[Engineerguy] explains how a CCD works

[Bill] is back with another fantastic video explaining a piece of intriguing hardware. This time, he’s explaining how a CCD works. For many of us, these things are part of our daily life, but aside from the fact that they capture an image, we don’t put much thought into them. [Bill]  breaks things down in a way that we really enjoy. Fast paced and detailed, yet simple enough for even non-engineers to follow. This time, however, he’s also promoting his companion book which includes tons more information, not only on the construction and function of these ideas, but the underlying scientific principles.

The book, called Eight Amazing Engineering Stories, covers the following items:

  • Digital camera imagers
  • tiny accelerometers
  • atomic clocks
  • enriched uranium
  • batteries
  • microwave ovens
  • lasers
  • anodized metals

We’re excited about the book and it looks like they’ve worked really hard to deliver a quality product. Great job guys.

Hidden bookshelf switch

So you don’t have any secret passageways in your house, but if you’ve got a bookshelf this secret switch can add some fun to your routine. [Brandon] saw a commercially available version which was out of stock when he went to order so he set out to build his own.

He’s using the switch to operate a lamp. The donor part for the hack is a lamp dimmer which you’ll find at the big box store. This is really just a pass-through wall plug with an extension cord. By cutting the dimmer module off of the extension a push button can be used to connect and disconnect one of the conductors in the line. Make sure you use a push button rated or mains voltage!

To make the push switch work with a book [Brandon] bend a bracket which will slide into the spine of a hardcover. We love his homemade press brake (angle iron, a sturdy hinge, and a chunk of 2×4) used when shaping the bracket. Once everything’s in place nobody will ever know there’s anything special about those books.

Not your ordinary LED book light


[Steve Hoefer] is not a huge fan of traditional table lamps, so he set off to build a reading light of his own that was more aesthetically pleasing than the standard fare. He thought it would be pretty appropriate to construct his reading lamp out of a book, and we’re inclined to agree.

He stripped the pages from an old book he found at the thrift store, then built a plywood frame to fill in the recently vacated area. A second frame was built inside the first to support the installation of some warm LED strips as well as the acrylic sheet he used to diffuse the light. A whisker switch was installed in the corner of the frame, which turns the lights on when the book is opened. The lamp puts out about the light equivalent of a 40W bulb, and can be “dimmed” by simply adjusting how far the cover is opened.

It looks great on his bedside table, and like some of his other book-related hacks, it’s quite useful as well!

Be sure to check out the video of the light’s construction we have embedded below.

[Read more...]

Lessons in Electric Circuits

Are you looking for a good source of information to get started into making and hacking electric circuits? We would like to refer you to Lessons in Electric Circuits. Even if you have good knowledge of electronics, this is another tool you can use. The book is a work in progress and will have some incomplete and pending areas, but the basic theory parts to get started are all there. It has six volumes: DC, AC, Semiconductors, Digital, Reference, and Experiments. The DC and AC volumes are the most complete. If your eyes are already glazing over thinking you already know all of this stuff, then the most interesting volume for you may be the Experiments, which contains a number of sample circuits like transistor amplifiers and 555 timer circuits. The best part of this book it that it is free, but as with most free things, you can make it better by contributing.

Via Adafruit Industries.

Marvelous Magnetic Machines

[HP Friedrichs] wrote in to tell us about an upcoming book titled Marvelous Magnetic Machines. Ordinarily, we skip over promotional hype. After watching his promo video though, we couldn’t help but share. We want a copy of this book. In this book you’ll find details on how to build a number of different motors from scrap. You can see several variations in the promo video. He also notes that the music was created by himself and some friends a few years ago. If [H.P. Friedrichs] sounds familiar, it is because he’s been sending us fantastic projects since at least 2006.

Flip-book style digitization

This method of book digitization allows you to scan an entire book by fanning through the pages. It uses a high-speed camera that captures 500 frames per second to get a good look at each page. Processing software isolates each pages, analyzes any curve in the paper due to the flipping, and smooths out the image for better optical character recognition results. The greatly reduces the time it takes to digitize a book, even compared to setups that automatically flip pages.

[Thanks Erico]

LEGO book scanner

Here’s a good one from a few years back. [Muranushi] built a scanner to automatically scan an entire book. LEGO is used as the primary building material. A book is placed on a LEGO balance (inset photo) with a counterweight that eases the work of raising and lower the book. The book is lowered, a LEGO carriage moves across the book to turn the page, the book is raised to the glass of an upside-down scanner and scanned into a laptop.

It seems LEGO and imaging devices are a great match. Most of the parts used here are from LEGO Technical set 8485, a set that comes with motors and a motor controller seen above, on the floor behind the computer. We’ve embedded some video after the break of a book in the midst of the scanning process. [Read more...]