Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Online: The Tricorder Project

The Tricorder Project
The Tricorder Project, 28 March 2012

To introduce you to the Tricorder project, I'd like to begin with a story from the development of the very first Tricorder that I built. The first educational discoveries with the Tricorder came only moments after completing it, and walking about the workshop to "see what can't be seen". Upon holding the Tricorder near a power adapter plugged into the wall, you could see the oscillating magnetic fields on the magnetometer visualization. There they were, slowly bouncing back and forth, right in front of you. My father had taught me how transformers work from a young age — two coils are wound together, each having a different number of windings, where an oscillating magnetic field from one coil would induce a voltage in the other coil proportional to the ratio of their number of windings. I know how transformers work — I have known since he explained it to me, I know the equation that determines the output given the input and a certain number of windings — but I had never seen it work until then, until I had this Tricorder in my hands. It grounded my knowledge of the electromagnetic phenomena at work in transformers with something that I could easily watch and see, and use to see inside /any/ transformer, right in front of me. And from that moment on, it seemed like much of the mystery of how they worked I now understood — I could think about what was going on inside them easier and more naturally, now that I had visually grounded the science going on inside. This is why I built the Tricorder.

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