BinarySpace V2.0

It’s been more than two years since I sent out an email to the House4Hack mailinglist to find out if there would be any interest in a hackerspace in the Vaal Triangle. It started small enough with just a few friends playing with 3d printers and enjoying some beer. We outgrew my computer room in a few months and now two years later we have outgrown my workshop.

It’s time to expand BinarySpace and move into a new chapter: BinarySpace V2.0

We have been very fortunate to be able to run a MakerSpace the past two years with minimal costs, but unfortunately expansion means a bigger space and better tools which cost money. I’ve been thinking about a membership option for months now and discussed it with various members from BinarySpace and other local hackerspaces. The general consensus is that it is the way to go, but lots of people expressed concern that it would chase new and existing members away. Also you have a bit of the chicken and egg problem: Makers/Hackers have no problem paying for a space with nice tools and workspace, but you need the income to create the space and get the tools. This means that your initial members will be paying fees for a space with minimal tools until the cashflow is there to improve tools and space.

The one thing everybody agrees on though is getting a bigger space (the last few meetups got a bit cramped). Myself and a few members have been looking at various options to get a new space with minimal risk (ie. somebody getting stuck with a huge rent bill and nobody is contributing). Chris came to the rescue with a space double the size, not far from our current space and rent agreement that works for both parties.

So we are going ahead and creating BinarySpace V2.0 with different membership options. This is new territory for us, but I guess if we don’t try, we won’t know.

Our new space becomes available on the 1st of December and the plan is to start fixing and organizing the new space on Saturday the 6th of December. We will also be having an election for a management team on the 4th of December 2014 (essentially the last meetup at our current space).

We added a new wiki with some starting information on the new space which will hopefully grow with information as we figure it out. I’m sure not everybody will agree with everything but instead of getting negative, please talk to us. BinarySpace is a member community owned and run by it’s members. This means that if you want to change things, then make it happen :)

Lets see what happens :)

Tom (BinarySpace Co-Founder)

To infinity and beyond! aka last night’s meetup – 24/10/2014

Even though the weather was not ideal, lots of people went through heavy rain and strong winds to attend our weekly meetup last night. The main topic of the evening was our Infinity Mirror project build. Whats an infinity mirror? The Wikipedia entry describes it as

… a set of mirrors, one fully reflective mirror and one one-way mirror, set up so that the one-way or partially reflective mirror reflects an image back onto the fully reflective mirror, in a recursive manner, creating a series of smaller and smaller reflections that recede into an infinite distance

Add some led strips to it and you get some awesome portal looking effects:

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A total of 9 infinity mirrors were built last night and they looked awesome. We had blue/red or green strips available and while everybody were mostly interested in the blue leds originally (Bunch of Geeks!) they quickly conceded that the other colors looked awesome as well.

This was a relatively easy build and just about everybody had theirs finished before the end of the night (good thing too since we also emptied the keg early).

The parts of the mirror consisted of wooden rings that were cut with a cnc, a normal mirror, a 1-way mirror (sold by our glass supplier as ‘stopsil’ glass), the led strip with color of your choice and various screws and glue.

DSC_7491As usual with our projects there were no strict set of instructions and after explaining the basic idea everybody got to work on their mirrors. Some were assembled one way and others were assembled another way. Lots of discussions were had about how this effect can be used around the home (baby rooms, stepping stones, etc) and also about swopping out the fixed color led strips with some addressable RGB strips to create time keeping pieces (also known as clocks).

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Org and Kobus from House4Hack also took the long drive to the Vaal to join in the build :) You guys are always welcome!

Other projects that went on in the background was among other Bertrand working on a new raspberry pi project and Sebastian showing of his wifi controlled sumobot!

All in all it was a successful night and everybody left with a smile and an awesome display piece.

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Thanks to everybody who attended last night!

P.S – For the last few weeks we have been having some serious space issues since we’ve gotten more regular hackers/meetups. We currently have a plan in motion for more space and we’ll be sharing those details soon :)

Filament width sensor, mini quadcopter and more … (Meetup 10/17/2014)

We had another awesome meetup last night, lots of different projects going on and some more new faces.

Chris showed of his filament width sensor , we built the pcb last week in the reflow oven. He got it to work and was testing it the past week. Looks like it works great. Next step is to integrate it into a 3d printer so that it can measure and adjust the printing according to the actual diameter of the filament.

