How Many Hackers Does It Take To Change an Electric Rose?

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Borg Bouquet

Somewhere in the depths of downtown Glen Ellyn, hackers and crafters alike have come out of the woodwork to conquer Rachel Hellenga’s latest project: creating LED roses out of duct tape.
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Rachel is developing a kit for her website, Conducti.com, to help people combine technology and crafts. She requested beta-testers and lucky volunteers Rudy Ristich, Mike Emerick, and IMG_20140213_220239me were peeled away from their projects to tap into their crafty sides. Girl Scout Leaders and educators alike have been clamoring for Rachel’s electric rose how-to guide, so the pressure was on for us to come up with fast solutions to any problems which would arise from her guide. We followed Rachel’s step by step tutorial for the rose-creation from her blog post for Makezine to ensure all directions were coherent and effective.

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Throughout the process, several problems arose for our two all star techies, who quickly solved the problems by applying creative solutions. I suffered from a few misreadings and ill-placed conductive tape pieces. One difficulty arose from keeping the two AAA batteries (which were connected with a tightly rolled piece of paper) together to maintain a strong connection. Rudy used his tech-pertise to offer an ingenious solution through the use of rubber bands and duct tape.

The use of duct tape provided a new learning opportunity; the tables were turned as I was able to contribute to troubleshooting by assisting my hacker friends in the art of duct tape  application which I had gleaned from my many years of experience in paper crafts. In the end, we all finished with fabulous electric roses and were able to help Rachel make necessary changes to her tutorial before it’s published in a kit.

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Arduino 301 – Controlling the outside world – March 2014

Workshop 88 is offering a continuation of the Arduino classes featuring a concentration on interfacing the arduino with external devices.  solid state relays, H-bridges and other ways of controlling high voltages sources and motors.

If you already have an arduino, you have all the materials you’ll need for this class.  Otherwise, you can order a kit and we’ll have it for you when you come to the class.

What you need to bring to the class: a laptop with the arduino environment already installed, your arduino, and your breadboard. What you’ll get from the class: an understanding of how to work with the arduino to control higher current and higher voltage DC devices, 110-volt AC devices, and various servos, steppers and motors.

The class was originally scheduled for 2/15/14, but has been rescheduled to March 1.

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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!

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New online discussion group – linux device drivers

So that we can all learn about Linux Device Drivers, we have set up a Workshop 88 Google Group here:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/workshop88linuxdrivers

…to discuss this book:

http://lwn.net/Kernel/LDD3/

The 1st post is a bullet list of chapter 1′s main points.  Feel free to join in and comment about such things as “mechanism” and “policy”.

In chapter 2, there will be some code examples to try.

It would also be fun to speculate where we can go with this.  One thought is to create a WS88 project (maybe even a PCB) that provides a new physical computer interface. Like a capacitive-touch-slider to control features such as volume.

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Introduction to vim class – February 2014

Learn how to edit text like a pro using vim!  Students will learn how to create new files, edit text, and use powerful replacement techniques with regular expressions.  No experience necessary!

Please bring a laptop with one of the following versions of vim installed:

Windows:
gvim

Mac:
MacVim

Linux:
Any command line version

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Programming a Tiny85 with Arduino – January 2014

Tiny85: a simple, cheap alternative to dedicating an Arduino to a long-term projectATtiny85 - Image credit: Atmel Atmel offers several processor chips in the same family as the Arduino’s ATMega328P that are often perfect for a simple permanent controller. This class introduces you to the ATTiny85, with mention of some others. You’ll leave with an ’85 running a simple blinkie with code you wrote, you ported to Tiny85, and you burned into the ’85 along with a mini shield to use an Arduino as a programmer for the ’85 and many other Atmel chips. The class is open to Arduino users with at least basic programming skills. (You’ll need to be able to modify the Blink sketch.) You’ll need to bring a working Arduino (or clone), a laptop with the Arduino 1.0.4 development environment, and a breadboard. We’ll supply a Tiny85.

Update 1/28/14:  The class went quite well.  Jim wrote up some notes on it including links to the slides and class handout here.

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Learn to Solder – March 2014

Image credit:MJN123

Have you been dabbling in electronics and building all your circuits on breadboards? Maybe it’s time you learn how to solder with Workshop 88! Want to improve your soldering skills? Come to our soldering class and see what you can do to make you soldering better.  What you need to bring: Nothing! We’ll have everything for you. What you will leave with: Knowledge of proper soldering techniques.

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Mastering the Linux Command Line – February 2014

Linux gives us the power we need to crush those who oppose  us.  Learn how to being to use the hundreds of tiny utilities contained  in *nix systems to create simple solutions that you may think require writing a program, script, or complex system. Forget spending countless hours designing, writing ,and debugging code in the cloud. See the methods taught in this class to begin to understand how to quickly link Linux commands together to create quick solutions to what may seem like a complex task.  Spend more time on world domination and less time learning the sexy programming language of the day. What you will learn:

  • Learn to navigate the shell quickly saving keystrokes, sparing yourself from the scourge of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • What the hell do all those funky symbols mean? Amaze your significant other with the ability to read shell scripts like a Chinese newspaper.
  • Learn a few quick tips to automate your system administration and audit it for weaknesses.
  • Create a simple command to notify yourself of changes to your favorite web pages.  Never miss out on those Deltron 3030 tickets again!
  • Create parsers to crunch the data needed to map pig genomes.  Win the Nobel prize!!
  • Stand up a poor man’s web server to serve content in a pinch.

We’ll only touch the tip of the iceberg but you’ll walk away with the understanding and methodology to search the UNIX tool set to create your very own solutions to life’s problems. What you should know ahead of time: Basic Linux commands and how to navigate the file system: Are cd, rm, mv, cp man, and ~  Greek to you?  Learn this first at home: http://code.google.com/edu/tools101/linux/basics.html What you need to bring: A laptop running your favorite flavor of Linux or vm-ware player.  The utilities we will review are available on 90% of *nix flavor system.  You can also download Linux appliances, but please come to class with your system ready.

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