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NERP: Open Hardware Summit report and discussion

Tonight at NERP,  Drew and Ed will report on the highlights of the 2013 Open Hardware Summit, which was held last Friday on the campus of MIT. The importance of the OHS gathering is hard to exaggerate. At OHS, the business, philosophy, and technology of open source hardware are synthesized by leaders in there fields. It’s also a lot of fun, and there are posters and demos as well.

NERP is not exclusively raspberry pi, the small computer interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One
NERP meets at 7pm 9-9-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.
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, Element14

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09 2013

Pi on the Road


Tonight at NERP, Craig LeMoyne will be giving a demonstration of Adafruit’s Ultimate GPS module for the Raspberry Pi. To get a preview of the fun stuff that you can do with it, check out his blog at

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


NERP meets at 7pm 8-12-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.
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, Element14




08 2013

Giant Coil Sculpture at Hyde Park Art Center



You may have seen me (with amazing help from Madeleine Klichowski, Dan Locks, Matt Triano, and Pipefitter Dave) hard at work on some very curious looking objects (like a giant coil) in the shop and electronics lab. Well, finally, we’re done– it’s new kinetic sculpture and it’s now installed at the Hyde Park Art Center, for a group show opening Saturday, Aug 10, with a reception from 3-5pm.

2013-08-06 11.02.25 Red Ball Install


The show will also feature a 10 foot wide version of Red Rubber Bands (pictured below in smaller form). The new version looks AWESOME (and I’ll be sharing photos as soon as I get them).

RRB 1697 opp

Even more fun, Maker Camp interviewed me about the sculptures this week. (Also participating, circuit bender Patrick McCarthy.)

YouTube Preview Image

So, if you’re around Hyde Park tomorrow, please stop by the reception from 3-5pm. Or come check it out any time during normal gallery hours til September 21, when we’ll close the show with a public critique.

(If you’d like more info on my sculpture, check out my website.)


Jesse Seay



08 2013

Build a Light Theramin with Moldover this Saturday!


Hey musically inclinded members of hackerspace and surrounding community. Want to build something that you can put to use in two hours? Then come on by this Saturday (8.10.13) at 2pm for Build a Light Theramin with Moldover!

In this basic soldering workshop, Moldover will take you through the steps to build your own Light-Theremin CD case ( Even if you’ve never soldered before, this workshop will give you the confidence in two hours.  If you do have experience you’ll learn how to solder more efficiently, and walk away with a fun and unique instrument – plus a copy of Moldover’s latest album!

This workshop starts at 2pm, entry is free, open to the public, and the kit will cost $25 to purchase. Seats are limited to 20 so to reserve your spot hit up PS:One and Moldover on Twitter (@PumpingStation1 + @Moldover) or email me (the author of this post)


08 2013

Raspberry Pi (Rob Bishop), Aug 6th @ PS1

Raspberry Pi


This upcoming Tuesday (August 6th) at 7pm, Rob Bishop from the Raspberry Pi team will be swinging by for a evening of nonstop Pi goodness! This event is free and open to the general public.

Rob Bishop was the FIRST technical employee at Raspberry Pi and is currently one of two full time software engineers. Alongside his engineering responsibilities, Rob also acts as an “evangelist” and works to promote the educational mission of the Foundation.

An engineer and evangelist for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, he’ll be presenting a talk entitled “Raspberry Pi – One Year On” that will cover both the origin story of the Raspberry Pi as well as outlining recent developments. The talk will present technical information about the Raspberry Pi alongside a discussion of the Foundation’s educational aims.

Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for an in-depth Q&A on both educational and technical matters.


08 2013

PS:One Orientation twice this week: Sunday at 4pm and Wednesday at 7pm

Hammering glowing iron on an anvil

Photo by Mr. T in DC

PS:One orientation (previously known as N00bs’ Paradise) is happening twice this week: Sunday at 4pm and Wednesday at 7pm in the downstairs lounge.

Never been, but want to learn more about PS:One?
New member?
Old member, but want to know all the secrets of the inner workings of PS:One?
Want to get certified, but don’t know how?
Want to doocritize, but haven’t even heard of do-ocracy?
Then this event is FOR YOU!
Free, open to all event – just show up at 4pm on Sunday the 23rd or 7pm on Wednesday the 26th and we’ll take care of you.

You’ll learn:

  • the one and only rule you need to remember at PS:One!
  • what mailing lists and IRC channels you should join
  • how to get discounts on classes, tee-shirts, stuff around town, and even monthly dues!
  • how to get certified on equipment
  • how to donate equipment to PS:One
  • how to create a class, event, group, meeting, or what have you
  • how to request a class, event, group, whatever
  • how to blog
  • the wiki.
  • do-ocracy and how to do-ocratize things

The basics:

  • Who: anyone who wants to learn more about PS:One and how it works
  • When: Sunday June 23rd, 4 pm until about 6pm AND Wednesday, June 26th 7pm until about 9pm.
  • Where: PS:One 1st floor lounge
  • Cost: free

Here are the class notes – please feel free to read beforehand (Note: these notes are nota good substitute for class attendance).


06 2013

Math Office Hours, this Sunday from 5 to 7

Once again, x has gone missing. Help us find him!

