There’s something magical about a laser light show. Watching that intense beam of light flit back and forth to make shapes and patterns, some of them even animated, is pretty neat. It leaves those of us with a technical bent wondering just exactly how the beam is manipulated that fast.
Wonder no more as [Zenodilodon], a working concert laser tech with a deep junk bin, dives into the innards of closed-loop galvanometers, which lie at the heart of laser light shows. Galvos are closely related to moving-coil analog meters, which use the magnetic field of a coil to deflect a needle against spring force to measure current. Laser galvos, on the other hand, are optimized to move a lightweight mirror back and forth, by tiny amounts but very rapidly, to achieve the deflection needed to trace out shapes.
As [Zeno] explains in his teardown of some galvos that have seen better days, this means using a very low-mass permanent magnet armature surrounded by coils. The armature is connected to the mirror on one end, and a sensor on the other to provide positional feedback. We found this part fascinating; it hadn’t occurred to us that laser galvos would benefit from closed-loop control. And the fact that a tiny wiggling vane can modulate light from an IR LED enough to generate a control signal is pretty cool too.
The video below may be a bit long, but it’s an interesting glimpse into the day-to-day life of a lighting tech. It puts a little perspective on some of the laser projection projects we’ve seen, like this giant Asteroids game.
Continue reading “Lighting Tech Dives Into The Guts Of Laser Galvanometers”
A few summers of my misspent youth found me working at an outdoor concert venue on the local crew. The local crew helps the show’s technicians — don’t call them roadies; they hate that — put up the show. You unpack the trucks, put up the lights, fly the sound system, help run the show, and put it all back in the trucks at the end. It was grueling work, but a lot of fun, and I got to meet people with names like “Mister Dog Vomit.”
One of the things I most remember about the load-in process was running the snakes. The snakes are fat bundles of cables, one for audio and one for lighting, that run from the stage to the consoles out in the house. The bigger the snakes, the bigger the show. It always impressed me that the audio snake, something like 50 yards long, was able to carry all those low-level signals without picking up interference from the AC thrumming through the lighting snake running right alongside it, while my stereo at home would pick up hum from the three-foot long RCA cable between the turntable and the preamp.
I asked one of the audio techs about that during one show, and he held up the end of the snake where all the cables break out into separate connectors. The chunky silver plugs clinked together as he gave his two-word answer before going back to patching in the console: “Balanced audio.”
Continue reading “The Hot And Cold Of Balanced Audio”
Hackaday reader [Tyler Laseter] wrote in to tell us about an event that he and his fellow Tesla Orchestra team members are hosting next month.
The “Open Spark Project” is a concert event taking place on May 14th, which melds together electricity and music in spectacular fashion. The event features two large Tesla coils which are tuned to play musical notes while shooting bolts of electricity through the air.
Musical Tesla coils are nothing new around here, but we have yet to see someone allow the general public to play music on their coils. That’s what makes this event unique – anyone is encouraged to submit their to the Tesla Orchestra team, which will then be played back via a live video stream next month. Their web site offers up all of the technical details as well as the file format requirements for submitting music for the event, so get started on your entry today!
If a passive approach is more your style, stick around for a quick video demonstrating their coils’ abilities. Sure it’s Lady Gaga, but we won’t tell anyone you watched it. Plus, it’s totally legit when the song is being played using 20,000 volts.
Continue reading “Musical Tesla Concert Is Electrifying”
[jay] reminded us of this old video of solenoids banging rhythms on furniture and household objects. There’s no schematic, but in the video it looks like an Arduino drives a bunch of solenoids through relays. The PC interface is run on Pure Data, an open source programming environment for audio, video, and graphic processing. Thanks [Jay].