Next Weekend: Beginner Solar Workshop

Next week, Hackaday is hosting a workshop for all you hackers ready to harness the power of the sun. We’re doing a Beginner Solar Workshop at Noisebridge in San Francisco. You’re invited to join us on July 7th, we’ll provide the soldering irons.

The instructor for this workshop will be [Matt Arcidy], avid Hackaday reader and member of Noisebridge. He’s contributed to the incredible Noisebridge Gaming Archivists Live Arcade Cabinet, given talks on electronic components for the Arduino ecosystem, and now he’s hosting a workshop on the basics of solar charging.

This workshop will cover the theory of solar charging, how solar cells convert light into electricity, when and where this technology is appropriate, and the safe handling of lithium-ion batteries. At the end of the workshop, every attendee will have built a system that captures power from the sun and charges a battery, ready to be used in any future projects.

This is a big deal. Right now, the Hackaday Prize is in the middle of its third challenge, the Power Harvesting Module Challenge. This is a big part of the prize, and already there are some fascinating projects which harvest electricity from stomach acid, and even the gravitational potential of the Earth. Of course, some of those are more practical than others, and we’re really interested to see where this Power Harvesting Challenge goes and what great projects will be created.

Hackaday Links: Not A Creature Was Stirring, Except For A Trackball

Hey, did you know Hackaday is starting an Open Access, peer-reviewed journal? The Hackaday Journal of What You Don’t Know (HJWYDK) is looking for submissions detailing the tools, techniques, and skills that we don’t know, but should. Want to teach everyone how to make sand think? Write a paper and tell us about it! Send in your submissions here.

Have you noticed OSH Park updated their website?

The MSP430 line of microcontrollers are super cool, low power, and cheap. Occasionally, TI pumps out a few MSP430 dev boards and sells them for the rock-bottom price of $4.30. Here ya go, fam. This one is loaded up with the MSP430FR2433.

lol, Bitcoin this week.

Noisebridge, the San Francisco hackerspace and one of the first hackerspaces in the US, is now looking for a new place. Why, you may ask? Because San Francisco real estate. The current price per square foot is triple what their current lease provides. While we hope Noisebridge will find a new home, we’re really looking forward to the hipster restaurant that’s only open for brunch that will take its place.

The coolest soundcards, filled with DOS blips and bloops, were based on the OPL2 and OPL3 sound chips. If you want one of these things, you’re probably going to be digging up an old ISA SoundBlaster soundcard. The OPL2LPT is the classic sound card for computers that don’t have an easily-accessible ISA bus, like those cool vintage laptops. The 8-Bit Guy recently took a look at this at this neat piece of hardware, and apart from requiring a driver to work with any OPL2-compatible game, this thing actually works.

NVIDIA just did something amazing. They created a piece of hardware that everyone wants but isn’t used to turn electricity into heat and Bitcoin. This fantastic device, that is completely original and not at all derivative, is sold in the NVIDIA company store for under five dollars. Actually, the green logo silk/art on this PCB ruler is kinda cool, and I’d like to know how they did that. Also, and completely unrelated: does anyone want ten pounds of Digikey PCB rulers?

Hackers and Heroes: Rise of the CCC and Hackerspaces

From its roots in phone phreaking to the crackdowns and legal precedents that drove hacking mostly underground (or into business), hacker culture in the United States has seen a lot over the last three decades. Perhaps the biggest standout is the L0pht, a visible 1990s US hackerspace that engaged in open disclosure and was, arguably, the last of the publicly influential US hacker groups.

The details of the American hacker scene were well covered in my article yesterday. It ended on a bit of a down note. The L0pht is long gone, and no other groups that I know of have matched their mix of social responsibility and public visibility. This is a shame because a lot of hacker-relevant issues are getting decided in the USA right now, and largely without our input.

Chaos Computer Club

But let’s turn away from the USA and catch up with Germany. In the early 1980s, in Germany as in America, there were many local computer clubs that were not much more than a monthly evening in a cafeteria or a science museum or (as was the case with the CCC) a newspaper office. Early computer enthusiasts traded know-how, and software, for free. At least in America, nothing was more formally arranged than was necessary to secure a meeting space: we all knew when to show up, so what more needed to be done?

Things are a little different in the German soul. Peer inside and you’ll find the “Vereinsmentalität” — a “club-mentality”. Most any hobby or sport that you can do in Germany has an associated club that you can join. Winter biathlon, bee-keeping, watercolor painting, or hacking: when Germans do fun stuff, they like to get organized and do fun stuff together.

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Toorcamp: MC Hawking Robotic Wheelchair

This is the MC Hawking robot built by the Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco. It’s a robotic electric wheelchair outfitted with a PC, an XBox Kinect, and an Arduino. On the software side, it uses Ubuntu and the open source ROS platform. A few folks from Noisebridge were hacking away on the robot at Toorcamp to add a robotic arm and other upgrades.

One goal of the project was to build a hardware platform that lets software hackers work on autonomous applications without having to delve in to the complexities of the hardware. Since an autonomous wheelchair could get dangerous, it clearly boasts that it does not behave by Asimov’s three laws.

An example of an autonomous application for the MC Hawking is a facial tracking. This uses the Kinect’s sensors to follow people around. The platform is now being used to develop the DORA Opensource Robot Assistant project, which hopes to use the robotic arm to grab a soda from the fridge 51 days from now.

[Jake] from Noisebridge pointed out that they are seeking people who are interested in working on the software side of the project. If you are in the Bay Area and haven’t visited Noisebridge, you need to. Check their website for lots of information on the group.

Check out a video of MC Hawking partying at Toorcamp after the break.

Continue reading “Toorcamp: MC Hawking Robotic Wheelchair”

Mitch Altman hosts a tour of Noisebridge

[Mitch Altman] just popped up once again (seriously, this guy is everywhere!) in a video tour of Noisebridge, and hackerspace he co-founded in San Fransisco. The space is 5200 square feet and they’ve managed to cram a lot of different uses into it.  There’s areas for computers and electronics, crafting and sewing, a dark room , a machine shop, a full kitchen, as well as classrooms and other gathering places.

He talks about what a hackerspace is and what goes on in San Fran before going off on a little tour of the hackerspace movement. His recollection pins the Chaos Communications Camp as the impetus behind an initial push for these community spaces popping up in the US. It’s a fun five-minutes to watch so check it out.

[via Boing Boing]