Just wanted to share a labor of love I’ve been working on for the past month or so. It’s a night light/table center-piece/ whatever you want it to be LED illuminaire.
Acrylic rods over an individually addressable LED matrix (WS2812b) encased in a single solid piece of acrylic and driven by an Arduino Nano. I shaved down the acrylic over each LED to just a few millimeters to create a natural diffusing lens over each LED.
It also reacts to external lights sources (and sometimes its own…still working on that). When there is a lot of light it gets brighter and vice versa. The patterns and colors are completely random and the Arduino script is based off DedeHai’s original linked here. More of my work can be found at www.codyryandesign.com. You can also Instagram follow me @codyryandesign. Thank you for letting me share!
Huge thanks to my brilliant girlfriend Jessica for standing in for a few shots!
Some fellow hackers and makers (and former PS:One members) shared an exciting project with us and we’d like to help them get the word out.
The Artemis 1 is on a mission to send a high altitude balloon into near-space on August, 21st, 2017 to film the total solar eclipse. It’s a collaboration between the South Side Hacker Space and Chicago’s Remote Astronaut Crew.
The team is one of many participating in this NASA sponsored program, where launches all across the country will simultaneously capture video and still images of the eclipse from altitudes of 100,000 feet and more. You can learn more about the program here:
Artemis 1, like many before, is looking toward the sky for opportunities to teach, learn, and grow. Leading by example through hands-on experimentation with measurable results is the best way to instill a passion for learning and a drive to reach higher.
Artemis 1 seeks your vital support on this campaign and the fundraising page can be found here:
Mosfets – They can be “on” — They can be “off” — They can even be in between! Tonight at NERP, entrepreneur, engineer, and really good teacher Ste Kulov will guide us into the world of mosfets. Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors if you want to impress your friends.
Since mosfets are a wide and deep subject, I asked Ste where he wanted to focus his talk. With great economy of words, he said it better than I could.
“Most of the generic stuff, fairly quickly. A few simple examples I was probably going to cover are: making a logic inverter, a logic controlled load-switch, and reverse battery protection. Simulating in LTspice [circuit CAD], since I can draw that stuff in two seconds and put it on the screen. If you want to do a power MOSFET application, I would need to see the datasheet for it. Also keep in mind that high current stuff is no good for breadboards. If you need a list: 4 vs 3 terminal, body diode, Rds(on), gate drive, switching speed, N-channel, P-channel, CMOS digital logic, CMOS analog switches.”
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
As you may have noticed, the Small Metals area has moved to where hot metals used to live. The process has been gradual but successful. We conducted an experiment over the weekend involving plaster investment and molten bronze. There were many variables in this process including new-to-the-space machinery: the kiln, the electric melting furnace, and the vacuum investment table. As well as different materials used, possibly expired flux, a new kind of plaster, and a type of bronze that had been melted a number of times before. All in all it was a great success. Here is a brief overview along with some photos to enjoy.
Fresh out of the pickle!
Finished rings! All of them (except the black stone in the middle) were cast at PS1.
Do you make things at Pumping Station: One? Do you want to volunteer and help us show the awesomeness of PS:One at Maker Faire? We need you! Pumping Station: One will have a Makerspace booth at Maker Faire Chicago, April 22nd-23rd 2017, and we want to help you exhibit your stuff! Click HERE for our volunteer and exhibition form and let us know when you want to show your work, or when you’re free to help us set up and run our booth.
If you have a larger project, or a demo, or something that you just want to show independently, you can go HERE to fill out an independent Maker Exhibit application, and make sure you let them know you want to be set up near the Pumping Station: One booth. We want a HUGE PS1 presence at this Chicago Maker Faire, so please, sign up, tell your friends, and let them know we need Makers!
I first noticed PS:1 because of the sign on the door – the, “Yes we have a Tardis” message. I was intrigued enough to cross the street, look up and see, yep, there’s a Tardis up there. A freaking Tardis!
‘Clearly, this is the place for me,’ I thought.
Fast forward several years. PS:1 has changed and grown, getting bigger and better, but sadly, the Tardis, has not weathered (pun intended) the years well. I have been on the roof several times over the years. Each time I stopped to take a look at the Tardis, noting that maybe with some TLC, it could be restored to its former glory as a beacon for folks who wanted to find a place to be whimsical, playful, and creative.
Over the past year particularly, it became extremely obvious that it was suffering real damage, and if there was going to be any chance of saving it, the time had come to try. At best, I figured we could disassemble and rebuild it, and even possibly use it to hide the new dust collector. Upon investigation, we determined that the wood was rotted through, and that it was a real hazard to everyone and everything on Elston Ave. below. A bad storm would likely have ripped off large chunks, sending them flying straight into a law suit.
