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May 23 2015

Singing Pumpkin Controller

pumpkins pcb smallA few years ago I made animatronic singing pumpkins using an Arduino Uno, a Wave shield, a 16-channel servo/pwm controller, and some DC-DC power converters, all from Adafruit. I designed a single PCB that unified all of that and included a 15W amplifier. Today I completed assembling that board and began its commissioning. I used solder paste and a mylar stencil cut on our laser. Its the first time I have ever soldered a TSSOP package with no shorts.

Anyway, I managed to forget to bring a microSD card, but the program loaded into the AVR OK and is running. All the various power supplies are outputting the correct voltage.  6 volts for the servos, 5 volts for the AVR, and 3.3V for the microSD card and buffer chip. The amplifer gets the raw 12 volts. So, I’m hopeful that over the next week I’ll be able to bring the board completely online.


May 21 2015

Graceless Lady: Mystery Theater Dance Workshop

TOWELDAY – Pfingstsonntag, 24.05.2015 20:00h

gargleblasterFür alle, die nicht nur beim Bahnstreik trampen:

Am 24.5. feiern wir traditionell den “Anhalter”, den Autor Douglas Adams und in den Towelday rein. Das namensgebende Handtuch gehört zur Grundausstattung an diesem Abend. Als Dresscode werden Bademäntel, Sub-Etha-Sender, Zweitköpfe und alles, was man sonst so beim pangalaktischen Reisen benötigt, empfohlen. Der Towelday ist keine Zuschauerveranstaltung. Dies ist ein literarisches Event, das vom Austausch lebt. Also lest Eure Lieblingsstellen vor, präsentiert Eure Gedichte im vogonischen Stil, erzählt Anekdoten, die Ihr als Anhalter,-in erlebt habt.

Neben dem Handtuch spielt der Pangalaktische Donnergurgler eine zentrale Rolle in der fünfbändigen Trilogie. Angelehnt an das space-meal gibt’s den


Die Wettbewerber (Combattanten) stellen Drincs aus den verschiedensten Galaxien und Dimensionen mit einer kurzen Story über Herkunft und Tradition vor.


Die Combattanten und eine aus dem Publikum gewählte Jury bwererten die drincs nach:
– Aussehen
– Geschmack
– Story
– Verwendung eines Handtuchs bei Herstellung oder Consum des Cocctails

Wie immer gibt es T-Shirts (ähhh, attraktive Sachpreise) zu gewinnen.

Bitte meldet Euch einzeln oder als team inden Kommentaren an.

Naja, und nachdem man einen mit Zitronenscheiben umhüllten Goldbarren über den Kopf überlebt hat, geht es dann fliessend in einen “Geslligen Abend(TM)” über.

(Und am Montag ist dann immer noch Pfingsten…)

Bild geklaut bei:

Reposted byriot riot

May 20 2015

Workshop med Raspberry Pi 2

2015-05-30 kl 11-15 arrangerer vi workshop / build night igjen.
Denne gangen har vi fått en del RPi 2 som vi kan leke oss med.
Målet er at vi leverer minst 2 Instructables som resultat av dette, og de 2 beste vinner hver sin RPi!


Hiv dere over mailinglisten og kom med forslag til RPi relaterte prosjekter vi burde hacke i hop og som kunne bli fine Instructables..

May 18 2015

The Turndrawble

The Turndrawble

The Turndrawble is a drawing machine I designed, based loosely on an old vinyl turntable, but instead of playing records, it creates drawings.

The construction was done using stacked layers of wood and acrylic. I wanted to avoid using the typical laser-cut “box” enclosure I usually use. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

The Turndrawble

The Turndrawble is meant to be used to create 12″ circular drawings. One of the knobs controls the platter speed, and the other sweeps the arm in and out. Since it’s a new drawing device, it hasn’t been mastered yet, but we’re working on it!

Here’s a short video showing the turndrawble being operated. I’ll probably have it at some future art events for people to try out and see what they can create with it.

There’s a bunch more info about this thing on the Turndrawble project page on my web site.

Sunday Morning Project – A 3D Printed WebCam Mount for a Telescope

I recently acquired a new eyepiece to replace the damaged one that came with the Meade ETX-90 telescope I bought at a swap meet last year.  I decided it needed to have a web-cam mount so I designed and printed one that is a variation of a previous design for a microscope.  It took about 20 minutes to recreate the CAD file in DesignSpark Mechanical, and about 90 minutes to print on Son of MegaMax.

This thing has an odd shape to accommodate the odd shape of the camera.  I designed the adapter in two pieces so it could be printed without any support material.  After printing the two pieces were glued together with a little super glue.

