Ah, the charm of candlelight! Nothing says “romance” — or “extended power outage” — like the warm, soft glow of a real candle. But if you’re not a fan of burning wax for whatever reason, this electric plasma candle may be just the thing to build for your next dinner for two.
This re-imagining of the humble candle comes to us by way of plasma super-fan [Jay Bowles], who has a lot of experience with plasmas and the high-voltage circuits that often go along with them. Even so, he had to enlist help with the circuit, with is essentially a 10-MHz Class-E oscillator, from [Leon] at the Teslaundmehr channel on YouTube. The most prominent feature of the build is the big resonator coil, surrounded by the shorter primary coil and sitting atop the heatsink for the MOSFET driver. [Jay]’s usual acrylic-rich style is well represented here, and the resulting build is quite lovely.
The tuning process, though, sounds like it was pure torture. It took a lot of tweaking — and a lot of MOSFETs — to get the candle to produce a stable flame. But once it did, the results were striking. The plasma coming off the breakout point on the resonator coil is pretty much the same size, shape, and — occasionally — the color as a candle flame. It’s also hot enough to do some damage, so do be careful if you build this. We’ve included both [Jay]’s and [Leon]’s videos below; [Leon]’s has great step-by-step build instructions.
We’ve been following [Jay]’s journey through the plasmaverse for a while now, from his cheap and simple Tesla coils to using corona discharge to clean his hands. He even hosted a Hack Chat on the subject last year.
Note: [Jay] reached out to us after publication about mitigating RF noise. He does his experiments inside a steel-reinforced concrete building with grounded metal screens over the windows. An RF-wizard friend has checked across the spectrum and detected no leaks to the outside. Sounds like the business to us.
Continue reading “Electric Candle Replaces Flame With Plasma”
It’s easy to imagine that once a spacecraft leaves Earth’s atmosphere and is in a stable orbit, the most dangerous phase of the mission is over. After all, that’s when we collectively close the live stream and turn our attentions back to terrestrial matters. Once the fire and fury of the launch is over with, all the excitement is done. From that point on, it’s just years of silently sailing through the vacuum of space. What’s the worst that could happen?
Unfortunately, satellite radio provider Sirius XM just received a harsh reminder that there’s still plenty that can go wrong after you’ve slipped Earth’s surly bonds. Despite a flawless launch in early December 2020 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 and a reportedly uneventful trip to its designated position in geostationary orbit approximately 35,786 km (22,236 mi) above the planet, their brand new SXM-7 broadcasting satellite appears to be in serious trouble.
Maxar Technologies, prime contractor for the SXM-7, says they’re currently trying to determine what’s gone wrong with the 7,000 kilogram satellite. In a statement, the Colorado-based aerospace company claimed they were focused on “safely completing the commissioning of the satellite and optimizing its performance.” But the language used by Sirius XM in their January 27th filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was notably more pessimistic. No mention is made of bringing SXM-7 online, and instead, the company makes it clear that their existing fleet of satellites will be able to maintain service to their customers until a replacement can be launched.
So what happened, and more importantly, is there any hope for SXM-7? Neither company has released any concrete details, and given the amount of money on the line, there’s a good chance the public won’t get the full story for some time. But we can theorize a bit based on what we do know, and make some predictions about where things go from here.
Continue reading “Sirius XM Satellite Failure A Reminder That Space Is Risky (And That Satellite Insurance Is A Thing)”
Hackers and makers can sometimes feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick when it comes to gift giving. You’re out there making thoughtful, intricate circuit sculptures, helpful software, or face masks for people, and what do you get in return? Okay, yes, usually gift cards or tools or other things that feed your creativity in the first place. But darn it, it would be nice to receive a handmade gift once in a while, right?
So here’s what you do: make friends with enough other makers that you find your birthday twin, or close enough that you both feel the warmth of the personal holiday you share. Then you get them to agree to trade handmade birthday presents with you. That’s more or less what happened between [Becky Stern] and [Estefannie], who seem to have found each other through the magic of sharing projects on YouTube.
[Becky]’s gift to [Estefannie] is a busy intersection of maker elements including graphic design, embroidery, electronics, and 3D printing. [Becky] started with the embroidery, which was made possible thanks to a new open-source library for Processing called PEmbroider. Once that was done, she 3D printed the frame and added the electronics — candle flicker LEDs for the birthday cake, and a handful of songs that are accessible via touch contacts screwed into the side of the frame. [Becky] added a real-time clock module so it plays a few extra songs on [Estefannie]’s actual birthday.
The most thoughtful element here is personalization, and it’s amazing what can happen when you put 100% of yourself into something that is 100% about someone else. Every bit of the art is personal to [Estefannie], and every atom of the build is pure [Becky]. Check out the demo and build video and see what [Estefannie] made for [Becky] after the break.
[Becky]’s varied creativity has graced these pages many times before. See how she bid adieu to 2020, built a daily affirmation mirror, and gave a mask-making masterclass in the early stages of the pandemic.
Continue reading “Electronic Embroidery Birthday Card Is A Celebration Of Skills”
Being an editor is a job that seems deceptively easy until you are hauled over the coals for letting a textual howler go to print (or website). Most publications have style guides to ensure that their individual voice is preserved, but even the most eagle-eyed will sometimes slip up in their application. At the Guardian newspaper in the UK they have been struggling with this against an ever-evolving style guide that must adapt to fast-moving world events, to the extent that they had a set of regular expressions to deal with commonly-occurring problems. A lot of regular expressions, in fact around 13,000 of them.
Clearly some form of management was required, and a team of developers set about taming this monster. The result is Typerighter, their server-side document-checker, which can be found in a GitHub repository. Surprisingly for rule management they started with a Google Sheet, a choice which proved unexpectedly robust when working with such a long list even though they later replaced it. The back end doing the job of text matching was written in Scala, and for the front end a plugin was created for their Prosemirror text editor.
For a publication of course this is extremely interesting, but where’s the interest for hackers? The answer lies in any text-processing engine that uses a lot of regular expressions; those of you who have dabbled in this space will know how unwieldy this work can become. Any user of computational linguistic techniques in the pursuit of language processing could probably find much of interest here.
If you’re a bit hazy on regular expressions, how about the episode on them from our long-running Linux-fu series?