Posts with «hackerspaces» label

Card Reader Lockout Keeps Unauthorized Tool Users at Bay

It’s a problem common to every hackerspace, university machine shop, or even the home shops of parents with serious control issues: how do you make sure that only trained personnel are running the machines? There are all kinds of ways to tackle the problem, but why not throw a little tech at it with something like this magnetic card-reader machine lockout?

[OnyxEpoch] does not reveal which of the above categories he falls into, if any, but we’ll go out on a limb and guess that it’s a hackerspace because it would work really well in such an environment. Built into a sturdy steel enclosure, the guts are pretty simple — an Arduino Uno with shields for USB, an SD card, and a data logger, along with an LCD display and various buttons and switches. The heart of the thing is a USB magnetic card reader, mounted to the front of the enclosure.

To unlock the machine, a user swipes his or her card, and if an administrator has previously added them to the list, a relay powers the tool up. There’s a key switch for local override, of course, and an administrative mode for programming at the point of use. Tool use is logged by date, time, and user, which should make it easy to identify mess-makers and other scofflaws.

We find it impressively complete, but imagine having a session timeout in the middle of a machine operation would be annoying at the least, and potentially dangerous at worst. Maybe the solution is a very visible alert as the timeout approaches — a cherry top would do the trick!

There’s more reading if you’re one seeking good ideas for hackerspace. We’ve covered the basics of hackerspace safety before, as well as insurance for hackerspaces.

Maker Pro News: The Maker Pros of DEF CON, Shakeup at Arduino, and More

This past week, maker professionals learned about new security measures for their projects and found solace in Arduino's new leadership.

Read more on MAKE

The post Maker Pro News: The Maker Pros of DEF CON, Shakeup at Arduino, and More appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

Maker Pro News: The Maker Pros of DEF CON, Shakeup at Arduino, and More

This past week, maker professionals learned about new security measures for their projects and found solace in Arduino's new leadership.

Read more on MAKE

The post Maker Pro News: The Maker Pros of DEF CON, Shakeup at Arduino, and More appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

Door Iris Porthole is the Perfect Fix for Detroit Hackerspace

In order to resolve the problem of congestion at the entrance to their hackerspace, the minds at i3Detroit installed a motion-activated mechanical iris in their door’s porthole.

Grabbing the design online (which they are now hosting on their site here), the parts were laser cut out of wood, gold leaf was added for effect, and it was relatively easy to assemble. PIR sensors detect movement on both sides of the door and an FET resistor connected to an orange LED add some old-school science fiction flair. The iris is actuated by a 12V car window motor — which works just fine on the 5V power that it’s supplied with — and an Arduino filling in as a controller. Start and stop positioning required some limit switches that seem to do the trick.

Finally they laser cut acrylic plastic with the i3Detroit logo to complete the porthole modification. You can watch a video of the mechanical iris in all its glory here — but unfortunately it’s on Google+ (do people still use that??) so we can’t embed it in the post.

If you want to add this sleek idea to your home but lack a laser cutter (understandable), then you can still hack one out of some common household materials.

[via Evan’s Techie-Blog]

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, Hackerspaces

Solderless Noise-o-Tron Kit Makes Noise at Chicago Makerfaire

Anyone who’s manned a hackerspace booth at an event knows how difficult it can be to describe to people what a hackerspace is. No matter what words you use to describe it, nothing really seems to do it justice. You simply can’t use words to make someone feel that sense of accomplishment and fun that you get when you learn something new and build something that actually works.

[Derek] had this same problem and decided to do something about it. He realized that in order to really share the experience of a hackerspace, he would have to bring a piece of the hackerspace to the people.  That meant getting people to build something simple, but fun. [Derek's] design had to be easy enough for anyone to put together, and inexpensive enough that it can be produced in moderate quantities without breaking the bank.

[Derek] ended up building a simple “optical theremin”. The heart of this simple circuit is an ATTiny45. Arduino libraries have already been ported to this chip, so all [Derek] had to do was write a few simple lines of code and he was up and running. The chip is connected to a photocell so the pitch will vary with the amount of light that reaches the cell. The user can then change the pitch by moving their hand closer or further away, achieving a similar effect to a theremin.

[Derek] designed a simple “pcb” out of acrylic, with laser cut holes for all of the components. If you don’t have access to a laser cutter to cut the acrylic sheets, you could always build your own. The electronic components are placed into the holes and the leads are simply twisted together. This allows even an inexperienced builder to complete the project in just five to ten minutes with no complicated tools. The end result of his hard work was a crowded booth at a lot of happy new makers. All of [Derek's] plans are available on github, and he hopes his project will find use at Makerfaires and hackerspace events all over the world.




