Group Project: Making Toolboxes

20160121_232528Last Monday, NegativeK got the funny idea that he wanted to do a project to practice his sheetmetal work.  20ga mild steel sheet was ordered, and we collected in cold metals to make some very expensive tool trays.

 

Making a project like this, is a bit of a puzzle.  Before we get to the tough stuff, we first do layout.  20160121_213737 Here’s Toba wishing we had a printer that would do the layout for him.

Once we all finished drawing lines all over our sheetmetal we had to come up with how we were going to make all the cuts.
20160121_201027That’s an 8″ shear.  It makes cutting sheemetal a magical experience.  It’s quiet, smooth, and pretty easy to control.  The only thing to remember, is it’s like working with the tip of a pair of scissors.  It cuts a long way in front of where you “see” it cutting, and if you reach the end of the cut, it makes a punch mark.  Just… it’s steel instead of paper.

That does mean making inside cuts is a bit of a challenge.  We all had unique approaches to dealing with the inside corners.  Now that we have three and a half toolboxes, I think that the “best” method, would have been drilling holes at each inside corner.  Instead, I twisted and wiggled out the metal, and used a file to clean up the corner.
20160121_213731Here’s my tool tray blank.  All of the fold lines are marked, and it’s sitting on top of my tool tray handle.  I didn’t get good shots of how we did the handles.  They were definitely easier than the body of the tool tray.  To go from that flat sheet of metal, to a three dimensional tool tray, requires a sheet metal brake.

20160121_221810Here’s Toba setting up to do his bends.  NegativeK found that our brake won’t do seams well.  As if that would stop us.  We all ended up using a hammer to finish those folds.

Those folds were simple in description, but not so simple in practice.  None of ours look machine made.  But they do hide the sharp edges, and make the tool trays safe to use.
20160121_231527The handles, and sides were affixed to each other with the space’s spot welder.

Spot welding is a very quick method for joining metal.  I’m glad we’ve got that tool in the space.  I had suggested that we might rivet the parts together, but between drilling and attempting to rivet, we’d have spent two or three times longer affixing the parts together.

The welds also have the air of “professionally made.”  Or at least “not in a garage” made.

20160121_232535At the end of the night, Here’s what we had.  TachoKnight, Toba, NegativeK, and My boxes.
20160121_232418In the future, we won’t put the short guy furthest from the camera.

 

22

01 2016

NERP Tonite! systemd with Bonnie King

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.

Bonnie King is a Linux Administrator at Fermilab and works on the Scientific Linux distribution. At Nerp tonight, Bonnie will give us a tour of systemd. If you work with embedded linux, this is must have, must know material.

The architecture of systemd as it is used by Tizen. Several components, including telephony, bootmode, dlog and tizen service, are from Tizen and are not components of systemd

The architecture of systemd as it is used by Tizen. Several components, including telephony, bootmode, dlog and tizen service, are from Tizen and are not components of systemd

“Linux” is the kernel of an operating system. You generally can’t see it, feel it or touch it directly, but you know it’s there by what it does. At boot, the kernel launches “init”, the process with Process ID number 1. Everything else is started by by init. On my computer, init, PID 1 is /lib/systemd/systemd. systemd is “new”, sort of. It’s been around for several years, but has recently taken over lots of core system functions that have been provided by some very traditional Unix-based tools and utilities. When I look under the hood of my Ubuntu system, it looks very different than it did a couple of years ago. What goes for the desktop goes for embedded, too.

from http://freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/systemd/
“systemd is a suite of basic building blocks for a Linux system. It provides a system and service manager that runs as PID 1 and starts the rest of the system. systemd provides aggressive parallelization capabilities, uses socket and D-Bus activation for starting services, offers on-demand starting of daemons, keeps track of processes using Linux control groups, supports snapshotting and restoring of the system state, maintains mount and automount points and implements an elaborate transactional dependency-based service control logic. systemd supports SysV and LSB init scripts and works as a replacement for sysvinit. Other parts include a logging daemon, utilities to control basic system configuration like the hostname, date, locale, maintain a list of logged-in users and running containers and virtual machines, system accounts, runtime directories and settings, and daemons to manage simple network configuration, network time synchronization, log forwarding, and name resolution.”

A number of influential people in the Linux community have strong philosophical and practical differences with the design of systemd and the way in which it’s become ubiquitous across distros. Nevertheless, mainstream Linux continues to move toward systemd and away from System V and BSD init. systemd is installed by default in Ububntu since ver 15.04. (April 2015). If you work with Linux at a low level, for instance in embedded applications, a knowledge of systemd is a must have.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at

NERP – Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

Chicago, IL
399 members

NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station One in Chicago. (Chicago’s oldest and finest hackerspace.) NERP…

Next Meetup

Bring questions, demos, personal research, etc. to share.

Monday, Jan 18, 2016, 7:00 PM
10 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

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, Linux,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Pumping Station One

18

01 2016

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