Archive for the ‘Projects’Category

A cubists blinky LED. 64 of them to be accurate.

Last night was a busy night at the space.  Toba was working on a project that will be the subject of a later post.  Ryan and Steve were working on repairing our laser cutter.  And Loclhst, James and I did a little bit of making.  (An ironic activity at a maker space.)

There is something that’s just.. right about someone soldering at PS:1 while drinking cheap American beer and soldering some artsy-fartsy LED toy.

James completed two levels of his cube.  Localhst did two of his own two.  He also built a 12 volt power supply to drive a solder fume extraction fan.

One of the LED cubes did reach a functional level of completion.  If you’d like to see more of the process, and a little more commentary, stop on by my blog:

And here’s what the end result looked like: YouTube Preview Image

Obviously it’s not finished yet.  Steve gave me a laser cut project box to put my cube in.  Hopefully James and Loclhst will finish their cubes soon too.

And as always, come on by, there’s usually something interesting going on!




03 2012

Bend me; Brake me. PS:One gives itself a Bending Brake

We have a new tool in the space, a small sheet metal brake. It was PS:One designed, built, and tested.

It has a 12″ width capacity, and we’re still up in the air as to what it’s vertical capacity is. So far we’ve bent some 16ga steel, and 20ga aluminum. It does the job beautifully.

We have a wiki page for it already: Sheet Metal Brake – 12 inch  So come on in, and get bending!

It’s in the shop.  Steve or Nerobro will be happy to show you how to use it.


03 2012

Carmageddon has begun!

$30,000 well spent     We have begun building our entry for the 2012 Power Racing season. Unfortunately both our vehicles were rather mediocre last year and we are having to build from scratch.  We have our power wheel body and we spent this past weekend parting out our bill of materials and came just under budget.  The body was then scanned with lasers to make a 3D model so the frame we weld will fit the body like a glove.  Yes, we took it way to far.  But we giggled the whole time at the absurdity of using $30,000 equipment to replicate a children’s toy so it can be modified into a “big kid” toy.


02 2012

How to Make Your Own Conductive Ink!

Finished Glass Circuit

Silver Circuit Deposited on Glass

Conductive inks have a myriad of different interesting applications. As a quick, additive construction method for electronic circuits, they are especially intriguing. Unfortunately, for a long time they have been just out of reach of the hobby market. They are too expensive to buy in decent quantities, too complicated to make, too resistive to be practical, or require high annealing temperatures (which would ruin many of the materials you’d want to put traces on).

Now, though, thanks to some brilliant minds at the UIUC Materials Research Laboratory, you can make your own decent conductive ink!

For full instructions (and a video to come soon), please visit my website here!

- Jordan


02 2012

Entrepreneur Night Feb. 22

Making a business is just like making any complex new thing – there are new tools and materials to become familiar with, new skills to be learned in manipulating them, having a plan, perseverance and acquiring that  strange combination of mania and fear that is the hallmark of the experienced entrepreneur.  The result, with some luck, is a machine that excretes more money than it consumes.

Where: Pumping Station: One Main Room 3354 N Elston Ave, Chicago IL

When: Wednesday Feb 22 2012 7PM

What: Tales from the entrepreneur trenches and practical tips – Panel Format

Who’s Invited: The Public

Who’s Presenting:  Tim White (35 yr entrepreneur – 1o businesses & 6 jobs) & Laurie Rich (“law enthusiast”)

We will start off with an introduction by Laurie on legal matters, then I will start off by listing the names and outcomes of the ten
businesses I have started over the last 35 years (ranging from high tech to pure art), and offer some lessons learned.  Then we will open it up and see where things go.

Contact: Tim White tpwhiteco(at)gmail(dot)com


02 2012

First Open Science Meeting this Sunday at 6PM

Have you ever wished you could help direct investigations or do some hacking in areas like chemistry and biology (or others), but feel shut out of the scientific process because you don’t work in academia or industry?

Are you working in science within industry or academia, but feel locked into a narrow field of R&D that is dictated by conservative sources of funding either via business allocations to meet short-term profit imperatives or from government grants?

Open Science is the practice of making methodologies and results publicly accessibe as well as facilitating various degrees of distributed collaboration in the research process. “Hacking,” or altering the objects of study for various reasons, will be emphasized in our program for purposes that could range from art to biofuel development.

Please attend our meeting this Sunday and subsequent meetings every third Sunday of the month to help shape this nascent program. Early meetings will develop strategies for acquiring lab space and equipment, formating the program, and selecting initial group projects.

Who: Open to the public

Where: Pumping Station: One, 3354 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL

When: This Sunday, December 18, 6pm (and every 3rd Sunday at 6pm)

Cost: Free

We look forward to meeting you!


