When Is An LED A Lamp? When It’s 50mm Wide

Call us childlike, but we sure do get a kick out of both larger-than-life and miniature things, especially when they work as their “normal-sized” counterparts do. So you can imagine our glee when we saw [JGJMatt]’s 50mm LED lamp, which looks like a giant version of something you might have wired up on your bench at any given moment — a bent-legged LED, wired up and ready to blink.

[JGJMatt] started by designing a mold in Fusion360 to make the lens, which he then printed in PLA. However, due to the heat generated by curing resin (especially all enclosed like that), he recommends using PETG or ABS instead to avoid any potential warping issues.

This is where things get a bit dangerous. For the internals, [JGJMatt] went all out, hand forming a reflector cup out of brass pipe, and the anode and cathode plates from flat 1 mm brass stock, plated to a silvery gray finish. The light source itself is a 1 W cool white LED that sits in the reflector cup, safe under a layer of epoxy mixed with a bit of yellow paint that represent the phosphor layer in a standard 5 mm white LED.

Once the innards were ready, it was time to cast the huge lens with them tucked safely inside. After the resin cured, [JGJMatt] sanded away the layer lines and airbrushed it with clear lacquer to clear up the lens and protect it from yellowing down the road. Then it was just a matter of bending the legs to form a stand, and wiring it up. What an awesome way to light up your workbench! Or anywhere, really.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a giant, working LED, though it’s probably only the second one since [Mike Szczys] saw some in the flesh at Maker Faire: Rome way back in 2019. Those are for sale on Tindie, BTW, though the shop is on holiday for the foreseeable, so you’ll have to make your own for now.

AJAX COMMAND Radio Is An Oldie But Goodie

If you are a certain age, it is hard to wrap your head around the fact that an old radio might have transistors — the old ones all had tubes, right? But a radio from the 1960s or 1970s is reaching the 60+ year mark and people are restoring old transistor sets. [Adam] picked up his first old radio, a 1970s vintage Ajax Command S-74.

He was fortunate. The only repair needed was to replace a corroded battery holder and clean up the mess from the batteries. You can hear the radio doing its thing in the video below.

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Hackaday Links: July 3, 2022

Looks like we might have been a bit premature in our dismissal last week of the Sun’s potential for throwing a temper tantrum, as that’s exactly what happened when a G1 geomagnetic storm hit the planet early last week. To be fair, the storm was very minor — aurora visible down to the latitude of Calgary isn’t terribly unusual — but the odd thing about this storm was that it sort of snuck up on us. Solar scientists first thought it was a coronal mass ejection (CME), possibly related to the “monster sunspot” that had rapidly tripled in size and was being hyped up as some kind of planet killer. But it appears this sneak attack came from another, less-studied phenomenon, a co-rotating interaction region, or CIR. These sound a bit like eddy currents in the solar wind, which can bunch up plasma that can suddenly burst forth from the sun, all without showing the usually telltale sunspots.

Then again, even people who study the Sun for a living don’t always seem to agree on what’s going on up there. Back at the beginning of Solar Cycle 25, NASA and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were calling for a relatively weak showing during our star’s eleven-year cycle, as recorded by the number of sunspots observed. But another model, developed by heliophysicists at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, predicted that Solar Cycle 25 could be among the strongest ever recorded. And so far, it looks like the latter group might be right. Where the NASA/NOAA model called for 37 sunspots in May of 2022, for example, the Sun actually threw up 97 — much more in line with what the NCAR model predicted. If the trend holds, the peak of the eleven-year cycle in April of 2025 might see over 200 sunspots a month.

So, good news and bad news from the cryptocurrency world lately. The bad news is that cryptocurrency markets are crashing, with the flagship Bitcoin falling from its high of around $67,000 down to $20,000 or so, and looking like it might fall even further. But the good news is that’s put a bit of a crimp in the demand for NVIDIA graphics cards, as the economics of turning electricity into hashes starts to look a little less attractive. So if you’re trying to upgrade your gaming rig, that means there’ll soon be a glut of GPUs, right? Not so fast, maybe: at least one analyst has a different view, based mainly on the distribution of AMD and NVIDIA GPU chips in the market as well as how much revenue they each draw from crypto rather than from traditional uses of the chips. It’s important mainly for investors, so it doesn’t really matter to you if you’re just looking for a graphics card on the cheap.

Speaking of businesses, things are not looking too good for MakerGear. According to a banner announcement on their website, the supplier of 3D printers, parts, and accessories is scaling back operations, to the point where everything is being sold on an “as-is” basis with no returns. In a long post on “The Future of MakerGear,” founder and CEO Rick Pollack says the problem basically boils down to supply chain and COVID issues — they can’t get the parts they need to make printers. And so the company is looking for a buyer. We find this sad but understandable, and wish Rick and everyone at MakerGear the best of luck as they try to keep the lights on.

