Archive for August, 2012

Drip Drip goes the funding.

Posted by 3ricj on 30 August 2012

Our friends over at shift labs are seeking funding for one of their projects. Ya'll should go fund their product they are building for the developing world. No lasers, but it's still bad-ass. Even if they are excessively smiley on video. Go give them money. kthx.

A small plea for laser funds.

Posted by 3ricj on 27 August 2012

Ratha was kind enough to setup a "tip jar" to cover our budget overrun for the photonic beam project. We didn't do a very good job of spreading the word; it was buried in our last post. As of right now, we are short of reaching our goal.. if we don't get an additional ~$500 in the next three days we fail. Dear internet, help?

Click here to put some money in the tip jar.

-3ric and all of the folks at hackerbot labs.

Photonic Beam: Results

Posted by ratha on 15 August 2012

The laser was successfully deployed at Toorcamp. We operated it on Friday and Saturday nights (August 10 and 11, 2012). Design and construction of the laser is documented in previous posts here and here.

Here is the laser in operation:

H1kari took the following amazing photo of the laser punching through above the fog:

Joe FitzPatrick took this futuristic photo proving once and for all that we implement science fiction:

The Yurt

The yurt on which the laser was mounted was built by Ratha in 2008. It provided a stable, 8' tall platform (above eye level) and it made the phrase "laser yurt" possible.

Safety interlocks

We had a bit of trouble with the motion sensors detecting motion *outside* the yurt (through the open lattice). On Saturday, Kyle attached cardboard blinders to the sides of both motion sensors, and this helped quite a bit.

We also found that a number of people couldn't resist hitting the emergency stop buttons.

Future improvements

We could make the software much fancier for a future deployment. At Toorcamp, we simply operated the arduino microcontroller over PC USB, and interacted with it using keyboard commands over the Arduino IDE serial interface. What would be awesome would be to develop a graphical interface with continuous monitoring of the safety components and red/yellow/green display of their status.

Budget status

We are accepting donations through the end of August to cover budget overruns, which mostly occurred due to the cooling system. The array of 24 diodes we used came from a projector which was not designed to run the lasers at full power for any sustained period of time, so it was very difficult to extract the heat from the tiny module fast enough. The cooling system had to be rebuilt several times, with substantial enhancements and new parts each time.

To read more about this and to donate, please go here:


- h1kari and company from toorcamp for motivating the project and offering the grant.
- Owen Trueblood, Pierce Nichols, Phil Rutschman and Myles Conley for their work on the laser drivers.
- Ratha Grimes for majority of the electronics and software.
- Nathan Pegram for his work on the coolant system.
- Kyle Drosdick and Brian Campbell for setup and operations on site.
- DKP for software and making stuff happen, despite barely even going to toorcamp.
- Sirus for modding the OSPid so it works great with the TECs.
- Brett Beauregard for providing the OSPid and software and support.
- All of the folks offering support in various forms. Thank you!
- The fine members of hackerbot, who continue to do amazing shit.

The introductory post on this project mentioned most of the high level considerations for safety and compliance when shooting a laser into the sky. Here, we will go into the gory details.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in: Show-n-Tell  


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