12 2011

A QR Code That Returns Your Keys

Have you ever lost your keys on the train or the street and had to give them up for lost? Some stores have keyfobs with a barcode connected to your store account, so the keys can be turned in at any of those chain stores, and the store will contact you or even send you the keys!

But what if that chain is no longer around, or you’re on vacation in another state and they don’t have the chain store there? Then what? This QR code keychain design will allow someone with a smartphone to take a picture of the fob and automatically send you a text that they found your keys, with their phone number so you can call them and arrange to get your keys back!

QR Code Keychain. Photo has been altered to protect the phone number encoded on the fob.

The code can be generated any number of places or you can have fun with URI schemes yourself. Much like the mailto protocol, sms format is


Once the code was generated, I etched the acrylic on our laser cutter, going over the etching twice for extra depth, and filled the recessed areas with polymer clay [you can use fimo, sculpey, etc.], put it in the oven to set and covered with a clear layer of nail polish for added protection.


10 2011

The Gentle(wo)man Hacker’s RC Airplane

If you’re like me, the RC aviation hobby is as fascinating as it is costly.  In the two videos below that we produced for element14 though, we cover how to convert a $10 foam glider into a great training flier and then get even more bleeding edge with a cheap-but-good-for-the-price setup for flying UAV style with a pistol grip camcorder mounted to the plane that transmits to a screen on the ground.  Dan Meyer with the help of Ken Zinnen walk you through some of the many exciting  facets of radio controlled airplanes.

Solar Charged RC Airplanes from Pumping Station: One on Vimeo.

First Person Remote Control Flying from Pumping Station: One on Vimeo.


08 2011

Shell Casing Pen

It is impossible to buy presents for my dad. I’ve exhausted my repertoire of gifts. I pride myself on giving fantastic gifts, but the man seems hell-bent on flabbergasting me. So, when I finally figured out this year’s Father’s Day gift, I felt damn proud.

A little context – my dad’s father died almost two years ago, and I’d been hanging onto a shell casing from the 5-gun veteran’s salute since then.

original shell casing

I decided to make a pen out of the casing. See a breakdown of process below. Much credit to Jordan, because you all know I can’t operate any of the shop machinery. Yet.

1. Cut off the casing end from hollow shell body and drill a wider opening. The brass is very soft so use a rubber clamp and a jewelry cutting saw.
2. Cut, hollow out, and finish hard wood shaft for pen body extension. Stain if you so choose. I used a light cherry stain as the wood was almost white.

before assembly

3. Epoxy and insert wood shaft into wide end of shell casing, and epoxy casing end to opposite end of wood shaft as pen cap.

shell casing end pen cap

4. Mold hot glue into removable stopper for pen tip using WD-40 to keep glue from sticking to ink insert and shape into cone using heated blade (neat side effect is that the glue becomes glassy and transparent). Pop in pen tip with glue stopper!

hot glue stopper for pen tip

…and fin!

finished product

I hope he likes it. I’m going to give it to him on Friday. :)


06 2011

DIY Biology: Not Your Mother’s Biosensor Array

Whew! What a ride this past month and half has been! The last 48 hours especially have been one long blur of blinking lights, solder smoke, and beautiful biosignals, capped off of course, by a mad documentation dash.

Open Source, Open Future

Drew and Avner hard at work


Fuel for the long haul

Going into the final 24 hours we had a good handful of sensors working separately: EKG, pulse oxidation, GSR, CO2 and lung capacity. The only thing left to do was get them all working together. Oh, and off of breadboards. No big deal, right?

ECG and GSR shields

Well, not so much. While the sensors worked quite well on breadboards, moving them onto protoshields turned out to be more of a hassle than we anticipated. The signals we’re getting from the shields aren’t quite as accurate as the ones we got from the breadboards, though still well within acceptable limits for our purposes.

It's alive!!

EKG and heartrate signals in BrainBay

Anytime you’re hooking up an electrical device to a human being, it’s important to make sure that they’re not connected to the electrical grid (think about what an electrical surge can do to your computer, now imagine that your body is hooked up too).  To achieve this separation our biosensor uses bluetooth to communicate with a computer to display the signals.

Take that!

Drew slapped himself to elicit this GSR signal. What dedication!

Next Steps:

1) Get some sleep!

2) Improve the shield versions of our sensors.

3) Write our own display software, including applications for the N900 and Android.

4) Reach out to teachers and educators.

Finally, we’d like to thank Mitch Altman and everyone at Element14 for this awesome opportunity.  Special thanks to Jordan Bunker who stayed up late with us to help get this finished (and documented) and everyone else at PS: One that helped out over the past six weeks.

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05 2011