Do you have a home-made, high-powered laser that you fear demonstrating because you might hurt someone? Here's the solution: fit it to a pen-holder/plotter derived from Evil Mad Scientist Labs's Watercolorbot.
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Shareable rounds up 20 Open Source Furniture Designs -- ingenious plans for home furnishings that you can make yourself, improve upon, and share. My favorite is this Never Ending Bench by Félix Lévêque, which you can keep on adding slats to in order to create a seat tailored to your needs. Like many of the pieces, this one comes from the Open Design Contest.
The pieces are architecturally ambitious and the accompanying photos show how great they look when painted. I don't buy a lot of RPG terrain stuff, so I can't really tell if £59 is a cheap price for the materials to build "a large room, a colonnade or a key intersection." But what's immediately obvious is that these pieces are gorgeous and well-designed, and that the project itself has pretty modest and sensible goals -- give us money to buy a laser. More money? We'll buy another laser. More money? We'll make more stuff.
As with all crowdfunded projects, you should be prepared for the eventuality that nothing will come of it, and you'll lose your money. That said, project founder James Wallbank runs a successful hackspace in Sheffield, and seems to be a together sort of dude. So caveat emptor, but also, FWOAR.
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Agence France-Presse posted this amazing photo (just a thumbnail shown here, click through for the full image) of protesters in Cairo zapping a military helicopter with lasers of varying power and color. As one of my tweeps said, behold the future of drone countermeasures.
Scott A. Stevenson modded a Blu-ray laser flashlight to run at 500mW and used it to pop 100 black balloons. For science!
100 black balloons vs. Blu-ray laser! It is all over in under 8 seconds. The sound they make as they pop is a bit mesmerizing! Note: The laser used in this video is custom made from a flashlight body and the laser diode from a 12X speed Blu-ray burner drive and not purchased in a store or online.
Above is a US Navy demonstration of a high-energy laser on a moving ship shooting down a drone. The Office of Naval Research just announced that they plan to deploy the system next year. "Our conservative data tells us a shot of directed energy costs under $1," Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder said. "Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile, and you can begin to see the merits of this capability." (Navy.mil)
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson sentenced a 19-year-old man on Monday to 30 months in federal prison for shining a laser pointer at a plane and police helicopter, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case.
"The plan was simple. Take a nostalgic NES "duck hunt" Zapper, and retrofit it with a ridiculously powerful laser."
A project from North Street Labs. In case it's not obvious, this is dangerous, and could lead to death or blindness without safety precautions.
Components: "2.1A input buck driver, 2x 750mAh 35-70c Lipo batteries, M140 445nm diode, G2 lens. homemade custom heat-sink, turn key safety switch."
Chjade84 convinced an Automated Laser Corporation 20 watt fiber laser to play "Still Alive," Jonathan Coulton's epic anthem for Valve's video-game Portal; as a lagniappe, the laser performs this feat while carving
Valve's Aperture Science's logo into a stainless steel plate.
There has been a lot of interest in these stainless plates with the Aperture logo (thanks!). I've sent a few emails to Valve asking for their permission to make them for you - it is their logo after all. If you want to be kept in the loop send me a message and I will keep you informed (probably $20-$30 shipped -- stainless ain't cheap!). Thanks again!
Portal's 'Still Alive' Played by Fiber Laser (Thanks, Alan!)
Here's a great little video explaining laser-sintering, the process by which some 3D printers do their magic -- melting fine powders, bit by bit, into 3D shapes.
Removing Orbital Debris with Lasers. How's that for a great research paper title?
Most of you are probably aware of the existence of space trash—that collection of disused satellites, lost tools, spent rocket boosters, and various other flotsam that is starting to become a physical hazard to the objects we actually want circling the globe in Low Earth Orbit. Currently, we get around the problem (mostly) by attaching bumpers to spacecraft and to the ISS. But there are lots of different ideas for how we could deal with the problem of space junk in a more proactive way.
The team of private and government scientists who wrote this paper want to aim lasers at space junk. But not like you're thinking. Instead of blowing up our trash in a life-size game of Asteroid (something that would really only succeed in creating a lot more, smaller pieces of space junk) the team wants to use laser pulses to alter the momentum of large pieces of junk, slowing those pieces enough that they fall out of orbit and back to Earth.
Such a system could be used to precisely time the reentry of dead satellites and other junk, ensuring that when chunks of metal fall out of the sky they won't be falling on any densely populated regions. That's one of the major benefits to this proposal.
The major detriment: Politics. How do you build a laser big enough to knock space junk out of orbit without convincing half the world that what you've really built is a giant death ray? That's something the authors hope to avoid through international cooperation.
Image: Goddard Celebrates International Observe the Moon Night with Laser Show, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from gsfc's photostream
Snijlab's wood flexes and folds thanks to an intricate pattern of laser-cut grooves. The best part, however, is that the materials and hardware required to do it yourself are commonplace.
"Because a laser cutter is a fairly common tool, products like this could be manufactured locally," write the creators on their website. " ... For us this means we can make everything in-house and we don’t need to produce in big quantities to make it affordable. This is really the power of digital manufacturing and personal fabrication."
Pictured above is Snijlab's first offering, a booklet holder you can buy for €25.