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Project Hathor
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Posted by Krux on Tuesday December 2, 2014 @ 11:41pm
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Have you ever wanted to shoot disks of aluminium forty five feet into the air at the press up a button? Do you like experimenting with high energy physics, and learn about things such as impulse generators, charge circuits, Lorentz force, electromagnetic induction, and how to build this all in a form which is safe, and looks sharp. Well if you are like me, the answer to all of these questions is yes. Which is why I set out to build a ring launcher demonstration project, which I have named Hathor, named after the Egyptian goddess of the sky.

Project Hathor is a 2kV ring launcher, built for SYN Shop. It's designed to launch rings, i.e. aluminum hard drive platters, by generating a large magnetic pulse.

  • Microwave Oven Transformer (MOT) HV supply

  • 2000 volt 1560 uF main capacitor bank

  • Operation from a remote pendant

  • Case made from 1/2 clear acrylic

  • Theory of Operation

    A ring launcher works by slowly charging, a large capacitor bank to a high voltage, and then discharging all this energy quickly through a coil of wire. For a brief moment it's a really big electro-magnet, as electricity flowing through a wire produces a magnetic field. The rings, in this case hard drive platters, and essentially just a big flat wire, and if you sit them in this magnetic field, you induce electrical current in this "wire". that then generates it's own opposing magnetic field. And since the two magnetic fields will repel one another, the hard drive platter is propelled skyward.

    Inspiration for this project was derived from The Geek Group's desktop ring launcher, as well as some of their larger impulse generator projects.

    Photo Gallery

    Project Updates

  • 2014-12-02 - Project Introduction

  • 2016-01-20 - Capacitor Bank and Contactor update

  • 2016-02-23 - First Light

  • 2016-02-25 - Coil Failure

  • 2016-02-26 - Ramping Up

  • 2016-02-27 - 2000 Volt Test Firing

  • Source

    Since people have asked, the design files can be downloaded from here:
    Tesla Coil Winder
    Projects ]
    Posted by Krux on Monday January 27, 2014 @ 07:28pm
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    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.

    I'm of the mindset that a tedious and boring task is a task that needs to be automated. I also planned on making more than a single Tesla coil, so right there, the savings in time are obvious. And here is where the over engineering comes into play.

    I had a few requirements for the coil winder:

  • I need to be able to program in differing wire sizes and winding counts.
  • It should be a modular design to handle winding varying coil sizes.
  • And I have to be more entertained by building the winder than I would be winding a coil by hand.
  • Since I have access to a hackerspace with all sorts of cool tools, it needs to look good.

  • With that I got to work designing shapes in Visio. Some ShopBot time later and I had my base. It was then on to Sketchup to create the parts which would need to be 3D printed on my Flashforge Creator.

    Check out the time lapse video below:

    I think the result turned out great.

    Some quick source and design info is here for those interested:

  • Tesla Coil Winder Source Code

  • Sweetie LED Heart
    Projects ]
    Posted by Krux on Saturday November 23, 2013 @ 02:50pm
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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.


    Add schematic, photos, and source code
    Project Icarus
    Projects ]
    Posted by Krux on Saturday November 2, 2013 @ 11:23am
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    Every mad scientist, as mandated by international law, is required to have in his possession, at least one Tesla coil. As such I began the project of building a spark gap Tesla coil, which I named Project Icarus. This coil consists of a high voltage transformer consisting of a nine thousand volt neon sign transformer (NST), a Terry filter which protects the NST from RFI and reverse EMF, a primary spark gap with blower fan for quenching, a multiple mini capacitor (MMC) tank circuit, a ten turn primary winding using 3/8 inch copper tubing, a 4 1/n inch diameter secondary coil consisting of 814 windings of 22 gauge copper magnet wire, and a spun aluminum toroid top load. All this in a CNC machined HDPE base, with laser cut acrylic, and machined aluminum and brass.

    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.

    Initial Design
  • 4.5" secondary coil, using 22AWG magnet wire
  • primary coil, using 3/8" copper tubing
  • NST (Neon Sign Transformer)
  • MMC (Multi-Mini Capacitors) tank capacitor
  • Static spark gap
  • Terry Filter
  • Toroid discharge terminal

  • Project Updates
  • Gathering of compontents
  • First Light
  • Details and photos
  • Project Nomad
    Projects ]
    Posted by Krux on Saturday October 12, 2013 @ 07:30pm
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    Project Nomad was born out of the idea to turn a 30 year old mini-computer, a functioning PDP-11/23, into a mobile robot. The purpose, other than building awesome, is to use the PDP-11 in a Defcon Programming contest called Crash and Compile. We proved that driving your development environment up to the stage to compete was worth quite a number of style points.

    The robot weighs in at nearly 400 pounds, and uses a highly modified electric wheel chair base as it's drive train. Nomad can be remotely controlled using Zigbee wireless modules based on an IEEE 802.15 standard.

  • Project: Nomad - Part 1
  • Project: Nomad - Part 2
  • Project: Nomad - Part 3
  • Project: Nomad - Part 4
  • Project: Nomad - Part 5
  • Project: Nomad - Part 6
  • Project: Nomad - Part 7
  • Project: Nomad - Part 8

  • And some footage of Nomad at Defcon

  • PDP-11 Crash caught on tape

  • And because I'm bad at documenting things... stuff to write about yet..

  • Rebuild of Nomad's brain and remote control.
  • Some current footage of Nomad running around Defcon, First Friday, etc..
  • Plans and progress to make Nomad autonomous.
  • Steampunk Goggles
    Projects ]
    Posted by Krux on Monday October 7, 2013 @ 01:23pm
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    One of the projects I like to do is creating electronic, steam punk inspired, goggles. It started out as a quick hack for a Christmas party, and has gone through several iterations, up to my latest Mk 3 prototype.

  • Mk1 Steampunk Goggles
  • Mk2 Steampunk Goggles
  • Mk3 Steampunk Goggles

  • Korg Poly Six Mods
    Projects ]
    Posted by Krux on Sunday September 29, 2013 @ 01:17pm
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    I love the old analogue synthesizers, the Korg PolySix being one of my favorites. Had a great sound, has some nice features for an analogue synthesizer of the time, and is just fun to tinker with.

  • Bringing new life to a Korg PolySix