Sunday, October 31, 2010

New to the LucidScience builders forum

Hello, thought I would join the forum after having a look at some of your electronics projects."

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Friday, October 29, 2010

DVD Autopsy 001 - LucidScience DIY tutorial on salvaging electronics parts

Six videos:

Getting started tools - LucidScience electronics forum

"In addition to those items mentioned above, it would be a good idea to have some sort of screwdriver set that includes: #0 - #3 phillips bit, 1/16" - 5/16 flat blade wire cutters, and wire strippers. A good substitute for cutter/strippers is..."

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Diy lab equipment - LucidScience electronics forum

"On the other hand, I just love DIY stuff and DIY lab is just another awesome thing to do.. "

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Build the 2 transistor Spy Transmitter -

Radio frequency projects can seem more difficult than most electronics projects because most of the time you cannot build them on a solderless breadboard and there may be parts used that are not easy to source such as coils and adjustable capacitors. This project is focused towards those who have not yet attempted to build any kind of RF project, and it is laid out in such a way as to make it easy to explore the basic principles of RF circuitry and ensure a successful final product.

This simple 2 transistor audio transmitter will send the sounds picked up in a room to any FM radio tuned to the same frequency as the transmitter, somewhere between 80 and 100 Megahertz. The expected range will be at least 100 feet and could be substantially longer depending on the parts used and the quality of your final product.

This circuit is based on one that has been around since the 1960s and published thousands of times, so it is tried, tested and guaranteed to work if you follow the instructions. Performance is "OK", but since this is the one of the most basic transmitter circuits possible, don't expect high quality or rock solid performance.

You can salvage most of the parts needed from an old radio.

500KV Rock Disaggregator - Marx Generator

This experimental rock disaggregator is powered by a pole pig transformer connected in reverse to charge a bank of five 50KV capacitors up to 500KV. The resulting high energy discharge is sent into an explosion containment vessel.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lazarus-64 Retro Game System prototype

Figure 25 - The data bus switch from the host processor

One of the other parts of the VMS that has not been mentioned is the data bus switch, which includes a pair of 74LS245 bi-directional buffers and another 74HC157 to switch the output enable (OE) and write enable (WE) from the host processor to the dual memory banks. Each 74HC245 takes one of the memory data busses and then combines them into one bi-direction input/output which is fed to the host processor. The direction of the bus traffic is controlled by the state of the output enable pin, making the switch seem like a single bank of memory.

It was necessary to use the 74HC245 buffers in this part of the VMS as traffic is bi-directional from the host processor data bus into the memory banks. To write to the memory, the AVR sets the data port for output and then sets the OE and WE pins accordingly. To read from the memory, the processor port is set as an input, and then data is read after a small delay to allow the turnaround cycle to complete. This bus turnaround cycle is necessary when switching an AVR from output to input in order to avoid a bogus data reading. At 20MHz, only 2 dead cycles (NOPs) are needed, so it's not a lot of wasted time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lazarus 3D upgrade

This project was built over a span of a few years, getting only a little attention on the odd weekend. This was also my very first microcontroller assembly project, so it was a lofty goal indeed! I was not interested in seeing an LED flashing; I wanted an entire video game system! The journey was both rewarding and frustrating at times due to the intense learning curve, but the results were well worth the effort. The completed Lazarus-64 Retro Game System is the ultimate platform to fine tune one's embedded programming skills since it allows the connection of any microcontroller and the use of any programming language. Oh, and it's also a great retro video game platform!

Join the discussion Suggest New Projects and Kits: Lazarus 3D upgrade


This project shows you how to turn 1.5 volts into almost 400 volts, creating a hand held device capable of charging high voltage capacitors or delivering a low current high voltage shock. Using only the tiny circuit board from a cheap disposable camera, you can step up the voltage from a single AA battery to a level that is three times higher than the voltage coming out of your AC wall outlet! Of course, the output current is extremely low, but make no mistake - the high voltage output from this handheld taser/zapper is painful enough to make anyone jump up to the ceiling.

This circuit can also be used to make a small florescent light inverter, front end charger for a Marx generator, or any other device needing several hundred volts of high frequency power. Voltages over 1000 volts can also be generated from this circuit by increasing the DC power supply or by changing the single transistor to one that can handle a higher current. Of course, the circuit shown here will deliver more than enough voltage to make you afraid to test the device on yourself more than once! 

