3D Imaging For Natural Science — For Free

It isn’t that unusual for a home lab to have a microscope, but wouldn’t it be cool to have a CT scanner? Well, you probably won’t anytime soon, but if you are interested in scans of vertebrates — you know, animals with backbones — a group of museums have you covered.

The oVert project is scanning 20,000 specimens and making the results available to everyone. This should be a boon to educators and might even be useful for 3D printing animal forms. Check out the video about the project below.

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CT Scan Reveals Secrets Of Heinz’s New Ketchup Cap

Ketchup bottles are a solved technology, right? Wrong! As it turns out, there is still great development being done in this space. Industrial imaging company Lumafield reveals to us the secrets of Heinz’s new ketchup bottle cap, reportedly the result of a seven-figure investment and eight long years of toil.

Lumafield put the cap in a CT scanner to generate three-dimensional cutaway images of the cap’s internal structure.  The trick of the new cap is in how it compares to the old design. The previous solution used multiple different plastics: likely polypropylene for the cap itself, along with a small amount of silicone for the flexible nozzle valve. The point of the valve was to regulate the flow of ketchup so the bottle squirts out the red goop in a predictable fashion.

The problem with the old cap is that the use of two materials both makes it more expensive to manufacture, and practically impossible to recycle. A solution was needed, and Heinz finally found one.

The new cap, which is fully recyclable, takes advantage of the properties of ketchup itself. As the ketchup is squeezed out of the bottle, it passes through a complicated array of channels before it gets to the nozzle outlet itself. As a sheer-thinning fluid, ketchup gets less viscous the more its under strain. Thus, as it deforms around the complex channels, it becomes less viscous and more likely to flow out at a predictable rate, rather than in thick gloopy spurts.

It’s amazing to think how much work goes into a simple ketchup cap, and yet, millions of dollars are on the line in projects like these. This isn’t the first time Lumafield used their tech to peel back the layers on a piece of common tech — last year we covered their investigation into what’s inside various AirPod knockoffs.

CT Scanner Reveals The Difference Between Real And Fake AirPods

These days, you have to be careful what you buy. Counterfeit hardware is everywhere, especially when you’re purchasing things sight unseen over the Internet. [Jon Bruner] recently set out to look at a bunch of fake AirPod clones, and found that the similarities between the imposters and the real thing are only skin deep. A CT scan reveals all.

As you might expect, Apple’s AirPods are a fine example of miniaturization. They’re packed to the gills with hardware, with very little wasted space inside. Flexible PCBs hook up the electronics in an elegant and tidy fashion. Three tiny MEMS microphones are on board to capture the user’s voice and filter out noise. The battery that runs the show is a hefty lithium-ion coin cell which fills almost all the empty space behind the audio driver.

By contrast, the fakes look positively weedy inside. They cut out the bonus microphones, using just one to do the job. Wires link up the different components, with unimpressive blobby soldering visible that has splattered around the internal enclosure. Even the cases are lower-tech, with a weaker battery and a poorer charging solution. Hilariously, cheaping out on the tech makes the fakes lighter, so they compensate by adding weights to create a sense of heft for the user.

It’s amazing how much is revealed by a CT scan, that doesn’t even require opening the devices to tear them down. Fake hardware really is a scourge that many in the tech industry find themselves fighting against on a regular basis.

2000-Year Old Charred Manuscripts Reveal Their Secrets

Imagine trying to read a 2000-year old scroll from an ancient civilization. Now imagine that scroll is rolled up, and in a delicate, charred, carbonized form, having been engulfed by the fiery eruption of a volcano. The task would seem virtually impossible, and the information in the scroll lost forever. Right?|

As it turns out, new developments are changing that. Modern scanning techniques and machine learning tools have made it possible to read fragments of the heavily-damaged Herculaneum scrolls. Hopes are now that more of the ancient writings will be salvaged, giving us a new insight into the ancient past.

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A Deeper Dive Into Reverse Engineering With A CT Scanner

We’ve recently got a look at how [Ken Shirriff] used an industrial CT scanner as a reverse engineering tool. The results were spectacular, with pictures that clearly showed the internal arrangement of parts that haven’t seen the light of day since the module was potted back in the 60s. And now, [Ken]’s cohort [Curious Marc] has dropped a video with more detail on the wonderful machine, plus deep dives into more Apollo-era hardware

If you liked seeing the stills [Ken] used to reverse engineer the obscure flip-flop module, you’re going to love seeing [Marc] using the Lumafield scanner’s 3D software to non-destructively examine several Apollo artifacts. First to enter the sample chamber of the CT scanner was a sealed module called the Central Timing Equipment, which served as the master clock for the Apollo Command Module. The box’s magnesium case proved to be no barrier to the CT scanner’s beam, and the 3D model that was built up from a series of 2D images was astonishingly detailed. The best part about the virtual models is the ability to slice through them in any plane — [Marc] used this feature to hunt down the clock’s quartz crystal. Continue reading “A Deeper Dive Into Reverse Engineering With A CT Scanner”

Homemade CAT Scan Shouldn’t Scan Cats

[Pyrotechnical] thought about buying a CAT scanner and found out they cost millions of dollars. So he decided to build one for about $200 using a salvage X-ray tube and some other miscellaneous parts. A scintillating detector provides the image for pick up with a camera phone. The control? An Arduino, what else? You can watch the video below, but due to plenty of NSFW language, you might want to put your headphones on if you don’t want to shock anyone.

Of course, you need to be careful when working with energetic X-rays. To keep away from the X-ray source, [Pyrotechnical] used a Roku remote and an IR sensor to control the device from afar. The electronics is pretty easy. You just have to rotate a turntable and trigger the camera while lighting up the X-ray tube.

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Hackaday Links: April 3, 2022

It’s that time of year again — the 2022 Hackaday Prize has officially launched, and we’re excited to see what it turns out. This year’s theme is “Sustainability, Resilience, and Circularity,” and just in time, too; if the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s that we’ve got a lot of failure points built into the systems that run our world. As broken as things are, it’s tempting to just curl up in a ball and pretend everything’s fine, but that’s not how hackers respond to adversity. We need to control what we can control, and there’s plenty of work to be done. From sustainable energy ideas to ways to reduce the amount of stuff we throw away, from breathing new life into old equipment to building communities that can take care of themselves, there’s plenty of work to be done. So get over to the Hackaday Prize page, check out the launch summit video if you need some inspiration, and get hacking. And hurry up — things are only going to get better if people like us make it happen.

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