sudo make me a sandwich

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.02.27 at 4:40 pm | Perma

So this last weekend I was at NYC Resistor taking in the sun *cough* taking in the sights *cough* taking in the culture *……* well yeah. Anyway I was witnessing the birth of something magnificent. The “sudo make me a sandwich” robot!

Some of you may know the origin of the story, but for those that do not I think a simple cartoon slide will suffice.
Sandwich

From XKCD.com

So Bre of NYC Resistor and Adam of Hackerbot Labs decided to finally implement the infamous Simon Says of hacker sandwich making.

From Bre’s blog post

Make sure to check out Adam’s photos and his excellent blog called Shadowflux where he’ll post the code for this robot. Adam took the robot home to Seattle with him and I am optimistic that more sandwiches will be born of this robot and set free into the world.

In order to make it all work, Adam set up an arduino to interface with 2 servos and 2 steppers using the RepRap stepper controllers.

I used QCAD to design some bread and cheese distributing mechanisms and the infrastructure is up on Thingiverse.com.

The toaster oven needed a little modification and a servo controlled flap was put into place with some hinges to make it move slowly. Adam found some pretty special stepper motors with an amazing amount of torque fo.r the flap and the tray controls.

This is one of those robots that I swear is alive. The noises it made were like an animal and it seemed that everytime we looked the other way, it was coming to life and changing things with the setup.

Real Life Projects FTW!

/E.

Categories : fun  hackers  hackerspace  hacking  people
Tags :     

CCCKC Underground Lair Open For Business!

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.02.27 at 4:23 pm | Perma

I’m not one for posting press releases but this just puts the point across perfectly.

###

Note – This is the press release which we issued to a number of media outlets. You can watch the schedule of events become more refined by subscribing to our calendar or checking the events page. – jur1st

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Cowtown Computer Congress Opens Their Underground Lab

February 26th, 2009. Kansas City, MO – The Cowtown Computer Congress (CCCKC) is happy to announce the opening of their Underground Lab to the public with a full week of events Beginning on March 2nd, the grand opening showcase the rich and vibrant community of creative minds in the Kansas City area. CCCKC, the first organization of its kind in the midwest, will serve the community by providing technology classes, donating unique projects to local organizations and technology assistance to those in need.

The week will kick off on Monday, March 2nd with an open house for individuals and organizations who are interested in learning more about the organization and how they can take advantage the Underground Lab for meetings, classes and other activities.

The creative talents of CCCKC members will be showcased on Wednesday March, 4th. The member project showcase will be followed by a screening of Make:TV, a public television series which will be shown for the first time in the Kansas City area that night. If you’re curious about what CCCKC and the maker culture are all about, this is the night to come be inspired. Projects to be showcased range from alternative methods of energy generation to a labyrinth game which is controlled with the balance board from a Nintendo Wii Fit.

Thursday, March 5th is the regular member meeting where members come together to discuss group projects being developed for donation to local organizations and plan future community service projects like our monthly free computer repair opportunities.

Friday evening will feature a slate of speakers covering topics ranging from improving home security and information management to protecting data from theft while using public wireless internet.

On Saturday the public is invited to take part in a range of free workshops on basic electronics and soldering, e-textiles and Nintendo Wii hacking. All day members will be available to assist members of the public choose, install and configure computers using the free and open source Linux operating system.

About The Cowtown Computer Congress

The Cowtown Computer Congress (CCCKC) is a not for profit technology cooperative founded to advance technology of all kinds. They are a member supported organization providing technology classes, workshops and services to the public free of charge. CCCKC brings together some of the finest minds in midwest to collaborate on research and projects for other local groups. Through their affiliate program, CCCKC gives assistance to specialized technology user groups by providing them with a facility to hold meetings and work on projects of their own.

CCCKC’s Underground Lab is located 85 feet below the surface of the earth at 31st Street and Southwest Trafficway in Kansas City, Missouri.

http://www.cowtowncomputercongress.org

Further inquires should be made to:
press at cowtowncomputercongress.org or to
John Benson – President and Co-Founder
816-332-6389

###

/E.

Call-in 2009|03|01

astera | Posted 2009.02.26 at 9:36 pm | Perma

Just a quick reminder:

The next hackerspaces call-in conference will be held this Sunday, March 01st, opening at 02pm PST / 05pm EST / 10pm UTC / 11pm CET.

Please add your name & hackerspace to the schedule if you want to give an update.
Also, we’re still looking for people to join the tech-team that’s working on different solutions for our call-ins silently in the background, so shoot us an e-fail if you wanna help out, or if you’re planning to take care of an audio recording!

All information for dial-in can be found on the general Call-in page!