Unassembled 3D printed WebCam adapter and eyepiece.

Unassembled 3D printed WebCam adapter and eyepiece.


Assembled adapter on the eyepiece.

Assembled adapter on the eyepiece.


Telescope with WebCam mounted.

The adapter fits over the barrel of the 32mm fl eyepiece and stays put.


I shot a short video to test it and it works perfectly!  The cars driving by are about 1/2 mile away.


If we ever get a clear night I’ll try shooting Jupiter or Saturn and then run Registax to enhance the images.

Files are here:

May 15 2015

Battery Derating and Chemistry Comparison

This weekend, Dave K was asking me some questions about the performance of our sweet LiFePO4 battery packs for the power wheels cars. At the time I was only able to answer his questions in generalizations, so I decided to sit down and show exactly how our lithium compares to more conventional lead-acid.

We’re running a custom 32-volt pack, but we can calculate with a more convenient size and all the observations will be proportional. Conveniently, our new teal cells are designed to create a nearly drop-in replacement for an existing form factor of gel cell. This makes direct comparisons really easy. Both options are 20 Amp-hours and both have nominal 12v output, with true output being a volt or two above that. So, straight off the bat, you’ve got the same form factor and voltage, with one option weighing 14 lbs and the other option weighing 6.6 lbs. More than double the energy density.

However, there’s quite a bit more to it than that. The two battery types are rated differently and have very different internal resistance. The lead battery gets its rating at a 20-hour rate, and the lithium is designed around a 30-minute discharge. When you use either battery outside of its intended performance envelope, you wind up with something other than the nameplate rating. There’s a formula to estimate this effect, called Peukert’s Law.

Peukert’s Law uses the following equation:

Where “It” is the effective capacity of the battery, “C” is the rated capacity, “I” is the discharge current, “H” is the rated discharge time in hours, and “k” is a constant for each different battery chemistry. For lithium, k is approximately 1.01, and for gel cells it’s around 1.15.

Do the math, and you wind up with a chart like this:


Bearing in mind we race with a 40 A fuse and occasionally burn one up, the benefit of lithium batteries in this application is pretty significant. We’re still getting more or less 20 Ah out of our packs, while the equivalent lead-acid would be derated to around 11 Ah. Suddenly we have 3.7 times the capacity per pound!

Beyond all this, there’s one other effect to bear in mind – voltage sag. When you load a battery heavily, some of the power is lost to internal resistance and you wind up with a lower output voltage than nominal. I don’t have the information to calculate this, but the effect is a lot more dramatic for lead than it is for lithium. We know from KITT that even during heavy use, we maintain close to 32 volts out of our pack until it’s almost completely flat. The “equivalent” gel-cell pack would produce at least a couple volts less in use, which means less total power is delivered to the motors.

In the end, our lithium batteries are giving us more than four times the total power of an equivalent weight in lead-acid. It’s also a lot easier to charge and maintain three battery packs than the dozen or so we would need to race two cars on gel cells. Surprisingly, even total purchase cost doesn’t look all that bad: Our total cost for the two packs on Project STEVE, including shipping, is $655. By comparison, 12 of those gel cells costs $454 and they’re so heavy that particular supplier won’t even ship them (but figure at least $100 in shipping from anyone who will). The only real disadvantage is that we’re carrying a larger portion of our $500 on-track budget in batteries and have less left for the rest of the car.

I think it’s worth it.

May 14 2015

CryptoParty – Thursday 11th June @ 7pm

CryptoParty Logo

TOG is very pleased to announce that we will be holding the 4th Dublin CryptoParty. Doors will be open from 7pm on Thursday the 11th June 2015, and we will stay open as long as people are happy to stay ( within reason ).

CryptoParty attendees request you to respect their privacy and refrain from taking pictures or video unless participants express otherwise. Ask before snapping.

The idea of a CryptoParty is to make everyone more aware of their own on-line privacy and security in this vast inter-connected world that we live in.

We haven’t had one in a while, so we will discuss basics to bring everyone up to speed. Topics can include any of the following:

  • Tor
  • Tails
  • PGP/GnuPG
  • Text Secure / Signal
  • OTR

CryptoParty have a mailing list if you are so inclined. Its an open event, so no need to sign up.

See you on the 11th

TOG Open Social this Saturday

party_bgOnce again its TOG open social time…..this Saturday, 16th May. The open social is a great way to see the space, hang out, and meet other members & visitors. If you’ve never been to the social, you’ll find it a great alternative Saturday evening in town. If you have some project or idea in mind, its a great opportunity to talk to other makers, hackers and do’ers. Or you can simply just hang out and chat :-)

Hopefully, there’ll be all the usual madness of an open social. Weather permitting, there’ll be pizza. There may also be beer samples, courtesy of Capital Brewers at TOG. You might even get to pick some locks if our friendly lock pickers will show you some tricks. The space stays open until the last member is left…. usually the small hours of Sunday morning. The open social is free to attend. Our doors will be open from 7pm.

