obligatory obscure reference

self-deprecating yet still self-promotional witty comment


watch this space

Filed under: Hacking,MakerBot — jet @ 11:21

My Gen 5 electronics and Stepstruder have arrived and I’m in the process of bolting them onto Makerbot Cupcake #235. I’ve got it mostly working and will document it fully once it’s done.


Welcome to the future, 2011 style

Filed under: Hacking — jet @ 12:12

I’m on a bus, trying to circumvent the firewall on the free wireless so I can join a chat about open source documentation.


A new twist on yet another DIY 2M ground plane antenna

Filed under: Amateur Radio,Hacking,MakerBot — jet @ 23:26

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve come up with a simple mount for making portable/storable 2M ground plane antennas. They aren’t nearly as sturdy once they’re deployed, but they’re easy to fold up and store behind the seat of your truck, carry on your bicycle, etc.

If you have a MakerBot, RepRap, or other 3D printer, I’ve posted the STL over on Thingiverse. If you don’t have access to such a printer I’m in the process of setting up a store on Shapeways.

I’ll have more photos soon, including some ideas on how to store/transport the antenna.


TGIMBOEJ report — Baltimore Bazaar

Filed under: Hacking — jet @ 14:52

[edit in 2016: I have sent/received no boxes in the pat 5 years and should take my name off the TGIMBOE list.]

Received another TGIMBOEJ last week, and while I forgot to take photos I can at least write down what I took out and put in.

But first, a warning out adding stuff to a TGIMBOEJ box: If you add electronic components, especially tiny ones like caps or resistors, make sure they are in a sturdy bag. Two of the DC motors in this box have a collection of tiny components stuck to the coils and will probably need some cleaning/debugging to get working again.

What I took out: peristaltic pump and some end stop sensors

What I put in: printer power supply, bunch of gears, a couple of motors, lots of machine screws, some cables, and some other random bits from a printer I tore down. I also reboxed it into a new box and bagged up as many of the components as possible.



Quick TGIMBOEJ Report

Filed under: Hacking — jet @ 10:13

Yesterday I received The Great Internet Migragory Box Of Electronic Junk (TGIMBOEJ) Box Code INTJ-24. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the next recipient, but it was full of really good stuff in there that someone doing robotics or kinetics will appreciate, most of which I didn’t need. However, there were a couple of limit switches I need for my x/y table and this really strange thing with clear plastic tubes that I started playing with to figure out what it was. It turned out to be some micro-air pumps which are the perfect solution to this weird problem I’m having on one of my spare-time projects. It’s not that I didn’t know they existed, I just hadn’t played with them so I didn’t “get it” in terms of what I could do with them.

In appreciation for this bit of random luck, I decided to “split the box”, putting most of INTJ-24 and some stuff I had lying around into a fresh box and taking some of the items out and putting them (with more stuff) into a new box, JET-1.

INTJ-24 is scheduled to go out tomorrow, JET-1 will go out as soon as I hear back from one of the potential recipients.


Fix for 2.2/Froyo update install problems

Filed under: Hacking,Reverse Engineering — jet @ 20:58

We upgraded our Droids to 2.2 today, and while one upgrade went fine, the other went not so fine. As in, reboot loop hell not so fine.

While it was up and barely responsive I noticed that there was a message about an operation being performed on the SD card, so I pulled it out and restarted. Droid worked just fine without the SD Card — no lag, all the apps were there, no crashes/reboots, etc.

Put the SD card back in, original problems happen. Phone is completely unusable.

Ok, I figure I’ll just back up the SD card and format it then use it again in my Droid. I removed the SD card and mounted it on my Mac in a USB adapter, drug the folder over, then watched as the number of files that needed to be copied slowly crept into the 10s of thousands.

Which, as you might guess, ain’t right.

After a little exploring, I discovered that /DCIM/Camera contained a directory /DCIM/Camera/Camera which had the exact same files as /DCIM/Camera. Including a subdirectory named “Camera”. Turtles all the way down means the SD card check probably was consuming all ram/cpu on the Droid and causing the crash/reboot.

Luckily the fix is simple — copy everything *except* the Camera sub directory to another file system, delete /DCIM, and re-use the card.

That being said, it’s 2010, why do we still have trivial inode errors in *nix filesystems? (I’m looking at you, Rubin. Seriously, wtf?)


HackPGH trip report

Filed under: Hacking,Pittsburgh — jet @ 23:44

FINALLY made it to a HackPGH member’s meeting. It’s a nice little space, not in the best part of town, but at least there’s parking and the like. Many members have donated time and equipment to help set up the space, now they’re needing help with things like putting in A/C wiring and continuing to build out the space.

So what sort of things to people do at hacker spaces? Well, whatever the members think would be a fun project. Say, for example, building and launching a high-altitude balloon or learning about fizzy drinks.

If you’re in Pittsburgh, and you’re looking for a studio space to hack on technology or take classes, haul yourself out to the next Hack PGH open house night or take a class, you won’t be sorry.


stuff I’ve been up to

Filed under: Hacking,Metalworking,Random and Pleasing — jet @ 19:03

I’ve been really focused on the paying work (which is all NDA), so I haven’t much to post lately.

However, this is kinda cool, my Makerbeam kit finally showed up:

makerbeam beta kit!

..and I’m already using it to make temporary brackets for stepper motors:

first makerbeam project


Google Street View vs. Your Privacy

Filed under: Hacking,Random and Pleasing — jet @ 20:57

In the middle of dealing with the permit process to build a deck off of our house, I read about the little oopsie Google had with collecting network data while running Street View.

It took me less than one minute to come up with some great ways to “monetize” Google Street View data by selling it to:

  • local government code-enforcement units so they can issue fines for building without a permit
  • repair/building contractors buying images of “all houses with old gutters” or “all houses with peeling paint”
  • law enforcement agencies looking for pot growers (cf. electric bills triggering search warrants)
  • security consultants / network security software firms selling fixes for things like unpatched software or open networks

You now have one minute to come up with other ideas, GO!


Thinking of building a Mendel…

Filed under: Hacking,MakerBot — jet @ 20:49

Building the Makerbot Cupcake was pretty straightforward and it’s been a lot of fun playing with it. My biggest problem right now is the print envelope — 80mmx80mm is all you can realistically hope for, and that’s with a heated platform to control warpage. I’ve made some useful bits for my bike computer project and cranked out a bunch of new year’s ornaments, but other than that I haven’t been using it much. Everything I want to print is too big, either in terms of warpage or in terms of x/y size.

Since I’m interested in bigger things, so I’m looking into building bigger printers. (Anyone who wants to buy me a Stratasys can ask and I’ll give them the delivery address…) One option is to build a Mendel which has an envelope of 200mmx200mm. Another is to figure out how to put a print head on something really big, like a knee mill or a large CNC plasma table.

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