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Author Topic: Wicked cool  (Read 1807 times)

Nils SK Erickson

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Wicked cool
« on: February 11, 2014, 02:11:30 am »

I'd say it's a far cry from a tractor beam, but this acoustic levitation of objects using arrays of ultrasonic emitters is still wicked cool.

Video here: http://www.highpants.net/acoustic-levitation-and-the-tractor-beam-the-impossible-just-became-incredible/

Maybe we can start rigging with sound?
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Tim Padrick

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2014, 02:23:04 am »

Wonder if they used any of Danley's acoustic levitation tech?
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2014, 09:54:41 am »

I'd say it's a far cry from a tractor beam, but this acoustic levitation of objects using arrays of ultrasonic emitters is still wicked cool.

Video here: http://www.highpants.net/acoustic-levitation-and-the-tractor-beam-the-impossible-just-became-incredible/

Maybe we can start rigging with sound?

Tom Danley did acoustic levitation 20 years ago with conventional HF drivers.
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Tom Danley

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2014, 02:24:50 pm »

Wonder if they used any of Danley's acoustic levitation tech?

HI Guys
Ah, acoustic levitation, I never get tired of watching that stuff.
Fwiw, the fellow “Whymark” they mentioned in the video was my boss Roy, at Intersonics inc.
   
He was an English acoustician who came over from England after the WWII and was the one who discovered the “Interference levitation” system Intersonics work was based on.       
During the war, his team developed the bqs6 sonar transducer (i think i have one somewhere) and array system as well as several other war related things at Mullard Labs. After coming here, he helped set up Riverbanks Acoustics Labs and his friend Leo Baranak went on to work at a large acoustic consulting firm Bolt, Baranak and Newman. 

One of my first tasks when I was hired in 1979 (and they now had 7 people) was to try to develop a more efficient transducer,  the original ones had an electromagnet, the field and drive coils were water cooled and it took a 500 pound, 2000W industrial amplifier to run it.     

The first step was to go to a permanent magnet which was like a big speaker magnet and after developing a phase locked loop controller, they became reliable (starting had been a real headache).    It wasn’t that they couldn’t make a permanent magnet, they had several that cost a fortune, made of many pounds of samarium cobalt.     
The problem was the magnets were way TOO strong, the fringe field above the gap was so large it was damping the aluminum vibrator that produced the sound.   A much less powerful ceramic magnet assy worked just fine.       That ceramic magnet source (and the furnace it went in) was flown on a couple sounding rocket and two space shuttle flights. 

I had been building loudspeakers and working on electronics already and my boss Roy was a hifi buff so we often had “off topic” discussions.    When he asked me to remove the protection spark gaps in his ESL-63’s, I took a deep breath and squeaked out  “well I will take a look”.    I had built electrostatic panels previously but I had never seen a speaker like that which radiated all frequencies from a single point in space and time. 
While a “flat panel”, it radiates a spherical segment by producing sound in concentric rings each progressively delayed in time 

Strangely and moving forward about 20 years, it was how they radiate that was also how our point source horns radiate, over a broad band, like a single point in time and space and the avoidance of an interference pattern which the levitation systems  depended on.

After "fixing" Roy’s speakers (removing the spark gaps which protected the elements) Roy was able to go a little louder and eventually after enough "snapping", damaged the speakers but I had some cred. 

Working for an acoustician and his partner a nuclear Physicist and professor,  was a great thing for me, I didn’t do well in school, especially math but I do “see” relationships in things and my uncle and Dad were inventors so I would draw pictures and wave my arms around and they would usually be able to tell me what I was talking about in appropriate scientific terms.
   
I thought it was funny too at the end, in after 17 years in that environment the guy that took 5 years to graduate High school, was responsible for all but 2 of the company’s patents, was Principal investigator on several projects and directed the efforts of engineers and a mathematician.   
I wish I could show Roy and my grandfather the Synergy horn solution,  I hope they are watching.

Anyway, the phase manipulation needed to translate an object in an interference levitation system was one of the patents I had originated back in the space days.  The problem was, if one wants to hold the object stationary for measurements or processing, you needed to have  way to move it. Adjusting the phase of both sources was a way to do that and by coupling that to a camera system, one could dampen instability which occurs at high temperatures.   Here is the patent for that and the source we used most often;

https://www.google.com/patents/US5257676?dq=tom+danley&hl=en&sa=X&ei=P5z7UuihHaL70gG2qIHoCg&ved=0CGMQ6AEwBzgK

https://www.google.com/patents/US4757227?dq=tom+danley&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Hbz7Uv71CcHZ2AWM0oHwCQ&ved=0CDIQ6AEwADgU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=669AcEBpdsY

There are some other acoustic and electromagnetic levitation related patents for things I was working on back then if interested.    Use the “Google patent” site, search my name.
   
The electromagnetic levitation project was (frustrating but) cool too,   you could levitate glass or other “non-magnetic and non-conductors” using high frequency electromagnetism. The issue is how do you put 300 Amps through a small one turn coil at 12 MHz?
It was also while there (actually on a plane flight back from Huntsville) I had the idea for the Servodrive subwoofer. I was looking through a surplus catalogue and saw a low inertia DC servomotor that I remembered seeing at a local junk store.  When I got home, I went and bought both for 25$.    Prototype number three sounded good enough to show my boss Roy so I brought it in to work.   

He was impressed enough to say as long as it didn’t interfere with my NASA work and didn’t cost more than space and electricity, I could start a speaker division and that in 1981.   
Eventually, lab’ster John Halliburton came on board at intersonics as well as Greg Bottimer (usually on tour with Dave Mathews), both  were there all the way until the beginning of the end for Intersonics which I guess one can tie directly to the first shuttle disaster and the cancelation of space station hardware.       
It’s weird too, about a year before that, I had been asked to go into a payload flight support position (astronaut training) and by then the subwoofers were getting some traction on some big tours so being generally afraid of Vacuum and wanting to be in the speaker biz , I said no.
   
