Server room

We built a server / laser cutter room to contain the noise. Watch us build it in 45 seconds!


  • 04:27:46 PM: My first powder driven nail shot with Thor’s Amazing Wham Hammer (thx, 3ric)
  • 05:50:45-05:53:45 PM: Sponsored by Ryobi
  • 06:22:45 PM: Subliminal technofear
  • 08:31:15 PM: More thunderstick action. Phil takes precautions.
  • 09:11:45 PM: Where’s the level?
  • 09:12:15 PM: Oh, there it is.
  • 09:48:15 PM: Chris’ patented go-go-gadget-go-kart-ladder!
  • 12:16:15 AM: Snack time.

Lab log: April 2, 2010

It’s very good to be back at the Unit. I enjoyed the work (and play!) in Italy, but five weeks is too long to be away. Here’s what I’ve been researching this week:

  • Particle beam physics. I have an idea for a novel, compact accelerator design. I still have much to learn about particle acceleration, so I’ve been digging in and reading Stanley Humpries’ Principles of Charged Particle Acceleration. I highly recommend it (and his companion book on Charged Particle Beams). Much of the physics is a review for me, but there are a lot of new concepts too. And while the math is getting more familiar, it isn’t getting any easier. Yet. Relativity twists my brain meats.
  • Making a nixie tube HV probe. My gigohm resistors arrived just before the trip, and I’m itching to use them. I’d like to use one to make a voltage divider for an Arduino-based voltmeter that drives nixie tubes for the display (via an Arduinix shield). I intend to use this with the coin shrinker for additional safety (nixies are much easier to read in the dark than an LCD!). And nothing says style like great big flashing Russian neon tubes. The code is pretty much worked out, so now it’s just down to assembly and tweaking.
  • Listening to the voices in other people’s heads. No, seriously. Ages ago I ran an icecast stream that I called “Laugh Out Loud”. It scraped the most recent posts from Live Journal and would read the first sentence of each post in a randomized TTS voice, mixed over some ambient electronica. It was hauntingly disturbing to listen to, and provided a background whispering zeitgeist full of LJ angst. Anyway, I’ve decided to resurrect it in the form of random voices reading my Twitter feed. No public code (or audio) yet, but stay tuned.

Fiat Lux

A while back, I inherited a surgical lamp from a decommissioned hospital in Mt. Vernon. While astoundingly awesome in its light throwing and ambiance-enhancing abilities, it weighs about 150lbs. And so it sat on the floor of my workspace for a couple of months, waiting for the help of motived strapping lads to hold it up while I bolted it in place.

Well, it turns out that waiting for strapping lads is a silly strategy, especially when you have the able assistance of brilliant (and also quite strapping) ladies.


Rather than just hold this squirrelly hunk of steel and awesome above our heads, I installed some heavy eyelets and carabiners in the ceiling, and slipped some ratcheting straps around the lamp. With the incredibly generous help of Willow and Star, the beast was wrangled into place to mate with… the 30lb steel mounting plate.

mounting plate

Oh, didn’t I mention the plate? It has six 1/2″ x 4″ lag bolts that grip into a huge 16″ x 20″ timber on the ceiling. It only took about an hour of machining and wrestling with a ratchet (and round with a burly Italian) to get it in place. That plate isn’t coming down until the building comes down…

fiat lux!

…which means that I can now do chin-ups on the awesomest work lamp in the universe. I mean really, does your Chinese luxo-lamp knockoff give you 300 Watts of cool white love with six degrees of freedom on a six foot swingarm?

work light

Didn’t think so. Now, to illuminate Moar Science!