Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’Category

Fare thee well, Tardis, until we meet again

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I first noticed PS:1 because of the sign on the door – the, “Yes we have a Tardis” message. I was intrigued enough to cross the street, look up and see, yep, there’s a Tardis up there. A freaking Tardis!

‘Clearly, this is the place for me,’ I thought.

Fast forward several years.  PS:1 has changed and grown, getting bigger and better, but sadly, the Tardis, has not weathered (pun intended) the years well. I have been on the roof several times over the years.  Each time I stopped to take a look at the Tardis, noting that maybe with some TLC, it could be restored to its former glory as a beacon for folks who wanted to find a place to be whimsical, playful, and creative.

Over the past year particularly, it became extremely obvious that it was suffering real damage, and if there was going to be any chance of saving it, the time had come to try. At best, I figured we could disassemble and rebuild it, and even possibly use it to hide the new dust collector. Upon investigation, we determined that the wood was rotted through, and that it was a real hazard to everyone and everything on Elston Ave. below.  A bad storm would likely have ripped off large chunks, sending them flying straight into a law suit.

So Ken, Andy, and I, with assistance from Kyle who happened to have a pickup truck with an empty bed, the disassembly and lowered the pieces to the street below. Most were lowered by some rope Andy just happened to have; some pieces we simply chucked overboard (always timed so nobody was anywhere near PS:1). Given how heavy some of the parts were, I’m quite impressed with the folks who got it up there in the first place!

After the large pieces came down, Kyle sent up some garbage bags and we cleaned up the rest, leaving little to indicate that anything had ever been up there. Mike Skilton was on hand to help unload Kyle’s truck and cut the chunks down to dumpster size.  As I write this, a fair number of the pieces are sitting on a pallet on the loading dock, waiting for the dumpster to be emptied so they can be thrown away.

This makes me sad.

The Tardis has been around since very early days. It can be seen on PS:1’s Flickr pool going back to the original space. The Tardis is an emblem of the spirit of the space, and demonstrates what can be done by a group of individuals with a common purpose: to make something awesome that makes others happy. Personally, I think of PS:1 not as a collection of tools and equipment, but of interesting people who want to make and do interesting things – and who can and do come together from time to time to make PS:1 itself better. PS:1 is the place it is because of people helping each other. To anyone who has installed something, volunteered for a committee, fixed equipment, or shared an idea to make the place better for everyone, I say this: you have made PS:1 more than just a random collection of tools. You have made it a community.
I propose that it is time for the community to come together once again to build Tardis 2.0. I whipped up a rough design that would use a steel skeleton clad in weatherproof paneling.  In addition to having its windows lit up, it could enclose a weather station and even a webcam.

 

I believe the PS:1 folks can bring their skills to replace the empty space on the roof with a better, more durable Tardis that will continue to elicit smiles and curiosity from passers-by (I can think of three separate times when people have shown up for the open house because they wanted to know what PS:1 was solely because they saw the Tardis on the roof) and hopefully will see it like I did: as an sign that this small beige building is a great community and space for people to have fun and be creative.


Last chance to see:

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28

10 2016

Wear-A-Circuit Workshop on Sunday

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Circuit Patches are wearable circuit boards made from knitted yarn and wire. I’m doing a workshop Sunday using these. Check it out!

I use a knitting machine to make the patches. Add snap buttons and  attach the circuits to anything you like.

Rapid prototyping for Wearables!

2016-10-27-13-26-38-self-portrait

 

I made these patches for my workshop this Sunday, 3-5pm. Participants will receive a 3″ x 5.5″ knitted proto-boards in black, pink, or teal. Solder LEDs and a battery on it, and you can add lights to your clothes, just in time for Halloween.

 

Of course, there’s lots of things beyond LEDs you could add– I’m hoping to do workshops for interactive circuits using the knitted protoboards in the future.

I’ve made a number of circuits with this method so far, often in black. For this workshop, we’re adding  fun colors: circuit-board-teal and… pink! I  couldn’t resist adding 10mm gumdrop LEDs to the pink protoboard pictured above.

