Archive for category: Amateur Science

A pair of geeky Advent calendars…

December 9, 2014 | Amateur Science, Computer Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

Advent is the season observed in many Christian traditions that is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas. When I was young, we’d have an Advent calendar, which counted down the days to Christmas, and would gift us with a little chocolate or candy each day. While I am no longer religious, the […]

Photos from the eclipse…

May 21, 2012 | Amateur Science, Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Okay, these are the best of the photos that I snapped during yesterdays annular solar eclipse (well, it was really only a partial eclipse here). We had just left the Maker Faire, and were in the parking lot of Oracle on 10 Twin Dolphin Drive in Redwood City, CA. I took out my 4″ Meade […]

Upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse

December 6, 2011 | Amateur Science, Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Yep, there is an upcoming total lunar eclipse this Saturday, on the morning of Dec 10. It will be the last total lunar eclipse visible from San Francisco until April of 2014, so I think I’ll be trying to get up and see if I can view it and take some snapshots. From San Francisco, […]

Some simple circuits with solar cells…

November 8, 2011 | Amateur Science, electronics | By: Mark VandeWettering

My tinkering with my ATtiny13 based pumpkin circuit had me thinking that perhaps I should try to make something similar, but solar powered. Luckily, Windell had already anticipated my needs, and had put up a nice simple page with some circuits to experiment with. If you want a simple solar battery charger, or a simple […]

Nyle Steiner finds and demonstrates a memristor

November 3, 2011 | Amateur Science, electronics | By: Mark VandeWettering

Nyle Steiner, of the Spark Bang Buzz blog has been at it again, demonstrating cool electrical/electronic devices that are homebrewed. This time he constructed his own memristor. If you aren’t up on electronics, you might not have heard of memristors before. While Leon Chua proposed that such a circuit element was possible, they weren’t actually […]

Electromagnetic Propulsion of Ships and Submarines

October 27, 2011 | Amateur Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

The other day, I was watching The Hunt For Red October on TV. Through some odd coincidence, today I found a link to an article that was published in Popular Science back in 1966 on a silent electromagnetic drive for submarines, just like the “caterpillar drive” of the Red October. I didn’t realize that this […]

First ever image of fourth-order rainbow

October 6, 2011 | Amateur Science, Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

Long time readers of my blog may remember that I’m interested in rainbows (not unicorns, just rainbows). A while ago, I wrote a simple simulation that showed the formation of the primary and secondary rainbows by simulating the refraction of water inside a single raindrop. These two bows appear opposite the sun in the sky. […]

ARISSat-1 and the ISS over California

September 2, 2011 | Amateur Radio, Amateur Satellite, Amateur Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

I got a tweet from twisst, the ISS pass prediction robot yesterday indicating that I’d have a good pass around 8:25PM. While I am fighting off a cold, the weather was beautiful and nice, and so I ran some path predictions to see what the path looked like, and also checked on ARISSat-1’s path to […]

How-To: Coffee Can Radar

August 23, 2011 | Amateur Science, electronics | By: Mark VandeWettering

This is awesome! MIT has created an interesting course as part of the their Open Course Ware project: it describes how radar can work, and as a final project, students were expected to build an test a simple radar system. Their description: Are you interested in building and testing your own imaging radar system? MIT […]

Real Sound Cookery – Make a contact mic with baking soda and cream of tartar. |

August 22, 2011 | Amateur Science, electronics, Music | By: Mark VandeWettering

A couple of months ago, Collin’s Lab featured a story about making your own piezoelectric crystals from Rochelle salt. Collin stopped short of making an actual microphone though: he just demonstrated that the salt crystal would generate a series of voltage spikes when whacked with the handle of a screwdriver. Leafcutter John followed pretty much […]

Raymond Jimenez’s Amateur Nuclear Fusion

August 2, 2011 | Amateur Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

While looking up some references on amateur nuclear fusion (don’t ask!) I found that Raymond Jimenez had written a cute 40 page book on his own experiments with a Farnsworth Fusor. You can apparently order a dead tree version from Lulu for $12.50, but it’s also available as a free download. Raymond Jimenez’s Storefront – […]

Clouds in a Glass of Beer Guinness

August 1, 2011 | Amateur Science | By: Mark VandeWettering

I subscribe to the Sixty Symbols YouTube channel which is produced by the University of Nottingham, and today, I noticed they had a new video on a subject near and dear to many a physicists heart: Guinness. If you think that beer is beneath the interest of physics, you should surf on over to […]

The Gyrator VLF receiver…

June 15, 2011 | Amateur Radio, Amateur Science, Astronomy, electronics | By: Mark VandeWettering

Back on June 7, there was a spectacular coronal mass ejection on the sun: Yes, I did mention this event and gave some links to VLF receivers at the time, but I’ve been thinking about this some more. As an astronomy/telescope buff, I have built simple telescopes for looking at the sun, but I haven’t […]

Boom! A big solar flare, with some links…

June 8, 2011 | Amateur Radio, Amateur Science, Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

This morning’s massive coronal mass ejection from the Sun got me scrambling around trying to remember details of how amateurs can monitor solar flare activity during the current solar cycle. Mark Spencer, WA8SME, had some articles on building a small monitoring station that detected SIDs, or “sudden ionospheric disturbances”. The basic idea is to create […]

DIY FET/home-made transistor Scientific American June 1970

May 20, 2011 | Amateur Science, electronics | By: Mark VandeWettering

When I was still in grade school, I (and this will be a shock to my readers) spent a lot of time in libraries. Our library used to have a free bin, where they would toss things that they no longer wanted in their collection. One day, I came by and found a pile of […]