So Ken, Andy, and I, with assistance from Kyle who happened to have a pickup truck with an empty bed, the disassembly and lowered the pieces to the street below. Most were lowered by some rope Andy just happened to have; some pieces we simply chucked overboard (always timed so nobody was anywhere near PS:1). Given how heavy some of the parts were, I’m quite impressed with the folks who got it up there in the first place!
After the large pieces came down, Kyle sent up some garbage bags and we cleaned up the rest, leaving little to indicate that anything had ever been up there. Mike Skilton was on hand to help unload Kyle’s truck and cut the chunks down to dumpster size. As I write this, a fair number of the pieces are sitting on a pallet on the loading dock, waiting for the dumpster to be emptied so they can be thrown away.
This makes me sad.
The Tardis has been around since very early days. It can be seen on PS:1’s Flickr pool going back to the original space. The Tardis is an emblem of the spirit of the space, and demonstrates what can be done by a group of individuals with a common purpose: to make something awesome that makes others happy. Personally, I think of PS:1 not as a collection of tools and equipment, but of interesting people who want to make and do interesting things – and who can and do come together from time to time to make PS:1 itself better. PS:1 is the place it is because of people helping each other. To anyone who has installed something, volunteered for a committee, fixed equipment, or shared an idea to make the place better for everyone, I say this: you have made PS:1 more than just a random collection of tools. You have made it a community.
I propose that it is time for the community to come together once again to build Tardis 2.0. I whipped up a rough design that would use a steel skeleton clad in weatherproof paneling. In addition to having its windows lit up, it could enclose a weather station and even a webcam.
I believe the PS:1 folks can bring their skills to replace the empty space on the roof with a better, more durable Tardis that will continue to elicit smiles and curiosity from passers-by (I can think of three separate times when people have shown up for the open house because they wanted to know what PS:1 was solely because they saw the Tardis on the roof) and hopefully will see it like I did: as an sign that this small beige building is a great community and space for people to have fun and be creative.
Circuit Patches are wearable circuit boards made from knitted yarn and wire. I’m doing a workshop Sunday using these. Check it out!
I use a knitting machine to make the patches. Add snap buttons and attach the circuits to anything you like.
Rapid prototyping for Wearables!
I made these patches for my workshop this Sunday, 3-5pm. Participants will receive a 3″ x 5.5″ knitted proto-boards in black, pink, or teal. Solder LEDs and a battery on it, and you can add lights to your clothes, just in time for Halloween.
Of course, there’s lots of things beyond LEDs you could add– I’m hoping to do workshops for interactive circuits using the knitted protoboards in the future.
I’ve made a number of circuits with this method so far, often in black. For this workshop, we’re adding fun colors: circuit-board-teal and… pink! I couldn’t resist adding 10mm gumdrop LEDs to the pink protoboard pictured above.
PLEASE NOTE: NERP WILL GET UNDER WAY AT EXACTLY 7PM ON MONDAY!
Next Monday at NERP we’ll have a double feature. We’ll hear part 2, of Ste and Nicks’s story of adventure in bringing a successful consumer product to market. Part 1 was about technology, and part 2 is about the _business_ side of bootstrapping HD Retrovision (http://hdretrovision.com). Also on Monday, Dave Conroy will tell us about the PiAQ Open Source Indoor Air Quality Sensor for the Raspberry Pi (http://piaq.io).
About HD Retrovision:
Nick and Ste have been friends since 1999 and both share a passion for playing the (now retro) video game systems that they grew up on. Since then they’ve both studied Electrical Engineering at University, and are now business partners in a company called HD Retrovision that is dedicated to improving the modern day experience with retro consoles while making it accessible to as many people as possible. In this presentation, Ste and Nick will walk you through the ups, downs, and lessons learned while taking a college project and turning it into a profitable company. This talk will cover how they took the idea for HD Retrovision’s Genesis and SNES cables out of the lab, got it funded, and eventually mass-produced overseas.
About the PiAQ: As an R&D Engineer for NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology & CRT Labs, Dave Conroy investigates emerging technologies, educates NAR members & the public through presentations, webinars, blogs and podcasts, and develops products for use by members. He’s presented to REALTORS® on the national, state and local levels. The PiAQ is an open hardware and software indoor air quality sensor developed by the National Association of REALTORS’ CRT Labs. The goal for this project is to make information about the air people are breathing more accessible.
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
In the last days of Radio Shack, I was in a store on Michigan Avenue when I spotted, buried amongst the disassembled shelving units and discarded phone cases, a small red box that turned out to be an Arduino-based soldering project, the 2770158 LED Cube (https://github.com/RadioShackCorp/2770158-LED-Cube). I bought it for something like $5, took it home, and promptly put it on the shelf as a project I’ll ‘get to’ at some point.
