Monday, October 18, 2010

Giant Robots and the Tesla Coil

You might be wondering what my tesla coil has to do with giant fighting robots.  The answer to that would be the film Real Steel.  After posting my tesla coil for sale on Craigslist, I was contacted by Rob Nokes, a sound effects recordist and editor.  While not looking to purchase the coil, he was interested in recording it for his work on Real Steel, a film about boxing robots, and to possibly use in the TV series Bones.  He brought his recording equipment, and we worked for about two hours to get a variety of robot-crunching/circuit-popping sounds.  I configured the coil to produce various arcing sounds while Rob worked the microphones.  I don't expect to have my name next to Hugh Jackman or executive producer Steven Speilberg, but I might just listen a little more closely when the robot boxers face off and throw a few punches.
Setting up a few microphones
Recording various effects

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wind Direction Finder: Nearing Completion

The wind direction indicator has seen a good deal of progress since my last post.  The vane and indicator cases have been finished and much of the programming completed.  The vane electronics and power supply are housed entirely within PVC pipe to prevent moisture from damaging the device and to allow easy mounting to the top of the mast.  The vane itself has been built from recycled parts: a pop-up sprinkler, panda express chopstick and beer can. I'm currently working on a way of securely mounting the PVC to the top of the mast where the vane will transmit from.  The vane is powered by two AA batteries which should supply the transmitter with 90+ hours of continuous operation; more than enough for a weekend of sailing.

The display electronics have all been placed in a waterproof pelican case.  They will be powered from an external 12v battery typically stowed in the hold of the boat.  This display device shows graphically and numerically the wind direction relative to the boat.  I have also incorporated a 5min and 1min countdown timer helpful in small boat sailing for timing the start of a race.  From the display, you can also turn off the vane transmitter to conserve battery power.  The vane will still require some power to listen for a "turn on" signal to resume broadcasting the vane direction.  Interfacing with the display electronics is done through a capacitive touch sensor mounted on the inside of the pelican case.  This keeps the electronics protected from water, even if the Kraken were to pull the boat under.

Wireless wind vane and display box with battery