If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area next Monday, we hope you’ll join us for an open house:
When: Monday, August 12, 5 pm − 9 pm
Where: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
175 San Lazaro Ave, Suite 150
Sunnyvale, CA, 94086
Today was the monthly Electronics Flea Market in Cupertino, and we came across some gems this month.
Above, an AN-OIL-IZER. The seller said her geologist father used it for testing oil purity.
It’s described in patent number 3182255, a device for capacitively testing lubricating oil (e.g., engine oil) for contaminants, by looking for changes in its dielectric constant. To use it, you place a drop of the oil in the holder, and the ball bearing into that drop of oil. The bearing is held down by a leaf spring, keeping it indexed against the holder. This forms an oil-filled capacitor between the ball bearing and a lower curved plate that is insulated from the bearing. The capacitance will vary as the dielectric constant of the oil changes due to contamination. It comes with two ball bearings, as well as oil samples for calibration.
The E-Z-Code Jr. is a tool for learning morse code: when you draw the “electric pencil” through the slots, it crosses contacts in the correct spacing to make the characters. It also has a hinged telegraph key which can be tucked away below the device.
The seller of the E-Z-Code Jr. told me that the thing I really should be photographing was this magnetron. It is a beautiful old piece of hardware, with its wave guide and high-power tube.
I’d love to see the circuit diagram for the Cosmic Energy System by Psy Herabel [sic] Health Town, Inc.! (Sadly, their domain no longer seems to be active.)
Recently, we were invited along for a short tour at the corporate headquarters of Tesla Motors in Palo Alto. And, we brought our camera.
Super Awesome Sylvia and I were invited to attend Bring Your Kids to Work Day at Atmel recently. (Atmel, of course, is the company that makes the microcontrollers found inside Arduino products and in many of our own projects and kits.) We were there to help provide tangible, interesting, and playful examples of how Atmel chips can be used. And of course, we weren’t going to miss an opportunity to visit Atmel headquarters!
The biggest hit with the kids were the Octolively interactive LED modules (sporting the Atmel ATmega164P). When the kids waved their hands over them, the LEDs would light up and ripple. Some of the kids would start out by poking and grabbing at the LEDs until they lit up, but as soon as I told them it would work “even without touching it” their eyes would get big, and they’d wave their hands over the top, enthralled.
Some of the other things we brought were our handheld game, the Meggy Jr RGB (with the ATmega328P); a Bulbdial Clock (Atmega328P again), which points rings of LEDs at different heights down at a central point to create shadow hands of different lengths; our giant Alpha Clock Five (ATMega644A); and the Larson Scanner (ATtiny2313A), which lights up nine red LEDs to make a scanning robot eye.
Another project that captured the kids’ attention was a Keepon by BeatBots. Other demonstrations included a quadcopter and a hacked hexabot.
We got to have lunch in the bright sun in the courtyard with Avary Kent, who was demonstrating the PuzzleBox, a brain-controlled helicopter.
Sylvia got to give the PuzzleBox a try, triggering it to fly as soon as she concentrated hard enough.
After lunch, we got to tour of a couple of labs. This workbench was well stocked with a Metcal soldering iron (our favorite) and lots of tools and supplies.
Apparently the poor Pleo on this bench needed some repair.
This machine is for inspecting and testing chips after they have been removed from their housing.
We got to go into the RF anechoic chamber, and watch as our cell phones stopped receiving any signals.
We also had some time to hang out and horse around with friends new and old. Our friend Paul Rako seemed to be having as much fun as the kids.
Thanks to Paul and Atmel for inviting us to visit!
Good news if you’re still working on— or haven’t yet started —your proposal for this year’s Open Hardware Summit: The call for papers has been extended, so you’ve got another week to fine tune your talk, poster, or demo proposal.
Submissions are now due by JUNE 28, 2013.
The Open Hardware Summit is the world’s first comprehensive conference on open hardware; a venue to discuss and draw attention to the rapidly growing Open Source Hardware movement. This year’s summit takes place on September 6 at MIT.
Photo credit: Open Hardware Summit on Flickr.
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a protected marine and intertidal park located at Moss Beach, California, about 40 minutes south of San Francisco, just north of Half Moon bay. It’s a spectacular place to visit at low tide, for some of the finest, most accessible tide pools in the region.
And as you’ll see, there’s definitely a lot to look at.