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March 26 2015

Soft Robots for Hard Problems

What is a soft robot anyway? Over the last few weeks I’ve been giving demos at Resistor to show students what they are, what they’re good for, and how you can make your own.

Resistor was host to two meetup groups: the ACM NYC Group and the Soft Robotics Technology Group. During the demonstrations I gave a brief overview of the state of the art in soft robotics and then went into how I designed and built my most popular soft robot to date: the Glaucus.

Students helped out by casting waxes, degassing silicone, and pouring up molds themselves. Maybe soon I’ll come up with a way to get an even more hands-on demo where people can each make a bot themselves to take home.

Below you can find video from the ACM lecture:

 

March 23 2015

Calling all post-internet, pre-singularity interactivity artists!

Photo by Trammel Hudson.

Photo by Trammel Hudson.

The Interactive Show is coming up faster than Big Dog on a graphene high! This year we’ve been musing over the future and our relationship between us our robot friends. So much of our imaginations have been shoehorned into narratives of subservience (Jetsons, the Matrix) or all-out war (Terminator, the Butlerian Jihad). Why not envision a future where we party hard with our robotic friends instead? This year, we’re calling all of Brooklyn’s finest interaction artists to portray the future, preferably with robots in it, through interactive art. Here’s some footage from last year’s show to give you an idea of what you’d be in for:

This year’s show will be May 30th. If you’re interested in being part of a show, drop us a line at ishow@nycresistor.com! Try to get in touch by April 26th so we can make sure there’s space for your project. Hope to hear from you soon!

Chez Resistoir, a 2015 vintage

Chez Resistoir

We bottled our first ever wine at Resistor today. Two of our members and a couple of other folks in the community learned how to make basement wine from an honest to god bensonhurst italian.

We’ve only bottled the Monte Pulciano and the Merlot. Both came out great.

=D

March 20 2015

gopher.nycresistor.com


NYC Resistor now has a Gopher site at gopher://gopher.nycresistor.com, although your web browser must be sufficiently standards compliant and/or hip to use it. One such browser is Lynx, shown here running on a Kaypro 2.

March 15 2015

SparkSign

Spark Sign at NYCR
Next time you visit NYC Resistor, you might notice a new LED clock above the laser room door. It’s built with a surplus AMD1026 one-line LED display that has been re-brained with a SparkCore. Eventually we might take advantage of it being online to interface with the laser reservation system. For more details on interfacing with the hardware and the source code, check out trmm.net/SparkSign.

Lasers, Pies, and Pi Day

Ignoring the Half-Tau Day heretics out there, we laser-etched some pies for Pi Day. This is a cranberry-orange meringue pie. Turns out the meringue etches beautifully! If you look closely at the pie you’ll notice that there are digits of pi forming the outline… ;)

pie_meringue_final1

 

(More photos on my blog. )

Settings for raw meringue on our laser are apparently 100 power and 100 speed. (We did bake it a bit after this, no worries.) Making laser noms is fun!

March 13 2015

NYC Resistor, now with 100% more gopher access!

gopher

gopher://gopher.nycresistor.com/1 is now live!

For those of you aching to find out more about NYC Resistor while surfing the arpanet on your mosaic browsers, fret not. We’ve got you covered. Now with our newly launched gopher services you can keep in touch with the modern era from the comfort of your golden age of technology and grand self delusion. We aim to please!

March 05 2015

March 11th (Wed): CryptoParty and Key Signing

Managing private communication on the internet is a bit like space travel: It’s not impossible but the technology involved is difficult to use. Bring your laptop and your crypto-curiosity to Resistor on March 11th, 7:00pm for hands-on help with end-to-end secure email, anonymous web browsing, and general good practices for online privacy with folks that have been using this stuff for slightly longer than most. If you’re already an uber l337 cypherpunk and have a PGP key already, stick around for a key signing and probably some snacks!

CryptoParty

March 03 2015

Caramelizing Sugar on Chocolate with the Laser

Lasers can make tasty treats. I spent some time last night with my friend Brenda Hiller (pictured here) experimenting with using the laser to caramelize colored sugar onto some chocolate tiles. Place a piece of chocolate into the laser (with something food-safe under it, of course), pour on some sugar, and then etch away. We were experimenting with what kinds of shapes we’d be able to etch.

Preparing the chocolate and sugar on the laser Laser etching to caramelize sugar and chocolate

The end result? The caramelized sugar sticks to the chocolate tiles, and it is super tasty. Full writeup and a few more photos on my blog.

sugar03

March 01 2015

Ticket Overflow

For anyone using any of the APIs now under Google Cloud, I’ve recently launched an unconventional crowdfunding campaign to buy a month of Gold tier support ($400/month), which I plan to use not just for my own support requests, but yours too! It turns out there’s a lot of unanswered questions relating to APIs I might want to use in the future, and maybe you’re in the same boat.

