Tag Archives: Arduino

Mini Maker Faire – or “How I annoyed hundreds of people”

On March 26th, our PR director forwarded an email to one of our mailing lists. This email detailed the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, which was to happen in a little over a month. I decided that PS:1 needed to have a presence there, and it couldn’t just be a booth with some folks sitting behind it talking about hackerspaces all day.  An electronic project was very much within my skillset, but I didn’t want it to become yet another ‘how to solder’ class — they had one or two of those already. I wanted something that could be assembled quickly and offered a chance to talk about electronics if the assembler was interested. If they weren’t, they should have a fun doodad to walk away with.

2014-04-30 18.57.30
The final revision of the board art

I needed a project, something that would engage kids and adults. Something that was easy to assemble, cheap and offered a chance to learn a little bit about electronics (but didn’t require it!). I recalled a field trip I went on in high school. We went to an engineering firm or something, and they had us assemble little crystal radios on card stock. There were just four components that twisted together on the back, then you hooked up the crystal earset and bam! crappy radio.  I settled on a crappy optical theremin – using a photoresistor to modulate the pitch of a buzzer.2014-04-27 20.28.52 Thinking about it, I decided I could probably manage something pretty cool with five components or less if I used a microcontroller of some sort. I settled on the Atmel ATTiny45, which is an AVR in an 8 pin DIP package. Some clever folks have already ported the Arduino libraries to work on these small chips, so all I had to do was come up with a design and write a few lines of code. I won’t bore you with excessive details, you can check out the github repo.

I had a number of parents and teachers assemble kits, too.
Justin helping someone out

I learned a lot with this project, and  I think some other people did too. I had kids as young as 5 assemble these boards with guidance, some of them with surprisingly little help. Everyone seemed to like them, and I ran out of components for kits. I’m calling it a huge success, and I hope that this project is replicated and taken to other faires, expos and ‘learn electronics’ nights.   –Derek

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NERP: Teensy 3.X – a 32-bit ARM microcontroller board for <20$

The Teensy name has been around for several years in the land of 8-bit MCU boards, but the 32-bit Arm platform introduced in Teensy v3.0, is a game-changer. PJRC (http://pjrc.com/teensy/teensy31.html)sent a few Teensy 3.0’s to Anna (our Electronics area host) at PS:1 with no discussion or fanfare. Thank-you, PJRC.

AT NERP TONIGHT, Ed will show the Teensy 3.0 hardware, Arduino tools, and some sample programs. After that introduction to the Teensy 3.0, Colorado Rob will show how he programs the Teensy 3.1 with a combination of tools and utilities from Eclipse, GNU, Freescale (manufacturers of the Teensy ARM MCU), and freeRTOS. ALSO – We’ll also raffle a new in box original aka white BeagleBone. Thanks to Drew for the donation!

The Teensy 3.X’s cost less than $20 and include all the peripherals you expect in a regular MCU. Some specs on the Teensy 3.1 are:

MCU MK20DX256VLH7 Cortex-M4, 72Mhz (96MHz overclocked), 256k flash, 64k RAM, 2k EEPROM, 34 dio pins, 21 analog input pins, etc.

The Teensy 3.0 is (mostly) pin compatible with the 3.1. The v3.0 uses an MK20DX128VLH5 MCU with 34 dio pins, 14 analog input pins, etc. Other spec values are one-half or less of the ‘DX256VLH7.

The 32-bit ARM chips are internally much more complicated than 8-bit processors, but the user doesn’t have to be aware of this when programming them. The Teensyduino IDE from PJRC provides a familiar user interface and Arduino(TM) libraries that make getting from zero to blinky very easy. There are additional libraries that provide access to some of the ARM-specific resources such as the USB port.

I’ve been exploring the v3.0 samples and am pleased with their sale price and performance. My setup is the basic Arduino install + Teensyduino on Linux. After doing the Arduino install I played with some sample code that does HID mouse and keyboard emulation on USB. Making it work was pretty straightforward.

Colorodo Rob writes:

I have been playing around with the Teensy 3.1 for a few days. It’s an ARM board for $17.

My thoughts on it so far are that the CPU is way overkill for most embedded things that you’d program with the Arduino programming environment and library.* Also, there is a huge increase in complexity to overcome to program if using “real tools”. But the Arduino tools are easy to set up and use. But for my embedded project, the Freescale CPU it uses has the potential to save a bit of money. Even though the CPU costs more than the AVR part I currently use, it includes a USB controller and a voltage regulator, so those component costs go away. I’ve been following a tutorial for setting up a dev tool chain for these CPUs using Eclipse, GCC and Freescale’s tools:


I’m looking at FreeRTOS (modified GPL) now. I’ve just gotten the ADC working with DMA which is pretty cool. My completion handler gets called when there are 32 samples ready for me, which is what I need for the carrier detect algorithm. The Freescale tools are pretty powerful for what they allow you to do, and an RTOS provides interesting departure from the sequential programming typical of Arduino development.

