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February 05 2018

Social Stats Trackers with ESP8266

I recently published two guides for new electronics projects around tracking your social media stats. The first is a YouTube subscriber counter that resembles a Play Button Award and shows your subscriber count across two seven segment displays behind the framed paper.

The second is very similar but tracks multiple stats with the same board, and has more displays connected.

Both projects use the NodeMCU ESP8266 microcontroller and LED backpacks from Adafruit.

January 20 2018

Midwinter Yarn Swap

Next Saturday (27 Jan) NYC Resistor’s knitting guild, PKPTransistor, will be having our first annual Midwinter Yarn Swap. Cast off some of your old yarns, hook up with some new yarns, and get cozy with your fellow yarn hoarders!

Knit Knight at NYC Resistor

Bring your stash to trade and share while enjoying good company, mulled apple cider, and hot choclety. We’ll put some Back to Back Challenge videos on the big screen and talk shop. Knitters, crocheters, spinners, dyers, if you do it with yarn we’d love to have you. And if you have ideas for stash-busting projects, bring them along.

January 27
2pm – 5pm
NYC Resistor
87 3rd Ave. in Brooklyn

yarn bomb of bull statue crochet mushrooms

yarn bomb of bike rack yarn bomb of Rocky statue

Photos by Trammell Hudson, Sarah Nichols, Ahd Photography, Sherri Lynn Wood, and Eli Carrico

January 19 2018

Fireflies: camera-based musical instruments

camera-based instrument in concert

We asked Adelle and Matt about their camera-based musical instruments. Here’s what they said.

<!--[if lt IE 9]><script>document.createElement('video');</script><![endif]--> https://www.nycresistor.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/firefly-interface-test-video.mp4

What’s a camera-based musical instrument?  Basically, it’s two cameras facing upwards, about a foot below a player’s hands.  When they move their hand, it’s converted into different types of notes, sound effects and volumes, to create an expressive performance.

Three fireflies under construction

We made 3 of these.  The form was shaped like a musical soundwave: we prototyped it on the laser cutter, and eventually got it CNC milled.

This is part of the CES Intel Keynote pre-show performance. It was the opening of the show, to show off the instruments’ nuance and control before the concert gets too big. The middle instrument was piano sounds; the one on the right was synths and electronics; the one on the left was chords and atmosphere. The show opened dark: the performer, Kevin Doucette, used his hands to bring up the lights on the instrument as well as the synthesisers, then waved his hands to switch keys on a virtual keyboard.   Kevin played the Killers’ “Are we human or are we dancers?”.

In this instance, the performer is wearing gloves with sensors in them, and is using finger bends to trigger notes.  Yes, it looks like a theramin – but it’s way cooler and has blinkenlights.  But seriously, the LEDs are there to show the musician where they are on the instrument and the types of notes that they’re playing (ed: but they’re still cool).

We built this instrument to use the cameras (they’re good at doing fast hand tracking and depth); we added the LEDs because if you have an invisible instrument you don’t know where you are, and the LEDs give feedback to train your hand in space.

Firefly generations

Here’s the lasercut and CNC versions side by side: here, we’re doing LED tests.

(insides of the camera-based instrument)

Here are the insides: the frame, the LED controller and the acrylic housing around them.  The cameras are Realsense.  There are two programs (developed by Nerdmatics) running on linux in the back end, and TouchDesigner to control the lighting.

Firefly guts

Here are the guts of the instrument

Realsense cameras

Here are the cameras

Camera teardown

And the camera teardown

Come talk to us about this project!

January 18 2018

What should I do at craft night if I don’t have a project

Thingsgiving and Widget

We asked Bonnie and Widget what to do at craft night if you don’t have a project.  Here’s their list…

You could do things that have nothing to do with projecting: sit on your own surfing the internet or playing farm games (Hi Mikael!), sit and talk to people, grab a book from the library, ask people about their projects, offer to help with projects, or offer to help clean (which is a great way to make us love you).

More traditional projects: you could spelunk in thingsgiving (our pool of electronics supplies and mysterious arcane objects, aka a treasure hunt) and see what you could make. You could learn to solder.  You could knit, or learn to knit (we have yarns and needles on hand), you could grab scraps of fabric and play around with a sewing machine.  You could paint your nails: we have lasercut nail art blocks, some of which are very geeky (ed: I love the one with circuits).  Or you could video DJ on our projector.