I plan to pool our funds to send our support tickets to real live humans, first dibs for campaign backers, then onward to submit all the unanswered Google Cloud questions I can find using my Ticket Overflow extension for Chrome/Chromium, which I’ll also be releasing as part of the campaign. If you have any hot API probs, post them on Stack Overflow with the appropriate tags (gcloud, google-translate, google-cloud-platform, etc) and I’ll try to get answers for them. Ultimately, the more questions get answered, the easier it will be for other developers searching Stack Overflow to find API answers and make the internet just that much more useful!

February 23 2015

Building Open Source Hardware

If you’re interested in making your hardware open source, check out my new book, Building Open Source Hardware! It contains a how-to guide and checklists for many aspects of open source hardware: manufacturing, licensing, and business in open source hardware to name a few. In the spirit of democratization, different authors have written each chapter, many friends of Resistor, and Resistor member Catarina Mota also has a chapter in the book!

SONY DSC

Don’t take my word for it, check out this review:

This book is one you can judge by it’s cover. It is everything you need to know about how to work on an open hardware project from cradle to grave. It is a solidly researched book that doesn’t skip an issue because it is hard, nor is all the content from one person or organization. This has produced a product which is informative to a degree that it is greater than the sum of it’s parts.” -Aaron Harper (read the whole review.)

Also check out the NYC inspired kit to practice making open source hardware derivatives:

Blinky Building Empire State copy

Remake the kit to be a landmark or building in your area, and together, we can build the world! (Godzilla not included.)

You can buy the kit from me, or get both the book and the kit at Sparkfun.

February 20 2015

PCB Design with EAGLE class

1_pcb-design-consulting-c

Have you ever envied those beautiful green PCBs that all modern electronics have? Do you want to kick up the professionalism in your projects with a real PCB? Would you like to simply learn how to better document your circuits with a nicely done schematic?

Sign up for our latest EAGLE class on Saturday, March 14! Get tickets here.

February 19 2015

21st Century Fashion Kit

21st Century Fashion Kit

If you’ve ever wanted to make something thermochromatic, electrochromatic, or inflatable with laser cut lace, a custom RGB LED silk flower, and antique conductive thread then check out my new 21st Century Fashion Kit collaboration with sparkfun. Here’s a look at what you can make:

The kit was two years in the making since some of the items were hard to come by. So I am excited about the selection of experimental materials it offers. In the kit you will find:

Inflatable Materials- Inflatables are my favorite thing to send down the runway, because they transform and change shape when the blower is turned on. I like to prototype inflatable shapes by fusing together a certain type of plastic tablecloth with a traditional clothes iron. Included is a tablecloth with a lace pattern, battery, and fan. Instructions for creating inflatables are on the kit website.

Sapphire Blue Thermochromatic Pigment- that can be mixed with nail polish, paint, clay, etc. to make colors that change with varying temperature . I chose a very specific shade of blue (similar to Yves Saint Laurent’s #18 Blue Majorelle nail polish), that when mixed with red to create purple or orange to create taupe, or yellow to create jade, will create shades that are on trend.

Electrochromatic Materials- The MOSFET power controller, conductive thread, and battery you will need to make your thermochromatic design electrochromatic (changes color with electricity). Tutorial is also on the kit page.

RGB LED Silk Flower- handmade by a 4th generation, family owned silk flower manufacturer in the garment district.

Laser Cut Lace Leather Skull- Everyone should have the opportunity to play with something laser cut. I designed the lace with holes sized specifically to fit around 5mm LEDs, because laser cut things are even better when blinky.

Antique Conductive Thread- I love to look through trim supplier warehouses for unused antique/vintage stock. I spend the day digging through piles of boxes. One day I found a box of shiny antique thread from the 1930’s that felt cool to the touch, which made me think that it might be conductive. Sure enough it was, with very low resistance! My jewelry manufacturer tested the thread, and believes that it is gold plated. I find it amazing that something from the 1930’s is perfect for integrating technology with fashion today.

And some violet LEDs, coin cell batteries, and needles…

February 16 2015

Snow Day Diorama!

 

volcano_final

We here at NYCResistor talk a good game about Dioramas, but it’s pretty rare to see any action taken (although full credit goes to our member Shelby for providing great Dioramas for multiple past Interactive Shows!). This weekend provided just the right combination of terrible weather and 3-day-weekendness to motivate me to make it happen. This project combines both my love of dioramas and my long-held passion for paper mache volcanoes. My wife and I created this enchantingly tiny realm perched on the precipice of total annihilation using newspaper, water colors, some tiny drink umbrellas, and other misc. objects found lying around the house. Note the family of 3d-printed Nessies visible in the shallow waters near the photo-realistic beach.

From our member Adam:

It’s been conjectured that the eruption was in fact triggered by the weight of the enormous half-mile steel flagpole installed on the northern shore, and that it was the memory this incident that scotched the original plan for a half-mile steel flagpole to be installed on the moon during the Apollo program.

And now watch it in all of its anti-climactic glory:

The gauntlet has officially been thrown, 4th graders!

February 10 2015

Updates on The Temple of the Unticketed

Here’s some updates to our Burning Man project, The Temple of the Unticketed. We finished and submitted our proposals to Burnging Man Arts. You can find the proposal, budget and project plan in our GitHub. We worked really hard dotting the eyes and crossing the tees, hopefully they’ll notice and support the project. While we wait we continue to work.

