See through everything with a home made x-ray

[Grenadier] built his very own x-ray machine. He’s no stranger to high voltage – we’ve seen his Jacob’s Ladders and Marx generators. Surely he can handle himself with high voltage and dangerous equipment. With this portable x-ray machine, [Grenadier] has begun overloading Geiger counters. We’re just happy he knows what he’s doing.

The key component of [Grenadier]‘s portable x-ray machine is the Coolidge tube, a simple vacuum tube that produces x-rays with the help of 75 kilovolts of power. The finished build looks awesome. Two meters display the milliamps and kilovolts going to the x-ray tube, and a trio of nixies display the exposure time.

Even though [Grenadier] doesn’t have x-ray film, he can see through things with a scintillation screen that fluoresces when exposed to ionizing radiation. There are two pictures of the x-ray in action – one showing the inside of a pen and the guts of a hard drive (as shown in the title pic).

The output of the x-ray was measured with a Geiger counter. [Grenadier] was able to get a hit every second or so at 50 yards, and very loud white noise at 1 foot. Check out the video of [Grenadier]‘s Buildlounge laser cutter contest submission after the break.

via Buildlounge

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Hackerspace light wall plays video at 30 fps

led-light-wall

The folks at The Quad Cities Collaboration and Hackerspace (QC Co-Lab) were trying to find something to build for their first big project, and had to look no further than the wall for inspiration. The north end of their facility is home to a huge 15×17 glass block wall that happens to face a well-traveled roadway.

They decided that turning the wall into a huge LED display would be a great way to attract attention from passers-by, so they picked up some GE Color Effects lights and got down to business. Once they found out that the technical college next door was putting on an open house, the race was on to get the light display assembled as quickly as possible to maximize their exposure.

The team mounted the 255 LEDs in vacuum-formed reflective cones, which were attached to wooden frames before being installed behind the glass wall. An Arduino drives the entire display at a smooth 30 frames per second, a task they say tests the very limits of the board’s capabilities.

They finished the job in time for the open house, and as you can see in the video below, the display looks great.

Nice job QC-Co-Lab!

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A very detailed reflow oven build

smd-solder-reflow-oven

If you do a lot of SMD soldering, a reflow oven is the fastest and most efficient way to get all those tiny components attached to your PCB. [Frank Zhao] saw the reflow ovens we featured here over the last few weeks and figured he might as well show off his rig as well. We’re certainly glad he did, because his very thorough writeup is a great stepping stone for anyone looking to construct a reflow oven of their own.

Like many others, he started off with a used toaster oven, modifying it to be controlled directly via the power cable rather than the oven’s dials. He built a small PCB to regulate the oven, which features an ATmega32u4 and thermocouple to keep the temperature in check. Control of the heating element is done using a solid state relay, for which he built his own heatsink.

He studied the reflow profile of the solder he would be using, programming the microcontroller to regulate the heating/cooling process without requiring any user input, aside from turning the oven on.

Check out the video below to see a brief overview of his system, and be sure to swing by his writeup to take a look at all the build details. There are a handful of additional videos along with plenty of pictures there, walking through each step of the process.

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Making pure caffeine at home

If you’ve ever thought about extracting caffeine from coffee beans, [Ben] is the guy for you. The last time we ran into him, he had already produced a few aerogel monoliths with a few chemicals, pipe fittings, and some CO2. We’re guessing he needed another use for his supercritical drying chamber, so after looking over a few patents, he decided to make pure caffeine in his garage.

The extraction began with green coffee beans inside the drying chamber. Liquid CO2 is pumped in and heated to the supercritical point. After a few hours, the caffeine will have been extracted from the beans and can be drained from the chamber. Right now, the process results in an inky goo that contains caffeine. [Ben] refined this a little further with Methylene Chloride, a process he’ll document in a future video.

Of course it goes without saying that this build is a little bit on the dangerous side. We’re confident in [Ben]‘s abilities to know what he’s doing, but we’re not going to endorse this for every joker on the Internet. Also, two spoonfuls of caffeine will kill you, so try not to screw around with that either.

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Sound reactive Kanye glasses!

[Ch00f] has decided to ring in the new year with some el wire Kanye glasses. Technically the term for the glasses is either “shutter shades” or “slatted sunglasses”, invented around the 80s by [Alain Mikli] and originally given the nickname “Venetian Sunglasses”. Kanye West evidently got his own retro redesign by the original creator and the rest is history. That is enough Wikipedia for now. [Ch00f] has augmented the original design with six multicolor tracks of EL wire mounted to the shutters of the glasses. The EL wire is fed back through several discrete wires around the wearers ear and to two control boxes. As the video shows, the glasses function as a crude V/U meter based on the audio received by the driver circuit.

Instead of the typical microcontroller [Ch00f] (who has some kind of deep seated issues agaist the Arduino) decided to go full blown analog with the entire design. The audio signal is fed through various Op Amp circuits first amplifying the weak microphone signal then filtering with a low pass filter to focus on the bass frequencies. The filtered bass is then sent to an envelope detector to turn the audio wave into a DC voltage signal. Keeping with the Op Amp design [Ch00f] then uses a resistor ladder and six comparator circuits (with TRIACs on their outputs) to tune the trigger voltage levels of the EL bars. The TRIACs get to deal with the 100 or so volts for the EL strips so that [Ch00f] doesn’t have to party with six EL power supplies in his pocket. For those of you counting at home, that is a total of 13 Op Amps.

The results are fantastic, check the video below to see the glasses in action. Reportedly the circuit does freak out and lock all of the TRIACs in an on state, but a covert flip of the power switch fixes the issue for now. [Ch00f] admits that the project was rather rushed due to the impending new year’s eve party, but now that that is all over with we just need to get [Ch00f] to roll out a stereo version. If you need more [ch00f] we have covered a few of his projects before such as his Icebreaker POV toy hack and a ghetto accelerometer using a reflection sensor.

Thanks for the tips [Daniel] and [Sanchoooo], also via [reddit]. Happy new year!

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