Granted, uranium glass isn’t as dangerous as it might sound. Especially considering its creepy green glow, which almost seems to be somehow self-powered. The uranium glass used by [gigabecquerel] for this project is only about 1% U3O8, and isn’t really that radioactive. But radioactive or not, melting glass inside a microwave can be problematic, and appropriate precautions should be taken. This would include making the raw material for the project, called frit, which was accomplished by smacking a few bits of uranium glass with a hammer. We’d recommend a respirator and some good ventilation for this step.
The powdered uranium glass then goes into a graphite-coated plaster mold, which was made from a silicone mold, which in turn came from a 3D print. The charged mold then goes into a microwave kiln, which is essentially an insulating chamber that contains a silicon carbide crucible inside a standard microwave oven. Although it seems like [gigabecquerel] used a commercially available kiln, we recently saw a DIY metal-melting microwave forge that would probably do the trick.
The actual casting process is pretty simple — it’s really just ten minutes in the microwave on high until the frit gets hot enough to liquefy and flow into the mold. The results were pretty good; the glass medallion picked up the detail in the mold, but also the crack that developed in the plaster. [gigabecquerel] thinks that a mold milled from solid graphite would work better, but he doesn’t have the facilities for that. If anyone tries this out, we’d love to hear about it.
We’ve seen some absolutely gorgeous freeform circuit sculptures. There’s a mystic quality to taking what has normally been hidden away for safety and reliability reasons and putting it on display for everyone to see. Of course, creating these unique circuit sculptures takes considerable time and effort. [Inne] created several silicone soldering jigs to help with these tricky joints.
While a vice or helping hands is crucial for many joints, when dealing with tiny SMD components and exacting angles, you need something a little more specialized. Double-sided tape is often recommended, but heat ruins the adhesive and SMD components like to stick to soldering iron tips. Since silicone tends to be heat resistant, it makes a decent material for soldering on. [Inne] uses a city analogy with the cups for soldering called plazas, each with a hole (called a manhole) leading to a foot-switch vacuum pump to keep parts in place. The OpenSCAD code is available on GitHub under a GPLv3 license. It generates a two-part mold that you can cast in A-8/A-15 silicone.
It’s a clever project that makes it far easier to assemble gorgeous circuit sculptures. We love the design and thought that went into it, particularly the naming scheme as we often find appropriately naming variables in OpenSCAD quickly becomes difficult.
By now you’ve all seen the tiny LEGO brick with a working screen in it. The work of one [James “Ancient” Brown], it was truly a masterpiece of miniaturization and creativity. Since then, [James] hasn’t stopped innovating. Now, he’s demoing a playable version of DOOMrunning on a single plastic brick.
We’ve covered the construction of these astounding screen bricks before. Long story short, [James] designed a tiny PCB that hosts an RP2040 microcontroller which is then hooked up to a tiny OLED screen. The components are placed in a silicone mold, which is then filled with transparent resin to form the brick. The screen is then powered via contacts in the bottom, much like older-style LEGO motors.
Early experiments involved running various graphics to emulate a spaceship dashboard, but [James] has now gone much further. He’s implemented RP2040-doom to run the game. It uses tilt controls thanks to an accelerometer, combined with capacitive touch controls for shooting. The monochrome OLED is driven very fast with a special library of [James’] own creation to create three levels of grayscale to make the game actually visible and (just barely) playable.
It’s a hack, of course, and the controls are far from perfect. Nobody’s speed-running E1M1 on [James’s] LEGO brick, to be sure. Perchance. With that said, it’s still a glorious piece of work nonetheless. Just imagine, sitting with friends, and announcing you’re going to play some DOOM — only to pluck a piece of LEGO out of your pocket and start blasting away at demons.
Hearing is one of our most precious senses, and yet many take their hearing for granted, exposing themselves to loud noises that do lasting damage. [Jonathan Levi] of The Next Level does no such thing, at least not anymore. He’s even gone so far as to have custom acrylic earplugs made, which he carried around for two years, finally had them tweaked to be perfect, and promptly lost them. Rather than shell out another $150-$200 for another pair, [Jonathan] decided to see if he could make some himself.
While it’s true that [Jonathan] got a head start by asking the earplug company for the STLs they created back when he was fitted, he goes through the ways that one could mold and then scan one’s ears at home for not a lot of money. There are even kits for squirting that quick-setting goo into your ear to get just the right shape. Once you’ve got the ear canal positives, some quick photogrammetry work with your phone camera and a lazy Susan should be enough to get a model going in Blender.
[Jonathan] had the good sense to label left and right on the 3D printed mold, and furthermore added some small 3D printed screws that are color-coded to help him keep them plugs straight, and give him something to grab on to when it’s time to take them out. Be sure to check out the build video after the break.
We’ve got to admit that this one’s a real treat, with a host of interesting skills on display. Our previous coverage on these bedazzled bricks was disappointingly thin on details, and now the original tweets even seem to have disappeared entirely. In case you didn’t catch the original post, [James] found a way to embed a microcontroller and a remarkably small OLED screen into a Lego-compatible brick — technically a “slope 45 2×2, #3039” — that does a great job of standing in for a tiny computer monitor.
For hackers in the Northern Hemisphere, the seasons of wet and cold are upon us. Staying dry is every bit as important as staying warm, so what better than a hack or two to keep us warm and dry! All you’ll need is a bed sheet, some rope, and a run to the local hardware store, and a bit of knowledge. [NightHawkInLight] has us covered with the excellent video “Recycled Bedsheets Make The Best Waterproof Tarps” as seen below the break.
[NightHawkInLight] brings old traditional methods into the 21st century by turning away from oil, beeswax and canvas in favor of a recycled bed sheet made waterproof with silicone. The video goes into just enough detail so that you can reproduce their results without fear of working with the powerful solvent being used.
Cheap hardware store grade silicone sealant is thinned by naphtha, worked into the old bed sheet, and then hung out to dry overnight. The result? A perfectly waterproof sheet that’s just as pliable as before treatment. But how can you use it like a tarp, when there are no eyelets? If you watch the video for no other reason, check out the neat attachment trick at the end, where traditional technology is brought to the fore once again with nothing more than a rock and a slip knot.
We can imagine that the uses for such inexpensive, durable home made tarps are many. Perhaps one could put it to use when building your own Custom Cycling Camper.
Casting parts in silicone is great, and 3D printing in resin is fantastic for making clean shapes, so it’s natural for an enterprising hacker to want to put the two together: 3D print the mold, pour in the silicone, receive parts! But silicone’s curing process can be inhibited by impurities. What’s cure inhibition? It’s a gross mess as shown in the image above, that’s what it is. Sadly, SLA-printed resin molds are notorious for causing exactly that. What’s a hacker to do?