The most expensive, carefully designed, and complicated solar panels in the world operate at about 40% efficiency. That means that, for every bit of sunlight that hits the panel, only 40% of it is turned into electricity.
Scientists think that this is just about as good as silicon panels can do and are now looking at ways to make it cheaper, instead of making them more efficient. But suddenly, from nowhere, comes Steven Novack of the Idaho National Laboratories with an inexpensive, foldable solar panel that may turn out to be up to 80% efficient.
The trick is nanotechnology. The surface of the material is printed with miniscule nano-antennae that capture infra-red radiation, the kind that the sun puts out in abundance, and is even available at night. Television antennas absorbe large wavelength energy, so in order to absorb ultra-small wavelength energy (photons) they had to create ultra-small antennas.
80% Efficient Solar Panel?! Works at Night?! - [Link]
This circuit is a fan controller which is using the pulse width modulation (PWM) method. It is tiny (33.78mm x 54.76mm) and easy to build. Functions of the circuit parts are listed below;
PWM Fan Controller by LM2902N or LM324N - [Link]
This little camera may not look like much, and in fact, it’s not much, measuring less than 3″ square. But what it can do is huge. It’s a LADAR (or LIDAR) camera, which uses a laser to create 3D images. This tiny little guy has a 128×128 pixel sensor, and it’s able to detect objects up to 22,000 feet away with a depth resolution of up to one inch, depending on what laser is installed as an illuminator. LADAR (Laser Detection and Ranging) uses timed pulses of laser light to determine how far away and how reflective something is, and this particular camera is able to operate at up to 30 frames per second, which results in pretty decent 3D video.
LADAR Imaging Technology - [Link]
This is what I call some time consuming project. 8×8×8 is 512 total LEDs to solder. But end result looks really cool. Each LED in this cube can be controlled individually by ATmega32 microcontroller.
The controller board can be interfaced to RS232, CAN and two joysticks from the C64. To control such amount of LEDs isn’t easy task without special time controlled multiplexing. The cube is divided in to 64 LED planes where each plane is switched about 100 times per second, so for spectator it looks like individual LEDs are controlled separately. Construction schematics aren’t final, but you can see some versions here. The complete software is written in C for the AVR-GCC compiler and can be found here.
8x8x8 3D LED effects with Borg 3D - [Link]
MAKE Flickr Pool member Funax made an Arduino-compatible board powered by a single AAA battery. A step-up converter is used to boost the battery’s 1.5V output to 5V and meet Arduino’s minimum power requirements. Keep in mind – this circuit would considerably reduce current supplied to the board and therefore limit its ability to power external components.
AAA powered Arduino – [Link]
I have always wanted some Aerogel, and I am not sure why? Maybe just to hold something that is 99.8% air, or to try and figure out something to make with it. NASA seems to have found some uses for the amazing stuff. They have been successful in collecting cosmic dust samples, and insulating the Mars Pathfinder rover.
Aerogel – 99.8% air, 100% cool - [Link]
uCHobby has an article up about checking component placement on PCBs before ordering. If you’re planning on having your circuit design professionally fabricated, it’s vital to do a thorough pre-check to get a better idea of the final product. There’s not much worse than receiving a box full of expensive custom green coasters (unless of course you’re into designing coasters) when you expected a functional board.
PCB pre-order check - [Link]
This is ridiculous, and I want one -Currently being reviewed by The Guinness Book of World Records, The Torch is the world’s brightest and most powerful flashlight. It is easily capable of melting plastic, lighting paper on fire within seconds, and if you want, frying an egg or a marshmallow on a stick! At 4100 lumens, The Torch is 100 lumens more powerful than The Polarion Helios, the former most powerful flashlight. Incredible? Watch The Torch in action.
The Torch – world’s brightest and most powerful flashlight -[Link]
In the same style as Processing and Arduino, “Fritzing” is an open source PCB layout tool that attempts to help designers move from physical prototypes to building actual products. In particular in the area of PCB prototyping, the freely downloadable cross-platform software allows for basic layout and design of projects like Arduino shields and other projects and can also be used to document PCB designs for later publishing on the web, etc… Lots of very good introductory information at the link below. [via]
Fritzing open source PCB layout tool – [Link]
Interesting project, any maker use it?
The muio interface is a modular system for sensing and controlling the Real World, from programmes such as Pure Data, MAX/MSP, SuperCollider, Processing or something you have written yourself. There are several interface controllers around now – some others are even OpenSource. They all have their pros and cons. However.
- The muio needs NO PROGRAMMING.
- The muio needs only 2 readily available chips to get started.
The muio interface is an I2C to USB hardware device, based on USBIO from Delcom Engineering. I2C is a standard protocol that is popular within robotics. There are several ready made chips and circuit boards that are i2C compliant. These can be ready connected to the muio and are controllable once you know the operation codes for that particular device. [via]
The muio interface - [Link]