May 2006

Note: this exercise will seem pointless to the vast majority of people that view it. To them we say: "have another bag of Cheezits and surf somewhere else".

There are millions of two-foot parabolic dishes on rooftops around the world, gathering weak satellite signals so that everyone can watch 500 channels of foolishness. At the spring and fall equinoxes (equinoxi?) the sun passes directly behind the satellite and messes up your picture for a few minutes, right around lunch time but you're either at work or too busy eating that In-and-out burger to notice. The dish is made of cheap galvanized steel, then painted in a dull gray to minimize how much solar energy it reflects (low reflection coefficient), otherwise the low noise block would be roasted twice per year and probably fail.

What would happen if that dish actually had a higher reflection coefficient? We decided to see what happens when you chrome a scrapped dish (millions have been abandoned), to create in essence a 24 inch diameter magnifying lens. It took Nu-chrome three tries to plate the sucker but the end result was definitely worth four pictures of Mr. Jackson. Couldn't have done it without cheap help from Mexico!!!

Here's a picture of the Microwaves101 lab assistant with our new toy. Who wants to see more pictures of her, when we have hardware that is far more interesting?

Now let's take it out in the yard at noon. Sit by the pool, relax, and find the focal point on an unfortunate two-by-four... hey, what's that smell? At 1 kilowatt/m2 power density, we now have the ability to gather and focus 300 watts onto about one square inch. Nice!

Let's see what's going on on the other side... guess we need to consider that smoke will be attenuating the power density a little bit.

Yup, that's flames! We've won the bet.

We now have a directed energy weapon to use on marshmallow terrorists. Little Osama is going to wish he stayed in his cave. Let's let the next few pictures speak for themselves, think of it as a "peep show".

We consider this project a complete success.

Some people have asked, "why didn't you just attach aluminum foil to the dish and save yourself eighty bucks?" To them we say, "we wanted the maximum reflected power, foil would have had wrinkles, and you can't put a price on a good time!"

Guess we'd better store this little project face down somewhere...

Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for a couple of hours or more!