Mike Massie will be presenting on an intro to Ambient Intelligence and how sensors can give the user super powers.
“As shrinking technology allows us to cheaply put hardware eyes, ears and touch sensors on everyday things, the data now readily available can offer a magnitude of information without the user even lifting a finger. Some are calling 2013 the “Year of the sensor”, and it giving passage to the Internet of Things and Big Data; aside from buzz terms we’ll talk about how these tools will offer the ability for more interactions to get out of the way.”
When: 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Monday, May 20th, 2013
Participants: Mike Massie (Host)
In addition to the obligatory refrigerator full of soda (or sometimes empty of soda, depending on whether anyone’s filled it recently), we also have a water cooler that takes the big 5gal water bottles. They also sell coolers that can be plumbed into a water line, and a while back I discovered that they’re actually bottle-type coolers that come with a conversion kit. The kit consists of a float switch and a solenoid valve, and a mounting bracket that takes the place of the bottle holder.
There isn’t a conversion kit for the cooler we have, but it looked simple enough, so I made one from scratch. I don’t like float switches, so I used two other methods of sensing the water level (I wanted a backup sensor because certain failure modes could result in an unlimited amount of water on the floor, which would be a Bad Thing). Instead of trying to find the “best” way to do it, I used the components I was interested in learning about.
I’ve made some progress on the Raspberry Pi based traveling mascot for the makerspace. I’ve figured out how to connect the GPS unit, and configure the software on the Pi to read the data. The makerspace’s metal roof well insulates the inside of the building from the GPS frequencies, so the device doesn’t receive location data in the electronics lab. The wooden roof of my home is much more transparent to these frequencies, so I’ve tested the GPS at home. I’ve got the C libraries loaded, and started a program to check and record the current location of the mascot.
Unfortunately I’ve run into a few setbacks. For some reason it keeps corrupting its file system, and failing to boot. A few times it’s happened has been when I made a configuration change and then rebooted. So I blamed myself. But today the Pi wouldn’t boot. The last time I used it I properly shut it down before tucking it in its box and putting it away. I had the Pi configured to register itself on the network so I could work with it remotely. It wouldn’t come online. So I grabbed the monitor and keyboard to figure out what’s going on. The monitor showed the Pi would start booting, but pause with a “PANIC: No init found.” message. A bit of web searching found that other people have had similar problems and fixed it by using different keyboards and different SD cards. Trying a boot without the keyboard and mouse plugged in gave the same panic message. So I think I need to try another SD card.
My son has a Raspberry Pi of his own, and a few SD cards he’s had success with. He has agreed to let the mascot project borrow one of his cards to figure out if this card is the problem. I’ll post about my results after I try with the different card.
Once I figure out the file system corruption problems, I can continue writing the C code. After that I’ll work on the other parts of the project. These parts include the website, battery pack, camera, and body. I think those denim monsters some members will be making in an upcoming sewing class could make a great form for the mascot. Would any of those members be interested in making a custom one for the mascot? Would any members be interested in helping out with any other part? Would any members just like to play with the Raspberry Pi? If you want to help, participate, or just check out the project talk to me when I’m at the space, or post a message on the mailing list.
A while back, Jason G. and I were talking about notifying coworkers when working out of alternative campuses, coffee shops or being in the office but just away from the desk. Empty desks give you no story beyond looking for clues like a missing jacket, bag, etc. We thought it would be fun to use an Arduino to update a small display on our desk with a message to where we were. Jason set out to build the backend – using Google Latitude on our phones he could update a web server which also let us create geo-fences around map locations that would trigger an output during work hours. We called it Marco… get it?
The prototype worked, but I was struggling with half of my part, the physical object – screen sizes sucked, wi-fi v cable, and I couldn’t get it in the footprint that I wanted it.
The other piece that was bothering me was that, during a little research, roughly ~90% of the empty desks around me had an orphaned monitor. Most every empty desk had a blank monitor and I was toiling with a display problem… enter Raspberry Pi. Now the idea is to take over that monitor when the users are away. Most external monitors that we had offered multiple inputs, so a simple tap on the input button and Marco can display anything we’d like from our base of geo trap triggered messages, foursquare check-ins to even displaying a message that we text to it – “Elvis has left the building” [send]
*UPDATE* – Thanks to circulating this around with fellow Maker’s Pete and Vishal, we’ll explore using a passive IR sensor to wake the display when there is activity in front of it to save on screen and energy use.
