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Chicago’s Inaugural Group Telepresence Experimentation Event

This weekend, starting Friday May 23 at 8pm and continuing until Sunday May 25 at noon, Chicago will have its very first TeleHackathon.

Join the members of Pumping Station: One and South Side Hackerspace: Chicago in connecting our respective spaces in innovative, ridiculous and primarily useless ways. Imagine a lamp in one building with no apparent switch – yet it toggles on and off at random. That’s because it’s an IP lamp! The switch is at the other hackerspace!

Almost, but not entirely unlike, this!

Come out for the whole thing or a few hours, we’d love to see you here (or there! It’s the internet!) Make a thing talk to another thing that’s somewhere else, learn about internet communications, or just get your hack on. See you there!

 

-Derek

19

05 2014

V Carve Pro Class

vcarvepro

The Shopbot will arrive soon.  Do you want to get a jump on the certification?  Come to the V Carve Pro training class.   V Carve Pro is the software that ships with the Shopbot.  It is a easy to learn and powerful tool that can probably meet most of your CNC machining needs for the Shopbot.

We will start with creating designs, whether you create them outside V Carve and import them or you create them in the software itself.  We will then go over creating the tool paths for the Shopbot.  We will go over selecting bit sizes, bit types and strategies to get the best results.

image11

The class will be loosely structured, so questions can be asked at any time.  The class is open to PS:One members and people thinking about becoming a PS:One member.  It will be limited to about 20 people, so please reserve your spot via the Meetup page

Where: Pumping Station One, Electronics area

When: Thursday May 22, 2014 at 7:00pm

Duration: At least an hour.

 

11

05 2014

Mini Maker Faire – or “How I annoyed hundreds of people”

On March 26th, our PR director forwarded an email to one of our mailing lists. This email detailed the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, which was to happen in a little over a month. I decided that PS:1 needed to have a presence there, and it couldn’t just be a booth with some folks sitting behind it talking about hackerspaces all day.  An electronic project was very much within my skillset, but I didn’t want it to become yet another ‘how to solder’ class — they had one or two of those already. I wanted something that could be assembled quickly and offered a chance to talk about electronics if the assembler was interested. If they weren’t, they should have a fun doodad to walk away with.

2014-04-30 18.57.30

The final revision of the board art

I needed a project, something that would engage kids and adults. Something that was easy to assemble, cheap and offered a chance to learn a little bit about electronics (but didn’t require it!). I recalled a field trip I went on in high school. We went to an engineering firm or something, and they had us assemble little crystal radios on card stock. There were just four components that twisted together on the back, then you hooked up the crystal earset and bam! crappy radio.  I settled on a crappy optical theremin – using a photoresistor to modulate the pitch of a buzzer.2014-04-27 20.28.52 Thinking about it, I decided I could probably manage something pretty cool with five components or less if I used a microcontroller of some sort. I settled on the Atmel ATTiny45, which is an AVR in an 8 pin DIP package. Some clever folks have already ported the Arduino libraries to work on these small chips, so all I had to do was come up with a design and write a few lines of code. I won’t bore you with excessive details, you can check out the github repo.

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I had a number of parents and teachers assemble kits, too.

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Justin helping someone out

I learned a lot with this project, and  I think some other people did too. I had kids as young as 5 assemble these boards with guidance, some of them with surprisingly little help. Everyone seemed to like them, and I ran out of components for kits. I’m calling it a huge success, and I hope that this project is replicated and taken to other faires, expos and ‘learn electronics’ nights.   –Derek

08

05 2014

U Can Has BeagleBone Black (but only one).

 BeagleBoard_Boris_Tux

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer 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 BeagleBone Black is a small single board computer in the same vein as the Raspberry Pi. The two boards are similar in appearance and composition but different in style. Both boards are based on 32-bit ARM-based processors. The Beagle’s is more recent and faster. The RPi is designed as a teaching platform that happens to have very nice graphics and video, but not much i/o. The Beagle’s graphics are wanting, but it has tons of i/o on the board. The Pi is more polished than the Beagle, in that what’s supposed to work usually does. The Beagle is more suited (for the moment) to dirty-fingernails hackers who enjoy hardware for its own sake.

