How Fiber Optics Work

Index of refraction. End of story? You wish…I’m going to pontificate for a while. Where did I set that soapbox…

I dig optics. The coolest class I took was my graduate level optics class at the old alma mater, Montana State. I missed my calling as a physicist. Or rather, I missed my calling as someone who gets paid to play with lasers in a laboratory. Lasers lasing all over the place. Plenty of fiber optic cables around the lab, you can be sure of that, Jack.

fiber optics is fiber-y

Spools and spools of fiber optical cable is a pipe dream, though. That stuff isn’t exactly free, due to the nature of the beast. As pictured above, fiber optic cable is multi layered, and as I mentioned, is all made possible due to refraction. Index of refraction, to be more specific. See the above picture…the layer around the core is of a different index, keeping the photons bouncing towards the finish line (in a huge nutshell.)

The reason these things work so well is that the core (usually a glass of some nature) deals with photons instead of electrons. Massless and charge-free, photons are not crushed and or distorted by elecromagnetic noise. They can be setup to carry tons of data…aka very high bandwidth…thustly making fiber optic cables a perfect choice for high quality, large connections. Jack.

Hit one of those links to see some sweet home uses. Hit wikipedia to see the physics behind the scenes.

The main reason to push signal through fiber instead of copper is reliability. You really can’t wear out glass.

Applied Robotics

Let me clear the air before this one. There are four things to know about me. In no particular order…

1) I love humanoid robots.
2) I love androids.
3) I love drawing humanoid robots…and
4) I love Android OS.

Now that that is out of the way, let me say that this post doesn’t pertain to any of those four, for better or for worse. This post serves to shed some light on some custom robotic applications. As always though,

While I am holding it down on Arduino and Lego Mindstorm front, there are, quite thankfully, people utilizing robotics to improve procedures in real situations. Nothing is better than robots, lasers, and gadgetry…unless it falls into another field dear to my heart. Quality assurance. I should trade in my twin monitors in for one of these bad boys:

robots rule
pretty much the opposite of claw-bot

Now that looks like some precision automation exemplified.

So the gist of my rant is that there are automated assembly applications all over the place. You name it, it can be automated…and with some crazy levels of precision… two tenths of a micron precision.

Take a look at a exemplary robotic setup.

diagrams...always helpful

I could color that sucker green, in an effort to appease my fan-base. Or, alternatively, I could throw up a pic of something slicker than green robots….

Enhance. Enhance. Enhance

Could those be lasers? Yep…I’m talking about some 6-axis automated inspection system lasers…for the win. I’ll be the first to admit that high performance machine vision, 6-axis robotics, and bad ass software trumps my form of QA…even though our banking software is pretty sweet.

Regardless of the preferences, hit the bump to read about some real robotics applications. They are numerous…from automotive, clean room, fuel cell, medical devise, solar, and semiconductor implementations, to my already-mentioned QA…there is a ton to check out.

In the mean time, I’ll be horsing around with my robot drawings and laser pointers…pining for an Arduino.

Coffee + Car = Car-puccino

Hats off to the BBC, for airing an actual show about science.

In the States, we have Mythbusters, wherein two odd-looking dipshits half-assedly postulate hypotheses and perform experiments, with no certainty or control to speak of. Across the colloquial pond and at the other end of the spectrum, Bang Goes the Theory is performing some actual applied engineering…and it is pretty awesome.

bet the exhaust smells lovely...

Some details, from this hippy-ish site:

A team from the BBC1 science programme Bang Goes the Theory has unveiled a car that runs on coffee. Christened as Car-puccino, the car is actually a modified version of a £400, 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco. Well, the visible area of concern, for millions like me, is the running cost of the vehicle that has been estimated at between 25 and 50 times the cost of running a car on petrol.

The goal is to make the 200 mile trip between Manchester and London fueled by coffee. Since coffee has burn-able carbon, it can be used as a power source…albeit pretty low in the efficiency ranks. The car is supposed to be able to hit 60 MPH, but with the refilling and changing of filters, the trip is slated to take ten hours.

Bonus points for the design team, for making the Scirocco look like Luke Skywalker’s fighter w/ R2-D2 on the back.

***Note to the DIY fans. Car-puccino can be put together with hatchback, rain gutter down spout, and shop-vac. And brown spray paint, provided your mom’s gutters are differently colored.

Uranium For Sale…Yes, Please

This one was courtesy of deals.woot…and puzzling as hell. I’m not sure what this product is, but the related searches are classic:


and the comments are super-duper as well:

to the DeLorian

Digging the Back to the Future (BTTF) reference. Nicely played. Not as nice as ol’ #1, though…some half-life humor is great. Unfortunately, not accurate, since this is a jar of ore. Depending upon said ore’s richness, I’m supposing that if the details would true, you would still have pretty much the same amount of ore as you ordered, but I digress.

Funny stuff. I want some.