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Some of the other projects currently happening is the LED POV Globe that Albert and Gerhard designed. We cut their first prototype last night and they hope to have it spinning by the next meetup. It’s an impressive design and I can’t wait to see it in action:

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Another project that grabbed every-bodies attention was the mini-quad experiments that Romeo is busy with. He got his hands on some of the motors used in the Crazyflie Nano Quadcopter. Last night the goal was to get them spinning and lifting a basic lasercut frame.

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After some power tests it was decided to tie it down to the table… (before someone loses an eye)

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Success!! (Though not stable by any means…). Here is a video of the first lift:


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(Some more raw video footage here)

Next up is some control electronics and with a bit of luck there will be a bunch of these flying around at BinarySpace soon…

Other projects worked on included the sumobot builds, standalone arduino compatible boards etc. There was so much cool stuff going on that I never got to my own projects :p

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All in all it was a good evening. Thanks to all and see everybody next week for the Infinity Mirror build :)

T

 

Google Cardboard Event

Last night we had our Google Cardboard event, and what fun it was. Lee did the presentation and helped everybody get up and running with their Google cardboard setup (even if they used an iPhone ;))

DSC_7453There are a variety of cool apps available from flying demo’s to first person shooters. You can even watch YouTube videos in a very cinematic experience!

DSC_7447The rest of the evening was spent with everybody staring at their phones and behaving strangely…

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Thanks to everybody who joined us last night and a special thanks to Lee who organised everything. Hope you guys enjoyed it!

Till next time :)

 

 

GeeXpo – ‘Show and Tell’

We were invited to do a little bit of show and tell at the GeeXpo this weekend at the North-West University (Vaal Triangle Campus). We weren’t sure exactly what to take along so we decided to take as much as possible!

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We ended up with two tables filled with 3d printers, various robots and lots of 3d printed items.

It was deliciously geeky and colorful…

We met with a lot of great people and discussed various fun activities/projects for the future.

It was a great experience showing people how all the robots worked and explaining the whole concept of 3d printing. I guess we sometimes get immune to the wonders of 3d printing and robotics and it was a great experience to see how people react to printers printing objects and little robots running across the floor.

Young and old asked all kinds of questions and we had loads of fun explaining it to everybody

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We hope to do more show and tell’s in the future so if anybody wants us to come do a show and tell at your school, club or event then please do let us know :)

Thanks to Lee, Sebastian and Chris who came out on Saturday to help with the Show and Tell. Thanks to Sune from the NWU who invited us.

Hacking MyEskom

[written by Chris Swart]

Eskom recently introduced their new grid power status tracker; where Eskom keeps us up to date with their Green/ Yellow / Red power status, where Green indicates the grid is stable, orange shows an increase in grid congestion and red indicates the grid is saturated. At the orange level, it is recommended you switch off unneeded electrical appliances, while at the red level Eskom request you switch off any appliances that is not critical.

This new status tracking website does make it easier to stay up to date, but a stand alone display will make it much more visible, and maybe help reduce electrical consumption when a bright red display confronts you. To get the data from Eskom’s website, a BinarySpace challenge was launched on a Friday morning, with a midnight deadline. The goal was simple: Create a Python script that will return the current status, without using too many libraries. Normally this involve scraping html pages for the appropriate tags and posting back the results. But Eskom threw an oddball in using a dynamic page that does not contain any real data in the html code.

Chris managed to get the values using webkit.WebView but more as a workaround as a true solution. Lee found a way in bash, but still had to parse the JSON with an external tool, and had to rewrite the code to work in Python. Between Sebastian and Lee the script was perfected.

A red herring appeared in the form of City level status. The MyEskom website allows you to view the status of your specific area instead of the national status. This can become handy for a visual indicator, or for building hardware that automatically switches off heaters, geysers and pool pumps. Passing the city to the website is a possibility, but makes the script slightly less user friendly since area ID’s are used instead of names.

The solution: sign up on the Eskom site, set your area, and pass the username and password into the Python script.

And the resulting Crowd Sourced Code writing script is available here: http://pastebin.com/t9hGGigU

Now to implement some hardware. Tom added the script to his homeserver, sending the data to an Arduino to display the status on some Neopixels. He laser cut a perspex square and stuck the Neopixels in.

Now a display lives at Binaryspace to indicate the power saturation status.

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BinarySpace T-Shirts

Hey Guys and Galls,

We now have shirts :)

On the front is the text: “Will Hack for Beer”

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And on the back is the BinarySpace logo and url

IMG-20140724-WA0001These are the shirt sizes available.

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We will take orders until Tuesday the 29th and then place a big bulk order.  You can use the button below to place your order. Remember to send us an email with the size(s) you want to tshirt@binaryspace.co.za

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