CNC Build Club – Chilipeppr Presentation


Thursday 8/6/2015 @ 7;30pm we will be doing a Chilipeppr Presentation

Here is a link to the Meetup page on it.

Chilipeppr is full featured, web based, GCode sender.  GCode senders basically send your CNC toolpath files to the micro controller running your CNC machine.

Chilipeppr takes that concept to the max.  It more like a full featured front end to your CNC machine.  It visualizes the GCode, shows the status of your machine, helps with work offsets and jogging.  It also has some cool tricks it can do to deal leveling and Z probing.  It is currently compatible with machines running Grbl and TinyG.

John Lauer, the creator will be conducting the presentation via Google Hangout.  We hope to expand the presentation.  I’ll tweet out a link on @buildlog and post it here when we work that out.

We will have a machine or two for a physical demo.

Here is a link to the hangout.


08 2015

Radiationpalooza with Bionerd23, Ryan, and Elizabeth: Wednesday 8/12

Bionerd at ChernobylElizabeth and Ryan in Pripyat

Date: 8/12/15
Time: 7 – 10 PM
Location: Pumping Station: One, Lounge

bionerd23 has been a youtuber since 2007, but her science channel only became famous from 2012 on – that’s when she started visiting the radioactive exclusion zone of Chernobyl. Being on semester break in Chicago, this physics student will explain the basics of radiation and the devices that measure it to you – followed by insights into her trip to the Chernobyl zone with Ryan & Elizabeth. The three will give you personal insights on what it’s like to walk the abandoned, radioactive ghost town of Pripyat, including photos, video, and artifacts from the zone. They will give live demonstrations of radiation measuring equipment, including Geiger counters, quartz fiber and TLD dosimeters, NaI(Tl) scintillators, and gamma spectroscopy. They will also examine samples from Chernobyl under PS:One’s scanning electron microscope using secondary electron imaging and energy-dispersive x-ray (EDX) spectroscopy.


bionerd23. Female homo sapiens sapiens (confirmed via PCR). Born in an ancient decade of mullet haired people. Resides around the radioactive wasteland of Chernobyl and frequently posts photon based imagery of her natural habitat on youtube. She recently appeared in the documentary movie “Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail” (aired on PBS on July 28 & 29 2015).

Ryan Pierce. Male homo sapiens sapiens (assumed but untested via PCR). PS:One member since 2012. Collects and repairs Geiger counters. Maintains PS:One’s SEM. Travelled to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in 2013 with someone he had never met, based on the popularity of her youtube channel. Currently serves as PS:One’s Secretary.

Elizabeth Koprucki. Female homo sapiens sapiens (PCR testing refused, leading Ryan to hypothesize she may have DNA of reptilian origin.) PS:One member since 2012. Former PS:One CNC Area Host. Currently employed as Assistant Director of Fab Lab and Design at Chicago Innovation Exchange, University of Chicago. Her first time leaving the country was her 2013 vacation to Chernobyl.


08 2015

Make anything a Drone: a first person video camera rig.

TinyCamera_13 Radio control flying is traditionally done “line of sight.”  That is, you stand in one place, and watch your toy fly around.  Modern electronics means we can get little cameras, that hobby size aircraft can easily lift.  For example, that little camera package you see there, is 17.5 grams.

My previous camera package fried when I hooked the wrong power supply up to it a few weeks ago.  For the record, putting 12.6v from a LiPo battery pack, doesn’t do good things for the health of a 3.3v video transmitter.

TinyCamera_01Here were my ingredients.  Not quite mise en place but definitely close enough for hackerspace work.

We have some protoboard, my new transmitter, my old transmitter, the video camera, some pin headers, a JST style battery connector, a set of dip switches, and most importantly, a voltage regulator.  That last bit is to stop me from frying the camera or transmitter on accident again.

TinyCamera_06When doing protoboard assemblies, it’s always a good idea to dry fit everything.