May 13 2015

Wireless Hacking Workshop – Saturday 27th June 2015 @ 12:30pm

IT SecurityOn Saturday 27th June at 12:30pm our very own jester`, Martin Mitchell or @jayester depending on the circles you run in, will be teaching a Wireless Hacking Workshop.

Wireless networks are everywhere. They have been available to many of us for well over 10 years, and it is something most of us rely on daily. Majority of us have a wireless network in our house, and connect to it regularly with our laptop, phone, games console, media player and now even televisions.

In this practical, hands on workshop I will be stepping you through the different wireless network security modes of 802.11 (WiFi), and demonstrating practical attacks against them. This workshop is not intended to teach you to perform malicious tasks on wireless networks, but it is to show you how easy it is, and how dangerous someone can be knowing even the most basic a few commands. This knowledge can also be used to audit wireless networks. This workshop will to make you more aware of the dangers of using a wireless networks with bad or no security enabled.

For this workshop you will need:

  • A laptop that can run a Virtual Machine, or boot into Kali Linux (
  • A linux install/Virtual Machine with aircrack-ng tools installed or a running Kali Linux installed on Laptop, installed in a Virtual Machine or or USB/DVD boot
  • A wireless card that can perform injection. Known external USB wireless dongles that support injection are the following : TP-Link WN722N (sold on booking form), Alfa AWUS036NHA, Alfa AWUS036H (not manufactured any more)

For the advanced user, there is an option to use a tablet that is supported and installed with a version of Kali Linux known as NetHunter ( While I have used this before, it is entirely up to you to get it installed and working. It takes a lot of time to get this set up, and I will not have time to troubleshoot on the day. I will of course discuss this device on the day. This will still require a USB wireless cause that will support injection, and an OTG adapter. Not recommended for a beginner.

If you prefer not to take part in the practical side, and just want to take notes for your own future practice, no problem, and you certainly will not be the first. You can shoulder surf someone who is taking part. I will be performing all attacks on the projector.

During this course the format is, I will present information on a certain type of attack, demo it, then you will give it a go yourself on the number of wireless networks set up around the building for your attacking pleasure.  Please only attack the wireless networks set up for the course. It will be obvious by the network name. The attacks you will perform during the class, will work out in the real world. I’m trusting you to not attack a wireless network you do not own. So whether this course is to improve  your security auditing ability, satisfy the curious thirst of knowledge or just  want to finally get it working after your own failed attempts, this course if for you.

  • Security technologies and dangers discussed during the course are:
  • Open networks
  • WEP
  • WPA/WPA2
  • WPS
  • WPA Enterprise (RADIUS)

I will also discuss and demo attacks what can be performed on roaming devices, typically laptops and smart devices, and discuss ways of protecting yourself against these types of attacks. Fees


Have any questions? Please ask them below


Full Spectrum Laser Pegasus Touch Training Class!

There will be a class for Full Spectrum Laser Pegasus Touch resin 3D printer machine operation real soon now! This class will teach users the basics of machine operation, including: Slicing a model Starting up the machine Checking resin level Printing Finishing a print Shutting down the machine Troubleshooting and error recovery

May 12 2015

Project: Skull Radio Box


This blog post is written by our member Jeffrey Roe about his Skull Radio Box Project.

The Skull Radio Box came out of the frustration demonstrating the bone conduction kits at the Big Day Out. The kits are great for workshops but in a show and tell type of stand they just are not user friendly. They need an audio source hooked into them and just not appealing to members of the public to bite on a metal rod with lots of wires hanging out of it.




I first found out about bone conduction from David McKeown at Artek Circle (Photographed right) and tried it out with a spoon in my mouth.  Months later, I then worked with Sinead Mc Donald to create the Guzman Box. Internally, it used a Kitronik amplifier kit to create the bone conduction effect. During its stay in the Lexicon Library for Soundings, the TBA820M IC burned out twice. The main cause was due to heat. The IC had no heatsync and would burn if left on for too long.  Jump forward a few months, I used bone conduction again during Spectral Forms a week long residence in the Science Gallery. We looked for a fun way to play back the audio of people’s brain waves, that we were capturing with an EEG unit. We again faced problems with the kits being too quiet for the loud gallery setting. Finally, we used them as a demo at the Big Day Out, people loved the demo but not the look of the device. All these led to creating a stand alone, demo dubbed the Skull Radio Box.


