Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

Raspberry Pi hands-on workshop

Not Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi hands-on workshop


NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi, but Monday, 1/28, we’ll be all Raspberry.

Pumping Station:One and NERP are excited to be included in Adafruit Industries community grants of cool hardware for the Raspberry Pi.  Adafruit is sending us a care package of Raspberry Pi gear we can use to make projects. The exact contents of the package will be a surprise.

On Monday Jan. 28th at 7pm, we’ll get into the swing of making cool Pi things by doing a hands-on workshop on basic controlling and sensing with the Pi. Bring your Pi, keyboard, monitor, etc, and try out a couple of demo projects from . The parts cost should be about zero since the projects don’t require much external hardware. PS:One’s Electronics area will provide tools and parts to get started.

We’ll learn how to turn on a simple LED (or anything else) using Python. Then we’ll explore two example projects on :

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

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

NERP meets at 7pm 1/28/13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.



01 2013

Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi meetup Mon. 1-14-13 7pm

The new year’s first NERP Meetup will be at 7pm tomorrow night.

In the first half hour, we’ll have a beginner’s look at the Raspberry Pi board and software. We’ll see what extra hardware you’ll need to get started with the Pi and how to boot up a new board.

In the second half-hour, we’ll connect a homemade circuit to a Pi and see one method for controlling stuff with Python. You can find out more about NERP at the Meetup page,


01 2013

Nerp tonight! Monday Dec. 17 at 7pm

Allen Kapusta will make a presentation on types of task dispatching. Any processor more complicted than an Arduino will be shared by different pieces of running code. Allen’s presentation will be a general overview of how tasks are selected for execution by the processor and what guidelines the task should follow in order to co-exist well with its neighbors.

Drew Fustini will show us how to display tweets on a character LCD connected to a Raspberry Pi. His Python examples will demonstrate a simple way to make a read-only connection to Twitter and print tweets on a 4-bit parallel connection.

NERP will not meet December 31st, but will resume its regular bi-weekly schedule starting Monday January 14th.


12 2012

Monday Dec. 3rd. is back-to-basics night at NERP

Monday Dec. 3rd. is back-to-basics night at NERP. In Part 1, Carl
Karsten and Bonnie King will give an introduction to Python programming
for novice programmers. The target will be the Raspberry Pi, and the
focus of their teaching examples will be on input/output to simple
hardware. In Part 2, yours truly will demo control of output devices
including simple circuits for interfacing electronics to
electro-mechanical devices.

Find us here…



12 2012

NERP – Raspberry Pi and Beer – Monday 9-10-12

RPi beer temp controller

The next NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi) meeting will be at 7pm Monday Sept. 10th. See the NERP Meetup page for more information on location, meeting format, etc.

NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi, and this Monday’s meeting will also discuss Android and beer.

During fermentation beer must be kept at fairly precisely controlled temperatures. The required temperature varies with the stage of fermentation and other factors.

Any self-respecting beer temperature monitor would be accessible from the ‘net, and this one is no exception. Monday, Eric Stein will show Brewing Station: One’s  Raspberry Pi based temperature monitor and controller. Eric will show how the Python code and electronics work and discuss some issues around controlling temperature. Sampling the product will have to wait until Beer Church taps the keg.

The Desktop is DEAD, Long live the Desktop: The Android 4.0 miniPC

Jay will be doing a short walk-thru and talk about the user-land experience with the new Ricomagic MK802 thumb-drive-sized pocket-computer. Jay will be demoing android 4.x, Fedora, Ubuntu and/or puppy linux on the Ricomagic MK802. The Ricomagic MK802 is a $65 Cortex A8 1GHZ processor with 1GB of DDR3 Ram, 4 GB flash, wifi and a 500MH GPU (Mali 400) with HDMI video. The small computing landscape is changing fast, and the Raspberry Pi is only part of the story.


