By Dave ProchnowPosted 10.23.2007 at 12:15 pm 0 Comments
Are you looking for a little vibrating pager motor to use in that special Halloween project, but dont want to spend the typical buck per motor price? Well, a special clearance sale at The Electronic Goldmine features a Belkin Universal VIBRA Clip (G15260) cell phone adapter at the nice price of $0.79 each. Just open the case and remove the pager motor—complete with soldered leads. Plus you get an AAA battery and a stylish cell phone belt clip—all for less than a buck.
By Dave ProchnowPosted 10.12.2007 at 12:59 pm 0 Comments
Peter Blasser has a very unique Web site where you can download and print paper circuit boards. These circuits are for building music-making projects--sans the more conventional copper-clad board substratum. Just print the circuit board, layout the components, and wire the traces. How about adding some conductive paint and starting a revolution in circuit building? Try this wire glue (The Electronic Goldmine #G16133; $3.95) for making your pPCB connections. This combination could be an interesting method for introducing kids to electronics without the need of purchasing a classrooms worth of soldering irons. If you try pPCB + Wire Glue, please post your results in our comments section. —Dave Prochnow
(Image: Peter Blasser)
By Dave ProchnowPosted 09.10.2007 at 4:27 pm 10 Comments
Capturing the most fleeting of moments—like the droplets formed by a splash of water or the ripping plastic from an exploding balloon—used to be expensive propositions. Fancy photo strobes with special voice- or sound-activated switches (called VOX) costing hundreds of dollars were the equipment of choice for high-speed photographers. Not so, anymore. By tapping into the powerful tools housed inside disposable flash cameras, you can build your own high-speed photography system for under $30.
Warning: Before you start working with the flash mechanism from a disposable camera, remove the battery and make sure that the onboard storage capacitor is completely discharged (hold a pair of insulated pliers across the + and - flash terminals and manually trigger the flash).
How to Build a DIY High-Speed Flash System
(1) Disposable flash camera (The Electronic Goldmine #G16329; $1.29 or Fuji Photo Film QuickSnap; $5.99)
(1) Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR) sensitive gate 0.8A 400V (Digi-Key #EC103D-ND; .39)
(1) 3.5mm stereo cable (The Electronic Goldmine #G15449; .99)
(1) Cassette tape recorder (scavenged or Memorex MB1055 @ Target; $19.99)
(1) Electret microphone (scavenged or All Electronics #MIKE-75; $2.50)
(2) AA & (2) AAA alkaline batteries
Camera capable of B (bulb) or prolonged (> 2 seconds) exposures
Step 1. The Anatomy of a Flasher.
Remove all of the exterior plastic, film advance system, and shutter assembly from the disposable flash camera. Locate the + and - flash terminals. These terminals are located near the shutter. Use a voltage meter for identifying which terminal is positive (+) and which one is negative (-). Some cameras (e.g., Fuji QuickSnap, as pictured) might require the flash on/off switch to be soldered in the on position.
Step 2. Becoming Flash Trigger-Happy
Snip off one jack of the 3.5mm stereo cable. Prep the snipped end exposing the red, white, and black wires. Solder the cathode pin of the SCR to the negative (-) flash terminal and solder the anode pin of the SCR to the positive (+) flash terminal. Solder the red and white wires from the 3.5mm stereo cable to the SCRs gate pin. Finally, solder the stereo cables black wire to the negative (-) flash terminal (along with the SCR cathode pin).
Step 3. Void the Cassette Recorders Warranty
Remove the cassette tape door from the cassette recorder. Make sure that you have clear and easy access to the cassette recorders write-protection button. This is a small movable finger opposite the record head that determines whether or not a cassette tape can be recorded. This button must be depressed to turn the cassette recorder on in record mode. You will use the record mode for gathering sound and amplifying it enough for triggering the flash.
Step 4. Lights, Cameras, High-Speed Action
Find a darkened location for experimenting with high-speed photography—an area completely devoid of ambient lighting. Mount your camera on a tripod, set the shutter for a bulb or B exposure. Cameras that can deliver timed 1-4 second exposures can also work.
Insert fresh batteries into the disposable flash camera. Plug an inexpensive electret microphone into the recorders MIC input. Plug the jack of the 3.5mm stereo cable into the PHONE output. Hold down the recorders write-protection button and press the recorders red RECORD button. The flash should begin charging. [NOTE: some disposable cameras might require you to depress a flash activation button.] When the amber ready light glows steadily on the back of the disposable camera, the flash is ready to be triggered by sound.
Kill the lights, hold the flash trigger near your subject, open the cameras shutter, and record some high-speed event that is triggered by its noise. Like the pop of a balloon, the kerplunk of water, or the smack of a head slap. Take your pick and take some pix.
How to use solar power to power a hand-held radio telescope or a simple solar voltage meter
By Dave ProchnowPosted 08.16.2007 at 11:48 am 7 Comments
Summer means sunshine and here are a couple of neat projects that you can quickly build for exploring two different properties of the sun: radio spectrum analysis and solar radiation measurement. While both of these projects are very simple in their construction, you can still perform crude data collection with each one. Throw in some exciting solar experiments and now youre talking daytime science fun for entertaining youngsters during the dog days of summer.