About rlankenau

I'm a software engineer. Right now I make a living writing C, Java, and .NET. I grew up in Naperville, live in Batavia, and work for a company based in Redwood City, California. In previous lives, I was a landscaper, a metal sculptor's assistant, a carpenter, a library clerk, a volunteer blacksmith, and a visualization programmer, among other things. In my spare time, I work on games for Windows and the XBox 360.

Shop Maintenance Day

FastPlot1
With the start of the new year, we’re planning to spend some time cleaning up the space. We’ll be out at the space all afternoon on January 2nd, so if you’d like to come out and help clean up, stop by.

Share

Networking Basics (July 2014)

Come out and learn basic computer networking skills!

The topics we’ll be covering include:

  • Network addresses
  • Basic home network design
  • Physical interfaces
  • Wireless networking
  • Debugging basic networking problems

Continue reading

Share

What have we been up to this summer?

It’s been a bit quiet around on the blog this summer, but that’s mostly because we’ve been pretty busy.  I thought I’d put up an update on what’s been going on around the space.

Thursdays!

We’re always out at the space on Thursday nights for our public meeting, so drop on by! We had a lot of fun last week playing with some Tormach stepper drivers that Tom M. brought in, but every week brings something new and exciting.

Libraries!

We’ve been doing a lot with libraries all over the burbs.  You might remember this thing that we built for Glen Ellyn Public Library back in May.  In addition to that, we also do a lot of classes and DIY fairs.

This summer, we ran events at Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn, Indian Trails, Winfield, Lisle, Addison, and at Lake Park High School.  We’ve got even more events coming up in the next few months, at the libraries I mentioned before as well as Roselle and St. Charles.

Improving the space!

We’re currently updating the back room, with the front room next on the list.  There’s been a lot of great discussion about what to do with the front room, and we’ve got a team working on getting it all done.

Paul R. did a bunch of work to rehab Prof. Braino’s Enco mill, and it is now up and running.  We’re going to be offering a class to members this summer to get them up to speed on how to use the mill.

Classes!

We’ve been a bit lax in getting classes scheduled, and we’re trying to address that.  We have a bunch of classes scheduled this summer, so check back for scheduling details once they’re announced.  Next up on the list are Electronics 101 and Basic Networking, both this July.

We’ve got a bunch of other topics coming up, here’s a condensed list:

  • Electronics
  • 3D Printing
  • CNC Machining with Shapeoko
  • Networking Basics
  • Running the Lathe
  • Linux Basics
  • Cloud Computing
  • HAMP (see this for more info)
  • Intro to Hadoop
  • Running the Mill
  • Using the RPi GPIOs
  • Arduino 101
  • Arduino Music

Let us know (info@workshop88.com) if you’ve got requests for other classes, we’ll see what we can do about getting them scheduled!

 

Share

Electronics 101 (July 2014)

This is an electronics class for the absolute beginner – we will cover many basic concepts such as:

  • Current
  • Voltage
  • Resistance
  • Ohm’s Law
  • Power
  • Measurement tools
  • Breadboards – How to use them to prototype circuits
  • Circuit diagrams and circuit elements

Continue reading

Share

Introduction to Arduino class (Arduino 101) Wednesday July 2, 2014

Workshop 88 is offering our introduction to the Arduino platform at our makerspace in Glen Ellyn. This class is for anyone (member or non-member) who wants to learn how to get started with the arduino microcontroller, regardless of experience with programming or electronics. Class attendees will learn how to configure their arduino programming environment, how to design simple circuits for interfacing with the arduino and how to write simple programs to control the arduino. What is Arduino, you ask? From their home page:

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

If you need to get an arduino, please see the Workshop 88 Arduino Store. Sales from that store are fulfilled by amazon.com, and help support Workshop 88. Alternatively, you can order Arduino systems from several places, including Adafruit and Sparkfun. Both companies have lots of tutorials and howtos to get you started with Arduinos. If you’re looking for a local source to get Arduinos, try Trossen Robotics.