In a fit of bad practice, I have no decoupling (capacitors) to support my voltage regulator.  As with many things in electronics.. sometimes it works even if you do it a bit wrong.  If the video signal ends up being poor, I can always add more power filtering later.

TinyCamera_14When I first fried the video transmitter, I thought it had shorted out against my quadcopters chassis.  It’s not a good idea to leave power rails exposed, so there’s a good bit of hot glue on the bottom of the board.
Once that was done, I powered it up, and made sure I could change channels using the DIP switches, and that the video was clear in my goggles.

TinyCamera_11Antennas are a funny thing.  Most people doing FPV use circularly polarized antennas.  I didn’t have any small coax handy when I built this the first time, so I just reused my conventional antenna.  That little black wire, is a full wave antenna at 5.8ghz!

Other than being twice the weight of the previous camera rig I was running, I’m quite happy with how this turned out.

Keep making stuff!

PS: If you’d like more detail on the build:


07 2015

2015 Detroit Makerfaire

We had a great year at Detroit Makerfaire and ran out of our kits in about 3 hours everyday. Thanks to all of the volunteers who headed out and helped teach other Makers about our noisemaker kits!





After a successful Makerfaire in Detroit, please keep in mind that the next Makerfaire is coming up quick. This is the South Side Mini Makerfaire, Saturday August 8th at the Ford City Hall. We need both donations and volunteers! Please email if you are interested.


07 2015

Woodshop @ Pumping Station: One

When I took over the Pumping Station: One wood shop (a little more than 2 years ago), I started making cutting boards as my metric on how functional the shop is. I reasoned that it’s an excellent entry level project, and most of the users of the shop would be people with no woodworking experience. The first boards I made at the space were pretty good, but every step was a chore. The jointer could never stay sharp for more than a month, the planer required weekly maintenance, dust collection was a hassle, and it took 10 minutes of setup to do jobs that should take only seconds. Well, little by little, training, equipment upgrades and accumulation, shop days, and community has made the shop much easier and safer to use. My most recent cutting board demonstrates what the shop is capable of.

Last year, one of my favorite coworkers invited me to her wedding, and I decided that I’d make her something special. After discovering the color scheme in her kitchen, I chose padauk, purpleheart, and cherry and made a design in a free cutting board design program.

cutting board

To prevent the wood from warping while in service, I milled the wood square (rectangular, really, but it’s woodworking jargon) and let it dry for two weeks in the shop.

lumber used

As expected, the boards warped again as they dried. I milled them again and two weeks later, they were still square, so they were ready to glue up. After the initial glue up, I had a board that looked like the top board in the design program. I planed down one side of the glued-up board with handplanes and then ran it through the planer the board was flat. At that point, I set up the tablesaw sled to cut the board into $1 \frac{5}{16}$ inch wide strips. I created the pattern by flipping every other strip.

cut boards

After cutting the edge-joined board into strips, I glued up those strips and gave my board to a friend who ran the board through his 40 inch drum sander, to flatten down the glued up strips. My target thickness was $1 \frac{1}{4}$ inches, so I was thrilled with the $1.227$ inches that I achieved. At that point, I used a handplane to clean up the edges, and took an obligatory picture of my handplane with the produced shavings.

almost hit my mark

shaving porn

After getting the board milled to the desired dimensions, I set up the router table to cut handholds. After the handholds were cut, it was time to sand. And sand. And sand. And then sand a little bit more. After about 10 hours of sanding, I decided that I was going to get an angle grinder style rotary sander and handle that work in maybe an hour for all future boards. When I was content with the smoothness of the board, I soaked the board in mineral oil overnight, to seal the board against water. At the end of the soak, I wiped away as much mineral oil as I could, although the board kept bleeding mineral oil for about a day. At that point, I used a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax to seal the board and create the beautiful finish that I achieved. I applied the mixture, waited for it to haze (I waited about 90 minutes), and then wiped as much away as I could. Then I sanded using waterproof 1000 grit paper, which buffed the finish and filled in any potential gaps. Then I used a polisher to polish the board until I achieved a glassy finish. Project complete.

purple orange yellow

color shot

corner defect

gloss handle examination



07 2015

NERP tonite! Cypress Semiconductor’s PSOC IC’s

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.

