NERP Tonite! Roll your own firmware: The ESP-8266 Revisited

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.

The ESP8266 module has come up several times in discussions at NERP, and it keeps getting better. Tonight at NERP, Jay Hopkins will tell us about some of his recent findings as he revisits the esp8266. In Jay’s own words:

“The esp8266 is an ultra low cost module (sub $10) with an 80Mhz 32 bit processor, up to 4 MB flash memory, 100k of ram and 802.11 radio.   What sets the module apart from other ultra low cost modules is the inclusion of an 802.11 b/g/n radio and in firmware the IP stack for connectivity in the IoT (internet of things).

“At NERP we will be looking at the tools available to build firmware for the ‘8266.  Both microPython, lua and the arduino IDE are available for programming the ‘8266.”

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at
http://www.meetup.com/NERP-Not-Exclusively-Raspberry-Pi/
and
http://pumpingstationone.org/
Doors open at 6:30pm.
NERP is free and open to the public.
Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com
Tags: electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One

31

08 2015

Our New Quiet(er) Planer!

Hey All!

Last Tuesday, we received the planer that we decided to purchase in that vote informal action from a month or two ago.  It can plane a board up to 16 inches wide, and thanks to the skewed cutting angle provided by the helical cutter head, it is far quieter than our previous planer.  Last Friday and Saturday, I planned and built out the dust collection, figured out the power layout for the shop, and researched how to run a 220V line.  After much reading, I decided I wasn’t competent to hack our 220V electrical system and started hunting for an electrician.  On Tuesday night, after showing Eric B. what I had planned, I learned that I had already done the hard parts.  Eric’s knowledge helped carry me over the finish line, and I’m happy to report that the planer is up and running!  The first authorizations will be coming soon, as soon as your Wood Shop team can craft a training checklist for the machine.  Here are some pictures!

planer1  planer 2  Andrew1

Can you feel the excitement?  Andrew can!

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20

08 2015

Newbie Programmers’ Office Hours (NPOO)

Officially announcing the creation of Newbie Programmers’ Office Hours! This will be like PYOO, but specifically with a focus on beginning programmers. We are language agnostic.

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Please bring a laptop and we will try to help each other with projects and tutorials. If you don’t know what to work on, we will give you a suggestion from our resources page on the wiki.

For experienced programmers: you are welcome too!

More info here: https://wiki.pumpingstationone.org/Newbie_Programmers%27_Office_Hours

Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/Pumping-Station-One/events/224514793/

When: Every Saturday at 7 PM
Where: Upstairs in the Electronics Lab

15

08 2015

Prototyping a Device to Measure Child Body Fat…

EDIT: PLEASE RSVP at Pumping Station One’s Meetup page  so we know how much pizza to get! /EDIT

Save the Date: August 17 @ 7pm in Pumping Station One’s Electronics lab:

Prototyping a Device to Measure Child Body Fat: What a Research Firm Learned When It Dipped Its Toe in the Maker Movement

NORC-logo

NORC at the University of Chicago serves the public interest and improves lives through objective social science research that supports informed decision making. Working extensively with the federal government, one of NORC’s key functions is to collect high-quality data.

Historically, NORC has collected data through surveys. In recent years, NORC has also begun to capture objective measurements of the “real world” using remote devices and sensors.

To deepen its capabilities, NORC identified a pilot project where it could learn more about the Maker Movement and hackerspaces. This project was inspired by a major federal research effort designed to help scientists understand the causes of a wide variety of childhood illnesses. For this project, NORC could not find an off-the-shelf body fat measurement device that met its needs. So they embarked on an effort to prototype their own device, working with a maker consultant who is an active member of the PS:One community.

Join us for an interactive talk to see the device they developed and share what they learned about the device and about partnering with makers to create a new hardware solution.
Speakers:

Brian Whiteley is an IT Director at NORC. Among his other responsibility, he currently leads NORC’s mobile and sensor based initiatives.
Randy Horton is Managing Principal of 94 Westbound Consulting and is a product and innovation consultant to NORC.
Randy Horton
Ed Bennett is a maker consultant and an active member of the PS:One community.

———
The NORC presentation on August 17th is on the PS:One calendar in a slot normally used by NERP. NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.

07

08 2015

CNC Build Club – Chilipeppr Presentation

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Thursday 8/6/2015 @ 7;30pm we will be doing a Chilipeppr Presentation

Here is a link to the Meetup page on it.

Chilipeppr is full featured, web based, GCode sender.  GCode senders basically send your CNC toolpath files to the micro controller running your CNC machine.