Max has made good progress on revB of the BeagleBone cape. Unfortunately the boards to hook up the TFTs got lost in the mail. No, really. OSH Park is sending us another batch for free, so thanks to them for that! Once we get those we should be able to try a scaled up test.

Finally I managed to get a first pass at the virtual installation done. It’s my first pass at anything non-trivial in three.js so it might be a little rough around the edges. Any vignettes you create will go up on the virtual installation. Try it out!

February 09 2015

Open Source LED Cube Software

LED Cube

It’s something of a rite of passage for hackers and electronics tinkerers to put together an LED Cube. It’s a great way to build something from a relatively minimal amount of components while building knowledge of diodes and microcontrollers, as well as a test of soldering skill. It’s also something that I’d never done myself, so I set out a few weeks ago to put one together.

I found plenty of illustrated guides online; Instructables has at least two: http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Cube-4x4x4/ and http://www.instructables.com/id/The-4x4x4-LED-cube-Arduino/ are quite good. Putting the cube itself together was a great challenge and took me a day or two. However, once that was all done I found that the software was a bit of an afterthought (and in some cases left almost entirely as an exercise to the constructor.) So this weekend I spent some time putting together a C library for Arduino (or Arduino-like) microcontrollers for controlling a 4x4x4 LED cube (although it could easily be adapted for different sizes.

You can find the code on GitHub.

Resistor Projects at Art Hack Day

Last weekend was the awesome Art Hack Day hackathon, organized in part by Resistor member David Huerta and Resistor friend Shayna Gentiluomo. Artists from all over were invited to the awesome Pioneer Works space in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where they met, brainstormed, and executed on a wide array of ideas spanning many mediums, in less than 48 hours.

I showed up uninvited, glued a Beaglebone Black to a Pringles can, and ended up with a note on Makezine:

Built with an A-version BeagleBone Black, this WiFi Taser by Max Henstell turned a Pringles can into an antenna gun of sorts, using Python to send deauth packets to knock nearby laptops off wi-fi.

WiFi Taser by Max Henstell

arthackday-deluge_wifi-taser

Resistor member Adam Mayer and 3D artist Bradley Rothenberg put together this awesome robot utilizing a broken security camera that I rescued off the Google building after Hurricane Sandy:

Last Robot Left Alive, by Bradley Rothenberg and Adam Mayer. The installation postulated the resurrection of a broken security camera that fell to the ground, likely due to wind sheer from Hurricane Sandy.

Last Robot Left Alive by Bradley Rothenberg, Adam Mayer

Resistors Olivia Barr and Ariel Cotton were also present to whip up a cool robot, a trash-creature from the Gowanus Canal.

My silent favorite of the show wasn’t operating optimally, but I know where this one comes from. Monster Mash, by Olivia Barr and Ariel Cotton, turned upcycled junk into a creature from the Gowanus Canal, a nearby Superfund site with record levels of pollutants.

Monster Mash by Olivia Barr, Ariel Cotton

Check out the rest of the awesome projects over at the Makezine writeup of Art Hack Day: Deluge.

February 02 2015

Lasercut Manicures

NYCR Nail art makealong

NYC Resistor members Colleen AF and Shelby recently led a workshop on nail art during the first of their 2015 Make-Along Craft class series. Many of the participants opted for laser cut stencils to jazz up their nails — it is totally safe and doesn’t involve putting your hand in the laser>.

PCB Nail art

I wrote a quick Nail Art HOWTO if you’re curious how the process works. It is very surprising how much fine detail you can transfer with the right nail polish and some practice with the technique. Those traces would work for 0603 SMD parts without too much difficulty if we could find the right conductive paint and power supply.

January 26 2015

3D Printed Wireframes

Wireframed dodecahedron

Sometimes I want to fabricate things that are larger than the build volume on my 3D printer or to make things that are hollow and can be covered with fabric to diffuse LEDs inside. To help out with that, I’ve written a program that will generate 3D printable versions of just the vertices — the resulting object looks like a real-world wireframe of the STL file. This also lets you use other materials for the edges, like wooden dowels, laser-cut acrylic or aluminum extrusion, and makes it easy to cover with stretchy fabric.

Wireframed dodecahedron

The wireframe program parses the STL file, finds all of the unique vertices, eliminates coplanar edges and generates connectors for the ones that remain. It isn’t very smart about some of the intersections of very acute angles, and the output OpenSCAD file needs some cleaning up before it is ready for printing, but simple low-poly shapes can be fabricated without too much effort.

Dodecahedron Connectors

More info is at trmm.net/Wireframe and the source is available. I’ve also posted the dodecahedron that you can make with regular unsharpened pencils from the office supply closet: thing:653464 on thingiverse. I hope you have fun making large-scale things!

Reposted bykathol kathol

Snow laser tonight

laserhalloween

Due to the incoming snowpocolypse there will be no laser night tonight. Instead, please enjoy this scary pumpkin. Stay safe!

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