Earth is the Hackerspaces Planet

August 25, 2016


Happy Birthday Linux! (kind of)

Speaking of internet lore, Linux is 25 years old today!


(yeah, it’s a wedding cake, sorry – but all of the photos of cakes featuring Tux on Flickr are “all rights reserved” – what the heck is up with that?)

25 years ago today, Linus Torvalds announced he was working on a free MINIX-like OS:

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and
professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones.  This has been brewing
since april, and is starting to get ready.

The kernel wasn’t released until September, but the August 25th announcement is considered the birth of Linux.

Linux runs some 96% of the servers on the internet – not bad for a hobby!

by theron at August 25, 2016 10:02 PM

Milwaukee Makerspace

Some Great Milwaukee Makers

Just in case you missed it yesterday local makers Milwaukee Blacksmith were on TV.  We are excited to see all the amazing stuff they will make this season. If as you watch the drama and excitement unfolding and want to give it a try stop by Milwaukee Makerspace.  We have a great team of members that use our forge regularly. Members make everything from trivets and Knifes, to coat hooks and metal roses. Blacksmith forging can be hard work, but is a lot of fun.

Check your local listings for showtimes.

Click Here

by Carl Stevens at August 25, 2016 02:00 PM

August 24, 2016

NYC Resistor

Kari Love repping NYCR at the flipping White House!!!

Something ya’ll may not know, the house used to be pink.

But, our awesome member, Kari Love don’t care. She’s too busy inspiring makers all over the nation. Check this awesome video:

by Matt at August 24, 2016 03:07 PM

August 23, 2016

Hackspace Manchester

We need your help!

English not your first language? Wish I’d stop waffling? You want the Simple English Version

Dearest members,

We need your help running the hackspace.

A community organisation such as HacMan doesn’t run itself, there are a lot of small behind the scenes jobs to do and quite a few big front of house ones too. One of the largest at the moment is making our new space habitable and accessible. It has become increasingly obvious that there is an expectation that that the board will orchestrate this, sadly we collectively have neither the capacity nor the time to micromanage such a large project. The board is intended solely to do the following:

  • make sure the bills are paid and that we have things like insurance
  • assist with the on boarding process for new members
  • provide a single point of contact for complaints
  • provide an abstraction layer for dealing with the landlord, utilities companies etc.

The board are of course dedicated members who donate a lot of their time and energy to the hackspace however, we are only 5 people, we cannot do everything.

At the moment there are a few dedicated members attempting to put together the hackspace and keep it operable so that you can use it. They’re not all board members but there aren’t enough of them. We really should be further on with the rebuilding of the space than we are. The hackspace belongs to all of us, please help us build it into a better community.

Specifically we need help with:

  • Accessibility: we’d love the space to be as accessible as possible for all makers however, the board are not experienced enough to judge what is and isn’t accessible. Nor are we capable of judging whether a given adaptation will fix a given issue or not. As we don’t have the experience and knowledge to allow us to make the changes some of our members, and potential members, need we’re asking for help from our community to lead the space towards a better, more inclusive future.
  • Promotion: we’re doing our best but:
    • Our Facebook group and page are run by someone who is ambivalent about the medium.
    • We could use someone who is prepared to put more time into our MeetUp group.
    • We need people to write blog posts about what we’re up to and organise our presence at events such as Maker Faire UK and MakeFest Manchester.
    • We need people who are happy to find groups and communities both online and off, and spread the word about the fantastic world of hackspaces, and ours in particular.
  • Infrastructure: some of our areas have groups of people who have taken responsibility for them. The areas are as follows:
    • CNC: this is pretty well covered but if you’re particularly interested in joining the maintenance teams speak to Tas (NotQuiteHere)
    • Craft Corner: needs more people, talk to Chris (Badspyro). If you’re interested in anything from paper craft through to model painting, via our glorious sewing machines, or even something entirely off our radar that you think would make a great addition, please give us a shout. There are plans afoot for screen printing (Ruth is particularly interested and will point you in the right direction) as well as a myriad of other notions and hobbies too numerous to mention!
    • Metalwork desperately needs more people, talk to Greg (GregMorris)
    • Woodwork ditto, talk to Bob (thinkl33t)
  • Documentation, Health & Safety: much of the equipment we have in the hackspace is potentially new to a lot of members. A key function of a hackspace is knowledge sharing, including how not to injure yourself, how to use it to the best of its ability, and how to take care of the equipment (such as noticing when something is wrong with it). We need more people involved in the effort to make as much knowledge available as possible, and welcome involvement from anyone who wants to help. Speak to Chris (Badspyro) if you think documentation is awesome.
  • Snackspace: the list is available on the wiki. If we’re running low on stuff feel free to top us up. Shout for a Bookers/Makro card ( telegram is the best place to find us ) and knock yourself out. Don’t spend more than £200. Email the receipt to for reimbursement.  Get a VAT receipt!  We’re not VAT registered but if we ever do, we can claim 5 year’s worth of VAT paid!
  • Volunteer: we always need people to help run stalls at events and generally talk about our hackspace and the projects that people do there. So, if you’re a people person and are happy to turn up and chat about what you do at the hackspace (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, electronics, laser cutting, 3D printing, crafts, whatever) and/or assist with a more structured  workshop such as Build A BUG! please let us know. We announce events via but can’t run them without people to assist.
  • Organise an event: got something you want to do? Organise it! Events can be run in the space providing you don’t prevent other members from using it and there is at least one member present at all times. If you want to run something that would stop members using the space that is also fine providing it’s announced via the mailing list ( ) in plenty of time and no one seriously objects.
  • Hack-the-space days! – Organise one of these! Hack-the-space days are our chance to house keep and maintain the space infrastructure from regular equipment maintenance to building the physical space and everything in between.
  • Run a workshop, start meet up, introduce a regular open night activity. Want examples? 3DPUG (Bob/Thinkl33t), Locksport (originally I have no idea now Tas/NotQuiteHere and Greg), DandD (Kat/BinaryKitten), Sanctuary Games (Kat/BinaryKitten), Manchester Space Programme (externally organised and changed venue when we moved).

I don’t have enough time/experience/spoons to help with the big stuff what can I do?

10 minutes of tidying

The biggest thing that every member can do for the space is spend 10 minutes each time they come in tidying or cleaning the space. Particularly the tables, workspaces, and walkways. Walk around, pick up any dirty cups people have missed, throw away rubbish, put things back where they belong, wipe down the tables, brush the floor, empty the bins and take the bags down to the skips. If everyone spends just 10 minutes making our space better each time they come in it will make a huge difference.

Simple English Version

Dear Members,

We need help to make the hackspace work well for everybody.

Hacman is a community organisation. That means all the members are equal partners. We have a board. This is 5 people who do some admin jobs for Hacman. The board makes sure the bills get paid on time. The board makes sure that new members learn how to use the hackspace. The board deals with any complaints from members.

All members need to help create a good working hackspace. Our new hackspace still needs a lot of work so that everyone can use it. At the moment we need more people to do some of this work.

Here is a list of things that we need members to help with:

  • Accessibility. This means that we need people to say what they need to be able to use the space. We also need people who can explain what changes other people might need to be able to use the space. This could be changes for people in wheelchairs, people with seeing or hearing problems, people with assistance dogs or people with other disabilities that are not obvious. We want to make the space a good place that everyone can use.
  • Promotion. We need people who like using social media like Facebook and MeetUp to do Hacman posts. We need people to write blog posts about Hacman events. We need people to run Hacman stands at makerfaire and other events. We would like members to find places to talk about hackspaces and Hacman so that more people find out us.
  • Infrastructure. This means the physical areas in the new hackspace. If you can help make these areas ready to use, please help.
    • CNC – if you want to help with this, please talk to Tas (NotQuiteHere)
    • Craft Corner – physical crafts like paper modelling, sewing, screen printing. Please talk to Chris (Badspyro).
    • Metalwork – Please talk to Greg (GregMorris)
    • Woodwork – Please talk to Bob (thinkl33t)
  • Documentation, Health & Safety. We have a lot of tools and equipment. We need help with training new members, and writing signs and instructions. Some of the tools and equipment can be dangerous. New members need to learn how to stay safe and have fun in the hackspace. We all need to know how to look after the tools and equipment properly. This will keep the tools and equipment in good condition. Please ask Chris (Badspyro) if you can help with this.
  • Snackspace: This is the food and drinks that we sell to members at Hacman. The list of items is available on the wiki. Any member can ask for a wholesale      shop card (Bookers or Makro) and buy more food/drinks when there is not      much left. Please ask on the hacman Telegram channel for a card. Please do      not spend more than £200. You will need to email the receipt to to get paid back      the money you spent in the shop. Please get a VAT receipt when you shop.
  • Volunteer: we always need people to help run stalls at events. We need people who are happy to talk about what they do at the hackspace. We also need people who can do demonstrations at events e.g. building a mini robot. We tell members about events on the Hacman Telegram channel.
  • Organise an event: Any member can run an event in the hackspace. Events must have at least one Hacman member present. If the event means that other members cannot use the hackspace at the same time, then other members must agree that this is okay.
  • “Hack the space” days. We want people to organise one-off days where members work together to improve the hackspace. This could be painting the walls, or building a bench, or organising storage, or making the hackspace easier for everyone to use.
  • Run a workshop. We would love people to offer a one-off or regular session that is open to the public, as well as members. You can share a skill or interest with other people. You can ask other members for information about past workshops to get ideas.

Lastly, all members can help every time they are in the space. Please spend a few minutes tidying up. You can clear the tables and benches. You can sweep the floor or empty the bins. It is very important that we keep the space clean and tidy for everyone to use. Please also make sure that nothing is left where people could trip over it, or it gets in the way. This will make the hackspace a safer and more fun place for all of us to use.


by NotQuiteHere at August 23, 2016 10:29 PM

KwartzLab Makerspace

3D Printer Meetup: Wed. Aug. 24, 6-9pm

On the 4th Wednesday of each month (6-9pm), Kwartzlab has a 3D printer meetup, for everyone who is interested in 3D printing, or for those who would like to learn more about it. Each month, we try to invite guest speakers or arrange technical demos.

Tomorrow (Wednesday August 24), Pablo Eder from Lani Labs will be visiting. They make tools that make it easy to share, control and automate 3D printers over the internet.

In addition, Kwartzlab member Chris Gibson will be demoing his “RoVa4D” Full Color Blender 3D Printer, which is now working and making prints. The kickstarter for this printer ends Wednesday morning at 10am. Check it out:

by doug.moen at August 23, 2016 06:30 PM


Happy Internaut Day!

Hey, Internet (or is it just “internet” now?) you’re 25 years old? You don’t look a day over 24!

The internet was supposedly opened to the public on August 23, 1991. The problem with this date doesn’t seem to have any relevance in the history of the internet or the web. Who doesn’t love a little contrarian history? Go read a debunking by Fortune:

The building blocks (the HTML language, URI web addresses, and the HTTP protocol) were specified and written up by October 1990. The first webpage went live in December of that year. To quote the Web Foundation’s Berners-Lee-approved history: “By the end of 1990, the first web page was served on the open internet.”

So technically, the world-wide web has been on the internet for more than a quarter century. Only they didn’t tell anyone about it until a news group post on August 6, 1991. And of course, the first graphical web browser program, Mosaic, wasn’t released until 1993.

So happy roughly 24-26th birthday, internet!

by theron at August 23, 2016 05:53 PM


Mayor’s Summer Works at LVL1

Over the summer, member Divinity Rose coached a team of Junior Achievers as they worked to develop their technology based product and startup “Sensor Buddies.”  The team was being paid as part of the Mayor’s Summer Works program that employed 4200 youth over the summer. The team of three 17-year-old students from Central High School […]

by Divinity Rose at August 23, 2016 01:01 AM

August 20, 2016

Milwaukee Makerspace

Power Wheels Racing

Race HeadLast month the Milwaukee Makerspace power wheels team packed up the cars and road tripped to2 images vertical Maker Faire Detroit.  After long nights working at the space until 4am for the week before the drive Ed, Kathy, Pete, Andy, Vishal, and too many others to mention got 3 cars race ready.  The Bluth Stair Car, Super Tux Kart, and Hippie Rose made the journey to Detroit without damage are and were a blast to drive.


Our 3 cars raced with 34 others in the biggest Power Racing Series event to date on the biggest track ever made.  It was great to see all the hard work paying off as the builders of the cars became the happy drivers of the cars. Both days of races were streamed live by our friends at Make Magazine to where they can still be watched. Be sure to check out the race at Maker Faire Milwaukee September 24th-25th.


Check out the race from day one at the link below:

by Carl Stevens at August 20, 2016 12:00 PM

August 18, 2016

NYC Resistor

Last Call for Sunday’s Arduino Class!

Come join us for an Intro to Arduino class on Sunday, Aug 21! Our ever-popular Arduino class is back for another round. Learn how to use the Arduino microcontroller to control LEDs, light sensors, buzzers, and more, including how to wire up your own circuits and how to program it using the Arduino IDE. No previous electronics  experience is required!


Grab your tickets now!

by Bonnie Eisenman at August 18, 2016 05:29 AM

August 15, 2016

Milwaukee Makerspace

Time To Get Nerdy!

