THOTCON 0×5 Badge Revealed

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THOTCON  is the annual, small venue, hacking conference based in Chicago IL, USA. THOTCON is a non-profit, non-commercial event looking to provide the best conference possible on a very limited budget.

For the past 2 years Workshop 88 has been honored to design and produce the electronic attendee badges for the conference as a service to the local community.  The badge crew this year consisted of: Paul Reich, Bill Paulson, Karl Knutson, Zach Cassity, Russell Lankenau, and Rudy Ristich

This year’s badge was inspired by portable gaming systems from the past and featured  102 x 64 pixel graphic LCD screen and a push button interface. Once again, the badge features an Atmel AVR based microcontroller. The badge used nearly every byte of the 32k available SRAM on its Atmega32u4 chip.  The software consisted of a Break-out style game which participants could play to passtime, a complete schedule of talks and labs for the day long conference,  and the ability to patch into arcade panels hosted in the Hacker Village, and a few surprises for discovering inside.

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Just like the THOTCON 0×4 Badge, the 0×5 Badge is compatible with the Arduino open hardware programming environment and can accept standard Arduino shields. This means the badge can be easily reused and repurposed to power any sort of project. An improvement from last year’s badge is that no additional parts need to be added; conference goers can simply plug the badge into their laptop once burning a bootloader to reprogram it, encouraging easier exploration and badge hacking.

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The badge is designed to be completely open hardware and software.  Workshop 88 would like to thank the open source hardware and software community especially: Arduino, Oliver Kraus and other contributors to the U8glib graphics library, Dean Camera for the LUFA Project, and last, but far from least: Twisted Traces, our local assembly partner in Elk Grove, IL.

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Workshop 88 will be holding a badge hacking contest throughout the month of May.  Judging will consist of a panel from Workshop 88 and the THOTCON crew.  Interested contestants can register on the badge website: http://badge.workshop88.com

Full details on the badge specifications and firmware will be released on May 1st in conjunction with the opening of the badge hacking contest.

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Automated Haunted Dollhouse part of Rachel’s Maker Faire exhibit

Pursuing her passion for making technology accessible to girls, Rachel Hellenga inspired a whirlwind project to automate a dollhouse.  After the smoke cleared, the one-room dollhouse she and Jim W and Bill P built was a miniature version of – and is now displayed within – the “Circuit Castle” she’s showing at the New York Maker Faire.  Read her Make Magazine blog post about it.

The Dollhouse Automation System powering it is a collection of small, cheap microcontrollers in a simple network allowing sensors (push buttons, motion detectors, light sensors, etc) in one part of the house to control actions (lights, motors, sounds etc) in another part of the house.

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Here are some gory details of putting that system together.

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THOTCON Badge Hacking Contest Begins!

We’ve all had a full week to recover from the THOTCON and B-sides activity here in Chicago and it is time to get back to hacking.    The badge that was distributed to THOTCON attendees was designed to be hacked and reused in your projects. In the spirit of badge hacking we’d like to announce our first badge hacking contest for the attendees of THOTCON 0×4.

The contest will start today and will run until 11:59 pm CT on Monday, May 27th 2013.

The rules are simple: In hacking there are no rules.

Although there are no rules your submission must be reproducible and should include:

  1. Video Demonstration of your Badge Hack
  2. Any applicable schematics for your hack
  3. Any code and compile instructions

In the interest of collaborative learning any requested information about the badge for the purpose of the contest will be shared with other contest participants. All contest submissions will also be archived on the official badge website.

There will be several categories we will judge against, you’re automatically entered to each category:

  • Best overall badge hack (make us say uhh!)
  • Most hackerish hack (what can you hack with the badge?)
  • Most unorthodox hack (does your badge now dispense cat food?)
  • People’s choice (the tubez chuze)

The prizes will be notoriety and some 3D printed randomness courtesy of the badge crew at Workshop 88.

The astute observer will notice that the pin outs on the side of the board fit the Arduino footprint for access to many of the ATMEGA128RFA1′s peripheral systems and compatibility with most Arduino shields.  The badge can be easily reprogrammed  via the unpopulated ICSP header with (at least) the following methods:

If you’re looking to hack your badge over and over again we have a few left over prototyping kits we were selling during the con and you can get them for $20 plus shipping by emailing us here. 

These include all the prototype rails and headers you need to use arduino shields  plus the passive components necessary to power the badge from a wall wart or other external supply.  The power system components are not necessary to reprogram or hack the chip.

Register here for the contest!

 

 

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Connect with Workshop 88!

Are you looking to get more involved with Workshop 88 beyond this blog?

We have LOTS of ways that our members interact with each other online.
Here are a few ways:

Email list – join our  Google group – You must subscribe to this to see the messages. (We approve everyone who is not a spambot.)

Twitter – Follow @Workshop88

Facebook – like us on Facebook

Meetup – Follow our schedule of all we do at our Meetup page.

Email – Send an email to “info @ workshop88.com”

Chat room – Members often get together during the work week to chat online

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How to contact Workshop 88

Summer is nearly upon us and we’re making plans for events at Workshop 88.  We’d like to hear from you!  Here’s how you can contact us:

On twitter, on meetup, or the mailing list (which is not just for members, anyone can subscribe).

If you don’t use any of these services you can always shoot an email to info@workshop88.com and we’ll get back to you.

Drop in our Public Meetings every Thursday night at 7:00 pm in downtown Glen Ellyn, IL.

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Welcome, makers!

We had a great time at the recent Mini Maker Faire in Chicago this past weekend.  It was so great to see so many awesome projects going on and all the excitement for making and building things in the Chicago area.  We can’t wait to participate in another event like this one!

Are you a maker/hacker/tinkerer/crafter or otherwise curious about learning more about doing things with us?

Check out our public meetings: they are always free and open to all on Thursday evenings.  We start officially at 7:30 pm, but there is almost always a member at the space by 6:30 if you’d like to come early and get to know us. Bring a project and show us what you’re making!

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Introduction to Python

Python is a cross-platform programming language which is a popular choice for novice and advanced programmers. The design of python emphasizes the readability of code, making it easier for beginning programmers to learn.

In this class we will look at the basic framework of python programming and explore how to begin to design programs in python.

What you should bring to the class: If you want to use your own computer, you should download and install one of the stable versions of python from the python website.

When: March 24, 10:00am – Noon

Where: Workshop 88 in Glen Ellyn, IL

What you will get from the class: understanding of the python interpreter, how python classes are used, a basic understanding of how to write programs in python

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Next round of Arduino classes at Workshop 88!

Workshop 88 is offering our introduction to the Arduino platform at our makerspace in Glen Ellyn. 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.

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: If you choose the tuition + materials option, we will have an arduino and assortment of electronics components for you to take home after the 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 installed. 

Please contact us (info@workshop88.com) if you have any questions.

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