Helping students rig the balloon, with the 3D printed picavet in the foreground:
Lowering the rig to clear the canopy:
Nothing better than doing real science in the field with students (plus wearing a sweet safety vest):
Additional photos and datasets at the project blog dolookdown.org
Max Mahoney (Chemistry) and I have been collaborating on a volumetric display for the 3D visualization of molecular models. We developed a pretty sweet prototype, and then Max had the idea that instead of one big monitor, wouldn’t it be easier to just have 4 identical small monitors?
Indeed I think it would be.
The video can be sent from the computer to a 4 way HDMI splitter, then sent to 4 identical monitors – maybe 7″? – each rotated 90 degrees. No special software to deal with, no creation of a special 4plexed version of the video. An elegant volumetric appliance, at least on paper…
Jennifer Kraemer (Early Childhood Education) was in the lab today, printing up some new connector pieces from the Free Universal Construction Kit. I used the K’NEX-to-Lego connectors in a workshop over the summer, and Jennifer is planning on printing many more pieces for use next week for activities with her ECE students.
Side note – I’ve been really impressed with the performance of the Printrbot Simple Metal. It’s been getting a fair amount of use lately, with the aquaponics nozzles and Max’s molecules and molecular visualizer and the picavet parts, and it just seems to go and go without being fussy. That said, I have my eye on a Formlabs Form 2. I’m especially interested in the castable resin. It would be great to get a metal pour going in the fall!
Working with Max Mahoney (Chemistry) on a molecule visualizer, and we had the opportunity to throw the prototype on a 30″ monitor. The results are encouraging!
Next up: Max is going to render a custom molecule video. We’ll format that for the system, and assuming all goes as planned, work out the enclosure issues, which will likely involve some CNC work.
After addressing the venturi challenge, I was able to get the second chain of recycled bottles for the drip aquaponics system set up:
It ran all weekend without a hitch, and the science fish seem pleased. I’ve planted the bottles with cuttings of mint, oregano, yerba buena, and lemon balm, and hopefully they’ll all root.
Max Mahoney (Chemistry) and I met today to do some preliminary sensor calibration for the aquaponics system. Max brought over various solutions of known pH and µS/cm.
We connected the pH sensor to the Cooking Hacks Open Aquarium shield, and went through the procedure of calibrating the sensor, which involved basically sticking the sensor into a beaker of various solutions, recording the values, and tweaking some variables in the Arduino sketch.
The process for the electroconductivity sensor was much the same. Both worked without a hitch, and once the calibration procedure was complete, we tested the water from the experimental system – 7.54 ph/298.24 µS/cm – and from the quarantine tank – 7.07 pH/176.83 µS/cm. There’s something up with the temperature sensor, which gives a zero value no matter what, so we’ll need to get that sorted, but overall a very successful work day. To top it of, the power and Ethernet should be installed out in the library tomorrow!
Still waiting for the power and some other critical infrastructure pieces for the library aquaponics system to line up, so I’ve been working here and there on an open source, 3D printed drip system that uses recycled soda bottles as plant containers.
I was never quite able to get the venturi – the piece that uses air from an aquarium air pump to push water up a tube to water the plants – to work properly. It would work for a few hours, and then quit, I think because of clogs in the tiny air courses, so I set out to explore other solutions. Working off of an idea I found on Instructables for a bubble lift hydroponics setup, I headed to the hardware store for a few items, and was able to cobble something together. Science!
It’s been running all day, and seems stable. I’ll let it run overnight just to be sure, but I felt confident enough to stick some mint cuttings into the bottles, and hope they’ll root.
This is Max’s molecule.
Max Mahoney (Chemistry) spent several years of his life working on this very molecule for his PhD. The other day, he was able to print it and hold it in his hand. That’s the good stuff.