Friday, October 8, 2010


The following pages detail the concept and creation of the original Lazarus-64 Retro Game System prototype. This project was built over a span of a few years, getting only a little attention on the odd weekend. This was also my very first microcontroller assembly project, so it was a lofty goal indeed! I was not interested in seeing an LED flashing; I wanted an entire video game system!

The journey was both rewarding and frustrating at times due to the intense learning curve, but the results were well worth the effort. The completed Lazarus-64 Retro Game System is the ultimate platform to fine tune one's embedded programming skills since it allows the connection of any microcontroller and the use of any programming language. Oh, and it's also a great retro video game platform!

Read more:  Build the LAZARUS-64 PROTOTYPE


The Laser Spy System is considered by many to be the Holy Grail of high tech spy devices because it can give the user the ability to listen in on conversations that take place in a distant building without having to install a bug or transmitter at the location. The Laser Spy System was said to be invented in the Soviet Union by Leon Theremin in the late 1940s.

Using a non-laser based infrared light source, Theremin's system could detect sound from a nearby window by picking up the faint vibrations on the glass surface. The KGB later used this device to spy on the British, French and US embassies in Moscow. It is also interesting to note that Leon Theremin invented the world's first electronic instrument, a wand operated synthesizer named "The Theremin" after him.

The Laser Spy System goes by several names such as the Laser Microphone, Laser Listener, Laser Bug, Window Bounce Listener and a few similar names. The Laser Spy certainly works well under ideal conditions, but it has many strengths and weaknesses that will be discussed in this plan. Building your own Laser Spy is by far the best way to experiment with this technology as you can adjust the design to suit your needs, rather than forking over hundreds or thousands of dollars for an assembled kit that will likely be far inferior to one that you can build yourself.

Many of the kits I have seen for sale over the Internet not only use dated technology, but they incorrectly state that the system uses a modulated laser beam to convert window vibrations into sound, which is simply not the case. Let's put the mysteries to rest once and for all and build a working Laser Spy System from the ground up and explore the functionality of each subsystem that makes a working unit.

We will be starting with an ultra basic proof of concept test system that will show you how the Laser Spy converts vibration into sound and how careful alignment of both the laser and receiver are required for optimal performance. Ironically, the most basic configuration may prove to be the most useful, and the $20 you spend in parts could create a system that works as well (or better) than some of the ones that are for sale on the internet for thousands of dollars. As you will find out, the key to spying with a laser beam is in the alignment and reception of the beam, not some magical black box full of fancy filters and optical components. 

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

LucidScience site and forum are online!

 Ugh - it's been a very long two months. Everything that could wrong did. We are actually two weeks late from our official launch date, but, we wanted to get as much done as possible on the main site and electronics forum right away to concentrate on putting up more projects, tutorials and videos for the rest of this month.

Time to reduce the caffeine intake for awhile and get some much needed sleep!

So, this is our official invitation to you to join our electronics community. Take a look around and be sure to join the forum. There will be more projects and tutorials online next week. Enjoy!

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Sunday, October 3, 2010's own DIY night vision project is featured on Hack a Day

This easy-to-build Night Vision Viewer lets you see deep into the night without detection. This covert system can light up a room as if you were using a flashlight, yet only you will be able to see the light. The performance of this Night Vision Viewer is as good as some commercially available night vision systems that cost a lot more. Using invisible infrared light, the Night Vision Viewer can see in total darkness, indoors and outdoors, and will operate from a battery pack for several hours. This device can also be used to detect other night vision systems or as a jammer to hide your face to most security cameras. Another interesting effect of the Night Vision system is referred to as "X-Ray Vision", which allows the user to see through certain materials (including clothing) that may be opaque to infrared light. If covert surveillance or countermeasures is your game, then this is one piece of equipment you will definitely want in your spy gear arsenal.

The Night Vision Viewer is built around commonly available parts, most of which can be found new at any electronics store, or taken from dead video appliances. This project is well within the reach of anyone with a desire to do a little hardware hacking, and even includes a basic guide to getting started in electronics. There is a lot of room to add your own modifications as well, so you can create your own unique spy gear in order to further your cause. The truth is out there, and now you will be able to see it even in total darkness!

Read the entire project:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What's all about?

What is LucidScience?

LucidScience is a community of electronics enthusiasts from students to professional engineers. Our community is all about using one's creative energy to invent new gadgets or modify and hack everyday devices into unique creations. LucidScience is a place to come and learn, share, and become inspired and no degree is necessary. The only skill that counts around here is the motivation to do it yourself, with some help from other likeminded people who also want to further their own knowledge. We truly believe that anyone with motivation can create virtually anything on a limited budget using inexpensive components. We believe this statement because we are actually doing this ourselves!