Filed under: ATtiny Hacks, Hackerspaces

Sniffing Vending Machine Buses


We’ve talked about a variety of protocols and how to deal with them in the past. Today, [Dan] is working on sniffing vending machine Multidrop Bus. The Multidrop Bus (MDB) protocol is a standard used in vending machines to connect devices such as currency collectors to the host controller.

To connect to the bus, interface hardware is required. [Dan] worked out compliant hardware and connected it to an Arduino. With the device on the bus, [Dan] got to work on an Arduino sketch to parse the MDB data into a human-readable format. With that working, the bus can easily be sniffed over the Arduino’s serial console.

This is just the start of a more involved project. Since this protocol is used to communicate with a vending machine’s currency collector or card reader, being able to communicate it would allow him to implement his own payment methods. The plan is to augment the vending machine he operates at Vancouver Hack Space to accept Bitcoin. We’re looking forward to seeing that project unfold.

Filed under: Hackerspaces, Network Hacks

HeatSynch Labs Hosts Arduino Hackathon

Phoenix's HeatSynch Labs will host HackPHX Arduino, an all-day and all-night Arduino hackathon tomorrow, Feb. 2, from 10am-10:15pm. Here's how it will go down: In a ode to Iron Chef, 50 participants will be split into 10 teams for 12 hours to create something awesome from an Arduino, a "secret ingredient," and the hackerspace's resources. The teams will compete for more than $4,000 in prizes and giveaways. Expect music, robots, interactive light, wearable electronics, and more. Tickets are sold out but the the event will be live streamed

Read the full article on MAKE

Maker Faire Detroit: Mind Flame Interview

Maker Faire Detroit is almost upon us, kicking off tomorrow, July 28, at 9:30, and running through the weekend! The excitement is building as makers are putting the finishing touches on their projects and preparing for showtime. To wrap up our series of interviews with Detroit makers, we chat with Matt Oehrlein, president of i3 Detroit hackerspace, and co-creator of the red-hot Mind Flame project.

1. Describe the project you’re bringing to Maker Faire Detroit this year. What are the components and how does it work?
The piece is a brainwave-activated flame effects display called “Mind Flame.” Two participants wear EEG headsets that read electronic pulses from their brains. They measure your intensity of concentration, and when it is at a certain level, the display erupts with huge jets of flame. The EEG headsets are off-the-shelf headsets from a company called NeuroSky. They measure small electrical pulses that originate from neurons “firing” in your brain, and translate those pulses into measurements like “concentration” or “attention,” which can be read wirelessly from your computer, or an Arduino.

The flame effect part involves some propane tanks for the fuel, some empty tanks as a gas accumulator, an electronic solenoid valve, and a hot carbide igniter similar to something you’d find in a gas clothes dryer. The electronic valve is opened by a relay controlled by a microcontroller, the propane gas whooshes out of the accumulator, past the red hot igniter, and creates a pretty satisfying fireball or flame jet.

2. What inspired you to make it and how long did it take from concept to creation?
After seeing all the awesome flame effects pieces at Maker Faire Detroit 2011, I wanted to do a flame effects piece for 2012. I really like to do projects that participants can interact with, so brainwave activation was my choice for implementing that in a you-don’t-see-that-every-day fashion. I had the opportunity to get help from Josh “Bacon” McAninch, who does the flame effects work for the very popular Gon KiRin fire-breathing dragon, and my friend and fellow i3 member, Ed Platt, who is a smart software whiz in general. It took around a month to go from concept to creation. Maybe 40 hours total. A huge chunk of time was just spent on me getting educated on how to safely do flame effects, and shopping for those hard-to-find plumbing parts.

3. Does your project work off the combined electronic pulses from the two headsets, or can you host dueling headsets?
The project supports dueling headsets. Actually, the entire project is two mostly independent flame effect systems sitting right next to each other. I thought it would add an interesting element of competition to have people try to out-concentrate the other participant. The end game is to have a duel of some kind where the participants try to burn down the opposing player’s little wooden house, or wooden stick figure, or pop a balloon, or something like that. We are still experimenting on what is the most fun and still cost effective for a large event, but just sending huge fireballs through the air is still pretty satisfying.

4. Do you have any records set yet by concentration ninjas?
I’m not sure. Ed is definitely better than me at controlling his brainwaves, but not a lot of people have tried it yet. I have a feeling people who meditate regularly will do well at this game. We are still tuning the rules of the concentration portion of the game, so no one has really gotten a chance to really hone their tactics yet.

