About achmorrison

Physics professor by day - maker by night

Hack from slack #1

Jim posted a clever hack on the Workshop 88 slack workgroup recently. Here was his description:

One of the limitations of working with the dear old AT Tiny85 is that it has no UART.  Yeah, we’ve all debugged stuff with an LED or 2, but how about this:  Use an old phone as a serial terminal!My old (2 or 3 phones back) phone supports OTG.  I plugged a USB-serial adapter in, ran up the nice Serial USB Terminal by Kai Morich, and ran Tiny Serial Debug (write-only bit bang serial).  And it works!  That terminal supports CP210X, CH340G, FT232, Arduinos with 32U4 and more.  And it only costs one pin (plus ground)!

Are you interested in learning more about how our members share ideas and knowledge with each other on slack? Consider becoming a member and join in on the conversation with us!

Chess Clock 2.0 using an Adafruit MacroPad

by MACE

I built a better chess clock. It’s no surprise that my first attempt (see http://blog.workshop88.com/2021/07/30/making-a-chess-clock-with-a-circuit-playground-express-user-interface-decisions/), while functional, was difficult to use. The buttons are tiny, you need a lot of prior knowledge to use it, etc. My wife refused to use it.

Just in the nick of time, I received the Adabox 019. It contained a keyboard circuit, keys, keycaps, OLED display, rotary encoder, encoder knob and housing — some assembly required. Adafruit promotes this product as a way to send commands through a USB port to the foreground program running on a computer. There is also a MIDI use case.

The included demo code interprets key presses based on a menu of items that are specific to a given program. You can have multiple menus for multiple programs. You switch between menus using the rotary encoder. Each menu can set the neopixels under the keys to visually group keys by functionality. Here’s an example menu I did for Inkscape.

Inkscape-MacroPad-Menu

Key 1 (upper left) resizes the document to match the selection
Key 2 is for Trace Bitmap
Keys 4-8 are for manipulating layers

It worked, but this use case for the MacroPad wasn’t satisfying. For me, a keystroke on the pad isn’t any better than just using the shortcut keys on the full keyboard. I soon started to hunt for a bigger itch that needed a bigger scratch.

The first one I came up with was to use the example menu framework to simplify my use of various Linux terminal commands. The ls command, for example, has dozens of options. The combination of dashes, case sensitivity, non-mnemonic codes, etc. makes the command tedious to type — especially if you need to use many different options in various combinations. Not to mention that the meanings of the options are different depending of the flavor of Linux!

Here’s the menu I wrote for the terminal on MacOS. I took better care on this menu to color code the keys. The yellow keys are for formatting options, the green key is for recursion, Key4 isn’t enabled, the red keys are for sort order and the purple keys are groups of file extensions. Pushing the rotary key enters the “ls ” command itself.

With an open terminal window, the MacroPad connected and my custom menu selected, I can use the keys to easily form the command that lists “code” files with units, long dates, sorted by size, in reverse order:

<Rotary><Key1><Key2><Key5><Key7><Key12> #These are the key presses

ls -h -T -r -S *.py *.sh *.sed #This is what gets typed at the prompt
-rw-r--r-- 1 appleadmin staff 75B Jul 9 09:40:36 2021 mymoduletest.py
-rw-r--r-- 1 appleadmin staff 72B Oct 19 09:59:35 2020 timezones.py
-rw-r--r-- 1 appleadmin staff 59B Mar 30 16:17:28 2021 getSkyCharts.py
-rw-r--r-- 1 appleadmin staff 58B Apr 2 16:39:43 2021 mymod.py
-rwxr-xr-x 1 appleadmin staff 46B Mar 31 06:38:26 2020 rhi.sh*
-rw-r--r-- 1 appleadmin staff 24B Aug 2 21:47:36 2021 goPad.sh

It works well.

Finally, having just finished my 2-Player+ Chess Clock, I made version V2.0 using the MacroPad. This time, I have a display screen to properly prompt for input and display time remaining, a rotary encoder with an “ENTER” feature for numeric value input and a physical, color-coded button for each player to push.

Here’s the result in action.

Where do Workshop 88 members live?

We have members that live all throughout the Western suburbs of Chicago, but most of our members live somewhere in DuPage county. Most of our members live within a 30 minute drive to downtown Glen Ellyn.

Some of our members live a lot closer, though! We have members in Wheaton, Lombard, Carol Stream, and Glendale Heights. Those who live further out include members living in Elmhurst, Addison, Lisle, Naperville, Westmont, and Oak Brook.

Our members all have access to all the makerspace tools, like the woodworking, metalworking, CNC equipment, 3D printers, the laser cutter, and the electronics shop. More importantly, though, our members belong to a community of makers who are all interested in becoming better at making, building, and crafting.

What are you looking to make at Workshop 88? Open house is every Thursday from 7:00-9:00pm.

Maker Meeting Short Take – Schlieren imaging!

