Archive for the ‘Projects’Category

Pictures from the Scanning Electron Microscope

A few nights back, Brian and I took some images from the SEM. We exported them into TIF format, and then copied them via Sneakernet, a.k.a. using 3.5″ floppy disks and a portable USB floppy reader. I converted them into .png files. Click them for full 1024×768 resolution, the limit of the Leica image capture board. I’m very happy with how they turned out.

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04 2013

NERP tonight! Eric Stein: RPi hardware i/o and ZeroMQ

ERP is not exclusively raspberry pi, the small computer and embedded control interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago.

Tonight, Eric Stein, who is Chief Cat Herder and president of Pumping Station:One will take time out of his busy schedule to show us a Raspberry Pi and Python based system that sends messages by passing messages.

Eric’s system, which is currently in development, receives input from IRC (internet relay chat) and responds by playing an informational message over one of several louudspeakers located around the PS:1 facility. The Pi does text-to-speech conversion on stored messages and i/o logic and control to select the appropriate audio output channel.

A very interesting aspect of the system is the use of ZeroMQ to pass control messages between the Pi and and a server that does something important that Eric will explain. From wikipedia:

“ØMQ (also spelled ZeroMQ, 0MQ or ZMQ) is a high-performance asynchronous messaging library aimed at use in scalable distributed or concurrent applications. It provides a message queue, but unlike message-oriented middleware, a ØMQ system can run without a dedicated message broker. The library is designed to have a familiar socket-style API.”

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 4-8-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in
Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.

Ed Bennett
Tags: announcement, electronics, embedded, meetup, NERP, Open Source, raspberry pi

Happy Happy
-Ed Bennett


04 2013

Beer Church: Beer Tasting, Sunday April 7th, 2PM

Hello everyone!

Since the last Beer Church, Eric & co’s This Is Your Grain On Chocolate has come and (sadly) gone. We’ve got 5 different Beer Church creations hidden away in bottles, and they’re all coming out to play this Sunday. Bring them some playdates in the form of a bottle of your favorite off-the-beaten-path beer – whether your own homebrew, or from a store. We’re not picky (but we are snobs)! Small beer steins will be provided to consume from, but you’re welcome to bring your own chalice.

Once we’re done with the tasting, Eric will demonstrate how to use a Soxhlet Extractor to create flavor extracts from a fruit or herb (undecided yet) – so far, we’ve used 2 of them – in our dearly departed friend, This Is Your Grain On Chocolate.

After we taste & make some flavor, we move forward to build out fun time. Our current fermenter was built hastily to get us off the ground and we’re going to try to get started replacing it with a better designed and larger home for brews. Chillmon has a new circuit board courtesy of Ryan, and we might find the time to get it working with the new fermenter. Along the way, we’ll figure out a superior storage solution for our gear (this time, with organization!). No brew today, but we’re hoping for a productive and fun day of woodworking, tasting beers, electronics, programming, and tasty science.


When: Sun April 7, 2:00PM-5:00PM
Where: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston, Chicago
Why: Because you like tasting beer & building things
What: Potluck & Beer Church’s brews beer tasting, Buildout
Extra Credit What: Demonstration of Soxhlet Extractor flavorant creation for use in beer making
Who: Anyone 21 years or older


04 2013

Scanning Electron Microscope Update

SEM and RyanBack in January, we got word that Philip Strong, a past member of PS:One, worked for a company that needed to get rid of a working scanning electron microscope and was considering donating it to PS:One. While we have an existing SEM in the space (a Leica S440, owned by JP, a member), this one supposedly was fully functional, had documentation, and we could get some help from the microscopist, Susan Young, who used it. Of course we were interested!

On Monday the 18th, I learn that yes, the donation was approved, but with a catch: It had to be moved on Saturday the 23rd! Read the rest of this entry →


03 2013

NERP tonite: Pick-n-Pi

NERP is Not Exlusivey Raspberry Pi, the small computer interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago.


