About Kevin

I'm currently working as a Service Technician for a tool rental business. Before that I worked in Leak Detection And Repair (LDAR) at an oil refinery, insurance, logistics, food service, and I used to help my father run a computer business (sales, repair, networking, etc...) I've been programing as a hobby from an early age and I've dabbled in web design. I pretty much find myself doing anything I set my mind to.

PCBs – a demonstration!

Minty Boost XL by Robert Hunt

Minty Boost XL by Robert Hunt @flickr

The DIY Printed Circuit Boards intro/demo is coming up this Tuesday evening at the space!  Final plans are being made now about about what example PCBs will be made. The main boards are for a 16-channel voltage logger Arduino shield for battery pack rebuilding. Interest was expressed in a water sensor board, so we’ll do one or two of those as well. There will also be small W88 logo key fobs as a giveaway for attendees.

If you have any small circuits for which a PCB would be appropriate, let Jim Williams know right away. We might be able to add your boards to the demo!

LaunchPad un-boxing!

The boxes

I’ve been keeping this to myself until they finally came in, but I have a little surprise. I’ve ordered 3 MSP430s from Texas Instruments, 1 for personal use and 2 to be donated to Workshop 88. I ordered them July 17th, and they shipped October 29th and arrived today. What a fast turnaround, har har. Anyway, I thought I’d share my joy of un-boxing with everyone.

Wiki URL on the side

Meet the LaunchPad

A message from the MSP430 team

MSP430 LaunchPad

As you can see, the board ships without the headers soldered on. Other than that, the board is complete and even has an MSP430 pre-installed.

The Contents

The other contents include: A mini usb cable marked ROHS compliant, yay? The headers, and pins for the sides of the boards 2 sets of 10. A 32kz external crystal, to supplement the 16mhz internal clock. 2 LaunchPad Stickers. And last but not least, a second MSP430!

I suggest taking a look at Texas Instruments’ own un-boxing video, it’s pretty informative. Ok, ok, his is much more energetic, and he did it first.

Ride of the Valkyries

So, sometimes, I just have to stop and admit that I have a pretty awesome job. I work for a big box hardware store, as a technician in our Tool Rental department. I get all the general handy man projects around the store, and I was asked to build a tank for a competition between stores that is held every year. This thing is my baby, I’ve spent the last week and a half building this in between my normal work.

The cannon, which actually fires, is two inch PVC and has three and four inch PVC around it stepped down to the end of the barrel. The gun itself is a modified PVC t-shirt cannon, many of you have probably seen one on Make’s website. The valve is triggered with two 6v lantern batteries in series. The tank had to be parallel with the rest of the cannon so there’s room in the cockpit for a driver. I just added a 90 degree fitting after the solenoid valve.

The cockpit actually swivels, it sits on top of four casters and is guided by two galvanized pipes that sit in a circle cut on the top of the main body. The barrel tilts up and down hinged on two more pieces of pipe. The cockpit is made from two octagons, the one on the bottom is slightly elongated in the front in order to add a curvature. The curvature is achieved using 1/8″ Masonite, I attached it to the bottom and bent it onto the top. All the seams were filled with caulk give the illusion of welds.

The powerhouse behind it is a 3000 watt Honda generator fitted into the back. I added a long tail pipe to the end of the muffler to vent the exhaust out the back for the driver. Hooked up to the generator are the two front lamps, which are 250w halogen work lights painted black with high temp paint. It also powers the small air compressor in the front which is used to fill the PVC tank before the gun is fired. The filling system includes a modified tire filler with built in gauge so the driver can see and adjust the pressure as needed.

The main body was built around a lumber cart intended for flat goods like plywood and drywall. The frame is secured to it using metal strapping. The wheels are buckets spray painted black and the track is made from cedar edging painted black and silver. While I built almost the entire thing myself, I did have helping hands and helping minds for some of the creative pieces, but the awesome paint job was done by a fellow rental associate who’s an ex marine. He used camo paint and a faux brown stone paint to add the illusion of mud spray on the tracks and underside.

It’s really a testament to how great things can turn out when people put their heads and skills together. It’s was an extraordinary opportunity, and I’m extremely proud of how it turned out. I hope you guys enjoy the gallery below half as much as I enjoyed making this.

Practical Photography Class


ƅethan @flickr - My Konica & Me

Tuesday the 12th of October, William will teach our first Practical photography class. It will cost $10 and you’ll need to bring your own camera. The class will start at Workshop 88 at 6:30pm. We’re trying something new, if you’re not already a member and want to join the Workshop after the class we’ll discount your first month’s dues the cost of the class!

Build-Out Tuesdays

Russ putting some tools on the pegboard
Tonight we decided that to better represent Tuesday’s weekly activities, we’re re-naming it to “Build-out Tuesdays.” Mini-hackathons should be taking place 24/7 at the space, and we really want everyone to be encouraged to bring their projects and work on them every day.

Tuesdays will be a regular time for people to come to the space and get work done on the facilities.

Our Calendar

Our calendar system is currently powered by Google. Their service affords us quite a few ways to share it with you. We’ve got the feed on the right side of the page, as well as multiple feeds that you can import into your own calendar software. Below are links to each type of feed.


Hack-A-Thon II 02/06/2010

We’ll be holding a second hackathon 2:00pm-9:00pm Saturday February 6th. A couple projects we’ll be working on are our big near space balloon event and some beer brewing and bottling. As always bring your projects, bring your Arduinos, and bring your excitement!

We’ll be holding it at Jay’s house again, if you’re interested in attending and did not come last time, please contact info@workshop88.com for the address.

Let us know if you’re coming and discuss potential projects on the forum post.

fo·rum (fôrm, fr-)

n. pl. fo·rums also fo·ra (fôr, fr)

  • a. The public square or marketplace of an ancient Roman city that was the assembly place for judicial activity and public business.
  • b. A public meeting place for open discussion.
  • c. A medium for open discussion or voicing of ideas, such as a newspaper, a radio or television program, or a website.
  • Just wanted to let you all know, our forum is online and public! Please sign up and participate in building our community. We’d especially love to hear from you if you’ve been unable to make it to our meetings.

    Our first Hack-A-Thon!

    We’re going to be holding a Hack-a-Thon on Sunday January 17th at 2pm. Many of us will be converting PC power supplies to bench supplies, either to donate to the eventual Workshop 88 space, or for ourselves.

    You DO NOT have to be a member to participate in the project or come to the Hack-a-thon. So please, tell your friends! The cost of the parts for each power supply ($11) you’d like to convert will be due to our treasurer at our next public meeting 01/04/2010. You are responsible for bringing your own power supply to the Hack-A-Thon to convert.

    And as mentioned at the meeting if you want to bring another project to work on that’s great, just keep in mind Jay graciously volunteered his house, so let’s keep it reasonable. Those interested in attending will be given an address and directions at our next meeting (or upon request if you cannot make it).

    Please stop by the forum thread for more details and let us know if you’ll be attending.

    Two Brothers Brewery Tour

    When I first arrived at the brewery, I actually passed it up. It’s a very unassuming industrial building with a little silo on the side. If you didn’t know where to look for it, you might never know it’s there. Continuing the trend of unassuming, the door itself into the “Tap House” restaurant is just a single door that looks almost like a side entrance, with a little sign that says “Two Brothers Tap House Main Entrance.” Once you step through that door, you know you’re in the right place. You’ve been transported into a modern bar and restaurant who’s food and beer rival’s that of anywhere I’ve been in the suburbs. Everything in this building has been finely crafted, from the food to the beer to the environment. It’s obvious they take great pride in it all.

    Continue reading