Category Archives: beer

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!

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!

This week at BinarySpace – 17 July 2014

We had another great meetup last night, even though we were only a few. The keg system got a few bugfixes and seems to be running smoothly. The NeoPixel behind the tap now spins while pouring beer. We are currently investigating adding an RFID reader, but we’ll see how it goes. The actual top still needs attention as well and the electronics needs a cleanup. But it works great!

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Beer consumption is now being logged reliably and you can view it at “The Keg @ BinarySpace” site.

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We recently got our hands a a numeric led display which didn’t work (or atleast we weren’t sure how it worked). We opened her up, tossed the old electronics and spent a good time reverse engineering the display (Sebastian did a good job of tracing all the signals). Once we knew how it worked it was a matter of putting a small test program on an arduino and giving it a go.

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We were rewarded with an animation of all the segments being turned on one-by-one. Gys and Lionel have plans to make a wall mount bracket for it. As soon as it’s attached to the wall we just need to decided what to show on it, time? beer consumption? naughty words? Only time will tell 🙂

Lastly I powered up the pocket robot arm for a quick spin. This will be the first project in our planned monthly project evening. More info coming soon!

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Till next week!

This week at BinarySpace – 12 June 2014

It’s been a while since we did another update. So here is what happened last night at our regular meetup 🙂

Last week we decided it’s time for a new fun space project where everybody can get involved. We decided to start fixing up our beer dispensing. We have been enjoying beer on tap since the beginning of BinarySpace but our setup looked like this:

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It works, but usually takes a while for new members to learn to use a beer tap like that and we lose some precious beer in the process. We decided that our new space project would be to mount the tap and throw some tech in the mix.

We decided on adding some sensors for measuring flow and temperature. Also for some bling, convert to the top into a led matrix. The final idea is still a work in progress so we’ll see how much we end up adding to the system.

Last night we started looking at mounting options and got the rgb led’s for the matrix up and running.

Gys organised a killer mount for the tap:

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20140612_201548Also the led’s for the top are up and running:

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We still need a few fittings and hack everything together but with a bit of luck, beer will be flowing from the new tap at next week’s meetup…

Louis also joined us last night with his Morgan 3d printer. He is making some great progress and will be printing soon 🙂

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See everybody next time! 🙂

This week at BinarySpace – 03/27

 

If you missed the meetup this week then you missed out! Felt like Christmas with all the different toys that ended up on the table.

Sebastian and Chris started working on the PowerHome project (our STM32 IOT Contest Entry). They made some good progress with the power monitoring devkit and at the end of the night they were monitoring the power usage of a heated 3d printer bed.

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Lee rocked up with a bunch of new toys he received, including the new CubieTruck, an awesome usb LCD display and much more. I think we were all a little jealous, but Lee likes to share his toys so it was all good 😉DSC_6552 (Medium)

 

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I also did a little demo of the new uMotio prototype and it turned it a little competition between Lee and Gys on who could do the shortest laps with SuperTuxKart. It was never officially declared but it looked like Gys was the winner 😉

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We also have a new keg with Raspberry Delight beer so no one was thirsty.

Until next week!