Earth is the Hackspaces Planet

January 17, 2019

NYC Resistor

Intro to Arduino: Sensors and Input/Output on Sun, Jan 27

Intro to Arduino: Sensors and Input/Output is taking place at NYC Resistor on Sun, Jan 27. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Want to get started with physical computing?

Get your tickets on Eventbrite.

by Classes at January 17, 2019 06:00 PM

January 16, 2019

NYC Resistor

Laser Cutting: Cut and Etch Your Own Designs with Our Laser Cutter on Sat, Jan 26

Laser Cutting: Cut and Etch Your Own Designs with Our Laser Cutter is taking place at NYC Resistor on Sat, Jan 26. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

These classes fill up, reserve your spot now!

Get your tickets on Eventbrite.

by Classes at January 16, 2019 06:00 PM

January 13, 2019


Introduction to Arduino Workshop on Saturday 2nd March 2019

James Fowkes and Ian Dickinson are planning to re-run the popular Introduction to Arduino Workshop on Sat 2nd March 2019 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at Nottingham Hackspace.

This is a great way to get started with the Arduino and requires no previous knowledge of electronics or software. You will start by getting a LED to flash (the beginning of all great electronics projects), and progress to adding switch inputs, controlling a motor and reading analogue sensors.

Cost for the workshop is £25 with all money (less Eventbrite fees) going to the hackspace.

Arduino starter kits will be provided for use at the workshop. We will also have starter kits (£35) and Arduino Unos (£18) available for sale.

To book, please visit:

This workshop is limited to 15 places, but as this event often sells out, early booking is advised.

Feedback from a recent attendee: “Attended recent workshop, it really is very professionally run! The trainers inspirational and empathetic to slower learners, supporting material is well organised relevant to the workshop, reasonably paced. The logistics flawless all students had what we needed on a desk when the class started and at each section as we advanced through the projects, Congrats to everyone involved.”

by Jon Woodcock at January 13, 2019 09:39 PM


Information Security Study Group

What: Information Security Study Group When: Wednesday, January 16 at 18:00 – 19:30 Recurring: Weekly on Wednesday, until Mar 28, 2019 Cost: FREE Are you interested in information security? Perhaps interested in ethical hacking? Are you taking the Security+ or CISSP exam? Do you want to study with other beginners? If so, come to LVL1 ...continue reading "Information Security Study Group"

by Tim VanSant at January 13, 2019 05:57 PM

Events for the Week of 13 January 2018

Monday, 14 January, 8:00pm - 10:00pm LVL1 Soundbuilders Tuesday, 15 January, 8:00pm - 9:00pm Open Meeting and Making Tuesday, 15 January, 9:00pm - 10:00pm Directors Meeting Wednesday, 16 January, 6:00pm - 7:30pm Information Security Study Group Wednesday, 16 January, 7:00pm - 9:00pm Dust Collector Build Thursday, 17 January, 5:00pm - 9:00pm Power Racing Series Thursday, ...continue reading "Events for the Week of 13 January 2018"

by Tim VanSant at January 13, 2019 05:45 PM

Pumping Station: One

How to watch the live stream of Tuesday’s election Q&A

Update: great event! A recording is available here.

All are encouraged to attend the candidate Q&A at PS1 on Tuesday, January 8, 8:15PM. Come for the pizza, stay for the democracy!

But if you can’t make it in person, we will be broadcasting it live in amazing 360° pano-vision. The easiest way to participate is to bookmark this page and click the video below to join in:

For a more immersive experience that includes chat, reaction emojis, and 360° panning, head over to the Facebook website. And don’t forget that you can participate directly in the candidate Q&A even if you are remote.

The live stream will be recorded and made available for viewing after the event.

The post How to watch the live stream of Tuesday’s election Q&A appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at January 13, 2019 03:58 PM

January 12, 2019

NYC Resistor

February 2nd: All-Day CryptoParty

Photo by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

CryptoParty returns to NYC Resistor on February 2nd, 2019 for a full day of learning about your digital defense in the age of mass surveillance from Fort Meade and Madison Ave. Stop by anytime between 3PM and 9PM and enjoy snacks and skills from a variety of online security practitioners and researchers. We’re hosting a full day mix of and hands-on-help with everything from vetting a good VPN to navigating Signal and more!

If you’ve never been to Resistor before, check our Participate page for more info, including the Code of Conduct. Hope to see you there! If you’ve never been to a CryptoParty before, please check out the CryptoParty Guiding Principles.

BONUS: If you happen to already use PGP, dust off that encryption key and come down for a key-signing ceremony to add some signatures to your public key. Gotta catch them all, etc etc. Time TBA.


Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 3:00PM – 9:00PM.


NYC Resistor (between Bergen and Dean)
87 3rd Ave. Floor 4 (use this OSM link if you’re Richard Stallman)
Brooklyn, NY 11217

by David Huerta at January 12, 2019 08:53 PM

Hackerspace Envy — A Visit to Revspace in The Hague

I just had my second visit to Revelation Space, a hackerspace in Den Haag, Netherlands, and this time — I took pictures. This place is seriously tidy and organized, and is full of slick automations. There’s so much inspiration I had to write it all down.

Revspace flipdot display

Label All the Things!

At some point Revspace hit upon the same realization that we did: it’s better to just bite the bullet and buy a full standardized set of sturdy shelving and compatible bins than to hack together a storage solution with whatever free and cheap bins you find floating around. It’s no fun trying to get parts out of drawer that won’t open because the plastic tower it’s in is so laden down with stuff that the drawer can’t open anymore.

Revspace shelving

And, omg, they label EVERYTHING. This is awesome, though, because I think a lot of newbie energy is wasted when people want to help clean up but don’t yet know where things go.

Revspace shelving

The policy at Revspace is that when you’re done you clean up 110% of your space. And seeing completely bare tables when I first arrived early in the day convinces me that they actually do it. And they have arranged things to facilitate it — of course with the great shelving and labeling, but also with cleaning supplies out front and easy to get to. They even have a washing machine for washing shop towels to cut down on paper towel use. (You can see the bins for clean and dirty rags on the shelf.)

Revspace soldering kit

I’m really taking inspiration from their soldering station storage solution, and I’m ready to go replace the falling-apart cardboard boxes that are holding our soldering irons at Resistor. They’ve gone the extra step and include everything you need — including desoldering tools, a roll of solder, helping hands, and even a silicone baking mat from Ikea to solder on so you don’t burn the table. And of course, each box is thoroughly labeled.

Revspace soldering kit

I should also mention, that box is sitting on their surface mount soldering station, which was spotless, of course (except for my coffee cup, oops).

Revspace trash bins

Do people not use you space’s wiki? Do they also not know how to deal with common problems around the space? Here’s a way to kill two birds with one stone: post QR codes that take you right to relevant page in the wiki. The ones in the photo tell you what to do when the bins are full.

Chore Management

Speaking of taking out the trash, here is their solution for dealing with the random chores that need to get done in any space that no one wants to do, or that people feel they don’t get recognition when they do do them so why bother?

Revspace chore bounty sheet

They have a simple sign-up sheet on the fridge. Folks can sign up ahead of time to do a chore, and when it’s done it gets signed-off on and they get paid with a deposit into their RevBank account (more on that in a bit). Here sweeping up or vaccuuming gets you 10 euros, taking out the trash 5 euros, and mopping 25 euros.

Hackerspace Banking

Revspace revbank terminal

Banking in the Netherlands does correspond to Dutch stereotypes — which is a great thing. You can always split a check in a restaurant and they have some slick mobile apps to keep track of who paid for what during trips and outings that also provide ways for everyone to be reimbursed easily. So it’s no surprise to learn that a Dutch hackerspace has developed their own accounting and funds transfer system to help members pay and get paid. And that would be RevBank.

The public-facing part of RevBank is a terminal sitting right next to the fridge and the snacks, with a barcode scanner attached so you can scan your item, then scan or type your name, and you’re done. The source is here. It’s written in .. uhm, perl. Have fun with that.

I gave it a whirl while I was there, and was able to top up my account with a bank transfer (this statement makes sense in Europe — you can also do cash instead). And then I used it to pay for all my snacks that day. Worked great, quite efficient.

Revspace revbank terminal

Everything is on MQTT and I Love It

Revspace space switch and buttons

Around the space they have several things under automation, including the sound system, door locks, laser log, a flipdot display (!), and they also have several sensors. I made a dashboard for Resistor with the dashboard modules in Node Red, but I like the look of their’s, which is in Grafana, so I’m looking forward to playing with that.

Revspace dashboard in grafana

MQTT is a simple publish/subscribe protocol that makes it easy to get a scattered herd of wifi-enabled devices all talking to each other. It’s a delightfully simple protocol, I kind of love it, but it really deserves it’s own post, so check back for a future post on how we integrate it into our own automations at Resistor.

Revspace badge reader

They’ve automated their door locks and have iButton key fobs. Of course there’s also code. They look really cool, but I don’t think we’ll be switching away from our Brooklyn-standard vertical deadbolt anytime soon.

Family Meals

And finally, they have a huge kitchen and they actually cook evening meals in it. There’s a “nomz” button that sounds an alert and updates the flipdot display in the main room when dinner is ready. And you know you’re still in a hackerspace because there’s a wall of maté in there.

Revspace wall of mate

So, if you get a chance, and you find yourself in the Hague, do go check out Revelation Space. They’re very welcoming, and they definitely have it together. Did I mention they label everything?

Revspace labels everything

by holly at January 12, 2019 04:47 PM

January 10, 2019

NYC Resistor

January Make-Along: Crochet 101 Makin’ Monsters! on Sun, Jan 20

January Make-Along: Crochet 101 Makin’ Monsters! is taking place at NYC Resistor on Sun, Jan 20. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

This is not your typical craft class. Make-Along is a self-guided craft workshop where participants learn new skills, explore new materials, and make great things!

Get your tickets on Eventbrite.

by Classes at January 10, 2019 08:00 PM

January 08, 2019

Pumping Station: One

Growth and churn analysis of PS1’s membership

I used historical payment records to analyze member growth and member churn, the rates at which people join and leave the organization. The data set also allows analysis of how these rates differ by gender.

Growth: fairly slow and getting slower

New members joined PS1 at a remarkably consistent rate on an absolute basis between 2015 and 2018. On average, 25 new members join per month: 20 men and 5 women. On a percentage basis, this represents a declining growth rate, despite the fact that PS1 dues continue to fall in real terms, and the space doubled in size and added new equipment during this period.

25 new members might seem like significant growth, but members leave at a similar rate. Net growth averages 1.0% per month. Net growth of female members was actually negative every month between July 2017 through March 2018.

Churn: new members don’t stick around long, especially if they are female

Churn, the rate at which people leave PS1, has varied over time. For male members, the churn rate has dropped steadily from 9.6% per month to 5.0% per month. For female members, churn rate has been as high as 12.3% per month, and was 8.5% per month in early 2018.

Cohort analysis provides a behavioral lens on the data. In their first six months of membership, female members churn at an average rate of 11.5% per month, compared to an average rate of 7.5% for male members. 45.9% of women leave PS1 within six months. 33.7% of men leave PS1 within six months. Overall, 55.6% of new members leave within the first year.

A club of older members

The “age” of a member refers to the duration of their membership. For example, a “two-year-old” member joined two years ago. In growing organizations, average member age is often flat or even declining over time, as new members join and older members leave. At PS1, member age has climbed steadily, a reflection of moderate growth and churn that is concentrated in new members.

What it means

There are at least two ways to view the high churn rate among new members. The first is that this reflects a natural sorting process as people discover whether there is a good fit between their interests and what PS1 offers. Perhaps PS1 is like a gym membership for many: an aspirational purchase that they don’t end up using.

Alternatively, perhaps PS1 is failing its new members. Anecdotally, many have noted the difficulty of navigating PS1’s authorization processes, rules, and cultural practices. Some might find the hurdles too high to clear.

These explanations aren’t mutually exclusive, or exhaustive. Almost certainly they are both at least partly true. The gender disparity in growth and churn, however, suggests that the hurdles are higher for some groups than others.

Less ambiguous are the implications of a high churn rate for PS1’s finances. The space’s sole source of funding is member dues. A high churn rate makes growth difficult; adds additional administrative overhead and demand for authorizations; and raises the risk that the low net growth rate could tip negative with small changes in underlying trends.

See a more detailed analysis and discussion the methodology here.

The post Growth and churn analysis of PS1’s membership appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at January 08, 2019 07:10 PM

January 07, 2019

Pumping Station: One

Art area: new for 2019!

Hello, everyone!

Here is an overview of what is incoming for the Art Area in 2019. I expect to have everything in place hopefully before the end of January to early February. Thank you to everyone that responded to the annual usage and needs survey.

Make t-shirts on demand

Color printing! This has been a while in the making. Many t-shirt printing systems I have looked into had no actual third party reviews, usually are dedicated units of questionable functionality, lack any information on ink permanence and are super over-priced. The ‘direct to garment’ units look super shady. After looking at option after option for years, I am going with an easy solution. We have a mid-range Konica Minolta CMYK color laser printer coming. We will be able to affordably refill its toner thanks to member Latrice Dixon; she tipped me off to and their great deals. Transfer films for printing color will be available to use with a heat press. If you want to make MAD amount of t-shirts, Neenah Paper Techni heat press transfer paper films for laser printers films are as low as $31 for 50 films on Amazon. This brand has two types for light or dark color t-shirts. Members interested in zines and self publishing will be happy to know this unit accepts a pretty wide range of paper weights and finishes. Printing patterns and instructions will be easier. Manufacturers do not claim full-bleed (edge to edge) page printing in the specs that often as OS, software and users are all a factor: so I am not sure if we can manage full-bleed printing on this unit until we have time to check it out. Konica Minolta has an overall good reputation with the graphic design community for out-performing HP or Lexmark similarly priced printers.

