Ham,Pi and a 3d printed Lawnmower… (Meetups February 2015)

I’m long overdue on a meetup update so here is a nice big post with things you might have missed the past month at BinarySpace:

Gary Immelman came to the space to give as an introduction into Amateur Ham Radio. It doesn’t take long to see that Gary is a very successful and passionate Ham Radio operator. He told us some very cool stories of his electronic and radio adventures. The people he has communicated with (even the Astronaut that came to dinner after a chat they had over the airwaves).

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Amateur Radio covers so many aspects and there is lots of toys to play and experiment with.DSC_5088 (Large)

 

It was a very interesting talk and inspired a few of the members (including myself and Michael) to start studying for the Amateur radio license exams happening in May.

We had a 3d printer themed evening with local ‘large scale’ 3d printing guru Hans Fouche as a guest. He brought along lots of 3d printed goodies including printed shoes, a vacuum cleaner and a 3d printed lawn mower.

Hans shared a few of his successes and failures (not a lot really) in his 3d printing adventures. If you haven’t heard or seen the 3d printed lawn mower in action then surely your living underneath a rock. It’s all over the interwebs!
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Also  check out the 3d printer that Hans built, it’s called the Cheetah, it’s fast, large and it’s awesome!
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I’ve also showed off my scaled up 3d printed 3d racers.

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Between all the meetups and hacking we have also been hard at work at improving the space. It recently got painted, were adding more work space, shelves for various hacks, projects and our beer glass collection. A new keg system is up and running. It’s still a work in progress but it’s getting better and better every week. Thanks to everyone who helped out and all the donations we have received.DSC_5190 (Large) DSC_5191 (Large) DSC_5197 (Large)

 

Between all of this we still found time to check out the new Raspberry PI 2, work on our HAB project and build some Arduino game goodness:DSC_5173 DSC_5201 (Large) DSC_5196 (Large)

 

We also have a few new regular members. Welcome and we hope you have fun!

Lots of other projects also happening, but sometimes I’m just having so much fun that I forget to take pictures, so sorry if I missed something. But then again, if you attend the meetups you won’t miss anything ;) Also, check out the project page for all current and future projects.

Until next time :)

T

 

The wireless is the same, only without the cat (Meetup 2014/01/22)

 

The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand. The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles. The wireless is the same, only without the cat

Last night we had our “Internet of Things” project night. Internet of Things has been a pretty huge buzzword the past year and there are various projects around the internet and crowd funding campaigns. This is our take on an “Internet of Things” project.DSC_5059 (Medium)

 

The project basically consists of a very low power sensor that can take various sensors and then report the value of that sensor to a base station. Most IoT modules talk directly to wifi/gsm but while it does work easily and is standalone, the problem is that most of these aren’t really low power. I mean who wants to change/charge the battery every week.

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Our solution is to create a low power sensor node that reports back to a base station. The base station can then migrate the information onto the internet. The advantage of this way is that the rf module we are using uses less power than for example a wifi module. Currently the first sensor node that was built has been running for the past 5 months and it’s still going strong measure temperature at regular intervals.

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For the micro controller of the sensor node we used an msp430. Why not an arduino? While the arduino is very easy to use and has a lot of great support on the internet, it does not make for the best low power option.

So how does the msp430 compare to the arduino in terms of programming? Well, actually almost as easy thanks to Energia. The Energia project is essentially an attempt to bring the Wiring and Arduino framework to the Texas Instruments MSP430 based LaunchPad. This means that most of your arduino sketches can be compiled directly for the msp430 without too much (if any change).

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The other big difference is that the msp430 does not have a easy to use bootloader like the arduino so you do need some extra hardware to program it. Fortunately it comes in the form of a cheap development board called the Launchpad. It looks pretty much like a red arduino, except that it has the msp430 chip on with a programmer section. The programmer section can be used to program other boards with the msp430. Since we needed a launchpad to program the sensor node, it also made sense to use it as a simple base station connected to a pc.

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So last night everybody basically built a sensor node, connected another wireless module on the base station (aka, launchpad dev kit) and had information sending between them :)

Add a 3d printed battery holder into the mix and your have neat little sensor node ready for more sensors

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For more detailed information on the project, have a look at the project page.

We still have lots of plans to build on this project, including interfacing various sensors to it.

Thanks to everybody who attended our project night last night, including Philip and Michael that came from far far away ;)

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In other news, we now have a new keg system at the new space. The beer was sorely missed at our last two meetups.

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We had the guys from Trophy Robotics visit us, hope to see more of the stuff you guys do.

Wynand and Gys spent a while hacking away at some old motherboards removing components for a 3d printer ‘psu upgrade’

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All in all a fun evening. Thanks to everyone who joined us and hope to see everyone next week!