You could draw – we love artists. Or try out the 3D printers (or help get one of them working again).  Mill your own PCBs on the othermill.  Or you could bring things that you want to fix, and fix them.

Craft nights are Mondays and Thursdays – check out our Participate page.


January 17 2018

NYC Resistor has a public Slack channel

(inside the non-interwebz space)

So NYC Resistor now has a public slack channel.  Why?  Because we have awesome chats with people who come into the space for open nights and classes (see participate if you want to join in), and we want to extend this to the interwebz.

We’re here: https://goo.gl/bxJLGf (*).  We’ve got the usual general and random (sometimes very random) channels, and new channels for knitting (pkpresistor), microcontrollers and more. Come join us!

(* if the slack link doesn’t work, contact widget@nycresistor.com to get added)

SVG Jigsaw Generation in Clojure

[Cross-post from Bonnie Eisenman’s blog at https://blog.bonnieeisenman.com/projects/clojure-puzzles/.  Bonnie is often found at the NYC Resistor craft nights]

I spent the last week learning Clojure and generating jigsaw puzzles as part of my one-week programming retreat at the Recurse Center.

Why jigsaw puzzles? I was motivated by two things: first, I wanted a good-sized language-learning project. Secondly, I was heavily inspired by the amazing, beautiful, intricate jigsaw puzzles produced by Nervous Systems and wanted to experiment with similar-ish generative methods. (I’m a sucker for generative things and hadn’t played with generative algorithms too much before.) If you want a crazy cool puzzle, seriously, go buy one from Nervous.

I think they turned out well!

A black-and-white outline of a jigsaw puzzle. There's a cat shaped piece in the top left. A hand holding the cat-shaped puzzle piece.

Because I have access to NYC Resistor’s laser cutter, the obvious thing to do was generate SVGs which I could then laser cut. If you haven’t worked with SVG before, it’s an XML-based format for describing vector graphics. It’s pretty easy to generate “by hand”.

Here is what an SVG looks like, if you open it up with a text editor:

 <svg width="100" height="100">

This produces a yellow circle, centered at (50, 50), with a radius of 40, and a four-pixel green outline. You can view an SVG file in any web browser, or edit it in an editor like Inkscape.

A yellow circle

See? Easy-peasy.

I started by generating a “classic” jigsaw puzzle shape, and figuring out how to tile it.

A single classic jigsaw puzzle piece. A grid of mostly-identical jigsaw puzzles

But I wanted something more interesting than just a grid of similar puzzle pieces! My next step was to use a Voronoi diagram to draw more irregularly-sized polygons around “seed” points. At first this created some amusing failures:

A grid of orange dots and some black lines between them. Something looks weird - the lines skew off in random directions!

Oops. This is what happens when you draw points at (x, x) instead of (x, y). Let’s fix those coordinates.

A grid of orange dots, surrounded by black lines representing voronoi edges. Now they actually are enclosed cells, like they're supposed to be.

If we replace those straight lines with puzzle-piece edges, we get something that starts to look like a more interesting puzzle. There are still obviously flaws to be ironed out here (e.g. edge overlap).

Similar to the previous image, polygons constructed by voronoi tiling then have their edges deformed using puzzle-piece-like squiggles. There is some overlap between lines so this would not make a good puzzle.

I wanted to make more novel puzzle piece shapes, though, so I turned to the SVG path type. You can draw Bézier curves in SVG pretty easily:

<path d="M 0 0 C 0 -100 50 -100 50 0 S 100 100 100 0"
      transform="translate(0 400)"/>

A blue curve that dips up then down.

OK, here’s what it looks like when we replace our puzzle piece shape with some random-ish curves:

More puzzle pieces, now with squiggles.

Add more curves and it gets even better!

Very squiggly pieces.

I also experimented with variations on how to place the seed points for my puzzle generation. Here’s one that’s based on a circular point distribution.

A puzzle arranged by concentric circles of squiggles.

