Posts

Hand-Made Triodes!

I was kicking around my RSS feed this morning, and I came across a post from the blog Anvilx - check out this great video of triodes being manufactured by hand! The maker is Claude Paillardcheck out his website (translated into Englaise for all of you non-French reading mophos)!

Very cool!

(oh – a triode is a device that amplifies electronic signal, typically used in high end audio stuffs.  It’s way too cool not to post here though!)


It’s Friday. Get Coffee, Then Check Out These Fixtures!

Happy Friday, everybody!

It’s been a crizizzaay week, has it not?  A lot has happened this week – all good stuff, no doubt, except for the fact that I have an ulcer, but I’m sucking it up and getting over that pronto.  When I pass, I’m half-tempted to donate my body to science so that they can all wear their hazmat suits as they dig through hundreds of productions and years of abuse living in and loving my industry.  Love it.

A good friend of mine – my favorite Mexico City resident, actually – Orquidea Vara sent me a link to these excellent lighting fixture images – all printed in 3D.  VERY cool.  I hope this gives you some inspiration on this very busy Friday!

Check out the whole set of drawings at the photostream of i.materialise.  Enjoy!

Armillary Sphere

Armillary Sphere

Brain Games

The Creation lamp

Exploding cappuccino lamp

Clone lamp

Parametric design

Medical meets Design!

Muchas gracias, Orqui!

Kip Kay’s Light Bulb Trick

I loves me some Kip Kay – Kip is a Maker and general awesome dude who does a lot (I mean a LOT) of DIY and hacking.  Our pal Alex Rugowski sent me this video of Kip’s “magic light bulb” prank.  Check it out, and know that I am making one of these to fool anyone I can think of!  Check out more Kip Kay nerd videos here – I highly recommend it!

Thanks, Alex!

Colin Rich is My Weather Balloon Photographer Hero

I just ran across this amazing video by a guy named Colin Rich – Colin has a great, cheap little weather balloon camera rig that he has launched twice now.  Colin’s rig, the Pacific Star, is a small box made of light material using two Canon point and shoots – one for stills and another for video.  The work is quite amazing – Colin was able to capture light from 125,000 feet above the surface of the Earth.

Beautiful.  Check out these two videos of the Pacific Star’s two launches – last one first:

Pacific Star II from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

Pacific Star I from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

12X Blu-Ray Star Trek Phaser That Actually – Um, Phases

Okay, for super nerd-dom I have to hand this one to Jay Rob from the Laser Pointer Forums.  Jay took a 12X Blu-Ray laser (from that great supplier AixiZ) and stuffed it into one of those old Star Trek phaser toys.  So now, instead of being on stun, it’s set on “I’ll Burn You, Mofo.”

That’s right.  Check out this video – Jay opens up a can of ButtKick on some balloons from across the room:

That is freaking awesome.  Jay posted the entire how-to on the Laser Pointer Forums – definitely check it out!  He’s even added a safety to his modification!

CAVEAT:
If you’re gonna be playing around with lasers, especially this kind of laser project, you need to cough up some bread and get a pair of laser filter glasses so you don’t burn your eyes out.  Here’s a pair from OEM LAser Systems, Inc that will do the job fine, and here is a bunch from Amazon. Don’t mess around with this, you need them.  Playing with lasers isn’t worth your sight.  Oh, and also – you’re not gonna blame it on me if you screw up.  Play smart.

Jakub’s Almost Light Theremin (If Theremin Could Do Video)

A guy named Jakub Koźniewski created something quite awesome – using photocells, Arduino, a real-time audio synthesizer called Supercollider, and the Processing environment, Jakub created a pretty excellent audio and video controller.

I wrote about the Processing environment a while ago, in relation to a project called MSAFluid.  It’s worth checking out the Processing and Supercontroller websites if you’re a geek like me.

This thing is awesome, Jakub.  Great work.  Check out Jakub’s Vimeo channel – cool stuff.

Here’s the original video of Jakub’s work, this set not quite as detailed as the one above:

Thanks a lot, Make Mag.  This is why I love your blog so much.  Original post on the Arduino Forums.

JimOnLight.com’s Guide to Christmas Lights, Part 4: Christmas Light Power and Safety

jimonlight-guide-christmas-lights

Part Four:
Christmas Lights Power and Safety

So now that you have learned about the history of christmas lights, learned about different christmas lamp types and different form factors, there’s two things that we’ve not considered: power (electricity) and control of the christmas light display.

These two things are usually taken for granted, which is understandable to a point – you plug them into an outlet, and they either turn on or blink, right?  Well, I guess. I, however, am an overachieving geeky nerd that enjoys making a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to the simplest technological tasks.

Did I just use “mountain out of a molehill?” Oh yeah, you better believe it.

This guide will deal with providing power to your christmas light display. However, there is the need for a small disclaimer regarding this topic, since it is potentially deadly and/or property damaging. So, that being said – if you electrocute yourself when you’re hanging your christmas lights, it’s not my fault regardless of whether you read this guide or not. Caveat Emptor, it ain’t my fault if you blow your house up, all that stuff.