Nerdy Head

Make sure not to miss this weekend’s Nerdy Derby at American Science and Surplus. Adrian and the rest of the nerdy team will be helping kids and kids at heart turn blocks of wood into rolling masterpieces of speed. If you have not been to a Nerdy Derby event this will be one not to miss.  3D printed wheels have been coming in from printers all over the city and from our Makerspace 80 at a time.

2 images nerdy

Building a car is easy and there will be a nice long track to race down once you’ve finished your creation.  You start by picking a block of wood and some wheels. After a bit of nailing its off to nerdy up your car from piles of amazing decorations. Makers are encouraged to decorate, test, and re-decorate. Everything that you glue onto a car affects the way it moves down the track. See you there!


August 20th 11am-3pm
American Science & Surplus Milwaukee
6901 W Oklahoma Ave
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53219

by Carl Stevens at August 15, 2016 12:00 PM

August 11, 2016

Milwaukee Makerspace

3D Printed Origami

The Digital Dentist, Mark, is printing up a storm as usual.  When he’s not printing wheels for upcoming Nerdy Derby races he’s working on something unique.  This week Mark is working on 3D printed origami.  Triangular forms are printed flat and then folded into geodesic spheres.

3d 3 images

These shapes are destined to be lights.  Each of the ping pong balls will have a light in it.  Be sure to watch for the final product at Maker Faire Milwaukee.

by Carl Stevens at August 11, 2016 12:00 PM

NYC Resistor

Intro to Arduino Class on August 21st

Come join us for an Intro to Arduino class on August 21st! Want to get started with physical computing?
We’ll learn to program an Arduino and interact with the physical world! This class covers an introduction to Arduino, including how to use light sensors, LEDs, buzzers, and more.


Our Arduino classes tend to sell out, so grab your tickets now!

by Bonnie Eisenman at August 11, 2016 07:35 AM

Pumping Station: One

A Light Diversion


In the last days of Radio Shack, I was in a store on Michigan Avenue when I spotted, buried amongst the disassembled shelving units and discarded phone cases, a small red box that turned out to be an Arduino-based soldering project, the 2770158 LED Cube ( I bought it for something like $5, took it home, and promptly put it on the shelf as a project I’ll ‘get to’ at some point.

The honest truth is that I was somewhat intimidated by the soldering; it’s a 3x3x3 cube of LEDs that are soldered together and the lights were smaller than i was expecting, and looking at some pics of the final result, I resigned myself to likely screwing it up and at best hoping that I might learn something from what I assumed would be a complete failure. So I somehow justified to myself that, in order to not waste my $5, I shouldn’t actually try to make the thing I spent $5 on.

At some point I hit myself with a clue-by-four and realized the stupidity of my situation; accept the possible loss of the $5 and actually try instead of fretting about what-ifs. So I took the kit to PS:1, sat down in the Electronics area, got out the soldering iron, magnifying glass, and went to work. It took a couple of hours, and I was certain, absolutely positively certain, that, even though it looked right, there was no chance that I had actually gotten the leads all wired together correctly, especially the ones in the middle that were extremely hard to reach with the big tip of the soldering iron. Okay, well, only thing left was to actually plug it into the Arduino Uno I had, load up the sample sketch (available in the RS GitHub repo above), and see what happens.

I fired up the Arduino IDE, loaded the sample sketch, hit upload, and all of a sudden all the lights came on as it started through the canned routines. I was initially skeptical, checking every single light to see which one was never lighting up, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I had actually done it, all the lights actually lit up as part of the demo routine, and HOLY CRAP I MADE A THING AND IT WORKED!!!!1111

And then in my excitement I dropped it, ripping the USB cord from the Arduino, and landed lights-down on the floor. Well, of course I did. Of course I broke it, right? But as I checked the connections, nothing had come loose, there were no broken connections. I plugged the Arduino back in, and sure enough, it happily came back to life and started going through the routine. Whew!


So I resolved to make this truly my own; running a demo program that I didn’t write was not ‘finishing the job’. I remembered the QBasic ‘Snake’ program that drew a line bouncing around the screen, hitting the edge and then randomly turning and going off into another direction. Ah, but this is a cube, in threeeee deeeeeeee, so the challenge would be that more interesting, especially as I resolved to sit down and actually try to implement it without any help from the Internet; a three-dimensional matrix of lights, translated into C++.

This is where I remembered a line from Top Gun that went something along the lines of “Our pilots had become dependent on missiles” as a reason for loss of dogfighting ability. (And then I got that Everly Brothers song stuck in my head). Well, writing C++ for years, I had become dependent on the containers provided by the Standard Template Library (map, vector, etc.). While the Arduino is programmed using C++, it’s really a pretty small subset of C++ (which sort-of-kinda-not-really makes sense) and the STL is not available; go ahead and #include <map> all you like, all the compiler’s gonna do is complain. So I knew I’d have to regain some amount of dogfighting capability and do all the array/matrix stuff in pure C. So I decided the best way to keep myself honest and regain some of the skills I think I used to have, I created a C file in Vim (using Emacs always made me angry, straight-up I hate this, whatever this is), wrote the program, saved, compiled and ran straight from the terminal prompt. Again and again and again.

One of the biggest problems was forcing myself to get past the ‘sheesh, this woulda been easy to use <insert some STL thing> here’ and just focus on getting the values in the right cells of the matrix. It took a few hours to get the algorithm right, but pretty soon I had it spitting out numbers that seemed right, but how was I gonna know that it was right?

This is where I decided to make a quick diversion and build a virtual version of the matrix in OpenSCAD:


Using this model, I could walk through the output of the program and verify that the snake was truly moving correctly around the matrix. I rotated the model around, checking that the numbers were right and HOLY CRAP I MADE ANOTHER THING THAT WORKED!


The last thing to do was to actually get the program to work with the LEDs. This is where the spartan documentation of the original Radio Shack code became a problem; the sketch did a passable job of explaining how the lights were addressed, but the examples were all arrays of pre-baked values without having to do anything dynamic, and my program was all dynamic. I studied how the demo program worked, started fiddling with the values, and discovered how to set the bits in the right way to turn on individual lights, on specific levels. From there I modified my C program and added some code to translate my positioning, which turned out to be the mirror opposite of the way the lights are addressed; I solved the problem by physically turning the Arduino around so I was looking at the other side. Problem solved!)

I uploaded my sketch to the Arduino and it suddenly the lights were lighting up in what appeared to be a snake moving around the matrix. HOLY CRAP I GOT IT TO WORK!!!!!!11111


This is a long post for what amounts to a small light toy, but whilst I was feeling rather verbose (a consequence of sitting and waiting for an unrelated program to finish), I can’t emphasize how foolish I feel for not starting all this earlier; fear of failure is a very, very powerful emotion and if there’s a TL;DR in here somewhere, it’s that it is always better to try and fail than to never try at all, which is something PS:1 has done a very good job of teaching me.


Click here to view the embedded video.

The code is available at

by tachoknight at August 11, 2016 03:58 AM

August 07, 2016

Milwaukee Makerspace

The Tormach Training Begins

Header Positive

It has been amazing to see this group purchase come together over the last 6 months.  This mill is a great example of what we can achieve together.  It all started with one member stepping out on a ledge and offering to match funds raised by the space for a CNC mill.  If you see Larry walking around the space make sure to shake his hand and say thanks.  Because he stepped up we all have a new tool to make things with.2 imagesNow that we have a big fancy Tormach CNC mill it’s time to make some makers.  Our very own Larry will be donating his time to give one on one training starting this week.  Your first project will be your name engraved in a block of aluminum created using the conversational mode.  As someone with some milling experience it was a straight forward process and Larry was a great teacher. Don’t be intimidated by the big scary mill, Make something.  I would encourage you to not stop at the milling.  Take your name plate and buff it or powder coat it to make it unique.  Contact Larry via email or at a Tuesday night meeting to schedule a time to get checked out on the mill.

IMG_2410 copy

A special thanks to Tormach for helping us get this mill.  Without their help the money raised by our members would not have got us such an amazing tool.  We look forward to sharing all the things we make with the mill with them and supporting them any way we can.  TORMACH IS THE BEST!  For more info on Tormach and the cool tools they make click here.

by Carl Stevens at August 07, 2016 09:24 PM

August 04, 2016



It was fun.

Conferences torrents are here.

Consumers can watch them on youtube or

by alban at August 04, 2016 08:27 PM

August 01, 2016

Pumping Station: One

Spacecats Rocket Build!

A good friend of mine had the vision to make a memorial to lost cats at Burning Man 2016. It would be a whimsical project with a deeper side to it to honor our fallen feline companions.  To see more of what is behind the project can go to see the Spacecats Indiegogo at . I was asked by her to assist with creating the rocketship part of the project for the intrepid spacecats. I just starting doing CNC work this year and leaped at the opportunity to further improve my skills with a big project. Over a period of 2 months many models were created to arrive at the final form. I will detail the workflow for this and share some of the iterations!

It all started with Fusion 360, a great program for makers, to create a basic rocketship model. Well, I thought it was basic but my inexperience made it a bit harder than expected and went through many hours of “learning time” to arrive at a model I was happy with. From making the 3d model in Fusion 360, I then took it to 123d Make to have it piece together in radial slices so that it can be put together in real life! With the parts generated from 123dMake I was able to create some laser models to show my friend and get her input for her vision. As you can see it took about 4 times to get it right. These models were done 1:10 scale then 1:7 scale. it really helps to have something in front of you to decide what will look best.


After finally arriving at a model that was good it was time to bring it to the shopbot for a 1:2 model (that is also one of the indiegogo rewards!). There was much dialing in to make sure that the slot fit was tight but not too tight to be able to fit the pieces together.  Found that adding in .01 helped immensely to get the perfect fit. I did many test notch pieces to ensure the fit. One problem I had was making the test pieces too small so it did not get the full effect of sliding all the way into the wood. I found that making them larger really helped. It paid off to prototype and make test pieces , saved me from wasting many materials , especially when I moved to the more expensive wood!  Finally, we had something that the Spacecats seemed somewhat happy about – other than that orange tabby Floyd at least!


Also learned how to use a V bit for this project , very challenging to get the right font in so that it looks nice but was not too thin. This is the plate with the names of departed cats.


And finally , was able to do the full-size model that will go out to burning man! They were displayed at an event last weekend that was a Hawaiian luau, they seemed pretty pleased with it if I do say so myself!


Thanks to everyone at PS:One for the patience to answer many of my questions and excessive use of the shopbot to dial this project in 😀

If curious about the indiegogo project and the other elements of the installation can check out the page at Spacecats . And if going to Black Rock City this year, look for some spacecats in the deep playa!

by jeffz at August 01, 2016 12:28 AM

July 28, 2016

Pumping Station: One

How to Wear a Cabochon with an Irregular Shape



Now that members have made a bunch of fused glass cabochons this week, what can we do with them? You can make several cabochons and mount them on your own Medieval style gemstone covered book, hot glue it onto your stapler at work and really establish that one is yours, make some really shiny refrigerator magnets but jewelry is the most common application.

I encased my cabochon in a mount by free form hand weaving seed beads. This piece used different stitches and a strong nylon mono-filament thread. The beads are 11/0 size Czech glass and 15/0 size Japanese Miyuki glass. I encased the whole cabochon because the back of the fused glass was rough and uneven.




Other methods to make jewelry with a cabochon with an irregular shape are:

  • You can stitch bead embroidery around the cabochon securing it onto a backing of leather or heavy fabric. This will be similar to my example but simpler in its execution.
  • Glue on a bar pin back to wear it as a pin.
  • Glue on a bail to wear it on a chain or cord. There are many colors, sizes and shapes of ready made jewelry bails.
  • Wire wrap the cabochon with jewelry wire.

Given the resources we have at the space, someone could even 3D print a setting for their piece and then cast it in metal!






by shellie at July 28, 2016 08:25 PM

July 27, 2016

Pumping Station: One

The Joy of Melting Glass in a Microwave Oven



Samuel and Sylvia Sion brought in to last night’s member meeting an amazing impromptu class on fused glass. Glass usually has melting points higher than metal, yet there are these new miniature kilns that work inside of a conventional microwave oven! This makes fused glass work far more accessible and affordable from past days of using a larger plug-in electric kiln for hours. The time to melt an art glass cabochon was usually under five minutes with about 45 minutes needed for cooling. The larger kiln fit several pieces at once.

The microwave being used for glass fusing needs to be dedicated to art use only and never used for food again. (Cadmium and other pigments used for colorants are toxic, so this is a needed safety precaution.) Care needs to be taken to not overheat the microwave and destroy it, so letting the door stand open and the unit cool off between rounds of fusing glass is needed. Also, microwave kiln shelf paper needs to be placed on the base of the kiln to keep glass from melting onto the surface the kiln and destroying it. Heavy weight welding gloves worked as oven mitts to transfer hot kilns and the kilns rested safely on our ceramic fire bricks to cool.

