Funky Looking Motor is Powered by Static Electricity

Corona Motor (Electrostatic Drive)

[Steven Dufresne] of Rimstar.org is at it again with another very functional science experiment. This week he’s showing us how he made a large electrostatic motor, also known as a Corona Motor.

A Corona motor makes use of a cool
phenomenon called the Corona discharge, which is the ionization of a fluid
(in this case, air) surrounding a conductor that is energized. He’s done other high voltage experiments that take advantage of this, like his Ion Wind propelled Star Trek Enterprise!corona_motor_electrostatic_atmospheric_motor_diagram

The motor works by using an even number of electrodes on the motor, each electrically charged; positive, negative, positive, negative, etc.

Because each electrode is the opposite charge, they want to repel each other — but since the cylinder is electrically insulated, the charges have no where to go — instead the cylinder begins to rotate as the charges attract back and forth — when a positive charge on the insulation meets a negatively charged electrode, the charge is removed by ionization (creating the corona effect), and the cycle continues. The direction of rotation is determined by the angle of the electrodes. The motor can get going pretty fast but doesn’t have that much torque or power.

[Read more...]

Unorthodox GoPro Camera Rigs Produce Unreal Videos

gopro

For a workshop at the ECAL University of Art and Design in Switzerland, students were asked to come up with new unorthodox ways to capture video using a GoPro camera. The results are pretty awesome.

Lead by the Dutch designer [Roel Wouters], students in the Media & Interaction Design program worked together with Industrial Design students to create these fascinating camera rigs. From “the eye”, a water based stabilizing ball, to a silly bobble hat can be spun around the user, the results are super fun and unique to watch. The workshop was one week long and produced five different camera rigs as featured in the following video.

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Estimating BB Gun Muzzle Velocity with a Voice Recorder and a Curtain

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[Luke Wren] just wrote in to tell us about his new science blog called Wren’s Tech — it’s only a few days old, but he’s already got some pretty cool science experiments written up! Like how to estimate the muzzle velocity of a BB gun using just a voice recorder, and a curtain!

There are many different ways you could do this. One of the easiest is using a high-speed camera with a known grid or pattern as the background — like how Mythbusters does it. Unfortunately, high-speed cameras are usually out of reach for most hobbyists. [Luke] explains a rather cool system you can build with some electronics, whereby you have two thin wires a known distance apart — run current through both and use a circuit that can detect the interrupt as your projectile breaks the wires — or, you can use a voice recorder. [Read more...]

Lego Technic Mechanical Seven Segment Display

TeemingColdDiplodocus

Here’s a rather mesmerizing piece of Lego genius, displayed as a .GIF for your enjoyment. It’s a 7-segment display that is completely mechanical!

Built by [aeh5040], this beauty features 7 separate linkages that control each display segment. It’s powered off of a single motor which rotates a cylinder covered in small protrusions, similar to how music boxes work. As the cylinder rotates, the protrusions knock the main drive gears back and forth, flipping each segment between the ON and OFF states through a series of axle joints and bevel gears.

It makes rather satisfying sounds too!

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Easy to Build Solar Pool Heater Saves Money and Keeps You from Freezing

Solar water heater

For those cool summer days it’s sometimes nice to have a heated pool — but usually pretty expensive too. Looking for a simpler solution [Martin] came up with his own solar pool heater for under $100!

He’s copied the basic design of a solar pool heater but managed to do it using fairly cheap parts from the hardware store. It consists of three 100′ lengths of 1/2″ drip irrigation hose, and the way he’s connected them is rather ingenious. Using a half inch piece of copper pipe and a blow torch, he was able to squeeze the pipe into one hose end and then the other for a permanent seamless connection. He then coiled the resulting hose into a large circle by interweaving string back and forth to keep its shape.

A 12V utility pump coupled with a timer allows water to sit in the hose under the sun for one hour, at which point it cycles the system for 10 minutes, pumping the warm water into the pool, and refilling itself with cool water from the bottom of the pool. This one is only made for a small above ground pool, but the design could easily be doubled or even tripled for larger pools. You could also throw in a PID temperature controller or even an Arduino to make it even better… but it sounds like it works quite well by itself with a timer.

Combine this with a compost-based hot water system for indoors and you’ll really be cutting the expense associated with your hot water needs!

George Crowdsourcington: A 3D Printed, Community Built Statue

George Crowdsourcington and Distributed Ben Franklin

Macro 3D printing is some cool stuff — but it’s extremely time consuming and can be very expensive. Introducing We The Buildersa 3D printing crowd source site which creates large scale projects the whole country can enjoy.

Their first project was George Crowdsourcington — a 1:1 copy of the Baltimore George Washington statue made out of 110 individual pieces. They chopped the model up into 4″ cubes and created the website in order to organize and distribute the files. One of their sponsors, Tinkerine Studio, reimbursed the shipping costs for makers who helped print out parts! Since his creation, Crowdsourcington has traveled all over the country, making stops at 3D printing shows in New York, mini-Maker Faires, art galleries, science centers and more — he even did a short residency in the Adafruit office in Manhattan!

It was quite the success, so they’re starting a new statue called the Distributed Ben Franklin. This one has a whopping 198 pieces, and they hope to have it built in time for the Silver Spring and World Maker Faires.

[Read more...]

What Could Possibly Go Wrong Giving a Robot a Chainsaw?

Chainsaw wielding robot

[Morgan Rauscher] is a rather eccentric artist, inventor, maker, professor… jack of all trades. His latest project is called the Art-Bot – and it’s an 8′ robotic arm equipped with a chainsaw. Did we mention you can control it via arcade buttons?

He’s been building sculptures for over 10 years now, and has enjoyed observing the evolution of automated manufacturing – from CNC machines to laser cutters and even now, 3D printers. He loves the technologies, but fears machines are making it too easy – distancing us from the good old physical interaction it once took to make things with a few simple tools. His Art-Bot project attempts to bridge that gap by bringing tactile transference to the experience.

The cool part about the Art-Bot is that it is mostly made of recycled materials – in particular, bicycle parts!

Making a robot from bicycle parts is really not that difficult, and I highly recommend it.

The rest of the robot consists of electric actuators (linear), the control circuitry, and of course — a chainsaw. For safety’s sake, [Morgan] also built a polycarbonate wall around it to protect users from it going on a murderous rampage wood chips and other debris thrown from the robot.

[Read more...]

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