We’ll have some of those jumbo LEDs for the workshop, but also smaller ones in blue, yellow, red, white. I’ve even got some color-change and flicker LEDs.

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Power is supplied by a hidden battery pack.

If you’d like to participate, please RSVP. Hope to see you Sunday! (Bring a shirt or a hat or a bag so you can add snaps to mount your circuit on it.)

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My new favorite machine: the snap press applies snap buttons without sewing.

27

10 2016

NERP^2 = Hardware: From Concept to Retail && PiAQ: Indoor Air Quality Sensor

PLEASE NOTE: NERP WILL GET UNDER WAY AT EXACTLY 7PM ON MONDAY!

Next Monday at NERP we’ll have a double feature. We’ll hear part 2, of Ste and Nicks’s story of adventure in bringing a successful consumer product to market. Part 1 was about technology, and part 2 is about the _business_ side of bootstrapping HD Retrovision (http://hdretrovision.com). Also on Monday, Dave Conroy will tell us about the PiAQ Open Source Indoor Air Quality Sensor for the Raspberry Pi (http://piaq.io).

hd_retrovision-1

About HD Retrovision:
Nick and Ste have been friends since 1999 and both share a passion for playing the (now retro) video game systems that they grew up on. Since then they’ve both studied Electrical Engineering at University, and are now business partners in a company called HD Retrovision that is dedicated to improving the modern day experience with retro consoles while making it accessible to as many people as possible. In this presentation, Ste and Nick will walk you through the ups, downs, and lessons learned while taking a college project and turning it into a profitable company. This talk will cover how they took the idea for HD Retrovision’s Genesis and SNES cables out of the lab, got it funded, and eventually mass-produced overseas.

piaq3-small
About the PiAQ: As an R&D Engineer for NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology & CRT Labs, Dave Conroy investigates emerging technologies, educates NAR members & the public through presentations, webinars, blogs and podcasts, and develops products for use by members. He’s presented to REALTORS® on the national, state and local levels. The PiAQ is an open hardware and software indoor air quality sensor developed by the National Association of REALTORS’ CRT Labs. The goal for this project is to make information about the air people are breathing more accessible.

http://piaq.io/

About 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. 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, Pumping Station One

21

10 2016

A Light Diversion

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In the last days of Radio Shack, I was in a store on Michigan Avenue when I spotted, buried amongst the disassembled shelving units and discarded phone cases, a small red box that turned out to be an Arduino-based soldering project, the 2770158 LED Cube (https://github.com/RadioShackCorp/2770158-LED-Cube). I bought it for something like $5, took it home, and promptly put it on the shelf as a project I’ll ‘get to’ at some point.

The honest truth is that I was somewhat intimidated by the soldering; it’s a 3x3x3 cube of LEDs that are soldered together and the lights were smaller than i was expecting, and looking at some pics of the final result, I resigned myself to likely screwing it up and at best hoping that I might learn something from what I assumed would be a complete failure. So I somehow justified to myself that, in order to not waste my $5, I shouldn’t actually try to make the thing I spent $5 on.

At some point I hit myself with a clue-by-four and realized the stupidity of my situation; accept the possible loss of the $5 and actually try instead of fretting about what-ifs. So I took the kit to PS:1, sat down in the Electronics area, got out the soldering iron, magnifying glass, and went to work. It took a couple of hours, and I was certain, absolutely positively certain, that, even though it looked right, there was no chance that I had actually gotten the leads all wired together correctly, especially the ones in the middle that were extremely hard to reach with the big tip of the soldering iron. Okay, well, only thing left was to actually plug it into the Arduino Uno I had, load up the sample sketch (available in the RS GitHub repo above), and see what happens.

I fired up the Arduino IDE, loaded the sample sketch, hit upload, and all of a sudden all the lights came on as it started through the canned routines. I was initially skeptical, checking every single light to see which one was never lighting up, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I had actually done it, all the lights actually lit up as part of the demo routine, and HOLY CRAP I MADE A THING AND IT WORKED!!!!1111

And then in my excitement I dropped it, ripping the USB cord from the Arduino, and landed lights-down on the floor. Well, of course I did. Of course I broke it, right? But as I checked the connections, nothing had come loose, there were no broken connections. I plugged the Arduino back in, and sure enough, it happily came back to life and started going through the routine. Whew!

