Website News

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Email me. Your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

I'm back!
After a LONG bout of ignoring this website, I am back, and committed to making it grow. You might have noticed the bold request for clickthroughs near each set of Google ads. This is essential! Without those clicks there's no revenue stream for supporting this website, and so I have to spend more time doing non-website things.
PLEASE click those ads! You don't need to buy anything; just the act of visiting one of those websites will generate a few pennies for THIS one. Of course, if you find a relevant website offering something you need, you are just that much luckier!

I've recently, through several happy accidents, caught up with a few of my old friends listed on my personal info page. Welcome back, Dixie and Gar!

I have decided to trim my site of the less-than-useful stuff. I took out the links pages, as I feel those are irrelevant in today's Web environment. If you can't find what you need using a search engine, please write, and I will help with your search.
I also took out my book reviews. Again, you can probably find what you need by searching Amazon, or your own public library website.
Finally, I took out my "Science Magic Museum" section. I am no closer to building a science museum than I was 15 years ago. I don't see myself as a leader in that endeavour. If someone wants me to help with exhibit design, that's another story.
My interests right now are:
  • Doing experiments with sound via some software synthesizers I am exploring;
  • Programming PIC microcontrollers for a wide variety of lighting and robotics applications;
  • Writing up lots of easy "After-Dinner" type science experiments that don't take a lot of preparation on your part.
Let me know if you miss something, and if possible, I will just send you the data.

This month I am working on new gadgets and gizmos for my "Mad Scientist's Lab" for Halloween.
I am taking pictures as I go this time, so that I can make a new section for the website.
Last night I worked on rewiring a Nintendo "R.O.B." (Robotic Operating Buddy), so that I can control the motors myself.
For this year, I will be running it from a switch board, but eventually I plan to put it under automatic control using a microcontroller.

Nintendo's Robotic Operating Buddy

I received and added a great new bit of Dry Ice feedback.
I have my lighting devices built. I have some ideas for photographs. I'm hoping I can shoot this week. It's gota be a night shoot.
I have been busy (when not working) doing some home remodeling. It has been slow-going, because I'm so busy all the time. The bathroom walls and ceiling have all been torn out, and all the fixtures too. Sink, toilet, bathtub, everything! This past weekend I succeeded in installing a new tub. Before that, I had put in new wiring. Next will come the walls around where the tub is, then the walls around the rest of the room; the electrical fixtures, and so on.
Science activities have been sparse. I do want to get out tonight with my telescope to see that comet, Comet Machholz, near Cassiopeia. Take a look, if you see this note in time....
Finished making a "servo exerciser" circuit using a 556 timer integrated circuit. The schematics I found on the web had the wrong values for the resistor and capacitor values I needed, so it didn't work when I first built one. I shelved it six months ago and didn't get back to it until last Monday.
But it works now! I'll post pictures and a revised schematic as soon as I can.
Thanksgiving weekend is coming up. I hope to finally do some nighttime photography, but who knows?
This past weekend I finished making some wand-mounted LEDs and LED arrays.
I hope to use them soon for some nighttime time exposure photography. Stand by!
Spent some time last week trying to use some store-bought phosphorescent paint to coat a wooden disk about 12 inches diameter. The brand was Krylon, a brush-on water-based paint. After three coats the coating was still very thin and non-uniform. Ended up pouring a layer on the surface, then tilting it around to distribute it. After it dried, there were still uncovered regions. I'm going to have to go back and fill it in some more.
I also plan to coat another disk using another method:
I have some phosphorescent pigment in the form of a powder. I can apply a coat of white paint to the board, and then while it's still wet I can sprinkle the powder over it. I coated some whiteboard material this way once, except I used spray adhesive instead of white paint, since the board was already white.
The disk will eventually be mounted to a shaft, so it can be slowly rotated. I will have a ultraviolet light beam shining onto it and moving as it rotates. The beam will be about the diameter of a pencil, and collimated.
This will create swirls of phosphorescence.
Camping was a success! My favorite part was videotaping a nighttime "Rave"-like scene with thousands of campers all wearing glow necklaces and dancing to music in the moonlight. Used the "Nightshot" feature on my Sony digital camcorder.

Here's my "To Do" List:

LED Light Sequencer:
Transfer the circuit to a soldered board, to free up the protoboard and to make the circuit more permanent. Decide on, and implement a panel for the LEDs

Protoboard With Sequencer

Servo Tester:
Finish troubleshooting the servo tester. Original circuit (from internet) may have errors. It may help my understanding to build the tester from two 555 timers rather than one 556. Review 555 datasheet.

PIC Programmer:
Try running the PIC programmer from a desktop machine; laptops sometimes have chipsets that are incompatible with chip programmers. I've seen one case of this so far.

Finish plans for handle-turning homunculus. Start fabricating the prototype. Test the motors I purchased, for speed and ease of attaching parts to it.

Overall M.S. Lab:
Draw a new layout to make best use of window space. Organize components, and be sure they are being stored carefuly to avoid damage. Decide Einstein's fate.

100 Strobes:
Find the strobe modification page again. Save it &/or print it out.

Experimental Photography:
Scan leaf picture.
Do some more nighttime photography.

As I reprioritize my projects, I am getting a chance to work on some things that I've wanted to do for awhile:
  • Building more elements of the mad scientist's laboratory display I set up at Halloween;
  • Some Lighting/Electronics projects involving servos and mirrors.
I will post some photos and info; probably in early May sometime. This week's free time is taken up with getting ready for a camping trip this weekend.
Finished new banner of home page. Need to edit all other pages to remove reference to SBS.
Worked on two of my "works in progress". Laid out a 556 timer based servo tester circuit on proto board. This circuit generates pulses to control the positiob of a hobby servomechanism. These servos are the same type that are on radio controlled vehicles. When I have this simple controller built, I will put two servos together into an AZ-EL mirror assembly. I can then test the mechanical and optical design, and make changes as necessary. When finished, it will be the basis for some projection effects I want to do for my Halloween "Mad Scientist's Lab" display.
When I tested the circuit out, something was wrong; it didn't control the servo correctly. I put it on a scope, and the waveform was all wrong. I think the schematic I obtained from somewhere on the Web is incorrect. I need to review the whole circuit, as time allows.

COPYRIGHT 2004 - 2007, Brian Wesley Rich.
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