This is not strictly speaking a research project, but I enjoy drawing and manufacturing my own pieces of equipment for the lab. Faster, cheaper, and sometime even better, it all started with some sketches and a press drill and now I am using SolidWorks, mill, lathe, soldering iron and wish I can get access to a CNC mill.

A lab is not a rigid production line and often small adapters between components are needed, or an optics holder, even a table enclosure to damp the air conditioning flux. My motto being “shall you do it, do it your best”, I always try to think thoroughly about the best way to design and make the component I need.

Most of the time, since I made my own pieces, I do not take the time to go through a professional drawing software like SolidWork or AutoCAD, but use Corel Designer for convenience. Here are bellow the most significant projects I realized (click to enlarge the images).

Multidiode holder (October 2008)

I needed a powerful but compact monochrome source for illumination. I selected the Luxeon III photodiode and assemble them to the most compact form. Thermal management needed some thought since those diode dissipate quite a few watts. I put heat sinks on the back of the mount as well as a CPU fan. The current stabilization units were mounted close to another plate and cable were guided through channels.

Lens holder (August 2008)

I sure hate any kind of tape, especially in an optical setup. So when a colleague of mine suggested to use double face tape to hold the big cylindrical lens we just bought, I went right to the machine shop making a nice holder frame. I also take this opportunity to challenge my precision skill and made the frame as adjusted to the optics as possible.

Table enclosure (May 2007)

The 3D display recording setup needed to be isolated from the air conditioned flux coming from the lab ceiling. I built a enclosure large enough to accommodate all the setup and allows a comfortable working position. I also use the material leftover to built a shelve holding the instrument controllers. The enclosure reveal itself so efficient (interferometric measurement proving it) that several of my colleagues asked for one. So far I built three of those.

Glove box (October 2007)

Photovoltaic organic cells need to be protected from both humidity and oxygen. So they need to be kept in controlled atmosphere until encapsulation. We needed a glove box that adapts to our solar simulator, can be purged with nitrogen and have electrical fed through. I used acrylic sheets bonded together for a 360° visibility and made a separated instrument panel mount for the nitrogen filter, control and gauge. While not totally tight, the glove box prevents the inner gaz to mix with room atmosphere.

Cold plate (October 2004).

This cold plate was used for interferometric measurement at cryogenic temperature.

I used copper sheet and solder copper pipes together with silver. The pipe was then solder on the sheet maximized the thermal exchange. Painted in black, the cold plate was wrapped into a mylar MLI. Liquid nitrogen flew through the pipe to cool down a VPHG down to 150K. There was no leak.

Blank holder (October 2003)

For recoding large VPHG, a stable blank holder was required. I try to maximize the rigidity by over sizing the element and adding triangular rifidifiers. The holder include an interferometer for dynamic fringe stabilization. That piece reveal to be up to the job and very versatile accommodating several different sizes of blank.


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