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How I Open Sourced My Hamsters for Science

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Determined to validate the oft-misguided claims of The Internet, I’ve spent the last month tracking my hamsters’ activity via a homemade Raspberry-Pi-powered Hamstrometer. And recently, I was approached by SuchWowTV to be featured in one of their videos! [fve]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LGwttp8K5g&feature=youtu.be[/fve] If you’re interested in the details behind the build, you can head over to my blog and check out all of the pics and gifs I made of the build process!

Kevin’s Cat Wheel Activity Tracker

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CRASH member Kevin Jordan is worried about his fat cat. His fat cat needs more exercise, and like many of us, would greatly benefit from the motivation that comes from a little healthy competition. Unfortunately, we live in a world of tyranny and injustice, and there are no features on the many popular fitness trackers that are cat-friendly. But like a true maker, Kevin has taken action. [fve]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sldCSWof-Q[/fve] In his own words: “My wheel from OneFastCat needed something. I wanted my cat to be able to compete on Strava with other cats but there was nothing available. Strava is a…

Circuit Bending and Glitch Art

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I spent this last Sunday with Phillip Stearns at Machine Project, learning how to circuit bend 1990s-era digital cameras for the sake of making glitch art. This is my camera in it’s current state: There’s a battery pack for mobile use, but for experimentation I wired the camera to my breadboard and hooked it up to a spare 5V power supply (thanks, eWaste!) to keep it running long-term. (These things kill batteries fast.) It seems that much of circuit bending for the sake of art is guess and check, as you’re never quite sure what will produce a desirable result.…

Control an Individually-Addressable RGB LED Strip with a Leap Motion

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x-posted on tinwhiskers.net Here, a Leap Motion is sending data to a Processing script, which is sending that data over serial to an Arduino script, which is sending it to my Arduino Uno to control an individually-addressable RGB LED strip. If you want to do this, too, you can grab my code from GitHub. This seems over-complicated at first, but having Processing in the mix is helpful for two reasons: The library that exists between Leap and Processing is well made. Processing excels at animation and visualization. If you do not include the Arduino+RGB LED strip, you can still use…

The LED Matrix Backpack

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I commute roughly 10 miles round-trip through Los Angeles each day for work. This is awesome (fun! exercise! no traffic!) and terrible (cars! nobody watches where they’re going! my body is made of soft meats and cars are made of terrible metal! oh god cars!). With the short winter days upon us, all of my evening rides are through the darkness… and I really don’t feel all that safe out there. I have front and back bike lights, but they just don’t cut it. When I pass other bikers, I’m always startled to realize how small their bike lights look…

prototype for a jacob's ladder.

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We put together a makeshift jacob’s ladder tonight for fun at Radio Mondays, using a 7.5 kv neon transformer. This is two brass tubes (one bent to put the arc point above the temporary frame), carrying high voltage arc just to the point of being capable of jumping. (the rule of thumb is 1mm per 3kv). The convection of the superheated air pulls the arc upwards, until it can’t sustain the arc, and it breaks. Things were a little fiddly, as you can see in the above video, so we pulled out at 12kv transformer, to see if more power…

Embedded Computers, Microcontrollers – Arduino, etc

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Embedded computers and the Arduino in particular are a classic area for hackerspaces.  Classes on them are often offered by spaces around the world. (I hear Machine Project is planning one soon!).  A microcontroller can sense the world (temperature, touch, light, etc) and act in response (drive motors, blink lights, move stuff, send email/twitter, speak). And they are fairly inexpensive. Microcontrollers are ubiquitous in our modern world – every electronic gadget or toy or serious product generally has at least one, sometimes dozens. Programming and designing with micro controllers can be challenging, however parts like the Arduino make it much easier. Smart…

Metalworking: Machining, welding, forging

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A new interest of mine is metalworking – machining, welding, even forging metals.  I’ve spent 30+yrs doing software (and bit of electronics hardware) with home owner repair stuff but never got into doing real metal work… or serious carpentry either. I have plans to get into 3D printing (Makerbot CNC on order), and other CNC stuff that is a stable of Fab Labs and other hackerspaces. I figured I should learn a bit about it.  Turns out Simi Valley Adult School (SVAS) offers training in Basic Machinist, CNC, CAD/CAM, and Welding.  The programs are fairly respected (from what I hear), so…