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.

AutomatedDollhouse

Here are some gory details of putting that system together.

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 0x4.

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!

 

 

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

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.

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!

New meeting schedule

Workshop88 is happy to announce a new meeting schedule staring February 2012. Meetings will be at 7 pm Thursday evenings every week, and the open hack night will be Monday nights. Class schedules and the meetup schedule will be updated to reflect these changes. Board meetings will be scheduled once a month.

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We look forward to seeing you at our new weekly meetings.

Hackerspaces in Space: Year 2

A few days ago we launched (no pun intended) Hackerspaces in Space: Year 2.  HSIS (as we like to refer to it) is a challenge that we extend to other hackerspaces (and like-minded groups of people) to design, build and launch a weather balloon equipped with cameras to take photos at near-space altitudes. The HSIS website has all the rules regarding the contest which you can check out if you’re interested.

Last time we ran the challenge, we had a great response from the makerspace and hackerspace community.  We’re hoping to make HSIS better this year.  We want to use HSIS to promote science exploration and discovery in schools.  We want to take whatever best designs come out of this year’s challenge and send kits based on the winning designs to schools, so that student can launch their own balloons to near-space.

To make that happen, we’ve set up a kickstarter project. (You may have seen the banner at the top of the page.) Take a look at some of the prizes we’re offering and consider becoming a backer to this project so that we can get kits into schools!

Also, we need your help spreading the word about HSIS.  Please link to the page, tweet it, facebook it, retweet, upvote it on reddit, or just post it wherever you share your information online. We can’t make this happen without your help!