Tonight at NERP, professional maker/hacker/DIY’er Bart Dring will introduce Cypress Semiconductor’s PSOC IC’s. PSOCs are odd beasts. They’ve been around since 2002, but there seems to be a growing interest in their peculiar mix of capabilities.


From the PSOC website

[Disclaimer: I have not used the PSOC product or its dev tools. -Ed]

“PSoC® is the world’s only programmable embedded System-on-Chip integrating an MCU core [ARM, of course], high-performance Programmable Analog Blocks, PLD-based Programmable Digital Blocks, Programmable Interconnect and Routing, and CapSense.  All new PSoC devices feature the industry standard ARM® Cortex® MCU cores.”

The development tools don’t sound to shabby either:

“PSoC Creator is a free Integrated Design Environment (IDE) which allows concurrent hardware and application firmware design… PSoC systems are designed using classic, familiar schematic capture supported by over 120 pre-verified, production-ready PSoC Components™.

Some of the config is done by drag-and-drop in a GUI.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at
Doors open at 6:30pm.
NERP is free and open to the public.
Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com
Tags: PSOC, ARM, electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One


07 2015

This Thursday: Light Up Your Work with DIY LEDs

If you want to learn to use LEDs, here’s your chance. This Thursday in Pilsen, I’m teaching a free workshop on them, covering basic electronics theory, diagrams, and breadboarding circuits. (the pix are from last week’s workshop, same thing.)

I’m exploring LEDs in eTextiles so instead of soldering, we’ll finish by breaking out the copper tape, conductive ink, and stainless steel thread. (Everyone gets free samples to take home.)

Participants will learn to design a basic LED circuit, choose appropriate components, and embed circuitry into projects using fiber and paper craft tools. After a crash-course in basic electronic theory, participants can opt to test their circuits out on breadboards and experiment with conductive thread, ink, fabric, and adhesives that are designed for flexible circuit-making. Workshop attendees are invited to bring in their own works-in-progress and/or materials for experimentation.

Parking is free of charge. Entrance to Mana Contemporary is on the east side of the building. Please press bell to be buzzed in. Front desk staff will be available to give directions to the Workshop Space.

 This event is free and open to the public. Registration required.

Hosted by: Artist Jesse Seay, UIC Free Art School, and the UIC Maker Space Residency at Mana Contemporary Chicago

The workshop is free but RSVP is required.

And next week at PS:One…

On Monday, July 13, I’ll be hosting: Stitch n’ Solder, from 7-9pm.This is a casual hang out to work on your own electronics, knitting machine, and e-textiles projects. Trade advice, troubleshoot, and socialize. Visit the link for details, please.  (This is open office hours, not a workshop.)



07 2015

Just Fucking Do it, or: How a Little Bit of Anarchy Helped Me

Most of us have spent a significant amount of time throughout our lives asking for permission. From parents, teachers, supervisors, community leaders, peers and everyone else. It’s a normal, natural part of life, and if no one did it then things would likely be worse for it.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing things I probably should have asked for permission to do. In high school, I basically lived in our auditorium, doing technical theatre stuff. I drilled holes in walls, re-wired electrical devices, modified the structure to fit my needs and probably did a lot of stuff I don’t even remember. Some combination of the right level of oversight (thanks, Ken!) and a sense of independence granted by the venue inspired me (and my peers) to take the initiative. In college, I kept right on drilling holes in the walls and changing things to suit me. No one ever noticed, at least no one who would tell me to stop.

I’ve always known when I was doing something I should probably clear with someone, but I’ve often ignored it because it’s more expedient to ask for forgiveness, right?

