Optics Laboratory Made From LEGO

16A lot of engineers, scientists, builders, makers, and hackers got their start as children with LEGO. Putting those bricks together, whether following the instructions or not, really brings out the imagination. It’s not surprising that some people grow up and still use LEGO in their projects, like [Steve] who has used LEGO to build an optics lab with a laser beam splitter.

[Steve] started this project by salvaging parts from a broken computer projector. Some of the parts were scorched beyond repair, but he did find some lenses and mirrors and a mystery glass cube. It turns out that this cube is a dichroic prism which is used for combining images from the different LCD screens in the projector, but with the right LEGO bricks it can also be used for splitting a laser beam.

The cube was set on a LEGO rotating piece to demonstrate how it can split the laser at certain angles. LEGO purists might be upset at the Erector set that was snuck into this project, but this was necessary to hold up the laser pointer. This is a great use of these building blocks though, and [Steve] finally has his optics lab that he’s wanted to build for a while. If that doesn’t scratch your LEGO itch, we’ve also featured this LEGO lab which was built to measure the Planck constant.

Precision Erector Set connects multiple cameras

Check out the exoskeleton that [Curt von Badinski] built for filming driving scenes. This extremely configurable wrap-around frame resembles a children’s toy from the past but allows an almost unlimited set of configurations. Five cameras simultaneous capture the driving scene. The current setup is used to shoot the television show 24.

[Thanks Robert]

A modular Halloween with grid beam


The fantastic Creatrope blog has a great article on quickly assembling animatronic Halloween gags using salvaged electric motors, pvc pipe, and “grid beam” construction.

Grid beam is a prototyping and building medium that’s like a giant hippie Erector set. You can’t buy grid beam, but with a drill press, a jig, and some square stock you can create your own unlimited supply. It’s ideal for “sketching” and temporary constructions like these Halloween props. After use, everything can be dismantled, stored flat, and later reused for the next [Herbie Hancock] music video creative project. Looks like fun!

The article wraps up with some valuable pointers on getting started with grid beam and where to acquire parts.