I have had the most amazing luck as a teacher. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most unique and creative students. I'm also so glad that many of them keep in touch with me, because they are extraordinary kids who are continuing to do extraordinary things - and they're just really great people. Here is an email I got from one of them yesterday:

Greetings Mr. Gran.

Ive been delving into the world of video (at least the hardware side) and built a couple of mini projectors recently / over the summer,
[link below]

i have quick question for you, (below)

my current project (for fun) is building a CRT based projector. i did a little research about the technology and unfortunately there isn't much info about the inner workings / CRT tube design. my current projector is designed around a black and white tube, (its called ' project casablanca') with a modified power source (increasing the heater coil power and the accelerator grid voltage = faster moving electrons = more light output. To make it more rustic, there are no integrated components, the whole thing is (eventually going to be) vacuum tube based, ( i needed an excuse to learn vacuum tube usage)

moreover, the whole thing is, like my other projector, designed to fit in a 55 caliber ammo tin.

i know that 3 tubes are normally used (RGB) in crt based projectors, (normally because crt's are notoriously not as bright as lcd projectors). but i think the secondary reasoning is x rays. the metals used in the phosphor plating of a color crt tv are also used in basic 1940's x ray tubes. the ones used in 3 crt projectors are really (at least to my knowledge) 3 black and white crt tubes with rgb gels in front.

this is just a thought on a whim, but have you heard of x ray emission being a problem with old -school projectors?

link to projector project 1:

sample output image:

Here was my reply:
Dane- Well, hmm. That's a good question. Let me see how I can explain in simple terms:

The truth is that I have no freaking clue what you're talking about :). I'm an art teacher, not an engineer. However, I love that email, feel flattered that you'd think that I'd know that, and would love to post that email to my blog just to show the world how amazing my students are. Would that be ok?
While he was in high school, Dane had a knack for engineering. In fact, one day I pointed him to a neat website where someone had built an mp3 player from spare parts and an Altoids can. Soon afterwards, Dane had made one himself. However, not to be content in simply following where others had gone, he went on to build:

a USB power supply...

and a video camera out of an Altoids can.

However, I also just want to share what he wrote in a follow up email today, following a conversation that we began about course offerings in high school:
i just feel very strongly that the world is moving to fast to realize the beauty that goes into the design of the things around them, and how that can be scoffed off and taken for granted.

electronics is an art too.
And I loved to read that, because he absolutely gets what I want all students to understand. Art isn't something that is 'other', that should be understood as a separate entity from our other pursuits. The ability to look at an ammo tin and see a projector, or to look at an altoids can and see a camera seems to me to be an amazing artistic sensibility.


  1. Emperor Dane said...
    wow, thanks gran.
    dsgran said...
    Thank you, Dane! Its great to see what you've been up to on your website!

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