LucidScience is about affordable and open source projects for the everyday electronics hacker. The word "hacker" is often associated with someone doing something malicious. That's not how we see it. It's not about patents, large budgets, or how much educational or professional designations someone achieves. Never underestimate what can be accomplished by a motivated individual with a box of junk, a low budget soldering iron and a "never quit" attitude! Electronics is the ultimate hobby for the knowledge junkie because it demands a never ending ability to learn new skills, try new solutions, and to be persistent after multiple failures. Having an open mind and being able to think out-of-the box are important, too.

Our electronics plans and projects are often "From the Fringe", including many spy gadgets, laser projects, electronic bugs, transmitters, night vision devices, high voltage projects, and many of the other cool devices often associated with spy plans and projects. We like anything weird, controversial, experimental, and evil genius oriented, so "Electronics from the Fringe" will be the main focus of our electronics plans, spy gadget kits, and general electronics tutorials. This web site is an ongoing project and new things will be added regularly, at least once a week.

Who is LucidScience?

Brad & Kat, 1971
We are just two people who enjoy exercising our creative abilities. Brad Graham (RadBrad) and Kathy McGowan (Trinity) run and from a small country home using basic tools and materials that are available to anyone. There are no head offices, engineers, board of directors, middle managers, or shareholders behind our operation and we aim to keep it that way!

We started this World Wide Web venture like many noobs - wondering what a web server was, how it worked and what we needed to do to build an online community of people who are interested in the same stuff we are. But, thanks to many late nights, large cups of java, and serious "hate to lose" attitudes, we're always moving ahead to make it all come together.

We are proud of the fact that all of our Web ventures are the results of the labors of two highly motivated individuals with very little previous training in electronics, welding, programming, or webhosting. We're proof that anyone with persistence and motivation can achieve whatever goals he or she set, regardless of background. I guess you could just call us both "hackers", because we look at a problem and just chip away at it one bit at a time until a solution is found, often learning so much more due to the trial and error process.

Personally, I have found that knowledge gained "the hard way" is always more valuable than a direct lesson as it forces the mind to wander "outside the box" and attempt solutions that may fail yet at the same time lead to extended learning. A true hacker may begin one project and end up with something totally unique and unexpected - invention by accident!

LucidScience is just Brad and Kathy...husband and wife, nerds and partners for life.

Why do we do this?

We do this because we can. Seriously, why else would a sane person want to rip the cover off a brand new electronic appliance only to rip out wires and contort it into something completely different? We were born this way, and most likely the majority of our visitors are also infected by this kind of the "hacker" bug. The satisfaction that comes from creating something unique using your own gray matter far exceeds any amount of joy that comes from knowing how much you paid for something, even if it may be lesser quality. Give a true hacker a black box with wires hanging out, an overheating breadboarded circuit and they will always find it so much more enjoyable than the equivalent factory made device with a 7 digit serial number! "I built it myself" trumps "I paid a lot for it" every single time in our world.

We run and because we love to inspire others to hack, create, lean, and share their creative knowledge. We are always in a constant state of learning, so an Internet community becomes the ultimate resource for like minded individuals. Our goal is to bring together those with a mind to create, learn, and share into one large worldwide space so that we can all benefit from each other.

Our community operates with an attitude that all participants are equal, and a that a person who has just started will soon acquire the skills that will allow him/her to help others. Many times, the solution to a difficult technical problem can be found by the "untrained eye" since the ability to examine variables that are "not in the manual" can be a powerful skill, a skill that all hackers have learned to trust.

We do this for the same reason you do - because you can!

How can you participate?

If you are the type of person who cannot resist pulling the cover off a black box in order to understand its inner secrets, then you are the type of person who we hope will stay and participate in our forums and gallery. Our site relies fully on word of mouth, so please pass our link around if you know of any other like minded individuals who may enjoy our free community. We are here to learn from each other and expand our knowledge.

We are always looking for like minded individuals to participate in our forum, and will do our best to ensure that those who are just beginning this hobby are just as welcome as those who are experts in their field. Our gallery is open to all types of electronics projects. If you have a cool DIY project to share, please consider sending it to us for submission. If you want to stay up to date on new projects and happenings at LucidScience, then you can also subscribe to our newsletter.

Web traffic is fuel that powers LucidScience, and we always appreciate it when our link is passed around to help expand our World Wide community.