Category Archives: Administration

Geexpo Badge (or how we designed/made and built a 100 pcb’s in 10 days)

After the success of the Fakugesi PCB festival Pass, we were contacted by North West University to design an interactive badge for their GeeXpo event. We started playing with a few ideas, but as usual time caught up to us and we realized that we had 10 days left before the festival and no plan in action.

After a quick chat to our main PCB guy at Bosco (Hi Winston!), we figured out that we could probably still pull this off. A design was made and after a quick prayer to the PCB Gods we sent off the Gerber files for manufacturing.

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Luckily we designed it around components that we either already had or could get in qty locally. While we waited for the PCB’s we sourced the outstanding components.

The design basically consists of my favorite STM32 micro-controller, an IR Receiver, some passives and led’s. The general concept was that there are various challenges at the GeeXpo. Complete a challenge and with an IR transmitter it would send a code to the user’s badge. This would turn on an LED on the badge to indicate that the person has completed the challenge.

It seems pretty simple, but it was very well received and everybody loved having a PCB badge that had blinky leds. Since the challenges were held at various exhibitions/stalls around GeeXpo the attendants really got involved in each exhibit.

Anyways, I digress. We had the 100 PCB’s and the components by Wednesday evening. I built a few up to test the main hardware and that we had a few prototypes so that Sebastian can start writing the firmware. Luckily no issues with the PCB’s … phew, thats half the battle won.

At our weekly thursday meetup, I lured everyone with beer and promise of new knowledge. It was a mere half-hour later and I had everyone working in a production line that would put a sweatshop to shame … 😉

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Not sure if everyone had fun, but they all worked hard. (Thank You!)

Wolff monitored the re-flow ovens (and the beer …)

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Sebastian/Romeo and Tom also spent the Friday fixing, soldering, building and flashing firmware.

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The final badge works very good and it looked awesome!

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Romeo and Sebastian put together some pretty cool base stations that transmits the challenge completed code when … you completed a challenge. Chris made some awesome laser-cut enclosures for the base station.

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Saturday was GeeXpo and boy did we have fun. We had lots of interactive exhibitions for a change and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The challenge at our table was a robot arm that was controlled by a game-pad. You had to use the game-pad to pick up a trinket and drop it into a bowl.

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We met a lot of new people and as usual the people enjoyed our projects.

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Thanks to everyone that helped out with this badge project, its much appreciated and see everyone at the next GeeXpo!

 

New Space for BinarySpace

 

It’s been a few months since our request for assistance and quite a few things have changed. The good news is that we do have a new space again 🙂 It’s an awesome space and we love it! We got a lot of responses that included ‘please don’t let binaryspace die’ to ‘I have a spot in my garage for you guys!’. We appreciate all the responses that we got and the overwhelming need to keep BinarySpace going.

Our new space is now located at 71 Rossini Blvd, Vanderbijlpark. It’s a nice spot in a decent area and we are very proud of it. We even got a new sign up to help people find the new space.
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The situation with the new space is that are properly renting it, and paying our own water/lights accounts, etc. It’s been a scary new exercise for us, but it has been rewarding in it’s own way.

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As you can notice we now have a new partner in the form of SiGNL.  SiGNL is a creative technology company, prototyping smart objects that extend into real world experiences. Various of our members have actively been involved in projects with SiGNL. SiGNL have partly been helping us out with our rent each month.

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Our membership system has also proven itself and everyone has stepped up joining as BinarySpace members and their fees have gone towards the expenses of the new space. We are also saving up for more exciting projects and equipment 🙂 Becoming a member of BinarySpace means the continued survival of BinarySpace and also getting involved in an awesome environment where there is lots to learn from others.

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We have lots of exciting workshops happening in the future and some new technology challenges and great projects.

Our weekly meetups are still on thursday evenings at 19:30, so come and have a look at the new space 🙂

So stay tuned, BinarySpace isn’t going anywhere!

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 – 15 May 2014

We had another great meetup this week. This has been the second week that we’ve been playing the with stm32 discovery kits. Everybody is up and running and we’re learning new things every time. This week everybody got some ttl-usb converters and got the uart working on the devkits.DSC_7076.resized DSC_7078.resized

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Marnus played around with a RaspberryPI and relay board. He is working on a home automation project.

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Sebastian continued working on the power monitor project (PowerHome), he is currently busy setting up the spi comms to the power monitor devkit.

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We also spent a good portion of the time stripping this Sunix server from about 10 years ago, it was not working before we started. It was pretty cool pulling out the 16mb ram modules. It’s a stunning case though and this will be converted into a server case of some sorts. There is space for more than 20 hard drives in the front!

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Our stm32 learning efforts are all being commited to our github repository which you can find at https://github.com/BinarySpace-Hackerspace/stm32tuts, this includes the nokia lcd 5510 example seen below with Bender!

DSC_7097.resizedTill next week and Happy Hacking!!