Demolition Derby

josh | Posted 2009.02.26 at 9:22 pm | Perma

In about two days, on Feb. 28th an hour before sunset to be exact, NYCResistor is hosting a “Cyber Surfers Demolition Competition“.

This is a Cyber Surfer:

Four things you need to know:

  1. It’s radio controlled.
  2. It flies.
  3. It seems easily hackable.
  4. NYCResistor has 20+ of them.

The entrant that destroys the most space surfboards wins. Simple. If you are in the area, I would highly suggest checking it out once they release the location.

These radical astronautical surfers are self balancing due to a solid state accelerometer. So unlike your tiny helicopters, they shouldn’t go flying into your cat’s face. They are on sale at ThinkGeek right now and I am honestly considering picking one up for funsies.

-Josh

Categories : fun  hackers  hackerspace
Tags :     

Dangerous Science….

josh | Posted 2009.02.25 at 4:02 pm | Perma

So I’ve recently come across this photo of a bank of three capacitors.

capacitor bank (hackerfriendly/Rob Flickenger's flickr)

Now keep in mind that when I say capacitors, I am not referencing the ones you come across in your average electronics lab. I’m not talking about the semi-dangerous ones (read: fun) found in disposable cameras either. These caps are listed as 300 uF @ 10 kV. If I have done my math correctly, then that comes out to approximately 15,000 Joules. Let’s say that again… Fifteen. Thousand. Joules.
Let’s review some basic science. One joule is approximately the energy required to lift a small apple straight up one meter. I asked the following question to a good friend out at UC Santa Barbara who is working towards his MS/PhD in Electrical Engineering: “What can 15,000 Joules do?”. His response was… “[Mess some things] up”. (Expletive Deleted)

That bank of caps is actually part of a coin shrinking operation at hackerbot labs that Bre Pettis posted about on his blog a while back. NOTE: It’s kind of hard to tell who actually put it all together as it took place at hackerbot, the video was shot by a guy from the hazard factory and the photos are from hackerfriendly. If someone wants to claim ownership or straighten things out, feel free.

The gist of quarter shrinking is this: The current from the capacitors is quickly discharged through a single layer work coil. Inside this coil you place a coin. After the capacitors have fired, you will find two things: A work coil that has exploded, and a (hopefully) shrunken coin. The process is called electromagnetic forming and works by subjecting your coin to incredibly strong magnetic fields.

Remember that there is a lot of power going through this contraption. If you do try it at your own hackerspace or even at home, please take as many safety precautions as humanly possible. The remains of the work coil have been known to shatter 1/2 inch Lexan polycarbonate. Like the title says, this is dangerous science and if you might very likely die if you are careless.

To close, my rule of thumb regarding these things is as follows: “If one person says it’s probably a bad idea, it means you should most definitely do it. If two people say it’s a bad idea, maybe you shouldn’t.”

-Josh

Picture of capacitor bank by hackerfriendly/Rob Flickenger; video by hazardfactor/Rusty.

What is a hackerspace?

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.02.19 at 11:26 pm | Perma

That is but one of the questions I get whenever I go out and the topic of what I do in my free time comes up.

So recently I had that same question asked but this time, Dave Hoffman of Davemakes.com had brought a video camera.

From Daves’ site
The time has finally come to unveil my secret project. HELLO is a new series of videos about interesting people. This first episode features Eric Michaud, President of Pumping Station: One, a hackerspace opening up in Chicago. I asked him all about what a hackerspace is, and why you should join one.

If you don’t have 15 minutes to spare, check out this quick 90 second preview of the interview.

This is the preview.

Preview of HELLO – Eric Michaud, President of Pumping Station: One from Dave Jacob Hoffman on Vimeo.

I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do, by doing this blog and building hackerspaces.

Cheers,

/E

Get Your War On

astera | Posted 2009.02.17 at 10:00 pm | Perma

fffff.a.t. vs. NYCResistor

Starting last Sunday, Jan 15th 2009 at 00.00 midnight, NYCResistor and the F.A.T. lab have declared war against each other.
The expectedly epic battle will last for exactly one month, combat area is – go figure – the Republic Of Thee Internetz.

NYCResistor announced on their blog today:

Fat Lab has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged NYCResistor to a war. From Feb 15th – March 15th we’ll be tracking website hits, YouTube views, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, RSS subscribers… whoever posts the biggest gains wins. Grading will be conducted by Internet Famous Class technology.

Official war page w/ preliminary stats is available here.

After looking at that link, I’m a little nervous, how are we going to compete with the amount of eyeballs that have seen the things they have done?

We’ve got a strategy to create and release awesome projects this month.

You can help NYCResistor win!