Now I had some monstrously-irregular puzzle pieces to play with. Cool! I wanted to take it one step further by implementing whimsy pieces. In jigsaw jargon, a whimsy piece is a themed, recognizably-shaped puzzle piece. They might be butterflies or people or letters or…you name it!

I modified my puzzle-generator to clear space for a whimsy piece, first testing it with circular whimsy pieces.

A puzzle with two circular pieces placed inside it.

Then, using a kd-tree, I identified the whimsy piece’s nearest-neighbors and connected it back to the rest of the puzzle. Here’s a cat!

Same image as earlier - a puzzle with a cat-shaped piece in it.

And, finally, I took these files over to NYC Resistor and lasered them.

Laser cutting cutting puzzle pieces into white acrylicThe completed puzzle, with the cat whimsy removed.

It took a group of us about ninety minutes to solve the cat puzzle. Not bad for four days’ work!

Several people gathered around the puzzle, working on solving it.

All of the code is available on Github at bonniee/svg-puzzle-gen. (It’s my first Clojure program, so I’m sure there are plenty of non-idiomatic things happening there.)

Dependencies / thank-yous:

Testimonials from playtesters:

  • “This is awesome!”
  • “This is horrible!”
  • “This is amazing! And by amazing I mean terrible!”
  • “Why are all the puzzle pieces the same ???”
  • “Is this supposed to be evil?”
  • “How can I get one?”

January 16 2018

Learn Arduino with Becky and Ranjit this Sunday 1/21

Want to get started with physical computing? Learn to program an Arduino and interact with the physical world on Sunday, January 21st! In our Intro to Arduino: Sensors and Input/Output class, we’ll cover an introduction to Arduino and learn how to manipulate outputs based on sensor inputs.

January 15 2018

Intro to 3D Printing and 3D Design Class on Jan 28th

A 3d printer is printing an irregularly-shaped green object
Our instructor will take you through key concepts of 3D printing, demo the technology on our printers, and lead the class through the design process of creating a model and preparing it to print. We’ll talk about creating functional objects, creative objects, available materials, print reliability, and compare various printer models and features.

January 07 2018

Get laser-certified on Jan 13th

Our next laser cutting class is coming up on January 13th. Learn to use our Epilog 60W laser cutter and get laser-certified so you can come back and use it at our public Craft Nights.

Laser-cut wooden boxes, with random organic-looking cutouts.

Our laser can cut and etch materials like wood, acrylic, paper, and even pie.

A merengue-topped pie sitting in the laser cutter bed. The pi symbol is etched onto the pie.

Tickets available now.

January 04 2018

No Craft-night for January 4th 2018

NYC is blanketed in snow, travel is hard, the air is cold.

We have no craft-night tonight. Stay warm!

Grizzly bear playing a guitar in the snow.

January 01 2018

No Craft Night for Jan 1

We partied ourselves out last night. No Craft Night today.

Happy New Year’s everyone!

June 14 2017

Visitor project: Dominion storage solution

Dominion is an award-winning deck-building card game that has ten expansions released as of this writing. There are a wide variety of proposed storage solutions to the problem of toting about several thousand cards and sundry mats and tokens, and Sherwin decided it was high time he moved on up from the method he had been using to a proper receptacle.

First, a look at the final product:

Wooden box sitting on its edge with the word "Dominion" etched in stylized text on its face. Open wooden box displaying contents consisting of rows of Dominion cards separated by labeled dividers.

We managed to fit about 3700 unsleeved cards along with the other odds and ends in with room for further expansion. The dividers make every card easy to locate and access, and the box dimensions keep the whole package relatively compact and portable.

Our starting point was an ad-hoc solution that involved storing each set of Kingdom cards in separate pockets on 9-card sheets, with the base cards being held in deck boxes and the tokens in a bead container, all of which were piled into one of the original game boxes and wrapped in a tote bag. This system worked for a time, but as further expansions were released, both box and tote showed increased signs of strain, neither having been designed to hold more than one game or expansion at a time.

Old, beaten Dominion Intrigue box sitting on a wooden table, overflowing with sleeved dominion cards. To its left sits a threadbare Dominion tote bag.

The sheets can be seen overflowing from the game box, which barely squeezed into the tote

The box had already been replaced once before, and when the replacement itself began showing severe signs of wear we began looking into other options. We debated building one out of lumber, but eventually settled on using a case that had been tried and tested in other storage solutions for our first attempt.

