Monday, August 11, 2014

SloMoMonday 001 - Calcium Sulfate

This multiple sequence video features dyed and powderized calcium sulfate. This is much more commonly known as sidewalk chalk.

About the series: "Slo Mo Monday:" is a series featuring various scenarios of often everyday items captured in high speed video

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New outlook

I have several  new series I plan to begin working on next week.

"WHAT WOULD HAPPEN..." will focus on mainly materials science experimentation. I will take you through most of the steps in setting up the experiment, and follow through with tests on the material.

"SLO MO MONDAY" will be a segment featuring scenarios, likely an unnoticed every day occurrence for many, featured in slow motion.

"LET'S TALK ABOUT:" will focus on materials and some lesser known devices: their properties, their uses, their reactions.

In the coming weeks I intend to make these regular postings. There will be other series coming in the near future as well with a focus on the broader physical sciences, optics, astronomy, and mechanical engineering.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Places and people worth following

Inspiration never occurs in a vacuum. As a creative person, I take inspiration from an enormously wide range of places. At the broadest spectrum, my interests are in design. Design is an interesting word which covers essentially all qualities of creativity. Cursed or not, my interest in design is limitless. Most of my information intake is through Newsblur, an RSS aggregator. On newsblur, I currently follow news posts from nearly 300 sources on a regular basis. I certainly won't list them all but the sources I find most interesting are listed below. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Overdue Update

It has been a long time since my last update. I have numerous projects to post about in the future. As for now, I wanted to post a link to my research source page on Wikipedia (link). I haven't pursued space technology research for many years now but the links are quite valuable to all realms of science and technology research. I can tell by the page view statistics that many other users find it quite useful as well.

My future intentions with this blog is to have at least one post per week. I have about 30 projects at this time so I have a lot of content to post.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Entry #4: A method for blocking the light of a star for long-term exposures of a particular system

Capturing images of exoplanets has been a long, sought after goal for astronomers. Until very recently, when Rolf Olsen was able to capture a planet forming disc around a Beta Pictoris, the possibility of amateur astronomers being able to block out enough light from a star to capture any orbiting material had been extremely slight.  He followed a method described in a paper titled, "Observation of the Central Part of the Beta-Pictoris Disk with an Anti-Blooming CCD" as he notes,
"I followed the technique described in the paper above, which basically consists of imaging Beta and then taking another image of a similar reference star under the same conditions. The two images are subtracted from each other to eliminate the stellar glare, and the dust disc should then hopefully reveal itself."
This method, while producing an incredible result, has numerous flaws, including multiple unknown conditions that could produce a false result. As such, a method that is both relatively inexpensive, and accessible, is a necessity in going forward, with the ever-expanding archive of discovered exoplanets.
Two readily available technologies exist that include precision control and are able to pass incoming light.  These two considerations are obviously absolutely necessary for such a system but each method has considerable drawbacks that must be considered carefully.

Method 1 - DLP: DLP chips operate by actuating microscopic mirrors to direct of deflect light. A high resolution chip may be used in place of a right-angle mirror piece.  Once attached to a computer, a simple image application may be used to control the device.
+ :  very high contrast, obvious placement in optical assembly, does not diminish the final picture
 - :  requires an expensive high resolution chip, possibly limited angular resolution

Method 2 - LCD: LCD panels pass light through opposing polarizing filters by twisting the light path through a liquid crystal cell. If the cell remains untwisted, the polarizing filters will block most of the light from passing.  Using a high resolution panel in front of the primary objective would allow precise control over the light which is blocked.
+ :  potentially cheaper option
 - :  likely to be heavier/more invasive, lower contrast potential, screen door effect is likely to diminish visual quality and produce numerous artifacts

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Entry #3: The case for a rapidly tunable lens

Autofocusing technology has existed for a number of decades, dating back to 1970's with the Konica C35 AF and later became a popular feature of consumer video cameras. Now autofocusing lens assembles can be had in very inexpensive webcams available today.  However, almost every readily available autofocusing camera features mechanically driven assemblies to move lenses with gears, a method inherently slow. Even more, current autofocusing lens assemblies can only provide a picture that is relative to the rest of the optical assembly.

Image flaws become exceptionally problematic in telescopes. Refractive telescopic optical assemblies come in three common forms:

Singlet Lens
  • includes a single double convex (DCX) lens
  • able to bring a single narrow band of the color spectrum to focus at a single time
  • often used in magnifying glasses
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Achromatic Doublet Lens
  • includes a double convex (DCX) lens, known as the crown and often a positive meniscus (PMns) or a plano concave (PCV) lens, known as the flint and is made of a different type of glass
  • able to bring two medium color bands to focus at a time, most often red and blue, leaving green at a nearer focus
  • most common form of beginning amateur level refractive telescope
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Apochromatic Lens
  • comes in a doublet form similar in layout to an achromat but made with a higher quality glass for low color dispersion, and also comes in triplet form featuring a double convex (DCX), double concave (DCV) and plano convex (PCX) lenses, each made of varying forms of glass with low color dispersion properties
  • able to bring most of the visible color spectrum to focus at once
  • found in most high-dollar refractive telescopes
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Chromatic aberration in an image produced by a telescope, can be devastating for clarity.  However, the rapidity of an electrically driven liquid lens, allows for such a dramatic increase in focusing rate that one could oscillate the focus of a lens at a comparable change rate observable on most LCD computer displays, making the oscillations imperceptible to the human eye .  This would provide a view through a telescope that was in perfect focus at every wavelength and every depth within a given field as the lens rapidly oscillated the focus. As a second and possibly a primary benefit, atmospheric distortion could potentially be minimized through this system as well, greatly limiting the "boiling-effect" one can see when observing an object such as the Moon.

I hypothesize that a rapidly oscillating liquid lens will allow comparable seeing through even a simple singlet lens to that of an apochromatic assembly by the means described above. Later today, I will update this post with an illustration example for the described system.

An illustration of the bending optical path with an oscillating tunable lens.  Click image to animate.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Entry #2: In pursuit of an affordable liquid lens

Liquid lenses have been around for at least the past decade and the theory behind their operation extends back decades before.  However, obtaining a lens assembly is rather difficult.  Currently, there are several manufacturers that are distributing units: Varioptic's Arctic [2] [3] [4], Optotune Tunable Lenses [2] [3],and recently poLight's TLens [2].  Both Varioptic and poLight prefer to distribute to large corporations rather than individual consumers unfortunately.  However, Digitus offers a webcam that features Varioptic's Arctic lens and for a very reasonable price.  It has been "out-of-stock" for the past several month though and they never responded to my inquiry as to when more would be available.  This leaves Optotune's electrically tunable and manual tunable lens but at a vicious several hundred dollars per lens; far outside a likelihood of marketability.

For now, I'll leave you with the future idea of a rapidly focusing lens.  The Dynamorph Lens comes from  the Ishikawa lab in Tokyo (not for sale...)

EDIT: I've learned Philips also has a liquid lens they debuted in 2004 called FluidFocus [2] [3]. However, I've found no applications of the technology beyond showing the units at technology fairs. Below is a video demonstrating their lens.