SSD Shows Off at Maker Faire

The 2017 Denver Maker Faire was held this past weekend and was a huge success. Solid State Depot showed off the new logo as well as personal projects from members. Dan’s “retro computer” was a big hit playing hi-lo written in Basic.

John M. brought his bare bones $2 Doppler radar sensor made of two transistors and an oscillator, hooked up to an oscilloscope to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. Andrew brought his inverted pendulum.  Using a linear rail, a pendulum is balanced and maintains stability via a PID control loop. This is a classical example of non-linear control theory and requires a combination of mechatronics and control.

Brandon displayed video of the collaborative SSD eclipse balloon launch with VR goggles.

The Maker Faire also hosted the Sparkfun AVC and Combat Bot Division with weight classes from 1 to 30 lbs.

Carter built a 3 lbs “beetle” weight class robot named “Captain Hook” which managed to stay relatively intact while up against Poison Arrow, a 250 lbs BattleBot.

Maker Faire Denver is produced by Colorado Maker Hub, a nonprofit organization that celebrates the Maker Movement and fosters the maker ecosystem.

Sneak peek at the new logo

Introducing the new logo for Solid State Depot!  With Denver Maker Faire coming this weekend, we decided that it was time to roll out our new logo.  Our first use of it was etching a new LED sign for our door, using our laser cutter.

New stickers and new business cards.

The first sticker went to join the world’s largest sticker ball over at StickerGiant.

MakerFaire Denver 2017 Coming in October

Mark your calendars! Denver’s Maker Faire will be held Saturday and Sunday, October 14-15, at the DenverMart on 58th Avenue near I-25. Maker Faires are events where creative and curious people gather to share what they are working on and learn from each other.

A few of the activities going on this year at the Faire are SparkFun’s AVC and Combat Bot competition, Build-Your-Own Drone workshop, and a Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic hands-on lamp repair workshop.

SSD will have a table at the event and is looking for projects to display and people to help set-up, clean-up and man the booth during the event. If you would like to volunteer for a shift and show off a project at our table (volunteers for 4-hour shifts get free admission), sign up here and/or reach out to Jennifer or Andrew at one of our open houses.

See https://denver.makerfaire.com/ for full details about this year’s Maker Faire!

Eclipse 2017 Balloon pictures

This blog post contains images from the balloon taken by two of the three Raspberry Pi Zero cameras on-board.  Unfortunately the third suffered catastrophic data loss (probably upon landing) and everything on its SD-card was lost.  One of the Pi cameras faced outward from the side of the payload and the other at about a 30° angle off of straight down.

About 5 minutes after launch.

 

Looking at Shoshoni, WY soon after launch.

 

Totality approaching.  Balloon altitude is about 28,000 feet (8500 m).

 

Shadow approaching on the ground.

 

Start of totality in the clouds.

 

Totality.

 

Shadow receding on the ground.

 

And in the clouds…

At about 45,000 feet (13,700 m).  Temperature outside is about -58 F (-50 C).

 

About 80,000 feet (25,000 m). -12 F outside (-24 C).

 

The ground from near the highest point the balloon reached (94,000 feet/28,600 m). It took about 3 1/2 hours to reach this.

 

Just as the parachute burst. Decent was 27 minutes.

 

Just about to land. Balloon all tangled up.

 

A SSDV photo received by the launch team shortly after launch. Some packets lost.

 

Short youtube video showing eclipse

Eclipse 2017 High Altitude Balloon

A handful and a half of our hackers collaborated over the past several weeks to design and launch a high altitude helium-filled balloon during the recent total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.

The balloon was kitted out with cameras, sensors and way-finding equipment. After being aloft for about 3.5 hours, the increasing altitude contributed to the balloon’s anticipated popping and rapid fall back to earth. It traveled around 100 miles, capturing video and photos before, during and after the eclipse.

This project page from our Wiki, prepared pre-launch, contains a wealth of details about the endeavor, including specs of the equipment, testing needs, and compliance considerations leading up to the launch. Member Dan Julio also posted about the project on Hackaday.

The balloon crew included SSD members Brandon Skari, Dan Julio, Tim Pegg, Andrew Bigoney, Specter, Rob Bryan, Sarah Gjestvang, along with additional crewmembers Kate, Bob, Tessa, Jason, and Sarah’s family.

A remote launch site surrounded by land with considerable public access to make recovery easier was carefully researched prior to the launch, though modified after reviewing different wind forecasts. The crew gradually assembled starting Friday night through Sunday, traveling from Boulder to an area about 10 miles ESE of Shoshoni Wyoming. The group split into three teams: a launch team, a recovery team and a remote telemetry receiver in Casper.

Most team members were on the launch team, who released the balloon at about 10:30 am. The initial climb rate of 2.5 m/s was a bit slower than expected and meant that the balloon was ultimately aloft for longer than initially anticipated.

The balloon traveled almost due east, eventually succumbing to the effects of partial vacuum about 20 miles north of Casper after reaching a maximum altitude of over 90,000 feet! At that point the balloon burst, and it and its payload quickly fell to earth. The recovery team, consisting of Kate, Bob, Sarah and her family, found out that the payload had landed on a private ranch. The balloon was found in about 5 hours near the last LoRa telemetry message.

