Art Therapy for Those with Limited Mobility

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.

Art is one of the fundamental ways humans express themselves and it occurs in every culture going back to the beginnings of humanity. Art therapy is a valued tool that bridges the disciplines of psychology and art and has been undertaken by Iraqi war veterans, victims of violence and other traumas.

But what about individuals whose limitations prevent them from holding a paint brush or manipulating clay? Haddon Pearson is a local creative type who is working with a child psychologist from the University of Chicago to develop systems that will enable people with limited mobility to make art. He will discuss some of the technologies and ideas that they are exploring to lower the bar for people with limited agency to express themselves.

The technology we’ll visit tonight is a Makeblock plotter that will potentially serve as the motion actuator for 2-d graphical output. The plotter is not feeling well at the moment. NERP aims to fix it, but first we need to understand the hardware and software that runs it. Andy Sowa will lead a live troubleshooting and learning session with the collaboration of the NERP Meetup.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at
Meetup 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

04

01 2016

CNC Beer Part 2 – System Design

[Go back to Part 1….]

Ryan with Beer SystemDesign Sources

A number of commercially available and hobbyist-built computer controlled brewing systems already exist that solve many of the issues I mentioned in my previous post on this topic. They have a number of similarities, but address the problems in different ways. I’m going to describe a number of methods used for computer controlled beer brewing, which improve up0n repeatability by reducing deviations in the mash process. These systems range from simple thermostat / standalone PID controls to microcontroller-based devices. I’ll also list my own design decisions when building this system and my reasoning. Note that my design decisions aren’t necessarily best, there are plenty of valid arguments for and against many of the solutions presented here, and as I write this, I’m kicking myself for some of the mistakes I made along the way.

I’ve examined a number of systems. Our local homebrewing store operates one. I’ve paid particular attention to open source and published plans for hobbyists, given that these offer the most information. Two of my primary sources:

  • Brutus Ten – Website here. Build pages here and here. This is a popular brewing system due to plans published in Brew Your Own. It consists of a welded steel frame and propane burners driven by standalone industrial temperature control modules.
  • BrewTroller – The original website was oscsys.com which features an Arduino-based open software and control electronics framework for brewing. The website hosted the software, documentation, a web forum for users, and an online store where one could purchase electronics, actuated valves, switches, temperature probes, etc. It is not locked to any single brewing system design; rather, it is flexible enough to support a wide variety of brewing hardware configurations. While the original site shut down, a user took this over at this site.

Read the rest of this entry →

28

12 2015

CNC Beer Part 1 – Overview and Theory

CNC Beer Brewing System

Overview

A bit over a year ago, I began a project to build a computer-controlled beer brewing system that Beer Church (Pumping Station: One’s homebrew club) could use to brew all-grain beer. I had no idea when I started this project that it would lead to visiting people from multiple countries, two synchrotron radiation sources, and a nuclear research reactor, or that control systems engineers from international labs would provide assistance. While it still isn’t ready to brew beer yet, I’ve recently reached a milestone in integration testing, and I’m rapidly approaching the point where the first test batch will be possible. Unfortunately, I haven’t been blogging about it, so a lot of catching up is needed….

So, why would someone want to make what could be called a CNC machine for beer? First, it’s not about eliminating humans. The goal isn’t automation to the level of “push button, get beer.” Humans will still need to load the ingredients and monitor the process. We don’t want a hose breaking, resulting in 12 gallons of beer wort on the floor and a propane burner melting the bottom of the resulting empty stainless steel keg. Rather, the primary reasons are:

  1. Repeatability. I want to eliminate human error. Repeatability often is the domain of commercial brewers, but for hobbyists, repeatability still is critical. Transitioning from good beer to great beer means experimentation. And that requires having good control over all the variables. How do I know if that different yeast I used made my beer taste better, or if it could be explained by sloppy temperature control in the mash process?
  2. Predictability. Shareware and free beer design software exists that acts like CAD for beer. You can design your grain bill based on a library of ingredients, enter a mash and hop schedule, yeast, fermentation temperature, etc. and it will simulate the process, telling you what you can expect in terms of initial and final specific gravity, percent alcohol, color, bitterness, etc. You can tune the model based on the efficiency of your brewing system. But prediction works only as well as the repeatability of your process.
  3. Capacity. Right now, we are limited to 5 gallon batch sizes. While we certainly can buy larger hardware, it makes sense to upgrade to automation at the same time. With a system based on 15.5 gallon beer kegs, we can produce 10 gallon batches at a time.

And, well, there are plenty of secondary reasons that can best be described as “Because hackerspace!” I’ve wanted to learn more about industrial control electronics and the EPICS software environment. It was a great excuse to learn to weld. I had acquired authentic cold war indicator lights from actual nuclear missile systems that needed to be put to an awesome new use. And I could do all that while brewing beer!