*Rob and I differ on this point…

NERP is not exclusively raspberry pi, the small computer interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One
at http://www.meetup.com/NERP-Not-Exclusively-Raspberry-Pi/
and https://pumpingstationone.org/

NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.Doors open at 6:30pm.The next meeting is Feb 3rd, 2014. 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

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For the past few months, my CNC Build Club project has been building a <a href=”http://www.shapeoko.com/”>ShapeOko CNC mill</a> from a kit Jeff donated to PS:One to replace the machine hacked into a pick-and-place. The ShapeOko belongs to PS:One and will (hopefully) be a permanent part of the space.

On July 21st, I moved the machine to its home in the shop, finished wiring it up, and tested the motion of the stepper motors. It moved like it was supposed to on the x, y, and z axes, so I moved on to drawing the Hello World job (the ShapeOko logo) in the air. That worked perfectly, too. So now it was the moment of truth – time to find a drawing implement, tape it to the gantry, and send the GCode to draw the logo on paper.

After several attempts at finding the right pen or marker, and figuring out how to tape it securely, this was the result:

helloworldsmall1 helloworldsmall2

A very happy me, and a successful Hello World.

I started this project to learn more about CNC projects from the ground up. Along the way, I learned a bit about tapping, soldering, and Arduinos too. Here’s a look back at it:

This was the beginning:

shapeoko1small   Then I tapped more Makerslide and added the frame and rails:


Then I added the Z-axis:


Edward Ford, the Shapeoko’s inventor, happened to be at the space the night I finished the mechanical build of the Shapeoko:


After tweaking and tightening up the mechanical build, I assembled all the electronics I would need, mostly from donations to the project. (Thank you!)  Edward came back for ShapeOko night as part of CNC Build Club, and we got the machine wired up. Unfortunately, the x-axis didn’t move properly, probably because the GRBLshield controller got damaged during rework. So Bart donated another GRBLshield, and Ryan did some heroic rework on its connectors, and this one worked!

Colin donated a Dewalt spindle to the project, and the next step is to get some end mills, test the machine’s milling, and certify some people. I’m also looking at installing some limit switches on the machine. Of course, there are also options like a different spindle, a dual-driven y-axis, or a more robust z-axis. Those will be things for the CNC Build Club and other interested members to decide on.

I got this far with more than “a little help from my friends”. Thank you to the people who offered help, parts, or advice (in no particular order): Jeff, Jay, Steve, Colin, Ryan, Edward, Cat, Bart, Jeremy, Fernando, Jesse, and Everett. If I accidentally left you out, I’m sorry!

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eTextiles Arduino Crafting Workshop this Saturday

reactive fabric controlling LEDs
reactive fabric controlling LEDs

When: February 2, 12:00 to 5:30


We’ll intersperse lessons with small projects. You’ll learn what an Arduino is, and how to sew it together with fun glowing, noisy things on a scarf or hat or shoes or whatever we find that we can work thread through. We’ll have a break with sandwiches so that no one goes hungry

What to bring

Required: Yourself, a laptop, and $42 dollars if you go home with an Arduino, else $20.

Suggested for maximum fun:

  • scrap fabric, zippers, buttons and notions
  • junk toys with keypads, switches, speakers, etc.
  • old gloves, scarves, hats and such
  • scissors, pliers and other small hand tools

Class size:

We have room for 20 people and some overflow, but we only have 20 Floras to give out. We’re using this meetup to handle RSVPs: eTextiles using Arduino

If you can’t make this workshop then sign up for the next workshop on March 2 here: eTextile Workshop

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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.


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Automation Night (was: DIY CNC Night) Wednesday 4/11 at 7pm

The second Wednesday of the month is coming up which means that our monthly Automation Night (was DIY CNC night)  is upon us again!

Are you interested in at-home automated manufacturing? Do you like the idea of owning your own 3D printer, laser cutter, automated mill, router table, or other astounding automatons? 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, 3354 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL
  • When: Wednesday, April 11th, 7pm
  • Cost: Free ($5 suggested donation for non-members to help us pay the rent)

Planned Schedule:

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

Image: 120 Cell by Thingiverse user George Hart

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Arduino 101 workshop at Flourish 2012

Arduino 101: A hands-on workshop presented at Flourish 2012 by Pumping Station: One (pumpingstationone.org) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Room 430 Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted, 1:00pm

Tim introduces PS1 to Flourish
Instructor: Ed Bennett

The purpose of the Flourish Conference is to promote the use and adoption of Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) by demonstrating the practical applications of FLOSS in the business and academic world.