I’m also someone who has a lot of projects. I have projects that some people like enough that I don’t even have to execute them any more. I have a project that’s a pretty significant piece of infrastructure at a hackerspace that is likely one of the busiest in the world by several metrics (I’ll give you three guesses for which one).

The thing I would point to as the number one contributor to my willingness to change things and press forward with an idea is my membership at Pumping Station: One. PS:One is the greatest place in the world. When I came to visit, I saw a place that was running because a few people wanted it to run. As I learned about the history, I heard a story of people who basically willed the organization into existence. People told me I should change things, that I shouldn’t always feel the need to ask for permission. Folks told me it was a ‘physical wiki’ and it was up to the membership to decide what content we would have. If it wasn’t for PS:One, I wouldn’t have done most of the projects I’m now proud of.

It took me a while to catch on (more time than it took me to start changing things at schools, where this kind of activity is usually frowned upon. That might say something about me.), it was a few months before I started changing things, alongside some of the folks who joined around the same time I did. I quickly fell into the rhythm. I continue to make  changes to the space, because that’s what our culture encourages (and that’s exactly what I encourage every new member to do). We’ve handed out more than one hundred RFID fobs to people, and they now get into the building with them using hardware I nailed to a door (I’m not kidding – come visit and see) that runs code I wrote. That baffles me sometimes, but it’s awesome.

PS:One has changed me as much as I’ve changed it. I now find myself casually contributing to open source software when I see the opportunity – the other day I absentmindedly submitted a pull request to fix a typo in a utility I used once (while trying to help solve a problem I reported in the Linux kernel). This kind of contribution should be more widespread, and if PS:One can accomplish one aspect of its goal, I hope it’s encouraging people everywhere to contribute however they can.

Some folks think it’s just a vulgar phrase on the wall, but ‘Just Fucking Do It’ is integral to what PS:One is, and it’s incredibly important to me and many other people. We radically and categorically reject the idea that you should ask for permission for most things, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



06 2015

B.Y.O.T. Tie Dye Summer Event, Friday, 7/3/2015


Bring your own t-shirt, or other white item, and fill it with fabric dye! B.Y.O.T. Tie Dye Summer Event with be Friday, 7/3/2015, from 6:00 – 9:00 pm in the upstairs arts and crafts area, a free event for members. A 100% cotton item works best such as a clean t-shirt, socks, a hat, apron., etc. Washing items is helpful if they are newly purchased but avoid fabric softener, which is oily and repels dye. Twelve bright colors in easy applicator bottles and all other materials will be provided for you to hand color your item.


06 2015

Lockpicking with TOOOL – ATM Edition.

When I found an ATM in the trash near my office, I knew just what had to be done. It had to come to the hackerspace.

IMAG0183After some help from a friend with a truck, we got the ATM delivered to the space just in time for Lockpicking night with TOOOL – The Open Organization of Lockpickers. (Fig. 1. — pictures after the break)  We set to work on the two (surprisingly basic) pin tumbler locks on the front of the panel, and sprung them in no time. (Fig. 2)  Under the the bottom panel we were greeted with a welcoming safe-door style combination dial. (Fig. 3)  Under the top panel are a power supply, circuit boards for the display, the card reader, the pin entry pad and the LCD buttons, and the receipt printer. (Fig. 4)  Sadly, the main computer had been removed before the unit was thrown out.

That being said, TOOOL is not a computer oriented group, so we were plenty pleased with the new challenge presented to us by the combination lock.  Steve decided to give it a go first, boldly citing his experience in safe cracking school. (Fig. 5)  Dave, not being the patient type, and not being entertained by Steve just poking at his phone, decided to take a more destructive route to enter the ATM with a plasma cutter (Fig. 6) and was rewarded with a large empty space and yet another steel plate.  We will be revisiting opening the door next time, and continuing to seek inspiration for awesome ATM projects.  Let us know what you’d like to see an ATM turned into!

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06 2015