High voltage plasma lamp is also tasteful steampunk

Instructables user [Admiral Aaron Ravensdale] just finished a high voltage plasma bulb build that makes creative use of off-the-shelf parts. As a self-described steampunk, [Adm. Ravensdale] also earned some cred by included working gears in his build.

The heart of the build is a “flicker flame” candle light bulb. These light bulbs have two flame-shaped plates inside the bulb to act as electrodes. Instead of the Argon that normally fills an incandescent light bulb, the candle bulb is filled with Neon. When excited, Argon gives off a rather unnatural purple glow – not very convincing for a simulated candle and certainly not steampunk. The Neon in the flickering candle bulb gives off a brilliant orange, perfect for simulating a flame and will surely impress the duchess during afternoon tea.

After the right plasma bulb was found, [The Admiral] scavenged the rest of the high voltage electronics from disposable cameras. Attaching three electrodes to a brass gear, the entire mechanism was made to spin using parts from an old clock and a CD drive motor. We’re always impressed with the scavenging abilities of steampunkers – we’d still be waiting for our gears to arrive if we attempted this. Check out the video of this really cool and very inexpensive plasma bulb after the break.

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Hackaday Links: July 24, 2011

Plasma speakers

Apparently if you run AC and DC currents through a welding torch flame you can use the resulting plasma as a loudspeaker. [Thanks Cody]

Power metering

The Google Power Meter API is no longer in development but that didn’t stop [Pyrofer] from finishing his metering hardware. It uses a reflectance sensor to read the meter instead of using clamp-based current sensing.

Music videos from inside the instrument

Filming from inside of a guitar creates the camera effect seen above which looks like the waveform you’d see on an oscilloscope. [Thanks Philleb]

Hidden messages in audio files

GhostCoder lets you encrypt and hide audio files within other audio files. The thought is, you can piggyback your own data into Torrents that are circling the interwebs.

2×4 Chair

If you’re skilled with a Skill saw you can make a chair out of one 2 by 4. You can see the pattern you’ll have to cut out from the board in the image above, wow!

More high voltage experimentation with a flyback inverter

[Electorials] actually makes working with a flyback inverter sound rather easy. This comes hot on the heals of the huge high voltage collection we saw the other day, but slows way down in the presentation of information. This makes the project very approachable for the newbie, especially considering that the majority of the testing is done with low voltages.

He’s using a flyback transform for this project, which can be pulled from an old CRT monitor. Once you have one in hand, all that’s required to figure out how to use it is a voltometer, a 9V battery, a MOSFET (also salvaged in this case), and miscellaneous components. Once he establishes what each external connection does electronically, [Electorials] builds his circuit on a breadboard, then uses it to create plasma in the bulb above as well as to light up a CCFL.

Open source 5-axis CNC router

This 5-axis CNC router could soon be an open source tool. [Mike Calvino] built it for the School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas. It can be used as a router or as a plasma cutter/welder. Now he’s trying to raise some money that will underwrite his time and effort to develop and release instructions, design files, and specifications to make it an open source hardware project.

It is extremely large, and in addition to the X, Y, and Z axes that you’d expect to find on CNC machinery, it can tilt and rotate the cutting tool. This is not something you’re likely to build at home. But the availability of plans would be a huge contribution toward making machine tools accessible at a relatively small price tag. It’s not hard to image universities building this as a class project. We also think it would be a perfect group project for you and your buddies over at the local Hackerspace to undertake. Check out some milling action in the clip after the break.

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Singing: With Plasma!

While there are many ways to produce audible sound, Plasma Speakers have to be one of the coolest. Usually very complex and expensive, we received a tip for a beginners guide to making one of these impressive novelties. Handily included are a set of schematics (one very simple schematic, the other with a few artistic illustrations). There are also a set of warnings, which include sound advice to mind the heat generated by the MOSFETs, as well as making sure that your input signal isn’t too strong. The finished product is fun to listen to, so be sure to check out the example video after the break.

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Multi-purpose welding cart

[Todd Harrison] put together a welding cart that has all kinds of tricks built-in. The carcass is a cheap rolling cart that has been reinforced with steel plate and beefier wheels. The top tray can be loaded up with fire brick for oxygen-acetylene welding or with a grate for cutting. That grate lets the slag fall through and into the red-rimmed fire-box below. Finally, there’s a steel plate to the right of the cart that rotates and slides over the top of the unit to prepare it for MIG welding. Todd walks us through his versatile invention in the video after the break. This will nicely augment your other welding hacks.

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Virtual windows that track a viewer’s position

Winscape will let you replace that garbage-strewn ally view with just about anything you want. The two windows above are actually plasma screen televisions. In between them you can spot a Nintendo Wii Remote that is used to track an IR badge worn by the person in the room. As they move, the images on the screens are changes to simulate the change in perspective you would see out of a real-world window. Take a look at the video after the break. This is unfortunately not an open source project but the software is available for trial and we find the concept interesting. If you can write video processing algorithms you may be able to take the Wii Remote Whiteboard concept and turn it into a Winscape clone. [Read more...]