Our First Basic Arduino Workshop

On Saturday we held our first workshop on the popular open-source electronics prototyping platform, the Arduino.

We plan to offer this intro workshop again along with some more advanced Arduino workshops as well in 2012. While we certainly had a few bumps – fresh snow, one of our instructors unable to attend, a late start to get the PowerPoint running, etc. – in the end we covered all the bases and the topic generated a lot of interest.

As an introductory workshop we started by installing the software IDE (you all came with different operating systems, bless you, that was a good test!). From there we explained preliminaries of what an Arduino is and what it can do for you. Then in the hands-on portion, attendees set up several circuits and sketches that illustrate a few of the Arduino’s strengths. An outline of our course is here.

Many thanks to Joel for leading the workshop! Thanks also to Lee W, Liz and Dan D-B who assisted during the event, Ross who set the structure, and our 4 attendees for sharing their enthusiasm with us.

Everyone getting down and dirty with their Arduinos

Project Update

There’s been a lot of activity at the space lately and here are just a few of the awesome projects happening here:

Plans are underway for us to hold a light-your-bike workshop on a Saturday afternoon in May. We are thinking of having 2 projects people can choose from, one pretty easy for novices in need of an intro, and the other ultimate fun for those already somewhat technically inclined. Details will follow soon. We are also planning a party which will probably be held in late June.

John E and Edwin are working hard on their Musical Universe of Faux Fur Flowers (they did receive some grant money – yay!) and to a lesser extent their costumes for Burning Man / Apogaea.

Spring has brought renewed interest in Autoponics (a fully automated aeroponic system). Dan Z and Lindsay are also practicing worm husbandry plus growing hundreds of seedlings at their apartment. They are looking for foster farmers who can offer spare land and watering when their crop is ready to transplant.

The Solar Steam Engine project has lost a little steam lately but is always a hit with visitors. Some solar panels and a voltmeter told us the solar power concentration is about 30% greater through the Fresnel lens than with normal sunlight.

Joel is working on several projects, including a lunch-box light show that consists of lasers and mirrors all self-contained in – you guessed it – a lunch box. His Ardouija will be a hands-off Ouija Board powered by an Arduino. He has one dimension going and was working on refinement plus adding and integrating the second dimension. He also just brought in various rocket parts and related paraphernalia for people to hack away on.

Ardouiji

Ardouiji

John M bought some Sifteo cubes which we were playing around with a couple weeks ago and will be thinking about possibilities for.

Sifteo

Sifteo

Ross has been hard at work building a heat-forming machine which will take a sheet of plastic which with a mold, heat and a vacuum will allow creation of various things. One application could be for Halloween masks or related props. Employing a CNC machine to make molds will broaden the possibilities considerably.

Dan D-B found a YouTube video a couple weeks ago of someone using spray paint to create a painting in about 40 seconds and wanted to try it out himself. Scrounging up various cans in various colors that were recently donated, he created a bunch of paintings one Saturday afternoon out in the parking lot. Liz tried one too and we now have more paint and props so expect more of this.

Spray paint art

Spray paint art

Liz is still working on improvements to her LED coat but dropped that temporarily to work on some flower power – adding simple yet elegant white LEDs to a floral print dress. She has plans for a few more projects like this but also is thinking about Apogaea / Burning Man plus ahead into fall and ideas for us hosting a Haunted Hacker House.

At this past Tuesday’s meeting, Juan from SparkFun attended and intended to photograph general goings-on at our space, but also got roped in to doing some light painting with Liz and her LED coat on rainbow mode.

Light painting

Light painting

We are expanding in to more of the building! Which is fortunate as our stuff has accumulated and we’ve attracted more people. In addition to all our fun projects we will be spending some time reorganizing and moving things around to better accommodate our needs.

I know there are some things I’ve missed so these are just a few of the projects going on at Solid State Depot. Come check us out on a Tuesday evening or see if we’re around on a Saturday afternoon! (But maybe not this Saturday 4/23 – instead go see our friends at SparkFun for their Autonomous Vehicle Competition!)

Reason # 1 Why Hackerspaces Rock – The people

This post has been a little over due, not a little, a lot and thanks to Dan’s persistence here it is.

During February I was searching for ways to create more permanent arduino based solutions when I stumbled upon a neat kit from a Hackerspace out in Provo Utah named The Transistor. I contacted them before I purchased any to see if they had any “Gorduino” PCBs lying around as I didn’t have anything on hand to make my own (the kit is barebones, no PCB, just the caps/crystal/voltage reg/chip). A great guy name Deven replied and we chatted about things. During our exchange he mentioned sending me stuff at the space.

That was during February when I had been taking a break from the hackerspace as I was between jobs (unexpectedly, the best kind) dealing with some personal “stuff” and so I didn’t actually show up at the space till the end of February when I’d secured a job so that I could pay my dues. Much to my surprise at the space there was a little cardboard box addressed to me. Deven had sent me a box with a bunch of random junk from his desk, which included a servo, switches, a couple arduino kits with some PCBs and more. Way awesome!!!! The note inside read.

Sorry, I Couldn’t find a Gorduino that wasn’t being used. Please enjoy some random shit I had close to my desk. Consider it a hackerspace warming gift.

-The Transistor

I have to say that it caught me completely by surprise and I was touched! There is something about Hackerspaces that brings people together that are made of some pretty awesome stuff. One of my joys of being part of SSD is that I get to meet so many different people who all share a common thread of being willing to be giving of their time and talents to help others. So thanks again The Transistor for the awesome warming gift! We’ll keep you posted about the crazy things we do with the stuff you sent!

Ross