Whether or not you love Star Trek we’d bet you know what a Tricorder is. The handheld device capable of gathering information about the environment around you, or taking health diagnostics about an injured crew member, seemed like unfathomably advanced technology when first seen on the original television series. But our technology has advance so quickly that you can now build a Tricorder of your own. That’s exactly what [Peter Jansen] has done. He founded the Tricorder project as a way to put a useful scientific instrument in the hands for the curious masses.
In the promo video embedded after the break [Dr. Jansen] gives us a recap of his progress so far. Three versions of the project have already been produced, and a fourth is under way. The first iteration could take atmospheric, spacial, and magnetic readings. This covers things like temperature, humidity, GPS data, light intensity, and distance measurements among others. Housed in a dark grey case it looks much like the original prop.
The second model, which is seen above, implements a swapable sensor board. That’s the part hanging off the top, but the finished model will enclose that part of the case. The hardware on this is fantastic, using an ARM processor running Linux and two 2.8″ OLED touchscreen displays. But both of these models have a price tag that’s just too high for widespread use. He’s been working on two more, the Mark 3 and Mark 4. The most recent is in software development right now with the hopes of mass production when all the details are worked out.
There’s a lot of info to dig through on the project’s site. It’s open source and all the goodies we usually look for are there.
Continue reading “Tricorder project brings the fabled devices into existence”
[Bill Porter] and his friend [Dan Flisek] work together to put on a science-related educational stage show called “Science Brothers”, in which the pair try to convince school children that their field of expertise is the cooler science. While the two are competitive on stage, the main goal of the program is to get kids interested in science, no matter what the specialty.
The pair currently finance the project out of pocket, so they are always looking for ways to make things interesting while also keeping costs in check. With that in mind [Bill] came up with an awesome way to show off the Tesla coil he built a while back. His most recent educational creation is a little something he calls “Tesla Hero”.
Since he already had a solid state Tesla coil hanging around, he dug up a PS2 Guitar Hero controller and got busy getting the two acquainted. The guitar connects to the coil via a fiber optic isolator board, playing one of five notes as he strums along. A series of Arduino-driven LED strips adorn the guitar, flashing various colors while he plays, as you can see in the video below.
It’s quite a cool project, and we’re sure that his audience will be impressed!
Stick around to see a video of Tesla Hero in action, and if you’re interested in learning more about the Science Brothers, be sure to check them out here.
Continue reading “Million volt guitar rocks the house…for science!”
SNES Arcade Cabinet
[Daniel] let us know that he finished up a SNES arcade cabinet he has been working on for awhile. It looks so good, he says that his wife has even agreed to let him keep it in the house!
DIY Overhead projector beamer
[Liquider] sent us some information about a DIY beamer he built using an overhead projector and an old LCD panel. It looks like a great way to get a big-screen wall display set up in no time.
WordClock gets a makeover
[Doug] wrote in to share with us some progress he has made on his WordClock. You might remember our coverage of this creative timepiece a little while back. This time around, he has built a new control board, and is using vinyl stencils for a much cleaner look.
Interactive water fountain
[Gerry Chu] is well known for his water-based imagery and projects. His most recent project is a water fountain that interacts with passers by. There are no real build details as of yet, but we hope to see some soon.
Sixty Symbols explains why glass is transparent
Do you think you know why glass is transparent, but a brick is not? If you looked it up via Google, you are likely mistaken. A professor from the University of Nottingham explains why the Internet is so, so wrong about this, as well as how energy gap determines if photons of light can make it through a piece of glass. [via i09]
[Bogdan’s] latest project is a box that displays web hits for a chosen site. He calls it the Ego Box because depending on how traffic goes it either bloats or crushes your ego. This provides similar functionality as our Troll Sniffing Rat but the biggest difference is that this is a stand-alone Ethernet device. That’s thanks to the ENC28J60 Ethernet controller chip which manages the stack and has been quite popular in DIY electronic projects. In order to monitor your hits [Bogdan] crafted a bit of code to add to the header of your index page. It increments the counter file each time the page is loaded, and the Ego Box simply monitors that file, displaying the traffic on an eight digit 7 segment display.
Ok hackers, it is time to show what you are made of. [Michael] has issued a challenge. He is willing to pay for hacked together science tools that meet some accuracy and price requirements. You could win money for doing what most of you are already doing. He needs a few specific things, so go to his site to see what he’s looking for. The goal here is to bring scientific equipment down to a price level that allows a broader audience to access it. Come on guys, it’s for science!
Wired posted a gallery covering an interesting phenomenon. When you unroll regular sticky tape it emits visible light, but what was recently discovered is that under vacuum it actually emits x-rays as well. They’re still trying to nail down the cause. Have a look at the gallery of UCLA’s research lab to see what kind of equipment you need to unroll tape in a vacuum.
The space elevator may be a very real possibility within our lifetimes. Previously the stuff of science fiction novels, scientists and engineers around the world will continue their discussion at a conference in Japan this November. The space elevator’s basic design would include a cable that is anchored to the Earth’s surface, and on the other end, tens of thousands of kilometers away, a counterweight for balance. The space elevator could be used to solve many different problems, from nuclear waste disposal to powering homes with solar panels.
The technology driving the development of the space elevator is the carbon nanotube. Its lightweight properties and tensile strength, over 180 times stronger than steel cable, make it the ideal cable for the space elevator. Currently there are several logistical problems, which range from designing a carbon nanotube strong enough to support the elevator to finding an ideal site to design and build the elevator, which would require international consensus and input. Several organizations are working on space elevator designs, and NASA is holding a $4 million Space Elevator Challenge to encourage designs.