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Author: Subject: Periodic Table Display
MrHomeScientist
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Periodic Table Display

Very recently I finally completed a pretty massive project that I thought I'd share with you all: a large periodic table display for my element collection! I designed and built this myself, since my element collection has grown large enough where I think it deserves a nice display unit.

Broad overview: it is a large freestanding display unit with individual acrylic shelves for all 118 elements (plus two placeholders for the lanthanide and actinide series'), with the shelves backlit by LED strips. The display is able to be broken down into four pieces, to allow for easy transport. The LEDs are controllable via an Arduino "master controller" and several LED driver boards mounted to the back, allowing for some really neat effects. In the future, I plan to write a tablet app that can control the display via a periodic table GUI. That will enable things like Quiz mode, where multiple choice questions can be asked, the answers lit up on the board, and the correct one flashing (or something similar).

I put together a video summarizing the build and showing it in action:

I go into much more detail on my blog, in a series of posts starting with the introduction: http://thehomescientist.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-element-dis...

I won't attempt to replicate all that info here, but here are a few fun facts about the display:

- Design time: 3 months
- Construction time: ~1 year (working during my free time)
- Dimensions: 48" tall x 65" wide (about 4 ft x 5.5 ft)
- Number of holes drilled: 361
- Cost: ~$1000 (not including the actual elements, or all the prototyping materials I went through) - Current collection: 51 pure elements, 10 elements represented by radioactive decay products (U ore), and 2 representative compounds (Teflon and AmO2) Soon I'll be going through my whole collection in another set of videos as well, so stay tuned for that! Hexavalent International Hazard Posts: 1532 Registered: 29-12-2011 Location: Blighty Member Is Offline Mood: Tautomeric That looks incredible! Congratulations on such a brilliant looking display that shows the elements at their best. Well done! "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Winston Churchill Nickbb Harmless Posts: 25 Registered: 6-12-2012 Location: 3rd dimension Member Is Offline Mood: something other than a chemistry pun I'd love to see this in person! You did it great job on it, can you post a video showing all the elements you have? I'd like to see that. neptunium International Hazard Posts: 895 Registered: 12-12-2011 Location: between Uranium and Plutonium Member Is Offline Mood: meta stable got mine outta wood just made ! the lanthanides and actinides section is just behind it where Gd sits(in the middle) Http://www.d-radlab.com/ Amos International Hazard Posts: 981 Registered: 25-3-2014 Location: Yes Member Is Offline Mood: No Y'know, Sciencemadness should really do some kind of awards thingy for the people on this site that really stand out. Because this is just stellar. Awesome display man, and thanks for representing home chemistry in such a positive light(no pun intended) when you take it places. Can't wait to see it with all the elements, someday. elementcollector1 International Hazard Posts: 2350 Registered: 28-12-2011 Location: The Known Universe Member Is Offline Mood: Molten I wish it had different colors for each element - corresponding to their flame color, or in the case of the transition metals the most common salt color, or something like that. What's the code for the Arduino, incidentally? I've had quite a bit of experience writing for Arduinos. Elements Collected:52/87 Latest Acquired: Cl Next in Line: Ge MrHomeScientist International Hazard Posts: 1231 Registered: 24-10-2010 Location: Flerovium Member Is Offline Thanks very much, No Tears Only Dreams Now! I've taken it to several events now and it's been a pretty big hit. I think people really like seeing actual physical samples, like I do. Most people ask about Uranium, then freak out when I hand them a sample EC1, that would definitely be cool. 6 colors was about the most I could find for single-color LED strips, though. Going to RGB LEDs would have added another layer of complexity to the wiring and code, and quite a bit more expense. For the Arduino, I'll direct you to my friend that helped put that side of the project together for me: http://www.billporter.info/2013/02/02/the-elemental-illumina... If you don't feel like reading through all that, here's the direct link to the source code on github: https://github.com/madsci1016/TheElementalIlluminator elementcollector1 International Hazard Posts: 2350 Registered: 28-12-2011 Location: The Known Universe Member Is Offline Mood: Molten Not really - a 30 ft. strip cost around$15 on Amazon, last I checked. The coding isn't too hard, either - 3 logic-level transistors and PWM outputs that vary based on the color you're going for, and you have every color of the rainbow.

Looking at this, this seems like an awful lot of circuitry and work - but the end result is amazing! I don't think I could top 'music mode' for my collection.

Elements Collected:52/87
Latest Acquired: Cl
Next in Line: Ge
MrHomeScientist
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Yeah as he says in his blog post he pretty much threw it together quick and dirty because he was ramping up preparations for his wedding. So understandably a bit distracted. I'd never worked with hardware level coding before this, so it was very interesting for me to have a 1kb size limitation!
Pyro
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you might want to brush DCM on the edges of the Plexiglas to make it completely transparent.
other than that, it's perfect!

all above information is intellectual property of Pyro.
neptunium
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zts16
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Nice neptunium, it looks great!
Also... do you have plutonium?

Edit: Never mind, I just realized that your table is arranged slightly differently than mine, which would make that americium, right?

[Edited on 10-13-2014 by zts16]

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neptunium
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correct! i dont think any of us could get even micro gram quantity of element 94....
Lanthanum and Actinium are on the main frame leaving only 14 compartments for the lanthanides and actinides .

mine is not as fancy but i like it nonetheless!