Boardforge gantry Ver 0.3a in development (Ed_B)

Several members of Pumping Station:One are collaborating on a project to produce a pick and place machine. PnP machines are robotic assembly devices that place electronic components on circuit boards as part of the soldering process. The software that will run the machine is made of several distinct subsystems including motion control and computer vision. Jay Hopkins has been doing some experiments to determine whether a Raspberry Pi can serve as the on-board controller for the machine. Tonight he’ll show nerp some of his progress. Teaser: OpenCV _will_ compile on the Raspberry PI!

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 2-25-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.



02 2013

Beer Church Beer Tasting & Brewing a Rhubarb Wheat Ale: January 20th, 1PM

Hello again from Beer Church, the brewing group at Pumping Station: One! This past Sunday the 6th, we tasted & kegged a beer (the Doppelbock’s leftover batch, titled Kinderbock Son von Doppelbock), tasted our previous foray into Mead-making (I Didn’t Mead It That Way, and brewed an American IPA with Cardamom titled Putting the India back in IPA, all grain. It was an all-around great day and the ferment bucket for the IPA is bubbling along crisply in the fermentation chamber. Today at N00B’s Paradise (Pumping Station: One’s event for newcomers), we tapped the Doppelbock – it’s good.


Doppelbock, one of Beer Church’s brews.

We just cleaned the taps. The bar is operational. We’re rocking and rolling.

sterilizing tap valves

sterilizing tap valves

So, on the 20th we’ll do it all again. This time we’re going to create a Rhubarb Wheat Ale; this is something few have done. The idea comes from Brittany, who is so enthused with the idea that we’ll oblige and make it happen. If this kind of idea appeals to you – and why wouldn’t it – then you should come visit Pumping Station: One on the 20th at 1PM. You don’t have to be a brewer; you can watch, or participate. Before the brew we’ll go over the basics of how brewing works while tasting our previous brews, including:

* Doppelbock
* I Didn’t Mead It That Way
* Pumpkin Ale
* Whatever bottle you bring! Find something in your fridge or the store that you think most people haven’t had, and introduce us to it.

Another new addition to equipment is our BeerGun which we can now use to bottle beers. This and future brews will have a small amount taken aside for a limited run bottling. Part of that bottling run will be granted to those who took part in brewing of the beer; 2 bottles for the brewmaster and 1 for all the helpers who stuck around until the end. Of course, this doesn’t happen immediately; the brew has to make it through brew day, fermentation, maybe racking for secondary, kegging, kegging, and bottling first. This in mind, if you help out on brew day you’ll get something to show for your efforts that’s a little more solid than being able to come in and try your brew on tap. The rest of the bottles will be saved for future Beer Church events so we get to savor them for a little bit longer. Our brews tend to go by pretty fast after they go on tap, since they’re so good (so far).

Nitty Gritty

When: Sunday January 20th, 1PM. We expect to brew brewing until around 7 PM or so, but you don’t have to hang around the whole time if you don’t want to.
Where: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston, Chicago
What: Beer tasting and brewing hands-on
Who: Anyone 21 or over, Pumping Station: One members or not!
Why: Because beer is a worthy purpose for your Sunday afternoon
To Brew: “Rhubarb Waves of Grain” – Orange Ginger Rhubarb Wheat Ale
Brewmaster: Eric Stein

See you on Sunday. Follow along at our twitter, @ps1beerchurch.


01 2013

New Year, New Beer: Beer Church Sunday 1/6 at 1PM

Winter is not coming, winter is here. The doppelbock needs kegging. It’s looking glorious. We haven’t had Beer Church in far too long, and the new year is here, bringing with it the requirement that we shall brew an IPA. Well, maybe an IPA. An IPA or another lager. That’s up to whoever shows up and tosses in their 2 cents (monetary, or opinion). The Brew & Grow’s strategic location and our wide array of existing equipment mean that we can do whatever we want, and what we want is to make beer.

mmmm, beer

However, not before we sample our existing brews; attend Beer Church this Sunday (1/6) at 1PM and you’ll get to try our as-yet-untasted Doppelbock and our hopped session mead “I Didn’t Mead It That Way” which has so far received solid reviews. We’ll be having a tasting to start (please bring your own unusual store bought or homebrew beers to share, if you can, to supplement the selection), discuss what we’ve done so far (several brews under our belts now!), go over a bit of how brewing works for newcomers. This all happens interspersed with the beer tasting, to keep things interesting.

