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Making a tachometer for a grinding / polishing machine for telescope mirrors

When making a telescope mirror on the machine, two parameters are important: the rotation speed of the mirror, and the rotation speed of the overarm eccentric. Other environmental parameters also matter: temperature and humidity are foremost here. To more easily monitor and display these variables, I've built an electronic device that collects this data and shows it on the control panel. This is how to build the device.

How to build a small laser that can burn things

It used to be that lasers were big bulky expensive things that required a laboratory to run and an entire factory to build. I remember the first He-Ne laser I saw two decades ago, the size of a small telescope and probably not more powerful than the laser pointer I carry on the keychain nowadays. Well, not anymore. It's pretty easy to build a laser today, on the kitchen table or in the garage, for a surprisingly small investment. The goal is to make a laser capable of burning small objects, such as a piece of paper, a balloon, etc, while keeping the whole project cheap - even as cheap as $35 if you don't make any mistakes. Here's how.

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