Dye sublimation has been upgraded

The prior gravity feed system gets air bubbles and the flow is poor. Members got some use but it under-performed. This gravity feed system has been replaced with a refillable cartridge system for the Artisan 1430 printer. Dye sublimation works for transfer sheets to put images on synthetic fabrics, glass and metal projects. Make your auntie that cat pillow for 2019. =^-^=

More paintbrushes

Please wash paintbrushes you use with soap and water and heckin put them back. If you are using an oil-based media, please use a proper solvent and then wash brushes with soap and water. More brush soap has been ordered. Also, it is bad to leave brushes sitting bristles down in liquid; they warp. (I have a set of watercolor brushes that I have been consistently using for 28 years.) Brushes are not a single-use item. Do your part. Be kind to the brushes. A clean brush is a happy brush!

Swivel headed heat press

This is a smaller 9×12″ unit but may be easier and safer for members to use as you can keep the heat element away from your hands. If you think a clamshell heat press is kind of scary, this new one is kinder and gentler.

Noise suppression

Heavy weight fitness center rubber mats are going under the Singer 20U industrial machine and the work bench that has the heat presses. Hopefully this will muffle any whomping and hammering sounds that carry through the floor to CNC below. Thanks to Ray Doeksen for advising me that this was happening.

Upgraded lighting

Two new LED daylight tabletop task laps are coming and the overhead daylight light bulb tubes are getting replaced. LED lighting for the printmaking bench will replace the old halogen lamp.

Pro model button maker

You LOVE LOVE LOVE button making! You literally wore out the small button press; the plastic slider warped. This budget unit has been replaced with an all-steel pro model. We have a 1.25″ and 2.25″ button making presses and new pro circle cutters for each. IF you want to make insane amounts of buttons, I can refer you to sources to buy parts; Amazon also has vendors for button making parts.

New leather working tools

Leather working tools are replaced. Please return any leather crafting hand tools when you are done using them and do not take them home. I have needed to replace every single item this year. Share the tools, please!

Power strips and extensions cords

New and not frayed. Please do not remove these from the Art Area. If people need to plug in a piece of equipment at a particular table, I want them to easily be able to grab an extension cord or reach a power strip. Do not take them down to the other shops as they will get dirty.

Sewing machines

A new electronic Brother CE8100 with automated button holes is here, replacing the prior Husqvarna machine. The Brother has many more stitch styles. There is also a pro bobbin winder for the Singer 20U that I just have to install. Also, on the white book shelf is a small tin box with these new plastic fabric clips to use instead of pokey pins. These are helpful for delicate fabrics you do not want to put holes in or thick fabrics like fleece that are not easily pinned. Less stabbing, more sewing!

Let’s be tidy!

Lemon disinfectant wipes, Simple Green and window cleaner are in stock; see the drawer under the black and white printer. There are dusting cloths. I also discovered and ordered a mega box of paper towels to help with spills and stuff that gets on tables. Please do not leave your projects laying around and do not stash your project materials in nooks around the space.

New light boxes for photography

The old photography light tents tore and the frames broke, the tripod lamps wore out or broke when they tipped over. The new units are hard bodied boxes that collapse easily, so you do not have to be an origami master to put them away. The new light boxes fold out, snap into place, and have LED lighting built into the photo box itself. A 12″ and 20″ light box with sweeps are incoming. Heavy weight colored artist drawing papers make better background sweeps if you want a particular color. Document your projects for blogs or portfolios, get product images for online sales, or make weird 3D clay animations. The potential is huge.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is on both PCs for you to use; both the Artastic PC and the one with the Wacon Cintiq HD22 pen tablet.

Soliciting class ideas

Partner with me for planning and the art area can fund needed materials. If there is money and enough interest, let’s get some classes running. I have ideas for zero cost / free classes for 2019 which will be easiest to run in the summer when school is out.

As always, touch base with me in open office hours or by email if there is anything I can help you with or if you feel there is a need that could be met. Please help by putting hand tools away in their labelled storage containers; which has been going very well so keep it up. If anything is broken or not working properly, please put a sign on that piece of equipment and email me right away.

All the best to everyone being creating and making stuff for 2019!

The post Art area: new for 2019! appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by shellie at January 07, 2019 05:59 PM

January 06, 2019


Events for the Week of 6 January 2019

Monday, 7 January, 8:00pm - 9:00pm Night of the Hat Tuesday, 8 January, 8:00pm - 9:00pm Open Meeting and Making Wednesday, 9 January, 5:00pm - 9:00pm Dust Collector Build Thursday, 10 January, 5:00pm - 9:00pm Power Racing Series Meetup Thursday, 10 January , 7:00pm - 9:00pm Threadsday Thursday Friday, 11 January , 7:30pm - ??? ...continue reading "Events for the Week of 6 January 2019"

by Tim VanSant at January 06, 2019 02:00 PM

January 04, 2019

Laboratory B

Lab B Seeks New Space for 2019 and Beyond

After several years in residence on the top floor of the Soda Plant on Pine Street, Laboratory B has officially left the building as of 1/1/2019. Many thanks to the members who put in lots of hours, leg, and back-work over the past month to prep to space for our move, and also great appreciation to the friends of the Lab who showed up on the 30th to help with the big move day!

Half-way into filling the storage locker...

The move has been a great opportunity to assess and discard a good deal of superfluous stuff, while our core materials are safely ensconced in a Champlain Housing Trust storage locker, ready to be deployed at our next space....

We’re already in talks with a few possible new sites for the Lab, but are being deliberate about the process so we can land on the best spot for our community’s needs. We’re in search of a space with a maximum all-inclusive cost of $700/month; it can have shared spaces, be a sublet arrangement, etc., but needs at least one room that Lab members will have exclusive access to. So, if you have a lead for the next venue for Burlington’s member-run and -governed hackerspace, please get in touch by shooting an email to!

In the meantime, Lab-sponsored events will be popping up in various locations around town, and we’ll be using the spare capacity derived from not having weekly public hours to do some internal work to position us for success in our 5th (!) location since the Lab was founded in 2009. If you want to keep in the loop, follow our shared calendar and Facebook page, where events and announcements will be posted, and we'll post to this blog when your new space is finalized.

Happy New Year, and we look forward to sharing the next iteration of Laboratory B with the Burlington community in the coming months!

The post Lab B Seeks New Space for 2019 and Beyond appeared first on Laboratory B.

by Matt Cropp at January 04, 2019 04:05 AM

January 02, 2019


LVL1 Wiki Hackathon

What: LVL1 Wiki Hackathon When: Saturday, 12 January 2019, 12:00noon - 8:00pm It's time to update some of the info on and lending a hand is a relatively easy way to contribute to the community. All you need is an internet-connected computer and a wiki account. Bring your laptop or use one of our ...continue reading "LVL1 Wiki Hackathon"

by Tim VanSant at January 02, 2019 09:30 PM

December 31, 2018

NYC Resistor

New Years Eve Craft Night 2018!

It’s that time of year again, so let us celebrate at craft night!

GIF of a brown bear playing guitar in the snow.

There will be snacks!

GIF of a brown bear stealing a can blue can of food from a job site and running away.

by zellio at December 31, 2018 07:27 PM

December 30, 2018


Events for the Week of 30 December 2018

Tuesday, 1 January, 8:00pm - 9:00pm Open Meeting and Making Wednesday, 2 January, 7:00pm - 9:00pm Dust Collector Build Thursday, 3 January, 5:00pm - 9:00pm Power Racing Series Thursday, 3 January, 7:00pm - 9:00pm Threadsday Thursday Friday, 4 January, 7:30pm - ??? Irregular Movie and Pizza You do not need to be a member to ...continue reading "Events for the Week of 30 December 2018"

by Tim VanSant at December 30, 2018 04:03 PM

December 22, 2018


Hack the Space Weekend: 8th-10th Feb 2019

[See further details on the wiki]

Message from the trustees

Dear Member,

Recently we have been discussing within the teams and membership that a number of large jobs have been on the list for a considerable amount of time. The Trustees along with the teams have decided that we have enough jobs now to run a “hack the space” weekend. The purpose of this would be shutting the space during this time where no members other than volunteers of this weekend will be permitted to use the space. This will cover both upstairs and downstairs, the following jobs are currently in the plan.

  • Replacement of studio floor

  • Redesigning the Large Project Storage Area

  • Reorganise comfy area including rewiring of speakers

  • Checklist of tools and PAT testing

  • Electrics within the workshop (replacing lights) etc

  • 2.5 jobs TBC

The Trustees request that all teams please keep thinking on what else needs completing and a wiki page will be set up so members can see the job list, place their names against the jobs and the times they can volunteer their time.

Our proposed shutdown will be on 18:00 on Friday 8th February till 18:00 Sunday 10th February.

As you are aware the Trustees are also taking a break for Christmas so I remind members that it make take some time to get any questions answered during this time. I will be taking point on this project and making sure that we have enough people to do the jobs along with materials ordering and liaising with Teams to make sure everyone can have a great day and take part.

If you have any questions you can email the trustees or myself directly. [addresses in Google Group post]

I look forward to posting more information in the near future.


James Adams On behalf of the Trustees

[See Google Groups post and details on the wiki]

by Jon Woodcock at December 22, 2018 04:33 PM

December 21, 2018

NYC Resistor

No Open Night on Christmas Eve

And all through the hackerspace, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

No Craft Night on 12/24.  Happy Holidays!

by widget widget widget at December 21, 2018 03:26 AM

December 20, 2018

Pumping Station: One

Board election: who’s running, when it’s happening, what food will be served

We have a full slate of candidates for the PS1 board this year, as well as a consequential upcoming vote on the new bylaws. Here is a timeline of election events as well as a details on the current set of nominations and candidate platforms.


Candidate Q&A
Tuesday, January 8, 8PM: Candidates are invited to attend the regularly scheduled member meeting and deliver a short presentation on why they are running and what they hope to accomplish as board members. The event will include a Q&A. We also broadcast the event live via Facebook.

Election day mixer
Tuesday, January 15, 6PM: come early on the official voting day for a catered mixer. In addition to food and drinks, we will be hosting an outside delegation from Korea who are interested in learning more about the U.S. maker community.

Tuesday, January 15, 8PM: the in-person vote will take place during the regularly scheduled member meeting. People will also be able to cast votes by proxy in advance.


These are the candidates as of December 19. This post will be updated over time, and you can also check out the election wiki page for the latest information.

  • Andrew Camardella
Vice President
  • Alisha Ciardi. Candidate statement:

I am running for Vice President because I am passionate about making and it’s ability to empower people and create community. I’ve collaborated with the Board on multiple projects this year including leading the design and implementation of Tormach authorization (launching in January 2019), assisting with designing and collating data from the first-ever PS1 Membership survey, being a part of the Planning Working Group, and assisting with documentation for Wild Apricot Member Management migration.

My primary goals, if elected, would be: (1) to improve internal communications allowing for more seamless community engagement and a more graduated volunteer structure that reduces burnout and impromptu power consolidation. I think this would allow for more consistent maintenance and improvement of PS1 in a variety of ways including but not limited to cleanliness, courtesy, and enforcement of rules to improve fairness. (2) I want to focus on active listening that encourages input from more members,  helping to facilitate increased communal collaboration and ownership of PS1. I’ve already started working toward many of these goals as mentioned above and I would be even more effective if elected in an official capacity to support the operation of PS1. I hope to see you at the Pre-Election Q&A Event on January 8th!

  • Joe Mertz. Candidate statement:

The majority of the work I do at PS:1 is to benefit the space, and id be happy to continue that as Vice President. I believe Jennie and Andrew have set a wonderful example for the positions and I hope to follow in their footsteps. I have also strived, since I became comfortable in the space, to be an ambassador for the space to new members and potential members, and I believe that that is an important goal for board members to have as well.

  • Alex Zhu
  • Andrew Sowa
  • Jennie Plasterer. Candidate statement:

Brian has done a wonderful job recording our accounting processes, and I would like to continue in his footsteps with that, as well as finding external entities to manage as much of our treasury processes as possible in the hopes of easing the tension and danger involved in future Board turnover.

Chief Technical Officer
  • Sky Nova. Candidate statement:

It’s been tough going but we’ve already made a lot of progress in fixing systems up and increasing reliability. I believe we’ve only had two major outages this year, and both of them did not have a particularly large or immediate impact. The Wild Apricot migration has been difficult, but we are nearly at the turning point and I believe we can finally and fully switch over before the end of the year. Keep an eye out for updates on this!

Director of Public Relations
  • Mark Creasy. Candidate statement:

I have a decade in advertising agencies and broadcast production as a designer, producer, technical & art director for national brands, winning awards and shaping brand voices… and while I have healed from that, I am positive I can amplify what we do across mediums.

  • Molly Adamski. Candidate statement:

I use our space to create things both for myself and for my small business (Workshop-25), so I am there quite often. As Director-at-Large in 2019 I want to focus on improving cleanliness at PS1. I have a wide range of experience in committees and clubs; most recently I was the Membership Coordinator of my graduate school’s Professional Bridge Networking Program, and the Vice President and then President of my school’s STEM club before that. Like many of the members who answered our recent survey, I feel that the space is too dirty & disorganized and that this inhibits one of the primary missions of PS1: allowing people to create. I believe that by working together as a community to institute my “Culture of Cleanliness” initiative we will have a cleaner, better working PS1.

  • Alex Berkowitz. Candidate statement:

I would be honored to serve as Director-At-Large for the 2019 Board of Directors. This past year, I worked closely with several other members to develop the training & authorization process for the Tormach, and will continue serving as authorizer going forward. I am eager to contribute to maintaining and improving the amazing community and unique resources PS1 provides in whatever ways I can, but I feel my biggest contribution may come by way of education. In addition to working on the Tormach project, I have also served previously on the board of directors of an ACM SIGGRAPH chapter, including two years as president. As such, I have a lot of experience teaching technical content to students of all ages and skill levels. PS1 offers numerous learning opportunities to its members including authorizations, workshops, events, and social interactions with other makers. However, there are ways all of those things could be improved and, starting with this new year, I would like to focus on doing so. Thank you for your consideration.