09 2012

NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi) meetup 08-27-12

NERP Meetup at PS:One

The bi-weekly NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi embedded systems) Meetup  focused on  serial i/o. Serial interfacing allows connecting “stuff” to a processor using a small number of wires. There are different ways of making serial connections to processors, and last night we talked about two of them. Drew showed how to implement I2C interfacing to several devices he had out for demo. I2C (I-Square-C) is a way of wiring smart devices like sensors, displays, and microcontrollers to a host computer. The Raspberry Pi has connection pins for I2C on the board and a kernel module for talking to I2C devices from user land. Ed quickly demoed a couple of examples of  UART serial technique with a Raspberry Pi running a login on a dumb terminal demo and an RS485 to PC interface on a Macbook. We’ll examine practical applications of these connection methods and others including SPI in future meetings.

The NERP description and meetup are at . (It’s not necessary to use the Meetup signup to attend NERP, but it helps us anticipate how to set up the electronics lab for the number of attendees. Also it shows Meetup that people actually attend the meetings.) .

We’re looking for people who would like to show their work or lead a NERP-related discussion.  We’d especially like to hear about works in progress (i.e., unfinished), both in hardware and software.  Python, C, interfacing, non-Rasapberry Pi embedded systems, media, networking, and physical devices are particularly interesting.  Contact Ed (ed -> kineticsandelectronics – com) to schedule a day.


08 2012

NERP – next meetng 8/27 + notes from 8/13

The next NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi) meeting will be at 7pm Monday August 27th. The new regular format of the NERP meetings is

  1. a new user orientation (first session) at 6pm
  2. The regular meeting (second session) from 7-8:30pm.
  3. The after party which goes on until the building closes.

The orientation sessions help new users get their Raspberry Pis booted and quickly demo where the start buttons are in the operating system. The second session is a forum for talks, demos, free discussion, and questions. Subjects can be of general interest or advanced and highly focused. *


occidentalis – the black raspberry

The purpose of NERP is to promote discussion and exchange of knowledge and ideas. Interruptions and dumb questions are encouraged. The flow of a meeting can be deliciously chaotic.

I didn’t set out to take minutes at the NERP meeting last Monday, but there was so much good information flying around that it was hard to resist jotting some things down.

  • Drew demoed many of the apps that come with the pi by default.

  • Looked at Quake on the RPi. Learned about the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) (“…a cross-platform, free and open source multimedia library written in C that presents a simple interface to various platforms’ graphics, sound, and input devices…”)
  • Looked at /opt/vc where the broadcom videocore libs and utils live. Note to self: some of the utils look useful for low level tweaking at run time.
  • Clarified the difference between Arduino and Rpi by running a blinky demo with the arduino hosted by the Pi
  • Cortex M-series is the microcontroller family of Arms. There are <$20 ARM M4 boards.
  • The logic level output lines are weak. Voltages are: USB = 5V, general i/o = 3.3V, HDMI = 1.8V.
  • It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that adafruit clear box and breakout board.
  • Everything is a file. How to do output in Bash:

echo “out” > /sys/class/gpio/gpio4/direction
echo “0” > /sys/class/gpio/gpio4/value
echo “1” > /sys/class/gpio/gpio4/value

  • The video output problem… There are cheap 3.5” video screens (for car rear view cameras) on amazon
  • From Jay: Demo of a Motorola dock for a phone for $55.   11.6” HDMI 1333 x 800. Works well with RPi.
  • Watch ebay, amazon, China direct sellers for cheap $15 -to $50 HDMI to VGA adapters.
  • In the initialization/setup tool set Pi to force HDMI so it doesn’t try to default to composite output at boot. It’ll get stuck there and won’t see the HDMI if plugged in later.
  • Pi has undocumented connectors for CSI (camera serial interface) and DSI (display serial interface) Broadcom is planning a backpack HDMI rez camera for RPi
  • The broken wireless driver problem is sometimes helped by using the Occidentalis v0.1 distro/mod from
  • All the cool kids are ditching plain Raspbian. Occidentilis (derived from Raspbian) is the one to have. It’s specifically for doing electronics. It has good support for SPI, I2C, one wire, and more WiFi sticks.  Black Raspberry – wheezy. Yes.
  • Drew will make a wiki at PS:One (DONE)
  • Computer vision is the killer app.
  • That, and network services that interact with the physical world.


*If you would like to show your work or lead a discussion on NERP, email ed at kineticsandelectronics dot com to set up a time.


