Posts Tagged ‘hackerspace’

Just Fucking Do it, or: How a Little Bit of Anarchy Helped Me

Most of us have spent a significant amount of time throughout our lives asking for permission. From parents, teachers, supervisors, community leaders, peers and everyone else. It’s a normal, natural part of life, and if no one did it then things would likely be worse for it.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing things I probably should have asked for permission to do. In high school, I basically lived in our auditorium, doing technical theatre stuff. I drilled holes in walls, re-wired electrical devices, modified the structure to fit my needs and probably did a lot of stuff I don’t even remember. Some combination of the right level of oversight (thanks, Ken!) and a sense of independence granted by the venue inspired me (and my peers) to take the initiative. In college, I kept right on drilling holes in the walls and changing things to suit me. No one ever noticed, at least no one who would tell me to stop.

I’ve always known when I was doing something I should probably clear with someone, but I’ve often ignored it because it’s more expedient to ask for forgiveness, right?

I’m also someone who has a lot of projects. I have projects that some people like enough that I don’t even have to execute them any more. I have a project that’s a pretty significant piece of infrastructure at a hackerspace that is likely one of the busiest in the world by several metrics (I’ll give you three guesses for which one).

The thing I would point to as the number one contributor to my willingness to change things and press forward with an idea is my membership at Pumping Station: One. PS:One is the greatest place in the world. When I came to visit, I saw a place that was running because a few people wanted it to run. As I learned about the history, I heard a story of people who basically willed the organization into existence. People told me I should change things, that I shouldn’t always feel the need to ask for permission. Folks told me it was a ‘physical wiki’ and it was up to the membership to decide what content we would have. If it wasn’t for PS:One, I wouldn’t have done most of the projects I’m now proud of.

It took me a while to catch on (more time than it took me to start changing things at schools, where this kind of activity is usually frowned upon. That might say something about me.), it was a few months before I started changing things, alongside some of the folks who joined around the same time I did. I quickly fell into the rhythm. I continue to make  changes to the space, because that’s what our culture encourages (and that’s exactly what I encourage every new member to do). We’ve handed out more than one hundred RFID fobs to people, and they now get into the building with them using hardware I nailed to a door (I’m not kidding – come visit and see) that runs code I wrote. That baffles me sometimes, but it’s awesome.

PS:One has changed me as much as I’ve changed it. I now find myself casually contributing to open source software when I see the opportunity – the other day I absentmindedly submitted a pull request to fix a typo in a utility I used once (while trying to help solve a problem I reported in the Linux kernel). This kind of contribution should be more widespread, and if PS:One can accomplish one aspect of its goal, I hope it’s encouraging people everywhere to contribute however they can.

Some folks think it’s just a vulgar phrase on the wall, but ‘Just Fucking Do It’ is integral to what PS:One is, and it’s incredibly important to me and many other people. We radically and categorically reject the idea that you should ask for permission for most things, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

30

06 2015

NERP Tonite!

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 the NERP agaenda is free-form. Hang out, talk embedded, show-and-tell, it’s all possible!

Also:
In April Steve Laya from Eliete Electronic Engineering visited NERP to acquaint us with the process of getting FCC certification for a new product. I’m not sure how he did it, but he made the subject entertaining if not a little bit fun. Steve was kind enough to send his slides so that we could make them available. The pdf is here. Elite-FCC-Presentation-NERP-4-13-2015

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

 

11

05 2015

NERP on Monday: STM’s ARM-based Nucleo Boards

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.

Rob Riggs AKA Colorado Rob is a PS:1 member, software engineer, ham radio operator, electronics hobbyist and entrepreneur.*

At NERP on Monday, Rob will be giving a presentation on the STM Nucleo boards. These are 12 distinct but similar ARM development boards from ST Micro. These are simple, easy to use and only $10. They have Arduino- compatible hardware interface for add-on boards (Arduino Shields), as well as their own interface that exposes additional rich features specific to the STM32 microcontrollers.

We will talk a bit about why Rob chose ARM for his next project, why he specifically chose STM, and the capabilities of the various Nucleo boards. We will cover the mbed.org development site, the development process, and the libraries available. We will also provide a brief overview of doing a bit more low-level development using STM32CubeMX and STM’s HAL (hardware abstraction layer) libraries using the GNU ARM toolchain on Windows, Linux, and OS X.

*Copy for this announcement was supplied by Rob. Thanks Rob!
Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at

NERP – Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

Chicago, IL
326 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, Apr 27, 2015, 7:00 PM
8 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,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One

25

04 2015

NERP 4/13/15: Wireless Data, the Small Inventor, and the FCC

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.
These days embedded computing “means” wireless data. Wireless chips and modules are cheap and easy to get. Small inventors (e.g. individuals or low-funded ad-hoc groups) are getting all kinds of ideas for wireless projects and products for the IoT (Internet of Things), wearables, WiFi, ZigBee, BLE, etc.

ESP8266-Sparkfun-item-13252

A SparkFun ESP8266 WiFi radio. Small and cheap. All the cool kids want one.

Because offcc-seal_rgb_emboss-on-white FCC requirements, the path to market for traditional wireless devices can be long, complex, and expensive. Unfortunately, the regulations are hard to read, even when made “accessible”. The “modular” data radio is an FCC innovation that is supposed to lift some of the regulatory burden off makers of small-run products. Does it?

NERP has several questions about inventing wireless devices that can be sold to end-users. For example:

  • What is FCC certification?
  • For small inventors doing small wireless products, is FCC certification necessary?
  • Are there combinations of power and frequency that are exempt from oversight?
  • What are some design choices can make compliance cheaper, easier, and faster to get?
  • What are the steps to certification? Where do you start?
  • How much of the process can you do by yourself? Whom do you need to hire?