Color changing Wifi controlled light thingie devices (aka last meetup for 2014)

For our last meetup of 2014 we built our December project which was Wifi Controlled RGB Lamps. The wifi lamps basically consist of some laser cut parts, some 3d printed parts, a Nucleo, the wifi module (esp8266) and addressable rgb lamps.

DSC_7789It was designed so that it can be put together relatively easy with minimal soldering. Having a nucle development board in the lamp allows for lots of expansion. For example, adding a temperature sensor and have the color change when it gets too hot or too cold. DSC_7790 DSC_7784 DSC_7782

The enclosure consists of laser cut inner box in semi transparent white and then we cut a voronoi themed outer-box to make it look even more pretty.

DSC_7780The final result is a beautiful lamp that you can control from your smartphone :)

wifilamp1 wifilamp2Thanks to everybody who attended our last meetup for 2014. We are taking a break for the holidays and will back on the 8th of Jan 2015. Be safe out there and keep on making :)

Elections, New Space and Girl Power

Lots of new happenings the past two weeks. Last week we had our last meetup at the old space. It has served us well but it is time to move to something bigger (more on that later).

James and Brendan was in town for the MakerFaire Africa and decided to do the drive from Joburg to come visit us. We immediately put them to work to build a MeArm kit. They had lots of fun. You guys are welcome back any time :)

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Misc projects were being worked on, including playing with esp8266 wifi module. It’s nice and cheap and we have a few projects planned around it.

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Apart from our Maker Faire preparations we also managed to squeeze in our first management elections. As voted by our members our Management for 2015 is

Financial – Gerhard Nel
Public Relations – Tom Van den Bon
Chairman – Sebastian Schocke
QuarterMaster – Chris Venter

For more information on their duties check out the wiki page. We are still figuring out the whole process and welcome any suggestions to improve BinarySpace.

DSC_7682This week we started moving into our new space and we had our first meetup in the new space. Thanks to everyone who came out and enjoyed the evening with us (even if the space is still a bit rough)

newspaceLast night we started working on some space improvements as well as making lists (Geeks love lists) of things we need to do/buy or fix.

DSC_7764Chris and Wolff donated alarm systems which we started to cobble together.

DSC_7778Sebastian and Gerhard started working on the RFID access control system that we are installing for 24 hour access to the space for our members. We haven’t moved over the keg yet, but we managed to make do with some bottled craft beers.

DSC_7774The advantage of the new space became very obvious last night. While we were hacking away on the one side on space improvements, we had some new guests on the other side having a little Pocketsized Robot Arm (MeArm) workshop. Lindie (Aged 15, she is becoming a bit of a MeArm expert) was put in charge of an impromptu workshop for our guests. Sheila (Aged 12), Stefni (Aged 14), Nina and their guardians had loads of fun building their projects. I’m hoping to convince Lindie to run a few more workshops with fun projects for our new members. Here are some more pics of everybody in action:

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DSC_7766As you can see the MeArm is quite a popular project at BinarySpace. htxt even added it to their htxt-mas festive buyers’ guide. For those of you who don’t know the MeArm was designed by Benjamin Gray and Jack Howard at Phenoptix Towers. For more info check out their project page.

And that iss it for this week, see everyone next week!

Making, Etching and Printing

We had some awesome meetups the past two weeks. Last week we had our ‘Etch your own Arduino workshop’ which went great. We used the Nanino design for the pcb and they turned out great!

For the toner layout we used the blue Press-n-Peel, its very easy to use and you get great results. For the etching we used ammonium persulfate which is not as nasty as the usual ferric chloride (although you still shouldn’t drink it!), we used gloves when handling the etchant.

DSC_7521We used a regular steam iron for the toner transfer onto the blank pcb. Not sure if the guys would appreciate it if their wives saw that they can actually handle a steam iron …

DSC_7529 DSC_7524DSC_7525DSC_7532DSC_7535DSC_7537DSC_7567After some successful etching the board just needs to be drilled, cleaned and the components can be soldered onto the board.

DSC_7553 DSC_7556 DSC_7549 DSC_7558Just about everybody is currently at this point and we’ll finish soldering up and testing the boards next week!

Last year we started working on our own Cyclone PCB Factory. We were missing some parts back then and the project got shelved for a while. Last night Gerhard and Romeo started working on it again. They managed to get all the mechanical stuff sorted and next week we are hooking up the electronics.

DSC_7547Sebastian showed off his Perspex entertainment pc which is coming nicely.

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Myself and Sebastian are also currently working on a new monthly project for December which involves the new esp8266 wifi modules and some ws2811 LED’s. Sebastian gave a little demo of the code he has done so far. It’s going to be awesome … more info soon!

DSC_7546And lastly the 3d printer was running in the background printing another piece for our 3d printed chair project.

DSC_7565 DSC_7568 DSC_7572All in all, two great meetings. See everybody next time :)

Tom

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 :)