 

So I resolved to make this truly my own; running a demo program that I didn’t write was not ‘finishing the job’. I remembered the QBasic ‘Snake’ program that drew a line bouncing around the screen, hitting the edge and then randomly turning and going off into another direction. Ah, but this is a cube, in threeeee deeeeeeee, so the challenge would be that more interesting, especially as I resolved to sit down and actually try to implement it without any help from the Internet; a three-dimensional matrix of lights, translated into C++.

This is where I remembered a line from Top Gun that went something along the lines of “Our pilots had become dependent on missiles” as a reason for loss of dogfighting ability. (And then I got that Everly Brothers song stuck in my head). Well, writing C++ for years, I had become dependent on the containers provided by the Standard Template Library (map, vector, etc.). While the Arduino is programmed using C++, it’s really a pretty small subset of C++ (which sort-of-kinda-not-really makes sense) and the STL is not available; go ahead and #include <map> all you like, all the compiler’s gonna do is complain. So I knew I’d have to regain some amount of dogfighting capability and do all the array/matrix stuff in pure C. So I decided the best way to keep myself honest and regain some of the skills I think I used to have, I created a C file in Vim (using Emacs always made me angry, straight-up I hate this, whatever this is), wrote the program, saved, compiled and ran straight from the terminal prompt. Again and again and again.

One of the biggest problems was forcing myself to get past the ‘sheesh, this woulda been easy to use <insert some STL thing> here’ and just focus on getting the values in the right cells of the matrix. It took a few hours to get the algorithm right, but pretty soon I had it spitting out numbers that seemed right, but how was I gonna know that it was right?

This is where I decided to make a quick diversion and build a virtual version of the matrix in OpenSCAD:

9x9-grid

Using this model, I could walk through the output of the program and verify that the snake was truly moving correctly around the matrix. I rotated the model around, checking that the numbers were right and HOLY CRAP I MADE ANOTHER THING THAT WORKED!

 

The last thing to do was to actually get the program to work with the LEDs. This is where the spartan documentation of the original Radio Shack code became a problem; the sketch did a passable job of explaining how the lights were addressed, but the examples were all arrays of pre-baked values without having to do anything dynamic, and my program was all dynamic. I studied how the demo program worked, started fiddling with the values, and discovered how to set the bits in the right way to turn on individual lights, on specific levels. From there I modified my C program and added some code to translate my positioning, which turned out to be the mirror opposite of the way the lights are addressed; I solved the problem by physically turning the Arduino around so I was looking at the other side. Problem solved!)

I uploaded my sketch to the Arduino and it suddenly the lights were lighting up in what appeared to be a snake moving around the matrix. HOLY CRAP I GOT IT TO WORK!!!!!!11111

TL;DR:

This is a long post for what amounts to a small light toy, but whilst I was feeling rather verbose (a consequence of sitting and waiting for an unrelated program to finish), I can’t emphasize how foolish I feel for not starting all this earlier; fear of failure is a very, very powerful emotion and if there’s a TL;DR in here somewhere, it’s that it is always better to try and fail than to never try at all, which is something PS:1 has done a very good job of teaching me.

TL;DR(2):

The code is available at https://github.com/tachoknight/arduino-snakey.

10

08 2016

Of Biscuits and Pirates

A lively assist!

A lively assist!

Hark! Saturday eve a few weeks past our dear “Spoons” (AKA Gerald Gayares) held a feast of hearty proportions! Eggs were broken, strawberries destemmed, chives snipped, and oh the mushroom boiling! He was valiantly assisted in this effort by Shelly “Pickles” Gayares and a smattering of the Mighty Crew of PS:One who were drafted to the event.

 

A Hearty-har-har Hardtack

A Hearty-har-har Hardtack

Ye may be asking then: how to can I provoke such a feast of glory of mine own?

