Archive for the ‘Projects’Category

Fixing the Welcome Pi/Bone

Welcome TV

Welcome TV

When I first visited the space over a year and a half ago now, the first thing I saw when walking in the door was a big TV showing various information, including bus times and the space’s blog. I immediately wanted to know how it worked and was told it was transmitting through a Raspberry Pi. I would later learn how they worked and, recently, what that one was doing specifically. I have dubbed the TV the “Welcome TV” and whatever runs it similarly. Since then, the RPi has stopped transmitting successfully and I began to figure out to fix it, or rather replace it.

After research and lucky guesses, I found the software it was using was Screenly. The issue with Screenly is that its not open source and very limited in the free version. Also, after reinstalling it a few times, it doesn’t seem to like our network. So I decided to use something else. I found that a Beaglebone Black should do the trick with a program called Xibo. Both are more complicated and suitable than the RPi and Screenly.

So far, I have found that Xibo should work on a Beaglebone running Ubuntu, but have not had the chance to test it since Maker Faire Detroit was this weekend and have been busy with classes otherwise. It should get tested by the end of this week and I’ll know for sure if it will work. The Xibo team does not officially support it for RPi and assumingly Beaglebone either so I’m making it using forums and the seat of my pants. Which is arguably, the best way to make.

03

08 2014

Dean’s Dust Collection System

 

There are many exciting things happening in the shop lately including the ShopBot CNC router and dust collection system. The latter of which I will tell you about now. The dust collection system is a project that Dean is in charge of. He has been diligently staying late in the evenings to work on it, sometimes until 1:00 AM. The dust collection system will be made up of a filter, blower, a Clear Vue cyclone and ducting. The ducting will be attached to the ShopBot,  SawStop table saw, band saw, and other tools in the wood shop.

The air will be sucked into the cyclone by the fan, which runs on a 3 phase induction, 5 horsepower motor. It will then be filtered in two stages. The first stage is the cyclone, which will filter out heavier particles into a trash can below it. The second stage will be an actual filter that will trap all the smaller particles. After that, the filtered air will be blown back into the shop.

There is also a Dylos air quality monitor hooked up in the shop that keeps track of the particles in the air. It can be hooked up to a computer via an RS232 serial port for graphing purposes. Besides that, it displays the current readings on both large and small particles. The hope is that the readings will drop significantly after the dust collection system is up and running.

I would like to thank Michael S. for doing the wiring for this and Dean for his many hours of labor on this project. We all hope it will make the shop much tidier and I am certain it will. Also, Dean would like help installing the ducting, which arrived today!

 

10

07 2014

Join Us For Some Science!

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Hands-On Science | Experimentation | Curiosity Knows No Bounds

Applied Sciences Chicago

This is a group for anyone interested in applied sciences, including optical and scanning electron microscopy, fermentation science, saponification, herbalism, astronomy and planetary science, and citizen science.

We started this Meetup because many people think science must be done in a lab with expensive equipment. We want to show how easy and fun scientific experiments can be. We will gather to do science, talk about news in the world of science, and have field trips to places like Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin.

This group is open to people of all experience levels, from complete newbies to working scientists. Bring your curiosity and join us!

Also, please like our page on Facebook. Help us reach 100 likes by the end of July!

07

07 2014

Hack Your Coffee!

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Have you ever felt dissatisfied?

Have you ever woken up in the morning, considered all the projects you had ahead for the day, all the worthless meetings and teleconferences, and just said, “blah?”

You take a sip of your morning coffee, expecting a moment of brightness, goodness, something to cling onto by the fingernails, to hold you throughout the day, as you say to yourself, “You know, today is gonna suck, but at least I have this freshly brewed Java Supremo from Overpriced Cafe”?

You take that sip… and you say to yourself, “Really?  That’s it?  This is how my day is going to begin, not with a bang, but with a whimper?”

Yes, I too have felt that way.  I had wished there was a way I could seek out bold new flavor profiles in my morning coffee, beyond just “mild” “medium” and “strong.”  I wished there was a way to hack my morning coffee.

Thankfully, there are options.  Today, we are trained to only look for coffee at our grocer, or perhaps at the local cafe where we can pick and choose from pre-selected and pre-roasted coffee, perhaps even pre-ground, for our approval.  Or, we can do things the way our great-great-grandparents did it, which is, we roast our own damn coffee.  There are many ways to do this, one of which is with an air-pop popcorn popper.

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That’s right, this noble device, previously only a monotasked tool to deliver copious amounts of fluffed corn to your gaping maw whilst watching reruns of ‘Love Boat’ and ‘Magnum PI’ can also serve as a way to roast our precious coffee the same way the pioneers did.  Well, not really, but close enough.

Currently only one batch of green coffee beans has been successfully roasted and served to unsuspecting denizens of PS:1 (No, those are not flavor crystals, THAT’S REAL FLAVOR DANGIT) to glowing reviews.  This is only a proof-of-concept batch at this point, with much more work and experimentation to be conducted, but with continued testing and sampling, the overall goal is to create a viable procedure, optimize the process, and eventually create the capability at PS:1 to roast coffee, and tailor to your specific discerning tastes.

The output of this project will include a wiki page with optional training, an understanding of the variables of coffee roasting and how to tweak the process to serve your tastes (i.e. using APPLIED SCIENCE to understand the roasting process), and recommendations on where to source green coffee beans.

