Enjoy Totality Every Day With This Personal Eclipse Generator

There have been a couple of high-profile solar eclipses lately, but like us, you probably missed the news of the one that passed over Munich in 2019. And every day since then, in fact, unless you were sitting in a particular spot: the couch of one [Bernd Kraus], who has his very own personal eclipse generator.

We’ll attempt to explain. Living in an apartment with a gorgeous western view of Munich is not without its cons, chief among which is the unobstructed exposure to the setting sun. Where most people would opt for a window treatment of some sort to mitigate this, [Bernd] felt that blotting out the entire view was a heavy-handed solution to the problem. His solution is a window-mounted X-Y gantry that dangles a cutout of the moon in just the right place to blot out the sun. An Arduino uses the time and date to calculate the position of the sun as it traverses the expansive window and moves the stepper motors to keep the moon casting its shadow in just the right place: on his face as he sits in his favorite spot on the couch.

There are a couple of time-lapse sequences in the video below, as well as a few shots of the hardware. We know this isn’t an actual coronagraph, but the effect is pretty cool, and does resemble an eclipse, at least in spirit. And it goes without saying that we applaud the unnecessary complexity embodied by this solution.

29 thoughts on “Enjoy Totality Every Day With This Personal Eclipse Generator

  1. I’ve been wanting to make something like this for my windshield, to block both the sun and oncoming headlights. It would have to take into account the position of my head, and avoid blocking my view of the road, signage, etc.

      1. we have sun visors already to perform this function, just not well.

        obviously it takes some testing to validate “performing well”, but it seems feasible to me to do a better job than sun visors.

        one thing about safety is that it’s like any engineered result — it’s all trade offs, opportunity costs, relative. so you’re balancing three risks: (1) your machine might over-succeed and blind you to something you need to see, (2) it might fail and blind you by giving you the sun when you’re not expecting it, (3) you might not have it at all and run into things due to sun blindness.

        that is, the status quo ante is not 0 risk either — (3) happens a bunch today already.

    1. When you get that working:I’ve been wanting an adaptive, area specific, auto-darkening lens for arc welding. Darken the super bright arc/puddle spot relative to the already minimally-safe darkened surrounding area so maybe my aging eyes can see where the heck the joint is.

      Hand-waving ensues: cameras looking out at the light source, cameras looking in at my eyeballs, ray tracing algorithms, yada yada, blah blah, AI for the marketing value…

      1. Something I’ve always wanted to try, now that LED movie and video-style lights are cheap from Chinese sources, is just dumping a lot of light into the workspace to reduce the relative brightness of the arc.

        My biggest issue with welding is that the arc is hundreds of times brighter than the background , which means I can either see the background well (with no arc and no filter) or see the arc well with a filter but not see the background. Yes, LCD lenses flip back and forth with each strike, but I find that disorienting.

        One of these days I’m going to try welding under a super-bright spotlight, so the parts are already so bright the LCDs are mostly engaged, and there’s only a small jump when the arc strikes

        1. I used to use a very bright flashlight fairly close to the arc; of course that meant the glass has got some metal flecks melted into it, but it helped somewhat. Also, for all the helmets I used, the darkness level is set by a dial, and the sensor may detect infrared instead of visible light, potentially, but either way it was just a trigger based on a threshold. So I used a lighter than usual dial setting which also helped.

          1. I have a “panoramic” helmet. I thought maybe light coming in across more of my vision would be helpful. It didn’t seem to help much with the blinding problem, but it does help when welding out of position where I can’t get my head in the perfect spot, and it helps to see if anything else is going on around me…like, oh, I don’t know, maybe a small fire. Overall, it was worth the price.

            The helmet is adjustable darkness, but I can’t seem to find a sweet spot.

            I have also considered the floodlight option. I only have halogen light sources that are bright enough to matter. When it’s 120F in the garage, that doesn’t seem like a friendly option. But, as others have mentioned, super bright LED’s are now a thing.

            I should look into the LED thing. I really would like to be able to keep doing repairs and projects that require welding. I can still oxy-acetylene weld and braze okay, but the old eyes have trouble with the arc, be it stick or wire feed. I assume TIG would induce the same failure mode.

    2. Years ago someone had the idea of putting a polarised film on a windscreen, angled at 45 degrees. And the same for headlights. So oncoming headlights would be dimmed by the cross polarisation but the vehicle’s own headlights not impeded.

    3. Well, the eye tracking bit is a solved problem. One of our cars has that Continental 3d digital gauge cluster… I believe it’s a pair of IR/structured light imagers?

      Either way, car is fitted with eye tracking and knows exactly where you’re looking.

  2. This is so wonderfullly overengineered……. and… I can’t help but want one for myself. I often wake up at 5:00, and at the northern latitudes I live at and the spot I sit on my couch, it means my early-morning programming is hampered by the blinding light of the sun. So yeah, there’s actually a legit use case for this!

    It occurs to me that I also have a curtain on that window… so… yeah, could just use that, I guess.

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