[Edited on 13-10-2014 by neptunium]

careysub
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 Quote: Originally posted by neptunium correct! i dont think any of us could get even micro gram quantity of element 94.... [Edited on 13-10-2014 by neptunium]

That is correct - the only element heavier than uranium allowed for private possession without a specific license is americium.

You can however get neptunium if you buy one of these:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/PYROTRONICS-F5B-Ionization-Smoke-Det...

a Pyrotronics F5 smoke detector made in the early 1970s. These contained a whopping 80 microcuries (20 micrograms) of americium, and since they are now 40 years old 10% of that has decayed into neptunium. For $120 you can get 2 micrograms of neptunium. phlogiston International Hazard Posts: 1011 Registered: 26-4-2008 Location: Neon Thorium Erbium Lanthanum Neodymium Sulphur Member Is Offline Mood: pyrophoric There is this Russian smoke detector that supposedly contains as much as 0.5 mg of said element. http://www.periodictable.ru/094Pu/Pu_en.html I'd be difficult to procure anywhere outside of Russia and illegal to possess in most places though. ----- "If a rocket goes up, who cares where it comes down, that's not my concern said Wernher von Braun" - Tom Lehrer neptunium International Hazard Posts: 895 Registered: 12-12-2011 Location: between Uranium and Plutonium Member Is Offline Mood: meta stable 0.5 mg of Pu239 !!!!! wow!!!!! Http://www.d-radlab.com/ careysub International Hazard Posts: 1339 Registered: 4-8-2014 Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome Member Is Offline Mood: Lowest quantum state Not an "unusual element" but I favor adding all three isotopes of hydrogen to an element display, since there are few elements with multiple isotopes that you can get in pure form, and none that are demonstrably different in their behavior. Vials of light water and heavy water can be displayed with a peice of polystyrene in each (sinks in light water, floats in heavy water) and you can us a tritium gas glow vial for nice tritium display. There is a guy in Europe selling tritium glow spheres that contain a whopping 10 curies of tritium. This is one milligram, and is about 1/5000 of the amount used in modern thermonuclear weapons. http://www.cpfmarketplace.com/mp/showthread.php?270326-B-rt-... The CandePowerForumMarketplace website is a PITA to get a usable active account on (moderator approval required to register, three posts are required before full activation, which also require moderator approval...) so you could try emailing the vendor directly if interested: "Bart" pixpimp at gee mail It appears that the EU is cracking down on tritium sales and sources this large aren't being made anymore. Oscilllator International Hazard Posts: 645 Registered: 8-10-2012 Location: The aqueous layer Member Is Offline Why would the EU be cracking down on tritium sales? Do they think people are going to extract the tritium to convert the fission bomb they already have into a fusion bomb?? careysub International Hazard Posts: 1339 Registered: 4-8-2014 Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome Member Is Offline Mood: Lowest quantum state  Quote: Originally posted by Oscilllator Why would the EU be cracking down on tritium sales? Do they think people are going to extract the tritium to convert the fission bomb they already have into a fusion bomb?? Just the usual consumer safety considerations. 10 curies is a lethal dose of tritium if absorbed as tritiated water, and no fluid flushing is used for treatment. The US does not permit the sale of tritium gas tubes at all, I believe. All the sources of these are European or Israeli. diddi International Hazard Posts: 517 Registered: 23-9-2014 Location: Victoria, Australia Member Is Offline Mood: Spontaneously combusting in the hot weather great display MrHomeScientist. more inspiration for me to get of my behind and do something! I wish I had a spare year... a couple of thoughts: I am trialling SMD5050 rgb LEDs for lighting. they can be controlled by PIC, laptop, ardruino etc. I bought 100 of em for a couple of$

are your sample tubes under argon?
MrHomeScientist
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Thanks! No, nothing is under argon. However, careysub just recently turned me on to "bloxygen" - a commercial product that's just an aerosol can of pressurized high purity argon! I bought a few and used some to seal some lithium pellets in a media bottle. I've had it there for several weeks with no visible tarnishing at all (well, no more tarnished than it was to begin with). I think I'll use some of this for future samples that require it, like the rare earths or alkali metals.
Brain&Force
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Quote: Originally posted by careysub
 Quote: Originally posted by Oscilllator Why would the EU be cracking down on tritium sales? Do they think people are going to extract the tritium to convert the fission bomb they already have into a fusion bomb??

Just the usual consumer safety considerations.

10 curies is a lethal dose of tritium if absorbed as tritiated water, and no fluid flushing is used for treatment.

The US does not permit the sale of tritium gas tubes at all, I believe. All the sources of these are European or Israeli.

Tritium has been considered a "strategic resource" by the government thus sales have been restricted.

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careysub
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You can buy tritium emergency exit signs in the U.S. They cost \$275, and have 25 curies of tritium gas among the various tubes making up the display.

Although no license is required to buy one, the device itself is registered with the NRC and garbage disposal is forbidden.

http://www.exitlightco.com/category/Power-free-Self-luminous...

BTW tritium gas is harmless since the body's absorption/retention of elemental hydrogen gas is negligible. The toxicity of unoxidized tritium-hydrogen is at least 10,000 times less than HTO. If a sign gets burned up the tritium can be oxidized.
diddi
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find someone with a MIG welder. they all use Ar. the amount you use would cost about 5 cents! that's what I do.
neptunium
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68 elements out of 84 (potentially) ! slowly getting there!

I know it is not as fancy and awe inspiring as Mrhomescientist's, but i am still proud of it and I love to show it !

[Edited on 23-12-2014 by neptunium]