Once we’ve got the groundwork laid we’ll decide what to brew, make a short expedition to Brew & Grow around the corner for ingredients, and get cooking! We expect to be done brewing by about 4:30 PM as we aren’t going to go too nuts this time.

Nitty Gritty

When: Sunday January 6th, 1PM
Where: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston, Chicago
What: Beer tasting and brewing hands-on
Who: Anyone 21 or over, Pumping Station: One members or not!
Why: Because beer is a worthy purpose for your Sunday afternoon


01 2013

Monday Dec. 3rd. is back-to-basics night at NERP

Monday Dec. 3rd. is back-to-basics night at NERP. In Part 1, Carl
Karsten and Bonnie King will give an introduction to Python programming
for novice programmers. The target will be the Raspberry Pi, and the
focus of their teaching examples will be on input/output to simple
hardware. In Part 2, yours truly will demo control of output devices
including simple circuits for interfacing electronics to
electro-mechanical devices.

Find us here…



12 2012

Beer (and Wine or Mead) Church, 11/11/2012

Beer Church is doing great lately. We’ve made 3 beers so far – 2 stouts and a spiced pumpkin ale. We just racked the spiced pumpinkin ale last night. We’re not sure how good it is yet, having only tasted it warm and halfway through the ferment, but it’s quite unique and we look forward to kegging it in a few weeks.

We served both our stouts on October 20th, at Locktoberfest Chicago 2012, alongside Cross of Gold beer from Revolution Brewery. Good times had by all, and all the beer poured out into waiting cups at a spirited pace. We look forward to seeing what happens with Locktoberfest 2013. We served out of our brand new taps built by Ryan Pierce!

Bar taps at the PS:One bar

Kegs tapped in the PS:One beer fridge

More developments are… developing, on the bar! It’ll be even cooler later, when we’ll post a full writeup with pictures.

This Sunday, we’ll have a standard Beer Church event; with the addition of a random chance of whether we’ll be making Wine or Mead. Depending on when we hear back from participants, it’ll go either way – this post may be updated in a few days.

For those new to Beer Church, we hold pot-luck beer tastings, where everyone brings their favorite unusual beer and we taste them. We discuss the state of technology, brewing, and science in an informal midday Sunday setting at Pumping Station: One.

Once we’ve satisfied palates and our conversational avenues, we’ll either make wine, or mead! That depends on whether our winemaking correspondent is able to make it. Either way, we’ll be learning something new and making a delicious beverage. Come on down – both ends of the beverage cycle will be covered!


* Date/Time: 12:30 PM, 11/11/2012
* Location: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston Chicago IL
* Attendance: Public, no RSVP required, must be 21 or over


11 2012

Announcing the CNC Build Club

Plasma cut PS:One logo

Picture of plasma cut PS:One logo taken from

Last Monday’s 3D printing discussion was both well-attended and full of ideas. By the end of the night the beginnings of a few exciting new projects were starting to take shape. Since there are already several CNC projects in the works at PS:One, we decided that once a month isn’t enough to satisfy our appetites for automation.

So I’m pleased to announce the formation of the CNC Build Club, which will meet every Wednesday night at PS:One to design and build machines employing computer numerical control. If you’re interested in building a 3D printer, a CNC router or a pick & place machine, you can join up with a group already working on a design. Or come up with your own idea and recruit others to work with you!

  • Who: Open to the public
  • Where: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL
  • When: Every Wednesday at 7pm
  • Cost: Free ($5 suggested donation for non-members to help us pay the rent)

We’re still going to have our monthly Automation Night, which will be slightly more formal and have a guest speaker, but all other Wednesdays will be focused on getting work done on projects.

Join the Google Group for the CNC Build Club. We’ll see you Wednesday night!


11 2012