08 2012

NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi) Meeting Monday Aug. 13 at 7pm

Rasberry Pi session on a dumb terminal

NERP (The Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi embedded systems interest group) will meet Monday August 13th at 7:00pm. During the last meeting we talked about what the Raspberry Pi is and the nature of its capabilities. Jay showed a couple of videos to demo the HDMI output and described the process of setting up a new RPi. Drew Fustini took notes and has posted some comments and resources on the PS:One public list.

After the meeting, a few people stayed around to try some fun but not completely simple experiments with the RPi’s serial port. Using what I learned in the NERP serial port experiments, I made a RPi demo for to the Evanston Mini Maker Faire. The demo involved adding a 1984 Televideo 910 dumb terminal to a serial port on the Pi. The terminal is text only and displays characters as green on black. In addition to the normal gui session on the LCD screen, the RPi ran a separate user login on the dumb terminal. The LCD screen showed a video clip every 40 seconds, and the terminal showed a root login. Quite a number of people stopped by to check out the terminal and were surprised to learn about the Raspberry Pi’s role in making the demo run. More images of the Raspberry Pi at the Faire, and more technnical photos are at

On Monday 8/13, Drew will demo some of the basic applications that one might run on the Pi, and possibly discuss some issues around the subject of hardware interfacing. Open discussion is always welcome. An hour before the NERP meeting begins, Jay will be available to help anyone who has a RPi and would like help installing the basic operating system and apps. Jay starts at 6pm. The regular meeting is at 7pm.


08 2012

Automation Night: Wednesday August 8 at 7pm

The second Wednesday of each month is our monthly Automation Night (AKA: DIY CNC night)!

Are you interested in automated manufacturing? Do you like the idea of owning your own 3D printer, laser cutter, automated mill, router table, or other automated tools? Then this is the night for you!

Automation Night is an ever-growing group of enthusiastic amateurs and professionals in the field of do it yourself automated manufacturing (ie 3D printers, CNC mills, laser cutters, cake frosters, etc) hardware and software.

Please come if you’re interested in learning more, already have an automated tool at home, want to show off your latest build, or just want to meet locals who are into this exciting technology!

  • Who: Open to the public
  • Where: Pumping Station: One, 3517/3519 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL
  • When: Wednesday, August 8th, 7pm
  • Cost: Free ($5 suggested donation for non-members to help us pay the rent)

Typical Schedule:

  • 7-7:10: people show up
  • 7:10-7:25: introductions round-robin (and sometimes a guest speaker)
  • 7:25-’till everyone leaves: schmoozing, machine assembly and show off, discussion of tools and techniques

Image: Model of Mars Curiosity Rover by Thingiverse user ThePlanetMike


08 2012

Arduino for Total Newbies workshop

Hackers on Train 2012 will be pulling into town the first week of August, and maker instructor extraordinaire Mitch Altman will stopping by our hackerspace for a special “Arduino for Total Newbies” workshop on Thursday, August 2nd.  Mitch writes:

You’ve probably heard lots about Arduino.  But if you don’t know what it is, or how you can use it to do all sorts of cool things, then this fun and easy workshop is for you.  As an example project, we’ll be creating a TV-B-Gone remote control out of an Arduino you can take home with you.

Registration: Eventbrite (space is limited so please register as soon as possible)

Cost: $40

Date: Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Time: 7:00 – 10:00pm

Where: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Workshop Itinerary:

  • Very short lesson to learn everything you need to know about electronics!
  • Then we will learn to solder. Don’t let this scare you! Mitch has taught well over 35,000 people to solder, many of whom have never made anything before in their lives. It is actually a very easy skill to learn. It is also very useful.
  • Then we will each make our own Arduino clone from a kit made by Ladyada: BoArduino
  • Now that we each have our own Arduino, we will set up the free and open-source software on our laptops (if you bring one) — Windows, MacOS, or Linux are all fine!
  • And then its time to make something and learn how easy it is to use Arduino! Mitch will show you how to read schematic diagrams, and you’ll put together your own TV-B-Gone remote control using your BoArduino. We will use a solderless breadboard. These are really useful, and provide a fast, and very easy way to put circuits together without needing to solder.



07 2012