To describe the CNC beer system, I first need to explain all-grain brewing and the issues inherent with our current brewing method. To be clear, these issues affect repeatability, not quality. We are already making really good beer. Nothing is wrong with what we’re doing. This new system likely will improve beer clarity (and that is important in homebrewing competitions) but otherwise it won’t do much on its own to make the beer better. Start with a bad recipe and you’ll end up with bad beer; the new hardware just makes it repeatably bad! Rather, it will provide state of the art tools to anyone who wants to experiment, and this could be very useful to brewers wishing to be competitive in homebrewing contests.

Read the rest of this entry →

25

12 2015

NERP Tonite! Raspberry Pi Zero — $5

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.

Charles Kwiatkowski has worked in industry and academia since 1991. He enjoys learning and discussion on NERPish topics. If possible, he would live across the street from PS:One.

Tonight Charles will introduce us to the new Raspberry Pi Zero. The fun thing about following the small embedded market is the speed at which things change are changing. When the Basic Stamp was the only “accessible” microcontroller for hobbyists it cost $50. The Stamp was king of the hill for a decade. Things change faster now.

Comparisons between different embedded platforms is almost always apples and oranges, but price is the place people usually start. The RPi Zero’s retail price is $5. So there.

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
Meetup 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, Element14, Pumping Station One

21

12 2015

NERP TONITE! Drew shows us the C.H.I.P. $9 Linux SBC!

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.

In 2012 the cheapest Single Board Computer that could run Linux cost around $150.00. The prospect $35 Linux SBC with HDMI was loney talk. If it wasn’t vaporware, it certainly couldn’t be sustainable, we thought.

CHIP-computer

The RPi and its cronies and successors are very much here to stay. Even so, a $9 credit card sized linux SBC seems a bit “out there”, but here comes the C.H.I.P “The world’s First $9 Computer”.

The C.H.I.P. hasn’t shipped in volume yet, but Linux kernel hackers have been able to order alpha versions for testing and for fun. Tonight at NERP, PS:One’s Drew Fustini will demo his new C.H.I.P. board. Is it another game changer? We’ll see!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598272670/chip-the-worlds-first-9-computer.

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, Element14, Pumping Station One
Tags: Beagle Bone, electronics, Element14, embedded, hackerspace, NERP, Open Source, Pumping Station: One, raspberry pi

26

10 2015

Beer Church: Sunday Oct 25th

We’ll meet in the lounge to have have our beer tasting: if you know an unusual or special beer that you’d love to taste but have been waiting for that moment, this is it. We’ll each sample what people (including you, if you want!) bring. While we’re tasting beers we’ll seek inspiration from them and each other and determine what recipe we’re looking to brew. Then we’ll head over to Brew & Grow and posibly Jewel to pick up some ingredients (they’re both right around the corner, how convenient). By 2:00 PM or so we’ll start boiling water and commencing the afternoon of brewing our own beer.

Around evening time after we finish up the brew and get everything cleaned, those who stayed ’til the end will get to taste the warm, sweet, and flavorful wort. Meanwhile, the yeast will be tasting it for the first time themselves. A few weeks after the brew, some of us will take the next steps of kegging the beer or putting it into a secondary fermenter.

This is a hands on class and collaborative project. If you have any questions we’ll do our best to answer them and any participant is totally welcome to take part in any of the steps of the brew: mashing, sparging, weighing ingredients, grinding grain, boiling, stirring, cleaning, racking, pitching yeast, setting up the bubble trap, and many other steps. If you’d rather just watch that’s fine too.

You must be 21 years of age to participate in Beer Church.
You can RSVP on Meetup

24

10 2015

NERP TONITE! Enabling Universal Information Access: Libraries From Space

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.

outernet-logo

Syed Karim is the founder of Outernet, which is a satellite-based digital library service. Outernet takes content from the web and broadcasts it from six different geostationary satellites. The file delivery service is free to receive and most of Outernet’s code is open source. Plans to build a Raspberry Pi-based receiver can be found here.

“I’ll have a few slides, more for context, but would prefer if presentation was more of a conversation than a presentation. I’ll go over the general concept, content chain, and various types of receivers, including the newly designed Beaglebone Black derivative, which includes an on board DVB-S tuner, wifi module, and LiFePO4 charging circuit”

The following links may provide some context for the discussion.

http://gizmodo.com/what-is-the-outernet-and-is-it-the-future-of-the-intern-1659647614
http://www.wired.com/2015/07/plan-beam-web-3-billion-unconnected-humans/
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32117447

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, Element14, Pumping Station One
Tags: Beagle Bone, electronics, Element14, embedded, hackerspace, NERP, Open Source, Pumping Station: One, raspberry pi

12

10 2015

NERP Tonite! Neural Interfaces for Advanced Prosthetics

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.

nerp-eeg

Tucker Tomlinson is a familiar face around the shops at Pumping Station One. He’s also a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Laboratory of Lee Miller in the Department of Physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Tucker’s work in the Limb Motor Control Lab* focuses on neural interfaces for advanced prosthetics.