In 360-degree video footage captured aloft during the event, a noticeable shadow can be seen visibly encroaching from the west over the land below. A few minutes later, totality arrived at approximately 11:39 AM. The darkened sky showed stars and the solar corona. The balloon’s cameras continued filming along its eastward trek for almost another hour before the balloon burst.

This endeavor generated a lot of interest and activity at SSD, and many thanks for helping go to: Todd LaWall, Chrobi, John West, and John Maushammer!

Spring BBQ and Spruce-Up This Past Saturday

This past Saturday over a dozen members and guests gave some well-needed TLC to our our space and enjoyed a late lunch of tasty grilled burgers and brats.

While not exactly a tradition, we have these combination bbq / clean-up / build events at least a couple times a year. For example, last fall one of the center tables in the main room of the space was built, and last spring several members built the built-in wall-side table that is also in the main room.

In addition to grilling up the meats and vegs that were enjoyed by all, Dan straightened up the Admin room and Electronics room.

Meanwhile in the wood shop, Ted and friends removed excess scrap wood, did some general cleaning up, and rearranged the tools for better access.

The entryway and Snackerspace are all sparkly now, courtesy of Specter and son.

A few of the other many accomplishments included: Brandon tackled the floors in the metal shop and beyond, Jay transferred items cluttering up common areas to the member and other storage shelves, Nick got the mask glowing again, and Liz guided several additions to our bios webpage.

Remember to stay tuned to our Meetup page to keep posted on future events!

Learning Arduino at the Hackerspace

An introduction to the arduino, the development software, and interfacing with basic hardware. The class will be broken up into two days, split one week apart. The first session will be an introduction to the arduino, and coding, and simple examples

The second session will be a deeper dive into the world of arduino using examples

No experience with arduino is necessary.

What to bring: 1 laptop
Cost:$100 for non-members, $90 for members

What you ge for $100 :

Instruction – we are going to be working through this fantastic manual from Sparkfun

Sparkfun Inventors Kit

When: Wednesday 2/15 7:30 to 9:30pm, and Wednesday 2/22 7:30 to 9:30pm

Where: Solid State Depot

Total Students: 8 (to see ammount of seats remaining see the eventbrite page)

Teachers: Paul Sobczak and Chris Davidoff

Sign up: EventBrite

Sparkfun is located right here on the Front Range, but our class will be held at Solid State Depot, Boulder’s Local Hackerspace.

Stephen in the news

Member Stephen Chavez has been making waves again — following his presentation with an SSD member at Defcon 24, he travelled to China and won an award at the GeekPwn 2016 hacking contest.  And now, just after his graduation from Metro State University in Denver, he has been featured on Denver’s 9News.

Stephen and friends have been hacking his electric wheelchair with the goal to make it semi-autonomous.  Unable to talk, he uses a computer keyboard to communicate; a task that cannot be done while controlling the chair’s joystick. As a result, he cannot “talk” and “walk” at the same time.  With a semi-autonomous chair, he can set it to follow a friend or drive on a path while avoiding obstacles — freeing his hands to type and communicate.

Stephen’s wheel chair is a product of PGDT.  The chair utilizes a proprietary protocol that runs over the same CAN interface found in all late model cars and trucks.  PGDT calls the protocol R-net.  R-net is deployed on the wheelchair to allow the various devices and interfaces on the vehicle to communicate with each other.  There are no public documents about the R-net protocol.  Stephen worked with a team of hackers to reverse-engineer this protocol and take control of the wheelchair’s internal network.  “We’ve learned that power wheelchair hacking is also closely related to car hacking”

Stephen Chavez. Photo by Sara Hertwig

Stephen Chavez.
Photo by Sara Hertwig

ElectroPumpkins for Halloween

An Arduino, a bit of ws2812 LED strip, and some sanded acrylic tube make the perfect light for a jack-o-lantern.  If you’ve ever wanted to play with the intelligent LEDs like the ws2812, I highly recommend using FastLED to drive them.  The library has a good set of examples bundled with it, one of which is the Fire2012 example.  You can see that in action in the embedded video below.  For these two pumpkins, I used some very simple code that cycles them through the HSV color wheel at 100% saturation and 100% value.  See the code at the end of the post.

20161030_224005   20161030_235938   20161031_204650

 

And now for the code:

 

#include "FastLED.h"
#define NUM_LEDS 20
#define LED_PIN 5

// Define the array of leds
CRGB leds[NUM_LEDS];

void setup() { 
   FastLED.addLeds<WS2812, LED_PIN, BGR>(leds, NUM_LEDS);
}

#define HUE_DELTA 1
#define TIMEOUT 200

void loop() {
   static uint8_t hue = 0;
   // Turn the LED on, then pause
   for( int idx = 0; idx < NUM_LEDS; idx++)
   {
      leds[idx].setHSV( hue, 0xff, 0xff);
   }
   FastLED.show();
   delay(TIMEOUT);
   hue += HUE_DELTA;
}

 

CNC Drawing class

Thursday night’s CNC Basics class went well, and will likely be a recurring class.  Be sure to keep looking on our Meetup page for the next one if you missed it.

 

10/27/2016 - CNC Basics, Phase 1: drawing

10/27/2016 – CNC Basics, Phase 1: drawing