brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell

14Jul/04Off

Pot Pourri and a Cheap Microscope

A Cheap MicroscopeWell, tonight I'm just too tired to string any coherent thoughts or good links together, so I thought I'd merely list some of the days thoughts and experiences, and perhaps work harder tomorrow to write down something truly interesting.

We have a new cat. Well, sort of. For a week this cat kept showing up on our back patio, and would whine piteously but shy away from us whenever we opened the door. After a week of this behavior, we decided to set out some water and a little food for the poor guy, and now he's back continuously. Feral cats aren't unheard of around here: we adopted one a while ago and had him for a year before the winds of change took him and he wandered off. This one seems to me like more of a lost housecat, but perhaps has been lost for quite some time. For now, we are calling him Scraps, which means that we probably own him, or at least, vice versa.

I was reading Jason Yang's thesis on building a light field camera from a flatbed scanner. I have an old Astra 600P lying around, which would probably work admirably and is unused, except that it doesn't have any SANE drivers. I'm also considering picking up a new Canon LIDE scanner which I could hack. Tom Duff suggested picking up disposable cameras for lenses, but I could also get bunches of cheap plastic lenses from American Science & Surplus which might be even easier. I should raytrace a design using a plano-convex plastic lens and see how the system looks overall.

The Incredibles is almost in the can. I have a few more shots to tie up, and in ten days or so, I should be in a much more relaxed state of mind. I'm considering a longish vacation at home, working on cleaning, fixing and maybe even a little telescope making and web hacking. Then it will back to work for more training and deployment on another film. The machine keeps on grinding.

Obligatory Link: While considering the possibility of using lenses from disposable cameras to build a light field camera, I remembered that funsci.com had an interesting article on building a $1 microscope by using four lenses from disposable cameras. It also has a nice focusing mechanism based upon the idea of a differential screw, a cute mechanism. There is lots of other good stuff at funsci.com: give it a quick peek!