More information is forthcoming in a future 300 Seconds of Fame!

 

 

 

02

07 2014

Liquid Nitrogen – Part 1

LN2 withdrawal systemLiquid nitrogen (LN2) rocks. Yes, officially speaking, I need to get liquid nitrogen at PS:One so that we can do serious sciencey stuff, like, say, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy on the scanning electron microscope. But, unofficially? Driving nails into wood with a frozen banana, or making ice cream, is just plain awesome. And the clouds of chilled water vapor billowing out of flasks like something from a mad scientist’s lab… what can I say, I’m easily amused.

First, we need a source to buy LN2. Fortunately, a very generous individual, who happens to own a really cool company that has helped us in the past with CO2 tanks and refills, and provided free LN2 to test the EDX detector on the scanning electron microscope, offered us a great deal for purchasing it. But transporting -321F liquid to PS:One and storing it presents unique challenges.

LN2 boring the plugSo we need to start with a large storage dewar. These can be ridiculously expensive. I scoured eBay, found one, posted a crowdfunding request to the PS:One mailing list, and, thanks to the generosity of a bunch of donors, I made the purchase.

Read the rest of this entry →

26

06 2014

From Laser Cutting to Casting — Starting My Projects at Pumping Station: One

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Here is my latest creation

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In wax before it is to be cast

This is a turkey vulture pendant that I created as per request of a member here for a birthday present. The recipient is a Naturalist for the Nature preserve here in IL.

So how I went about creating this: created the design through Adobe Illustrator, laser cut the pendant out with our Epilog  laser engraver, and did a lost wax cast to get the final piece in sterling silver, then added a patina to the metal for the shading.

To check out my website or contact me for collaborations see www.ellagentz.squarespace.com.

24

06 2014

First Hackaday Prize Session

We just ended out first meeting which consisted of an overview of the contest, introductions, individual skill sets and brainstorming project ideas. So far, we are going to do something involving plants. Whether that is hacking a plant directly or using sensors around a plant is yet to be determined. Feel free to attend our second meeting which is tentatively to be held next Wednesday at 7:00 PM.

11

06 2014

Mini Maker Faire in Chicago at Schurz High School – May 3

Reserve your spot to the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire! Tickets are FREE to the public, but by reserving early you guarantee your spot. Now you can e-sign the media release on Eventbrite and skip the line! As always, your generous donations allow those who cannot otherwise afford Maker Faire to attend for free. Recommended donations are $10/adult, and $5/child under 12.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/chicago-northside-mini-maker-faire-2014-tickets-10903088431

Pumping Station: One will hopefully be there with a table. Come visit us!

 

–Derek

10

04 2014

CNC Steampunk Harp – Getting Your Guts in a Knot – Part 3

 

Elizabeth and Ryan with a fully strung harp

Elizabeth and Ryan with a fully strung harp

[See Part 2]

At long last, the CNC Steampunk Harp that Elizabeth and I have been building is, at least functionally, finished! In previous posts, I documented the process of routing pockets in the side of the harp using PS:One’s CNC router, and our road trip to Sector67 in Madison, WI to use their seriously awesome laser cutter. This completed the work on all wooden parts of the harp, and so I could finally assemble it.

First, I had to glue the stiffener boards to the back of the sound board and used the drill press to make holes for the 33 strings. Gluing the sound board to the harp body required a lot of fast work: driving nails to hold the sound board in place, flipping it over and trying to wipe out the dripping glue while only having access to the inside via small holes, flipping it over to drive more nails, rinse, lather, repeat… all the while, the glue is starting to set. Then I glued the trim strips in place that covered all the nails. After that glue dried, I used a 1/4″ roundover bit on a router to clean up the sides of the sound box, and… oops! To my horror, I realized I forgot a step in the directions that said I was supposed to use extra nails to reinforce the area where the sound board joins the base near the pillar. Seeing as the harp has over 1000 lbs tension on the sound board and I really don’t want it pulling itself apart, I used the pneumatic nailer to shoot brads through the lower front trim strip. Then I needed to use wood putty to cover the brads. Oh, and did I mention that the angle of the nail gun wasn’t quite right and the brads poked through the bottom? So I had to bend them over with a nail set and cover those holes as well with wood putty. You live, you learn….

Read the rest of this entry →

25

03 2014

CNC Steampunk Harp – The Sector67 Field Trip – Part 2

 

Finished Sound Board

Finished Sound Board

[See Part 1]

The sound board of the harp had always been the wild card. Elizabeth and I began the project last year knowing that we’d want to use a laser cutter to etch it with some kind of Victorianesque steampunk design involving gears. And we knew that PS:One’s Epilog, with its 24″ x 12″ bed and no feedthrough capability, simply couldn’t fit a 49″ sound board. While design focused on the brass panels, as we did have access to a CNC router, the sound board was left for later, especially because we didn’t know if we could find a smaller laser cutter with feedthrough, meaning we needed a design that could be etched in pieces, or a large laser cutter that could engrave the entire sound board at once.

Elizabeth and I were planning a trip to Madison, WI, and we heard rumors that Sector67 had a colossal Chinese import laser cutter. I reached out to them asking if they would be willing to help with this project, and Chris Meyer, director of Sector 67, responded, inviting us to their space. Knowing what we had to work with, Elizabeth was able to create the design in Adobe Illustrator. Read the rest of this entry →

01

02 2014