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International Tabletop Game Day!

International tabletop day

International Tabletop Day

If you haven’t heard about it, please visit for info.

This Saturday, the 30th, will be an international game day event! Want to play some creative, imaginitive games? Want to have some home brewed beer and some tasty snaks while you do so? How about hanging out with some awesomely geeky people? Analog Game Night is the event to do all of that in one awesome hackerspace! Got an old favorite or something you just bought at a Tabletop Day event at your local game store, or maybe a game you designed at home and want to bask in the overwhelming geeky glory you so deserve? Bring it and play it with all of us at Pumping Station: One!

When: This Saturday, the 30th, at 5pm
Where: Pumping Station: One


03 2013

NERP Tonight! FPGA’s with Ste

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

Ste Kulov (like “steve” without the “ve”) is the signal processing guru of Pumping Station:One. He’s also a great teacher who’s enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of the theory and practice of analog and digital circuit design. Tonight Ste will show NERP what FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips do and how to use the chip manufacturers’ development tools.

FPGA’s are very fast logic chips that can perform better than microprocessor CPU’s in a number of high throughput applications. FPGA’s are programmable, but FPGA programs aren’t necessarily seqences of instruction like a C program would be. In fact, on an FPGA you can “write” a CPU. All the cool kids are learning to use FPGA’s, and you should, too!

Tonight’s agenda from Ste:
1.) What are FPGAs & CPLDs and what do they do?
2.) Why would you want to use one?
3.) Explain how you would program one using a hardware description
language such as VHDL or Verilog.
4.) Go over a quick Verilog example & demo of displaying “NERP” on the
4-digit 7-segment display on my dev board.
5.) With the remaining time, demo off my Nintendo DS video output
project to illustrate the neat stuff you can do with these things.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 3-25-13 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


03 2013

NERP tonight with Drew: Beagle Bone and Pi Face


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

Tonight Drew Fustini will demo the Beagle Bone.

BeagleBone ( is an open source, low-cost
credit-card-sized Linux computer that connects with the Internet and runs
software such as Android 4.0 and Ubuntu.

BeagleBone is capable of interfacing to all of your robotics motor
drivers, location or pressure sensors and 2D or 3D cameras. It can also run
OpenCV, OpenNI and other image collection and analysis software.

Through HDMI, VGA or LCD expansion boards, it is capable of decoding and
displaying mutliple video formats utilizing a completely open source software
stack and synchronizing playback over Ethernet or USB with other BeagleBoards.

Drew will also hit the high points of a Raspberry Pi interface board called the
Pi Face (

Pi-Face Digital is the first of a range of interfaces to allow the Raspberry Pi
to control and manipulate the real world. It allows the Raspberry Pi to read
switches connected to it – a door sensor or pressure pad perhaps, a microswitch
or reed switch, or a hand held button. With appropriate easy to write code, the
Raspberry Pi then drives outputs, powering motors, actuator, LEDs, light bulbs
or anything you can imagine to respond to the inputs.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 3-11-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in
Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.

Ed Bennett


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

Analog Game Night: RPG Edition

This coming game night on Saturday the 2nd will be a special edition event! As usual, a variety of games will be provided for those who do not wish to participate in the larger game, but the main focus will be on a Quickstart [a small RPG campaign that can take place in one night] for the World of Darkness Roleplaying system titled “Nightmare at Hill Manor”. I plan on going all out on this game, bringing a few minor props to interact with, optional maps for reference, and even a soundtrack for a few selected events!

If you plan on joining in on the game, I have pre-made characters available, but, really, it’s more fun to make your own. Here is the World of Darkness system overview, including how to make a character, and here is a character sheet for you to download, print, fill out, and bring to the game for reference! Here’s what all the players, and characters, need to know at the start:

the spirit insideJanice Poole from 3C is late setting up your apartment complex’s bi-weekly poker night due to the ongoing construction on the road outside the building. She seems like a bit of a busybody, but after talking with her in passing a few times, you’ve decided that, really, her personal questions and insistence of inter-apartmental socializing is just her way of trying to make this old apartment complex feel like home for everyone.
She dragged you into a poker night a few months back with the promise of free food and a chance to win a little pocket cash. And, even if it wasn’t really your thing at the start, you’ve found yourself coming back each time for some reason or another.
The other regulars at poker night are people you see in the halls of the apartment complex from time to time. A polite nod, or a wave hello is about the extent of interaction you usually get when you are away from the poker table.
As you all settle in for your friendly game, you get the feeling that something is off about tonight, the air just feels wrong. But you shake it off as just another feeling of paranoia that everyone gets from time to time and go on with your game, soon forgetting about it.

