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.


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.


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: 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.


Hackers in the Pub – March 2014

We’re bringing back the “Hackers in the Pub” event for Workshop 88!  We’ll be meeting up at the Tap House Grill in Downtown Glen Ellyn. After some drinks and chatting at the pub we’ll walk down to the Workshop which is only two blocks away! Be sure to bring your latest (small) project, or if it’s too big, just your enthusiasm for it. 😉


Introduction to Arduino class (Arduino 101) Saturday January 18, 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, 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: If you choose the registration + materials option, we will have an arduino and assortment of electronics components for you to take home after the class. (The Workshop 88 Arduino Store is by far a cheaper route to get supplies.)

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.  Please contact us ( if you have any questions.Image credit: By Linuswiki (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Lots of lasers!

Originals0701Mark Edmonson recently donated a big box of pretty high quality used battery powered laser levels to us.  They’re in various states, from apparently completely functional to rather dead.

Each one contains 5 diode lasers, as well as some other parts.  There are fairly complete teardown notes and pictures here.

Parts0769Here are the parts I salvaged from one.

Thanks, Mark!


Electronics shop remodel

Two of our members, Paul and Eric, recently took initiative to rework the electronics lab. The lab has already seen quite a bit of traffic in less than two weeks of being operational. Big thanks to Paul and Eric for all of their hard work and the materials that they provided for this remodel of one of the most important rooms at Workshop 88!

From Workshop 88 electronics lab remodel
From Workshop 88 electronics lab remodel
From Workshop 88 electronics lab remodel
From Workshop 88 electronics lab remodel

Workshop 88 co-founders Jay Margalus and Russ Lankenau recently gave a talk titled “Open Hardware and the Future of Games”. In their presentation they talk about a lot of things including Workshop 88, Raspberry Pi, open hardware initiatives, games as culture and much more. It’s always awesome to see what has come out of the work done by Workshop 88 members!

Russ is the current president of Workshop 88. He and Jay run an independent game company called Lunar Giant as well as a coworking space in Mokena, IL called SpaceLab.


Massimo’s great talk

MassimoRachelJimTwo members of Workshop 88 went to hear Massimo Banzi’s talk on Arduino, open source hardware and more.  The talk was part of Ge Garage’s Idea Week.  He gave some great stories of the philosophy, joys and problems of putting the Arduino out as open source hardware.

Among many other insights, he described how the fashion industry – with no intellectual property protection – made a lot more money than the entertainment and music industries with all their DRM efforts.  He told of the value of the many iterations of Arduino and how a primary metric of its success was the time between a new user opening the box and getting a useful result.  We learned it was named for a bar where they held many design meetings.  It was a great talk.

SignedArduino0243-300Rachel also scored some excellent networking time with Massimo, including connections that will be very useful in her upcoming trip to the Rome Maker Faire.  Jim brought home a newly autographed Arduino that had run the dollhouse at Rachel’s New York Maker Faire booth.

(Thanks to Drew Fustini from PS:1 for the lead picture!)




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.


Here are some gory details of putting that system together.