1: Firstly ye must be WISE! Tender biscuits and crispy yeasty waffles are not the product of a few hours of careless abandon. Ye must plan for your journey so as to have on hand all the necessary apparatus, provender, and mates to accomplish your goal. Spoon’s yon tender-crisp waffles had begun some twelve hours in advance! Supplies were amassed over the whole of the week. Mark yer book of accounting with a list of needs and wants. Timing be’ critical.

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Gather A Crew!

2: Secondly ye must be BOLD and Seductive! Declare yer intentions. Claim thy time and place with loud hollering. Alert thy comrades old and new. Do ye be thinking that a person shall attend the quiet church mouse squeaking out a proclamation of a tidy crumb to be nibbled? NAY I say! Go instead to the weekly meeting and bellow out “FEAST” so that all may know of yer intended soiree. (In our case it be more like a sortie…) Then go to the town square (Google Groups) and post a list declaring your nefarious goal along with any needs of supplies and crew. If-n’ ye be the timid sort or of short time then promote yer-self a good first mate to advocate for your cause. There be’ many a good mate to be had at this port, especially for the cause of a good feeding.

 

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Pot-O’ Mushrooms

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Pot-O’ Victory

3.Thirdly ye must be STRONG! The day of yer tasty battle will not be kiddy pools and microwaves. There will be fire, a broad side of gloriously dirty dishes, and absent baking soda all bent on thwarting yer merrymaking. Command thy crew with vitality and they will follow you to the depths of this Cursed Sea and to the grocery store no matter what behemoth lays in wait, as long as they get fed.

 

 

 

 

 

With the aforementioned application of Wisdom in planning, and Boldness for comrades, and Strength in application ye shall have all a person needs to attain a tasty conquest. This is after all a maker space: Just do it.

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Aged Yeasty Waffles of Joy

16

06 2016

House Number

This was a simple project that took a lot longer than it should have. Nothing fancy, just numbers welded from 1-1/4″ mild steel stock and 3/32 rods. Some of you may have seen me tackle it a few months back in the hot metals area. Due to a total lack of free time, I only now installed it on my house.

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The rods are painted a color approximating the brick, making the numbers “float” about 1-1/2″ from the face of the wall.

31

05 2016

Yes, You Can (Document Small Projects)!

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Mohamed Dardiri took a professional looking photograph of a laser cut design he made and it was getting likes on Pinterest within minutes. You can do this, too! Photographing small projects using one of our light cubes gives you a nice, even lighting without any harsh shadows.

Read the rest of this entry →

30

05 2016

Event: Confectionery Combat! Chocolate VS Shelly and Gerald

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What:
Confectionery Combat! Chocolate VS Shelly and Gerald:

When:
Friday February 12, 6:30-8:30 pm

 

We will start with a discussion on the evil ways of this culinary foe and tactics to successfully wage war against it.

We will be making truffles, roasting nuts, coating lots of things with chocolate, and “practicing” our feeble double boiler tempering skills.  Practice is the word! Just as in war there is no guarantee of success but at least in this we will have chocolate.

This event is open to PS:One members and their guests who want to watch, sample, and participate as the space allows. (There will probably be a cap at 10 people in that small kitchen) If you know you are coming give us a holler on the member group here so we can prepare excess supplies and plan our battle strategy.  The cost is free but donations to fund our efforts will encourage more such campaigns.

06

02 2016

Group Project: Making Toolboxes

20160121_232528Last Monday, NegativeK got the funny idea that he wanted to do a project to practice his sheetmetal work. 20ga mild steel sheet was ordered, and we collected in cold metals to make some very expensive tool trays.

 

Making a project like this, is a bit of a puzzle. Before we get to the tough stuff, we first do layout. 20160121_213737 Here’s Toba wishing we had a printer that would do the layout for him.

Once we all finished drawing lines all over our sheetmetal we had to come up with how we were going to make all the cuts.
20160121_201027That’s an 8″ shear. It makes cutting sheemetal a magical experience. It’s quiet, smooth, and pretty easy to control. The only thing to remember, is it’s like working with the tip of a pair of scissors. It cuts a long way in front of where you “see” it cutting, and if you reach the end of the cut, it makes a punch mark. Just… it’s steel instead of paper.

