester Hackerspace, so now over to Roger the tester, who will show you how it’s done.

 WRENCHER-2

Roger

I have a difficult choice to make in selecting the MCU for my automatic teapot project. Should I go for a RISC-V chip like the Espressif ESP32-C6, or do you think the Raspberry Pi RP2040 would be a better choice?

Hackaday

Hi Roger, good question. We like the Pi chip, its peripherals are very vanilla ARM so refreshingly free of quirks, and those state machine peripherals have lots of potential. But on the other hand, the Espressif chip has on-board wireless, for which you’d have to use another module if you followed the Pi route.

Tell us, have you considered using a 555, by any chance?

Talk to Hackaday

As you can see, we’ve delivered Roger some sage advice which definitely wouldn’t have come from any mechanical gizmo. Wrencher-2’s expertise doesn’t stop there though, we can also help you around the house!

 WRENCHER-2

Roger

The wind keeps blowing the lids off my trash cans. Can you suggest an easy way to stop this being a problem?

Hackaday

Hi Roger, this is a pretty straightforward problem to fix. First you will need an NVIDIA Jetson Nano with a camera pointed at your bins, and use Tensorflow to identify when the lids are being blown off, and also where they land. Then you should design and build an all-terrain autonomous tracked robot with a five-jointed manipulator arm and a vacuum pickup device. Equip it with GPS guidance and a camera, then use OpenCV to detect the bin lid before picking it up and placing it back on the bin.

Talk to Hackaday

Away from the bench and the home, of course, Wrencher-2 is always there for you. Not everyone is a workshop genius, so the help and advice of a team with our breadth of experience is beyond value.

 WRENCHER-2

Roger

I need to put a 10 mm hole in this piece of wood. What tools do you suggest I use?

Hackaday

Hi Roger, yes, that’s a tough one. In a sense you’re not so much making a hole in the wood as removing a cylinder of wood from it. We suggest first buying a laser cutter with a bed large enough to hold the wood, and then designing and positioning your ideal cylinder in your CAD package of choice. Then you can cut it out with the laser cutter, and if you still need a hole, there’s one handily left in your wood. But we have to ask, in 2024, why are you still relying on wood? There are plenty of very good wood analogue 3D-printer filaments available, why don’t you try 3D printing it instead?

Talk to Hackaday

Here at Hackaday we’ve for many years sought to bring you the best of new technology for a brighter future, and of these efforts Wrencher-2 is but the latest. People are doing exciting things with chat assistants, from identifying edible mushrooms to writing complex legal briefs, and we wanted to bring the same level of reliability and competence to your bench, along with our personal touch. We’re really looking forward to what you’ll do with it!

[Editor’s note: Sadly, due to human beings’ need for sleep and lack of VC funding, we had to limit access to our Wrencher-2 experiement to the wee hours of the morning on April 1st. If you missed your chance, there’s still the comment section!]

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