It’s fair to say that for most of us, using a fiber optic cable for digital audio or maybe networking will involve the use of an off-the-shelf termination. We snap the cable into the receptacle, and off we go. We know that inside there will be an LED and some lenses, but that’s it. [TedYapo] though has gone a little further into the realm of fibers, by building his own termination. Faced with the relatively high cost of the ball lenses used to focus light from an LED into the end of the fiber he started looking outside the box. He discovered that spherical glass anti-bumping balls used when boiling fluids in laboratories make an acceptable and much cheaper alternative.
A ball lens has an extremely short focal length, meaning that this same property which allowed Antonie van Leeuwenhoek to use them in his microscopes is ideal for LED focusing in a small space at the end of a fiber. Chromatic aberrations are of no consequence for light of a single wavelength. It seems that the glass balls are uniformly spherical enough to do the job. Fitted with the LED and fiber termination in a 3D-printed block, the relative position of the ball can be controlled for optimum light transfer. It’s a relatively simple hack mentioned in passing in a Twitter thread, but we like it because of its cheapness and also for an insight into the world of optical fiber termination.
Curious to know more about optical fibers? We covered just the video for you back in 2011.
You tend to think of test equipment in fairly basic terms: a multimeter, a power supply, a signal generator, and an oscilloscope. However, there are tons of highly-specialized test equipment for very specific purposes. One of these is the 8163A “lightwave multimeter” and [Signal Path] tears one part for repair in a recent video that you can see below.
If you’ve never heard of a lightwave multimeter, don’t feel bad. The instrument is a measuring system for fiber optics and, depending on the plugins installed, can manage a few tests that you’d usually use an optical power meter, a laser or light source, and some dedicated test jigs to perform. Continue reading “Lightwave Multimeter Teardown” →
While most home networking hardware comes with network ports baked in from the factory, industrial grade gear is typically more versatile. Using standards like Small Form-factor Pluggable, or SFP, network switches can be used with a variety of transport mediums by simply swapping tranceivers in and out. These network devices typically handle the nitty gritty of transmitting Ethernet over fiber optics, and for those keen to experiment, this breakout may come in handy.
The board design comes complete with an SFP receptacle, allowing a variety of compatible receivers to be plugged in for experimentation. With the standard using differential signalling, the board carries hardware to allow the transceiver to be fed with single-ended signals instead, though a differential version is available too. The board can be used for transmitting different signals over fiber, outside just Ethernet, or used as a simple way to reprogram SFP modules via I2C. The latter can be useful to get around DRM in network switches that attempt to lock out generic transceiver modules.
It’s a useful piece of hardware for the fiber optic tinkerer and network admin alike. You might also find it useful if you’re building your own 10-gigabit network at home!
Humans didn’t come with wings from the factory, and most efforts to fit them after the fact have been at least as far as flight is concerned, largely fruitless. That doesn’t mean you can’t cut a devastatingly sharp aesthetic though, and [Natalina’s] fiber optic wings are a great way to do just that.
The wings are a leathercraft project, consisting of a harness worn around the torso. This serves as the mounting point for the fiber optics, as well as the RGB Critter flashlight used to drive the lightshow. Leather parts are lasercut to the right shape, making it easy to create the delicate feather shapes in the design. The pieces are then dyed appropriately and sewn together into the final shape. Bundles of optical fibers are then wound through the harness, sprouting from either shoulder of the wearer. EVA foam is used to help create the right shape for the wings, allowing the different layers to remain separated to create more visual depth.
It’s a build that looks absolutely striking at night, and unlike some other wing-based cosplays, doesn’t have as many drawbacks as far as crowds and transportation. It would make a killer look if you’re going as a Hacker Angel for Halloween this.
Makers certainly know how to craft some cutting-edge wearables. Got your own sweet build? Throw it at the tips line!
[Bill] Decided that his living room could use some more light, or at least some more colourful light. To meet his needs [Bill] has designed and build what he describes as a modern/contemporary chandelier. The chandelier uses about 250′ of fibre optic cable to distribute the light from eight LED’s, light from the fibre optics is being diffused using marbles in place of the globes you would normally expect in a chandelier.
Control is achieved wirelessly via a pair of Xbee modules, this will allow [Bill] to integrate it into his home automation project he plans for the future. The colours are currently set using three slide potentiometers, and the chandelier is powered using a repurposed ATX power supply. It looks like a lot of time was spent on the acrylic enclosure and it was worth it because the results are fantastic. Check out his website for build details and the video after the break for a demonstration on the chandelier in action.
Continue reading “A Beautiful Fibre Optic Chandelier” →