International Tabletop Day 2015

International tabletop day

International Tabletop Day

Want to hang out with a group of fun geeky people at a Hackerspace and play some awesome games? How about homemade snacks and homebrew beer? Still not awesome enough for you? Well, how about we hack an Xbox Kinect and scan you, then 3D print a custom game piece with your face on it, or make custom game counters on a laser cutter?

Come on by Pumping Station: One, Chicago’s biggest Hackerspace, on April 11th and have some fun and maybe even learn a few skills! Bring your favorite games, or if you want some supreme geeky-points, bring a game you designed and play-test it with us [we can even discuss how to spruce-up your game with lasercut or 3D printed pieces, hint-hint]!

This event is public, so bring your family, friends, or just awesome gamers you know and wanna hang out with! If you want to take part in making the 3D printed game pieces, or laser cutting custom counters, we do ask for a minimum of $1 suggested donation to cover materials. If you want to see this stuff continue into the future, please donate more! Proceeds will go to Pumping Station: One’s donation box.


04 2015

Knit a Working Loudspeaker

knitted speaker

I’ve been working on an embedded speaker design off and on for the last few years, and finally got around to posting an Instructable for it.

I created knitted and non-knitted versions, and am quite happy with how it turned out. The secret is using dipolar magnets and hard drive magnets are a cheap way to do this. (Plus, a really big amp.)

Props to Sache for lending her glue and paper expertise!


04 2015

NERP Tonite! The Tiva-C 32-bit Microcontroller and Launchpad demo board

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.
Since the days of Windows 3.1, personal computers have used 32 bit CPUs. It was a simple world. Microcontrollers were 8-bit and PC’s were 32-bit. Due to crazy cheap and small single board computers, multimedia-capable CPUs are doing tasks formerly done by 8-bit MCUs. But there are also lots of 32-bit microcontrollers. The casual distinction between a computer module and an MCU is whether the unit normally runs a general purpose operating system like Linux or Android.

Why would a designer choose a dumb ‘ol microcontroller over a module with HDMI? In many cases an MCU with a slow clock can do I/O related real-time tasks that are difficult (or impossible) to code on a RPi. Built in peripherals like timers and A2D have always simplified MCU board design, and wireless drivers as on-chip peripherals are becoming common. If 0.5mm pin spacing doesn’t scare you, you can design your own system from the board up. Microcontrollers aren’t going away any time soon, especially in industrial measurement and control applications.

Several months ago NERP looked at the Teensy 3, an MCU module that uses a 32-bit ARM “M4” based microcontroller IC made by ST Electronics. In ARM land, M designates a microcontroller. The Texas Instruments Tiva-C series (formerly Stellaris) MCU ICs are also based on an ARM M4 design. The Tiva-C family’s main advantage is super low power consumption. As with lots of other MCU families (at TI and others), there is an Arduino-like development environment for rapid prototyping. TI calls it’s MCU demo boards Launchpads. Daughterboards (“shields”) are called booster packs. At NERP tonight we’ll see a Tiva-C launchpad and the “sensor hub” booster pack running with Energia, TI’s Arduino-based IDE.

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


03 2015

Saturday 3/21: Chicago GNU/Linux User Group meeting


WHEN: Saturday March 21, 2015, at 02:00 PM

Linux Charcuterie – How the Linux Sausage is Made

Ian McLeod will take a look at the entire chain of building a distribution from start to finish, exploring how source is packaged and built, and then complex combinations of packages are joined together to make a cohesive Linux distribution. His talk will include include details of how this all works in a diverse set of environments – from aging x86 hardware to public cloud environments, Linux containers, and immutable systems.

Fedora and Project Atomic

Sten Turpin will build on Ian’s talk, giving an overview of Red Hat’s new, container-focused platform, Project Atomic. Basing his talk around the Fedora-based version of the project, he’ll demonstrate how to deploy and use Project Atomic on the Amazon AWS infrastructure.


We will have food! Probably pizza! At least a few of us typically bring some beverage to share, as well. We’re a community-run organization, so we recommend bringing a few dollars if you’d like to partake of the food. No one will be denied a slice of tasty pizza for inability to chip-in, though.

Here is the event on

March Meeting of the ChicagoLUG

Saturday, Mar 21, 2015, 2:00 PM

Pumping Station One
3519 N Elston Chicago, IL

17 Free Software Users Attending

We will have two talks at this meeting:Ian McLeod (Red Hat) will an give an end-to-end explanation of how Fedora is constructed and released.Sten Turpin (Red Hat) will be presenting a demo of Fedora Atomic with Cockpit and Docker running on AWS.

Check out this Meetup →

Original post:

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03 2015

Pi Day Party – Recap

Thanks to Lyn and everyone who came for an awesome Pi Day celebration this past Saturday, 3/14/15. This year is an extra special Pi Day since we had pi to 4 digits (3.1415).

