Retrotechtacular: Turn On the Magic of Colored Light

title cardChances are, you take color for granted. Whether or not you give it much thought, color is key to distinguishing your surroundings. It helps you identify fire, brown recluse spiders, and the right resistor for the job.

In the spotlight this week is a 1950s educational film called “This is Color“. It also happens to be a delightful time capsule of consumer packaging from the atomic age. This film was made by the Interchemical Corporation, an industrial research lab and manufacturer of printing inks. As the narrator explains, consistent replication of pigments is an essential part of mass production. In order to conjure a particular pigment in the first place, one must first understand the nature of color and the physical properties of visible light.

electromagnetic spectrumEach color that makes up the spectrum of visible rays has a particular wavelength. The five principal colors—red, yellow, green, blue, and violet—make possible thousands of shades and hues, but are only a small slice of the electromagnetic spectrum.

When light encounters a transparent material more dense than air, such as water or glass, it has to change direction and is bent by the surface. This is known as refraction. A straw placed in a glass of water will appear bent below the surface because the air and the water have different refractive indices. That is, the air and water will bend or refract different percentages of the light that permeates them. [Read more...]

Using Echoes of Light to Turn Walls into Mirrors

using a wall as a mirror

 

[Matthias] recently published a paper he worked on, in which he details how his group managed to reconstruct a hidden scene using a wall as a mirror in a reasonably priced manner. A modified time-of-flight camera (PMD CamBoard Nano) was used to precisely know when short bursts of light were coming back to its sensor. In the picture shown above the blue represents the camera’s field of view. The green box is the 1.5m*1.5m*2.0m scene of interest and we’re quite sure you already know that the source of illumination, a laser, is shown in red.

As you can guess, the main challenge in this experience was to figure out where the three-times reflected light hitting camera was coming from. As the laser needed to be synchronized with the camera’s exposure cycle it is very interesting to note that part of the challenge was to crack the latter open to sniff the correct signals. Illumination conditions have limited impact on their achieved tolerance of +-15cm.

Billiards concepts plied to position acoustic panels

If you know your way around a pool table you should be able to apply those skills to improving the sound of your home theater. [Eric Wolfram] put together a post that discusses the issues caused by unwanted sound reflections and shows how to position acoustic tiles to solve the problem.

This is a companion post to his guide on building your own acoustic tiles. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. With just a wood frame, dense fiberglass, and some fabric they’re simple to build. They’re also easy to hang but until now you might have just guessed on where they should go.

Once you have all of your speakers and seats in position grab a mirror and some post-it notes. Take a seat as the viewer and have a friend operate the mirror as seen above. With it flat against the wall, mark each spot with a sticky-note where you can see a reflection of one of the speakers. Finding the reflection points is just like lining up a bank shot in Billiards. With five speakers (5.1 Surround Sound) and six surfaces (walls, ceiling, and floor) you should be able to mark 30 reflections points. Now decide how wild you plan to go with the project. The best result will address all 30 reflection points, but you can get by with just the front marks if you’re a bit more conservative.

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