And then the trap falls shut…


02 2013

Analog Signal Processing – Class Knowtes



Thanks to all who showed up on Monday night (Feb 18th, 2013) for the signal processing class.  It was a lot of material to cover in one night, but I hope everyone at least learned (and retained) something.  I was asked by several people to post my lecture notes online so people can review them.  It took me awhile to go through my notes and clear them up (somewhat) for someone besides me reading through them.  Also, I had to erase and rewrite a bunch of stuff because they were too close to the edges and were being cut off by my scanner.  So that’s why it took so long.  Anyway, here are the notes, the notes for the pre-class Math Review, and the 8-page info packet that I passed out during class:




Now that the class is over, the next thing to do is figure out what class to teach next.  I noticed that many of the attendees enjoyed the filter design example we went over.  Perhaps we could do a short class on some practical Analog Filter Synthesis?  Some people have “thumbsed-up” the idea for doing a class on learning how to use LTSpice to build schematics & simulate circuits.  Recently, I’ve been reverse-engineering schematics from double-sided printed circuit boards in older consumer electronics.  I could demonstrate some techniques on how to do that.  Another idea is moving directly past the Analog Signal Processing class and going right into Digital Signal Processing.  All the same topics from analog appear in digital such as convolution, impulse response, frequency response, & transfer functions.  Except most of the integrals become discrete summations when in the digital domain.  There are neat topics specific to digital such as FIR filters and sample rate conversion, which I think are the most interesting.  Actually, the website Coursera just started a DSP class this week.  If you were at Monday’s class, the Coursera course should be much easier since most of the topics are similar, like I described above.  Check it out.

If you have any feedback on Monday’s class, ideas for other electronics classes, or any other comment, then please let us know.  If you see me at Pumping Station: One and remember what I look like, then feel free to talk to me in person.



02 2013

Build a blinkie night @ Pumping Station: One

Dale Sulak, Dwayne Forsyth and friends from 2DKits will be in for a night
of blinkie building fun!


This is where you get to build one of those LED flashing things.

You start with the kit, use the tools we have in the room. When you are
done, you will have a working blinkie. We have blinkie Techs to help you
debug any problems.

The folks at MuseCon are sponsoring their “Atomic Musecon” kit for
attendees for FREE! We have have the full range of 2DKits from
beginners to advance including the 4x4x4 RGB Cube, ranging from $5 to $80.

We do allow and encourage children to build their parent’s blinkie,
but the parent has to stick around and learn about the process.

When: Friday March 1 , 6:30pm to 9:00pm
Cost: Free
Open to the public: Yes


02 2013

Circuit Bending eSymposium Saturday 2/16 at 12 pm

Speak-n-spell + RockBand guitar. Seen at

This Saturday, join Patrick McCarthy and Chicago area circuit benders for a fun approach to learning electronics.

For Beginners:
Merging music, art, and electronics, Circuit-bending is a hands-on, gratifying way to hack circuits by which you can transform a sound-emitting toy into an alien musical instrument. All you need is a battery-powered electronic toy and a few basic tools. Make sure the device you bring has lights or sound, and can be triggered easily. A sound effects box or a toy piano are good choices, a game that must be played is not. Do not bring anything that uses AC voltage.

If you’re an experienced circuit bender and want to show off your work, please attend and bring your instruments!

There is no fee for this event.


02 2013

NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi Monday 2/11 @ 7pm

This NERP, Drew Fustini will show us how to WebIDE to program the Raspberry Pi. WebIDE is free from Adafruit. Put simply, “The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is by far the easiest way to run code on your Raspberry Pi. Just connect your Pi to your local network, and log on to the WebIDE in your web browser to edit Python, Ruby, JavaScript, or anything and easily send it over to your Pi.” Drew will use a Pi Plate RGB 16×2 character “Pi Plate” as the output device.

At the 1/28 NERP, we announced that the Adafruit Industries community grants people intended to send us a care package with Raspberry Pi goodies. The package arrived last week, and rather than opening it right away I thought it would be nice to share the surprise on Monday. It’ll be fun to see what kinds of ideas come out of the box and what kinds of projects they might inspire.

As always, if you have a NERP related project that you’d like to share, bring
it along!

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 2-11-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.


