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Engineer In Wonderland

Getting the last drop out of bottles

OK, so you might have another use for a non-stick surface for polycarbonate and polypropylene, but getting the last of the shower gel out of a bottle is important in my book. Laundry detergent spreads out on a piece of normal polycarbonate (left), but flows rapidly across, and off of, a treated piece.  Researchers at The Ohio State University have ...

Looking on the bright side

Well, by a small margin, the people of the UK have voted to leave the EU. For weeks before the vote, Electronics Weekly was scouting around for people to go on the record about leaving or remaining. Plenty of people were prepared to talk about the benefits of remaining and, at the last count, nobody would go on the record ...

LIGO is amazing

4km arms of LIGO Washington

I heard a few bits and pieces about detecting gravitational waves. And the engineering is phenomenal. Gravity waves are measured by movement of suspended test masses, which are 40kg blocks of sapphire polished (to 250pm (=0.25nm)) to have mirror ends so they can be sensed by laser (I have no idea how laser sensing works when gravity is bending space-time…). Anyway, ...

App note covers charging Vishay supercap-battery hybrid

Enycap charging

Vishay has published an app note on charging its 196 HVC Enycap series of hybrid energy storage capacitor-batteries – which combine electrostatic and faradaic energy storage, in its words – as it looks like these components need a little TLC if they are to last. “For applications requiring a constantly high charge state of the Enycap capacitors, such as solar energy systems and ...

Lidar reveals more to ancient city of Angkor Wat

angkorlidar result

Ever since I first heard of Angkor Wat in Cambodia I have been enthralled. But perhaps not quite as enthralled as I am by the technology that has been used to find what surrounds the city, by laser-scanning through jungle to the ground. Much as I know amazing stuff is possible, it just about boggles my mind that all the ...

Natural material is so tough, the US military wants it

UC Riverside Mantis Shrimp Herringbone Structure

You can’t help but be drawn into something about a shrimp’s ‘dactyl club’ that includes this paragraph: “The dactyl club can reach an acceleration of 10,000g, unleashing a barrage of impacts with the speed of a bullet. Mantis shrimp come in two varieties: ‘smashers’ and ‘spearers.’ While spearers kill prey by driving a spear into soft-bodied sea creatures, smashers kill ...

PCB-Pool sells DIY re-flow oven

Beta Reflow Kit V3 Pro

It transpires that I am a bit behind the times here, in discovering that PCB-Pool – the company (also known as Beta Layout) that will make single pcbs and small batches of pcbs – also sells a low-cost re-flow oven so that small companies, hobbyists and makers can solder their own components. Like many such machines, it is based around ...

Sarah Guppy

I can add a new name to my list of heroines: Which now reads: Beryl Burton (cycling), Florence Nightingale (statistics), Dr James Barry (medicine) and Sarah Guppy (engineering). It transpires Sarah Guppy was an engineer in the early 1800s, having made contributions to bridge foundations that were used by Thomas Telford, amongst other stuff. From here, I bow to Wikipedia. And ...

Camper van query has UK-made answer

ITW 19N microswitch photo

I was asked to have a look at a problem in a camper van this weekend. The van has a sink, and the tap on the sink combines a water valve plus a switch that turns on a remote electric pump to raise water up to the tap. The tap is made by Whale – and I should have taken ...

Bees have an electrostatic sense

Bumble bee University of Bristol

Said the University of Bristol in a statement: “Although it’s known that flowers communicate with pollinators by sending out electric signals, just how bees detects these fields has been a mystery – until now.” What? Flowers have electric fields? Apparently so. And bees detect them using hairs that deflect according to charge – said Bristol, which used a laser to ...