That does mean making inside cuts is a bit of a challenge. We all had unique approaches to dealing with the inside corners. Now that we have three and a half toolboxes, I think that the “best” method, would have been drilling holes at each inside corner. Instead, I twisted and wiggled out the metal, and used a file to clean up the corner.
20160121_213731Here’s my tool tray blank. All of the fold lines are marked, and it’s sitting on top of my tool tray handle. I didn’t get good shots of how we did the handles. They were definitely easier than the body of the tool tray. To go from that flat sheet of metal, to a three dimensional tool tray, requires a sheet metal brake.

20160121_221810Here’s Toba setting up to do his bends. NegativeK found that our brake won’t do seams well. As if that would stop us. We all ended up using a hammer to finish those folds.

Those folds were simple in description, but not so simple in practice. None of ours look machine made. But they do hide the sharp edges, and make the tool trays safe to use.
20160121_231527The handles, and sides were affixed to each other with the space’s spot welder.

Spot welding is a very quick method for joining metal. I’m glad we’ve got that tool in the space. I had suggested that we might rivet the parts together, but between drilling and attempting to rivet, we’d have spent two or three times longer affixing the parts together.

The welds also have the air of “professionally made.” Or at least “not in a garage” made.

20160121_232535At the end of the night, Here’s what we had. TachoKnight, Toba, NegativeK, and My boxes.
20160121_232418In the future, we won’t put the short guy furthest from the camera.

 

22

01 2016

NERP Tonite! systemd with Bonnie King

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.

Bonnie King is a Linux Administrator at Fermilab and works on the Scientific Linux distribution. At Nerp tonight, Bonnie will give us a tour of systemd. If you work with embedded linux, this is must have, must know material.

The architecture of systemd as it is used by Tizen. Several components, including telephony, bootmode, dlog and tizen service, are from Tizen and are not components of systemd

The architecture of systemd as it is used by Tizen. Several components, including telephony, bootmode, dlog and tizen service, are from Tizen and are not components of systemd

“Linux” is the kernel of an operating system. You generally can’t see it, feel it or touch it directly, but you know it’s there by what it does. At boot, the kernel launches “init”, the process with Process ID number 1. Everything else is started by by init. On my computer, init, PID 1 is /lib/systemd/systemd. systemd is “new”, sort of. It’s been around for several years, but has recently taken over lots of core system functions that have been provided by some very traditional Unix-based tools and utilities. When I look under the hood of my Ubuntu system, it looks very different than it did a couple of years ago. What goes for the desktop goes for embedded, too.

from http://freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/systemd/
“systemd is a suite of basic building blocks for a Linux system. It provides a system and service manager that runs as PID 1 and starts the rest of the system. systemd provides aggressive parallelization capabilities, uses socket and D-Bus activation for starting services, offers on-demand starting of daemons, keeps track of processes using Linux control groups, supports snapshotting and restoring of the system state, maintains mount and automount points and implements an elaborate transactional dependency-based service control logic. systemd supports SysV and LSB init scripts and works as a replacement for sysvinit. Other parts include a logging daemon, utilities to control basic system configuration like the hostname, date, locale, maintain a list of logged-in users and running containers and virtual machines, system accounts, runtime directories and settings, and daemons to manage simple network configuration, network time synchronization, log forwarding, and name resolution.”

A number of influential people in the Linux community have strong philosophical and practical differences with the design of systemd and the way in which it’s become ubiquitous across distros. Nevertheless, mainstream Linux continues to move toward systemd and away from System V and BSD init. systemd is installed by default in Ububntu since ver 15.04. (April 2015). If you work with Linux at a low level, for instance in embedded applications, a knowledge of systemd is a must have.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at

NERP – Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

Chicago, IL
399 members

NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station One in Chicago. (Chicago’s oldest and finest hackerspace.) NERP…

Next Meetup

Bring questions, demos, personal research, etc. to share.

Monday, Jan 18, 2016, 7:00 PM
10 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

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, Linux,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Pumping Station One

18

01 2016