We knew that we would require some sort of organizer to keep each column of cards in line, and laser-cut some test pieces out of cardboard to check the fit.

White paper sitting on a mac laptop keyboard with seemingly random numbers and lines scribbled in blue pen. White paper fills the page. In black pen, there are lines an measurements scrawled over the page. In the upper left sits the bottom half of a pencil and a set of mechanical calipers.

Determining the dimensions of the caddy and how to fasten them

Seen from above, the right half of a wooden table is covered in two disjoint halves of a wooden box, the left is covered in white paper. Strewn over everything is a set of cardboard inserts which are white on one face and brown on the other. Wooden box with cardboard inserts fills the page. There one small stack of Dominion cards sitting in each of the six columns.

Assembling the mock caddy, then testing the fit of the cards
We also planned to engrave the game’s logo onto the box using the laser cutter, and had two waxes and two stains we wanted to try. The case came with a tray insert that was made of the same wood, though unfinished, so we did a test burn both before and after applying the four coats to observe the effect. We also removed the hardware from the case and sanded off the veneer in preparation.

Strip of birch plywood with two blury laser etched dominion logos filling it's length runs across the center of the picture. Behind it is the metal latice of a laser cutter. Wooden rectangle sites atop white paper. The words "Hello World!" are laser etched into four rows filling its left half.

Mocking up the logo and testing burn parameters for the wood

Blue nitrile gloved hands which come from the right side of the frame are rubbing dark wax into one of four rows on a wood box which sits on white paper. Wooden box with the words "Hello world" etched in four rown down the left side, sits on white paper with a bright light shining down on it. The wood has been stained in four rows with increasingly dark wood stains / waxes going from a golden honey colour to a brushed black hue.

Applying the coats of wax and stain to the test piece
The logo we used had too much background and shading for a clean burn. We ended up using Pawel Pawlak’s Dominion icons to generate an appropriate vector image of the logo and banner outline for the laser cutter.

Sheet of white cardboard on a metal grate in a laser cutter behind dirty glass. There is a blur of a moving laser cutter head over the center third of the cardboard. The beginning of an etching of the Dominion logo can be seen as a pale brown on the cardboard's surface. Sheet of white cardboard on a metal grate in a laser cutter behind dirty glass. There is a blur of a moving laser cutter head over the center third of the cardboard. A completed etching of the Dominion logo can be seen as a pale brown on the cardboard's surface.

Testing the final logo
After finalizing the dimensions of the caddy pieces and wax choice, we then cut the pieces out of clear acrylic, assembled and affixed them with acrylic glue, burned the logo into the case cover, then applied the coats of wax.

Corner of a light brown wooden box fix the lower two thirds of the frame. A sheet of clear acrylic, the height of the box, cuts a single internal column on the left hand side. Light wooden box sits atop white paper at a slight angle filling the upper two thirds of the frame. The box is divided into six columns by strips of clear acrylic which are the same height as the box itself. An additional strip of clear acrylic rests atop the left edge of the box hanging prosperously over the side.

Assembling and checking the fit of the final caddy
Light brown wooden box sits in middle frame at a slight angle atop white paper. It is mostly covered in a honey brown wax. The Dominion logo is etched in its center. Two hands connected to arms which lead off the top of the picture, are wearing blue nitirle gloves and rubbing additional wax into the surface.

Applying the wax to the case exterior

To minimize cards sliding around and give them a cushion, we cut a segment out of poker felt and glued it to the bottom with spray adhesive. We attempted to replace the stock hardware with sturdier options, but found the wood to be too thin to support any of the screws from the cabinet fixtures.

A rectangular wooden pallet has two small squares of green felt glued to the bottom right corner of the palette. A jug of wood glue, can of spray adhesive, and hand holding a hot glue gun are just out of frame. Light wooden box with a green felt base rests on its edge, filling the frame. The box's inside is divided into six vertical columns by clear acrylic. Two hands in the upper right of the frame can barely be seen screwing something into its side.

