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.

Lab log: April 2, 2010
Posted on
April 3, 2010
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