  • Carl Karsten

I’ve been involved with PS1 from the beginning, not as a founder, but just around to help out now and then.   I have seen PS1 grow from a struggle to survive to the fairly stable organization we have today.

I have served on the board before, speaking up when I was concerned, and (believe it or not) keeping quiet once my concern had been heard. I did not always vote for the winning position, but that’s OK PS1 did OK anyway.

As a Director-at-Large my ambition is to simply support the rest of the board as we keep PS1 running smoothly for another year.

As a member, I will keep running Python Office Hours every other Wednesday. I want the new by-laws in place asap.  I want to get rid of the donation boxes scattered about, update the “Who to Call” page that is taped next to the front door, and I’ll take out the trash now and then.

  • Ed Bennett

The post Board election: who’s running, when it’s happening, what food will be served appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at December 20, 2018 07:58 PM

December 11, 2018

Pumping Station: One

Results from PS1’s first-ever member survey

In August, PS1 conducted its first-ever member survey to better find out who we are, how we use the space, and what improvements we would most like to see. 190 people responded. The results are available here.

Some highlights:

  • Although member satisfaction is generally high, by far the largest complaint members have about the space centers on issues of cleanliness, organization, and tool maintenance. Concerns like these are sometimes dismissed as unsolvable given PS1’s loose, volunteer-run structure. But the frustration members feel about their inability to get work done in the space cuts straight to PS1’s mission of enabling people to create, and survey respondents had lots of viable suggestions for improving cleanliness, tool uptime, and the layout of the space.
  • The main reasons that people join PS1 are, unsurprisingly, access to tools and to workspace. But the next most common reason is access to community, and many members seem to be hungering for more opportunities to meet, share projects, learn new skills, and interact face-to-face. PS1 should consider ways to foster collaboration.
  • PS1 is not very diverse. 82% of members are white and 82% are male. In fact, PS1 seems to be growing less diverse over time: the group of members who joined in the past year are more homogenous than previous cohorts, although it’s impossible to tell from the survey what might be driving this trend (or if it even is a trend). Nevertheless, the survey does show that members of PS1 who are not white males cite social and cultural issues as needing improvement at a much higher rate than white males.

The full report contains a detailed breakdown of all the survey data, complete with pretty charts and fancy tables. Please read and discuss.

The post Results from PS1’s first-ever member survey appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at December 11, 2018 04:27 PM

December 10, 2018


AGM re-run: Thursday 24th January 2019 @ The Hackspace

Email to all Members from the Trustees

As you may be aware, we were unable to conduct the AGM in November as planned as unfortunately we had insufficient members represented either in person or by proxy to be quorate. Our constitution requires 20% of the membership to be represented at the AGM. As a result of this we need to re-run the meeting.

The date for the Nottingham Hackspace Annual General Meeting (AGM) re-run is Thursday, 24 January 2019. It will be held in the Hackspace Classroom (downstairs). Doors will open at 7.30pm and the meeting will begin promptly at 8:00pm.

If you’re a member of Nottingham Hackspace, you need to attend in person or allocate a proxy to represent you at the meeting. We have a number of special resolutions we need you to vote on.

Proxy Voting

If you can’t make the AGM in person, you can make a proxy vote, whereby another member will attend and submit vote(s) on your behalf. If you’d like to register as a proxy voter, or alternatively if you are able to attend and would like to volunteer as a proxy, please add your name to the wiki list at:


For the AGM to happen we need 130 members represented. This is the required quorum as per our constitution. As per section 1.129 of our Articles of Association, if we do not have a total of 130 members (present and proxy voters) then we will not be able to conduct any business and will have to rearrange the AGM for another time.


The agenda for the AGM will be as per the 23 November meeting and is available here:


Thank you for being a Hackspace member this past year, and we look forward to seeing you or your proxy at the meeting.

Kind regards,
Nottingham Hackspace Trustees


by Jon Woodcock at December 10, 2018 07:35 PM

December 08, 2018

Pumping Station: One

NERP: CircuitPython Workshop 12-17-18 with Kattni Rembor!

NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi) is PS1’s embedded programming interest group. At a special NERP on December 17, Kattni Rembor will be giving a workshop on Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express board running CircuitPython. This is a paid event.

That’s right — the next NERP is not free and open to the public! There’s a first time for everything! Registration details here.

Kattni Rembor is an embedded software developer, technical writer, and community leader with Adafruit Industries. She joined Adafruit as a member of the CircuitPython team, and has written the definitive Getting Started guide, the library designed to make CircuitPython simple to use on Adafruit’s premier learning board, as well as many project guides and tutorials. She has helped build the amazing, supportive online community around CircuitPython and a wide variety of other open source topics.

Find Kattni on Twitter or Discord.

Workshop description

CircuitPython is Python that runs on microcontrollers. It is designed for learning and if you are new to programming or electronics, CircuitPython can help you get started with both. All you need to do is plug in a microcontroller board and start writing code.

Participants will be given a Circuit Playground Express microcontroller board to use. This beginner-friendly workshop will introduce CircuitPython and cover the basics. Then we will get into working with code. There will be a series of examples that use the various sensors, lights and switches built into the Circuit Playground Express board. We will start simply, and we will build on the concepts learned, combining them as we go to eventually build a light-up, capacitive touch tone piano.

Doors open at 6:30pm. NERP is usually free and open to the public, although this event is paid and requires registration.

For those who are interested, there will be the opportunity to stay after the break for further exploration.


We will be using Mu as our code editor. Mu is an editor that has the serial REPL and a plotter built in, and makes getting started with CircuitPython particularly easy.

Participants must bring a laptop (ideally running Windows 10, Mac OSX, or a recent version of x86 Linux) and a compatible USB Micro cable (e.g., USB-C to USB Micro if you have a newer Mac). Be sure that your USB Micro cable includes data transfer capabilities, and is not charge-only as it will not work if it is charge only.

The post NERP: CircuitPython Workshop 12-17-18 with Kattni Rembor! appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by edbennett at December 08, 2018 10:18 PM

November 28, 2018

Pumping Station: One

Board elections! Run for the board! Board elections!

PS1 will be holding annual board elections on January 15, 2019. Board elections affect everyone in the organization, whether you are a voting member or not, and you can participate in all sorts of ways: running for a seat, voting in the election, or simply asking candidates questions about the issues you care about.

If you are interested in shaping the future of the organization, please do consider running for a board seat. The only requirement is that you have to be a member in good standing for the six months leading up to the election. New members are absolutely eligible for the board and encouraged to run.

You might be used to thinking of board members as remote god-like beings who bestride the earth like a colossus. And that’s because we absolutely are. The point is that you too can be one of those god-like beings, doing all that bestriding.

If you are interested in learning more about what the board does, please attend a board meeting. We have board meetings on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 7pm, and they are always open to the public. Or reach out to a board member directly.

The board (presently) has eight positions:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Treasurer
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Public relations director
  • Secretary
  • 2 Directors at large

You can learn more about what each position entails, and who the present board members are, here.

The post Board elections! Run for the board! Board elections! appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at November 28, 2018 07:57 PM

Come to the first-ever PS:1 holiday crafts fair this Sunday

PS1 is hosting its first-ever holiday craft fair. Come by this Sunday, December 2 from 11:30 – 2pm to peruse a selection of handcrafted…crafts made by your talented peers. This will be a more interesting and unusual selection of holiday gifts than your standard fair, so please stop by.

The post Come to the first-ever PS:1 holiday crafts fair this Sunday appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at November 28, 2018 02:10 AM

Needed: mentors for the Schurz robotics team

Schurz High School, located just down the street from us on Addison & Milwaukee, is hoping to boost involvement in their FIRST Robotics Team (FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). And they need your help!

WHO? Experts who want to mentor amazing teens in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, coding, robotics

WHAT? FIRST was founded over 25 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen. First teaches skills to kids from age 6 to 18. Learn more here.

WHEN? Tuesdays from  3 – 6 pm (or any amount of time during that block you can commit).

WHY? Because children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside. But really because you get to help design and keep a rad robot-bulldog t-shirt. Plus, robots.

Schurz is a neighborhood school with no entry requirements whose student body is 95% low-income youth. It is the site of Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, where PS1 has a regular presence.

Interested? Contact Christina at

The post Needed: mentors for the Schurz robotics team appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at November 28, 2018 01:36 AM

Wondering how to get authorized on the Tormach? Here’s how

When PS1 got the Tormach 1100, our single biggest investment in a tool, we were determined to do it right. Not just the installation, but also creating an educational path that went far beyond a standard authorization.

PS1 has just launched its first two provisional authorization sessions. Students were selected who had already attained the prerequisite authorizations. To get authorized on the Tormach, you first need to get authorized on:

  1. Tier 1 Metals
  2. Bridgeport
  3. ShopBot

You should also be proficient in CAM before getting authorized on the Tormach.

Assuming you have all that stuff on lock, getting authorized on the Tormach is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Take an online course and pass the associated quiz
  2. Attend a Tormach live training (2-3 hours)
  3. Submit a personal project for CAM & G-code review

Events & Resources

In addition to the authorization path, there are lot of ways to get more familiar with the Tormach and its amazing powers.


Fusion360 Meet-UpsAndrew Camardella hosts biweekly Fusion360 meet-ups to spruce up your CAD & CAM skills. All skill levels welcome. Check the events page.

Tormach user Meet-UpsStarting this winter, will be having public Tormach user group meetings to discuss tooling, projects, machine optimization and other related topics.


Tormach wiki pageStay up to date with Tormach resources at PS1 on our wiki page.

Tormach Slack Group: Join our slack group #Tormach_User_Group at to talk with other PS1 Tormach users about all things Tormach.

Thanks to the team

This educational program was designed by Alisha Ciardi, along with:

The Danger Committee

  • Andrew Camardella
  • Andrew Wingate
  • David Earl
  • Abel Greenwald

Education Team

  • Alex Berkowitz
  • Alisha Ciardi
  • Andrew Wingate
  • David Earl
  • Kathryn Born
  • Nick Prorock
  • Ryan Himmelblau

Current Authorizers

  • Alex Berkowitz
  • David Earl

The post Wondering how to get authorized on the Tormach? Here’s how appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at November 28, 2018 01:12 AM

November 16, 2018

Pumping Station: One

Bringing VR/AR tools to PS1

VR Demos at PS1

I’m Mark, the new kitchen area host, and I’m trying to bring all the benefits of VR/AR/MR to disciplines across Pumping Station: One. Below’s an example of how I’m using it for food design.

You are welcome to come talk to me about incorporating experience-creation tools for food purposes during kitchen office hours Saturday 10am to 12pm, but I’m also interested in enabling you to use these for your own projects. Sundays from 12pm – 3pm we’ve been having “Let’s Make VR” upstairs in electronics. The current project is trying to capture our space in a demo that can be shared with the outside world using VR, helping members capture and display their projects in virtual spaces using photogrammetry and 3D scanning, and recording 360 training to be used in the app.

Screens from a new PS1 VR gallery.

If you’re an area host and you’d like some training recorded, reach out to me to schedule a time. If you want to use our tools to recreate and capture experiences, see how your furniture is going to look in your living room before making it- or send it to a friend and let them check it out with AR tools, come to one of the above events and let’s talk about it. More members are getting familiar with the tools & we’ll be posting tutorials to Canvas soon.

The post Bringing VR/AR tools to PS1 appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Mark Creasy at November 16, 2018 02:33 PM

November 14, 2018

Swindon Makerspace

Member Project: Slide Hammer

Aka: The Shiv of Self Love (The Wanky Wanky Shiv)
Made by: Josh and Steve
Status: Finished
Tools used: 3-in-1 lathe, TIG Welder
Well it started as an oil change and before we knew it we were removing the apron from the Colchester Triumph 2000 lathe, but more on that later. In order to remove the apron we needed to take the lead screw and feed shafts off. Disconnected at the thread cutting gear box side all that was holding them in was a bracket on the right of the machine. In turn this is secured by two screws and two dowels.
The screws were easy enough to remove, the dowels less so. They are an interference fit but have a thread in the centre to which it is intended to connect to and using a slide hammer pull them out. So the simple plan was to insert a bolt and pull them out, trouble was a M4 bolt was too small and a M5 had the wrong thread. Then it dawned on us, imperial. Trouble was at this point we had half disassembled the lathe and realised that we had neither an imperial bolt of the correct size, nor a slide hammer. Looks like we were going to have to MacGyver our way out of this one…

Welding the tap to the shaft

Sure enough after some trial and error we located a tap of the correct size and pitch (though we’ve forgotten to make a note of that size and we don’t have an imperial thread gauge). Now we had something to attach to the dowel we needed a slide hammer and this is where the threaded rod came into play. Manually cutting a shorter length of rod to use we took the rod to the 3-in-1 lathe and started with a centre drill before moving to a 5.5mm drill bit to 10mm depth at one end.

Drilling the bore of the side

This little recess was now the correct size for the tap to sit in. But we needed to secure it so Josh broke out the TIG Welder and welded the tap to the rod. This formed the shaft of our slide hammer, and a nut was added to the non-tap end to act as the hammer stop. All we needed now was a slide.

Using the slide hammer to remove the dowels

A quick raid of the metal stock found a small steel cylinder that had already been drilled through to around 6mm. However we needed a 12mm hole and this is where we hit another problem, the biggest drill bit we could locate was 10mm. Undeterred we embiggened the hole to 10mm on the 3-in-1 lathe. And then finally using a 12mm end mill the hole was taken to the correct diameter.

The removed dowel

Our slide hammer was now complete, so back to the Colchester it was. Tap end well inserted only a few hits were needed and the dowels were free. The bracket, shafts, and apron could then be removed

The slide hammer competed

Creation of the slide hammer was fairly straight forward and was made even easier with the two of us working together, Josh on the Welder, me on the 3-in-1 lathe. However, with a little more planning we might not have ended up needing to fabricate this tool. But it was a bit of fun to do and is a tool that will live with the Colchester in case we need to remove the shafts again which I hope we don’t.