Testing different adhesives on felt samples and reattaching the hardware to the finished bottom
Finally, after completing assembly of the box, we had to transfer the actual game components from the old box to the new one. We created the divider tabs using sumpfork’s Dominion Divider Generator and had them printed on cardstock and trimmed at a local print shop.

Warm brown wooden box sits in the middle of the frame at an angle resting on butcher paper on a wodden table. The Domnion logo is etched in its center. Brass clasps are affixed to its front along with a leather and brass handle. Open light brown wooden box resting on butcher paper on a wooden table. The bottom of the box is green felt and it is divided into six columns by clear acrylic strips.

The finished box ready to receive the game materials

Resting atop a wooden table which fills the frame, from left to right there is a stack of two sheets of card sleeves full of Dominon cards, the bottom half of a Dominion box full of card sheets which are them selves full of Dominion cards, the top half of a Dominion box with three stacks of dominion cards, a light wooden box which is open, with a green felt bottom split into six columns by strips of clear acrylic, one of the columns is full of dominion cards with a second one about half full, and finally five stacks of white card paper which are barely in frame. On the right side of the table there is also a jumble of empty card sleeves. A wooden table runs at a sharp angle from the top left to the bottom right of the frame. From left to right there are: sheets of card sleeves full of dominion cards, the bottom half of a dominion box half full of full card sheets, the top half of a dominion box with three stacks of dominion cards in it, a light wooden box which is open, its base green felt, divided into six columns by clear acrylic the left most of which is full of dominion cards and dividers, finally six stacks of white card stock with dominion rules text printed on them.

Moving the cards into their new home
A light wooden box sits dead center, filling the bottom half of the frame. Its open lid fills the top half. The box is filled with dominion cards arranged in four of the six columns and separated by white card stock with card titles. The second to left column contains little plastic bags of glittering bronze tokens, and the last column is about half full of cards separated in the same manner as the first four.

Ready to play!

NYCR Members Kari Love and Matthew Borgatti teaching Soft Robotics and Bioinspiration at ITP Camp

Robots are neat, but everyone has one around the house these days. From Roomba to Alexa, there’s an army of soothing plastic helpers to help you look up actor names and eliminate your least favorite repetitive tasks. Aren’t you curious what is out there chasing the horizon of robotics, on the seam between the artificial and the biological?

Well, that’s what you’re going to learn if you’re one of the lucky ITP Camp attendees this year. Our members Kari Love and Matthew Borgatti will be teaching a class on Soft Robotics and Bioinspiration this week at NYU’s ITP. It will cover how they – real actual researchers in soft robotics – perform research, build prototypes, and solve problems with inspiration from biology. It’s also got hands-on prototyping and playful learning for everyone excited by design and creative process.

From the course description:

Roboticists frequently find inspiration from the incredible evolved forms of nature, and translate them into fresh thinking and solutions. This workshop invites you to explore this fast-growing domain where biology and robotics collide.

May 29 2017

We’re open for Craft Night

Holidays? What holidays! Resistor will be open as usual tonight for Craft Night / Knit Knight.

May 16 2017

Visitor projects: the most excellent blanket

Hey NYCR visitors – have you done something neat lately? Let us know, so we can blog about it!

Julia learned to knit in December at NYC Resistor. And then, uh….this blanket happened. Julia, you’re amazing. Students outshining their teachers, etc.

I can vouch for this blanket being extremely cozy. You’re looking at 30 skeins (6,540 yards!) of yarn and 1,040 tails that needed weaving in. It comfortably fits three people.

If you want to make your own blanket, the Infinite Rainbow Throw pattern is free from KnitPicks.

Don’t know how to knit? Wish you had more knitting time? Join us every other Monday for our Knit Knight, 730pm-930pm. We’ll teach you – beginners get their first pair of needles free. (You don’t need to be as intense as Julia in order to attend Knit Knight, we promise.)

May 08 2017

Interactive Show Preview: Dance Dance Running Man


Join the fun at the NYC Resistor Interactive Show this Saturday, where you can play Dance Dance Running Man by Colleen AF Venable, Eric Skiff, and Astrida Valigorsky:

Dance Dance Running Man revives the dance-game classic DDR as dystopian chase game. Keep those feet moving while the chasers chase from behind the arrows and Arnold keeps them at bay. Featuring images from the film and pro-level DDR pads, you’ll be dancing for your life!

