All posts by Lenore Edman

About Lenore Edman

Co-founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

Linkdump: August 2015

Updated 9/2 to add language warning.

Geek Tourism: Biosphere 2

Biosphere2-1

Biosphere 2 is an enormous earth science laboratory, originally built as an attempt to create a closed ecosystem. The goals were to study long term viability of an isolated human habitat, such as might be needed for long term space travel or colonization.

Biosphere2-17

The results of the initial experiments were a (fascinating) mixed bag. The goal of a strictly closed ecosystem was not met for a variety of reasons. However, some of the results have improved our understanding of the effects of climate change, such as how increased CO2 levels lead to acidification of the ocean habitat and coral bleaching.

Biosphere2-3

The facility is now being used both for education and for research. The enormous agricultural greenhouses have been transformed by the University of Arizona into the Landscape Evolutionary Observatory, a large-scale carefully-controlled long-term study of soil processes. It serves as an experimental bridge between computer models, small-scale laboratory experiments, and the real world.

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Some of the original biomes are relatively unchanged and have been growing since the project started in 1991. It is striking to have all hint of surrounding desert obscured by the vines of the rainforest.

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One of the most fascinating engineering aspects of the facility are the “lungs,” which are accessed through long narrow tunnels branching off of the main facility.

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The lungs were used to compensate for the changes in pressure and temperature. The two domed buildings have flexible inner liners that can expand and contract. A weight attached to the center of the liner makes them look toroidal inside of the dome.

Biosphere 2

The facility was built outside of Tucson, and is strikingly beautiful, surrounded by wildlife including lizards, snakes, tarantulas, jack rabbits, coyotes, gila monsters, and an incredible variety of birds and insects. We’ve put a few more pictures from our visit in albums on flickr here and here. Tours are available to the public daily, and it’s worth the drive and ticket price if you’re nearby.

Another take on Twisted Wire Bundles

Steve W. wrote in to share his improvement on the method for making wire bundles we wrote about:

 I’ve used the bend-it-over-and-stuff-it-in-the-chuck approach, but was not fully happy with it.

Binder clip on wood piece for drilling

So I drilled a 1/8″ hole in the back of a binder clip.  The drilling is easy if you clip a ~3/8 scrap of wood.

Wire twisting jig in drill chuck.

A 4-40 SHCS screw long enough to allow me to actuate the clip was not threaded all the way to the head, so I used a 1/4″ spacer between the binder clip and the 4-40 nut.  (Pan head screws are usually 100% threaded, but I would have had to look in the dreaded ‘other’ box to find one of those). Having the nut up against the chuck acted as a lock-nut.  I had been surprised when I first tried this that I did not have to work harder to keep it from loosening.  I had expected I might need a lock washer, and/or a second nut to lock the first.

Just grabbing the wires with the binder clip (my original plan) was not secure.  So I wrap the wires 180 degrees around a screwdriver bit and put that in the clip.

Works great, and it is quick to pop in and out when twisting many groups of wires.

Thanks for sharing your hack and sending the photos!

Hackaday Prize Deadline

The deadline for the Hackaday Prize is just a month away now!
BUILD SOMETHING THAT MATTERS
The creative energy and years of experience found in our huge community of Hackers, Designers, and Engineers is waiting to be unleashed. Let’s use that potential and move humanity forward.
We’re helping to judge the Best Product category, which has fewer than 50 entrants so far. The prize for Best Product is $100k and 6 months free rent in the Hackaday Design Lab with mentoring.
One example project is Eye of Horus, Open Source Eye Tracking Assistance, to increase accessibility for people who are disabled or physically separated from a work area.
Another entrant is DIPSY, an FPGA module in a DIP-8 package, shown here with an LED daughterboard in 6-pin DIL format.
Submissions are due August 17, so get your entries in right away! If you have questions or want feedback on your project, there’s a meetup on the hackaday prize channel on July 21 at 6 pm PDT.
We’re looking forward to seeing your entries!