Data acquisition systems used to record neuron activity typically work with lots of channels of analog-to-digital converters that measure tiny voltages and currents very fast. In Tucker’s words:

“I’ll be discussing the problem of recording directly from neurons in the brains of monkeys and humans. There will be a few slides and videos to help describe the basic science and technical challenges that we face when tackling this problem, but the session will be mostly informal discussion driven by whatever the audience finds interesting.”

* the phrase “motor control” means eye-hand-brain, not steppers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_control

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, Element14, Pumping Station One

28

09 2015

Why Discourse?

Why Discourse?

I’m not sure people understand maintenance burden.

Google groups has been a maintenance headache. Probably one of the smaller maintenance headaches, but still a problem.

With most of the system’s that PS:One has developed over the last several years, new member handling, auto admining of the 40 or so systems group member’s, etc has been automatic.

PS:One cycles through motivated individuals pretty quickly. If we ever come across a gap between an old productive member and a new ones, we lose something. There are a few ways to handle this: One is to stop burning people out, and to make sure that gap doesn’t exist. The other is to reduce the amount of information that can fall in that gap.

Per application user management is a great way to burn out technologically creative individuals. I’ve seen it happen a few times.

Our current systems approach is to reduce maintenance burden to deal with the first problem. The other is to make most of the tasks a systems person needs to carry out be automatic. Google Groups has not presented us with much as far as solutions to deal with these 2 problems. They offer no api to add or remove subscribers, and are notoriously difficult to write scraping tools for, and offer no guarantee of long term stability for scraping tools.

We have investigated a few potential solutions for mass communication in the membership. Most of these focus on web forum technology, as we are hitting the magic threshold where mailing lists are no longer the right solution due to message volume. So far discourse is the most promising.

Jeff Atwood Is one of the main developers and founders of discourse. Previously he started stack overflow with Joel Spolsky (the Joel on Software guy), and has been running a blog called coding horror since about 2004. He’s got some experience with online communities and a lot of opinions and practical experience on what makes them work well and what doesn’t, including a few very well known implementations of online discussion platforms. I don’t always agree with his technical and social decision minutia, but I have to understand that he’s coming from a wealth of experience, and has left the discourse discussion platform open to plugins and extension.

https://discourse.pumpingstationone.org

20

09 2015

X,Y,Z Finder for the ShopBot

YouTube Preview Image

The PS:One ShopBot is a great CNC machine that has the benefit, among other things, of being huge, allowing for a lot of cuts on large pieces of material. One of the difficulties working with the machine, however, is getting the bit at exactly 0,0,0 in the X, Y, and Z axis so that if you need something cut at exactly six inches from the edge of the material, it will be exactly six inches. There is already a built-in method for setting the Z axis, using a metal plate and clip and running a specific program on the ShopBot, but there is no such program for setting the X and Y, requiring the user to manually position the bit. This can lead to inaccuracies and wasted work.

To help everyone with accurate setting of the the X, Y, and Z axis, I made a thing:

The front of the plate, looking down on a test piece of wood for calibration

The front of the plate, looking down on a test piece of wood for calibration

This is an aluminum plate that is milled to be as precise as I could make it (read: probably a lot of room for improvement) where it sits on the lower left hand corner of the piece to be cut, with the corner of the work sitting directly in the middle of the circle.

Side view of the plate

With the piece placed on the work, the cable is plugged into the back (I had originally drilled two holes on the front left and bottom of the plate, forgetting that is where the bit has to touch so as to not push the plate off the work, so I drilled a new hold on the back and wrote “Do not use this hole” on the other two) and attached via the alligator clips (ToDo: make a better cable) to the Z plate.

The cable connects the XYZ plate to the Z plate that comes with the Shopbot for finding the Z axis.

The cable connects the XYZ plate to the Z plate that comes with the Shopbot for finding the Z axis.

The user should position the bit somewhere over the top part of the plate, where doesn’t matter. The user loads xyz-zero-finder.sbp (the code is available at this GitHub repository) into the ShopBot software and runs it. Assuming the bit is somewhere over the top, it will then slowly move the bit down until it touches the top, at which point it will move to the side (visually this appears to be moving towards the front of the machine, but in reality the side of the machine with the power switch is technically the bottom, or X axis). The program will move the bit inside the circle at what it believes is exactly 0,0,0 and, after displaying a message, will move the bit up two inches to allow the user to remove the plate and put it away.

The bit at the corner of the work after the plate has been removed and the bit put back to 0

The bit at the corner of the work after the plate has been removed and the bit put back to 0

The plate is in the drawer under the ShopBot in the Arduino box (ToDo: Make a real box for the plate). Feel free to use it and report back how it worked for you, so that we can make it better.

I want to thank Dean, Everett and Todd for giving me valuable advice about how to mill the plate on the Bridgeport; it was tricky because both sides of the plate are milled and getting it to sit properly in the vice was very worrying to me. I also want to thank Eric for suggesting the project in the first place.

 

16

09 2015