Check out the latest in our series of outtakes from Workshop 88 Maker Meetings here:

See the rest of the discussion in the original video

The reason behind using the Schlieren system was to find out what we could see while blowing over the top of a plastic pop (soda) bottle. There was quite a bit of discussion and suggestions for experimentation in the original Maker Meeting video.


Workshop 88 is a makerspace in Glen Ellyn Illinois. We are more than a workshop, we are a growing community of creative talented people who aspire to learn and share knowledge, experiences, and projects.

Join us! To become a member join at Workshop88 or you can help us continue to share our projects and activities by supporting us via Patreon.

Never miss a tip or project! Follow our blog at www.Workshop88.com, subscribe to Workshop88’s YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, follow us Twitter and join or support our maker community by contributing to Workshop88 on Patreon!

To find out about upcoming events follow Workshop88 on Meetup.
Have a question? email us at info@Workshop88.com

Maker Meeting March 23, 2021 – ESP8266, Arduinos, and a Dalek

Check out the March 23, 2021 Workshop 88 Maker Meeting here:

ESP8266 interfaced with a keypad

Peter shared the following information about using the Arduino keypad library with the ESP8266after the recording:

There is a pretty good tutorial at https://diyi0t.com/keypad-arduino-esp8266-esp32/

There were two questions I was not able to answer, but I’ve done some more investigation:

  1. If you register a callback function that is invoked when a key is pressed or released, is that based on interrupts?   No.   It ties into the non-blocking getKey() function which is already being called each time through the loop.   If a callback is registered, it will be called by getKey() when appropriate.
  2. Does multi-key support mean that it buffers up a sequence of characters, or does it mean you can press multiple keys (chords) at the same time?   Despite my wrong guess last night, it’s the latter.   The getKeys() function will return a list of up 10 keys that are pressed or released, even if a second (or later) key is pressed before the first ones are released.   Apparently, they do the right magic with pull-ups and only driving one line at a time so that they can do this without diodes on the switches.

Other items shared!

After Peter’s presentation, Jim shared with us how he uses an ESP8266 to control an Arduino. Very cool! At the end, Dave shared with us his progress working on a Dalek build project – including some very nice resin casting!


Workshop 88 is a makerspace in Glen Ellyn Illinois. We are more than a workshop, we are a growing community of creative talented people who aspire to learn and share knowledge, experiences, and projects.

Join us! To become a member join at Workshop88 or you can help us continue to share our projects and activities by supporting us via Patreon.

Never miss a tip or project! Follow our blog at www.Workshop88.com, subscribe to Workshop88’s YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, follow us Twitter and join or support our maker community by contributing to Workshop88 on Patreon!

To find out about upcoming events follow Workshop88 on Meetup.
Have a question? email us at info@Workshop88.com

Maker Meeting March 16, 2021

Check out the March 16, 2021 Workshop 88 Maker Meeting here:

Things We’ve Made

3D printed for everyday use. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. (Organizers)

Vase Mode – extra thin walls

Modular Tool Caddy

Replacement Parts – Repairs around the house by Peter

Thingiverse Links

Power Strip Project (Slide Deck)

An approach to problem solving

Designing 3D printed parts to help supplement a situation.


Workshop 88 is a makerspace in Glen Ellyn Illinois. We are more than a workshop, we are a growing community of creative talented people who aspire to learn and share knowledge, experiences, and projects.

Join us! To become a member join at Workshop88 or you can help us continue to share our projects and activities by supporting us via Patreon.

Never miss a tip or project! Follow our blog at www.Workshop88.com, subscribe to Workshop88’s YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, follow us Twitter and join or support our maker community by contributing to Workshop88 on Patreon!

To find out about upcoming events follow Workshop88 on Meetup.
Have a question? email us at info@Workshop88.com

Maker Meeting March 9, 2021

Check out the March 9, 2021 Workshop 88 Maker Meeting here:

HackADay

Basic (Code) in 10 lines or less contest

Scott’s project overview of his contribution to contest.

Mandelbrot

Must see to enjoy. It’s mesmerizing.

TinkerCad Follow Up

  • Logos
  • Shapes Collection

Around the House Repairs

Bob showed what he 3d Printed to replace a broken part around the house. Next week, bring examples of things you made (instead of bought) and used around the house.

Misc Discussions

Acetone Smoothing of 3D Prints

Ferrofluid (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrofluid)

MandelBulb (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbulb) Ryan Bliss (Digital Blasphemy)

3D Printer Hardware


Workshop 88 is a makerspace in Glen Ellyn Illinois. We are more than a workshop, we are a growing community of creative talented people who aspire to learn and share knowledge, experiences, and projects.

Join us! To become a member join at Workshop88 or you can help us continue to share our projects and activities by supporting us via Patreon.

Never miss a tip or project! Follow our blog at www.Workshop88.com, subscribe to Workshop88’s YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, follow us Twitter and join or support our maker community by contributing to Workshop88 on Patreon!

To find out about upcoming events follow Workshop88 on Meetup.
Have a question? email us at info@Workshop88.com