One thing the two boards have in common is that their first manufacturing runs sold out quickly. It’s been weeks since there were any BeagleBone Blacks to be had for sale. (People have been hoarding them as OEM parts for their startup projects.) In the last few days, BeagleBone Blacks have been trickling out of CircuitCo’s production line. There are about 47,600 boards in the pipe, but you’re allowed to buy only one. http://specialcomp.com/beaglebone/ has them now for $45.00 each.

It’s time to give the BeagleBone Black another look at NERP.

Tonight we’ll go over some of the getting started routine, and have a peek under the hood of the Bonescript, the Beagle’s Arduino-like programming environment built on Node.js.

It’s time to give the BeagleBone Black another look at NERP.

Tonight we’ll go over some of the getting started routine, and have a peek under the hood of the Bonescript, the Beagle’s Arduino-like programming environment built on Node.js.

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. The next meeting is April28th, 2014. 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

 

 

28

04 2014

Tonight at NERP: Movement detection with Motion


NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer 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.

To do make a security-cam type device with a Raspberry Pi or a Beagle Bone, the software must run on Linux. There are several computer vision based motion detection applications available for Linux. The OpenCV framework can be used to build Computer Vision applications that do heavy mathematical operation on streams in real time. (It also can be used to draw colored shapes on your screen.) If the versatility of OpenCV isn’t needed for a simple camera app there are a number of movement detection and recording applications to choose from. One of the oldest is Motion. Motion is command line driven. It produces its output as a browser viewable video images, stills, and a few control output options. In contrast with writing applications using OpenCV, it’s very simple to unbox and and fire up Motion. With its simplicity comes limited versatility, but it might be suited to your CV needs.

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. The next meeting is March 3rd, 2014. 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

14

04 2014

Digital Game Night, 4.5.14

This Saturday it’s time to bring the pain…the childhood pain we all experienced playing video games never to see their ending. It’s time to pick up the controllers, yell at a screen, and speedrun through the night spanning Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Xbox 360 arcade games. The whole night starts with a round of You Don’t Know Jack where the winner gets to decide the first console/game of the night (from there on group votes will decide.)

This event is available to all members of PS:One and begins at 7pm in electronics. See you there!

03

04 2014

CNC Build Club: 32-Bit Controllers for CNC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32-Bit CNC Controllers are making a strong showing lately.  I have several that I can show, compare and trace to roots of at this week’s CNC Build Club (Thursday 4/3/2014 @ 7:00pm)

TinyG

The TinyG has been around for a few years.  It can be purchased here.  It started as an XMega firmware/hardware project, that has been morphing into a cross process solution.  The basic TinyG is the XMega on their own hardware with 4 on board stepper drivers. It has very advanced motion control algorithms, including constant jerk.   The project is open source and on Github.

tinyg

 

TinyG2

The second, but less popular format, the TinyG2, is running on a standard Arduino Due with a driver shield.  Here is it shown with a gShield.

 

 

 

tinyg_due

 

Smootieboard

 

The other popular 32 Bit CNC controller is he Smoothie project.  After about a year of prototypes they did a popular Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter is over and delivered and you can buy the hardware.  The project is open source.  Most of the motion control is based on a port of GRBL.  The project details are here and the GitHub repo is here.  The project supports 3D printers, laser (cutting only) and CNC routers.

smoothieboard

Azteeg X5 Mini

This is the Azteeg x5 mini.  It is a another hardware solution for Smoothieware.  It is available for sale here.

AX5MINI-2

 

 

 

03

04 2014

Caught in the Shop

I was walking through the shop tonight and saw something awesome happening. I took some crappy photos to show you (and I’m not sorry about it!).

That's a big piece of metal

Our Cold Metals area host, Mike, holding a big piece of metal. He’s going to turn it into a smaller piece of metal.

DSC_5730

Mike and Dean work on centering the piece.

