Electronics On Ice

We see all manner of electronics enclosures pass through these hallowed pages. Lasercut wooden builds with fancy kerf bending, expertly prepared acrylic boxes, and even the occasional device cast in concrete. [Mike Kohn] decided that all of these were too permanent, however, and chose a different material – ice.

[Mike] shares the ups and downs of his experiments with electronics and frozen water. Initial tests with a circuit sealed in DAP Ultra Clear were largely successful.  A tilt sensor was installed to allow the batteries to remain undrained during the freezing process, and once freed after a few hours of thawing, the circuit was operational. Later builds required some more work – the RC car in particular took a few attempts to avoid the mold leaking. The ice hands are a particular highlight, though – created with rubber gloves, these would be a remarkably spooky decoration come Halloween.

It’s a study in the techniques required to work with this ephemeral material, and there’s a few lessons to learn. Sealing electronics is good, and the best results are with simple circuits with a few LEDs that make everything glow nicely.

If you’re looking for other ideas, you could always create a frozen lens for photographical purposes. Video after the break.

6 thoughts on “Electronics On Ice

  1. Lewin Day,

    I am beginning to understand the true beauty of HackaDay. At first I thought these continual demonstrations of unusual skills applied to seemingly useless purposes were a waste of precious engineering time. But as I see more and more of them, the cautious and gentle communication of ideas and possibilities, with a good dose of warm humor, comes clear.

    IF, BUT. Only if the knowledge of what was done is not lost is the chaos of a continual stream of seemingly unrelated and disconnected facts. Not to discount the very difficult problem of each person really understanding what they are doing, where it fits into the universe and social fabric, and where, if anywhere, they should go next. HackaDay members are generating many useful ideas, but I think that most are just lost. Certainly, once they go past “now” into the large bucket of “past”, they are very difficult to combine, compare, extract essentials. And, the people doing these things forget quickly the delicate fabric of what they just found and shared. You may not see that now, but I have lived long enough to have people write back to me and say, “that is an old project”, “I have gone on to other things.”

    If you are doing cold things, please take a closer look at the low temperature resistance of metals, particularly copper and aluminum. A relatively modest investment in lowering the temperature might greatly reduces losses and noise. Now I am just getting to where I understand superconductivity. Part of the difficulty of moving energy as electron through wires is they seem to be seeing “resistance” as a reason for turbulent behavior (yes I am anthropromorphizing). We have made great strides with converting many sensors from optical to atom methods (“cold atom”, “atom interferometer”, “Bose Einstein”, superfluids). Rather than pushing electrons through a metal lattice, would it be easier to store energy in keV atomic orbitals of molecules with no magnetic moment or electric monopole moment (charge) and pump those to their destination where they get used?

    You might want to check why some metals become brittle, and some other things do not.

    Also, you might want to generalize your understanding of “temperature”, because when you remove all of a frequency band from a material, and there are no molecules or atoms or electrons or photons with that state at all, isn’t that somewhat like an absolute zero? Could we have states of absolute in only “some” of the many bands?

    I had an associated thought that does not exactly relate to “cold” and “zero”, but have you ever considered the consequences of sending something like the digits of pi, where the transmission has heavy losses, to query “all” the states and processes of a transmission medium? I will have to check again the progress on “photon diffusion”, what an elegant viewpoint and vision.

    Thank you both.

    Richard Collins, The Internet Foundation

  2. Oops – anthropomorphizing. I do not know how to correct something I posted. If it is some tiny thing to click I might not be able to see it. If is some sequence of incantations or clicks, it might as well be locked. :) And do I have access to the things I have posted, like on Facebook?

    1. As far as I am aware (Disclaimer) there is no way to edit a comment once it is posted. The only way I know to access what you have posted later, is to look up the story, and scan down the comment section. There also seems to have been a recent change in that I no longer get notified when someone responds to a post that I have made. I have no idea if this is a temporary malfunction, or if it is some “improvement” made to the software. Now the only way to get notified it seems, is to check the box on each post instead of it being automatic, then you get notification on that single post via email. I used to get notified right here on the site.

      1. William,
        You are very close to the truth. I have studied the Internet for 21 years, and programming for 55 years, and one rule I have distilled is that “programmers” never use the tools they write. Just as doctors never take the medicines they prescribe.

        I have been proposing that every website be modifiable to user preferences. If you want something set permanently to your choices, it goes to your preferences first rather than its own table or stored values. Screen colors, font colors and size, email preferences, layout, position of regions, display of images, action on clicking links (always new tab for instance).

        So far, user wishes and preferences are generally ignored, here and on the Internet as a whole. I gave up trying to get corporations and governments to change. Lack of empathy is lack of empathy. If a site has 28,000 members, it only requires 4.286 minutes per day to eat up a man-year of human time. In the US that is about $53k per man year. Sites like Hackaday waste manyears a week of their members’ time, yet will not allocate a few hours of programmer time to fix things.

        What do you have to do because they don’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s? You don’t get notifications of responses. Things are delayed, you miss opportunities. Those can be much worse than the time you lose. I see whole corporations spending 45 minutes per customer, then having to repeat that five or six times – to answer a question or change something that should only take 30 seconds. It is the rule now, not the exception. It mostly comes because the CEO’s don’t talk to their programmers about the needs of the members. And the programmers almost never interact with and constantly work to improve member experiences. Or corporations hand off the job to kids who have no idea what the group or corporation is for. If you count time and opportunities lost, the value to the corporation of the programmers time rises exponentially – if the corporation or group cares to nurture is members, not just put pages on the web to get more advertising. It is so sad, because not one in a ten thousand sites gets it right. And I have tried to look at them all.

        Richard Collins, The Internet Foundation

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