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.

AutomatedDollhouse

Here are some gory details of putting that system together.

#THOTCON 0x4 Badge Hacking Contest Results

The cornerstone of the THOTCON 0x4 design was to create a platform for a variety of electronics and radio projects.  We’d like to showcase projects people have centered around this year’s AVR based PCB.  The winning entry to our contest is called badgesniff and comes from Mike Ryan (@justfalter). Mike’s work is a powerful use of the radio on the badge.  Not only did Mike create a custom firmware for sniffing the 802.15.4 spectrum via the badge but also a client application for saving the data to pcap files and  instructions for setting up the environment on Ubuntu!

Below is a video demonstration of his work:

The project can be cloned from git by this URI:

https://github.com/justfalter/badgesniff.git

Kudos to Mike for creating such a useful tool with great documentation and instructions.  His submission certainly surpassed our expectations.

We’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to explore the badge for THOTCON 0x4.  If you have a project you couldn’t submit before the deadline last week we’d like to post your work here and archive

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!

 

 

‘Twas the night before Thotcon…

Pics on FlickrHere are some pictures from the space the night before Thotcon.  Quite a few of the boards had been poorly soldered during manufacturing, and we had to do hot-air rework on them to get them to work.  Rudy was the hot-air magic man, but there were a bunch of people working to process all the badges.

Badges unveiled

A project that’s been going on at W88 for the past four or five months went public yesterday. We’ve been designing, prototyping and programming a PC board to be used as a conference badge at Thotcon 0x4, Chicago’s hacking conference. Yesterday around seven hundred badges were passed out to conference attendees, each badge having an Atmel processor, LED array, and 2.4 GHz transceiver. The badges were able to process location checkins from beacons throughout the room, display messages from the organizers, and report their own id to the network. Since the board includes the Atmel ATMega128RFA1 processor and an Arduino compatible form factor, the badges can be reused for many Arduino projects.
This was a big project for us, requiring a lot of late nights and a lot of learning. For the team, It’s the first W88 production board, the first experience with 2.4GHz networking, first double sided prototype, first time using a QFN processor package (with luck, also the last), first reflow rework experience – though we thought it could be done, there were many challenges. Not only did we get it done on time within planned cost, we had a lot of fun doing it.

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Exploring the parts bin

Workshop88 has been the recipient of lots of donated electronic parts. An effort of an hour a week or so over the last several months to sort through them is starting to show some results, so some random jottings on what’s back in the lab seem useful.
An awful lot of resistors are back there. If anyone needs virtually any value of 1/8th watt thru hole resistor you can probably find it, along with a pretty full set of surface mount resistors. There are also some larger wattage resistors, though they’re not as sorted out.
The thru hole or breadboard LED supply is also well stocked. Many colors and several sizes are back there.
One useful looking find last night was a half dozen PIC processors, PIC16C745. These have built in low speed USB, so they could be used in any project that needs a USB port to control or monitor something else. While not the latest part, at least they’re from this millennium.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on what’s available in the electronics bins for members. While most of what’s there is far from leading edge, for breadboarding purposes it’s ideal. One project that Jim and I have discussed is to have a simple PCB manufacture setup right in the room, so that an idea could go from concept to populated board in a couple of hours.