3W handheld laser raises hope for a real Lightsaber someday


That banner image may seem a little bit theatric, but it’s a good representation of what this 3W handheld laser can really do. Turn the thing on in a slightly smoky room and it looks exactly like a thin beam Lightsaber.

What kind of tricks would you expect this thing to perform? Perhaps it’ll pop some black balloons? Prepare to be shocked because it’s orders of magnitude more powerful than that. The video below shows it burning and igniting a collection of items almost instantly. [Styropyro] tested his creation by igniting paper, cardboard, flash paper, flash powder, burning through a stick of wood, and igniting an undisclosed substance at the end of the video. But one of our favorites is when he drives a solar powered toy car with the intense beam.

He pulled the diode from a DLP projector, and drives it with a pair of 18650 Lithium Ion batteries which are commonly found in laptops. He made the enclosure himself. It looks great but we can’t help but wonder if the components would fit in a painstakingly made replica.

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Everything you need to build a light-cured resin 3D printer


[Rachel Levine] was one of the mechanical engineers on the team at the Rochester Institute of Technology who built this resin-based 3D printer. She wrote in to show off the fantastic work they’ve been doing. Their project website is daunting to take in at first, which shouldn’t be all that surprising since the concepts used here are fairly advanced. But give yourself a few minutes of blind clicking and you’ll begin to grasp the scope of this fantastic piece of engineering. The bad news is you’re not going to whip the thing together in a weekend. The good news is that if you’re determined to build one this should give you the lion’s share of the background you’ll need to make it happen.

The rig pulls a printed object up from the ooze on the build platform. They’re using resin that is cured with visible light. That’s why you see the level in the foreground; the bath needs to be a uniformed thickness so that it solidifies correctly when the light hits it from the underside. The build table is made of glass sandwiched between gaskets where it comes in contact with the frame, keeping the liquid in place while letting the DLP projector shine through. Check out the fast-motion build video after the break to see how each layer is exposed to light, then pulled upward to make room for the next. We estimate the build was around two hours of real-time and you can see that a technician replaces the extracted resin at regular intervals during the process.

DLP Projector based printers have been gaining in popularity. Check out this roundup of several offerings from last year.

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3D printing with visible light

This 3D printer manages some pretty fantastic resolution, and these are just the early results of [Junior Veloso's] build. He put together a machine that prints objects in resin that cures in visible light. To print, a thin layer of raw liquid resin self-levels across a printing surface and a DLP-based projector shines light from below, onto the portion to be hardened. The z-axis then pulls that layer up and the next to be printed will become the newest bottom layer. Horizontally the printer yields 1024×768 resolution with a layer thickness as small as 0.01 mm. No wonder he’s turning out this kind of quality.

The model above took 5 hours to print, with eight-second exposure for each layer, and 0.1mm layer thickness. There is lots of good information on his blog, from the early planning, to the finished hardware so take some time to learn about this fascinating project.

Update: Thanks to reader [Nave.notnilc] for pointing out that we’ve seen a chemical 3D printing technique before.

Bug Labs introduces new BUGmodules


Bug Labs, the company that makes modular electronics that allow you to build your own tech doohickeys quickly and easily, has announced five new modules: BUGprojector, a mini DLP projector developed in conjunction with Texas Instruments, which sounds very much like the tiny DLP projector we posted about last week; BUGsound, an audio processing module with four stereo input/output jacks, a microphone, a speaker, and builtin hardware codecs; BUGbee (802.15.4) and BUGwifi (802.11 and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR), which will let you connect wirelessly with your PAN and WLAN, respectively; and BUG3g GSM, for connecting to (you guessed it) 3G GSM networks. In conjunction with Bug Labs’ existing series of modules, especially the highly versatile BUGvonHippel universal module, you’ll be able to create some pretty kickass gadgets. No word yet on pricing, although Bug Labs expects to ship by the end of Q1 2009.

Finding sensitive data with freeware

When an organization’s network grows to a certain size, its difficult to keep track of every single piece of sensitive information like credit card numbers or social security numbers. In order to find and secure this data, companies often turn to data loss prevention (DLP) services. This is not a viable option for many organizations, though, as DLP services can often be expensive and time-consuming to deploy.

Such organizations are not entirely without options: a recent article on Dark Reading lists several DLP tools authored by teams from various universities, all free to download and use. Programs like The University of Texas at Austin’s Sensitive Number Finder and Virginia Tech’s Find_SSN were designed to find pieces of data on computers and servers formatted in ways typical to sensitive information (xxx-xx-xxxx for SSNs, for example). This approach can often lead to false positives, so some measure of human control is required. They are also incapable of scanning application servers or other forms of data in transit. Cornell’s Spider can scan various application server types using different protocols. When used in conjunction, all of these apps can help secure your data without the expense of outsourcing the job.