Antiquated Technologies Hack Chat

This chat is about technologies that are no longer present in the modern world.

Friday, May 26, 2017 12:00 pm PDT - Friday, May 26, 2017 12:30 pm PDT Local time zone:
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Fran Blanche joins us in the Hack Chat

Friday, May 26th at noon PDT, @Fran Blanche will host the Hack Chat.

Fran Blanche is the owner and founder of Frantone Electronics, one of the world's very first boutique guitar effects companies.

Fran is a completely self-taught electronic engineer, artist, musician, published photographer, space technology researcher and historian, mechanical engineer, and YouTube vlogger.

She has worked on the restoration of the one of a kind Maillardet Automaton at the Franklin Institute, and worked on vintage Apollo flight hardware at the Smithsonian National Air and SpaceMuseum. Fran's work on reverse engineering components in the Apollo Saturn V LVDC computer got her an article in Popular Science Magazine in 2014.

Fran has also been interviewed for the Lena Dunham blog, The Lenny Letter, and had a cover story in Tone Report in 2016, as well as a feature in She Shreds Magazine in 2015.

Fran's work has been featured on Hackaday 21 times since 2012.

We'll be discussing all types of technologies that aren't being used in the modern world anymore.


  • Vintage displays
  • Space
  • The Apollo program

Bring your questions! Here's the sheet to guide the discussion.

  • Antiquated Technologies Hack Chat Transcript

    Shulie Tornel05/26/2017 at 19:39 0 comments

    Fran Blanche Hey, I'm Fran

    Erin RobotGrrl 😁😁😁

    dackdel and what do you do fran

    Fran Blanche The shorter list these days is what I do not do. Google me!

    Yann Guidon / YGDES hahaha

    Benchoff Requisite shred cam and Andy from Pro Guitar Shop Dot Com:

    Fran Blanche Should we address some of the Q's on the list??

    Steve Baines has joined this room.12:04 P

    Bhavesh Kakwani says:12:04 P

    Yes that's a good start

    dackdel my bad. i just assumed i would get a sentence from you since your here in the flesh.

    Shulie: First up: Will you be trying to make a gemini like/style constructed EL panel as well?

    Fran Blanche I could. One benefit of this project is the acquiring of new skill sets and the tools for building all kinds of EL displays.

    Fran Blanche @dackdel Was that not a sentence?

    Benchoff Ooooh. Let's dig into that. @Fran Blanche can you go over the process of how the segment EL displays are made?

    dackdel :) touche

    DL101 yes, that was my question too

    Fran Blanche It's a chemical layering process. Essentially every EL display is a low value capacitor, so you're layering dielectric between two conductors with some phoshor in there to engergize.

    Dan Maloney I'd actually like to learn about the design decisions that resulted in those displays. Why such a complicated device? I get that Nixies would be no bueno on a rocket, but didn't they have other technologies?

    dackdel ^yeah what dan said

    leb9049 makes me think of a capacitive touch el display

    DL101 @Dan Maloney they are flat and lightweight

    dackdel not easy to manufacture im assuming

    Dan Maloney Were 7-segment LEDs not yet available/reliable enough?

    DL101 there were no leds in 60'

    dackdel :P

    Fran Blanche El panels were used to back illuminate all the control panels in the LEM and CM. It was very new technology at the time, and weight and overall power consumption were primary reasons

    dackdel 1962 is when it(leds) was invented at ge to be specific

    DL101 they were too dim to be practical i think

    Benchoff Actually, someone sent in a tip about BCD segment displays made in 1969. Links post last week:

    Fran Blanche Also for the DSKY there were so many individual digits that space dictated something like a CRT screen, and the EL panel took up far less room.

    Benchoff And you're still going with a silkscreen rig and ITO glass to fabricate these?

    Dan Maloney Gotcha. The constraints they worked under just fascinate me - a few grams here, a few milliwatts there; it all mattered.

    Fran Blanche ITO is the way to go nowadays, and silk screening is still the way it is done. Heat curing is essential, so there is a lot of steps in producing any one single panel.

    dackdel correct me if im wrong. most EE live for a few grams, miliwatts and good coffee. i have a friend who does it and its facinating how obessed you can get.

    Benchoff Hey, we're almost at this question, so how about this: "can you explain the proces you had in mind to make the dsky display segments?"

    Fran Blanche Ironically the hard thing to copy in the original displays is the dark metallic face, because the original conductors were not fully transparent, rather deposited metalic layers. I think that flown DSKY displays used a form of deposited nickel for the front conductor, giving it that golden look.

    Fran Blanche The whole display is made in a single panel, so individual segements are all part of the whole.

    Dan Maloney @dackdel - Apparently not the engineers at Juiceroo:

    Shulie: @Fran Blanche Next up: What inspires you? What motivates you to create?

    Fran Blanche I love old electronics, that's what always inspired me. The candy-like look of the 60's and 70's parts... the smell of real 60's transistorized boards. Nothing like it.

    Yann Guidon / YGDES I loved your video about the old LED you collect :-D


    Yann Guidon / YGDES OMG

    Bhavesh Kakwani yum

    Fran Blanche @Benchoff :)

    Morning.Star :-D

    Fran Blanche See what I mean!

    Erin RobotGrrl What about...

    Read more »

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