Okuboheavyindustries' "Stellar Proximity Detector" Warns of Solar Radiation Through Blinking Lights

Status LEDs flicker "whenever you’re with a couple of astronomical units of a G class stellar body," the maker explains.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101 / Art

Pseudonymous maker "Okuboheavyindustries," hereafter simply "Okubo," has spent their post-accident convalescence period building a device jokingly referred to as a "Stellar Proximity Detector" — guaranteed to warn you when you're exposed to the radiation of a suitably-proximal star.

"I broke my back snowboarding on Christmas Eve so to avoid getting bored during my recuperation I learnt KiCad for PCB design and FreeCad," Okubo explains. "The Okubo Heavy Industries Stellar Proximity Detector is the result of that effort. It uses a [Microchip] ATtiny85, a solar cell, five white LEDs and a 100nF capacitor to randomly (and occasionally not so randomly) flash the LEDs whenever you’re with a couple of astronomical units of a G class stellar body."

This "Stellar Proximity Detector" alerts you to nearby stars — if there's nothing in the way, at least. (📹: Okuboheavyindustries)

Okubo warns that the device may offer false positive results under "artificial photon sources," and that a false negative may occur "if direct line of sight to stellar body is obscured by planetary mass — for example, [at] night time." The sensor is, of course, the solar panel — and, without any suitably capacious storage capacitor or battery, the microcontroller only runs its program under bright light conditions.

While the circuit might be simple — though getting a microcontroller to run reliably on direct solar power is never as easy as it first seems, particularly in low light conditions where the solar panel's output dips below the microcontroller's minimum as it tries to boot — it's housed in an impressively chunky case built from milled aluminum, contrasted with Okubo's earlier resin-encased Solar Blinkenlights project.

More information on the project is available in Okubo's Reddit post — along with the welcome news that the maker's back is now fully healed.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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