This side hammer is awesome

The post Member Project: Slide Hammer appeared first on Swindon Makerspace.

by castaway at November 14, 2018 09:44 PM

October 25, 2018

Pumping Station: One

Halloween party this Saturday

Head on over to PS1 this Saturday, October 27, for Halloween good times from 6pm til midnight.

Will there be door prizes? Yes, there will be door prizes!

Will there be adult food and adult beverages? Yes, there will be plenty of both!

Will there be costume contests? Of course there will be costume contests!

Plus music! Games! 300 seconds of spooky!

Don’t have a costume? There will be supplies on hand so you can make your own costume!

Frequently asked questions

Q: Can I bring a guest who is a non-member?

A: Yes! Yes! Yes! All are welcome to PS1’s Halloween spooktacular!

The post Halloween party this Saturday appeared first on Pumping Station: One.

by Adam Stein at October 25, 2018 07:11 PM

October 19, 2018

Baltimore Node

9th Anniversary party and 9′ sculpture build!

Come join us in our Celebration!

We’re also doing a collaborative build with We The Builders this night. You can come help us assemble the 9 foot tall sculpture designed by George Hart. It’s made of 193 3D printed pieces that were crowd-sourced from all over the world, plus 416 wooden dowel rods. It was assembled and disassembled once before at a conference, but Baltimore is now its home, so let’s welcome it with a group build. The part starts at 7, and the build starts around 8:00.

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Baltimore Node’s 9th Birthday Celebration! OpenHack and 9′ Sculpture Build

Thursday, Nov 1, 2018, 7:00 PM

Baltimore Node
2106 N Lovegrove Street Baltimore, MD

4 Makers Attending

Hey makers, hackers, and friends! The Node turned 9 this past summer and we’re having a party! Come by our regular Open Hack on Thursday November 1st to help us celebrate. We’ll have some food, but feel free to bring a dish. We’re also doing a collaborative build with We The Builders this night. You can come help us assemble the 9 foot tall sculptu…

Check out this Meetup →

by Todd Blatt at October 19, 2018 07:13 PM

September 28, 2018

Kwartzlab Makerspace

News and Events

For up to date news and information on events, subscribe to our Facebook Page or Twitter Feed. You can also check out our events calendar below.

by webmaster at September 28, 2018 03:20 PM

September 23, 2018

Laboratory B

9/27, 7pm – FOIA Party at the Lab!

Ever wondered exactly what those black helicopters are up to? Thanks to a federal law called the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), you can find out!

At the FOIA party, we'll get together, brainstorm ideas, teach the basics, and discuss techniques for getting the information you're after. Bring your most burning government questions (local, state, or federal), and we'll make sure everyone leaves with at least one request under their belt.

The "Intro to FOIA" presentation by Brian Waters will start at 7:15 and run approximately 30 minutes, including Q&A.

Following the presentation, there will be a workshop session in which attendees will file their first FOIA requests, so, if you are interested in doing so, bring along a laptop!

The post 9/27, 7pm – FOIA Party at the Lab! appeared first on Laboratory B.

by Matt Cropp at September 23, 2018 07:10 PM

Swindon Makerspace

Member Project: Swingarm Bushing


  • Made By: Steve
  • Status: Finished
  • Tools used: 3-in-1 lathe, 16mm reamer, Arbour Press


I have a Honda Grom and like any good motorcyclist I take pride in modifying my bike. This modification involves replacing the standard steel swingarm with a Tyga aluminium over braced item. This is a straight swap however I wasn’t happy with the new arm as it had like the OEM arm rubber bushing at the pivot instead of roller bearings that I would expect.

Bought replacement Swingarm

Bought replacement Swingarm

The problem here was that despite my best googlefu and the help of a local bearing suppliers I couldn’t locate a set of roller bearings at the correct size that being 12mm ID and 24mm OD by 42mm length. So having already removed the rubber bushing I decided the best solution here would be to turn some bronze bushing to size to remove the flex of the rubber bushes.

So I ordered some oilite bronze stock and headed to the 3-in-1 lathe. Checking my feeds and speeds I turned the rpms down on the lathe and set about turning the outside of the stock down to fit. With that set it was time to drill the internal diameter to 16mm to fit a pair of needle roller bearing internal sleeves.

Bronze stock on the 3-in-1 Lathe

Bronze stock on the 3-in-1 Lathe

And this is where I made a mistake. Drilling the centre out to 16mm resulted in the internal sleeve simply slipping through the hole. Turns out twist drills are not that accurate. So I started again, this time drilling to 15mm and then finishing off by hand with a 16 mm reamer. The sleeve now fitted perfectly.

Two attempts to drill

Two attempts to drill

Next was to put the bush into the swing arm where by I found the next problem. While one hole was 24mm the other was around 23.5mm so was to big to fit. I solved this by putting the bush back into the lathe held by a live end in the tail stock and dead end in the chuck to enable me to hold the part while being able to work the length of the piece.

Retry on the diameter

Retry on the diameter

Finally with both bushes the right diameter I used the Arbour press to insert them securly into the arm and then fitted the arm to the bike.

Bushes inserted into Swingarm

Bushes inserted into Swingarm

These were made in a few hours over the course of a couple of visits to the space. I could have completed this in one evening if I didn’t have to wait for my new reamer to arrive.


The post Member Project: Swingarm Bushing appeared first on Swindon Makerspace.

by castaway at September 23, 2018 01:20 PM

March 22, 2018


Hive76 is Moving!

After a good run at Bok, Hive76 is moving! Starting next month, we’ll be located at 1821 E Hagert St. In the meantime, open house will continue as usual – assuming no more freak snowstorms, that is.

This time around, we have the opportunity to build out the entire space ourselves, and we’re taking full advantage of it. More details to come very soon, but here’s a sneak peek at what we’re working on:

by jfred at March 22, 2018 03:55 AM

March 14, 2018


Diversity in Games Workshops at PorterShed and Galway Technology Centre

A series of Diversity in Games Workshops at PorterShed and Galway Technology Centre will take place in April. It’s aimed at people who’ve never made games before but people with all skill levels are welcome. They’d love to have people from different backgrounds attending also. When: Sat Apr 7/14/28 Where: PorterShed (1st two workshops) / …

by Alanna at March 14, 2018 11:38 AM

October 05, 2017


Intro to Electronics Workshop Oct 12th

Thursday October 12th at 7:30 PM join us for an evening of learning and exploration! In this class students will be taken through the basic fundamentals of electricity all the way to creating circuits and experimenting. Every student will get a comprehensive kit of parts with designs for a variety of different circuits. The class is open to people of all skill levels with a suggested age of 16+. This is a ticketed event please see the ticketleap link below.

The format of the class will be a short lecture followed by a hands on workshop using the kit of parts. The kit of parts include a wide variety of resistors, LEDs, capacitors, integrated circuits, transistors, and diodes etc. Each of these components will be introduced in the lecture and have accompanying circuit designs showing how they work, please bring something to take notes.

For mobility accommodations please contact the organizers in advance of the event, thank you.

Attendees must purchase a ticket through our Ticketleap event page

Charles Affel has taught electronics workshops at Hive76 as part of DIY Music night.

by Chaffel3 at October 05, 2017 12:08 AM

September 18, 2017

Baltimore Node

Baltimore Node 8th Anniversary Party!

You’re invited!

Please join us in celebrating our eighth year of being us! We’ve worked hard to bring our space together to create a supportive and collaborative environment in Baltimore city where people can hack, make, craft, and create art and tech projects. Come by the Node on Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 for our 8 year anniversary party!

Join us for games, food, music, and show and tell. Relax with friends, meet new ones, and talk about what you like to make. Have a project you’ve made in the last 8 years? Bring it by and set it up somewhere to show it to others!

Where at?

Baltimore Node
2106 N Lovegrove Street
Baltimore, MD. 21218


12-5 PM Tabletop/Board games & Open house
3-5PM Laser cutting and 3D printing demo
2-5PM Show and Tell
6-7PM Metal casting demo
5-9PM Food! Music!


We’ll be firing up the grill in the late afternoon to have a cookout. We’ll probably light it with a flame thrower. We’re also running this as a potluck, so here’s your chance to show us what you’ve got! Cook something and bring it along, or pick up something.

Please add what you’re contributing to our google doc linked below:


Did you know our landlord repairs player pianos? If we’re nice, he’ll probably turn one of them on for us to enjoy. There’s also some speakers in the space hooked to an aux cable/Chromecast.


Let us know you’re coming by RSVPing here on Meetup. We’ve got a Facebook event up too. Bring a friend too if you’d like.

Who are we?

The Baltimore Node is a 501(c)(3) member-run nonprofit that organizes a space where people can hack, craft, and make interesting things in a supportive and collaborative environment. Membership dues are typically $50 per month and provide a member with 24/7 access to tools, the space, a key, a vote, and the ability to run workshops. Learn more at

We look forward to seeing you there! After all, you only get to host an anniversary party once a year.


Todd Blatt

by Todd Blatt at September 18, 2017 07:51 PM

February 17, 2017

Freeside Atlanta

A Capacitive-Touch Janko Keyboard: What I Did at the 2017 Georgia Tech Moog Hackathon

Last weekend (February 10-12, 2017) I made a Janko-layout capacitive-touch keyboard for the Moog Werkstatt at the Georgia Tech Moog Hackathon. The day after (Monday the 13th), I made this short video of the keyboard being played:

"Capacitive Touch Janko Keyboard for Moog Werkstatt"

(Text from the video doobly doo)

This is a Janko-layout touch keyboard I made at the 2017 Moog Hackathon at Georgia Tech, February 10-12. I'm playing a few classic bass and melody lines from popular and classic tunes. I only have one octave (13 notes) connected so far.

The capacitive touch sensors use MPR121 capacitive-touch chips, on breakout boards from Adafruit (Moog Hackathon sponsor Sparkfun makes a similar board for the same chip). The example code from Adafruit was modified to read four boards (using the Adafruit library and making four sensor objects and initializing each to one of the four I2C addresses is remarkably easy for anyone with moderate familiarity with C++), and code was written to send a gate (key down) signal to the Werkstatt, and to write a binary representation of the pressed key (low note priority) to an Arduino port connected to a precision R-2R ladder to generate the voltage for the VCO exponential input.

The capacitive touch sensors can be used to make a touch keyboard with any configuration, not just the Janko. With these sensors it's remarkably easy to make a functioning electronic musical keyboard, as no mechanical switches or moving parts are needed. The feeling is at least as responsive as a "real" keyboard, as response to touch and release feels instant as far as I can tell. If anything, there's a "problem" in that if you accidentally, even slightly, touch a key it will sound, whereas with a mechanical keyboard you have to "accidentally" press a key down for it to sound.

A traditional seven-natural-and-five-sharp-keys layout would have been just as easy, but less "interesting." I chose the Janko layout after having read about it for many years (see Paul Vandervoot's piano video "Demonstration of 4-Row Janko Keyboard" - he describes the layout at 4:06). The Janko has, from left to right, six whole steps per octave, thus is one less key wide per octave than the traditional keyboard, so with the same key spacings the Janko octave is a shorter distance. Going up or down diagonally is a half step, so a chromatic scale of all 12 notes is a zig-zag pattern. A major scale is the first three notes in a line (whole steps), diagonally up or down to the next key (a half step), this and the next three keys across (whole steps), and then diagonally again (a half step) to get to the octave key. You can start on any key and the major scale is the same description. This is the remarkable property of the Janko layout, there are very few patterns to memorize for the different scales and chords.

(End text from the doobly doo)

I used an Arduino Mega 2560 (actually the Inland brand compatible board from Micro Center), because I thought I would use more I/O pins than on an Uno. This project can be done on an Uno, but the direct write to the Mega DDRC and PORTC registers (and perhaps other I/O pin assignments) may need to be changed for the Uno. If you don't know how to use the AVR port registers directly, you may be better off just using a Mega 2560 rather than trying to change the code for an Uno.

No direct work for this project was done at Freeside Atlanta (nor at Georgia Tech's Invention Studio - I cut these pieces of wood to size at home using a circular saw just before going to the hackathon, then hot-glued everything together at the hackathon), but I did some preliminary work done at Freeside. I had been wanting to make some sort of Janko keyboard for a while, and in recent months I've 3d-printed a couple of rounded-rectangle "keys" to help get the feel of what I wanted. (The short time of a one-weekend build kept me from using anything other than a rectangle shape on this project, and even then I only had one octave done by 5PM Sunday.) I decided on key spacing the same as "standard" piano keys, which are about about 165mm (6.5 inches) per octave. Since the Janko layout has six (whole-step) keys per octave instead of the traditional seven (major scale) keys, this octave is about 141.4mm or 5.57 inches wide. The distance from one row of keys to the next above it is 1.8 inches, and each row up is 0.53 inches (the approximate heigth of a sharp note on a standard keyboard) higher than the previous. These numbers are mostly just "good guesses" as to what the dimensions of such a keyboard should be for good ergonomics. If you make one of these, feel free to make whatever changes you like, even a traditional key layout or something totally different.

The keys are made of brass strips. I had a brass sheet, dimensioned 6 inches by 24 inches by 0.004 inches. I cut this into rectangles of 1.5 inches by 0.75 inches. I soldered wires to one side and glued the soldered side down to a plywood board with hot glue. Each vertical pair arranged (first-and-third row, or second-and-fourth row) were connected together and connected to a sensor input on the MPR121 breakout board.

For greater versatility, each key could be connected to a separate sensor input (doubling the number of sensor inputs required). This would allow the vertical pairs to be "wired together" in software for the Janko layout, or for each key to generate a different note. This would be ideal for generating microtonal scales such as 24 notes per octave.

