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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

Impossible Game Night! Saturday @ 8pm


This Saturday (5.25) PS:1 will be holding a free members only event dedicated to playing (and possibly beating) some of the most difficult games on Xbox 360 around. Some titles you can expect to find are the classics like Mortal Kombat 2 (SNES), and Street Fighter 2 (SNES). But for some up to date titles – Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360), Monaco (Xbox 360), and the maddeningly brilliant, Braid (Xbox 360). But for the sake of fun and not entirely causing your brain to explode things like Castle Crashers, Battleblock Theater, and Geometry Wars will also be available.

This event will be held in electronics from 8pm to however long the group can endure. We’ll also be taking advantage of the whiteboards as you can expect dissection of game strategy, group plotting the next move, and making sense of the chaos in above picture.

When: 8pm
Where: PS:One, electronics
What to expect: Yelling, kicking, and screaming


05 2013

Party time is coming up fast!

PS: One’s fourth birthday party is coming up soon!  We’re going to have tons of cool projects to show off along with food, drinks and live music!  Don’t forget to RSVP and invite your friends!


Because, party

When: May 4th, 7PM – Demos and reception; 10PM – Live music!
Where: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N. Elston (near Addison and Kedzie)
Cost: $10 for non-members (pay online if you like –

We’ll have some of our awesome projects and demonstrations on display for you, so come check them out! We’ll have:

  • Souped-up Power Wheels Racers
  • DIY Quadcopter
  • Brain-based Jacob’s Ladder
  • WindowFarm
  • Other cool things!

It wouldn’t be a real hackerspace party if there wasn’t some good ol’ fashioned hacking going on:

  • Make art with lasers!
  • Silkscreen your own art poster!
  • Learn to solder and walk away with your very own blinkie badge!
  • Print your first object using one of our 3D printers

We’ll have liquid refreshments and some light snacks. Later on we’ll have music and a light up LED birthday cake.

All funds will go to helping us build out our new kitchen area.


04 2013




I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from the NERP FPGA workshop we did a couple weeks back.  There were a few people who asked me to post the Verilog code that went along with the two demos we did.  I added comments to the Verilog files in an attempt to clear up a lot of the stuff we cruised through to avoid turning this purely into a Verilog class.  The most useful comments will be in the VGA controller module we wrote: vga640x480.v.  Anyway, all the required project files to synthesize the logic we wrote are right here:

The software we used to build everything is the Xilinx ISE WebPACK 13.4.  You have to register with Xilinx and generate/download a license on their website to use the software.  Just remember that the above project will only work on the Digilent Nexys2-1200 board that I was using.

If you’re interested in grabbing a budget board for messing around with FPGAs or CPLDs, there are a few notable options:

  1. Papilio One
  2. CoolRunner-II
  3. DE0-Nano
  4. Basys2
  5. XuLA-200
  6. BORA

Also, thanks to Drew Fustini for the lovely photos you ‘re seeing above.  Actually, this whole FPGA thing was Drew’s idea.  So, if you were really itching to do some Raspberry Pi that week and walked in to find a bunch of nerds talking about programmable logic gates, then all your blame should be focused towards him.  On the other hand, if you enjoyed this FPGA crash-course you should thank him for that and any subsequent class/workshop he forces me to do.



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