An In Depth Interview With [Jeri Ellsworth] About Everything

Here’s an interesting interview with [Jeri Ellsworth] over at the Jenessee Network. Usually the interviews I see popup with people are fairly short and sweet but this one really delves into many subjects and takes its time to explore. They start off talking about how [Jeri] began with hacking, which was literally smashing toys “with rocks” to see what was inside. They move on to discuss her adventures in building a race car, and then racing it as a teen… as an act of defiance.

In case you didn’t know, [Jeri] has been full time at Valve for about a year. Much of the discussion focuses on this from about 20 minutes in. She doesn’t hold back on information about what her daily life is like at valve as well as her experience during the hiring process. An interesting fact is that she didn’t initially recognize the name “Valve” and ignored them for a while. She does admit that if they had mentioned portal she would have paid a little more attention.

I was unaware that she had a side job putting the overflow of pinball machines she aquires into bars. When she moved to valve, she shut down that business, but she’s been flooding the halls with pinball machines, much to the enjoyment of the older folks.

[Jeri Ellsworth] On Making Her C64 Bass Keytar

[Jeri Ellsworth] finally set aside some time to talk about the build process for her Commodore 64 bass keytar. We think what started by taking a band saw to the guitar body ended up as a fantastic new instrument.

When she was showing off the project at Maker Faire we really only got a cursory look at what it could do. Her most recent video covers all that went into pulling off the project. Once the bulk of the guitar body was gone she tore the guts out of a dead c64 in order to mate the case with the guitar neck. Always the craftsman, she altered the computer’s badge to preserve the iconic look, then went to work adding pickups to each string using piezo sensors. This was done with Maker Faire in mind because magnetic pickups would have been unreliable around all of the tesla coils one might find at the event. These were amplified and filtered before being processed via an FPGA which connects to the original c64 SID 6581 chip.

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Valve Scoops Up Bright Young Electrical Engineers

Several bright young engineers have been swiped up to work for Valve. Yes, that Valve, the game company. Amongst them are [Jeff Keyser] aka [Mighty ohm] and [Jeri Ellsworth], both names that we have seen on these pages many times. We’ve heard that Valve is a fun and very unique company to work for. Apparently there’s no solid hierarchy.

What we, and everyone else in the universe wants to know is what they are building! There were rumors and speculation of a game console that were quickly squashed. [Michael Abrash] let out some information in an interview that he was doing R&D into wearable computing. He also points out that he was not making a product.  So, let the speculation begin!

We asked [Jeri] if this meant she couldn’t publish her own hacks anymore due to contractual agreements, but she said that she can still do them and has some cool stuff coming out soon.

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A Bright Idea

[Jeri Ellsworth] had a bright idea – a brain-activated light bulb that floats above your head. While out and about, she saw some guy with a video game icon attached to metal rod sticking out of his backpack. The rod made the icon appear to be floating above his head (think The Sims), which was the inspiration for this LED powered light bulb. The bulb is connected to a metal rod, as well as a metal hoop which is springy enough to keep a pair of electrodes snugly attached to your head.

Those electrodes, along with a third probe used for noise reference, are hooked up to a AD620 instrumentation amplifier. With the help of op amps, it modulates the red or green LEDs that are attached to the back side of the light bulb. The end result is an amusing way to show brain activity while being grilled on a Q/A panel, or while just wandering around taking in all the amazing sights presented at Maker Faire.

Join us after the break for a video demonstration.

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Free Energy Is For Fools?

In her new element-14 video [Jeri Ellsworth] explains some  concepts about “free to you” energy and features the LTC3109EUF, an Auto-polarity, Ultra low Voltage Step-Up Converter and Power Manager, along with the LTC3588EMSE a Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Power Supply.

Using the LTC3109EUF she is able to power a modified Nintendo Entertainment System, and LCD using a small generator and an exercise bike. The LTC3588EMSE is wired up to piezo’s in different applications including being squashed, vibrated, and temperature difference to power low current devices.

All this and a totally 80’s theme, so poof up your hair, get your spiked dog collar, and find those neon green shades because this is a fun and informative video available on element-14.

Let Paper Dolls Teach You Science

Remember how fun it was studying chemistry and physics in high school? Well we guess your recollection depends on the person who taught the class. Why not have another go at it by learning the A-to-Z of electronics from one of our favorite teachers, [Jeri Ellsworth].

You know, the person who whips up chemistry experiments and makes her own semiconductors? The first link in this post will send you to her video playlist. So far she’s posted A is for Ampere and B is for Battery, both of which you’ll find embedded after the break. Her combination of no-nonsense technical explanation, and all-nonsense paper-doll history reenactment make for a fun viewing whether you retain any of the information or not.

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DIY OLEDs

[Jeri Ellsworth] has put together a couple of videos that cover how she made her own organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs. In the first video, after the break, it discusses the difference between regular, rigid semiconductor LEDs and organic LEDs. The video then goes on to show how to make an OLED as successive layers of materials. Indium tin oxide (ITO) on glass forms a transparent anode. That is then coated with PEDOT:PSS, a conductive polymer mix that is used as a hole transport layer. Then a red diamond ruthenium complex is added to create the emissive layer. The cathode layer is a low work function metal, initially, gallium indium eutectic alloy then later other metals were shown to work. The second video, shows how to juice a glowstick and make OLEDs with the liquid. The dye in blue glowsticks, 9,10-Diphenylanthracene, is an organic semiconductor and will emit light as an electric current is passed through it. The glow stick method seems to have some problems as the ITO coated glass plate is degraded by the glowstick chemicals. It would be interesting to see if using the porous aluminum or similar technique from [Jeri]’s flexible electroluminescent displays could be used as an electrode.

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