The current code implements a monophonic keyboard for a single voice analog synthesizer. The keyboard priority is for the lowest note played, and retriggering is off (you have to lift off all keys and press a key again to get a new gate signal). Many enhancements can be done, such as highest or last note priority, retriggering, and sending polyphonic MIDI data, and adding adding modulation wheels on the left side for pitch bend, LFO modulation amount, and other possible performance parameters (I think there should be at least three such wheels, with the third one changing the filter cutoff frequency). These are, as always, left as an exercise for the student.

Blatant Blurb for Synthesizer Class

This Tuesday, February 21 2017, I'll be putting on a class at Freeside:
"Introduion to Electronic Musical Instruments."
I'll cover analog music synthesizers, and have this Janko keyboard instrument and others in the Synth Petting Zoo after the class. There is a $10 charge, this covers the time and cost of setting up and of using Freeside to put on this class. Sign up here:

Schematic (power supply connections for Werkstatt and Arduino not shown):

Arduino code:

// tkey - read capacitive touch keys and control Werkstatt
// Ben Bradley Feb. 11-12, 2017
// for Moog Hackathon

// substantial code taken from the MPR121test program from the
// Adafruit library.

// From other keyscan program for the Mega2560:

// AVRpin AVR name   Arduino name
//   1    PG5         D4
//   2    PE0         D0
//   3    PE1         D1
//   4    PE2
//   5    PE3         D5
//   6    PE4         D2
//   7    PE5         D3
//   8    PE6
//   9    PE7
//  12-18 PH0-PH6     D17-D16,X,D6-D9
//  19-26 PB0-PB7     D52-D50,D10-D13
//  27    PH7
//  28-29 PG3-PG4
//  35-42 PL0-PL7     D49-D42                   // out to r-2r ladder
//  43-50 PD0-PD7     D21-D18,X,X,X,D38
//  51-52 PG0-PG1     D40-D41
//  53-60 PC0-PC7     D37-D30             ***  Voltage control output, port C
//  63-69 PJ0-PJ6     D15-D14,X,X,X,X,X
//  70    PG2         D39
//  71-78 PA7-PA0     D29-D22             ***
//  79    PJ7
//  82-89 PK7-PK0     A15-A8
//  90-97 PF7-PF0     A7-A0
//  98    AREF

This is a library for the MPR121 12-channel Capacitive touch sensor

Designed specifically to work with the MPR121 Breakout in the Adafruit shop

These sensors use I2C communicate, at least 2 pins are required
to interface

Adafruit invests time and resources providing this open source code,
please support Adafruit and open-source hardware by purchasing
products from Adafruit!

Written by Limor Fried/Ladyada for Adafruit Industries. 
BSD license, all text above must be included in any redistribution

#include <Wire.h>
#include "Adafruit_MPR121.h"

// You can have up to 4 on one i2c bus but one is enough for testing!
Adafruit_MPR121 chip1 = Adafruit_MPR121();
Adafruit_MPR121 chip2 = Adafruit_MPR121();
Adafruit_MPR121 chip3 = Adafruit_MPR121();
Adafruit_MPR121 chip4 = Adafruit_MPR121();

// Keeps track of the last pins touched
// so we know when buttons are 'released'
uint16_t lasttouched1 = 0;
uint16_t currtouched1 = 0;
uint16_t lasttouched2 = 0;
uint16_t currtouched2 = 0;
uint16_t lasttouched3 = 0;
uint16_t currtouched3 = 0;
uint16_t lasttouched4 = 0;
uint16_t currtouched4 = 0;

const int GateOut = 48;   // Mega digital output

void setup()

  while (!Serial) { // needed to keep leonardo/micro from starting too fast!
//  Serial.println("Adafruit MPR121 Capacitive Touch sensor test");

//   The MPR121 ADDR pin is pulled to ground and has a default I2C address of 0x5A
// You can adjust the I2C address by connecting ADDR to other pins:
// ADDR not connected: 0x5A
// ADDR tied to 3V: 0x5B
// ADDR tied to SDA: 0x5C
// ADDR tied to SCL: 0x5D

  // Default address is 0x5A, if tied to 3.3V its 0x5B
  // If tied to SDA its 0x5C and if SCL then 0x5D
  if (!chip1.begin(0x5A))
    Serial.println("MPR121 chip1 not found, check wiring?");
    while (1);
//  Serial.println("MPR121 chip1 found!");

  if (!chip2.begin(0x5B))
    Serial.println("MPR121 chip2 not found, check wiring?");
    while (1);
//  Serial.println("MPR121 chip2 found!");

  if (!chip3.begin(0x5C))
    Serial.println("MPR121 chip3 not found, check wiring?");
    while (1);
//  Serial.println("MPR121 chip3 found!");

  if (!chip4.begin(0x5D))
    Serial.println("MPR121 chip4 not found, check wiring?");
    while (1);
//  Serial.println("MPR121 chip4 found!");

  Serial.println("All chips found.");

  DDRC = 0xff;
  PORTC = 0;
  pinMode (GateOut, OUTPUT);
  digitalWrite(GateOut, 0);
} // void setup()

void loop()

  int notepressed = -1;
  // Get the currently touched pads
  currtouched1 = chip1.touched();
#ifdef __print_touched_
  for (uint8_t i=0; i<12; i++) {
   // it if *is* touched and *wasnt* touched before, alert!

    if ((currtouched1 & _BV(i)) && !(lasttouched1 & _BV(i)) )
      Serial.print("c1 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" touched");
    // if it *was* touched and now *isnt*, alert!
    if (!(currtouched1 & _BV(i)) && (lasttouched1 & _BV(i)) )
      Serial.print("c1 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" released");
#endif #ifdef __print_touched_

  currtouched2 = chip2.touched();
#ifdef __print_touched_
  for (uint8_t i=0; i<12; i++)
    // it if *is* touched and *wasnt* touched before, alert!
    if ((currtouched2 & _BV(i)) && !(lasttouched2 & _BV(i)) ) {
      Serial.print("c2 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" touched");
    // if it *was* touched and now *isnt*, alert!
    if (!(currtouched2 & _BV(i)) && (lasttouched2 & _BV(i)) )
      Serial.print("c2 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" released");
#endif #ifdef __print_touched_

  currtouched3 = chip3.touched();
#ifdef __print_touched_
  for (uint8_t i=0; i<12; i++)
    // it if *is* touched and *wasnt* touched before, alert!
    if ((currtouched3 & _BV(i)) && !(lasttouched3 & _BV(i)) ) {
      Serial.print("c3 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" touched");
    // if it *was* touched and now *isnt*, alert!
    if (!(currtouched3 & _BV(i)) && (lasttouched3 & _BV(i)) )
      Serial.print("c3 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" released");
#endif #ifdef __print_touched_

  currtouched4 = chip4.touched();
  for (uint8_t i=0; i<12; i++)
    // it if *is* touched and *wasnt* touched before, alert!
    if ((currtouched4 & _BV(i)) && !(lasttouched4 & _BV(i)) ) {
      Serial.print("c4 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" touched");
    // if it *was* touched and now *isnt*, alert!
    if (!(currtouched4 & _BV(i)) && (lasttouched4 & _BV(i)) )
      Serial.print("c4 "); Serial.print(i); Serial.println(" released");

  if ((lasttouched1 != currtouched1) ||
      (lasttouched2 != currtouched2) ||
      (lasttouched3 != currtouched3) ||
      (lasttouched4 != currtouched4))
    // find lowest note.

    if (currtouched1)
      for (int8_t i=11; i>=0; i--)
        if (currtouched1 & _BV(i))
          notepressed = i;
    if (currtouched2)
      for (int8_t i=11; i>=0; i--)
        if (currtouched2 & _BV(i))
          notepressed = 12 + i;
    if (currtouched3)
      for (int8_t i=11; i>=0; i--)
        if (currtouched3 & _BV(i))
          notepressed = 24 + i;
    if (currtouched4 & 0x01)
      notepressed = 36;     // highest key
//    Serial.print("lowest note ");
    if (notepressed != -1)
      PORTC = 37 - notepressed; // invert bits for negative sum
      Serial.print (' ');
    if (currtouched1 | currtouched2 | currtouched3 | currtouched4)
      digitalWrite(GateOut, 1);
      digitalWrite(GateOut, 0);
  } // if ((lasttouched1 != // note changed

  // reset our state
  lasttouched1 = currtouched1;
  lasttouched2 = currtouched2;
  lasttouched3 = currtouched3;
  lasttouched4 = currtouched4;

} // void loop()

by benbradley ( at February 17, 2017 11:41 AM

December 27, 2016


33C3 : Works for me

Each year with winter comes the Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg.

2016 edition : 27-30 dec. Survival guide for this 33rd edition :


Streams and Recording


” Works for me”

Like no other, the year 2016 pointed out how well „works for me“ works for us.
It does not. Mutual hate, envy, insensibility and exclusion have driven us apart.

Feeling isolated and threatened, we turn further against each other, take less care of each other and worry even more about ourselves. And yet, we are never alone: Excessive surveillance is now politically normalized, if not for all then at least for those who are different, intractable, foreign.

Let’s break this vicious circle.
Let’s get together and live our utopia.
Let’s strive for something that works for all of us.

And let’s fight those, who will not let us!

Welcome to the party! 🙂


Avec  chaque hiver vient le Chaos Computer Congress, cette année du 27 au 30 décembre.

Bien plus que les autres, l’année 2016 a montré combien « works for me » marche pour nous.

Ca ne marche pas : haine mutuelle, envie, insensibilité et exclusion nous ont déchiré. Les sensations d’Isolement et de menaces nous oppose, nous faisant prendre moins soin de chacun et nous préoccupant plus de nous meme.

Et nous ne sommes toujours pas seuls : la surveillance excessive de tous est maintenant politiquement normalisée, ou au moins des différents, etrangers ou rebelles.

Cassons ce cercle vicieux.

Rassemblons nous et vivons notre utopie.

Battons nous pour quelque chose qui fonctionne pour chacun de nous.

Et combattons celui qui ne nous laisse pas faire !

by sam at December 27, 2016 12:24 AM

December 16, 2016

Freeside Atlanta

What to Do With a Stack of Picture Frames?

When You Have Too Much Free Stuff!

Our newest member Raul got his hands on a stack of about 40 picture frames that were being junked. On a general note Freeside tends to discourage large piles of objects randomly appearing as it tends to collect in corners. Raul got permission from our projects team with a time limit of a few weeks. In this case unnecessary, as the membership more or less attacked the pile of boxes and rapidly rendered them into things.

Unfortunately starting off all the frames looked something like this:

Not terribly useful. We don't even have any idea who these guys are. After a few passes through the planer, however, we get something like this:

A perfectly good picture frame useful for stuff. First idea was to push a couple of these through a the laser cutter. Concept good, aim.... Aim was a little off. Also we had just rebuilt the laser computer and electronics so there were a couple of kinks to work out in CamBam's post processor:


Instead of getting distracted by that rabbit hole of troubleshooting, though, Nathan, in a process pioneered at Freeside by Mr. Ferguson, took a few frames and burnt some Lichtenberg figures. The actual process is pretty straightforward. Soak some wood in saltwater, hook a microwave oven transformer to the wall up backward, and poke the scary ends into the wood. There's some insulation and other safety jazz that I'll leave to: Google.

The raw frames come out a little (a lot) sooty and salty and need cleaned up:

Sanding and staining, or painting, plus a layer of polyurethane gives these:

But Wait. there's More!

Before the rest of the membership got ahold of those picture frames, Raul had intended on making a stool. We actually had a broken branded stool lying around to use for parts. The next day he was working on putting the stool together. After some disassembly, sanding, nails and whatnot:

A wild stool appears!

The Final Product

by Scott McGraw ( at December 16, 2016 03:30 AM

September 22, 2016



It was fun.

Conferences torrents are here.

Consumers can watch them on youtube or

by alban at September 22, 2016 10:24 PM

July 06, 2016


Maker’s Meetup 6 July

Join us tonight at our space at Insight for a Maker’s Meetup.

by Alanna at July 06, 2016 12:51 PM

March 01, 2016

Freeside Atlanta

Rebuilding The Kraken

"The Kraken" is one of Freeside's 3D printers, designed and built by a former member. It is the light blue printer sitting off to the side on most photos of our 3D printing zone - sadly, the machine has never printed quite right and it's been down for repairs more often than it's been usable. It's design had some major flaws, particularly in the frame that was fairly unstable. When it did print it would make great looking parts, but the bed leveling was fickle and imprecise. With the AO-100 and more recently the Mini, there wasn't a lot of reason for our members to use it.

So I decided to rectify that and rebuild it completely from the ground up into a RepRap "Wilson", a popular design reworked from the Prusa i3. I chose this particular build because there are a lot of information available and a great set of info and instructions on both the RepRap wiki page about it, and the github page for the parts. It's a well known RepRap and has been tried and true by a lot of people.

The other reason I chose it was because I could build the Wilson utilizing 100% of parts salvaged from the old Kraken. The goal for the rebuild was to recycle every nut and bolt and try to keep the total cost as close to zero as possible.

From start to finish, the rebuild took about 3 months working off and on a few hours a week. The initial tear down took a couple of hours at the end of November 2015, where everything was counted and bagged and boxed up. At that point I ordered some new ABS to print the frame parts, and a couple weeks printing things on both the Mini, and my personal 3D printers at home. In trying to keep with the look of the old machine, I printed in "Sky Blue" ABS. The final product is actually really nice to look at!

While I was in the process of building The Kraken, I decided to go ahead and build my own Wilson from parts from a failed RepRap build of my own last year. So in a lot of these photos you will see an identical looking black Wilson. For my own, I bought some "hidden" corner brackets to help with the structural rigidity of the machine, as well as some corner braces I had from my previous build attempt, and used the spares for The Kraken. I definitely recommend this for anyone building a Wilson as it greatly improves the strength of the frame.

Some time ago, The Kraken's original J-Head hotend was replaced with a Budaschnozzle 2.0, since that is what we already have installed on our LulzBot AO-100, and having the same hotends allows us to keep fewer type of replacement parts on hand. We bought a replacement PTFE tube to convert it from 1.75mm to 3mm filament to be consistent with our other 2 printers - again, so we don't have to keep two types of filament on hand - and the nozzle was cleaned of old filament. It was left soaking in acetone overnight, then scrubbed with a fine wire brush.