Skittles and Justin make an Irish Car Bomb pie

The final result

Raspberry pie

Pie cutting

Flourless chocolate cake in front

Raspberry close up


We had 3 apple pies

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03 2015

NERP Tonite! A Red Pitaya (And a special request.)

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, Drew Fustini will introduce us to a brand new, small single board Linux computer. The Red Pitaya is so different from, say a Raspberry Pi that comparing the two would be like comparing, well, raspberries and pitayas. The Red Pitaya (pitaya is also known as dragon fruit) does high speed high quality data acqusition and control with several kinds of i/o. Scientists and engineers can use the Red Pitaya to build custom hardware and virtual instrumentation interfaces for precise measurement and control applications. The ADC/DAC’s are very fast compared normal embedded systems. The processor configuration is also different from normal RPi class systems. To give an idea of just how different the Red Pitaya is from an RPi, the Red Pitaya’s Hello World program is a Digital Storage Oscilloscope. Drew will show us how  to get signals of various types into and out of the Red Pitaya, and some examples of time and frequency analysis can work in virtual instrumentation. Delicious. Also, Drew does Really nice slides!

Speaking of analog — Tonight we’ll have a brief diversion into the land of discrete analog electronics. The Colpitts oscillator is an alternative to Direct Digital Synthesis for producing sine waves in the RF spectrum. Joe Talafous has been working with the Colpitts circuit, and he will show us how to get RF out of a few cheap components. I like to remember that Electronics for the DIY’er used to be “hard” before the advent of Arduino shields. Facetiously it might be said that analog RF is _real_ electronics.

A special request for a worthy cause: Cathleen Doyle (cdoyle at northbrook dot info) tells us that the Northbrook Public Library will be running a whole month of programs this June highlighting maker/diy activities. They’re hoping to find someone who could give an awesome, introductory lecture/demonstration on the many uses of Raspberry Pi’s and how they work. Would there be anyone PS:One could recommend and who would be willing? We do pay!

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


03 2015

I made a pretty octopus


Messing around in Illustrator and Photoshop today.  I made an Octopus.


02 2015

Movie Night: Citizenfour


It’s Movie Night Time! This is an Oscar-award winning documentary by Laura Poitras about her and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden as he reveals the extent of the NSA’s surveillance program in 2013.

More information about the film:

When: Sunday March 1st, 2015 5 PM
Feel free to BYOB. Afterwards there will be discussion. This event is open to the public.

Sign up for the meetup:

Where: PS:One Lounge

YouTube Preview Image

Reddit AMA:

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02 2015

Let’s Drink and Learn About: Sangiovese


Italian Chianti – Chianti wine always either mostly or entirely made of Sangiovese


Italian Sangiovese from outside Chianti – Over 10% of Italy’s total wine production is Sangiovese

For the fourth installment of our monthly adult beverage appreciation event, “Let’s Drink and Learn About…”, we did a tasting of several different Sangiovese wines.  If you missed it, feel free to peruse our class notes!

Our next session will cover red Bordeaux, and its 5 constituent grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec).  This will be a joint event with South Side Hackerspace: Chicago, and will be hosted in their space (2233 S Throop St #214).  As per usual, it will be on the 3rd Friday (March 20th), and will begin at 7 PM.  There is no cost to attend the event, but please bring a bottle of wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, please) to contribute to the tasting.  You can find more info, or RSVP for the event, on our Meetup!


Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – A more subtle and complex expression of Sangiovese from a region just to the south of Chianti


Super Tuscan – A Tuscan wine made without at least 70% Sangiovese. This was actually predominately Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, similar to what we’ll be drinking in March!


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02 2015

Cryptoparty: March 14th, 2015 at 2:00 PM

cryptopartyLearn how to communicate securely and privately at Cryptoparty! In a world where legal and corporate protections for privacy have eroded, it is up to us to take privacy into our own hands. Cryptoparties are a global effort to educate everyday people about electronic privacy tools.

At this Cryptoparty, South Side Hackerspace member Brian Kroll will be going over how to send and receive encrypted secure e-mails with GNU Privacy Guard (GPG). This will be a hands-on presentation, so be sure to bring your laptop. For those of you without a computer, Brian will also cover e-mail encryption on an Android mobile device.

Toward the end of the event, Freddy Martinez will present on TextSecure. TextSecure is a mobile application that allows you to communicate securely over text messaging. Be sure to bring your phone if you want to setup and exchange key information using this app.

Please note, a reporter and photographer from the Chicago Reader will be present. Unless you decide otherwise, the reporter will not include information that might uniquely identify you. You will also be warned when photographs will be taken and will have the opportunity to remove yourself from any shot.

This is a party, so feel free to bring food, drink, and beer for yourself or to share.


02 2015