Lighting LEDs with raindrops

lighting-leds-with-rain

[Steven] had one of those musical gift cards laying around, and thought he might as well reuse the piezo speaker inside it. Without a particular project in mind, he soldered an LED to the piezo and tapped on it, which caused the LED to illuminate as expected. He started to wonder what quantity of force would be required to light the LED, and if it could be done by a raindrop.

He first tested his theory in the shower, and as you can see in the video below it actually worked, though the light was dim and sporadic as you might imagine. He eventually discovered that for optimal lighting, the piezo worked best when struck by single droplets falling with pauses in between, from a minimum height of 4 feet. To achieve a water flow within those specifications, he built a rain funnel so that he can control the droplet frequency and intensity.

It seems to work pretty well from what we can see. Off the top of our heads we can’t seem to come up with any practical applications of the water powered LED, but it is an interesting set of experiments nonetheless.

Have an idea to use this setup that we totally missed? Let us know in the comments!

[Thanks, Rob]

[Read more...]

A head-mounted Tesla coil – what could possibly go wrong?

tesla-coil-hat

We can hear the commercial now…

“Reeeeeeal men of geniuuuuuuus! Here’s to you Mr. no-fear, singing Tesla coil on your hat wearing guy…”

Call him a genius or call him crazy – all we know is that [Tyler’s] Tesla coil hat is awesome! Even though it’s the middle of November, we couldn’t pass up this Halloween costume.

[Tyler’s] creation essentially boiled down to taking a standard dual resonant solid state Tesla coil and shrinking it down to a reasonable size for mounting on his skull. The mini Tesla features a pretty compact boost core which worked reasonably well, at least for a little while. He says that the boost never truly worked properly and needs a redesign, which is something he’ll tackle when he gets some free time.

Boost issues or not, we think that the video below speaks for itself. The hat is certainly an attention getter, and we think it’s great – even if wearing a Tesla coil on your head is not necessarily the safest thing to do.

[Read more...]

Monitoring batch jobs the Cylon way with Python and a parallel port

parallel-port-trigger

If you happen to do a lot of video encoding, you know that your computer can really drag while the process is carried out. Our own [Mike Szczys] transcodes videos at home fairly often, and because the process is automated, he doesn’t always know if a conversion is taking place in the background.

He has been tinkering with Larson Scanners recently and thought he could put everything he’s learned along the way to good use by using the scanner as a “busy” indicator for his PC. He hooked the scanner up to the computer’s parallel port, and took a few minutes to bang out some Python code that would alert him when his PC was busy.

He set his notifier script to launch along with FFMPEG, whenever his MythTV setup had something ready to convert. The Python script drives a pin on the parallel port high, triggering the Larson Scanner’s animation. Every minute, the script checks the status of FFMPEG and continues to hold the pin high until the application exits. Once the conversion is done, the scanner goes back to sleep, letting [Mike] know that the coast is clear.

Continue reading to see a video of his parallel port trigger in action.

[Read more...]

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