We bought a new aluminum Y carriage to replace the old acrylic one. The aluminum carriage is lighter and more sturdy than acrylic, which has a tendency to flex and torque, so the new design will be able to print at much higher speeds than before. We kept the same heated bed, but replaced the glass print surface with an aluminum plate covered in PEI. Aluminum is a good bed surface as it dissipates heat more evenly, but it also lets us install and use an inductive Z probe to auto bed tramming, a stand out feature of the Mini that I have since upgraded my own printers with.

The RAMPS board had to be modified as it was missing the + voltage for the endstops, which the inductive sensor needed. Once that was added, the board was installed and the wiring was quick. I used some left over cable management from my previous 3D printer builds as well as my personal Wilson to help keep all of the stray wires in check, which the old Kraken suffered from. I also replaced the old server PSU with a more common project PSU found in Freeside's obtanium.

The machine was upgraded to the latest version of Marlin and configured to use the auto bed tramming feature. There is still some fine tuning in the firmware to be done, but overall the printer is running great. I'm really looking forward to seeing projects from our members come off of the machine!


Wilson on Thingiverse
Build log for the Kraken rebuild
Inductive sensor Z probe
Aluminum plate print bed
0.03" PEI sheet print surface
3M adhesive sheet to adhere PEI to aluminum surface

by Michelle Sleeper ( at March 01, 2016 08:49 AM

December 07, 2015

Freeside Atlanta

Build Out 12-5 Photo Recap

Freeside just finished our Build Out for the end of 2015 and we got a lot of work done. Let's see what all we accomplished.

Brian repaired the vacuum former and planned out a new heating element design.

Mike came all the way from Florida to frame the Member Storage door and put in a new lock to prepare for some new security features.

Nathan and crew totally reorganized and cleared out some old obtanium. The new shelves are much cleaner looking.

Michelle hacked the LulzBot AO-100 to increase the maximum height, and started printing parts for a new RepRap for the space.

Kelly and Scott cleared out the attic of all of the old random stuff to make way for all new random stuff.

Rowan, Brandon, and a few others helped to sort glassware for the bio and chemistry room.

 Paul, Jonathan, and Earl examined strange fruit.

We demolished in Member Storage for some more new metal shelves.

We put away tools that had found their way from the tool room.

We browsed memes.

We found some time to goof off.

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make Freeside awesome. See you next time!

by Michelle Sleeper ( at December 07, 2015 09:10 AM

November 25, 2015

Freeside Atlanta

Building an enclosure for the LulzBot AO 100

As the cold weather season arrives in Atlanta, with it comes issues with our 3D printers. Specifically problems with temperatures and print stability.

Freeside is essentially a big warehouse, and our 3D printing station is setup in the large open area in the front of the space. What this means is that when it is cold in the space, this will affect the printing quality because the ambient temperature is far lower than what is optimal for thermoplastics. The cold ambient air will cause parts to rapidly cool during the middle of a print. And with materials like ABS which can shrink dramatically during cooling, this causes prints to warp, deform, and delaminate during and after printing is finished.

The print on the left is showing signs of delamination from plastic cooling mid print.

To remedy this, we built an acrylic enclosure for our LulzBot AO-100, which is our dedicated ABS printer.

We tested the proof of concept of whether an enclosure would help mitigate printing problems by sticking a big cardboard box on the LulzBot to trap heat in. We also tried pushing hot air into it using a heatshrink heat gun, which turned out to actually cause the temperatures to be too high and 3D prints suffer problems on the other end of the spectrum.

The LulzBot sitting inside the shame box.

Print affected by ambient temperature being too high.

Removing the heat source made the printer spit out great quality prints, and we then moved on to building the acrylic enclosure. There is a lot of scrap materials at Freeside, including several large sheets of 1/8" and 1/4" clear acrylic. Using the outer dimensions of the LulzBot (and adding a couple inches for safety), we drew up a quick design, and cut the acrylic on the table saw.

The acrylic panels were aligned and clamped together using scrap pieces of wood, and the acrylic was bonded using acrylic glue. We also 3D printed hinge and corner pieces that we found on Thingiverse to help add support.

Always be clamping!

Two holes were drilled into the box, one in the top for the filament to feed through, and one in the back for the power and USB cables to enter into the box. The door was affixed using 3D printed hinges, model grade cyanoacrylate which melts and bonds ABS and acrylic, and a short piece of 3mm filament used for the actual hinge.

The LulzBot looking like a piece in an art exhibit.

All together the build took less than 2 days from start to finish. We need to dial in our printer settings - we had raised the extruder temperature profiles to compensate for the cold ambient air - but things are already printing much more reliably. We were uncertain if we needed some sort of heating element, but it seems that the heat put out by the extruder and the heated bed are enough to keep the inside of the enclosure warm enough for quality printing.

The next order of business will be adding a temperature sensor and an exhaust fan for when things get too warm, but that will be a project for another day!

by Michelle Sleeper ( at November 25, 2015 12:27 PM

August 14, 2015

Freeside Atlanta

Atlanta Cosplay Meetup: Group Build Update #3

It's been a while since we posted a progress report for the Atlanta Cosplay Meetup's ongoing project, and with Dragon Con right around the corner, we're nearing the finish line. Let's take a look and see what's been going on the last few months!

Check out our previous progress reports here:

Progress update #1

Progress update #2

Read on to see where we're at now...

During April and the early part of May, we finished fabrication of the masters for the Colonial Marine armor. Once again, fiberglass resin and bondo body filler was applied to the laser cut cardboard sculptures, which were progressively sanded down using finer and finer grit sandpapers until we were satisfied with the results.

The Pulse Rifle was also finished being mastered and prepped for molding. Normally for something of this size and shape, you would want a more complex molding technique, but time was a major limiting factor for us. Ultimately we went with building a large 2 part block mold out of a silicone rubber called Mold Max 30.

The rest of May was a huge jump in the amount of progress. We were in full production, casting and vacuumforming parts. The bulk of the Colonial Marines armor is vacuumformed, and Adam was hard at work on our vacuumforming machine. Some of the smaller parts were molded and we poured plaster vacuumforming masters (called "bucks"), but the chest and back were backfilled with plaster and used directly.

We assembly lined cutting out and cleaning up the vacuumformed and cast resin bits, cutting off the excess material (called "flashing") to get the part we need. They were then hit with a base coat of olive drab paint and set aside to dry, where we would then hand paint on the camo patterns.

 On the Xeno side of things, Valentin put together the final version of the tongue mechanism, and Kevin was hard at work on the skull sculpt. He covered the fiberglass and expanding foam cardboard with a sculpting clay, and was working on sculpting in details.

We were working hard up until the days before MomoCon, but unfortunately there was just too much to be done. There were also some unexpected issues with the Xeno skull sculpt that required us to effectively junk the master.

We did make it to MomoCon though and had a great time at our booth. We brought along the Pulse Rifle mold, and did an impromptu casting demo. Jonathan decided he wanted a golden Pulse Rifle, which we poured and demolded on camera.

After MomoCon we took a couple weeks break - everyone was exhausted and burnt out a bit! - before we got back into production mode. We have all of the vacuumformed parts made, so now it's a matter of casting up the remaining parts for the 11 sets of Marine armor. We're also putting the finishing touches on the paint for the armor sets - over 200 individual pieces!

The next few build days between now and Dragon Con will be fabricating the last few things needed, finalizing our painting, and strapping up armor sets. See you all at the hotel!

by Michelle Sleeper ( at August 14, 2015 03:26 PM

June 23, 2015


A new Performance of the Orchestre Philharmonique du /tmp/lab


For this new iteration the ensemble used a lot of live coding platforms, already used and new ones.

  • puredata
  • ibniz
  • minuit
  • matlab
  • supercollider
  • snoffer
  • frequensea

Each player displayed its work space using a video projector, making the performance a great audio & video moment.

Some “non-kosher” instruments -namely a korg electribe and an maudio keyboard- infiltrated the team, but they were allowed to given techno fanatism is bad 🙂

Please find here a bad recording to enjoy:

Download :

by alban at June 23, 2015 06:36 AM

May 11, 2015

Freeside Atlanta

First Annual Freeside Atlanta Robot Street Fight

Thanks everyone who came out! It was a fun event and we're already talking about next year. You've still got plenty of time to build a bot for Dragon*Con, Maker Faire, or Chattacon also.

The 12's and 30lb bots certainly faced the challenge of the post apocalyptic landscape that is the parking lot behind Freeside. Next year I expect to see some bots with modifications to handle the uneven surfaces better. Wedges built for a stage fight didn't fare too well against the cracked pavement and potholes.

1st- Algos
2nd- Death By Twinkies
3rd- Eleos

1st- Torgo
2nd- Naked Singularity

1st- Omega Force
2nd- Abrasive Personality
3rd- Hypnus

1st- Nyx
2nd- Spanky
3rd- Overthruster

Video Playlist of the fights

Videos courtesy of Near Chaos Robotics

by TFSDude ( at May 11, 2015 10:12 AM

March 23, 2015

Freeside Atlanta

Atlanta Cosplay Meetup: Group Build Update #2

 The Atlanta Cosplay Meetup has been making a ton of progress on our Marines & Xenos group costume. We have finished up build day #6 so let's take a look and see where things are at currently!

We've finished principal construction of the Marine torso armor and are working on finishing it currently. The cardboard masters were coated in fiberglass resin to give them strength, and we are going over them with bondo body filler to smooth them out. After a few more passes they should be smooth enough to use as vacuumforming masters, or to mold and cast in resin and fiberglass mat for strength.

We've also started building the leg armor, using the same method as the torso.

All that is left for the Marine armor is to 3D print the shoulder parts, and the helmet and various attachments. Adam purchased the same WWII helmet used in the film, which will become the base for our helmet that we will make out of cast resin and fiberglass mat.

The Pulse Rifle has been assembled and had a first pass of smoothing and cleanup done on it. The entire gun was 3D printed from a high detail model from the game Aliens: Colonial Marines. Another day or so of work and we'll be ready to mold it in silicone!

Adam Keeton lent a hand helping us lathe a test Grenade out of aluminum. This is only a first iteration, we'll need to make a few adjustments and go back and try again. So far the results are very nice looking though!

Plus, he looks like a natural holding the Pulse Rifle.

The Xeno skull has been started. We built the head using a 3D model from the game Aliens: Colonial Marines and a program called 123D Make. What this program can do is generate a 3D interlocking puzzle, sort of like the wooden dinosaur skeleton puzzles you got as a kid. We can set it to be however many vertical and horizontal slices and the program draws up plans, which we then exported to the laser cutter. 4 hours of cutting and about 60 pieces later, you get this mess.

Assembly really is a simple as finding the numbered slots and sliding them together. Once you get the first couple of pieces put together the assembly is a breeze. We took maybe an hour to put the whole thing together. Once it was assembled, we coated the whole thing in fiberglass resin to give it strength, and once that cured we filled all of the holes with expanding foam.

Once the foam cures, we will rasp all of the excess off and skin it in bondo, and use that for our sculpting base.

Valentin is working on the mechanism for the Xeno tongue. We are 3D designing and printing a rack and pinion gear under tension from a rubber band, and "cocked" with a worm gear connected to a motor. The idea is that the Xeno costumers will have a hidden button to open the mouth and shoot out the tongue via pressure from the band, and the worm gear will retract and cock the tongue to be shot out again.

Lastly, I started on the Smartgun for my own Marine costume. Every Colonial Marine group needs a Smartgunner, and I would be lying if I didn't say that Vasquez was a bit of a hero as a kid. The Smartgun and the steadicam arm will be built much the way the rest of the build has been, with several 3D printed parts and laser cut cardboard details. The steadicam arm will have a semi-working interior using custom machined aluminum parts and springs. So far the barrel has been cut and printed, with a few more parts on the way.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to our deadline in May!

See all of our progress photos on Freeside's Facebook page here:

Be apart of the Atlanta Cosplay Meetup by keeping an eye on Freeside's Meetup calendar, or our Facebook group here:

by Michelle Sleeper ( at March 23, 2015 06:03 AM

February 18, 2015

Freeside Atlanta

Atlanta Cosplay Meetup: Group Build Update #1

The Atlanta Cosplay Meetup is a bi-monthly-ish group of cosplayers, prop builders, and costume makers hosted at Freeside Atlanta. We have been meeting since October 2014 to share ideas and projects.

In November we began discussing an idea about making a group costume - something we could all work on, and eventually wear, together - and how we could make that into a reality. After a lot of debate (and a little help for Rachel who had already made her own Xenomorph costume!) we settled on making a Colonial Marines and Xenos group from the Aliens franchise.

We just recently wrapped up our 3rd group build, so let's recap what we've done so far.

Our first build we focused on planning and various ideas of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to get there. We decided to use Pepakura to laser cut cardboard as the rough master for our Marine's armor, and to 3D print some of the detail parts as well as their various weapons.

Pepakura is a program that takes a 3D object and lays it out into 2D faces. The example I like to use for this is creating a a paper craft cube. You can lay out the 6 faces of a cube on a sheet of paper, cut the lines, score and glue tabs, and at the end you have your cube in the real world.

This concept scales up to infinitely complex objects. Cosplayers have been using Pepakura for over 15 years now to create complex suits of armor and props. What I discovered is that Pepakura can export into a format that Freeside's laser cutter can interpret, which turns hours of cutting material into mere minutes.

For our second build, we began laser cutting parts for the Marine torso, starting with the chest. The parts were exported from Pepakura into the laser cutter's software, which was then cut out of cardboard. By dialing in different settings for "cuts" and "scores", we can complete everything in a single job. After about 20 minutes we had all of the pieces cut out and began assembling!