The honest truth is that I was somewhat intimidated by the soldering; it’s a 3x3x3 cube of LEDs that are soldered together and the lights were smaller than i was expecting, and looking at some pics of the final result, I resigned myself to likely screwing it up and at best hoping that I might learn something from what I assumed would be a complete failure. So I somehow justified to myself that, in order to not waste my $5, I shouldn’t actually try to make the thing I spent $5 on.
At some point I hit myself with a clue-by-four and realized the stupidity of my situation; accept the possible loss of the $5 and actually try instead of fretting about what-ifs. So I took the kit to PS:1, sat down in the Electronics area, got out the soldering iron, magnifying glass, and went to work. It took a couple of hours, and I was certain, absolutely positively certain, that, even though it looked right, there was no chance that I had actually gotten the leads all wired together correctly, especially the ones in the middle that were extremely hard to reach with the big tip of the soldering iron. Okay, well, only thing left was to actually plug it into the Arduino Uno I had, load up the sample sketch (available in the RS GitHub repo above), and see what happens.
I fired up the Arduino IDE, loaded the sample sketch, hit upload, and all of a sudden all the lights came on as it started through the canned routines. I was initially skeptical, checking every single light to see which one was never lighting up, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I had actually done it, all the lights actually lit up as part of the demo routine, and HOLY CRAP I MADE A THING AND IT WORKED!!!!1111
And then in my excitement I dropped it, ripping the USB cord from the Arduino, and landed lights-down on the floor. Well, of course I did. Of course I broke it, right? But as I checked the connections, nothing had come loose, there were no broken connections. I plugged the Arduino back in, and sure enough, it happily came back to life and started going through the routine. Whew!
So I resolved to make this truly my own; running a demo program that I didn’t write was not ‘finishing the job’. I remembered the QBasic ‘Snake’ program that drew a line bouncing around the screen, hitting the edge and then randomly turning and going off into another direction. Ah, but this is a cube, in threeeee deeeeeeee, so the challenge would be that more interesting, especially as I resolved to sit down and actually try to implement it without any help from the Internet; a three-dimensional matrix of lights, translated into C++.
This is where I remembered a line from Top Gun that went something along the lines of “Our pilots had become dependent on missiles” as a reason for loss of dogfighting ability. (And then I got that Everly Brothers song stuck in my head). Well, writing C++ for years, I had become dependent on the containers provided by the Standard Template Library (map, vector, etc.). While the Arduino is programmed using C++, it’s really a pretty small subset of C++ (which sort-of-kinda-not-really makes sense) and the STL is not available; go ahead and #include <map> all you like, all the compiler’s gonna do is complain. So I knew I’d have to regain some amount of dogfighting capability and do all the array/matrix stuff in pure C. So I decided the best way to keep myself honest and regain some of the skills I think I used to have, I created a C file in Vim (using Emacs always made me angry, straight-up I hate this, whatever this is), wrote the program, saved, compiled and ran straight from the terminal prompt. Again and again and again.
One of the biggest problems was forcing myself to get past the ‘sheesh, this woulda been easy to use <insert some STL thing> here’ and just focus on getting the values in the right cells of the matrix. It took a few hours to get the algorithm right, but pretty soon I had it spitting out numbers that seemed right, but how was I gonna know that it was right?
This is where I decided to make a quick diversion and build a virtual version of the matrix in OpenSCAD:
Using this model, I could walk through the output of the program and verify that the snake was truly moving correctly around the matrix. I rotated the model around, checking that the numbers were right and HOLY CRAP I MADE ANOTHER THING THAT WORKED!
The last thing to do was to actually get the program to work with the LEDs. This is where the spartan documentation of the original Radio Shack code became a problem; the sketch did a passable job of explaining how the lights were addressed, but the examples were all arrays of pre-baked values without having to do anything dynamic, and my program was all dynamic. I studied how the demo program worked, started fiddling with the values, and discovered how to set the bits in the right way to turn on individual lights, on specific levels. From there I modified my C program and added some code to translate my positioning, which turned out to be the mirror opposite of the way the lights are addressed; I solved the problem by physically turning the Arduino around so I was looking at the other side. Problem solved!)
I uploaded my sketch to the Arduino and it suddenly the lights were lighting up in what appeared to be a snake moving around the matrix. HOLY CRAP I GOT IT TO WORK!!!!!!11111
This is a long post for what amounts to a small light toy, but whilst I was feeling rather verbose (a consequence of sitting and waiting for an unrelated program to finish), I can’t emphasize how foolish I feel for not starting all this earlier; fear of failure is a very, very powerful emotion and if there’s a TL;DR in here somewhere, it’s that it is always better to try and fail than to never try at all, which is something PS:1 has done a very good job of teaching me.