Chilipeppr takes that concept to the max.  It more like a full featured front end to your CNC machine.  It visualizes the GCode, shows the status of your machine, helps with work offsets and jogging.  It also has some cool tricks it can do to deal leveling and Z probing.  It is currently compatible with machines running Grbl and TinyG.

John Lauer, the creator will be conducting the presentation via Google Hangout.  We hope to expand the presentation.  I’ll tweet out a link on @buildlog and post it here when we work that out.

We will have a machine or two for a physical demo.

Here is a link to the hangout.

06

08 2015

Radiationpalooza with Bionerd23, Ryan, and Elizabeth: Wednesday 8/12

Bionerd at ChernobylElizabeth and Ryan in Pripyat

Date: 8/12/15
Time: 7 – 10 PM
Location: Pumping Station: One, Lounge

bionerd23 has been a youtuber since 2007, but her science channel only became famous from 2012 on – that’s when she started visiting the radioactive exclusion zone of Chernobyl. Being on semester break in Chicago, this physics student will explain the basics of radiation and the devices that measure it to you – followed by insights into her trip to the Chernobyl zone with Ryan & Elizabeth. The three will give you personal insights on what it’s like to walk the abandoned, radioactive ghost town of Pripyat, including photos, video, and artifacts from the zone. They will give live demonstrations of radiation measuring equipment, including Geiger counters, quartz fiber and TLD dosimeters, NaI(Tl) scintillators, and gamma spectroscopy. They will also examine samples from Chernobyl under PS:One’s scanning electron microscope using secondary electron imaging and energy-dispersive x-ray (EDX) spectroscopy.

Bios:

bionerd23. Female homo sapiens sapiens (confirmed via PCR). Born in an ancient decade of mullet haired people. Resides around the radioactive wasteland of Chernobyl and frequently posts photon based imagery of her natural habitat on youtube. She recently appeared in the documentary movie “Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail” (aired on PBS on July 28 & 29 2015).

Ryan Pierce. Male homo sapiens sapiens (assumed but untested via PCR). PS:One member since 2012. Collects and repairs Geiger counters. Maintains PS:One’s SEM. Travelled to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in 2013 with someone he had never met, based on the popularity of her youtube channel. Currently serves as PS:One’s Secretary.

Elizabeth Koprucki. Female homo sapiens sapiens (PCR testing refused, leading Ryan to hypothesize she may have DNA of reptilian origin.) PS:One member since 2012. Former PS:One CNC Area Host. Currently employed as Assistant Director of Fab Lab and Design at Chicago Innovation Exchange, University of Chicago. Her first time leaving the country was her 2013 vacation to Chernobyl.

02

08 2015

Make anything a Drone: a first person video camera rig.

TinyCamera_13 Radio control flying is traditionally done “line of sight.”  That is, you stand in one place, and watch your toy fly around.  Modern electronics means we can get little cameras, that hobby size aircraft can easily lift.  For example, that little camera package you see there, is 17.5 grams.

My previous camera package fried when I hooked the wrong power supply up to it a few weeks ago.  For the record, putting 12.6v from a LiPo battery pack, doesn’t do good things for the health of a 3.3v video transmitter.

TinyCamera_01Here were my ingredients.  Not quite mise en place but definitely close enough for hackerspace work.

We have some protoboard, my new transmitter, my old transmitter, the video camera, some pin headers, a JST style battery connector, a set of dip switches, and most importantly, a voltage regulator.  That last bit is to stop me from frying the camera or transmitter on accident again.

TinyCamera_06When doing protoboard assemblies, it’s always a good idea to dry fit everything.

In a fit of bad practice, I have no decoupling (capacitors) to support my voltage regulator.  As with many things in electronics.. sometimes it works even if you do it a bit wrong.  If the video signal ends up being poor, I can always add more power filtering later.

TinyCamera_14When I first fried the video transmitter, I thought it had shorted out against my quadcopters chassis.  It’s not a good idea to leave power rails exposed, so there’s a good bit of hot glue on the bottom of the board.
Once that was done, I powered it up, and made sure I could change channels using the DIP switches, and that the video was clear in my goggles.

TinyCamera_11Antennas are a funny thing.  Most people doing FPV use circularly polarized antennas.  I didn’t have any small coax handy when I built this the first time, so I just reused my conventional antenna.  That little black wire, is a full wave antenna at 5.8ghz!

Other than being twice the weight of the previous camera rig I was running, I’m quite happy with how this turned out.

Keep making stuff!

PS: If you’d like more detail on the build: http://realtinker.blogspot.com/2015/07/building-better-fpv-video-rig.html

30

07 2015

2015 Detroit Makerfaire

We had a great year at Detroit Makerfaire and ran out of our kits in about 3 hours everyday. Thanks to all of the volunteers who headed out and helped teach other Makers about our noisemaker kits!