Okay, now that the BS legal part of this is over, there are a couple of really, really important things you should heed warning to when you’re preparing to load-in your christmas lights:

  • Electricity can and will travel through you to get to its home, which is the ground. It won’t be good for you.
  • If you discover a loose wire when you’re hanging all of your christmas lights, do not touch the bare wires. Also, refrain from licking them or rubbing them on your neck. All of these are bad ideas.
  • Don’t use staples to hang your lights unless you have a guide for whatever stapler that you’re using that specifically shields the cable from the staples. Stapling into a strand of christmas lights will most likely short them out, creating a dangerous situation and more than likely a pain in your derriere.
  • An easy one to remember: water and christmas lights equals non-fun. There are outdoor rated christmas lights; if you’re putting them outdoors, make sure they have the UL rating and make sure they’re listed as water-proof lighting.
  • Last but not least, when you’re putting up christmas lghts, unless you live somewhere that has 60+ degree temperatures outside, it’s probably gonna be cold out. Hypothermia sucks, my friends. Bundle up, and make sure to take enough breaks when you’re out there christmas lighting your place up!

So, for those of you who do not know the ways to power your christmas lights or really anything about electricity at all, it’s pretty simple when you tear it down to the basic components – the christmas lights plug in to some place either in or around your house that is hooked up to the house’s power, and voila – the christmas lights turn on, you and your family go “wow,” and you go back inside to have some cocoa.

In a sense, that’s the bare bones sense of it. However, there are so many more things to consider – what happens when your lights burn out, for example?  What happens if you plug too many christmas light strands together? These things are all items that you’ll be better for when you learn the answers.  As far as wiring, there are typically two different ways that you’ll find your lights wired – series circuits and parallel circuits. Look at this diagram of a series christmas light circuit:

series-circuit-jimonlight

Series circuits are really easy to spot – they’re the strands that all go out when one lamp in the string is either blown or not seated properly in its base. The reason that this happens is that the connections into each christmas lamp are in a series – get it?  Electricity must pass through each lamp in order for the next to get energized. They’re all dependent on each other for the flow of electrons. In a series circuit of christmas lights, each lamp’s filament is the circuit bridge – so when one lamp goes out, all of the lamps might as well have gone out because there is no way for electricity to get across the one broken filament to power the rest of the lamps. See the issue?

In modern christmas light strands, something called a shunt is added to each lamp to overcome the failure of the lamp’s filament for the rest of the lamps. If the filament fails, instead of losing the entire strand of lamps, the shunt keeps the electricity flowing through the dead lamp below the broken filament. I have no idea how I did it, but I got a close-up of a shunt in a mini-size christmas lamp. Keep in mind this lamp is about the size of a pencil eraser:

shunt-closeup-jimonlight

Pretty neat, huh?

You might also notice that some strands of christmas lights come with two or three really tiny fuses, like these:

3a-fuses-jimonlight

You’ll also probably notice that the fuses go into the female end of the strand, like here:

female-plug-christmas-lights-jimonlight

These fuses are typically 3 amps on a 50-light strand. This is going to become important in the next guide post.

The other way that christmas lights are typically wired is called parallel wiring. Parallel wiring beats the problem of having all lamps out when one lamp goes out by making a common electrical point for all lamps. Check out this diagram:

parallel-circuit-jimonlight

You all probably know about parallel circuits, so I assume this is a moot point – but as you can see from the diagram, the electricity would flow even if one of the lamps were to go out. Since there is a continuous connection across ALL lamps on the hot and the common lines, there is no way that one lamp would make all of them go out.

Another excellent thing about parallel circuits is the amount of lamps you can put in the chain. Unlike series circuits which require the voltage of all lamps in the string to add up to your total supplied voltage, parallel strings only require that the actual wire handle the amount of electricity (current) going through. In a series set of 50, for example, all of the lamps must be 2.5 volts so that the total voltage across all lamps adds up to 120 volts.

Wait a minute, you might ask yourself – 50 x 2.5 doesn’t equal 120! 48 x 2.5 equals 120. You are right to question that equation – 50 is more of a round number than 48, and adding the two extra lamps in the series lowers the brightness so imperceptibly that we can’t tell the difference. Also, 50 is more than 48, and you’re inclined to buy two more lamps. That’s our nature!

Let’s just quickly recap:

  • keep warm when you’re out there hanging those christmas lights!
  • don’t lick exposed christmas light wire
  • electricity will kill you dead, so pay attention
  • water and electricity like each other as much as Dick Cheney and the ACLU

Next up on JimOnLight.com – Part Five: Christmas Light Math!

Stay tuned!

DIY LED Brake Lights for Bicycle Handlebars

bebl

I read these DIY posts about hacking every day stuff and sometimes I wonder why no one thought of this sooner!

Instructables user WyoJustin has posted an article about making a set of LED brake lights for the ends of the handlebars on a bicycle.  It’s a fairly simple project using an arduino microcontroller and a 3-axis accelerometer.  Clever!  Check out the full Instructable here.

Thanks Make!