Glass specifically made for fusing needs to be used for projects, like the brightly colored Dichroic glass example I made below. Dichroic and fusing glasses are the shiny, beautiful art glass pieces you always see in jewelry at art fairs. The price for making them yourself is very reasonable with this new method; you can buy enough to make several pieces for $20-$30. The kilns and tools to get started are being added to the small metals area and will be available within the following weeks.



by shellie at July 27, 2016 08:06 PM

July 26, 2016


Start Sewing! An Intro for Beginners – August 18 @ 7PM

This workshop will cover the basics of sewing, following a theoretical garment from start to finish. Get introduced to a sewing machine, how to read a pattern, what tools that can make construction easier, and fabrics to consider. With these basics down, you’ll be ready to tackle whatever sewing project you can dream up. You […]

by Nathan Armentrout at July 26, 2016 03:53 PM

July 19, 2016

Pumping Station: One

July Beer Church

The opening round

The opening round

In this month’s edition of Beer Church, the bombers flowed smoothly as we started off with the beer tasting:

After several rounds of tasting, we headed to Brew & Grow to start on our Brown Ale.  If you’ve never gone to Brew & Grow, this brew shop will have everything you need to start your own batch of beer from start to finish.



Gathering our ingredients entailed grabbing a cart with a bucket and scale attached and digging through our recipe book to catch all of our various grains needed for the mash.  We also grabbed some yeast and hops pellets to finish up our collecting.  Of course when you go to Brew & Grow you can sample some of their brews while you shop.

Wort Prep

Wort Prep

While the wort was being prepared I then decided it was grilling time!

Roll burgers into balls

Roll burgers into balls

Using a 75% / 25% fat mix, the beef was rolled into giant meat balls for smashing.

Smash into patties

Smash into patties

Once the burgers are made into balls, it’s time to smash them down and evening out the edges to make solid patties that will not disintegrate or crumble on the flame.  Salt, pepper, cajun seasoning were added on both sides of the burger.

Grill, flip only once and add cheese

Grill, flip only once and add cheese

Once the charcoal (which was started before the burgers were started) turns white, the lighter fluid should have burnt off and the grill is ready for use.  Toss on the buns to toast them but pay attention or they can scorch to a crisp.  Toss on the burgers with a spatula and note that the center is the hottest area so burgers are susceptible to scorching if you’re not careful.



Medium Rare

Medium Rare

Add condiments if necessary, and avoid shrinkage by removing the burgers before they are charred to a crisp.  Grill flame can get up to 500 degrees, so watch out or you or your food may get burnt!


Back in brewing land, while the mash was settling, the kettle was loaded with water and lit to reach 190 degrees.


After letting the wort settle, it was time to separate the sugars from the grain.


In sparging we rinse the grain with hot water that is about 170 degrees, using the wrong temp can result in unwanted consequences!


After the wort is in the kettle we turn back on the turkey fryer in order to begin the sterilization process and killing off bacteria.  As we mix the wort with a giant paddle, the heat coming from the turkey fryer singes everyone’s shins.

Pumping wort to carboy

Once the wort is heated up, we then cool it down by pumping cold water through the copper coils to bring the temperature back down.  Once the temperature drops, we then pump the remainder  through a tube into the carboy.

Here our decision to use pellet hops cause a lot of blockages in the tubes.  Using a mesh or filter bag on the pellet hops may have prevented some blockage but we were able to get most of the wort out into the carboy and did not smash it.

The ring of shame

The ring of shame

From last Beer Church we got to this final end stage and this handle failed causing the carboy to fall and smash all over the shop floor.  We were not to be tricked again and employed a harness setup to prevent any dropping.

Overall another successful Beer Church, we now have beer in progress which will be ready to be tapped soon.  Next iteration will use Creeping Charlie as the bittering agent in lieu of hops so it will be interesting to see how these two beers compare when it’s time.

If you are interested in beer or brewing, make sure to stop by next month’s edition of Beer Church!

by goatking at July 19, 2016 04:01 PM

July 17, 2016

Pumping Station: One

Configuring Pi 3 with a TFT touchscreen and GPIO buttons

A while back I built a pair of sound-reactive LED towers which were on display a few times, at some local Chicago events.

To plug into the DJ mixer output required a relatively expensive device to get the stereo signals (with external gain control) seen by a computer running as a microphone input.  Also, it was a relatively bulky affair to have yet another laptop sitting next to the mixer when the artist wasn’t using it to make the music.

Recently I discovered that starting with the 3.1 release, Processing can now run on a Raspberry Pi and has built-in ability to manipulate the GPIO ports.  This blog entry highlights the release.  This is exciting news as now the laptop can be replaced by a Pi 3 with a small touchscreen.

Here is a video of the light towers in action.

The towers each have 8 panels with 60 individually addressable RGB LEDs.  These pictures show off more of the visual esthetic and the cutaway view reveals something of the construction.  The LED strips are hidden in a channel in the wood supports which side illuminate acrylic panels (backed with just a strip of white cardboard).  The acrylic is impregnated with a diffuser which reflects the edge-lit light 90 degrees to exit out of the faces of the panels.  The white cardboard reflects the 1/2 of the light that would otherwise be directed inwards.   The acrylic is produced by Evonik and is called Acrylite EndLighten.  The towers themselves only require 110 VAC power.  The data frames to control the LED strips are sent wirelessly from the processing script using an Open Pixel Control  module which maps points on the processing screen into frames sent to a Fadecandy server running inside a OpenWRT Wifi device which is then physically connected to a Fadecandy board.  I used TP-Link TL-MR3040 WiFi devices to run OpenWRT and added the Fadecandy server application into the img file used to reflash the WiFi devices.  The Fadecandy GIT repository can be found here.

IMG_1689 IMG_1682

This is the assembled Raspberry Pi 3 w/ 2.8″ TFT Capacitive Touchscreen mirroring the HDMI frame buffer in a Zebra case without the top cover.

Pi 3 w/ 2.8

There were a lot of possible paths to follow in getting this build working the way I wanted it to be.  Most of my Google searching turned up outdated examples, particularly due to the changes introduced in the 4.4 kernel with /boot/config.txt use of overlays.  Adafruit had this very nice looking tutorial of how to get the touchscreen working with their version of the Jassie Raspbian os image.  The inclusion of how to use FBCP was of particular interest as mirroring the HDMI output is important for displaying processing scripts with the 2D or 3D graphics libraries.  Their Raspbian image was based on an older kernel and updating the os (sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get dist-upgrade) turned out not to just work.

After much tinkering, these are the steps that worked for me.  (note that I working with OSX 10.11)

  1. Download the latest Raspbian Jessie image here.
  2. Extract the .img file using “The” as opposed to the built-in “Archive” as I saw many comments that the default app caused issues.
  3. I chose a 32GB Samsung EVO Plus (model MB-MC32D) micro SD.  It has a red background.
  4. Flash the SD card with the extracted image file.  Instructions for doing this can be found easily.  I used the following procedure:
    • open a terminal window and change to the directory with the extracted image file
    • $ diskutil list
    • note the device path of the SD card (eg: /dev/disk4)
    • unmount the SD card, replace disk4 with what was discovered in the previous step
    • $ diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk4
    • flash the SD card, again update rdisk4 and also make sure the if= filename is correct
    • $ sudo dd if=./2016-05-27-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/rdisk4 bs=1m
    • this will take at least 5 minutes to complete, but it is possible to see some status without interrupting the transfer, by pressing ctrl-t
    • exit the terminal window and eject the SD card
  5. Insert the SD card into the Pi and hook it up to an HDMI monitor.  You will need a keyboard and mouse as well.
  6. Open a terminal window
    • disable power management for the onboard WiFi module for stability
    • $ sudo nano /etc/network/if-up.d/wlan0
      iwconfig wlan0 power off
    • $ sudo chmod +x /etc/network/if-up.d/wlan0
    • $ sudo raspi-config
    • select Expand Filesystem and reboot
  7. Configure the WiFi as usual from icon at the top of the desktop
  8. Open a terminal window
    1. install updates
    2. $ sudo apt-get update
    3. $ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
    4. install build utility
    5. $ sudo apt-get install cmake
    6. fetch the FBCP source, compile and install
    7. $ git clone
    8. $ mkdir ./rpi-fbcp/fbcp/build
    9. $ cd ./rpi-fbcp/fbcp/build
    10. $ cmake ..
    11. $ make
    12. $ sudo install fbcp /usr/local/bin/fbcp
    13. configure the touchscreen by uncommenting, changing or adding the following config entries
    14. $ sudo nano /boot/config.txt
      # match console size
      # force 640x480 VGA on HDMI
      # 2.8" Capacitive 320x240 Touchscreen
    15. expose touchscreen events
    16. $ sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/95-ft6206.rules
      SUBSYSTEM=="input", ATTRS{name}=="ft6236", ENV{DEVNAME}=="*event*", SYMLINK+="input/touchscreen"
    17. select an easier to read console font
    18. $ sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup
      • UTF-8
      • “Guess optimal character set”
      • Terminus
      • 6×12 (framebuffer only)
    19. remove extra GLES library see this issue
    20. $ sudo aptitude remove libgles2-mesa
    21. install processing
    22. $ curl | sudo sh
    23. disable auto monitor-off
    24. $ sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
      xserver-command=X -s 0 -dpms
  9. Reboot

The touchscreen should now display the 640×480 desktop scaled down to the 320×240 PiTFT screen.  This makes things look less crisp but has the advantage that connecting to an external HDMI display will work and that most apps need the larger dimensions be usable.  Note that many HDMI displays will not be able to handle a 320×240 HDMI signal.

FBCP stands for frame buffer copy, which rescales and mirrors the HDMI framebuffer (/dev/fb0) onto the PiTFT framebuffer (/dev/fb1)

The version of the 2.8″ PiTFT I got from Adafruit, comes with 4 buttons and I created this test Python script to demonstrate not only how to use the RPi.GPIO library, but how to manipulate the PiTFT backlight (so as to not burn-in the screen), use multi-threaded event handlers, and shutdown the os to safely disconnect the power.

I created this script as: /home/pi/  (chmod +c to make it executable) and test by typing ./  Note that pressing the bottom right button (#27) will ask for authentication for powering off the Pi.  See below to set this script running as a service, in which case, the user will not be asked for authentication.

#!/usr/bin/env python2.7

# example code tested with Pi 3
# Raspibian Jassie (4.4 kernel):
# Adafruit 2.8" Capacitive Touchscreen:
# for running on startup see:
# make sure to update the ExecStart= entry in the Adafruit script after copying from the example

import subprocess
import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO

# list of BCM channels from RPO.GPIO (printed on the Adafruit PCB next to each button)
channel_list = [17, 22, 23, 27]
backlightOn = True

# event handler to toggle the TFT backlight
def toggleBacklight(channel):
    global backlightOn
    if backlightOn:
        backlightOn = False
        backlightOn = True

# event handler to manage button presses
def buttonEvent(channel):
    startTime = time.time()
    while GPIO.input(channel) == GPIO.LOW:
    print "Button #%d pressed for %f seconds." % (channel, time.time() - startTime)

# event handler to manage Pi shutdown
def poweroff(channel):
    startTime = time.time()
    while GPIO.input(channel) == GPIO.LOW:
    if (time.time() - startTime) &amp;amp;amp;gt; 2:['poweroff'], shell=True, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)

# initialize GPIO library
GPIO.setup(channel_list, GPIO.IN, pull_up_down=GPIO.PUD_UP)
GPIO.setup(18, GPIO.OUT)
backlight = GPIO.PWM(18, 1000)

print "Button #17 exits."
print "Button #22 toggles the TFT backlight."
print "Button #23 displayed the time the button is pressed."
print "!!! Pressing button #27 for at least 2 seconds, powers down the Pi !!!"

GPIO.add_event_detect(22, GPIO.FALLING, callback=toggleBacklight, bouncetime=200)
GPIO.add_event_detect(23, GPIO.FALLING, callback=buttonEvent, bouncetime=200)
GPIO.add_event_detect(27, GPIO.FALLING, callback=poweroff, bouncetime=200)

    GPIO.wait_for_edge(17, GPIO.FALLING)
    print "Exit button pressed."


# exit gracefully

To install as a service,

# pitft_buttons service file, start a daemon on startup
# file: /etc/systemd/system/pitft_buttons.service

Description=Start PiTFT buttons daemon

ExecStart=/usr/bin/python -u /home/pi/


Run a processing sketch from a script or from a terminal window or ssh session.
$ DISPLAY=:0 processing-java –sketch=/home/pi/HelloWorld –present

by Brian Chojnowski at July 17, 2016 05:15 PM

July 10, 2016

Milwaukee Makerspace


Harbor Freight

We went crazy a few days before Maker Faire Kansas City and rebuilt a vehicle for The Power Racing Series. The boat that was a basket turned into a duck…

Of course no PPPRS trip is complete without a stop at Harbor Fright. We bought all the pink tires they had. You know the pink tires, the ones the destroy themselves? Yeah, those pink tires…

Duck Car

Duallies again! Brings back memories of Red Lotus, doesn’t it? But this time we did not destroy any pink tires. We destroyed other things, but we fixed most of them.