Time wasn’t friendly to the subwoofer business either though, Roy’s promise to me about taking over the business died with him, the fellow the new boss put in charge of the new company was a crook who fled the country and worst of all, the cost of the motors went through the roof because the need to fix computer tape transports went away (the original use for the motors), the ability to make stronger woofers increased.   

I look back at these space days with much fondness and also some lingering sadness but I suppose things wouldn’t be like they are now, if it hadn’t been for the way it was then. It does make me sad to see the direction our country is continuing to take so far as space advancement and  technological progress in light of what past investments already brought.

Meanwhile , at the end in the mid 90’s, while Intersonics had already demonstrated containerless processing at 1600 degrees C  in space on two shuttle flights and JPL,  never being able process above a few hundred degrees F, JPL our only competition, had now been put in charge of contracting (which didn’t include Intersonics)and then gobbled up all the research in this area and the company cut off. 
In what happens all too often with government work,  At the end, after 17 years of hard steady work and due to a huge internal push, we had reached the “dream target in zero G” NASA’s ceramic scientists had of processing at 2000 degrees C AND were able to do it on the ground.    That was the picture that was on the cover of Science magazine.   
The conclusion was with JPL being in charge of deciding what was interesting instead  of NASA, there was no longer any interest in high temperature materials like the exotic glass and possible super conductor candidates NASA was researching.
     
The materials science part of Intersonics that was spun off when Intersonics closed was face with having the gem of near 20 years work that given our countries already declining  interest in space and science here, no one here was interested in then,  but found the Japanese and European space agency’s WERE.  Several foreign agencies and companies have bought the systems for their own materials research and at least two of the system have produced brand new materials.
I have a link with some levitation pictures, one of which was near the end, we had reached levitation at 2000 degrees C, “in one G” (on the ground).  Now the latest generation can reach nearly 3000 degrees C which is "real f'n hot".
This is a 3 axis, 6 source levitation system, the sources (one of my inventions) have a foam center and radiate from the edge.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jx1m1wlmvcjsti4/Levitated%20at%20over%202000deg%20C.jpg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1ka1w9vvc3kz3os/Tom%27s%20levitation%20sources%20on%20cover%20of%20Science.jpg

My first Zero G payload (don’t laugh at my hair, ok laugh, it was the early  80’s,  I have no idea what I was thinking).     
I do remember I needed to carry a hair brush and while working up in the launch tower on our sounding rocket payload, it fell out of my back pocket.  I watched it disappear down the metal gantry  work until I heard it hit in the fire pit about 80 feet below.   
I asked a workman later if I could go down to look for it, he looked at me kinda weird and said ah no.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/svasi05ic1x2f92/My%20first%20payload%20%28Zero%20G%20airplane%20flight%29.jpg

Sounding rocket payload can delivery (brand new can oh boy!) In this, we built a single axis levitator,  high temp furnace with a movie camera to capture the levitation while heating, melting, and cooling to a solid (without crystallizing hopefully).
 
https://www.dropbox.com/s/rdhiuqn8d0b7qbl/Sounding%20rocket%20payload.jpg

On the way back from space, if you open the parachute at 200,000 feet instead of 20,000 feet, it will melt into a ball which is much less effective. 
Think of this as about two years of hard hand fabricating of an automated levitation experiment. 
After a successful flight, a 350 mph landing.   
Ouch this hurt and there was a whole story around looking for the samples and movie film both lost on impact..

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wqnhrl00mzl1afa/Sounding%20rocket%20payload%20after%20flight.jpg

On to the big time, space shuttle payload, an 8 sample high temperature container-less acoustic levitation processor with programmable sequences for each sample.   time for lace up;

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t0sg6rb38xi4fvp/Tom%20%26%20Shuttle%20paylaod.jpg

Payload delivery and integration in the room of perpetual air noise (pretty clean room outside a really really clean room)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0ldnzvcnlbtq5eu/Tom%20Yak%27s%20while%20at%20NASA%20delivery.jpg

I always liked this one, I should probably make a modern version one of these days. 
Here is the sound field from one of the levitation sources .

https://www.dropbox.com/s/u0ikxz03yn2q61w/SEE%20the%20sound%20copy.jpg

Anyway, working on that stuff was a lot of fun and educational but at the same time, I wouldn’t trade what I am doing now for anything!
Best,
Tom Danley
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Jeff Carter

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2014, 04:36:17 pm »

Thanks, Tom, for that story.

Great stuff.
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Chris Hindle

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2014, 04:40:46 pm »

Tom, you're definately the most interesting person I have never met.
Keep up the interesting work.
(If I ever win the damn lottery, some of your boxes are my short list.... ;D)
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Tom Roche

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2014, 06:23:39 pm »

Interesting stuff, Tom.  Thanks for sharing. 

Working with the gov...  I'm reminded of a locally own audio shop that was contracted by the Air Force to develop a chamber full of 18" and 15" drivers to test the ability of various pieces of electronics to withstand extreme vibrations.  Apparently the owner briefly experienced a lower level test run in the chamber that made him sick for a couple of days.
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drew gandy

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2014, 07:45:07 pm »

Apparently the owner briefly experienced a lower level test run in the chamber that made him sick for a couple of days.

Was it the sound or "something" that the military brought in for testing? 
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2014, 09:57:55 pm »

Great stuff Tom.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Wicked cool
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2014, 07:05:47 am »

Thanks for taking the time to share this.
Great read :)
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