And finally, if there’s one thing Elon Musk is good at, it’s keeping his many businesses in the public eye. And so it is this week with SpaceX, which is recruiting Starlink customers to write nasty-grams to the Federal Communications Commission regarding Dish Network’s plan to gobble up a bunch of spectrum in the 12-GHz band for their 5G expansion plans. The 3,000 or so newly minted experts on spectrum allocation wrote to tell FCC commissioners how much Dish sucks, and how much they love and depend on Starlink. It looks like they may have a point — Starlink uses the lowest part of the Ku band (12 GHz – 18 GHz) for data downlinks to user terminals, along with big chunks of about half a dozen other bands. It’ll be interesting to watch this one play out.

Testing A Tube Without A Tube Tester

[M Caldeira] needed to test a tube and didn’t have a spare to do the old swap test. He also didn’t have a tube tester handy. Drawing inspiration from a 2015 video, he managed to cobble up an ad hoc tube tester using stuff around the workbench. You can see a video of the process below.

To duplicate his effort, you are going to need a few meters. Good thing they are relatively cheap these days. Usually, a tube tester has a way to adjust all the different parameters for the tube, but there’s no reason you can’t just set those parameters using your testbench power supplies.

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AI Image Generation Sharpens Your Bad Photos And Kills Photography?

We don’t fully understand the appeal of asking an AI for a picture of a gorilla eating a waffle while wearing headphones. However, [Micael Widell] shows something in a recent video that might be the best use we’ve seen yet of DALL-E 2. Instead of concocting new photos, you can apparently use the same technology for cleaning up your own rotten pictures. You can see his video, below. The part about DALL-E 2 editing is at about the 4:45 mark.

[Nicholas Sherlock] fed the AI a picture of a fuzzy ladybug and asked it to focus the subject. It did. He also fed in some other pictures and asked it to make subtle variations of them. It did a pretty good job of that, too.

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Ride DIY Or Die This Badge-Less Suzuki

A few years ago, [Charles] picked up a sweet Suzuki motorcycle that checked all the boxen: it was in good shape, bore a few useful upgrades and a box of spare parts, plus the price was right. Though he assumed that he had pored over every picture on the classified site before buying, it wasn’t until later that [Charles] realized that something was indeed missing from the bike — a piece of chrome that does little more than to cover the tee in the brake line and bear the Suzuki brand. Once he saw the problem, he couldn’t un-see it, you know? And at that point, he just had to have that little piece, even if he had to make it himself.

That wasn’t the original plan, of course, but bike parts are expensive to begin with and only get worse as size, condition, and rarity increase. [Charles]’ quest to find this piece was halfway successful; he found a reasonable-but-rusty facsimile of the right part, although the emblem portion was long gone. Then he remembered the wife’s vinyl cutter.

Now, let’s stop right there. If you know anything at all about these vinyl cutters, you know that they are basically glorified 2D plotters with a knife attached where a pen would be. Send it any 2D file and you’re good? No, no; of course not. These things are locked down by the manufacturers.

Fortunately, [Charles] found inkscape-silhouette, which makes light work of sending SVGs to the machine. After much back and forth and maybe a bit of coin-flipping, [Charles] settled on the classy, stylized ‘S’ version rather than the full-on Suzuki badge. We think it looks great, and we’ll never tell anyone.

While this isn’t quite the type of badge we’d normally talk about, it’s a great project nonetheless, and it’s always nice to hear about projects that open up otherwise closed-source hardware.

Pulling Out Burger Flavor With A Magnet

If you’re vegetarian or don’t eat beef, you are probably already familiar with Impossible. Impossible meat tastes like beef and cooks like beef while being plant-based. They achieved this with significant R&D and a few special patents. But if you don’t want to pay Impossible prices, [Sauce Stash] has been trying to recreate some of the tricks that Impossible uses. (Video, embedded below.)

[Sauce Stash] starts with the ingredients list and tries to reason what would be suitable substitutes. However, even following the ingredients list, adding iron is one crucial trick that takes your vegetarian beef much closer to tasting like proper beef. Impossible has a special patent process for creating leghemoglobin (or heme), the iron molecule we associate with red meat’s taste. It makes the meat seem to bleed as it cooks and dramatically changes the flavor. Impossible genetically engineered yeast to produce the compound to get heme on an industrial scale. But they state on their website that the molecule can be found in many plants, including soy. With a magnet and soy in hand, he tried to pull the iron out overnight but didn’t get anything substantial. Unfortunately, the heme is in the root of the soy plant, not in the milk, so it was back to the drawing board.

There are a few other sources: breakfast cereals, black olives (often treated with iron gluconate), and the roots of other legumes. However, [Sauce Stash] took a more leisurely route and crushed a soy-based iron tablet. However, being a supplement, there were other ingredients that he didn’t want in his burger. So he used the magnet to extract the iron to include. After that, it was easy sailing, and he was very proud of the vegan burger he had created.

Creating something that tastes and feels like something else is a complex and tricky endeavor, and hacks like these are always interesting to think about. We’d take texture pea protein over an insect burger, but perhaps that is just something we need to get over. Video after the break.

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