I was notified late Wednesday that I have been awarded the October 2011 grant from the Chicago Awesome Foundation for completing the full prototype of the Scanning-Tunneling Microscope. Their posting is over here. For the record, yes, I officially love the Awesome Foundation.
At nearly the same time, Make magazine blog posted an old video of me playing with the version 0.1 electronics and then Element 14 posted as well (wow, I’ve come a very long way since then – I need to shoot some new video), bringing in a flood of new folks over the past 48 hours. Hello new folks!
For folks who are new, here’s how things stand:
- The version 0.1 electronics in the video posted on the Make blog was a poor implementation of a good analog design with a microcontroller slapped to the inputs. I’ve since learned that analog is weird compared to digital, and getting those two worlds to talk properly involves a lot more finesse and art than science and equations (equations do get you into the ballpark, however).
- I’m nearly done with a complete redesign of the digital and analog electronics (now at version 0.3). The new electronics incorporates nearly complete digital control of the STM (I’m working on ways to further increase the control the microchip has over the STM to include gain control of the many op-amps). Thanks to Idea Petri Dish for the assist on analog circuit design and troubleshooting.
- With new electronics comes new firmware and software of course, which is in-process.
- I’ve done a very rough draft of the vibration dampening table design. I’ll be using a classic floating gravestone style table – a heavy slab of material suspended by rubber bands, surrounded by a support structure. It’s not fancy, but it works.
- I’m working with Bart Dring, of MakerSlide fame to design the rough approach (basically a screw, direct-driven by a 400 step motor and a 1/16th step driver, like the pololus popular with the RepRap folks).
- I quit my job to pursue my dream of working in the device design industry, so if you’re feeling particularly generous, please purchase a periodic table – 100% of the proceeds goes towards funding this project.
- If you want to find out when kits are available (soon, I hope), sign up here.