Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Ghost Writer

Smoke gets in your i's.
  [vote for,

A smoke machine feeds into and slightly pressurizes a chamber. The pressurized chamber has a line of valves on the top. The valves are controlled by a computer. When a valve is opened, a small spherical puff of smoke is emitted. When the valves are opened and closed in the appropriate sequence, text characters or graphics would be created.

This would only work effectively in a very still environment with lighter-than-air smoke. To make it more usable, the valves would feed in to the bottom of a shallow transparent box oriented vertically, i.e. looking at it as a viewer, you would see a box maybe two feet wide and two or three feet high, maybe one inch deep.

A very smooth, laminar flow of air would be maintained from the bottom of the box upward to carry the smoke out the top of the box with a minimum of distortion (possible even?) of the ghostly images.

Once out of the box, the images would probably be even more interesting to watch as they morph, contort, distort and disperse in to the ether.

half, Mar 03 2004

Sky Typing http://www.perspect.../stunt_skytype.html
Not exactly the same thing (utilises aircraft with smoke machines for a simple dot-matrix-style sky writing). [kropotkin, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Zero Blaster. Launch "Fog Rings". http://www.zerotoys...ewsite/products.htm
Buy me one, and I'll tell you if it would with for this idea. [Amos Kito, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Bubble rasteriser http://www.taomc.co...nes/pipedream_i.htm
Mr 'egg plotter' (see easter egg printer idea) has also baked the bubbles version of this. Lots of other cool stuff too (sand plotter, etc). [gaspode, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       This is really going to complicate getting your documents mixed in with somebody else's at the printer in the office.
normzone, Mar 04 2004

       This is gonna piss off the sky-writers.
FarmerJohn, Mar 04 2004

       You could use a matrix of valves instead of a line in order to produce 3D shapes of ghostly smoke figures gently drifting upwards. (Although i'm not entirely sure if you could make the smoke rise at the same speed as the surrounding air, which would be necessary to avoid the figures distorting. Perhaps you could move the "print head" and keep the smoke stationary.)
kropotkin, Mar 04 2004

       I like this one... I had a similar idea years ago using colors in small water jets in an aquarium... I think I know how to build one of these... no moving parts... I'll post a sketch after I get it together. Stay tuned.   

       Pastries for everyone...
zigness, Mar 04 2004

       I read this as "ghost waiter," who always appears when I dine with the in-laws.
Mungo, Mar 04 2004

       I like the 3D suggestion. I'll incorporate that if I ever build this thing. Yes, the smoke rising in sync with the air is probably the single most halfbaked part of this idea. I've not ever studied the behavior of smoke to the point of having a gut level feel about that. I wonder if warming the air in the smoke chamber to some degree higher than the measured temperature inside the "chimney" might cause the smoke puffs to rise of their own accord. That along with a gentle "puff" as they are expelled might do the job (recalling the behavior of smoke rings blown by cigarette smokers). A "SmokeJet" display if you will.   

       [zigness], I will indeed be awaiting your take on how to do such a thing with no moving parts.
half, Mar 04 2004

       Maybe bubbles instead of smoke. Will a soap bubble envelope contain helium? At least long enough to float up to the top of the display?   

       Maybe a little puff of smoke inside the bubbles.
half, Mar 06 2004

       [half], I remember a science class way back when I was in school...   

       We would blow natural gas through a kid's soap bubble ring filling the bubble with flammable gas and then float them over a flame. Not entirely safe -- especially for really big bubbles, but I've still got my eyebrows.   

       I'm trying to figure out how to integrate that into this idea. Hmmmm.   


       In terms of how to do this with no moving parts -- I'm heading to the electronics surplus today to round up some of the stuff... I haven't had time to make a drawing to post here yet, but what I'm going for is a flat board with small perforations (think small peg board) laminated on top of a matrix of wires.   

       The wires are computer / micro-controller controlled to get hot on command (per hole). I think I can find a smoke fluid (the magic shop is stop #2) that will activate with the heat. If that's the case, then just fill each hole with a bit of fluid, and "zap" the ones that you want to be "smoke pixels".   

       I also think a version of it could be made to hang on the wall.   

       This is VERY similar to another project I have going on (i.e. I've got the switch controller and software already), so we'll see.
zigness, Mar 06 2004

       could this work in a viscous liquid with air bubbles? it would be far slower, but it seems that you might have better chance of keeping your words/picutres from distorting
luecke, Mar 06 2004

       The dubious part is getting the smooth laminar flow at low speeds. So put more pressure in the box and have the sheet of air jet out with higher speed, keeping it laminar for some distance. Modulate the air sheet with dots of smoke and illuminate it with a strobe light at 30 times per second. This could produce a full 360-degree viewable 3-D display.   

       Make the smoke with a Maillard reaction so it smells nice.   

       No, you can’t walk around inside the display and interact with the ghost characters – too windy.
Fussass, Mar 06 2004

       Revisiting this after seeing a link yesterday to helium filled bubbles...maybe helium bubbles instead of smoke puffs, or helium instead of air in the smoke chamber, or maybe smoke and helium in bubbles.
half, Dec 01 2004


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