What you’ll get from this class:

In this class you will learn how to start programming in the Arduino environment including interacting with the inputs and outputs of the Arduino.You should bring: a laptop with the Arduino environment downloaded and installed, and your Arduino supplies.  Please contact us (info@workshop88.com) if you have any questions.Image credit: By Linuswiki (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Share

Audible Donation Box

Our local library recently asked us to help them out with their summer reading program, which is raising funds to support the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

Here’s what I came up with:Glen Ellyn Public Library Token Box

 

When a patron turns in a book they’ve read for the summer reading program, they get a token to drop into the box.  Since the Willowbrook Wildlife Center rehabilitates native animals that have been injured, I thought that playing local native animal sounds would help create a connection between the program and the organization it is supporting.

Here’s what the box looks like inside.

Glen Ellyn Public Library Token Box Electrionics

 

The speakers are driven by an Adafruit Music Maker Shield run off of an Arduino Uno, using the Adafruit VS1053 library.  The token detection mechanism uses a high-intensity LED and a voltage divider, consisting of an 180 ohm resistor and a CdS photocell, to create an optical detector.  The voltage across the small resistor is checked with an analogRead() in a tight loop to detect a token falling through the slot.  Volume control is done through software on the VS1053, so I just hooked the sweeper on a 10K linear potentiometer up to a second analog input.  When a token is detected, I play a random sound from the SD card in the background while continuing to check the volume control.

Here’s the schematic and a breadboard layout.  I’ve just shown the control circuitry, as the Music Maker shield should be pretty easy to hook up.Coindrop SchematicCoindrop_Breadboard

All of the code, these schematics, and a Fritzing file are available on Github. Pay particular attention to the pin assignments at the top of the sketch if you’re using the Adafruit Music Maker board.  They are hard-wired on the shield, but Adafruit’s tutorial is based on their breakout board, which you have to wire to an Arduino yourself.

One thing I had to consider with this build was power.  I initially powered the box off of 4 AA batteries, and it looked like it worked great.  After a few days of testing, it started to act a bit flaky.  After being on for about 10 minutes, the speakers would just play static.  After some testing, I found that the supply voltage was too low, so I swapped in a USB power supply for the batteries, and it worked much better.  Since this has to run all day long for a couple months, USB is a better solution anyway.

We’re teaching a couple audio classes this summer, make sure to check back for scheduling details if you’re interested in doing something like this project yourself!

 

Share

Bart Dring talks LinuxCNC and BeagleBone Black

Bart's Delta Router - Probably not going to be there on Saturday, but look at how awesome it is!

Bart’s Delta Router – Not going to be there on Saturday, but look at how awesome it is!

Bart Dring of MakerSlide fame is going to be out at Workshop 88 on Saturday, March 1 demonstrating CNC concepts and giving a brief talk about how he has constructed several CNC builds.  This talk immediately follows Arduino 301: Controlling The World, so come out for both! He has designed and built many great tools, such as a laser cutter, several types of 3D printers, including delta style printers. One of his most recent creations is a delta-style CNC router. Very cool! We look forward to having Bart out at Workshop 88 to share his expertise.

This event is FREE and OPEN to everyone! Please come out and bring a friend.

 

Share

Ham Radio at Workshop 88

There’s been a lot of activity around amateur radio at Workshop 88 in the last few weeks.

The biggest portion of that was organized by Eric S. and Paul R., who had a table at the WCRA Mid-Winter Hamfest. Andrew M. helped with the table as well, and Tom M. and I also stopped by.

Paul and Andrew man the table at the WCRA Mid-Winter Hamfest

Paul and Andrew man the table at the WCRA Mid-Winter Hamfest

We’ve had a lot of electronics gear donated over the last year, and most of it just wasn’t being used. We were able to sell quite a bit of it to people who will actually get some use out of it, and raise some money for Workshop 88 in the process.

In addition, we’re talking about organizing some sort of study session or workshop to help people get their start in amateur radio. We have several very knowledgeable hams who are members, and a number more who are interested in getting their license for the first time.

If you’re interested in radio or want to find out what it is all about, come out to a public meeting night at Workshop 88 (every Thursday at 6:30) and introduce yourself!

Share