Join us for an evening of math and learning. There’ll be spheres and equations and integrals, (oh my!). We’re open to anyone looking to brush up on basic skills and to those who want to learn a bit about advanced topics. We’ll be talking about set theory, topology, linear algebra, logic, geometry, and anything else that comes up.

All levels of math skill are welcome. Whether there’s something from grade school you never understood, or you’ve always been fascinated by something a bit beyond you, come and ask. Got a homework question? We can help! Working through a tricky problem for a project? We’ll think it through with you. Confused as to how anyone could ever like math? We’ll do our best to convey the elegance and beauty of the subject.

Show and Tell

At the start of this week’s Math Office Hours, we’ll be doing show and tell. If you have a math topic you’re interested in, come tell us about it.

Last week’s talks included:

  • Non-Euclidean Geometry, the discovery that Euclid’s ancient laws of geometry work just as well on a curved surface such as a saddle or a sphere if you reject the parallel postulate.
  • A proof that given two complex numbers, the magnitude of their product is the product of their magnitudes.
  • A Math Olympiad challenge: Given two primes p and q, show that 24 is a divisor of p^2 – q^2.
  • Manifolds, a basic example of charts and change-of-coordinate maps. The configuration space of a double pendulum as an example of a non-physical manifold.

Whos, Whens, and Wheres

  • Who - Anyone who wants to learn about math
  • Where - PS:One, second floor, in the electronics area
  • When - Sunday, June 23th, 5pm until 7pm
  • How much - Free


06 2013

Tracing vintage patterns with the big sewing and pattern drafting table

The sewing surface of the table uncovered.

The craft and textiles area at PS:One is visually dominated by an eight foot by four foot table.   The table is a handy work surface for projects of all kinds, but the main reason it is so large is so you can lay out long, full widths of fabric for sewing. 

It usually looks something like this, covered up by a protective heavy grey vinyl tablecloth:

Table in it's normal state

Underneath is a clean, firm, pin-able and iron-tolerant surface perfect for working with flat patterns, even for long dresses with full skirts, and laying out quilts.

Tables like these are used in theatrical costume shops, custom bridal gown workshops and custom drapery shops.  It was easy to build, I just made a basic table with bolt-on legs and a sheet of plywood, stacked a sheet of Homasote on top and wrapped the whole thing in stapled cloth.

Not only is a cloth-covered table like this perfect for straightening the grain of the cloth before cutting, it is perfect for drafting sewing patterns and grading because you can pin the paper down so it won’t move.  And it is a phenomenal tool for tracing existing patterns.

Pattern ready for tracing

Here, I have a vintage blouse pattern from the 1940′s.   The paper is so old and fragile it is starting to tear.  Rather than potentially ruining the antique original by using it, I traced a copy of it before going any further.

To do this, I laid the pattern out on the table and ironed it very lightly with a cool, dry iron to flatten it.  Next, I laid large pieces of tracing paper over it which I pinned down to the table at the corners.  I also put pattern weights over the pattern to help keep it flat and ensure it wouldn’t move.  Then I just traced it out.  It beats the heck out of trying to do it on the floor, or on a too-small table!

Traced out pattern piece

Yes, I use big washers for pattern weights.  Originally I was going to cover them with cloth so they’d be more grippy, but I love that I can store them easily this way.

Washers for pattern weights, stored on a big bolt.


05 2013

CNC Build Club

ABS Smoothing

Image via Boing boing via

When: Thursday, 2013-05-30 @ 7:00pm.

There is no special topic or speaker for this week’s meeting, but here are a few things we will be doing.

  • Member Certifications: Colin, Steve and I can certify on various pieces of CNC equipment including the Laser Cutter, Vinyl Cutter, 3D printers and CNC Router.
  • ABS Smoothing: Donald J is hopefully going to bring in his acetone vapor chamber for ABS print smoothing.  Bring your ABS parts and a any spare fire extinguishers you have.
  • DSP Stepper driver tuning. I now have a programming cable for the drivers.  We play with and learn about the benefits of stepper driver tuning.
  • Another group, gonzo CNC build? It might be fun to plan another gonzo build.  We could kick around some ideas to try to build in one night again.  I think a simple inverse kinematic (oxymoron?) project might be fun.  Eventually I want to do a six axis machine, but it might be good to get our feet wet with a non Cartesian 2 axis draw bot.  If you have other ideas, please suggest them.

I can bring in a few sample of V carving.  We might do that the following week.


Please RSVP via Meetup if you are coming.



05 2013

Birthday party wrapup

I know it’s a bit late but now that we’ve recovered a bit from the party I wanted to do a wrap up post.  We had a ton of people come through to celebrate, members and guests, old and new.  Thanks for coming and helping us raise money for the new kitchen!  I hope you had as great a time as we did!

YouTube Preview Image
Eric's on the spot extraction demo was a big hit.  Photo credit: @clocksailor

Eric’s on the spot extraction demo was a big hit. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Getting them hooked early.  Photo credit: @clocksailor

Getting them hooked early. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Make.  Hack.  Craft. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Make. Hack. Craft. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Picking locks. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Picking locks. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Reppin' the nerd life. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Reppin’ the nerd life.

Yeah, that's a trumpet. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Yeah, that’s a trumpet. Photo credit: @clocksailor

Photo credit: @clocksailor

Do you have pictures from the party?  Add them to our flickr pool or post them on our FaceBook page.


05 2013