* sign up for our new Facebook group
* follow twitter.com/nycresistor to receive frontline dispatches.
* tell your friends

The Rules

The rating is based on the FameLab app, to be accessed via login only, unfortunately.
It’s tracking the spaces’ sites and social networks pages for hits, subscriptions, and – even more importantly – comments, as well as each 10 personal ‘properties’ per member (like their twitter accounts, soup.io accounts, tumblr, digg, delicious, etc.) and thereafter rates their internet fame.

It’s gonna get exciting…

Round 1: Fight!

See the current stats of the most epic battle of our epoque here!

Btw, the date of January 15th also marks the 1 year anniversary of NYCResistor.
Happy Birthday!

And a short note on the header: I’m still a little sad about the fact that David Rees‘ popular Get Your War On video episodes on 23/6 ended by the end of January 2009. With Bush out of his – former – office, I guess there’s no more use for them.
However, he continues to do cool shit.

Categories : fun  hackers  hackerspace

First TMPLAB WirelessBattle Mesh – April 11-12th 2009 @ tmplab

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.02.17 at 4:35 pm | Perma

For those that can make it to Paris for this battle of wits and protocols, it sure seems to be a rousing good time.

Here are some of the details.

******

“We are pleased to announce that the /tmp/lab  will be organizing a Spring Wireless OpenWRT Mesh Contest called “Wireless Battle Mesh” during 2 days (April 11-12th) with the goal of building 3 wireless mesh networks based on embedded hardware running OpenWRT and different concurrent mesh routing protocols.

The targeted architecture will be 3 networks of 25nodes + 1 wireless managment networks (10-20 nodes) to achieve realistic size of nodes number, data traffic, configuration problems. The architecture will be set-up indoor and outdoor around the building of the /tmp/lab.

OpenWRT will be the selected for the BoardSupportPackage running on the different hardware nodes and a core network configuration will be built on Linux servers with user-friendly features such as :
*VLANs
*Captive portal
*Authentication
*Admin portal

Concerning the mesh-protocols, selected targeted protocols are :

*OLSR : IP-based mesh routing platform (http://olsr.org and openWRT package available)

*BATMAN : Layer2-based mesh protocol (http://open-mesh.org) and available as a kernel module for Linux and packaged in OpenWRT

*BABEL : Layer-3 mesh protocol developed by University Paris 6, available for Linux and soon to be packaged for OpenWRT (http://www.pps.jussieu.fr/~jch/software/babel/)

Concerning the hardware node, we are looking for hardware sponsors that could enjoy this “real-case” contest by providing 50-100 nodes……….. More after the jump.

******

Looks to be quite a good time for packet heads and people with a lot of time with Yagi’s. ;)

-E.


I Think We Can Do Better!

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.02.16 at 4:27 pm | Perma

So ShmooCon was a rousing success for many, and entertaining for quite a few others.

As seen here with Int 80 of Dual Core at the HacDC party tearing it up in the Sanctuary.

Next year I think we need to have a proper battle, maybe MC Frontalot? Just saying, it’s an idea. Anyway, I personally thank everyone that came on behalf of HacDC, ShmooCon, and ToorCamp for hosting such an amazing party. In the process of the night we helped raise a lot of money, somewhere North of $2000. I think someone is still counting the singles. That money will help HacDC furnish out their new FabLab they are building plus get some other goodies. I can’t wait to see what gets built next.

Also the hosts of the venue where we held the event, seemed to be happy with how everything turned out and it looks like we may get another shot next year.

Cheers,
-E.

How We Hacked Shmoocon, Or…

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.02.13 at 2:45 am | Perma

How I Learned To Stop Fearing The Digital DIY Life and Love It!

Some friends of the blog who attended ShmooCon this weekend were tickled pink (literally) when they arrived to find out the badge to the conference was just made out of a single piece of laser cut acrylic.

This lead to rapid phone calls between friends at NYCR and people whipping out US dollar bills to size up the badge for proper scaling.

The end result!

Flava Flav Shmoo Badge

Not 6 hours later they had been hand delivered to HacDC for a trial run as to the quality of the badges by passing it through some of the most stringent on site conference security available.

What rapidly became apparent to us and The Shmoo Group was that even if something that took large initial resources originally, now comes easily to a group of scrappy hackers that want more for themselves than to be beholden to a wealthy singular group.

A recent quote by Bre Pettis, “The future of manufacturing is going to happen in your living room.”, seems to impress the idea of having ability to produce what you want, when you want is rapidly becoming a reality.

What I’m trying to bring across here to you, the hackerspace fans and friends, is that we are in a very interesting time. Where we can in less than a few hours over a relatively large distance, with a device that is costing less than the Mini Cooper (think late 1970′s where a PC cost as much), we can produce something that normally requires machines that cost in the hundreds of thousands only a few years ago.

Let’s think of what beholds us in the next few years.

Groovy times await us,

-E.