Come play with it yourself at The Interactive Show on May 13th! Tickets are just $15 in advance ($20 at the door), and the libations are on us. Get your tickets now!


Interactive Show Preview: Who Do You Love


Come to the NYC Resistor Interactive Show this Saturday to see “Who Do You Love” by Adelle Lin, Olivia Barr, and Matt Pinner:

A deplorable reality television host rises to power by exploit people for the sake of entertainment. He uses a nightmarish cacophony of violence and catch phrases to control his audience. In The Running Man this media mogul shouts, “Who Loves You and Who Do You Love?”

Who Do You Love is an interactive sound installation that samples Donald Trump saying the word “China” in phrases from his campaign and presidency. The interface device for the installation consists of three acrylic towers, dispersed through the space. Each tower houses three buttons where players can activate the sound from different locations. Pressing a button triggers the Commander and Chief to say “china”, “i love china”, “i know china very well”, or “china all the time”.


The phrases overlap each time a button is pushed to create an ambiance of garbled memetastic catch phrases. The towers encase a teensy audio shield, teensy 3.2, xbee, and our custom oshpark pcb. the devices connect to each other using these 900mhz xbee radios and light up clear acrylic portions with led sequins when buttons are pressed anywhere in the space. The new echo of “China” is channeled into the exhibition room’s speakers or through headphones. Multiple players of Who Loves You collaborate to compel the distortion of Trump’s reflections on China into noise.

We hope this raises some discussions about your feelings around entertainment media and representative governments.

More info on Github.

Come play with it yourself at The Interactive Show on May 13th! Tickets are just $15 in advance ($20 at the door), and the libations are on us. Get your tickets now!

April 28 2017

Interactive Show Preview: Panorama Lamp

Here’s another Interactive Show preview, this time of “Panorama Lamp” by Kirill Shevyakov, Alexander Savvy, and Paul Koch. Check it out in action in this video.

Panorama Lamp Panaorama Lamp panorama lamp video

The Panorama lamp is a tribute to a monumental Soviet architecture. Inspired by a colossal concrete curves and extraordinary aesthetic of USSR structures this lamp is a miniature replica of a soviet movie theatre. The surface of the lamp is divided into 70 units creating a 360 degree visual grid. Each unit encompasses an LED which forms a vast “canvas” for various interactions, light sequences, and data visualizations.

Come play with it yourself at The Interactive Show on May 13th! Tickets are just $15 in advance, and the libations are on us. Get your tickets now!

April 26 2017

Interactive Show Preview: Red Rider

Time has been flying and we’ve been frantically getting ready for The Interactive Show. It’s just 17 days away! Here’s a preview of “Red Rider” by Ranjit Bhatnagar and Colleen AF Venable.


Red Rider

A modern take on Little Red Riding Hood with a NYC twist. The story is told in six voices, each giving their version of what happened—including Red Rider (the fastest bike messenger in the city), the now-vegan Wolf, the Lumberjock (who always gives 110%), three very bizarre little pigs, and a maybe-not-so-sweet-and-innocent Grandma. Find the six listening stations and see if you can you figure out what happened to the Wolf.

Tickets are just $15 in advance, and the libations are on us. Get your tickets now!

There’s still time to submit a project before the May 1st deadline, contact us!

April 14 2017

April 22nd: All-Day CryptoParty

Photo by Huck Magazine.

Photo by Huck Magazine.

CryptoParty returns to NYC Resistor on April 22nd, 2017 for a night of learning about your digital defense in the age of mass surveillance from Fort Meade and Madison Ave. Stop by anytime between 3PM and 9PM and enjoy snacks and skills from a variety of online security practitioners and researchers. We’re hosting a full day mix of and hands-on-help with everything from vetting a good VPN to navigating Tor and Signal.

If you’ve never been to Resistor before, check our Participate page for more info, including the Code of Conduct. Hope to see you there! If you’ve never been a CryptoParty before, please check out the CryptoParty Guiding Principles.


Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 3:00PM – 9:00PM.


NYC Resistor (between Bergen and Dean)
87 3rd Ave. Floor 4 (use this OSM link if you’re Richard Stallman)
Brooklyn, NY 11217

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