Duck Car

Ed was our primary mechanic and handled all of the electrical system stuff and most of the other difficult things. Ed has a lot of experience building cars and other things…

Duck Car

Lori (aka “The Lorry”, aka “The Truck”) has raced before in Kansas City, and it was good to have her back behind the wheel, er, well, handle bars… Unless you count the main drive wheel when we say wheel. Yeah, let’s talk about that bicycle hub motor that runs at 24 volts, and not 36 volts.

Duck Car

Kathy went full-on duck, but can you blame her? About that hub motor… It’s built for 24 volts, but after the controller malfunctioned we switched it out for a 36 volt controller, which would only work with 36 volts attached to it, so we added a third battery and went crazy. Things worked until they didn’t and the motor burned up, even though we kept pouring water all over it. Drat!

Duck Car

Well, that’s the way it goes in the PPPRS, you either taste victory or you smell things burning. We did manage to get within the top five during the Endurance Race, and maybe even hit second place at one point. It’s all a blur really, and honestly we care more about having fun than we do about winning.

See you in Detroit!

by Pete Prodoehl at July 10, 2016 11:03 PM

July 08, 2016


This Saturday July 9, 2016 – Burning for Benjamin

Its about time we had burn to money. Date: Saturday July 9, 2016 Time: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Moment of Truth: 2:30 PM Prize: $100.00 Max Participants: 15 individuals or Teams Fires not permitted inside space, that is what the outdoors is for. All you have to do to compete is start a fire. […]

by JAC_101 at July 08, 2016 03:47 PM

July 07, 2016

NYC Resistor

DIY Musical Instruments Class is on Saturday!

We still have some tickets left for our DIY Musical Instruments class on Saturday!

Turn almost anything into a musical instrument with Teensy, an inexpensive Arduino-compatible microcontroller. The Teensy 3.2 has a bunch of touch sensors and analog and digital inputs, and it can plug into almost any music software through USB MIDI. teensy instruments

In this class, we’ll stick touch pads on any objects to make them into keyboards, drum controllers, or trigger pads. No coding or soldering experience is needed, but you’ll have the opportunity to do either or both if you like. Bring an object you’d like to instrumentify! And hurry up and buy your ticket.

instrument-a-day 7: Bottle Imp 1

by Bonnie Eisenman at July 07, 2016 02:00 PM

July 06, 2016


Maker’s Meetup 6 July

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

The post Maker’s Meetup 6 July appeared first on 091 Labs.

by Alanna at July 06, 2016 12:51 PM

July 05, 2016

Pumping Station: One

4th of July – BBQ o’clock!

A long time ago a friend moved to Chicago and I invited her to my BBQ.  When she got there, she was very confused.

“This is a cookout!” she said.  Not understanding, I tried to figure out what she was talking about.  Apparently in the south, BBQ’g means you take a smoker and smoke meat low and slow for long periods of time and a cookout is when you take your grill and cook some hamburgers and hot dogs.

Fast forward three years, it’s now 12:45am and it’s time to start BBQ’g.  Today’s recipe is 18.5 pounds of pork shoulder otherwise known as Boston Butt.

What is Pork Shoulder?

Boston Butt / Pork Shoulder

A staple of American barbecue, pork shoulder counts itself as one of the most forgiving of meats.  If you smoke it for too long, the meat tends to dry out some but with enough BBQ sauce, you won’t need to worry.  From a default, I usually serve my pork shoulder with no BBQ sauce as good BBQ doesn’t really need it but BBQ sauce is not faux pas and will bring more complexity to the dish.

Starting your fire

To start your fire you will need

  1. Charcoal briquettes
  2. Hickory Wood Chunks (read chunks, not chips)
  3. Water
  4. Chimney Starter


What you will need to do is lay the charcoal and hickory into the coal pan of the smoker.  Once placed, the chimney starter will be lit from the bottom to start the flame without lighter fluid.  You can either use newspaper or Weber ignition cubes to get the fire started.  The goal here is to get the coals in the chimney smoking and red hot so that you can dump them into the coal pile below.  Avoiding lighter fluid is important here because the gasoline/lighter fluid smell will get into the food which will make for some unappetizing eats!

Meat Preparation


While the chimney is smoking, grab some pork shoulder and lightly apply yellow mustard.  The mustard will work to hold the rub to the pork shoulder while it smokes to help the rub caramelize and give the pork shoulder nice bark.  Once light mustard is applied, add on the rub on both sides of the pork shoulder


Once the chimney is on fire you will need to exercise caution to pick up the chimney starter, remove the grate and dump it onto the bed of coal and wood below.


By dumping the hot chimney coals to the pile below, it will ignite the rest of the coals without the use of lighter fluid and sustain itself for a prolonged period of time.


Next up fill your water pan with a watering can, this will help regulate temperature as well as generate additional smoke.


Once you have the smoker up and running you will have smoke from coal and wood that will run for a good 5-7 hour stretch before the temperature starts to diminish.


The trick with smoking meat is to try to keep the temperature low and slow.  Too much heat and you will end up burning the meat.  Not enough heat and the meat will not get past the stall and will not be as tender as you need it to be.



Smoking meat is somewhat of a marathon.  The target temperature to hit with most meat is about 200 degrees F.  At this point, meat tenderizes and reaches peak flavor.  While it’s still possible to eat pork shoulder at 180 or even 190F, I’ve definitely seen that breaking past 200F will yield great results.  Some people will go 215F but risk the meat drying out when smoked for that long.  When smoking meat applying some apple cider with a spray bottle about 5 hours into the smoke.  You can also wrap the pork shoulder in foil and spray the shoulder, this Texas Crutch will help speed up the process and shave off a few hours off the total smoke time.

After 6 hours the coals will die down, so at that point apple cider vinegar will be misted on the shoulder and you can either finish it up in the oven or load a new chimney or charcoal and keep going.  It’s up to you if you want to wrap the pork shoulder or let it ride on the smoker.  Since I was in a time crunch I decided to deploy the Texas Crutch and bring the pork shoulders to the finish line.

IMG_2624IMG_2627 IMG_2631

Once the pork shoulder eclipses 200F, it is time to let it sit in a tray and cool off and rest.  This resting period lets the pork shoulder reabsorb some of the juice that may be in the foil to get juicier pork shoulder.  Once the shoulder is rested 45 minutes to 1 hour, take your favorite set of bear claws and start ripping up the pork.  You’ll find it therapeutic but if you have no bear claws you can use your bare hands or two fork method.  Since I got a set of bear claws I’ve never had to turn back.  After you’re done, it’s ready to go, make sure to mix up the pork shoulder and make sure the juice gets on a lot of pieces.  One 9lb of pork shoulder should be able to feed 20 people or so, so not bad in a long night’s work.

by goatking at July 05, 2016 07:45 PM

CNC Birdbath Bowl

I recently completed my most ambitious ShopBot project to date: casting a concrete birdbath bowl in a mold that I CNC’d. This was also my first attempt at producing a video about a project as I’m working on it. Watch the video below:

by Matt Meshulam at July 05, 2016 07:14 PM

NYC Resistor

Learn to Solder Class on July 30th

Want to learn to solder? Our learn-to-solder class is on July 30th!


We’ll be building some Game of Life kits – LED tiles that blink and form cool patterns. No previous experience necessary. The class will cover everything you need to know in order to solder safely and  effectively (including fixing your mistakes!).

Tickets available now.

by Bonnie Eisenman at July 05, 2016 01:59 PM

June 26, 2016

Milwaukee Makerspace

I Made Some Furniture

_I9H7512After several months of working I finally got around to photographing some of the furniture I have been working.  I have been exploring the idea of raw edges and finished edges meeting.  To that end the tables are made out of slabs of ash cut in half and then one side flipped to the other so the raw edges are in the center and not on the side.  This is not a new idea of course.  Googleing the words “river table” will provide lots of examples of this style.  The wood grain of the ash gives the look of a topographical map with the glass serving as the water feature in the map.  I am also working on a floor lamp and entry way table that continue to explore this idea. _I9H7515

The end table features legs turned from ash with a raw edge left on a single leg.  The wood top is a cross section of a maple tree also turned on the lathe to leave the bark on part of the round edge.  I am really happy with how these pieces turned out and would be happy to talk anyone through the process.

end table

Finally the last piece is the table lamp that many of you have seen around the space.  It was fun to blend walnut and concrete into this project.   This was my first attempt at steam bending and it went well.  A couple plastic bags, a hose, a tea pot, and a electric burner got the job done just fine.
_I9H7547 _I9H7554


by Carl Stevens at June 26, 2016 06:55 PM

June 21, 2016

Hackspace Manchester

Converting an upright piano to an electronic midi piano

The Manchester Hackspace has recently moved.  When the move occurred there were two old upright piano fortes found in the corner of the new place...I asked to keep them!  I have been meaning to attempt a conversion from an acoustic mechanical piano to an electronic one for a very long time. Tuning my old walnut cased iron framed piano is becoming too difficult.  I miss being able to play in tune and with other instruments.  I also seriously miss being able to compose music and I used to use midi extensively to achieve that.  I haven't the space to write, play and record every instead I used to use midi software on an external computer and have that record, notate and sequence the different parts to make create my opus!  Years ago I had access to an Atari ST 520FM which had built in midi ports - it made this very easy, I also had access to a Clavinova CLP-360 Yamaha electronic piano.  It was awesome and I miss it dearly...

So rather than let my creative talents go to waste I plan on tuning one of the pianos up as much as possible and restoring it to as near working condition as possible.  This can then be kept for posterity or donated to a worthy cause...It was looking a little shabby when I found it but I have cleaned it up and opened up the panels:

Here are some photos of the piano:

A classic Upright Piano with the covers off!

The iron frame and the strings

The pedals, the sustain has definitely seem some action!

Another side shot of the slightly...better piano!

There are actually two pianos physically they look very similar but one was in much better shape than the other.  Here is a video of the better one...One of the D flat keys does not have a bridal strap and so won't play or return.  I'm going to replace that strap but other than that it's got a nice action and is very easy to play...better than my own!  It was however horribly out of tune...

I have a piano tuning kit I bought off ebay for doing my own tuning so I broke it out and set to it. Tuning a piano is an's difficult and takes skill and practice.  I did get it mostly in tune, some of the higher and lower notes beat me and I will spend a bit more time on it.  I am jealous of how easily played this piano own keys are much stiffer and harder to play...mine also is in B flat...this piano tuned to A (440 Hz) without too much issue.

Here is the piano now tuned...hopefully it sounds better! EDIT - I haven't got a video of the tuned piano to share yet - I will upload one soon.  The internet needs more of my poor piano playing skills shared!

The plan with other piano is to remove the hammer action and strings and place some sensors underneath the keys. The sensors will connect to a microcontroller which will then send out midi data which can be used to drive a midi based synthesizer which will in turn be connected to an audio amplifier and a couple of speakers mounted inside the cabinet. The benefits of doing this are:

  • The piano will always be in tune!
  • A midi synthesizer can produce thousands of different voices - a whole orchestra and more!
  • The piano can be used as a midi Jukebox and a band in the box.
  • It is a great excuse to investigate touch pressure sensor technology.

Here is the current plan in a diagram

There are many aspects and parts to the project which will need careful thought and consideration.  I don't want to lose the piano's playability. If I remove the action - the mechanical part of the piano which converts the key press to strike a note the piano won't play as well. Here is a video I found on youtube which shows how a piano key functions:

I think in order to make this work it will be necessary to add a spring mechanism to where the key would normally pivot the action mechanism to get the key to return to it's original position. I am not great at mechanical engineering - here is my chance to improve!

It will also be necessary to sense the note being played. Most electronic pianos have a maximum number of keys being able to be played at the same time - this is known as polyphony.

An explanation on Note Polyphony

It would be nice to be able have at least a 32 note polyphony without any noticeable lag or delay. I'm not going to be playing pieces like this but being able to play 32 notes a once puts this device in the category of a reasonable electronic piano.

So lets recap the requirements of the input section:

  • Sense at least 32 simultaneous key presses
  • record how long each note was held for 
  • record how hard the note was pressed

To do this we will need a pressure sensor which can easily be built and placed underneath the key of the piano.

I recently took some inspiration from this project:

Liam used a sensor material known a velostat. It is a very interesting material which converts pressure into an electrical signal - it's electrical resistance changes as pressure is applied. I bought some from Proto-Pic

Velostat from Proto-pic

My plan is to combine the velostat into a simple resistive divider circuit which is then connected to the analogue input of a microcontroller and use this to 'sense' the note or notes being played.

A piano has 88 keys! If we want to sense them being played we need a way of reading in 88 analogue inputs. An arduino has six analogue arduino mega has a few more but still not enough! We could use multiple microcontrollers but that makes things awkward and expensive as we need to then to synchronize them all...yikes!

I think this will require some analogue multiplexing in order to work well and not be overly cumbersome....I looked at a couple of the analogue multiplexers available and settled on this one:

74HCT4067 - Analogue Multiplexer

It's basically a single throw sixteen throw switch which can be controlled by a microcontroller. There lots of breakout boards available on the internet. I bought this one:

Ebay shop - 74HC4067 breakout board

I haven't used it first plan is to test and model the analogue input stage...then connect it to the multiplexer and then use that to scale up for 88 keys.