Assembly consists of using hot glue to glue the seams of the cut together. We glue the edges on the inside of the cardboard armor to make sure it keeps it's shape, but this creates big gaps between parts on the front. This won't be a problem for us, since we will be sculpting details and smoothing out the form later on in the project.

For our most recent build, we started applying fiberglass resin to the chest piece. This is used to strengthen the armor so that we can sculpt on it with bondo body filler. While the chest was curing, we began cutting and assembling the back armor. Adam also started 3D printing the Pulse Rifle, which should be ready to clean up and assemble at the next build day.

Rachel also brought her Xeno costume so we could brainstorm ideas on how to create the next version of that. Kevin, our other Xeno, and Rachel and I decided we will cut the Xeno skull out of cardboard stacks for the rough master, which they will harden and sculpt.

Our next build will see a lot of progress, since we are now at a point where we can have teams of people working on different smaller parts. We will cut out and assemble the leg armor, start bondo sculpting on the chest, and fiberglass and bondo the back. We'll also be working on the Pulse Rifle, and may have some of the other Marine weapons to start 3D printing. Our team of Xenos will work on the cardboard jigsaw puzzle.

See all of our progress photos on Freeside's Facebook page here:

Be apart of the Atlanta Cosplay Meetup by keeping an eye on Freeside's Meetup calendar, or our Facebook group here:

by Michelle Sleeper ( at February 18, 2015 05:58 AM

Props and costuming - Building an Ultron helmet

Hello, Freeside readers, and welcome to my first blog post!

My name is Michelle Sleeper, I am a prop and costume builder in Atlanta, working primarily out of Freeside's space. I have been building costumes and plastic space guns since 2001, and have been a member of Freeside since 2013.

My most recent major project was to upgrade a costume I built last year of the Marvel comic's character, Ultron. The costume owner wanted a new and improved helmet, made of cast resin and full of all sorts of lights. It was a big and ambitious project, and I was very excited to get started.

Here's how we got there.

From the outset we decided that we wanted the master sculpt to be 3D printed - but for those of you familiar with 3D printing, you know that extremely large prints are difficult if not impossible to produce. Most often, you will have to break your model up into many different segments, which you then assemble like a 3D jigsaw puzzle. We opted not to do that, and instead outsourced to a professional 3D printing company based in Florida called TheObjectShop. They have a Zcorp 650, which is a very large printer that prints in a plaster like material, which is then hardened with cyanoacrylate AKA super glue.

The resulting print, while expensive, was absolutely phenomenal.

Like all 3D prints, the surface had a texture to it that was unsuitable for our needs. I set about cleaning up the surface to as smooth as I could get it, a process which took about 2 and a half weeks. The process is simple - spray the piece with filler primer, fill any large problem areas with bondo or spot filler, and use increasingly finer grits of sandpaper - but extremely tedious and time consuming. I started at 80 grit to knock down some of the bigger problem areas, and worked my way up to 800 grit wet sanding. The results were a helmet that was nearly flawless.

Now that our master sculpt was completed, we had to create a 2 part jacket mold out of silicone. This would allow us to produce many different copies in urethane resin later down the line. Urethane resin is lighter weight and more sturdy than the brittle plaster 3D print. These are important factors, considering it would be worn for 6-8 hours a day (if not more) and require a bunch of electronics glued and bolted inside of it.
To create the 2 part mold, first we have to make a parting wall all the way around the helmet, which will be the interfacing layer where the 2 sides of the silicone molds touch. We use the end of our Xacto knife to create little bumps all along the edge, which are registration keys that help the two halves line up properly.

Once the first half of the silicone mold is applied, we flip the whole thing over, remove the parting wall, and apply a coat of releasing agent before we apply the second half of silicone. The releasing agent is absolutely critical - silicone will not stick to anything except other silicone. Without the releasing agent, we would essentially create a big silicone bowl which would be next to impossible to use for our purposes.

Once both halves of the silicone mold were created and fully cured, we created an outer rigid mother mold. This is used to keep the silicone mold held together, once the master is removed and the mold is hollow. It is also applied in two halves, and like the silicone we use a releasing agent when creating the second half.

To make the hollow casting, we use a technique called rotocasting or slush casting. This is where you pour a bit of your urethane resin into the hollow mold and rotate it around so that it evenly coats all of the surfaces with a thin layer. This is done 4-5 times using several small batches of urethane resin, so that we ensure every surface has an even thickness. Because the mold weighs around 10 to 15 pounds before we put a drop of resin into it, and because each layer requires about 5 minutes of tossing it around, I decided to build handles to form into the mother mold. This makes the mother much easier to hold onto during the already strenuous rotocasting process.

After you are finished casting, it's time to remove the mother and the silicone mold. What you are left with is a perfect reproduction of your master sculpt in a much lighter material. The casting process itself is a bit of a learning curve as every mold will be different. Certain areas will come out to be thinner than others, and the exact amount of material you need to use for each batch will depend on a lot of factors. What this means is that the first few castings will tend to be "duds", meaning they are unsuitable for your ultimate purposes - in our case, a wearable costume.

However, you can still dress up one of these bad casts and stick it on a mannequin to live in the space!

While we were working on sculpting the master and producing the molds, we were also working on the electronic guts that would go into the helmet. Specifically, there would be a set of LEDs set into laser cut acrylic, and a custom made 8 x 24 LED matrix for the mouth.

The eye LEDs are rather simple - I drew up a 2D design to bridge the width of the helmet's eyes, and then cut that out of 2 layers of opaque white acrylic. The inner layer was made of 6mm acrylic which the LEDs were set into and glued into place, and the outer 3mm layer was flat. The results are menacing glowing red eyes.

The mouth LED matrix, on the other hand, is worthy of it's own individual blog post, which I will be putting up later. The short version is that we found and used an Arduino Micro connected to three MAX7219 chips, which are designed to control an 8 x 8 matrix. The matrix had to be designed and wired up by hand, a process which took about 3 weeks of work. After some trial and error with the MAX7219 board kits we used, the whole thing was put together and worked flawlessly. Here is a test video of the center matrix in our temporary holder.

After the matrix was finished, a cover was laser cut out of 1mm clear acrylic and installed into the mouth. The LEDs were transferred into a similar housing for their permanent installation, and all of the boards were put into craft foam holders for protection and installed into the helmet. The results were nothing short of perfect!

At this point the project was finished and ready to be worn, but like any good project it has sparked a whole host of new ideas and "how to do it better"s.

Until next time!

Want to see more photos? Check out the complete build process on my Facebook page.

by Michelle Sleeper ( at February 18, 2015 05:55 AM

January 30, 2015



We cannot confirm nor deny such activities may or may not have occured.

by alban at January 30, 2015 01:39 PM

January 12, 2015

Freeside Atlanta

January Build-Out Recap

On Saturday, we had one of our semi regular facility build-outs. These are great for the space and our members as it lets us focus on working on the space itself as a project to improve and maintain Freeside.

This time we did a lot of cleaning up and tidying after some of the major projects at Freeside! Between the JAM build the past few months and the recent power additions, a lot of organization work was needed.

Demontre and Niels put some more time into the indoor paint booth! Not much left on this project now, all we need is the exhaust fans and the filters and we're ready to paint.

Nathan and Paul painted the new folding chairs for the space.

Karen and Adam helped to tidy up the lumber and plastics consumables. Now we can get to scrap lumber and laserable plastics easier!

Everyone pitched in to clean up the center of the workshop and open that space back up. So much room for activities!

Not pictured: Tons of old dead paint that was disposed of, lots of old stuff on the recycling and dead project shelves that was tossed, and of course tons of piles of dust swept up.

Thanks to everyone who showed up and help make Freeside even better!

by Michelle Sleeper ( at January 12, 2015 06:23 AM

December 15, 2014

Freeside Atlanta

Making a Circle Jig

     Have you ever needed to cut a circle? Turns out you can't just freehand that. If you want to cut a circle you need a.... Circle Jig! This handy little thing straps onto a standard router. You stick a pin in one of the little holes for the center, strap a router to the other side and route yourself a circle.

Here's a commercial circle jig. Seems simple enough. Now what if you want this thing -Right Now-? Well then you better have a Laser Cutter and some Acrylic.

Step 1 of the design comes from measuring out the dimensions of the existing router plate. What are those curved holes for? Who knows? But they look cool right?

Starting from a base circle of diameter 1/4 in (size of the router bit) we offset another circle at some whole number of mm to mark the smallest radius we can cut. Then we offset a whole bunch of other circles in 2mm increments. Then add some horizontal lines.

We want to place the center holes at intersections of the horizontal lines and circles. It took forever. And ever. That's a lot of holes.

Then you throw that on the laser cutter and BAM! New Circle jig. Well with some post processing. The laser cutter can't inset the screw holes for attaching this thing to the router. Those were cut with... A router. How about that

by Scott McGraw ( at December 15, 2014 09:31 PM

November 02, 2014

Freeside Atlanta

Using gaze-tracking to map how surgeons look at diagnostic images

A few years ago, a Freeside collaboration resulted in some published medical research on using 3D Printing in pre-surgery planning.

In our second collaboration, we used gaze tracking to gather data on how surgeons with different levels of experience look at radiographs when diagnosing hallux valgus deformities. The new paper got published in the current issue of the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

Interestingly enough, we actually came up with the concept for this project during a meetup about interactive art installations. The idea of eye tracking came up and we discussed what we could discover with the technology. So we started to try to figure out how to a study with the free and open-source tools available. We ended up needing:

  • A webcam to look at the user's eyes.
  • ITU Gaze Tracker to calibrate and interpret that data. (However, their website is now down, so I'm not sure how viable this is as part of the toolchain now.)
  • OGAMA - Open Gaze and Mouse Analysis to conduct the study, display and record the data.
  • OpenCV and Pandas in Python to do a bit more image correction
  • Matlab to do more statistical analysis on the data
  • A custom chin rest that we fabricated and used a mouse pad for cushion

We threw together a workstation for about $400 (the laptop + webcam were the main costs) to do the study and started collecting data - 

We showed surgical residents and surgeons with over 7 years of experience a series of 30 radiograph images and asked them to rate the deformity from 0 to 3 in severity. Experts tended to lock onto areas for longer and use their peripheral vision more for diagnosis. Novices would search the image by moving their focus around more and tended to rank the deformity as less severe. 

Our main goal was to demonstrate that this kind of data collection can be done as a proof-of-concept cost-effectively and there's a lot to learn with it. We put together a video to further explain the setup, processes, and findings here if you'd like to learn more! - 

It was a fun project despite a huge number of roadblocks and setbacks with the setups, calibration, data manipulation, Despite the challenges, we came out of it with some really interesting research that demonstrates yet again how awesome it is to have a diverse community of experts and all the tools they need in one place. Support your local hackerspace/makerspace!

by Steamboat ( at November 02, 2014 10:07 AM

September 29, 2014

Freeside Atlanta

Build-Out Recap!

A bunch of great stuff got done at the build-out yesterday. A huge thanks to everyone that came out to pitch in!

Here are some pictures to recap the projects... Randy's team hung the curtain to the workshop to create more of a barrier between the front of the house and back of the house and to control dust levels a bit more. We'll be finishing the top of the wall soon, but the hard part's already done. Karen, Donald, Tom, Violet, and James framed the doorway to the Media Lab and Bio Lab and hung the door for that area. Next step is AC!

Michelle and Mary's team cleaned out project storage and moved the shelves over so that Neils could put the flammability cabinets in that area. That allowed all of us with the help of Adam and Nathan to clean up the workshop and really tidy up. They also sorted out all of the laser cutter raw materials and cut them down to a usable size on the table saw. 

For the portal clouds, JW, Nathan, and Kat rolled an awesome $1 solution for controlling the WS2812 clouds with an attiny and a programming header. The schematics and board layout are included too. We used highlowtech's guide to programming the Attiny85s with the help of an instructables for driving LEDs with them that provided some supplemental information. There was an issue with setting the fuse in the ATTiny to get the timing right that we ended up having to use avrdude to change manually. Maybe that had something to do with us using the internal clock or the ATTiny-10... Anyway, more clouds coming soon :)

Thanks again to everyone who came and I'm looking forward to the next one!

by Steamboat ( at September 29, 2014 08:01 AM

September 06, 2014

Freeside Atlanta

Motobrain: Interesting Investigation Concludes

I've had a problem with the way Motobrain calculated current flows for quite some time. Basically it always read a little higher than I expected it to if the textbooks are to be believed. Furthermore, one half the board always read a about 10% higher than the other half. It is not very unexpected that the "textbook" calculation and real life are a bit out of sync. Still, I wanted to know why the error was inconsistent between the two halves of the unit. That part was a bit unusual.

Normally, the way you go about solving an issue like this is to exclude stuff until the problem is gone. First, I excluded the Power board, the PCB with all the high current flow, heavy copper, and power transistors (shown right). I did this using the test jig (right, below) I designed to test all the Motobrains that come out of the factory. The MCU board (the board with the sensors, microcontroller, and Bluetooth radio) plugs into the jig and is given a series of test signals to confirm it is working. These test signals showed a similar error where the same half the board reported a higher current flow than the other. I concluded that the problem was clearly with the MCU board. Since then, I've spent a couple months looking over the schematic and PCBs for flaws that would explain the issue. Countless measurements showed the "error" somewhere earlier in the signal path than I tested though. As luck would have it, the Motobrain design for the signal path in question has a series of amplifiers. This means that the signals are smaller the earlier in the signal path we go. It got to point where I don't own sensitive enough test equipment to do a useful measurement. I best voltage measurement instrument I own is not sensitive enough to test the signal. Well, the Motobrain MCU board is sensitive enough but I was trying to exclude it so I couldn't use it obviously. Rather than beat my head against the same old wall today, I decided to focus on more practical concerns and calibrate the Motobrain to output accurate results. This means I was going to "fix" the firmware to correct for the nominal read error from the sensor. To do this, I needed I do some precise measurements at series of different calibrated current flows and graph them out. Conveniently both sides of the board show a linear deviation from the true reading which makes it very easy to null out in the firmware. Fixing it was as easy as taking the current measurement and dividing it by 1.11 or 1.22 depending on the side of the Motobrain. I did this and updated the Motobrain on bench. The readings were all accurate and I was pleased. Case closed... then again, while I'm here why not beat my head against the wall some more?!?

