Fail of the Week: Blown Light Bulb Controllers

fotw-nyc-resistor-chandelier-driver

We’ve been meaning to get around to this one for many weeks now. It’s been hard to find good fail write-ups… it’s as if hackers are afraid to admit that sometimes projects fail. We hope you’ll shake off that opinion as failure is the fastest path for learning and true understanding!

[xymax] was working on a control system for a chandelier with 150 bulbs which use 5 Watts each. This project was being readied for the NYC Resistor Interactive Party which [Adam Fabio] attended last month. As deadline for the show approached, the last piece was put in place late into the night… but it was connected backwards. In a tale worthy of a slapstick movie, the reverse polarity caused a chip on all seven controller boards for this module to blow like the one seen above. But that’s not all, the laptop being used during prototyping was connected by USB and started smoking!

All of us feel the pain of this type of equipment failure. Luckily [xymax] looked for lessons to learn instead of dwelling on the mistake itself. Use protection diodes, keyed connectors, and write about your failures. Hopefully reading this will help others avoid a similar equipment-destroying mistake.


2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Thursday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story — or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

NYC Resistor Heats up the Big Apple with The 2014 Interactive Show

 

TitleNYCRBehind a nondescript loading dock in Brooklyn stands a normal looking brick building. Go up 3 narrow flights of stairs – you’ll find yourself at the door to the awesome known as NYC Resistor. Last Saturday, NYC Resistor held their 5th Interactive Show, and Hackaday was there! Much like the city it calls home, the Interactive Show is a melting pot. This particular pot is filled with NYC Resistor members (and the public) showing off their projects, NYU’s Tish School ITP students displaying their interactive art, and a good heaping portion of old fashioned hacker partying.

[Read more...]

World Maker Faire 2013 Roundup

They built a shed using only this tool

Handibot

One of the more interesting structures at WMF was a garden shed made entirely out of plywood cut with the Handibot. It’s a handheld luggable CNC router that allows you to place the machine over a work piece, punch some settings into the software, and cut mortises, CNC engravings, and just about any other shape you can imagine.

The Handibot recently finished a very successful Kickstarter, and from the looks of it they have a really great tool on their hands. They managed to carve a few Hackaday logos in the floor of their shed, but we forgot to film that. It was a busy day.

Future Crew and a 1930s teletype Model 15 Teletype

Scope

Being from the area, NYC Resistor, the Brooklyn-based hackerspace just had to make a showing. Some of the smaller project they brought with them is Space Rocks, an Asteroids clone played on an old, slowly dying oscilloscope. They also had a Minitel terminal made for the US market, which was just weird.

Their big, impressive project for the Maker Faire was Future Crew a Starship/TARDIS bridge simulation game that pits five players against a common enemy: time itself.

Each station has a certain task, such as advancing the timeline on an old video edit console, playing a short ditty on a toy electronic piano, and reading what a Model 15 Teletype was printing out. All these stations are connected to a Raspberry Pi, and the game looks really fun, provided all the players know what’s going on.

Now we know what Make does with their networking hardware

For anyone who visited Maker Faire, you may have noticed your iDevice’s current location was in San Mateo, CA. I noticed this when my MacBook’s time was set for Pacific time, and a few other people who were there early on Saturday told me their iPhones were doing the same thing.

Apparently, shipping a bunch of WiFi routers across the country (along with a bunch of PA gear and other ephemera) is cheaper than buying two sets and warehousing them. This was mildly interesting and we’re now accepting proposals to figure out how quickly Apple/Google/Whatever’s database can be updated with the correct information. Deadline for applications is before the next SFO Maker Faire.

Phone Trucks Around the World

2600

Like most years, 2600 made a showing with their reclaimed Bell service van, ‘Free Kevin’ bumper sticker included. They had a ton of swag including a few old HOPE badges, current and back issues, t-shirts, Department of Hopeland Security passports and stickers.