I finally finished up the last of my game boxes this past weekend. These ones are for the original Gloom game and Zombie Dice.
Since Zombie Dice is, as you may suspect, a dice game I decided it needed something a bit more secure lid-wise so it could be easily transported without worry of spilling the dice everywhere. This was a bit of a trick since the thing that locked it also needed to be mostly if not entirely contained in the lid since you need to use the cup as part of the game. What I ended up with was putting a slight lip around the top
Locking lid for the dice game
and making a bar to bolt to the top that was just long enough to hit the 1/8″ lip when turned one way. It works better than I expected it would. I also added some thin foam to the inside of the container because dice on wood was getting pretty loud when you shook the cup.
I happened to be in Chile last week traveling to see a friend, so I looked up the local makerspace and sent an email asking if I could get a tour. Shortly afterwards Florencia Edwards reached out to me and we set up a tour.
If you find yourself anywhere near the STGO makerspace, I highly recommend you get a tour. Not only will you be greeted with beautiful wood floors, exceptional lighting, and an exceptionally friendly group of makers, but you also have a chance to join in on the latest in international maker relations: Hacking Around the World.
It’s a pretty simple concept: make something fun, and have it ready to pass off to the next maker that visits from another hackerspace. If you visit a space where something is passed to you, the next step is even easier: hack whatever was given to you and pass it to the next visitor to your space. Whatever you want to do to it, do it.
When I got to the STGO makerspace, Florencia had a Barney themed childs toy waiting for me. She had already modified the noises and added a couple of new features. I plan to add to it and pass it off to the next nomadic maker that happens to come through the Milwaukee space.
If you want to get involved in hacking around the world, check out the google group or stop by the Milwaukee or Santiago makerspace and let’s start hacking around the world together.
A few weeks ago we got an email from Luxembourg. Well, more specifically, from Marc Teusch, one of the founders of syn2cat. He said he’d be visiting Milwaukee and was wondering if he could stop by Milwaukee Makerspace… the answer was YES!
Visiting other spaces is awesome. It’s great to see the differences (and similarities) between different hackerspaces. I visited Baltimore Hackerspace and highly recommend you try to visit other spaces in your travels.
Anyway, Marc stopped by during our weekly meeting, then afterwards I gave him a tour of our space and we talked about making, hacking, Luxembourg, the US, and all sorts of other things.
With Tabletop Day approaching and my great affinity for complicated rules attached to cardboard (see picture on left of what should be my linen closet) I thought it would be the perfect time to work on a few projects to improve some games that I much enjoy. On top of some other, smaller things I decided that the boxes that come with a great majority of card games are kind of worthless. Take for example. Gloom. A fantastic game in which you try to make your family as miserable as possible before killing them off in horrid ways all the time trying to make your opponents family happy so they cannot do the same (I realize I sound crazy but if you come down to the MakerSpace this Saturday I will have it so you should give it a shot. It really is fantastic). While the game is fantastic it came in was one of those that has the bump of cardboard in the middle between the two stacks of cards that is supposedly, in some fantasy universe where cards have different physics than everything else, supposed to keep them separate. This never works and the box usually breaks fairly quickly.
Being utterly fed-up with these boxes I decided to make my own for 3 games. Gloom, Cthulhu Gloom, and GOSU: Tactics. With the first two this also has the added benefit of being able to make the box large enough that I can fit expansions in with the base game and in the case of GOSU it is an opportunity to make a box that better fits sleeved cards and add a 3 turn counter to keep track of the round after the pass (If you have played GOSU you know it can get a little hazy when some people are taking a whole slew of turns per round).
After some playing with Inkscape, cutting out the first one on the laser cutter, realizing I suck at measuring, cutting things again, some gluing, and several layers of shellac later I had a few new boxes.
I had several people ask me how it was that I achieved this look on Baltic birch plywood so I thought I would go over that quickly. The
inner part was just rag stained with some dark Minwax stain (I think it was Red Mahogany) so nothing special there but it adds a nice contrast to the lighter outside I feel. The outside is an amber shellac. I just applied 5-6 coats with a heavy sanding between the first two and a very light sanding between the rest. Nothing too exciting but it really makes this plain wood look pretty decent.
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