DSC_5723

This is the part they’re trying to reproduce. This is a pulley for our new(ish) Johnson horizontal band saw. You’ll note that it’s bent. It’s also incorrectly sized, so there’s a bushing that’s been inserted that you can’t see. This bushing has no key, so the pulley was fairly noisy and inefficient.

 

 

25

03 2014

Adding digital speed indication to a drill press.

There’s a big bin of 5 digit, 7-segment displays sitting in our electronics lab. It’s the sort of thing that cries out for a project. I found one that’s the perfect shape for a digital speed readout for our big drill press, whose mechanical RPM indicator was broken.

2014-02-16 18.26.53

Testing out the display PCB. It’s got 3 16 bit shift registers.

The display was pretty simple to reverse-engineer. There’s a header on the back that’s connected directly to the relevant pins on the first shift register. Apply power, fire up a basic sketch built around shiftOut(), and away we go.

2014-03-10 21.16.13

My test rig, showing that the RPMs pretty close.

My code (patches welcome!) is not terribly complex. Basically I use a Hall effect sensor to trigger an interrupt every time a magnet glued to a wheel in the drill press passes. The time between interrupts is used to calculate RPM.

2014-03-13 21.25.16

Magnet + Hall effect sensor.

All told, I spent maybe four or five hours on this project. It’s probably the simplest possible solution to the problem, and my total investment is less than $10 in parts. And we’ve got an accurate readout of the speed of this big drill press.

2014-03-13 18.49.28

Complete system.

I’m out

-loans

13

03 2014

NERP: At Last — A JavaScript MCU!

NERP: At Last — A JavaScript MCU!

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer 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.

It was time, perhaps past time for a JavaSscript microcontroller to appear. Tonight Drew Fustini will show us a high-level overview of the Espruino. The Espruino controller board is just emerging from Kickstarter and can be ordered through one of their distributors. http://www.espruino.com/
Lots of people know JavaScript and its programming environment, and many of those people could be convinced to try their hand at using a microcontroller if they could use their preferred programming language – in a Web IDE. This is important stuff, but the really striking thing is that event-driven processes are now in easy reach of people who need the capability but don’t want to learn a real time operating system. A very common question people in their first hour of Arduino programming will ask is “Now how do I blink two LED’s?”. Having spent a lot of time teaching Arduino 101, I can say that it’s always an awkward moment when you say “Well, you can, but it’s really involved”. JavaScript combined with a bit of Arduino vernacular solves the problem in a way that might be expected in an event-driven system. It’s wonderfully short and simple. Snagged and slightly edited from the espruio.com site:

function toggle1() {
on1 = !on1;
digitalWrite(LED1, on1);
}

function toggle2() {
on2 = !on2;
digitalWrite(LED2, on2);
}

setInterval(toggle1, 400);
setInterval(toggle2, 456);

Each time you called setInterval(), it returned a different number. If you want to change how fast the interval runs (or cancel it altogether) you need to use this number:
changeInterval(1,1000);
or
clearInterval(1);
[end quote]

Almost predictably the CPU is an ARM M-series like so many other of the 32-bit MCU convenience platforms. For instance an M3 type is used in the Espruino and an M4 type is used in the Teensy 3.1. It is unclear to me whether portability of code will carry across different chip makers, but the M3 vs M4 difference per se may not matter. From Element14's community site:

...most features of the Cortex-M3 and M4 are the same with the significant difference that Cortex-M4 has DSP extensions and an optional FPU. There is nearly no need for modification of hardware and software to migrate from M3 to M4. [http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-36208/l/migrating-from-cortex-m3-to-cortex-m4-by-element14 ]


Like the relationship between the Arduino and the ATMega MCU’s from Atmel, there is an Espruino board and Espruino libraries. Also similarly, the libraries are open source and theoretically portable to other boards using the same or similar chip. Some possibilities labeled as “unsupported” are listed on the Espruino site.
Will it become common to pick your ARM board and then pick your development system?

–----------

Also tonight, Ed will talk about some of the issues in making a clock that uses a funky, antique digital display called a “one-plane readout”.

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. The next meeting is March 3rd, 2014. 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

03

03 2014