In order to make this work we will need a lot of multiplexers:

88 keys / 16 channels = Number of multiplexer devices needed

therefore 5.5 devices (six) in reality.

Before that we need to make a sensor measurement stage.  I've decided to use a buffered simple resistive divider circuit:

The Sensor Measurement Stage
The above circuit is an approximation of how the electronics will read a key press.  The circuit functions as follows:

The momentary switch and the 10 kΩ potentiometer model the behaviour of the velostat material. I don't have much information on the resistivity of the velostat but I have tried it and I do know that it's resistance does vary with pressure - I measured it with a multimeter. The resistor R1 makes up a voltage divider circuit. When the piano key is pressed the resistance of the velostat changes which is detected by the LM358 Op-Amp. The resistor R5 and the capacitor C1 make up a low pass filter. It might not be necessary but I'm trying to ensure that no external electronic noise is presented to the op-amp. I only want to measure key presses, nothing else. The first op-amp is configured as a non-inverting amplifier with a gain of two. The 100 pF capacitor limits the bandwidth of the op-amp restricting it's operation to low frequencies, another way to limit noise being passed on to other parts of the circuit. The second op-amp stage is again a simple non-inverting op-amp stage with a gain of two. The output signal presented to the next stage will be between zero and three and a half volts. That should be more than enough range present to detect key presses with good sensitivity. The output will be connected to an analogue to digital converter which will probably be a ten bit ADC integral to the microcontroller. The op-amp is an LM358 but just about any op-amp will do for this circuit...There is nothing inherently special about that component. The circuit has been simulated connected to an oscilloscope. Here is the output:

The oscilloscope output - the pulses represent a unique keypress

The simulation appears to work perfectly which is always good...This circuit will have to be reproduced eighty-eight times so we will need to design a small and easy to build circuit.  For now I'm going to make a though-hole version because it's easy to prototype.  Once I'm happy everything works I will probably make a sixteen input version which will be connected to the analogue switch.

The Schematic of the key press circuit
I added an LED because I think it would be nice to see when the key has been pressed without having to attach it to a measurement device like an oscilloscope. It makes it easier to test the circuit. I also added a screw terminal to input the power - nearly forgot that.

The Top Layer of the PCB
The bottom Layer with dimensions in mm

Just for fun here is the circuit rendered in 3D:

ISO render of the populated PCB

Top render of the populated PCB

If the circuit works as intended I will re-engineer this board with surface mount components to reduce the physical size of the board and have eighty-eight boards made...

Here is the parts list for the key press circuit:

QtyValueDevicePartsDescriptionFarnell CodeUnit Price (£)Cost for Circuit (£)
1N/A5 mm LED - RedLED1LEDs23357250.0510.051
1100 pFCapacitorC225 V Ceramic Capacitor11417650.07090.0709
610 kΩResistorR1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R65% 1/4 Watt Carbon Film Resistor23294740.0240.144
210nFCapacitorC1, C325 V Ceramic Capacitor12164350.2750.55
1220 ΩResistorR75% 1/4 Watt Carbon Film Resistor23298990.0370.037
1LM358Dual Operational AmplifierIC1Jellybean op-amp22959800.340.34
3N/A5 mm Screw terminal connectorJP1_SENS, JP2, JP3_POWERStandard 2-pin 0.1 pitch24936140.160.48
12N7000N Channel MOSFETQ1_2N7002Jellybean N-Channel MosFET98451780.1580.158
Total in £1.8309

Not too bad at all...It does not take into account the cost of the PCB or my time building and testing the circuit.  I intend having the PCB for the surface mount version made professionally - eighty - eight times so that will cost a little more!

That's all for now - next post on this will probably show the board in operation and a prototype key press sensor:

by langster1980 at June 21, 2016 12:53 PM

June 19, 2016


Introduction to Arduino Workshop on Saturday, 30th July

Nottingham Hackspace will be hosting an all-day Introduction to Arduino Workshop, run by James Fowkes, John Moody, and Ian Dickinson, on Saturday, 30th July.

The Arduino system is a microcontroller board and software designed for extreme ease-of-use and learning, and has been wildly successful all over the world – not just in electronics, but for all sorts of maker projects. If you want to learn how to incorporate electronic control into your projects, this is definitely the workshop for you.

This workshop will cover:

  • What an Arduino is, and how to program it
  • Components and tools
  • Basics of electronics (voltage, current, resistance, etc.)
  • Arduino input and outputs
  • Controlling high-power components
  • Analog output
  • And more!

Aimed for complete beginners, this workshop doesn’t require you to have written a single line of code, switched on a soldering iron or even own an Arduino to take part. All the electronics equipment, including Arduino boards, will be provided on the day, but you will need to bring a laptop to program the Arduino with. It would also help if you installed the Arduino software onto your laptop before the workshop.

This workshop will run from 11am to 4pm, with a break for lunch at 1pm, and will cost £20, which includes use of all tools, boards and components, and free tea or coffee.

Arduino Unos will be available to purchase for £18 and Arduino Starter Kits will be available to purchase for £35. Please bring cash if you would like to buy either of these.

You can purchase your tickets now at EventBrite. This is a very popular workshop, so please buy your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

by Kate at June 19, 2016 10:00 AM

June 16, 2016

Pumping Station: One

Of Biscuits and Pirates

A lively assist!

A lively assist!

Hark! Saturday eve a few weeks past our dear “Spoons” (AKA Gerald Gayares) held a feast of hearty proportions! Eggs were broken, strawberries destemmed, chives snipped, and oh the mushroom boiling! He was valiantly assisted in this effort by Shelly “Pickles” Gayares and a smattering of the Mighty Crew of PS:One who were drafted to the event.


A Hearty-har-har Hardtack

A Hearty-har-har Hardtack

Ye may be asking then: how to can I provoke such a feast of glory of mine own?

1: Firstly ye must be WISE! Tender biscuits and crispy yeasty waffles are not the product of a few hours of careless abandon. Ye must plan for your journey so as to have on hand all the necessary apparatus, provender, and mates to accomplish your goal. Spoon’s yon tender-crisp waffles had begun some twelve hours in advance! Supplies were amassed over the whole of the week. Mark yer book of accounting with a list of needs and wants. Timing be’ critical.


Gather A Crew!

2: Secondly ye must be BOLD and Seductive! Declare yer intentions. Claim thy time and place with loud hollering. Alert thy comrades old and new. Do ye be thinking that a person shall attend the quiet church mouse squeaking out a proclamation of a tidy crumb to be nibbled? NAY I say! Go instead to the weekly meeting and bellow out “FEAST” so that all may know of yer intended soiree. (In our case it be more like a sortie…) Then go to the town square (Google Groups) and post a list declaring your nefarious goal along with any needs of supplies and crew. If-n’ ye be the timid sort or of short time then promote yer-self a good first mate to advocate for your cause. There be’ many a good mate to be had at this port, especially for the cause of a good feeding.



Pot-O’ Mushrooms


Pot-O’ Victory

3.Thirdly ye must be STRONG! The day of yer tasty battle will not be kiddy pools and microwaves. There will be fire, a broad side of gloriously dirty dishes, and absent baking soda all bent on thwarting yer merrymaking. Command thy crew with vitality and they will follow you to the depths of this Cursed Sea and to the grocery store no matter what behemoth lays in wait, as long as they get fed.






With the aforementioned application of Wisdom in planning, and Boldness for comrades, and Strength in application ye shall have all a person needs to attain a tasty conquest. This is after all a maker space: Just do it.


Aged Yeasty Waffles of Joy

by flyingoctopus at June 16, 2016 04:55 PM

June 15, 2016


WPPM – We’re not done yet. MOAR refurb Saturday June 18th 12noon-4pm

As seen in this story published by

It's alive.....

Hive76/WPPM/PhillyCam Board refurb

written by Dustin Slaughter, Hive76 has teamed up to offer space and expertise to assist PhillyCam and specifically their radio arm, WPPM, get their equipment ready to go on_the_air


And there is still time to get involved.

Saturday June 18th from 12 noon to 4pm we’ll be doing it again!


All are invited to participate at Hive76 this Saturday.


by Jim Fisher at June 15, 2016 12:12 AM

June 09, 2016

Hackspace Manchester

Designing a pressure sensor using Velostat

In the previous post I designed a circuit which was supposed to read in when pressure was applied to a custom sensor made from velostat.

The first post on the Piano conversion

I made a sensor out of some single sided FR4 printed circuit board material, some foam tape, two pieces of wire, a small 1 cm x 1 cm piece of velostat and some sticky tape!

Custom Pressure Sensor using Velostat
This is just a prototype and may not be my final version of the sensor. I wanted to see how well velostat worked and how it would behave. It seems to work really well!

I found from measurements with my multimeter that when the pressure sensor is not touched the resistance across the wires is 30 kΩ. When pressure is applied it drops to 1 kΩ. That should be more than good enough for the purposes of detecting a key-press!
The constructed pressure sensor using Velostat
Next the PCB designed in the previous post was etched, drilled and populated. It etched well and I populated it with the designed components:
The underside of the PCB, etched and populated
The populated PCB and the pressure sensor
I then wrote some quick test code for the arduino because I'm leaning towards using an arduino for the microcontroller:

Pressure Sensor test Code
For Electronic Piano
(c) A. Lang 2016


// These constants won't change. They're used to give names
// to the pins used:
const int analogInPin = A0; // Pressure Sensor connected to A0

int sensorValue = 0; // value read from the pressure sensor via the amplifier stage
float outputValue = 0; // value output to the Serial port

void setup() {
// initialize serial communications at 9600 bps:

void loop() {
// read the analog in value:
sensorValue = analogRead(analogInPin);

// print the results to the serial monitor:
Serial.print("sensor = " );

// wait 10 milliseconds before the next loop
// for the analog-to-digital converter to settle
// after the last reading:
The code is very similar to code I had written before - what is it with me and pressure sensors at the moment! I then uploaded the code to the arduino and tested it - It didn't work as planned - I may have been a little disappointed at this point....

I then thought about my circuit and looked at the schematic:
The original Key Press schematic

I realised I had made a mistake. I didn't account for how the velostat would behave in terms of it's resistance. I thought it would have a resistance of around 1 kΩ and doesn't it's resistance is 
30 kΩ and varies down from that when pressure is applied. Because of this I need to tweak my circuit from behaving as a two stage buffer to a simple analogue comparator and buffer. Luckily it won't be too hard to change things!

Here is the new circuit:

The Key Press Schematic Version 2 

The new circuits works in a similar fashion as the previous one. The velostat pressure sensor makes up a voltage divider. The output of the voltage divider is connected to an analogue comparator made with the first op-amp in an LM358 dual op-amp IC. The negative input has a 2.75 V reference set by the 8.2 kΩ resistor and the 10 kΩ resistor. The output of the 1st op-amp is then connected to a buffer amplifier with a gain of two and then the output is connected to a FET and an LED. The output will be sent to the ADC of the micro-controller which will probably be an Arduino.

To test the circuit I removed a 10 kΩ resistor and then added a 7.5 kΩ resistor (because I couldn't find an 8.2 kΩ resistor). Here is a photo of the modification:

The modified PCB
Here is the modified PCB layout although I probably won't etch this board again. I'm going to re-design it to use surface mount components and be a smaller form factor. It would be nice if each board fit snugly under each piano key.

The New Key Press Layout
I then connected the circuit back up to the arduino and pressed the sensor! It worked. The LED lit up - although I wish I had used a brighter LED...but SUCCESS!! So sweet...

Here is a graph I made from the serial monitor results. It looks very similar to the simulated oscilloscope trace from the first post!
The results from the serial monitor
So now we have a valid method of reading key presses we need to scale things up - and shrink a few things down. I will redesign the key press PCB layout to use surface mount components to take up as little room as possible. Then we need to look at multiplexing all of the signals together...and for that I'm going to use the 74HC4076 integrated circuit breakout board.

That's all for now people - take care!

by langster1980 at June 09, 2016 09:04 PM

KwartzLab Makerspace

AiR Worshop: Creative Abstract Painting! Wed. June 22 from 7-9pm

Our current AiR Jason Piper will be running a Creative Abstract Painting Workshop on Wednesday June 22 at the lab from 7-9pm. Admission is $10 and you can pay at the door BUT please RSVP with Jason by sending him an email: Spots are limited so please check with Jason about availability.

Here’s  blurb about what is to be expected!

In my abstract painting workshop we will each work together to develop an expressive piece of art on canvas using acrylic paint. I would like to challenge people to be creative in a new direction. We will express utilizing emotions or feelings absent of visual reference. Using colour, form, line and shape we will create your own unique composition. My hope is for us to all walk away with a new or renewed sense of our abilities to be expressive through art. To experience the therapeutic, fun and enjoyable practice of making art.

Giraffe land

by Agnes at June 09, 2016 02:26 AM

June 06, 2016

Pumping Station: One

100th NERP Tonite! Embedded GUIs part 2 of 2: Qt

For the 100th NERP Meetup (Yea!), we’ll have the second of a two-part discussion of embedded GUIs on small Linux devices. Qt is much more than a GUI library. Tonight Ron Olson will share some wisdom on the Qt application framework. Ron tells me that Qt promises a lot, and it delivers. Sounds good to me!

