Solar Eclipse

Edinburgh, Scotland, Solar Eclipse Friday 20th March 2015

This time last week the Earth arrived at its vernal equinox where some of us in the Northern Hemisphere were treated to a rare Solar Eclipse as a Super Moon drifted in-front of the Sun. In a lightly cloudy Edinburgh, Scotland, we managed a 95% partial eclipse revealing a beautiful crescent.

At the same time as I was taking this photo, a south facing prototype Lightlog was quietly sitting on a window shelf enjoying a lovely day’s worth of light data including its own view of the very same eclipse.

The first image below shows a spectrum visualisation of the received light; the image below that is an enhanced colour version using the same data. Notice how the blue day light desaturates around 9:35am as the Moon’s disk (almost) covers the Sun.

Spectrum visualisation on day of Solar Eclipse

Enhanced colour (scaled saturation) visualisation

The ‘spikes’ in the data are caused as the day’s partial cloud cover drifts over the sun, a clear blue day (as viewed from this stationary Lightlog’s south facing window position) would show a beautiful smooth arc between sunrise and sun set.

From 3D printer to wearable light tracking!

Lightlogs in their white flexible cases

Six prototypes ready to wear!

Prototyping 3D Printed Cases

Early case design

3D printers are a wonderful tool for rapid prototyping designs. They do need a little patience at first, experimenting to find the right printing temperature ranges and speeds, but once that small hurdle is passed the majority of prints work first time, making it a really fast way to turn an idea into a physical object.

The process starts with mocking-up an initial design idea, to scale, in a 3D application (I can recommend Blender, 123D Design, SketchUp). Exporting the file in STL format. An application called a slicer (e.g. Cura) then takes the 3D shape and cuts it into thin horizontal 2D sections, all ready for the printer to lay down, layer by layer. Once you’ve got the hang of the tool chain, you can go from making a design change to a fresh new finished print in a little over half an hour (the current prototype design takes about 34min to print).

For the last few weeks Light Log enclosures have gone through over 80 such design cycles, two different hardware form-factors, with over 40 cases printed, physically tested and warn, in 5 different material finishes using 11 different colours!

Smaller hardware case design

Interview with Project Ginsberg

In an interview with Project Ginsberg, I describe Lightlog and why a daily balance of light is important for mental health.

“Gary Martin talks with our Project Manager Lucy about the Light Log project which is part of Ginsberg thanks to Alt-w funding from New Media Scotland partners. The Light Log project is about creating low cost wearable devices that record ambient light levels and colours from a person’s environment. The data is visualised to show how exposure to too little or too much light may be affecting someone’s mood and energy levels. We imagine that in the future people using Ginsberg can use a Light Log device to record their light intake information along with any other personal information they choose.”

The full audio interview from soundcloud can be played here:

Autumn Equinox

Here in Scotland the days have been growing noticeably shorter as Autumn approaches. Today, September 22nd, at about quarter to 9pm, the Earth will reach that special place in its orbit where the Sun passes over the equator. With Scotland’s latitude is between 54ºN and 60ºN, the diagram below shows that from this point on until March 20th 2014, our day light hours will be shorter than our nights. For those of us sensitive to the ever shortening amount of light it is important to make the most of the available sun and resist an ancient urge to hibernate. The Autumn Equinox is here!

Daylight hours vs. latitude vs. time of year