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Starting a Ring Launcher Project
Posted by Krux on Tuesday December 2, 2014 @ 11:43pm
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Starting on my next high voltage project, which is going to be a ring launcher. A ring launcher, if you are not aware is a device which builds up a charge in a capacitor bank and then releases it all at once into a coil producing a magnetic field. This magnetic field then creates a current in an aluminum ring, such as a hard drive platter, which then in turn produces an opposing magnetic field. As the two magnetic fields repel each other, this causes the ring to be shot up into the air in a dramatic fashion. It's science, and it's fun, and I want to build one. After some thought I decided that Project Hathor was an appropriate name for this project.

The first of the parts have been rolling in. Capacitors, HV transformer, power resistors, relays, and copper bar.

Project Icarus photos
Posted by Krux on Tuesday October 7, 2014 @ 11:07pm
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My Tesla coil, Icarus has been completed for awhile now. However in the rush to get everything finished on time for the Las Vegas Mini-Maker Faire, I didn't take the time to properly document everything. However, I finally got back to the project and uploaded some of the photos I did take while building the coil, as well as include some new ones of the finished Tesla coil.

Here are the details and glamour shots you have been waiting for.

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First Light
Posted by Krux on Thursday March 13, 2014 @ 12:52am
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Just a quick update on Project Icarus.

I've been working steadily on my Tesla coil project. Building spark gaps, terry filters, winding coils, and putting it all together. I have quite a few photos and video to edit, but have more been focusing on trying to get the coil finished on time for the Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire, rather than documentation. If you're in the Vegas area, come down on April 5th. I will be showing off Project Icarus.

Tonight was a major milestone. We've achieved First Light.

It's a working Tesla coil!

Still a bit more to do. I'm waiting on shiny Allen-Bradley controls to build up the control box. And then of course the endless tweaking involved with tuning Icarus for the best performance.

Details as I post them over on the Project Icarus page.
What to do when you've lost your ViewSonic Projector remote
Posted by Krux on Sunday February 23, 2014 @ 09:07pm
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So at SYN Shop, the hackerspace I help run, the remote control for our projector went missing some time back. This is unfortunate, since to turn on the projector we had to climb on a ladder, step stool, or unsafely climb on a chair or table to reach the projector on the ceiling. And then of course since you are touching the projector, you usually end up moving it in the process, which means the image doesn't display where it should on the projector screen.

As it happens, we inherited the projector from /usr/lib, when the space closed it's doors. While not the same model, it was the same brand. So the remote from that projector just happens to also work on our projector. This was great, since it meant that we could once again power on the projector from the safety and comfort of the seats in the classroom. Well it would be, but as we were not wanting to also lose that remote, it has been locked up in the SYN Shop board of directors locker that only a few people have access to.

Now we could buy a learning remote, which would let us copy the projector remote so we have a backup. However that's not very hackerish. The better way would be to reverse engineer the codes, and if needed duplicate it. So I borrowed the spare projector and remote, so I could do exactly that.

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Before you can make lightning you need the right tools
Posted by Krux on Monday January 27, 2014 @ 07:48pm
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What do you get when you over engineer a simple yet tedious task? You get a Tesla Coil Winder like this one.

In the quest to create a Tesla coil, one of the tasks that must be completed is winding your secondary coil. This is a tedious process of wrapping magnet wire many hundreds of times around your secondary coil form. Trying of course to make sure the winding is straight, free of gaps, and overlaps. It's a job that didn't sound very fun, which is why I decided that when it came time to wind the secondary coil for Project Icarus, I would build a machine to do it for me.

Check out all the details over at the Tesla Coil Winder project page.
What do you do with a hand full of LEDs and some free time?
Posted by Krux on Saturday November 23, 2013 @ 02:56pm
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A couple weekends ago I found myself with a lot of energy but was still waiting for parts to come in the mail for the tesla coil I'm currently working on. Without anything else to do, I decided to make something from a hand full of spare parts that I could give to Sarah.

I've been sitting on ten beefy defused LEDs that happen to be in her favorite color (yellow), so I laid them out in the shape of a heart and made a special blinking thing that has all the energy and charm of a neon sign, but is also touch sensitive (because that's cool).

To give my blinky heart it's random bank of light patterns, I soldered an ATMega to a spare breakout board I had. It was made for a 44 pin package, so I had to improvise and solder one side of the ATMega's pins to the pads with some 30 gauge wire. Once this surgery was complete I spent an evening coming up with some cool light animations for it to cycle through.

After my blinky yellow was complete, I gave it to Sarah - which she loved. The touch sensitive pad was added a week later when I decided that the board needed a little something else to give it more character.

Take a look at the video below for a demonstration, and more details on the project.

The project details are here: Sweetie LED Heart
And now for my next trick, I'll pull this Tesla Coil out of my hat
Posted by Krux on Friday November 1, 2013 @ 12:29pm
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One of my many projects is to build a Tesla coil. I've been collecting parts for awhile, with some rough ideas on a design. Since it was going to be my first coil I've built, I wanted to start out with the basics. While eventually I want to build a coil that can play the tune to Super Mario Bros., that adds a lot of complication to design. So my first coil will be a static spark gap style coil run off a neon sign transformer (NST). The secondary will be 4.5" in diameter, and all the remaining decisions are based of this initial parameter.

When I first came up with the idea, I decided that not only did I want to build the Tesla coil, I wanted to document the steps I took along the way. Though part of that required having a name for the coil. So I kept that thought at the back of my brain, while I continued to collect parts, and tease out parts of the design. Eventually, I knew what the name of my Tesla coil would be. Icarus.

Now with a name, the next step is to start documenting. Take a look at my progress over at the Project Icarus page.