Ron says “I figured the main thrust of the talk would be Qt, how it works, its two main parts (C++, QML), and how it works with the BBB as well as a Qt project controlling an Arduino, all with an eye towards demonstrating the QML, and lightly, the C++ connection.”

After graduating from NYU’s film school, Ron took full advantage of his film and theatre background by becoming a software developer. For 24 years, Ron has been one of the developers that companies go to when they want to make their customers lives worse; he helped write the system to show commercials at MTV, worked on cancelled projects at an animation studio that went out of business, pioneered allowing you to lose your retirement savings on the web at Bankers Trust, came up with new ways to target ads to you at DoubleClick, did his part in the financial crisis at Goldman Sachs, and lately has been writing software to help your attorney remember when your trial date is.
Mostly in C++ and Java.

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at


Doors open at 6:30pm. NERP is free and open to the public. Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com Tags: electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source, raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Pumping Station One, programming, Qt

by edbennett at June 06, 2016 06:04 PM

So you want a smart thermostat but don’t have a ‘C-Wire’


You are rent/own a condo/apartment and you want a smart thermostat to keep track of your spending on heat/cool, or want a thermostat with remote sensor support.  You pulled the current thermostat off the wall and looked at the wiring and you have a 4 wire system (R, Y, G, W) but no ‘C-Wire’ and the thermostat you want to use requires a ‘C-wire’ but you don’t have one.  You look at the Ecobee3 that supports 4 wire systems but you don’t have access to the HVAC unit because its in a locked closet/on the roof and you don’t want to have to deal with your landlord/association to get access to it as it probably means having to spend a few hundred more bucks to have a professional installer do the work.  Don’t worry though you can still have that smart thermostat you want, but it’s gonna be a little ugly but you can still have what you want.

What is a ‘C-Wire’ and why do thermostats need them?

HVAC control systems are based on 24V AC control signals, in a combined heat/cool unit you have 4 or 5 wires (we are going to concentrate on the 4 wires here because if you had 5 then you probably would not be searching for a solution for this problem.  In a 4 wire system you have one common supply wire (R) when the thermostat wants to request a function from your HVAC unit it connects one of the other 3 wires to the common supply wire to complete the circuit for that feature. 4-Wire ‘pins’

  • R – Common supply line
  • G – Fan request
  • Y – A/C Request
  • W –  Heat Request

The 5th wire in the system is C this is the second common wire and is connected to the other side of the 24V transformer in the HVAC control system, its used to power accessories such as a thermostat.  Your system probably does not have a C-Wire as your thermostat is battery powered.  ‘So how does the Nest manage to work without the c-wire?’ I hear you ask, well it scavenges power to charge an internal battery/capacitor by using G wire in short bursts to complete its charging circuit.  ‘Ok so why don’t other thermostats do that?’ Well if your HVAC system is to sensitive it can cause your fan to turn on and off for very short periods of time, this can be very bad for the longevity of your blower motor.

Imagine this simplified control board diagram:



So can’t I just hook up a second PSU to the thermostat and hook it up from R to C?

Short answer, no!  Long answer if you are are VERY VERY VERY sure that the phases of your HVAC unit and the outlet you use are in sync it is a very bad idea to just hook up a second PSU to the system, you will damage both your thermostat and HVAC control board.

So what is the solution?

To get the system to work you have to create an interface that will mimic a thermostat to the HVAC control board and mimic a 5 wire HVAC control board to your smart thermostat.  To do this we need 3 relays with a coil voltage of 24V AC, a 24V AC PSU, some screw terminals, a proto-board and some form of case.  I used the following relays and PSU:

  • Relay RT314524  – Newark P/N 03P2422
  • Triad Magnetics WAU24-200 – Newark P/N 96M0310 (Note this item is discontinued once stock levels are depleted so you may need to find an alternative)

Once you have the parts you need to assemble the following circuit:



Put it in a case and hook it up to your system.  Now you can enjoy your 5-wire requiring thermostat with your 4 wire controlled HVAC system.




You should also design a better wall mounting solution into your case so you don’t have to use blue painters tape to hold it to the wall, this will be being rectified with some double sided foam mount tape in the future.

by amishhammer at June 06, 2016 03:35 AM

June 05, 2016


What the RF is going on?

Well, I’ll tell you.


PhillyCam Radio

Sunday June 12th from 12 noon to 4pm we will be opening the space to WPPM.

They will be cleaning and testing their sound consoles to be used at their low power FM station debuting later this summer.

If you want to come down and help, or just watch, PLEASE do so. WPPM is a part of PhillyCam.

PhillyCam, WPPM, and Hive76 all welcome and provide access to anyone with an interest.

There may be more than one session. Stay posted here for further updates.

And later in the month; MORE RF.


2016 ARRL Field Day is June 25-26


I will be running (with LOTS of help) the G.O.T.A (Get on the Air) station at the PhilMont Mobile Radio Club Field Day event at:

Fort Washington State Park in Fort Washington, PA.


PhilMont Mobile Radio Club


Again, this event is open to all! Lots of RF stuff will be happening. If at all curious, please come out and check out the festivities. Amateur radio. Amateur radio digital modes. Satellite communication. FOOD. SDR radio. Mesh networking and more.

Hope to see you at these events.  …. — .–. . / – — / … . . / -.– — ..- / .- – / – …. . … . / . …- . -. – …



by Jim Fisher at June 05, 2016 03:57 PM

June 01, 2016


CAD class this Sunday with Kyle

Stop by Crashspace next sunday 6/5/2016 at 6:30pm for a walk through of swept bodies and nifty things you can do with them. I’ll cover the basics and then get into some of the useful techniques to model with a sweep. Afterwards we’ll do a general CAD Q&A


We’ll use Onshape (go set up an account, it’s free). Bring a laptop and a mouse. Email RSVP me if you’re interested. <risknc at google mails>

The instructor: I’ve been CADing for near 10 years on everything from humanoid robots to rockets. More background on me here: ( )

by KyleC at June 01, 2016 05:30 AM

May 25, 2016


Intro to Python Office Hours


If you’d like to join us, enroll in this course!
(If you choose “Audit”, it’s free!)

These meetups are office hours intended to supplement the Coursera course above. They will be guided by Michelle Leonhart, who is a professional software engineer currently working with Python.

Students are expected to watch the lectures before coming to the meetup, so we can optimize our time together for answering questions. (Similar to a professor’s office hours.) However, this course is intended for beginners, so no prior programming experience is required.

Watch the lectures in advance, bring a laptop, come with questions, and make some new friends!

The class runs from May 30 – July 10.

We will be meeting once a week during the course, on:
Thurs, June 2
Wed, June 8, 15, 22, 29
Thurs, July 6

We’ll start at 7:00PM. Students are not obligated to stay any longer than they find to be useful to them, but Michelle will be be available until 8:30PM.

Directions to CRASH Space


by at0mbxmb at May 25, 2016 03:40 AM

May 22, 2016


2015 CRASH Space Annual Report

CRASH Space is a member- and donor-funded 501(c)3 organization. Below you can find our latest (2015) annual report, as well as our inaugural (2014) annual report. If you have any questions about the organization or the reports, please reach out to


CRASH Space 2015 Annual Report
CRASH Space 2014 Annual Report

Michelle Leonhart
Vice President & Director,

by at0mbxmb at May 22, 2016 03:19 AM

May 07, 2016


CRASH THE PLANET Hacker Art Show Recap!

Thanks to everyone who came out to our first Hacker Art Show last month!

Between the art show and our annual meeting, April was a very busy month for us here at CRASH Space! Our endless gratitude goes out to everyone who has been here to help, and everyone’s patience as we catch up on blog posts for the past month. 🙂

JaMmInG wiTh tHe CoNs0L3 C0WB0y5 iN CyBeRSpaC3 by @makecation

CRASH THE PLANET was an ephemeral experience, lasting only one night. We had 33 local artists on display, and roughly 200 people in attendance throughout the night. If you missed it, pictures of the show are here and pictures of the setup are here. The works spanned across many dsciplines, including hack art, projection mapping, oscilloscope art, virtual reality, robotics, hand-crafted neon, glitch art, video games, photography, painting and sculpture.

The Perceptoscope by Ben Sax

We also had the pleasure of having Laura (who you may recognize from our Intro to Bitcoin classes) on site at the show interviewing the artists for her grassroots media organization SuchWowTV. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to work with a local maker from our own community, as SuchWowTV is an independent org based right here in Los Angeles, just a few blocks away from CRASH.

Check out the video below!

by at0mbxmb at May 07, 2016 01:13 AM

May 05, 2016


CRASH Space Joins the Electronic Frontier Alliance

CRASH Space is partnering with the EFF to help create the Electronic Frontier Alliance

The EFA is an alliance of organizations across the U.S. that have volunteered to serve as vital hubs for activism and grassroots organization addressing a spectrum of civil liberties and digital rights issues.

CRASH Space serves as a physical location that interested parties can come to in order to get involvd and learn more. In the next month, we will also be beginning a new class series focused around these topics, spearheaded by our VP, Michelle Leonhart.

You can sign up to be kept in the know here, and can see the current list of available allied hubs here.

by at0mbxmb at May 05, 2016 01:04 AM

May 03, 2016


Learn to make your own soap on Sunday, 19 June

Learn to make your own soap using the traditional cold process method on Sunday, 19 June, from 1:00 – 4:00.

You’ll be able to create your own six-bar block of coloured and scented soap from a mixture of coconut oil, lard or palm oil, olive oil, and lye water. You pick the scents and colours.

All materials are supplied, and you get to keep the mould to re-use again.

Detailed written instructions and recipes are provided, and you’ll also learn how to adapt recipes or create new ones using online soap calculators. Information on packaging, labelling, and selling legislation will also be included, if you’re thinking of starting your own soap business.

Tickets are £27.57, including Eventbrite themes, and are on sale now.

Please note: The lye water (sodium hydroxide solution) is very caustic, so goggles and gloves must be worn while the soap is in a liquid state. Please wear old clothes or a lab coat.

by Kate at May 03, 2016 11:15 AM

April 27, 2016

KwartzLab Makerspace

Next KW Repair Cafe is May 8th!

Repair Cafe

Sunday May 8th 2016 – 12:00am to 4:00pm

The next KW Repair Cafe is less than two weeks away!

Bring in your broken stuff and we’ll help you fix it! In the past we’ve done electronics, appliances, furniture, toys, clothing and more! Free coffee and munchies will be provided.

Register for Repairs!

If you’ve got something you’d like us to have a look at, please fill out a reservation using the Eventbrite link below:


By registering ahead of time, we can ensure someone will be on hand to help you with your item!

Volunteers needed

We’re also looking for volunteers to help fix stuff, so if you’d like to spend an afternoon helping others in the community, please check out the link below:


by Ben at April 27, 2016 04:55 PM

April 25, 2016

Baltimore Node

The More You Node – Upcoming workshops at the Node!

We just announced a whole bunch of classes and workshops!
There’s one every Tuesday from now until the end of May, with hopes of keeping up that regularity. So far we’ve got four with many more ideas in the works:
Pew-Pew Pewsday Laser Cutter 101 Safety and Basic Training

You’ll leave this class with a keyfob you designed and made yourself using our 80w 3’x2′ laser driven by the LaserCut 5.3 software. Completing this class is a requirement for using the laser-cutter on your future projects.


Metal casting using laser-cut molds – Make a Pewter Keychain or necklace
You’ll leave this class with a lead-free pewter keychain or necklace you designed and made yourself.


Make your own Kubb set (Viking lawn game) Our basic woodworking tools class

This workshop will teach you how to use basic woodworking tools like the band saw, miter saw, and table saw, as well as a brief intro to the laser cutter to customize the king. You’ll also leave this workshop with your very own Kubb set to play with at home with your friends!


Intro to Mold Making – Making Silicone Molds and Resin Casts

You’ll leave this class with a plastic resin copy of your original object, and a mold to make more at home.


by Todd Blatt at April 25, 2016 06:02 PM

April 13, 2016

Hackspace Manchester

Space 3.0 Buildout Day 1

So, day one of the buildout. We concentrated on sealing up broken windows (hopefully short term until our double-glazing units are fitted!), putting the wood workshop back together, getting snackspace set up for sugar and brews, and assembling the shelf units along the backwall.

Thanks to Ben, Greg, Bob, Fahad, Edd, Ruth and Richard for their help today.

The Workshop

photo111281031137569608 photo111281031137569607

We’ve chucked together the ‘messy’ workshop (the one with all the power tools!) partially, to give us an area to mend and make bits of the space as we’re building out the rest of the room.



Snackspace is set up as a brew station, with the project-a-sketch laptop-bench acting as a phone charging / pocket-rubbish storage area.

The ‘Great Wall’


This chunk of wall is currently acting as temporary storage for things until we have the part of the space where they actually go assembled and the boxes can be sorted off there.



Theres still a lot to do!  Work party Day 2 will be happening on Thursday the 14th from 1pm-ish.

by thinkl33t at April 13, 2016 09:51 PM

March 31, 2016


HaxoGreen Call for Presentations & Workshops

HaxoGreen Call for Presentations & Workshops

We are now accepting proposals for Presentations & Workshops for HaxoGreen 2016



… is a 4-day outdoor summer camp for over 100 hackers from all over Europe

… is where a community of creators, innovators, engineers, programmers and artists gathers and meets for an informal information-exchange, for talks, workshops and live music, and above all, for fun.