02 2013

International G+ Hangout & Speakers Event: Taipei Hackerspace, Pumping Station: One edition

This is going to be one of the odder events held at Pumping Station: One so far. It’s a 6 hour hangout from 8PM CST to 2AM CST (yes, timezones are crazy!) with people physically located in Taipei, Taiwan; Chicago, USA; San Francisco, USA; Wisconsin, USA, and probably a few other places!

The purpose is to bring people together from all over the world to show the people of Taipei what a hackerspace can do for them, and why it’s so cool that one is coming to their city very soon!

I’m personally giving a talk for a few minutes about how life changing finding hackerspaces can be, and how important their social aspects are. It’s a tall order to talk after the other two speakers, and I hope I can even remotely compare to them. Inter-space social activities like this and so many other things online allow our culture to transfer amazing ideas from far across the globe with so very little friction.

Below is the description by Taipei Hackerspace, the event’s organizer.

First Hackerspace event – (and accidentally Groundhog Day too)

The purpose of this event is to get people interested in joining the first ever hackerspace in Taipei. We will be gauging interest in the hackerspace to help us select a large enough space that we can afford to open. This will also be a chance for the organizers to meet people that can help us find the perfect space. Our goal is to have the space ready for a Hack the Hackerspace event by the time Maker Faire Taiwan arrives in May.


10:00am Doors open
10:30am – 10:50am Speaker: Mitch Altman – The Philosophy of Hackerspaces
10:50am – 11:10am Speaker: Ben Heck – 3D Printing and Hardware Modding
11:10am – 11:30am Speaker: Eric Stein – Creativity in the Hackerspaces
11:30am – 12:00pm Speaker: Open floor – Hackerspace members answer questions
12:00pm – 16:00pm Learning stations open
16:00pm Doors close


Google+ Hangouts
The will be a main G+ Hangout that hackerspaces from around the world can join as a group. This will be displayed on the main screens at the event as well as smaller screen throughout the event. Local people will be able to interact with the members of the hackerspaces. This hangout will also be broadcast On Air.

Learning Stations
Each of the 4 learning stations will have a public G+ Hangout so anyone can join in to learn or teach. Each station will cover one topic that can be completed in about 30 minutes. Each station will have room for 4-6 local participants. The topics will be “Learning to Solder”, “Getting started with Arduino”, “Clothes Hacking”, and an open topic for the last station.


The Speakers

Mitch Altman (PUBLIC)
A co-founder of Noisebridge, a hackerspace in San Francisco, and a pioneer of Virtual reality. Mitch has been featured many time is Make: and many other magazines.

Benjamin Heckendorn (PUBLIC)
Console modder, internet celebrity, pinball enthusiast and designer, host of the Ben Heck Show. There are so many publications about Ben, I can’t even begin to count (Although Google say 3.9M hits!)

Eric Stein
Programmer extraordinaire and insatiable hacker. Eric discovered the hackerspace PumpingStationOne when he was transplanted to Chicago. He immediately took an active role in the community and is now president of the space.

The Organizers
Gergely (Greg) Imreh
Ex-pat living in Taiwan and founder of Taipei Hackerspace. He has been driving the online presence of the group.

Tom Haynes (PUBLIC)
Recently relocated to Taipei from San Francisco. After discovering Gergely through, they joined forces to found the physical space for Taipei Hackerspace.

The Media
Brian Song
Make: Magazine Taiwan

Amber Yan
Editor with Make: Magazine Taiwan

Caroline Hsu
Head of Google Communications, Taiwan

Lan Chang
Google Public Affairs Senior Associate, Taiwan and Hong Kong

Google Taiwan office, Taipei 101, Floor 73
Meeting at Taipei 101 Ground Floor

Of course, don’t go booking plane tickets! That’s what the Internet is for. We’ll be posting the G+ hangout information here, but for the best experience come down to Pumping Station: One for the event, we’ll have the live video up on the projector… and maybe our in-house brewed Pumpkin Ale on tap.

Nitty Gritty

* What: Meet people from all over the world, talk about your projects, and see speeches by Mitch Altman and Ben Heck! You’ve probably heard me talk already, so that’s not the fun part for you.
* Where: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston Chicago IL
* When: Fri Feb 1, 2013 at 8PM to 2AM Saturday (no, you don’t have to stay the whole time!)
* RSVP: not required, but add yourself on Facebook if you like.
* Who: Any member of the public for the first hour and a half (through 9:30PM) and perhaps later, but no guarantees unless I can get someone else to take over hosting the event.


01 2013