The Build

IMG_20150404_191128.jpgIMG-20150405-WA0008.jpegThe case was the first part of the project.  I started out with Maker case website to create the general box. I then moved into Inkscape to do all the other parts of the design. After a few prototypes in cardboard, I was ready to cut out the final box in  5mm plywood. As the project came out of the laser cutter it looked perfect but when putting together the box with the finger joints, it was clear it did not fit together. Two hours later, using a file,  sand paper and just a little hot glue, the box was all together.

I started pricing Arduino MP3 / Sound Shields, but that plus the cost of an Arduino would drive the price up too high. I had a leftover Intel Galileo lying around from the Galileo Girls event last year and decided to use it. I knew it ran a Linux OS, so I decided to look into how to produce sound out of it. I found an example project that made use of a cheap USB sound card. Coding with the Galileo was not without its problems, I previously had terrible trouble using a Galileo at hackathon and after bricking two of them, I had little hope ever using it again. After back and forth emails with a few Intel engineers and the promise that all was fixed in version 1.6.0 of the IDE, I tried it again. I have to say it worked a dream. Coding in Arduino and then being able to call a bash script that runs on the board made the project coding wise a breeze.

IMG_20150419_193952.jpgIMG_20150419_193133.jpgA fellow TOG member gave me a little amp board they had lying around. This was a huge jump in power compared to my previous amp. After installing the amp into the box it became clear that it ran a little hot. Just in the open air it was hitting 75 degrees. Having this in an enclosed dry wooden box with no ventilation looked like a bad idea. A drill and a spade-bit later I cut a hole for a fan in the bottom of the case.  Even with this in place I felt the box was still warm when is use. After a suggestion of an air flow wall (made out of cardboard) and thermal shielding (Aluminium Foil) were installed, the temperature did drop.


IMG_20150422_211525.jpgLog all the things. As there was a full OS / SD card on the board. I decided to add a temperature sensor. This had a dual purpose, one to see how hot the inside of the box got and two to turn on / off the fan if it got too hot. I simply made a call to the OS in bash and just echo’ed the value I wanted to save and time stamp.  To ensure I was not starting at epoch time each boot, I added in a little coin cell battery to keep the RTC running when the mains was removed.



The project, was finished to a point to show it off at Maker Faire UK. After seeing it used at the event I would make a number of changes. I would add an additional output. The box was very popular with groups of friends trying it together. The amp has a free channel and would not take much to have the same sound playing out of it. I would change the way I was logging to the SD card. Every button press is too many writes to the SD card. It will end up killing it. A big poster with instructions, would make it easier for people to read. A stop button would be helpful. Currently the tracks play until their end, unless you hit a special button combination.


For more photos of the build check out this gallery, or to see it in use have a look at our Maker Faire UK gallery.

Partial Parts List

QWERTY (and nothing else)

QWERTY Keyboard

I built a QWERTY keyboard that types the letters Q, W, E, R, T and Y, and nothing else. No space, no return, no escape.

It’s a fully-functional USB device, you know, as long as you just want to type words that can be composed with Q, W, E, R, T and Y. (WET, WRY, YET, TRY, there’s a bunch of them!)

I wrote plenty more about this project on my blog, and if you want to read about the history of the QWERTY layout, and its connection to Milwaukee, and why the way we interact with technology is interesting and sometime ridiculous, well… I got that too.

i3 Awarded Grant

In April, awarded a grant to a team of i3 members who are developing a bicycle-based Flywheel Energy Storage System, which will help bicyclists save energy as they come to a stop and give a boost when they need to get going. The grant will support the team by covering 40% of the cost […]

May 11 2015

NERP Tonite!

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago.

Tonight the NERP agaenda is free-form. Hang out, talk embedded, show-and-tell, it’s all possible!

In April Steve Laya from Eliete Electronic Engineering visited NERP to acquaint us with the process of getting FCC certification for a new product. I’m not sure how he did it, but he made the subject entertaining if not a little bit fun. Steve was kind enough to send his slides so that we could make them available. The pdf is here. Elite-FCC-Presentation-NERP-4-13-2015

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at NERP-Not-Exclusively-Raspberry-Pi/
Doors open at 6:30pm.
NERP is free and open to the public.
Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com
Tags: electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source,
raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One


Evening Talk: Secure Yourself Online – Thursday 21st May 2015 @ 7pm

insecure_passwordOn Thursday 21st at 7pm our very own jester`, Martin Mitchell or @jayester depending on the circles you run in, will be speaking about some best practices of securing yourself on-line :

Whether you are a creator or user of on-line content, knowing how to secure yourself on-line is important. In a world that is becoming more and more digital, we are ever growing our digital footprint. During the talk we will go through a top 10 best security practices, and maybe a few more too boot. It will relevant to you whether your on a laptop, or smart device, getting on-line for work or personal. You only need to be compromised once for an nefarious individual to make for life awkward. Their intention may be for fun or profit, but I will give you the information to protect yourself on-line.