The 2600 van did give us a few ideas should Hackaday ever need a booth for Maker Faires and other shows. Anyone up for building a heart-shaped bed?

Octoscroller takes the Hexascroller to the next level

octosc2

The folks at NYCResistor have a new toy in the Octoscroller. For a couple of years now the NYCResistor crew has used the HexaScroller as a clock and general alert system. Now that RGB LED panels are cheaply available, the group decided to upgrade both the number of sides and the number of colors.

Octoscroller uses eight 16×32 RGB LED panels. These panels are relatively easy to interface to, but require constant refresh even to display a static image. This makes them both memory and CPU intensive for smaller microcontrollers. Brightness control via PWM only increases the difficulty.

On the plus side, the panels are structurally strong. This allows the Octoscroller to avoid the plywood ring which made up the frame of the Hexascroller. 3D printed brackets and hardware were all that was needed to complete the Octoscroller frame.

The brain of the this beast is a BeagleBone Black running LEDscape along with some custom software. Imagery comes from the Disorient Pyramid.

If you’re in the New York area, NYCResistor plans to offer classes on building your own Octoscroller.  You can also see the Octoscroller in person at MakerFaire NYC this weekend.

Your Hackerspace needs a biology lab; here’s the inspiration

biology-hackerspace

When you think of Hackerspaces what pops to mind? For us it’s electronics first, then machining related stuff (3D printing, CNC milling), followed by welding, woodworking, auto mechanical, we could go on and on. But biology hacking doesn’t really make that list. The New York based Genspace is a strong case on why we should add a biology lab as a viable hackerspace option.

What are Hackerspaces other than a collection of tools and skilled members that helps to bring the mad scientists of the world out of their basements and into the light? Pretty much every Hackerspace teaches classes that are open to the public. This is basically a requirement of being a non-profit, but is also driven by the virtue of making knowledge open and available. Offering biology themed classes is an incredible tie-in for helping to see our young learners through to a career in the sciences.

Vice-President and Co-Founder [Daniel Grushkin] was inspired by college students who hack organisms for a one semester long project. He wanted to try his hand at it, but needed help with the resources. He gathered a few others who were interested and, with encouragement from NYC Resistor, they got Genspace up and running in Brooklyn. The organization holds safety as a top priority. Each new member learns about the Biosafety Level 1 guidelines used by the space. For less involved experiments they even use tools of their own making, like a glovebox similar to this one.

 

The beginnings of a geeky wristwatch

the-beginnings-of-a-geeky-wristwatch

Wow, we’re seeing all kinds of good stuff from NYC Resistor today. [Caleb] found this link to [Hudson's] early work on a geeky wristwatch. It is based around an HDSP-2112 eight-digit alpha-numeric display. Each digit is a 5×7 array of LEDs, but the look of it really reminds us of [Woz's] Nixie Wristwatch. The nice thing about using a display like this one is it’s much easier to drive and the power requirements don’t really call for special consideration either.

The display happens to be nearly the same footprint as the Teensy 2.0. In fact, the display is a bit longer. That makes it a perfect backpack, bringing everything necessary to drive the display. Check out the video after the break to see it scrolling the time as words, and displaying numbers.

This needs to have an RTC and portable power source before you can wear it around. But the proof is there. Perhaps [Hudson] will spin his own board with a uC that includes RTC capability and a charging circuit for a tiny Lithium cell.

[Read more...]

NYC Resistor Takes on the Machine

Here we are with Episodes two and three (aka, NYC Resistor part one and two) completing the Take on the Machine Hackerspace challenge we mentioned a while back. For the challenge NYC Resistor took an old style slot machine and converted it into a drink mixing deviant; even making the device post a Tweet for every drink. However, it seems to be lacking refrigeration of some kind, could this be the downfall of a potential winner for the challenge? Up next is the Hackerspace Pumping Station: One: do you think they can compete? Is there a particular Hackerspace you can’t wait to see? Let us know!

[Thanks Deven]

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