The workshop had around 40 attendees. It introduced the Arduino platform starting from the basics of software, hardware, and microcontrollers. Since there were a lot of programmers at the conference, we went a little further into the “behind the scenes” aspect of the Arduino environment than is usual with basic introductions.

Eric looking for trouble

Working with circuits and breadboards isn’t hard, but you have to train your eye to see the physical sense of the thing. Starting afresh, it’s very easy to make mistakes. If it weren’t for the volunteers from PS1 who patrolled the room watching for people needing help, the workshop would not have been possible.  Patrick, Anna, Avner, Steve, and Eric stayed very busy for the whole two hours.

More images and the workshop outline are at KineticsAndElectronics.com.

Images by Anna Yu.

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Arduino printing sensor data to a character display

Circuits and Arduino (session 3) Sun. 3/18 12:30-2:30pm

Session 3 of the Circuits and Arduino class will meet Sun. 3/18. from 12:30-2:30pm. Session 3 will be Motors and Actuators part 1: Servos.

In session 2, we read analog sensor input into the Arduino, and had the Arduino print the data to a character display.  In session 3, we will read sensors with an Arduino, and then interpret the data to control the position of a servomotor. If you want to build an Arduino-controlled entity that has physical motion, this is a very good place to start.

Arduino printing sensor data to a character displayThe only new hardware component introduced this week will be the servo. I’ll have a small quantity of servos available for sale on Sunday for $12 ea. For class you will need only one servo, however there is the option to use more than that for your own experiments.


Who: everyone (members and non-members are welcome), seating is limited to 10 people. Reservations are preferred but not required.
Cost: $12 for a servo, unless you bring your own
 3/18/2012 12:30-2:30pm  (Please note the time change.)
 email ed at kineticsandelectronics dot com
 Pumping Station: One 3354 N Elston Ave Chicago, IL 60647


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Circuits and Arduino (session 2) 3/4/12 3pm

The second meeting of the Intro to Arduino Class will be Sunday March 4 at 3pm. There are 10 seats available, but observers are welcome after the 10 seats are filled. In the first meeting, we learned about soldering and reading circuit diagrams by making an Arduino work-alike from raw components and a blank proto-board.

In the second class we’ll

  • learn to use a breadboard for doing quick “sketches” with electronic parts.
  • use a pushbutton, a photoresistor, and a potentiometer to learn about providing inputs into an Arduino program.
  • use a serial data connection to communicate with a small LCD character display that can show two lines of text.
  • have a first look at ways of powering our circuit when it’s disconnected from the computer.

If you weren’t at the first meeting and therefore don’t have a copy of the board we made, you can still participate by bringing your own Arduino or Arduino-compatible.

The session-2 kit has a breadboard, LCD character display, heavy duty 5-volt adapter, and a couple of other things. If you attend, you should purchase the kit. Price for the session-2 kit is $29.00

I’ll take reservations by email and payment for the kit on site.

 That’s probably all that will fit in two hours. Last time we ran significantly overtime. This time, we’ll keep it to two hours.

Who: everyone (members and non-members are welcome), seating is limited to 10 people.

Cost: $29 for the kit. and to arrange payment.

When: 3/4/2012 3-5pm

Reservations: email ed at kineticsandelectronics dot com

Where: Pumping Station: One 3354 N Elston Ave Chicago, IL 60647

Picture credit: Shawn Blaszak
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Intro to Arduino class 2/19 3pm

There will be an intro-level Arduino class next Sunday 2/19/12 from 3-5pm in the big room. The emphasis is on understanding circuits and hooking stuff up.

This will be a 4-part series or so. There are 10 seats available, but observers are welcome after the 10 seats are filled.

I’ll have a kit for sale on site to get people started. Price is $29.00. It has a board, chip, USB adapter, LED’s, and a couple of other things to get you started. Because I’ll be packaging the kits for the occasion, I ask that if you attend, you purchase the kit.

I’ll take reservations by email and payment for the kit on site or by Paypal.

The first session (2/19) basic description is:

  • How to Solder: Solder up an Arduino workalike.
  • How to run the Arduino development application on your laptop.
  • Basic Arduino program structure. Run an LED. (Hello World blinky).
  • Show where the built-in examples live in the IDE. Run an input example and an output example.
  • For inspiration, demo a couple of circuits with an Arduino and some connected hardware.

That’s probably all that will  fit in two hours.
Future sessions may discuss Arduino-compatible accessories, motors, simple sensors, and so on. There are many possibilities.

Who: everyone (members and non-members are welcome), seating is limited to 10 people

Cost: $29 for the kit. Email ed at kineticsandelectronics dot com to reserve and to arrange payment.

When: 2/19/2012 3-5pm

Where: Pumping Station: One 3354 N Elston Ave Chicago, IL 60647

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