Family Friday at RMSC

Interlock brought five demonstrations to our table at the Rochester Museum & Science Center Friday, July 19, 2013.

This was noon to 4 for the Make It! installment of their summer Family Fridays series.

From left to right, we see the MacGyverbot Printrbot LC generously lent for this demonstration but often seen in operation at Interlock, the Interlock Huxley RepRapPro 3D printer, a blue and white lunch-sized slow cooker keeping some Polycaprolactone (PCL) hand-moldable and 3D-printable thermoplastic (previously) warm and ready to try for free-form molding, the shoebox regatta demonstration (with special guest Mr. Jaws!), and at the far edge, a solderless breadboard with a temperature comparator demonstration featuring two LM35 temperature sensors picked up recently from College Home Hardware in Toronto.

Interlock's table at RMSC

Interlock table at RMSC Family Friday

We shared that portion of the first floor with some folks from Greater Rochester Robotics, who brought the robot from their most recent FIRST Robotics Competition season, Ultimate Ascent. They were letting visitors move the robot around the floor and occasionally launch a plastic flying disk or two.

It wasn’t quite the battle of the bots, but a couple of times the ‘bot got up a good head start and whacked into the front of our table, sloshing around the water in the PCL crock and the regatta box. Midway through, such a collision might have had a role to play in loosening up the Huxley’s X-axis drive gear (now since fixed), at which point we switched from printing in silver-gray PLA (polylactic acid) on the Huxley to printing in fluorescent yellow ABS (acrylonitrile/butadiene/styrene) on the MacGyverbot. This led us to discover that kids love them some bright plastic sharks.

GRR robot at RMSC

Greater Rochester Robotic’s 2013 FIRST robot wheels around the first floor of the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

from on July 23rd, 2013Comments0 Comments

new spaces galore

Just thought I’d take some time to catch us all up on several recent developments beyond Interlock, but somewhat local, that are relevant to our interests.

Rochester Brainery logo

Last month, I read in the local paper of the formation of the Rochester Brainery, opening early next month in the Village Gate, across the Goodman Street railyard from us here at Interlock and our neighbors at the Hungerford.

Smokestack Coworking logo

We’ll always owe a debt to Dave at Coworking Rochester for helping us get started by offering space and moral support during some of our bigger early organizational meetings, before we settled on a space of our own to rent. Still, it’s interesting to see people coming together in another coworking space in town, Smokestack Coworking, High Falls area.

Here’s hoping they both thrive and complement each other.

Ithaca Generator logo

Last month we received a visitor from Ithaca, José, who traveled up with a couple of friends maybe to join what he thought at the time was the closest hackerspace to him. I had a great time talking with him, so it was a little bittersweet to tell him Ithaca Generator has recently gotten off to what looks like a good start and might just meet his needs without the long drive.

I wasn’t able to make it to their open house back in December. But, I
did visit with some family over the holidays who were able to go and got to see the party favors they made at the open house. Fun. Look like good things are in store for the hands-on, DIY hacker and maker community in Ithaca.

Buffalo Labs logo

We’ve also been having a friend, Joe, make the trip from Niagara Falls every so often to visit, which has had us asking how things are going at Buffalo Lab. Figured we’ve give them a shout out while we’re at it.

[placehold for eventual Rochester Makerspace logo]

Last, but hopefully not least, the most recent big news is a much-anticipated step for the group calling themselves Rochester Makerspace. They’ve rented a space a little north of downtown, on St. Paul Street. Just Tuesday they had a get-together with pizza at the new location.

Though the planning for this new space has been careful and deliberate, ongoing since at least this last summer, they now are moving towards ambitious goals to grow fast. I continue eagerly to await the opening of another maker-friendly space in Rochester, expected some time in March.

from on February 9th, 2013Comments1 Comment

blinky lights test

About a year ago, Interlock members were offered to go in on two group purchases, coordinated through the mailing list. The first was for Freeduino kits, with the boards pre-populated with the USB controller chip and mini-B socket. The second was for strands of individually-addressable RGB LEDs which can be controlled with an Arduino using this
Adafruit WS2801 library.

I indulged in each, getting one Freeduino kit as a soldering-skills confidence-building project and to give me a second Arduino-compatible device in case I wanted to start do something possibly destructive of my “store-bought” name-brand Arduino. I also got a single 50-light strand of the LEDs.

Well, as it turns out, I didn’t solder together the Freeduino until a couple of months ago. But I started playing with the LEDs almost right away, demonstrating them at our open house in the spring. I haven’t done a whole lot with them, other than play around with the color space a little bit by having them display cyan, magenta, and yellow (eg, the combinations of the other two colors leaving out, respectively, red, green, and blue).

The main problem I had starting out was that I wasn’t quite ready yet to start messing with external DC power supplies capable of delivering more than the half-amp or so that a USB port can supply. Reportedly, each LED can draw up to 60 milliamps, so there was no way I could use the out-of-the-box example code from the library, which lights up all the lights in the strand.

I could have had it just light up a half-dozen or so of the lights, I suppose, but I wanted to try all the lights, just not at once. I soldered onto the end of each of the four wires a bit of lead clipped from through-hole parts for other soldering projects to give me something I could shove down into a breadboard connector or into the Arduino connectors. Red is 5V, blue is ground. White is data and green is clock (I think, but see the code).

So, here’s my modest modification of the example code, in which I modify the ColorWipe function to first turn off any previously-lit lights before lighting up a new light with the given color. It’s a bit lazy, having a fencepost error on each end of the strand, trying to turn off (eg, set to black) the light number -1 and failing to turn off the last light in the strand. I’ve come to think of that as the “last color used indicator” feature.


--- libraries/WS2801/examples/strandtest/strandtest.pde 2011-12-13 00:43:49.000000000 -0500
+++ strandshort.ino 2012-11-24 17:29:53.829648206 -0500
@@ -16,7 +16,7 @@

// Set the first variable to the NUMBER of pixels. 25 = 25 pixels in a row
-WS2801 strip = WS2801(25, dataPin, clockPin);
+WS2801 strip = WS2801(50, dataPin, clockPin);

// Optional: leave off pin numbers to use hardware SPI
// (pinout is then specific to each board and can’t be changed)
@@ -37,8 +37,9 @@
colorWipe(Color(255, 0, 0), 50);
colorWipe(Color(0, 255, 0), 50);
colorWipe(Color(0, 0, 255), 50);
– rainbow(20);
+/* rainbow(20);
rainbowCycle(20);
+*/
}

void rainbow(uint8_t wait) {
@@ -75,8 +76,13 @@
// good for testing purposes
void colorWipe(uint32_t c, uint8_t wait) {
int i;
+ int j;
+ uint32_t black;
+ black = Color(0,0,0);

for (i=0; i < strip.numPixels(); i++) {
+ j=i-1;
+ strip.setPixelColor(j,black);
strip.setPixelColor(i, c);
strip.show();
delay(wait);

from on November 26th, 2012Comments0 Comments