Elite-logo-largeThe FCC has an interest in pretty much any device that emits radio waves. Steve Laya from Elite Electronic Engineering, Inc. in Downers Grove will help us understand how FCC regs relate to Maker/Hacker/DIY inventors and entrepreneurs.
Elite does electronics compliance testing for a number of industries and government agencies. For the FCC, they do the actual tests and issue certifications of compliance. Bring Questions!

Attending NERP is free, and no one is compensated for organizing or presenting. Nothing in NERP presentations constitutes actual legal or engineering advice. If you need the help or advice of a lawyer or engineer, please hire one.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at

NERP – Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

Chicago, IL
312 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, Apr 13, 2015, 7:00 PM
5 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,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One

09

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.
med_ek-tm4c123gxl_tivalp_angle_new
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
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

30

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! https://plus.google.com/photos/+DrewFustini/albums/6126873248127580209?banner=pwa

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!

http://www.northbrook.info/

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

16

03 2015

NERP on Monday — The Yocto Project™ and Open Enea Linux

NERP UN-POSTPONED! “Open Enea Linux and BeagleBone Black” is tonight, Jan 19th

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.

Mark Mills is an embedded hardware/software engineer with experience using many different hardware platforms and software systems including RTOS’s and Unix/Linux.

Tonight Mark will introduce the Yocto Project, Open Enea Linux, and do a brief demo on a BeagleBone Black.

About the Yocto Project™
The Yocto Project™ is an open source collaboration project (including TI, Intel, Freescale, and others) that provides templates, tools and methods to help you create custom Linux-based systems for embedded products regardless of the hardware architecture. Open Enea Linux uses the Yocto Project as a base platform to make it easy to explore using a Yocto based Linux on an inexpensive development board.

About Enea
Enea is an international software company based in Stockholm, Sweden. Enea offers proprietary and Open Source operating system solutions (RTOS and Linux), including development tools, network protocols, databases and middleware. They are the third-largest player in the world for realtime operating systems.

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. The next meeting is January 5th, 2015.

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, BBB

19

01 2015

NERP on Monday! Embedded Android on the BBB and Intel Minnowboard

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computerand 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.

android-nerp

Andrew Kilkenny is a professional embedded Android kernel hacker. At NERP on Monday he will introduce Android as an emebedded OS. He’ll show functional demos, then after the meeting have a hands-on Android compilation festival. If you want to partcipate in the hands-on part, clear out some space on your hard drive for Eclipse and the Android Libraries!

From Andrew:
The Android Operating system has revolutionized the embedded world. Originally developed for your phone, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) enables the adaptation of the cell-phone oriented operating system into any product you can dream of. You can find Android in Airplane In-Flight-Entertainment Systems, in Washing Machines, and in Refrigerators. Any embedded system with an LCD screen can benefit from Android’s advanced Graphical User Interface (GUI) tools by rapidly developing Android Applications using the stock development environment. Join us for NERP where we explore how to use embedded Android on the BeagleBone Black (BBB) and Minowboard MAX. We’ll load the software, hop in on a command line, and twiddle some bits! We’ll also go over Android software architecture and practical applications of embedded Android. Following the NERP session there will be a guided demonstration on downloading and installing the AOSP and eclipse tools. A computer with Ubuntu (12.04 or 14.04) and lots of hard drive space will be needed to build the AOSP.
Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at

NERP – Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

Chicago, IL
280 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, Dec 8, 2014, 7:00 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

and
http://pumpingstationone.org/
Doors open at 6:30pm. The next meeting is December
8th, 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, IoT, Android

 

06

12 2014

NERP Tonight — Wireless Toys

NERP Tonight — Wireless Toys

The Internet of Things (IoT) need lots of options for wireless communication hardware. Lots of variables are involved in choosing the wireless chip or module that links your new Thing to all the other Things.

A popular last millimeter link is UART based serial. the big end of the link can be wifi, or uart-style data., or whatever convention you come up with. This class of hardware has been around for a long time. The serial to wifi link used to be called a com-port redirector. Commercial units could easily cost $200. The competition pressure brough on by the IoT movement has produced a crop of really inexpensive data links. They list now on Amazon for $2-$10. A lot of them have Arduino sample code available. I just bought two different boards from Amazon, and tonight I’ll evaluate one or both units and see what’s involved in making them go.
Esp8266-1

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…­
and
http://pumpingstation…­
Doors open at 6:30pm. The next meeting is November 24th, 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

24

11 2014

NERP Tonight — The MinnowBoard from Intel, and BeagleBone Black Internals

NERP Tonight — The MinnowBoard from Intel, and BeagleBone Black Internals

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.

The MinnowBoard is one of the newer open (or open-ish) hardware and software single board computers. The Minnowboard showcases Intel’s Atom processor. The audience is the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone crowd, but the feature set and price puts the MinnowBoard in a different class. Drew got his last week and has gotten a good overview of the system. He’ll share his findings with us tonight.

The BeagleBone is a fast-moving software project where major pieces of the system are under constant revision. I’ve been digging around the BeagleBone Black’s i/o system and playing with some configuration options. Tonight I’ll show a couple of sources of tools and code that I’ve found useful.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at

NERP – Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

Chicago, IL
275 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, Nov 10, 2014, 7:00 PM
6 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

and
http://pumpingstationone.org/
Doors open at 6:30pm. The next meeting is November 10th, 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

10

11 2014