3. Have you exhibited at Maker Faire previously?
I haven’t! I am actually fairly new to the Maker Faire/maker scene. It’s been a little over a year now since I joined a hackerspace and really dove in. I volunteered last year just to help out i3 Detroit (hackerspace) members and get a feel for the event.

Matt Oehrlein (left) and Ed Platt (right) and their Mind Flame device.

4. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
I’m a 20-something-year-old engineer. As a kid, I didn’t really fit that common narrative of taking apart everything I could get my hands on. I definitely built a lot of things, but my weapon of choice was definitely my K’Nex set over Legos or dismantled toys. I was into computers throughout high school, but I think a major milestone in my life was my first microcontrollers class in college. Being able to program something that I could attach sensors or motors to and have it interact with the physical world was huge for me. I felt like I could give little bits of intelligence to things that would ordinarily behave very predictably, or not move at all. By the end of that class, I had stocked up on electronics, a soldering iron, and other tools, and had my own little electronics lab setup in my bedroom.

As far as inspirations go, I generally don’t have role models that I want to emulate as a whole, but I do find specific characteristics in people that I admire. Right now, a characteristic I am trying to get better at is just raw, unrestricted creativity. I believe thinking creatively is one of the most important skills for success, and I see a lot of people at hackerspaces that are able to just generate a lot of really great, attention-grabbing, wacky ideas that have the potential to make you go, “Huh… It never even crossed my mind to do something like that, but that’s really cool!” I think getting a degree in science or engineering can kill creativity in people because students (especially undergraduate) are taught to find the one right answer following a very concrete process, and not to think of multiple solutions or how to reframe a problem. You could say I have some un-learning to do.

5. You’re the president of i3 Detroit hackerspace. What makes i3 distinctly Detroit?
Manufacturing. There is so much infrastructure and community here to support the automotive and manufacturing industry. Because of this, there are abundant resources for people who want to weld or machine parts. It’s so awesome to be able to have members who can teach you how to build something out of steel or brass, and actually be able to just walk down the street to one of many industrial equipment or materials suppliers to buy everything you need. I have yet to visit a hackerspace with a better-equipped machine shop than ours. The economic struggles of the Detroit area are, overall, a benefit for a hackerspace. Our rent is comparatively low, and we can pick up high quality used equipment for a huge discount from local companies that are liquidating.

6. What’s your favorite tool at the hackerspace?
I’m mostly an electronics guy, and am most comfortable around a soldering iron, wire strippers, and multimeter. However, I think it’s pretty hard to beat a good laser cutter. Cutting things with light is tough to trump for the coolness factor. I could watch that thing go for hours.

7. What’s your day job?
I am an R&D Control Theory Engineer for Eaton Corporation. The group I work in does all kinds of cool simulation, modeling, and optimization of complex systems. Things like how to use machine learning to optimize hydraulic controls in construction equipment for better fuel economy, or how to predict and prevent data center outages using statistical modeling. It’s a great gig and I love it.

8. What do you love most about Detroit?
The people. I’m not a Detroit native, but people here are the most down-to-earth people in the world. People from Detroit leave their egos at the door. They won’t talk at you about their new mobile/web/social media startup flavor of the week they are working on and how they will be the next Facebook if they could just get some venture capital. They don’t look down on anyone for being from the wrong type of family, tax bracket, or neighborhood. They are humble, sympathetic, and real. They can recognize their strengths and their faults, and are amazing friends.

To test your concentration ninja skills and check out a plethora of other creative maker-made projects, come join us at Maker Faire Detroit this weekend!

Filed under: Arduino, Hackerspaces, Interviews, Maker Faire

Joystick operated security cam will overlook the moat

What good is a moat if nobody is guarding it? We suppose that depends on what beasties lurk beneath the surface of the water, but that’s neither here nor there. The members of LVL1 continue their quest to outdo each other in augmenting the building’s automated features. The latest offering is this security camera which is operated with an analog thumb stick.

These are the people who are building a moat (which the city things is a reflecting pool) in front of their main entrance. Now they will be able to see and sense if anyone is trying to get across the watery hazard. The hack marries an ultrasonic rangefinder and camera module with a pair of servo motors. The brackets for the motors allow a full range of motion, and the signal is translated by an Arduino and Video Experimenter shield to put out a composite video signal. That’s not going to make streaming all that easy, but we’re sure that is just one more hack away.

Filed under: Hackerspaces, video hacks