05/06/2016 at 21:21 •
Celebration! We were one of the twenty projects selected for the 2016 Hackaday Prize Design Your Concept competition. We were one of the twenty projects selected for the 2016 Hackaday Prize Design Your oncept competition. The team took a few moments to kick back and savor the victory over snacks.
The discussion quickly turned to next steps. Each of the team members has committed to working through the build instructions and spending some time at the laser cutter to make their own set of components. This is the only way we are going to knock any rough edges off the build process.
Materials on order have started arriving (400 neodymium magnets anyone?). The team discussed where to get optical materials (lasers, lenses, prisms) for putting in the holders on the cheap.
The team then brainstormed ideas for experiments using the optics kit targeted at various age groups: kids, high school, college, and beyond. Five of the simpler experiments were slated for work during the next week.
One of the team is looking into Arduino / Raspberry PI integration of the components for some of the experiments.
Wiki and GitHub organization / editing took up some of the discussion.
We divided the experiments into 4 categories: Research/College/High school/Grade school, and sorted the experiments by level of difficulty. We'll be adding/adjusting these as needed. The categories are not fixed, it was pointed out that an AP high school student could easily set up the college experiments.
- Measure the speed of light
- Michelson Interferometer
- Conoscope https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conoscopy
- Measuring gravitational pull of the moon using interferometer
- Measuring small masses with the interferometer
- Measure the index of refraction of organic compounds
- Spinthariscope https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinthariscope
- Projecting microscope
- Kerr cell
High School Level
- Visible Light Spectrometer
- Simple Microscope
- Sending signals using the laser
- Ronchi test
- Measure focal length of lens
Grade School Level
- Lens Ray Effect Demo (with 3 lasers)
- Simple Projector
- Light Geometry (3 experiments)
- Transmitting energy through space (thermometer)
- Spectrum of light
05/03/2016 at 03:28 •
[Yup - this blog entry is almost 2 weeks late. Much late-night and last-minute work to make a proper entry for the "Describe your project" phase of the HAD prize. We all agreed to take a week off...]
We plan to make two movies showcasing what we've done for the project: an overview video which is comprehensive and shows generally how the system is used, and a high-level one showing an interferometer. An interferometer is notoriously fiddly and sensitive to vibrations, so if we can pull that one off it will show people that you can still create high-level effects using the simple system.
Team members have purchased a ton of hardware. For example, in a few weeks I will be a rare-earth magnet millionaire. We have a line on really cheap cap-head screws, and another team member is purchasing a selection of Arduino add-on boards.
Most sensors and optical components need a component or two to interface to an Arduino. (A diode needs a ballast resistor, a lamp needs a transistor and a resistor, a phototransistor needs a ballast resistor, and so on.) We think we can find a standard Arduino prototype shield you can get for cheap on eBay, and a handful (ie - a dozen) of standard components that can be used to interface to things.
One team member, who happens to have a young child (I think he picked her up at a yard sale), is particularly focused on experiments that pre high-school kids can do. I'm more into the high-concept experiments.
Which is great. We realize that we need a range of experiments, and lets each of us focus on the aspect we're most interested in.
More on this later...
As an aside, and speaking of high-concept, I *think* I've figured out a way to make a hobbyist Kerr cell, which is a sort of high speed optical switch. These are notoriously expensive and hard to come by.
The hobbyist version would require some construction and a special (but conceptually simple) power supply board, but it should be within the capability of a college student or AP high-schooler.
I don't know if I'll have time to try to build one before the contest ends, but if it can be done it would be a coup for home optics experiments.
04/17/2016 at 04:26 •
At the second meeting one of our team showed off an updated ring base, and it is awesome.
It just snaps together without glue, which is great because gluing acrylic is a PITA and the solvent is a neurotoxin.
It's completely stable, won't snap apart as easily (short of the Acrylic actually breaking), and has holes in the base for magnets.
If your holders slide around on the tabletop, put magnets in the base and use a metal surface such as a tower PC case laid on its side.
We've switched to metric wherever possible.
We have an adjustable lens holder ring that can handle any lens (actually, anything round) within a certain range.
It's hard to see on the image, but the ring has spring loaded inserts that grip the lens, with a rubber band on the outside for tension.
The holder on right is actually holding a small lens. It's a bit fiddly, maybe we can improve on the fiddly-ness in a future rev.
We have a different style holder that works for much smaller round objects. No image yet - the team member wanted to make some more improvements.
Magnets hold a pair of feeler gauges to make a n optical slit. You can use a third feeler gauge to accurately set the gap between the two blades. Xacto blades or a pair of razor blades will also work.
04/17/2016 at 03:50 •
A bunch of people at my hackerspace decided to get together and enter the Hackaday prize contest.
After several meetings where people made project suggestions, we eventually winnowed down the options and decided on the Optics Bench. Hence this project.
This is an easy-to-make optics bench which can be easily made using a laser cutter and some bits of hardware. It can do some
First meeting notes
I needed to make an interferometer for a project a couple of years ago, and I made a system that allows me to hold components: the laser, mirrors, and semi-silvered mirror.
The system was based on a holder with three screw inserts, holding a ring with three neodynium magnets. The magnets stick snugly to the three screws, allowing the ring (laser, mirror, and so on) to be easily aimed up/down and left/right.
After some discussion, the group came up with about 20 optical component holders for various purposes. Some of which were ring holders and work directly with the ring bases, and some were independent holders for a specific purpose (such as a prism holder).
We also identified a range of experiments that could be done with this system, some of which are pretty sophisticated: polariscope for measuring optical angles, measuring the speed of light, and a Michaelson interferometer.
Someone pointed out that an Arduino can run some components such as a LED, a laser, and a phototransistor. Perhaps a "table" holder for a prism could include a servo run by the Arduino that moves the phototransistor around different angles, letting the experimenter mneasure the spectrum of different substances.
A bunch of improvements were made for the original system.