Always a glutton for punishment, I decided to compare the fresh readings to the historical data I had collected some weeks ago when first built this Motobrain. Every Motobrain is run through a battery of tests and the results are cataloged and stored electronically in case they may be informative in the future. I figured that if I see some failures in the future I may find a pattern in these data to help explain things. So, I pulled out the file for the Motobrain I had just collected these calibrated current flows from and compared them. What I found surprised me. Like I had observed before, the errors were certainly similar and the same half of the board was high relative to the the other. What surprised me was the magnitude of the error. The errors were much larger on the test jig than they were with the actual Motobrain Power board. It suddenly occurred to me that I did a poor job excluding the Power Board from a role in this issue. The simplest thing to do was to indict the test jig in this error I was seeing. About 3 minutes and a couple of quick measurements later, I was able to confirm the test jig was responsible for introducing all the errors I was seeing on the Motobrain MCU board when in the test jig. This means that the MCU board was actually excluded from guilt in the error reading after all. By pure coincidence, both the Power board and the test jig were introducing the same type of error on the same sensors of the MCU board. Flaws on both the test jig and the Power board that affected the MCU board in the same way was beyond my simplistic expectations. I did that first measurement on the test jig, got the reading I was expecting and stopped looking. In science, this is called "confirmation bias" and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker!

 So, what was the actual problem? I still don't have sensitive enough instruments to be absolutely certain if I don't use the Motobrain MCU board to do the measurement, but now that I trust those sensors again, I have identified the likely issue. It is minor differences in the way I designed the Power board itself. The path the electrons take on half of the Power board is about 900µm (900 micrometers) longer on the half that reads higher. That distance increases the resistance of the flow path by about 66µΩ or 0.000066Ω (also known as half a bee's dick of resistance). The signals we are measuring are extremely small though and every little bit of resistance matters. Normally I don't need to worry about such differences because because I give myself much larger margins of error to worry about but Motobrain's high current capacity obligates me to an extremely low output impedance and means that I do need to be a bit more thoughtful. Oops, my bad.

by craftycoder ( at September 06, 2014 08:12 PM

August 04, 2014

Freeside Atlanta

The JAM: Joy's Art Machine (First Build Recap)

BackgroundThe JAM (Joy's Art Machine) is a machine that distributes art. This project was fully funded by the Alchemy community. We are on track to collect somewhere between 200-300 pieces of art to distribute, including works by Catlanta and Evereman. We are actively collecting works of art, so if you're interested in contributing, you can email Joy at

The JAM explores two of the 10 core Burning Man principles: Decommodification and Gifting. We express Gifting by distributing art through the machine. Gifting trees are a familiar sight at Burns, but suffer from accumulating trash or trinkets. By gifting art (a gift in itself) we create a sort of on-demand gifting tree. We express Decommodification by not allowing the JAM to accept money. Instead, art is distributed by the machine on a timer. The machine lights up, and you push a button to receive art.

If you're interested in learning more about the project or want to get involved, check out our Meetup calendar for the next meeting or build, or email me at

Last Saturday I worked with Brian on the frame of the front and back 4x8-ft sheets.  We're using a pressure-treated wood, so the frame is going to hold the structure firm since the sheets have a tendency to warp a little.  Pressure-treated wood is also going to require a little more research to figure out what we need for painting.

We decided to start by marking exactly where we wanted to drill holes for the nuts and bolts to go.  We went with a staggered pattern.  We first created a template using a scrap piece of 8-ft long wood, and then scored the angle iron to make our markings.  Every hole is marked, so for the next Build one or two volunteers can simply drill out all the holes.  Essentially, we're creating a kit to assemble the JAM.

After marking all the steel, we made sure to label each piece with "top", "bottom" and whether it was a left or right part (if you face the "front" or "back" side of the machine).  This will help us keep track of where everything needs to go so nothing gets mixed up in assembly.

Then, we put down the left and right frame steel, and put down a 4x8-ft sheet.  We held everything together and then marked off some angle iron to cut for the top and bottom parts of the frame.  Brian also cut out some tabs so that the pieces would sit flush against the sides.

After this, Brian was ready to weld.  He did a few spot welds with the 4x8-ft sheet in place, and then we remove the sheet and completed the rest of the welding.  We know have two frame parts that look like a bed frame!  The JAM is going to be huge.

In other updates, we've sent out an order from Adafruit for the button, Arduino, and LED light strips.  That should arrive in the next week or so, and then prototyping the controller and timer can begin.  At the next build (tonight!), we have holes to drill in the steel frames, prototyping the carousel, shaving an inch off the "side" panels, and research on the paint.  For those that are artistically inclined, we need some help with vector graphics and creating stencils that we'll be using to paint the sides.  There's a little something for everyone!

by emptyset ( at August 04, 2014 11:40 AM

August 01, 2014

Freeside Atlanta

JAM: Joy's Art Machine - Design Meetup (Recap)

BackgroundThe JAM (Joy's Art Machine) is a machine that distributes art. This project was fully funded by the Alchemy community. We are on track to collect somewhere between 200-300 pieces of art to distribute, including works by Catlanta and Evereman. We are actively collecting works of art, so if you're interested in contributing, you can email Joy at

The JAM explores two of the 10 core Burning Man principles: Decommodification and Gifting. We express Gifting by distributing art through the machine. Gifting trees are a familiar sight at Burns, but suffer from accumulating trash or trinkets. By gifting art (a gift in itself) we create a sort of on-demand gifting tree. We express Decommodification by not allowing the JAM to accept money. Instead, art is distributed by the machine on a timer. The machine lights up, and you push a button to receive art.

If you're interested in learning more about the project or want to get involved, check out our Meetup calendar for the next meeting or build, or email me at

First off, thanks to everyone who attended!  We had an impressive attendance of both Freeside members and beyond, and there was much information exchanged and discussion.  Rob brought some pizza, and Joy and I brought some chocolate chip cookie dough hummus, spicy black bean hummus, and beer (of course!)

All apologies if I forget exactly who contributed what to the discussion!  Everyone had excellent ideas and really helped us commit to a workable design.

We spent a little time discussing a couple of key components of the project.  First, we discussed the housing itself.  Since we learned that the JAM won't be consumed in flames at the end of the event like we had planned, this meant we had to rethink the materials.  On the upside, this means that we have a lot more liberty to decorate and paint the walls of the JAM (no worries about fumes released from burning paint.)  Eventually, we settled on using 4x8ft sheets of lauan with some kind of frame backing it (somebody suggested using 3/4in steel square tubing).  Zach suggested that door hinges have been used on similar projects (like the Tardis) at past burns with good success, as it's just a matter of dropping the pins back in to secure two walls.  I'm following up with a few other folks via email to see if we can make a final design.

After much discussion related to the use of boxes, after some brainstorming we concluded that using a carousel-style design would be best, both in terms of loading the machine (cutting down on reloading frequency, due to more number of slots or "wedges") and in terms of being able to avoid using boxes altogether.  One of our members, Don suggested the carousel concept.  For art that was at risk of getting tangled in the machine (ex. felt or knit items) we would simply put them in a plastic bag.  The carousel would rotate and the slot would move over to an opening that would allow the art to drop out.

Since the base of the machine is 4x4ft, if we use something like a wheel with diameter of 3.8ft, then this works out to about 23-24 wedges (if the length of the carousel the wedge takes up is about 6in.)  If we maintain a dispense rate of about one wedge per hour, and slow it down in the early morning hours, we can probably look to reload the machine once per day, which is just about ideal for the Alchemy environment.
I spent some time tonight and added a few things to our Adafruit order: LED strips, Arduino, a big red LED button, power supply and connectors.  This should be enough to independently program the timer and button/lighting mechanism.
We're still not completely sure how exactly to drive the carousel, but we have enough to build a prototype that can be operated manually.  Kevin and Edward, who helped build the prototype for the Infinity Portal, threw their hat in to help construct the carousel.

Stay tuned for an announcement about the next meeting!

by emptyset ( at August 01, 2014 11:42 AM

June 26, 2014

Freeside Atlanta

Steganography 101

Disclaimer: This is a blog post about a CryptoParty presentation, the contents of which should not be construed as official Freeside statements.  Any opinions presented in this blog post by the author do not in any way represent an official endorsement of these opinions by Freeside Technology Spaces, Inc., nor is intended to reflect the views of Freeside and its membership.

Recently, Freeside hosted a CryptoParty where I gave an introductory presentation on steganography.  Like all my CryptoParty presentations, this wasn't very technical, but I did introduce some (very) basic techniques.

The first tool that everyone should know about is exiftool.  exiftool reads and writes to the metadata section of a variety of image formats.  I showed an excellent illustrated example of Exif metadata in the JPEG format, which has some great diagrams which show how a JPEG file's bytes are laid out.  There's also C# .NET code included to extract and modify this data, if perl's not your thing (Note: perl should not be your thing).
There are many uses for Exif metadata.  The most common use is by camera manufacturers.  You may have heard that digital photography can record data and store it into the photo itself.  This is how and where it happens.  It's not just a timestamp, either.  Your camera, especially a smartphone camera, can store information like GPS, your phone firmware version, the OS it's running, model number, IMEI, and other information that can unique identify your camera as the source of the photo.

Facebook, Google, and other social media use this feature to conveniently place the location of where the photo was taken when you upload it to their service.  This is great when you want to let your friends know that the picture of you standing in front of the Grand Canyon was taken at the location of the Grand Canyon (for those friends of yours that don't know what the Grand Canyon looks like).  It's less awesome when you've called in sick to work on Thursday and post a picture of a cool looking bird on Saturday, especially if you work in Atlanta and that bird was on the outskirts of Panama City.  Your employer can put two and two together.

Thankfully, there are tools to strip out metadata from images.  Consider using some before posting to social media!  There's always opt-out, too (you don't have to post everything to Facebook).

You can use exiftool to extract the information from some of the images in this blog post.  For example, with the "Snakes are Awesome" image, we can run the following command at the terminal:

$ exiftool -l snake.jpg
User Comment


Note: "$2" was removed when I wrote the value to the image, because $2 is a variable in Bash shell and the command was looking to substitute a value for it (which was nothing).

In this way, you can "hide" a URL in a picture.  It's not very well hidden, but a person or software tuned to detect this sort of thing can fish it out.  Still, it's a great way to communicate a "secret" with others that's not immediately obvious.  There's also no reason the data you store in metadata can't be encrypted.

Text steganography is the next step up in hiding information in plain sight.  For the presentation, I demo'd spammimic, an online tool that takes a string and hides in within spam, a fake PGP signature, or even characters that make it look Russian!  Let's say I want to send the message, "The only limit is yourself" - spammimic can make this look like a spam email:
Dear Friend ; Thank-you for your interest in our publication . If you no longer wish to receive our publications simply reply with a Subject: of "REMOVE" and you will immediately be removed from our club ! This mail is being sent in compliance with Senate bill 1627 ; Title 6 , Section 303 ! This is NOT unsolicited bulk mail [...]
The way that works generally is by taking the characters and mapping them to a known snippet of spam.  Note how the punctuation is always space-punctuation-space.  If you know about spammimic, it's not difficult to write some software to detect and test for this sort of thing.  Now, go through your spam folder and see which ones have hidden messages!

So, computers are basically machines that process strings, so anything you do with text is probably easily suited to reverse engineering and therefore, easily detected by three letter government agencies.

What about images within images, man?

There's a very simple technique to hide a zip file within a JPEG or GIF file.  The reason this works is that JPEG/GIF files are interpreted and identified by the header, whereas zip files are read from the end of the file.  So, in browsers and operating systems, the image will be rendered while the zip file remains obscure.

This technique is not without its drawbacks.  For starters, depending on the data, you can really blow up the size of a JPEG or GIF (which are typically less than 500K in size, which is being generous!)  A single PDF file could be 1-2MB.  So, a naive software detector can simply scrape social media sites like Tumblr and Twitter and put aside images in excess of a certain size threshold.  Still, you have to know to look for that.  Most casual human observers will see a picture and think nothing of it.

Here's how to execute the technique:

$ cat taxiderpy_original.jpg >> taxiderpy.jpg
$ zip microsoft-spy.pdf
$ cat >> taxiderpy.jpg

$ ls -sh1 taxiderpy*
1.6M taxiderpy.jpg
40K taxiderpy_original.jpg

This does nothing more than use the *nix command cat to append the zip file to the end of the image.  In this case, we have appended a PDF file with Microsoft's menu of services to law enforcement to the back of an image of a taxiderpy polar bear.  As you can see from the output of ls, the file size has increased from 40K to 1.6M.

Note: Blogger was able to detect that something was off about the taxiderpy image when attempting to upload it to this post.  To fetch the actual file, download the original presentation.

Extraction is easy - you simply attempt to unzip the JPEG or GIF.  Note that unzip warns about some extraneous data at the start of the file, which is the image, of course:

$ unzip taxiderpy.jpg
Archive: taxiderpy.jpg
warning [taxiderpy.jpg]: 37425 extra bytes at beginning or within zipfile
(attempting to process anyway)
inflating: microsoft-spy.pdf
$ open microsoft-spy.pdf

There's some more advanced techniques that hold up better to closer scrutiny.  For example, the same technique that professional photographers use to include a watermark can be used to hide a URL or other piece of data in a photo.  Video is another great medium to hide information.  In a complex animation or sequence, you could flash some secret text to the screen in a subtle way.  The "key" that the recipient needs to read the data is the exact frame number.

For more good times, come to the next CryptoParty!  We also archive all the past presentations and information discussed at CryptoParty on our wiki.  I'll be trying to get these into blog post format, to fill in the blanks between the slides, as it were.

by emptyset ( at June 26, 2014 08:20 AM