… is the summer-feeling of July, the adventure of outdoor camping, the smell of BBQ and the thrill of long nights.

… is a cozy campsite with lots of technology

The camp takes place from 28-31 July in Luxembourg


Call for Presentations & Workshops


On Saturday July 30th we will have space for short presentations on subjects of interest to our community as described above. Duration from lighting to 1h.


Workshops can take place any day of the camp. We particularly encourage cooking workshops and can provide kitchen facilities. Workshops can be from 1h to days


Please send your submissions to:


Deadline for submissions: June 4th

More info on HaxoGreen at

by Chris at March 31, 2016 04:32 PM

March 29, 2016


HaxoGreen 2016 tickets now on sale!


We are pleased to announce that HaxoGreen tickets are now on sale, along with hoodies ;-)

Get ‘em while you can at


… is a 4-day outdoor summer camp for over 100 hackers from all over Europe

… is where a community of creators, innovators, engineers, programmers and artists gathers and meets for an informal information-exchange, for talks, workshops and live music, and above all, for fun.

… is the summer-feeling of july, the adventure of outdoor camping, the smell of bbq and the thrill of long nights.

… is a cozy campsite with lots of technology


by Chris at March 29, 2016 02:44 PM

March 25, 2016


CRASH THE PLANET: The First Ever CRASH Space Art Show


Due to the unique nature of CRASH Space,
this show will ONLY exist in it’s entirety on
There’s only one chance, so don’t miss out!

CRASH THE PLANET is an interdisciplinary exhibition of multimedia art and technology, featuring 30+ local Los Angeles artists.

Projection Mapping – Hack Art – Neon Sculpture – Photography – Digital Installation – Video Games – Glitch Art – Virtual Reality – Traditional Painting – Electronic Art – Sound Installation

Adelle Lin – Alusion – bangsplat – Barb Noren – Ben Sax – Brian Higgins – carlynorama – cat whisperer – Duncan Malashock –
Evelyn Masso – Flipbookit – Glenn IRS – Holly Hudson – Jacob Joaquin – Jay Jacobs – Joshua Kirsch – Justin
Corwin – Kalle Rakete – Kevin – Levi Simons – makecation – Mark Sharlow – Matt Pinner – mercurious – Michelle Leonhart – netmerc – Richard Busby – risknc – Sean Bonner – Steve Goldstein – the lawrax – todbot – Trammel Hudson

Michelle Leonhart – VP, CRASH Space

by at0mbxmb at March 25, 2016 07:29 AM

March 20, 2016

Hackspace Manchester

The Maker Fairies are going to Newcastle!

HacMan, LaMM and a couple of members of Swindon Makerspace are going to UK Maker Faire at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle. Here’s a sneak preview of what we will be taking with us:

Jake Causier : Orange Star Light Tank (from the Nintendo game Advance Wars)

Mounted on an old electric wheelchair purchased from eBay, Jake’s tank is constructed from a wooden frame clad with foamboard sheets to form armour. The whole thing is large enough for a medium sized adult to fit inside, although the seating position is less than ideal. The finished project will also have functioning LED headlamps, feature laser-cut details, and be capable of a top speed of around 10 – 12mph.

Jake's tank: progress image

This is the the current state of Jake’s tank. It will be finished, he promises.

This is the tank Jake is basing his cosplay on.

This is the tank Jake is basing his cosplay on.

Project page:

Skippy McGaw : K9

Skippy is building a replica of K-9 from Dr Who. The body design is based on Dave Everett’s design (K9 Builders Club), instead of producing it out of foamboard however, Skippy is laser cutting it from 3mm MDF. The replica will be driven using custom built motor controllers driving off the shelf motors taken from balance boards, sensor control is achieved via a mixture of Arduino and Raspberry Pi and remote control is provided via a captive wifi portal running a custom interface.



Project page:

Tamarisk Kay : Bat Goggles

Designed to allow school children to better understand how bats navigate these steampunk-esque goggles deliberately obstruct the wearers vision forcing them to rely on feedback from an ultrasonic module attached to the front of the goggles. As humans are awful at interpreting ultrasonic signals, an Arduino is used to translate the distance response into audible beeps (or vibrations) which get closer together as the wearer gets closer to an object. The ears themselves are merely for decoration.

Wa-na-na-na bat goggles!

Wa-na-na-na bat goggles!

Project page: to be created

Bob Clough, Chris Hilliard & Tamarisk Kay : Bugzilla

5 times the size of a standard BUG! Bugzilla was first created as part of our stand decorations for Liverpool MakeFest 2015. Unlike the standard BUGS! which are fundamentally a laser cut case for an LED throwie, Bugzilla is a touch more complicated. The “LED” eyes are 3D printed cases containing Neopixel Jewels which are controlled by an Arduino hidden under the “coin cell” on her back. Bugzilla is made out of 3mm laser ply from Kitronik, lovingly laminated using wood glue, and painstakingly hand-sanded to create a smooth edge by Chris. Once completed she was treated with several coats of Danish Oil.



Project page: to be created

SNHack: Twitter Teletype

This is a vintage ASR-33 Teletype, circa 1963-1981 (but the heyday of them ended in approx 1975). It’s been restored to working (if not wonderful) condition, stripped of it’s outer case so you can see it’s (wonderful) insides, and attached to a raspberry pi and some other gubbins in order to type out tweets – as you can see for yourself if you mention @snhack.



Project page:

Ruth Abbott: Wooden Wallets and other impractical curio

Created using laser cut solid wood, beeswax and lots and lots of sanding Ruth creates wooden wallets, heat bent bangles and copper cuff links laser etched with your own handwriting. All of her items are sold online and she loves to pair vintage items like letterpress slugs with the exactness of laser cut materials She will be bringing a selection of her creations to show that when creating art with laser cutters it’s easy to move beyond the often 2 dimensional examples on the high street.

Wooden wallet

Wooden wallet

Project page:

by NotQuiteHere at March 20, 2016 11:07 PM

The Particle Electron – First Impressions

A while ago I backed the kickstarter campaign for Particle (formerly Spark)’s Electron board, a IOT (internet of things) with a built in 3G modem (2G are available) with global data coverage, recently they shipped,

The Electron Packaging The Electron Packaging The Electron open box The Electron open box The Electron what is the box The Electron on supplied breadboard The Electron powered on Small bag of supplied bits:
2 x  21 ohms resistors
1 x LDR
1 x LED

Setup was as easy as getting it out the box, wiring it up and following the instructions on (mine is set up using my awsome Mondo card) it offered me the name “nimble-aardvark”.

Once the board is powered up and connected, you get navigated to where you are prompted to start a new project (there is an IDE available on the at Dev Site, but no way as far as I can see of using the Arduino IDE), It is also worth checking out for additional things.

I have downloaded the Local Dev App (still requires web access to do compilation of code), it appears to be a customised version of the Atom text editor.

Particle Dev

Particle Dev

Using the Small bag of parts provided, and the sheet on the solderless breadboard (read the pin assignment as the holes don’t match up) I have wired it up as specified.

Wired up and Powered on

Wired up and Powered on

I loaded up the web IDE (and pulled up the docs) and flashed the example “Blink an LED” to the Particle Electron, the example as provided lists the second LED as on Pin0 when its acctuly on Pin6, so replace line 28:

int led1 = D0; // Instead of writing D0 over and over again, we'll write led1


int led1 = D6; // Instead of writing D6 over and over again, we'll write led1

Then click on the button to Flash the code to the device

Options to flash over USB or via 3G

Options to flash over USB or via 3G

Which is all very good, but I can do this with an Arduino… so moving quickly on to using the backhaul for something exciting (I mean I may want to flash an LED in a different country where there is no access to WiFi).

So for turning an LED on and Off over the internet we use this example code:

// -----------------------------------
// Controlling LEDs over the Internet
// -----------------------------------

/* First, let's create our "shorthand" for the pins
Same as in the Blink an LED example:
led1 is D6, led2 is D7 */

int led1 = D6;
int led2 = D7;

// Last time, we only needed to declare pins in the setup function.
// This time, we are also going to register our Particle function

void setup()

   // Here's the pin configuration, same as last time
   pinMode(led1, OUTPUT);
   pinMode(led2, OUTPUT);

   // We are also going to declare a Particle.function so that we can turn the LED on and off from the cloud.
   // This is saying that when we ask the cloud for the function "led", it will employ the function ledToggle() from this app.

   // For good measure, let's also make sure both LEDs are off when we start:
   digitalWrite(led1, LOW);
   digitalWrite(led2, LOW);


/* Last time, we wanted to continuously blink the LED on and off
Since we're waiting for input through the cloud this time,
we don't actually need to put anything in the loop */

void loop()
   // Nothing to do here

// We're going to have a super cool function now that gets called when a matching API request is sent
// This is the ledToggle function we registered to the "led" Particle.function earlier.

int ledToggle(String command) {
    /* Particle.functions always take a string as an argument and return an integer.
    Since we can pass a string, it means that we can give the program commands on how the function should be used.
    In this case, telling the function "on" will turn the LED on and telling it "off" will turn the LED off.
    Then, the function returns a value to us to let us know what happened.
    In this case, it will return 1 for the LEDs turning on, 0 for the LEDs turning off,
    and -1 if we received a totally bogus command that didn't do anything to the LEDs.

    if (command=="on") {
        return 1;
    else if (command=="off") {
        return 0;
    else {
        return -1;

I have put the following HTML code at

<title>Skippy's LED</title>
<form action="" method="POST">
Tell my LED what to do!<br>
<input type="radio" name="args" value="on">Turn the LED on.
<input type="radio" name="args" value="off">Turn the LED off.
<input type="submit" value="Do it!">

I will have a further play, as I have five of these in total.

by Skippy at March 20, 2016 11:02 PM

555 Flyback Driver and Plasma Speaker Part III

So here is the complete Plasma speaker circuit in all it's glory!

It actually creates a significant amount of high voltage and works very well.  I would caution anyone else attempting to replicate this circuit to please be very careful.  I haven't given myself a shock yet but it could happen and will hurt if it does....Exercise sensible precautions please!

Here is the previous post in case people need to catch up:

555 flyback driver and plasma speaker part II

I have found that the 3D printed HV probe holders work quite well.  I also have found that setting the distance between the probes is critical to obtaining a reproducible arc and that the constant re-strike of the arc causing the audio to sound terrible.  From experimentation I have found that the audio signal from my mobile phone is more than enough to drive the 555 modulation pin when it isn't capacitively coupled.  When capacitive coupling is added the audio is barely heard.  The capacitor on the audio input reduces the hissing considerably.  Here is a video showing the current audio output of the plasma sounds pretty terrible but it does work:

I have decided to do two things....improve the HV probes and provide a simple class A audio amplifier to the pin 5 input of the 555.  This should improve the sound and get rid of the horrible hissing!

So to that end I have designed a very simple single transistor class A amplifier using a BC548 transistor.  Here is the schematic:

In designing the circuit I referred to this website...which is rather useful for this kind of thing:

I knew how to design a Class A amplifier well enough but I had forgotten how to select the components values particular I wanted to increase the low frequency response and limit the bandwidth of the amplifier to reduce the high frequency response.

The circuit works fairly simply...An audio signal from a suitable source is presented at the 3.5 mm headphone jack input - only one side of the audio signal is provided - this amplifier is mono. This is then passed to C1 - a 1 uF electrolytic capacitor which is used to remove any dc offset and chosen in such a way as to not overly affect the bass response of the amplifier (more on this later).  The next components in the circuit are R3 and R4 which bias the NPN BC548 transistor into constantly being ON.  These values are set by ohms law.  We need at least 0.7 volts to turn an NPN transistor ON. Lets do the maths just for fun:

Ohms Law; V / R = I

In this case:

V: 12 Volts
Rt: R3 + R4 which is 120 kΩ + 10 kΩ = 130 kΩ

I = V / Rt

I = 12 V / 130 kΩ

I = 9.23076923077 * 10^-5 A or 92.3 µA

The voltage applied to the base of the BC548 transistor can be calculated by = I * R4
therefore the voltage applied to the base of the BC548 transistor:

92.3 *10^-6 A * 10 kΩ

The voltage applied to the base of the BC548 transistor is 0.923 Volts or 923 mV

The circuit has been designed so that 0.923 volts is always applied to the base pin of the transistor to 'bias' the transistor ON.  The audio signal applied will increase this voltage and be amplified.  The next components applied to the collector of the transistor are a 10 kΩ potentiometer and a 100 Ω resistor.  At the emitter of the transistor we have another 10 kΩ  potentiometer and a 10 uF capacitor. All of these components combined set the gain of the amplifier. There are formulae that can be applied to calculate the amount of gain.  I guessed at it...It's not particularly important in this case. When the potentiometers are at maximum (according to my simulations) the input signal is amplified roughly 130 times greater than the input...the amount of gain is controlled both 10 kΩ  potentiometers which can be set by the operator.  The 10 uF electrolytic capacitor C3 is known as the emitter decoupling capacitor and is added to prevent any stray audio signal being present on the emitter pin of the transistor.