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After a successful Makerfaire in Detroit, please keep in mind that the next Makerfaire is coming up quick. This is the South Side Mini Makerfaire, Saturday August 8th at the Ford City Hall. We need both donations and volunteers! Please email jenny@pumpingstationone.org if you are interested.

28

07 2015

Woodshop @ Pumping Station: One

When I took over the Pumping Station: One wood shop (a little more than 2 years ago), I started making cutting boards as my metric on how functional the shop is. I reasoned that it’s an excellent entry level project, and most of the users of the shop would be people with no woodworking experience. The first boards I made at the space were pretty good, but every step was a chore. The jointer could never stay sharp for more than a month, the planer required weekly maintenance, dust collection was a hassle, and it took 10 minutes of setup to do jobs that should take only seconds. Well, little by little, training, equipment upgrades and accumulation, shop days, and community has made the shop much easier and safer to use. My most recent cutting board demonstrates what the shop is capable of.

Last year, one of my favorite coworkers invited me to her wedding, and I decided that I’d make her something special. After discovering the color scheme in her kitchen, I chose padauk, purpleheart, and cherry and made a design in a free cutting board design program.

cutting board

To prevent the wood from warping while in service, I milled the wood square (rectangular, really, but it’s woodworking jargon) and let it dry for two weeks in the shop.

lumber used

As expected, the boards warped again as they dried. I milled them again and two weeks later, they were still square, so they were ready to glue up. After the initial glue up, I had a board that looked like the top board in the design program. I planed down one side of the glued-up board with handplanes and then ran it through the planer the board was flat. At that point, I set up the tablesaw sled to cut the board into $1 \frac{5}{16}$ inch wide strips. I created the pattern by flipping every other strip.

cut boards

After cutting the edge-joined board into strips, I glued up those strips and gave my board to a friend who ran the board through his 40 inch drum sander, to flatten down the glued up strips. My target thickness was $1 \frac{1}{4}$ inches, so I was thrilled with the $1.227$ inches that I achieved. At that point, I used a handplane to clean up the edges, and took an obligatory picture of my handplane with the produced shavings.

almost hit my mark

shaving porn

After getting the board milled to the desired dimensions, I set up the router table to cut handholds. After the handholds were cut, it was time to sand. And sand. And sand. And then sand a little bit more. After about 10 hours of sanding, I decided that I was going to get an angle grinder style rotary sander and handle that work in maybe an hour for all future boards. When I was content with the smoothness of the board, I soaked the board in mineral oil overnight, to seal the board against water. At the end of the soak, I wiped away as much mineral oil as I could, although the board kept bleeding mineral oil for about a day. At that point, I used a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax to seal the board and create the beautiful finish that I achieved. I applied the mixture, waited for it to haze (I waited about 90 minutes), and then wiped as much away as I could. Then I sanded using waterproof 1000 grit paper, which buffed the finish and filled in any potential gaps. Then I used a polisher to polish the board until I achieved a glassy finish. Project complete.

purple orange yellow

color shot

corner defect

gloss handle examination

 

27

07 2015

NERP tonite! Cypress Semiconductor’s PSOC IC’s

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.

Tonight at NERP, professional maker/hacker/DIY’er Bart Dring will introduce Cypress Semiconductor’s PSOC IC’s. PSOCs are odd beasts. They’ve been around since 2002, but there seems to be a growing interest in their peculiar mix of capabilities.

Cypress_April2015_pg4b

From the PSOC website http://www.cypress.com/products/programmable-system-chip-psoc

[Disclaimer: I have not used the PSOC product or its dev tools. -Ed]

“PSoC® is the world’s only programmable embedded System-on-Chip integrating an MCU core [ARM, of course], high-performance Programmable Analog Blocks, PLD-based Programmable Digital Blocks, Programmable Interconnect and Routing, and CapSense.  All new PSoC devices feature the industry standard ARM® Cortex® MCU cores.”

The development tools don’t sound to shabby either:

“PSoC Creator is a free Integrated Design Environment (IDE) which allows concurrent hardware and application firmware design… PSoC systems are designed using classic, familiar schematic capture supported by over 120 pre-verified, production-ready PSoC Components™.

Some of the config is done by drag-and-drop in a GUI.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at
http://www.meetup.com/NERP-Not-Exclusively-Raspberry-Pi/
and
http://pumpingstationone.org/
Doors open at 6:30pm.
NERP is free and open to the public.
Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com
Tags: PSOC, ARM, electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One

20

07 2015