Mar 042010

I can’t just sit on the sidelines glowering at all the happy coders all month. Here’s my first code snippet for the month: spherify!
Approximately Earth.

It’s a simple little python script that uses an image file as a heightmap, maps it on to a sphere, and spits out an STL file.  It can be charitably described as “crude”.  Usage:

Usage: [options] source

  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -o OUTPATH, --output=OUTPATH
                        output to given path
  -r RADIUS, --radius=RADIUS
                        radius of lowest point in mm
  --height=HEIGHT       additional radius of highest point in mm

You’ll need to have the python imaging library installed to use it. Source after the break.
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:30 am

Old Video Games

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Feb 042010

Before there was Mario Kart, there was Mystery Cart:

Mystery cart!

Shelby found this Atari 2600 cart lodged in the floor under an eighty-pound steel plate at the new Resistor space.  Other than a ’78 copyright, there’s no indication of what game it might be.  Anyone care to make a guess before we hook it up and read the ROM?

 Posted by at 6:00 am

Numitron Clock

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Oct 052009

Numitron clock

Just before he silently stole away on a secretive mission to distant lands, Ranjit left a hoard of lovely obsolete electronics at the lab.  Among the treasures were a couple of old counting units with 7-segment incandescent displays, sometimes called numitrons.  I’ve turned this one into a simple clock.

7400 love

Thanks to Charles for the spare pushbuttons, Ranjit for the original unit, and Evil Mad Scientist for the protoboard.

 Posted by at 2:01 am
Sep 062009

Sometimes you find interesting things in the oddest places.

Cloud funnel

Like a funnel of crashing foam.


Or a new Jovian moon.

 Posted by at 12:55 am

Laser down!

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Feb 122009

A quick note: our R1 filtration droid finally gave up its wee little electronic ghost this week, so the laser will be unavailable until replacement parts arrive. The L2 and L3 filters apparently took a little more carbon scoring than they could handle. We expect we will once again be vaporizing materials in futuristic fashion within a week or two.

 Posted by at 6:49 pm

Magic fail smoke

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Jan 072009

Sometimes I blow out transistors.  Sometimes they smoke.  Sometimes they fizzle.  And sometimes, like today, they fail so catastrophically that they blow the face of their encasing epoxy across the room:

transistor fail

(The transistor behind it merely cracked in two.)

 Posted by at 11:26 pm


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Sep 122008


I built a fantastically hacky boost converter to light this lovely Soviet nixie tube. One cap, one inductor, one resistor, one mosfet, one diode, and an ATTiny13. Or, as Raph put it, “one of everything”.

Boost converter and nixie

Equally tacky, hacky clock coming soon!

 Posted by at 8:56 pm