Finally at the output of the amplifier we have a 1 nF ceramic capacitor C4 and a 10 uF electrolyitic capacitor C2.  The electrolytic capacitor C2 prevents any dc voltage being passed to the next stage of the circuit, in our case, pin 5 of the 555 timer. C4 is used to limit the bandwidth of the amplifier.  In this case I have set all of the capacitor values to set the amplifier's frequency bandwidth to be between 200 Hz and 20 kHz which is roughly the range of human hearing.

I simulated the circuit in order to check what the output would be like and check the gain would be sufficient and to verify the frequency response.  It was helpfully not clipped and gave a good amplified approximation of what was to be expected.

Here are the results of the simulation...I have placed probes at the more interesting points in the circuit:

Simulation Schematic
Here is the simulated oscilloscope output:

The input signal is shown with the blue trace, the red trace shows the amplified output.  The output is inverted but that won't matter in this case.

The really good thing about simulating circuits is that the frequency bandwidth can be checked without actually building the circuit.  Here is the simulated audio frequency response of the amplifier:

If the capacitor values C1, C3 and C4 are changed for different values the frequency response of the amplifier is significantly affected.  C1's value changes the bass frequency responses, C3 changes the treble response and C4 changes the bandwidth of the amplifier.  In this case I have tweaked the values to try to give the best response between 200 Hz and 20 kHz without losing too much bandwidth.

Because its me I've designed a simple single sided PCB for this circuit.  It could easily be made on veroboard (stripboard) or using some other method.

Top Layer of PCB
Bottom Layer of PCB

Here is a render of the PCB to show how it will look once etched and populated:

Top View of Class A Amplifier Render
ISO view of Class A Amplifier Render
Here is the bill of materials:

Part Value Device Description Vendor Part Number Quantity Cost

12VDC_INPUT N/A M025MM Standard 2-pin 5mm screw terminal Farnell 9632972 1 0.245
AUDIO_OUT N/A M025MM Standard 2-pin 5mm screw terminal Farnell 9632972 1 0.245
C1 1uF CAP_POLPTH1 Electrolytic Capacitor Farnell 1236686 1 0.0464
C2 10uF CAP_POLPTH1 Electrolytic Capacitor Farnell 9451056 1 0.034
C3 10uF CAP_POLPTH1 Electrolytic Capacitor Farnell 9451056 1 0.034
C4 1nF CAPPTH1 Ceramic Capacitor Farnell 1141779 1 0.0758
C5 100uF CAP_POLPTH1 Electrolytic Capacitor Farnell 1902882 1 0.0345
C6 100nF CAPPTH1 Ceramic Capacitor Farnell 1141775 1 0.0721
JP1 N/A AUDIO-JACKPTH 3.5mm Audio Jack Farnell 1608405 1 0.534
R2 100 RESISTORPTH-1/4W ? Watt Carbon Film Resistor Farnell 9342397 1 0.0523
R3 120k RESISTORPTH-1/4W ? Watt Carbon Film Resistor Farnell 9342540 1 0.0492
R4 10k RESISTORPTH-1/4W ? Watt Carbon Film Resistor Farnell 9342419 1 0.0523
RV1 10k POTALPS-KIT PCB Mount Variable Resistor Farnell 1191725 1 1.4
RV2 10k POTALPS-KIT PCB Mount Variable Resistor Farnell 1191725 1 1.4
T1 BC549 BC549-NPN-TO92-CBE BC549 NPN Transistror Farnell 2453797 1 0.238

Total 4.5126

Again I haven't factored in the cost of the PCB or it's manufacture but it would be reasonable to estimate the total cost of the project to be around £6.00

Here is a quick video showing the circuit in operation with the plasma speaker.  The audio is very much improved!

Now I need to get back to putting the HV section and the electronics into some sort of casing.  That's all for now - take care people!

by langster1980 at March 20, 2016 11:01 PM

555 Flyback Driver and Plasma Speaker Part II

In the previous post I discussed designing a 555 based plasma speaker. I have etched and drilled the PCB and mostly populated it. I'm missing a couple of key components so I haven't been able to fully test the circuit. Here are some photos of the PCB being constructed:
The design transferred to the copper clad board
The etched PCB before removing the toner ink

The next part to be getting on with whilst waiting for parts is to design an enclosure for the high voltage part.  I don't want anyone to be able to touch the arc but I also want to try to cause the sound to resonate so it can be hear.  I'm basically going to design a speaker enclosure without a paper speaker cone.

I could design and print an enclosure using a 3D printer but I prefer to laser cut enclosures because it's quicker and I personally really like the wood finish.  Don't worry only the high voltage arc will not be exposed to the wood - that would be bad and would case charring and fire!

I sketched up a quick idea on a piece of paper which purely shows the kind of thing I'm looking for.

Simple enclosure Idea for Plasma Speaker
From there I went to Inkscape and using the tabbed box maker extension I created a 72 x 72 x 72 mm square box.  My plan is mount the HV probes in the box with a mirrored acrylic behind the probes to maximise the arc from a purely aesthetic view point with a wooden case all made with on a laser cutter and glued together.  From Inkscape I exported the files in DXF format into solidworks so that I can render them in 3D and so that I can add holes and other features.  I prefer to work in solidworks when designing enclosures.

Here is what I came up with eventually.  I also designed some holders for the HV probes which I'm going to 3D print.  I'm hoping everything will work out ok!
Plasma Speaker Assembly - ISO view

Plasma Speaker Assembly Front View

HV Probe Holder

HV Probe Holder - Side View

HV Probe Holder - Top View

What I need to do now is get all of these parts laser cut and 3D printed and get on with assembly. 

That's all for now - Langster

by langster1980 at March 20, 2016 11:01 PM

555 Flyback Driver and Plasma Speaker Part IV

I have been working more on the Plasma Speaker.  A few things have become apparent....The addition of the class A amplifier is a significant improvement as is the use of a switch-mode high current power supply.

It has also become apparent that the high current power supply not being current limited has destroyed the +12 Vdc on the PCB at least 5 times!  This is probably due to poor constructional technique (my bad soldering) and the tracks not being thick enough to carry the amount of current present in normal operation.  I was playing with the circuit last night after having put the high voltage probes into a laser cut case (which worked perfectly) I managed to catastrophically damage components...Standard form for me to be honest....that is why I call this prototyping!

The issues I'm having are all to do with construction and design choices that I made when I initially designed the plasma speaker PCB.  I'm going to design a new version which improves the situation:
  • Increase current rating of all tracks carrying +12V or GND.
  • Incorporate the Class A amplifier into the circuit so that everything is on one PCB
  • Increase the gain on the Class A amplifier as it still (in my opinion) is not loud enough
  • Move the components which get incredibly hot off the PCB and onto the heatsink.
First off I think I really need to find out just how much current the main switching transistor is subjected to.  This is going to involve checking the datasheet for the transistor and performing some ohms law.  I hate maths but in this case it has to be done...I cannot assume all will be well if I don't check the current requirements of the 12 Vdc conductor.

Here is the new schematic with all of the circuitry on one sheet:

The datasheet for the IRFP250 is here:

From the datasheet we can see that the RDSon parameter of the transistor is 0.085 ohms.  If we assume that the dc resistance of the flyback transformer is also quite low then the amount of current constantly present as the transistor switches will be high...The energy from the flyback voltage at the primary must also be taken into account.

In order to discuss this I should really link in a page discussing how flyback transformers function:

EE Times article on flyback transformers

Wikipedia Entry on Flyback Transformers

My schematic diagram has not ever shown the actual flyback transformer which is actually a transformer with 10 turns on the primary core and several thousand turns on the secondary core which is then connected to an internal 'flyback' diode and capacitor.

Basically what this means is that the output of the transformer and associated energy output is related to the winding ratio, the capacitor and the load applied at the output which in this case is an arc through the air.

For the purposes of calculating how much current will be flowing in switching transistor part of the circuit I'm going to simulate the circuit.  The reason for simulating is that it's quicker for me than calculating all of the Ohms law required on paper....Here is the circuit after simulating:

Well....that explains why the MOSFET Q3 got so hot and needed such a large heatsink along with the flyback diode D1 and the 120 Ohm resistor....1.6A constantly flowing in that part of the circuit is a great deal and also explains why the 12 Vdc conductor and the conductors in the FET part of the circuit needs to be as thick as possible.  I have made assumptions on the turns ratio of the transformer but it doesn't really matter as I have seen from the power supply current meter that I'm using to power this circuit that these calculated current values are close enough....Therefore the design needs to account for this 2 Amp current being present - I actually think the instantaneous peak currents will be considerably higher than this and the current is also higher when the audio modulation is applied.

To that end we need to redesign the PCB to take this into account.  Here is the new PCB layout:

Top Layer Of PCB

Bottom Layer of PCB

Both Layers with Dimensions

I then etched and populated the PCB.  I have found that the circuit works better but still had some issues.  I have mounted the 120 ohm 5 Watt resistor on the heat-sink along with the clamp diode which I have swapped for a TO220 packaged version.  I also changed the operating frequency of the 555 oscillation by changing the value of C1 (in the uppermost schematic) to 100 pF.  This changes the oscillation frequency to somewhere always above 20 kHz which removes an annoying high pitch whistle when the circuit is in use.

There are still issues with the circuit but I believe this is now as good as it will probably get.  I need to obtain a suitable high current power supply and mount the circuitry properly to make it easier to move around.  I have had a lot of fun developing this circuit and visually it's really attractive.  It's practicality is exceedingly limited.  A plasma speaker loses a great deal of fidelity with low frequency bass sounds, generates significant amounts of ozone, uses a large amount of electrical power and is fundamentally dangerous because of the high voltage DC that is present.

Here is a video of me playing around with it using an electronic keyboard to provide the audio input.

That's all for now - take care people, especially with high voltage dc circuits and plasma speakers!

by langster1980 at March 20, 2016 11:01 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

February 23, 2016

Baltimore Node

Metal Casting in acrylic laser-cut molds

We’ve been experimenting a bit with metal casting recently. Pewter is a very easy metal to work with. Because of it’s low melting point, it can be poured into molds of a variety of materials. You can even melt it at home on the stove! At the Node, one of our members has a small electric melting pot so we used that to melt the pewter and pour it into an acrylic mold. We tried this last month and then again yesterday and the results are great.


The first step was to create the design on the computer. The trick is to make sure each piece is connected, and sprued and vented properly. When we pour metal into the mold the air inside the mold has to have a way to escape. We added vent lines on either side and a big pour spout in the middle.


The shape had some internal features like the hole in the top of the R, the piece between the R and the U, and the big piece between the U and the T, so those pieces of acrylic were cut loose. The vent lines and pour spout also made some separate pieces, so they had to be attached carefully. We cut a second rectangle and glued the loose pieces to the rectangle using acrylic welder.



We then sanded a small pour spout into the top of a piece of wood and clamped the mold in between to wooden pieces.IMG_20160221_160444935IMG_20160221_160409856

The metal was melted and at around 550 degrees. A ladle was used to scoop up and pour a little bit of metal into the opening. The metal flowed down into the mold, displacing the air which flowed out the side vents.


After the mold cooled, the clamps were removed, the wood blocks were separated, and the acrylic mold was snapped apart to remove the cast pewter. The vent lines and sprues were removed with pliers and the final piece still has to be sanded and polished.




You can learn how to do this too and make one for yourself in an upcoming “The More You Node” workshop! Stay tuned for details.

by Todd Blatt at February 23, 2016 01:04 AM

February 18, 2016


Jewelry Box

Crasher Kevin decided to make a jewelry box for his wife for a Valentine’s Day gift.IMG_3738-768x512 IMG_3741-e1455321769683-768x746

Using the handy ShopBot Desktop at Crashspace it was as easy as can be.


More write up over at his site.

by Kevin at February 18, 2016 02:31 AM

February 17, 2016


Wearables Wednesday is TONIGHT!

Join Barb and Michelle tonight at CRASH Space for Wearables Wednesday from 8pm-10pm!

We’ll have sewing machines, arduinos, tshirts, cloth, and various electronic goodies to tinker with! (But be sure to bring any materials with you that you intend to take home!) Barb is a maker and educator who runs the awesome tinker channel Barb Makes Things, and Michelle is a professional software engineer with a long history of making, building, and teaching.



by at0mbxmb at February 17, 2016 04:08 PM

February 13, 2016


CRASH THE PLANET: The First Ever CRASH Space Art Show



CRASH Space is hosting our first ever official art show: CRASH THE PLANET.

The show will be hosted at CRASH Space, all throughout the interior (and possibly exterior) of the space.

The theme of the show, CRASH THE PLANET, is a CRASH Space spin on hacker culture and media interpretations thereof.

Art pieces should incorporate the theme in some way, but extraordinary and outlandish interpretations of the theme (and of what exactly a “CRASH Space spin” means) are welcome… encouraged, even.

Entries Due: March 19, 2016
Show Opening: April 2, 2016


by at0mbxmb at February 13, 2016 08:54 PM