[Grenadier] wins the laser cutter for his portable X-ray project

The results of the Full Spectrum Laser contest over at Build Lounge have been announce. The top prize of a 40 watt deluxe laser cutter goes to [Grenadier] for the portable x-ray machine we saw at the beginning of the month. We think this is an excellent choice for top prize because, come on, this is pretty hard-core.

Taking second place was a Christmas light show choreographed to music. The open spaces of the University of Minnesota hosted the installation. We’ve embedded a video of the performance after the break.

Third prize went to the QC Co-lab Hackerspace for their light wall. It uses the ever popular GE Color Effects lights, with each bulb housed in a vacuum formed pyramid which acts as a diffuser.

There were also several honorable mentions. There’s a special place in our heart for [Jack Buffington's] solar clock which was included in this group. We think the use of fiber optics to pipe the sunlight into a machined index ring is ingenious. And you’ve got to give him credit for developing a project that uses no electricity and almost no moving parts (there is a slider to adjust for daylight savings time).

[Read more...]

Building an x-ray machine and letting everything go to your head

It’s not every day one of the builds on Hackaday gets picked up by a big-name publication, and it’s even rarer to see a Hackaday contributor grace the pages of an actual print magazine. Such is the case with [Adam Munich] and his home-built x-ray machine.

We first saw [Adam]‘s x-ray machine at the beginning of this year as an entry for the Buildlounge/Full Spectrum laser cutter contest. [Adam] won the contest, landed himself a new laser cutter, and started writing for Hackaday. Now that [Adam] is gracing the pages of Popular Science, we’re reminded of the story of Icarus, flying too close to the sun.

[Adam]‘s x-ray machine is built around a Coolidge tube, the same type of vacuum tube found in dental x-ray machines. The device is housed in two suitcases – one used as a control panel and graced with beautiful dials and Nixies, the other housing the Coolidge tube and power supply. Proper x-ray images can be taken by pointing a camera at the scintillation screen, allowing [Adam] to see inside hard drives and other inanimate objects.

Sure, it’s a build we’ve seen before but it’s still very cool to see one of Hackaday’s own get some big name recognition.

Making a miniature X-Ray tube from scratch

We know that most of you will have no reason to ever make a miniature X-ray tube. However, we also know that many of you will find this video mesmerizing like we did. [Glasslinger] does a fantastic job of explaining the entire process of creating the mini x-ray tube from, procuring the uranium glass and tungsten stem, creating the filament from scratch, all the glass work, and the testing.

Admittedly, most of us here at hackaday won’t go any further than admiring the craftsmanship, though we’re curious to see what [Adam Munich] has to say when he sees this story.

If you enjoyed the tube construction in the video, be sure to check out [Glasslinger's] other videos. He makes all kinds of tubes in his shop and usually shares so much information along the process that each one has useful information beyond that particular project. Another crazy part is that he has made most of his own tools, including his glass lathe.

We really shouldn’t have to point out that X-Rays are dangerous. Don’t mess with them unless you have researched how to do it safely.

Modular controllers you can’t wait to show off to your friends

Let’s get this straight, [Alex] is going to show us how to make controllers like this one? Where do we sign up? Even without seeing it in action we want one, but the urge to build is even greater after he shows it off (check the clip after the break). He’s a design student who made an open source project aimed at making it easier to build hardware controllers that pair with just about any software application.

The need for external controllers is on the rise, starting with music-based applications like DJ tools, and Midi controllers for musicians (we’re thinking Monome clones). But anything that can take input from a USB HID can be controlled with something like this. That’s because [Alex] is using the Teensy controller board as an interface. Just select the input types you want – sliders, potentiometers, buttons, switches – then wire them up to the microcontroller pins. If you start to run out of inputs he also discusses some add-on chips to use as port expanders.

Of course there’s a lot to be said for the physical appearance as well. Even though he used point-to-point connections for all of the controls, that wiring is hidden behind the aesthetically pleasing laser-cut dashboard. Follow his advice for layout and find a friend with access to a sweet laser cutter and you’re in business. [Read more...]

Just in case you didn’t know how awesome laser cutters really are

[Alex] got his hands on an Epiloge laser cutter the easy way — the company he works for bought one. We’re sure he’s not trying to rub it in, but he really does make the tool look and sound cool in the post he wrote purely to show off the new toy hardware.

This model is a CO2 laser and it’s capable of etching and cutting a variety of materials. It does so with a 1200 DPI resolution at 0.005 pitch. The samples of engraved text and images show the clean lines and shapes this type of accuracy can achieve. The most stunning example is a piece of anodized aluminum which ends up showing some fantastic contrast that would make perfect face plates for project enclosures. Then there’s the cutting feature which is responsible for the gear demo seen above. We were surprised to hear that it will cut through acrylic but not polycarbonate.

After the break we’ve embedded [Alex's] video. The camera is focused on the cutter as it engraves some lettering, then cuts out a gear. During the process he discusses what he’s learned about the device, sharing some interesting tidbits along the way.

We’re hoping to see some cool stuff like this from [Grenadier] who recently won a similar 40 Watt CO2 laser from Full Spectrum.

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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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High Voltage: Lightning simulator can’t send you back to the future

Continuing on with our high-voltage theme, today we have a page describing Marx generators by [Grenadier]. Marx generators are devices that produce pulses of very high voltage with fast rise times. For most of us, that means that they can make neat sparks. For the more serious types out there, that also means that they are great for driving some high-powered lasers, simulating lightning strikes, and even igniting the conventional explosives surrounding the core of a nuclear weapon! His page includes a video of his Marx generator producing some pretty sparks for those of us who aren’t so serious.

We have featured several of [Grenadier's] projects in the past. This one doesn’t deviate from his normal style of taking a subject and clearly describing it with lots of well-taken pictures.

Recently, he has been working on improving one of his projects that deviates from what he normally does. He is calling it “The Junkbox”. The Junkbox is something like a free online swap meet where you can sell your electronic parts.