I shall cover a lot but it will touch on passwords, email, encryption, tracking and wireless just to name a few. Aimed at everyone from general viewers of cat videos, those of you that have compromised, to those that would like to become a little bit more paranoid on-line.

Please use the sign up form below. This is do I can track how many to expect on the night. Information submitted though the form will only be used for tracking attendance and a reminder email will be sent a few days before the event.

See you on the 21st.


May 10 2015

The Hackable Badge Contest

Is it a badge hack?  Is it a cypto challenge?  Is it a scavenger hunt? Why yes, yes it is! The hackable badge contest is making its initial appearance at the HackMiami conference this year.  The objective of the contest is to involve all who know about or want to learn about Near Field Communications […]

Power Wheels Racing Progress

Progress on the new Power Wheels racing car (Code Name STEVE) continues at a good pace! We’ve completed our innovative wood torsion box frame and are starting to lay out the other components for mounting. Here’s the recap:

The overall dimensions of the cart are 4′ in length (to make good use of our raw material) by 29″ in width (to drive through the narrowest doorway in the shop). Once we’d cut the torsion box skins to this size, we set them on the bench and started laying out the wheels and controls. Here’s James working on the seating position and handlebar layout:


Next, we started working on the internal bracing grid, using construction grade 2×4 boards ripped in half. We did this instead of just buying 2x2s because the larger boards tend to be straighter, higher-quality wood. After cutting the grid boards to length, we cut half-lap joints in them so they could cross while maintaining at least a portion of the grain all the way across the chassis.




Once everything is glued up, you can start to see the merit of this design – it’s very stiff, but incredibly lightweight. I don’t have any measurements of a steel frame to compare to, but at 21 lbs this will be hard to beat. And with the frame propped up on rollers at the axle locations and Eric sitting in the driver’s seat, there was no visible deflection.



Finally, our new batteries are in. These are BatterySpace LiFePo4 20 Ah cells, approved for us by the PRS Sanctioning Body. Right out of the box, we divided the cells into two packs and set about bottom-balancing each. Basically, we wired the cells up in parallel and did a deep discharge to 2.6 volts, putting every cell at the same minimum state of charge. Then, once they’re wired back in series we charge until the first cell hits a maximum safe voltage, setting the capacity of the pack equal to the weakest single cell. This way, we can charge and discharge without needing complicated balancing or monitoring. The minimum pack voltage is 2.6 volts per cell, and in practice we’ll set our cutoff at 28 volts or more for a 10-cell pack. The maximum voltage is whatever the pack happens to be at when one cell peaks, but we’ll generally charge to around 34 volts. As it turns out, all our cells finish charging in balance to at least 10 mV, the resolution of our multimeter. Build a sturdy box to contain and protect the cells, and we’re ready to race!



Next up, we’ll be working on the axles and steering, and then we can get to mounting motors and electronics. Stop by and give us a hand!

Reposted bysydnorphin3d

May 07 2015

Important Safety Update: Tog is now ducksaster-ready

While politicians and the media remain silent about the impending duck-driven disasters coming our way, Tog has taken the proactive step of installing a Mutually Quacksured Duckstruction doomsday device for when the flocks finally rise up against us.



This is the most advanced system yet to come from Tog’s secretive Defence Using Counterfowl Knowledge Streams [D.U.C.K.S] Lab.

Several Tog members quit their jobs to develop this vital defence against The Flappy Menace, many going bankrupt in the process.

When terrifying scenes like the one below come visiting your town, who you gonna call?!


May 06 2015

Chicago Northside Mini Makerfaire 2015

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s Northside Mini Makerfaire a success! Our awesome volunteers helped everyone from little kids to adults build 100 noisemaker kits. Thanks also to the donors who helped pay for the kits. Yay awesomeness!

Vinyl cut signage:
15 - 1

Dalek checking out the crappy robot contest:


Noisemakers and volunteers:



Ray’s chairs and tables:

Crappy robots:

If you’d like to see more photos, please check out Drew Fustini’s G+ link on the mailing list. Also of note is that we are going to the Detroit Makerfaire, July 25-26th. Announcements will come soon, but email if you are interested in volunteering for the Detroit Makerfaire.

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