Monday, April 26, 2010

Chris's intro + first thoughts on Arduino

Brand new to LearnMakeCupcake, I'm an undergraduate in the department of Human Centered Design and Engineering focusing on human computer interaction. My interests at the moment include music, improving education, DIY, home automation, aid in the developing world, impacts of new social mediums, and multi-touch technology.

I don’t know much about what can be done with an Arduino but I have some basic knowledge of circuitry and programming in Java that might help. I grabbed one of the Arduino starter kits on Wednesday and we kicked off the learning process with exploring a blinking LED sketch. Alexis helped helped us out and explained the functions of the code. So far the code seems pretty straight forward, but I'm sure it will get a lot more complicated. I’ve started looking around on the interwebs for what the possibilities are with these things. There are a lot of crazy cool, high tech projects out there, I can't wait to start my own. For now I found some basic tutorials that I’ll be going through over the next few days. I’m going to try to learn the basic functions of all the components that came with the kit this week. I'm also exploring ways to use a touchscreen to send messages to the Arduino using the OSC protocol. I'll post an update after I have a few more sketches under my belt.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Playing Ketchup

It's been two weeks since I've posted here, but these past few weeks have been quite hectic! I've essentially gone underground, my friends and roommates have had to call to make sure I was still alive. What have I been doing you ask? Well, since my last post, we've had two extremely productive weekends at Metrix Create:Space,and thanks to all the people at the Saturday night Makerbot madness event's, we've finally got frank tuned in and printing ABS quite well. In Darivanh's post, she talked about all the settings that we've changed on Frank to get him printing properly. The ABS parts were coming out great, but then I discovered PLA. My order of PLA, from Makergear arrived on Monday and I never wanted to print ABS again. Before I get into the awesomeness of PLA, let me explain why I ordered it, I'm making a reprap mendel, which is also the reason I've gone underground for the past week. I've been essentially printing nonstop for the past 7 day's, and I've almost today I've finished printing all the parts, all the electronics and steppers have arrived, and my hardware will be here by the end of this week. So in theory, by the time my next post goes up, I'll have a fully assembled reprap mendel. Here's a late night picture of Frank printing.

Oh yeah we added some green LED's too!

Anyway, when I first started printing PLA I was terrified, since Frank was having difficulty printing ABS(blowing up PTFE heat barrier's left and right), I could only imagine the the onslaught of damage the, more difficult to print, PLA was going to bring. Before I began down this treacherous road, I implemented Matthew's tips, from Darivanh's post, and he also donated a very handy mod for the Makerbot(see below picture).

If you look at the PTFE heat barrier, you'll see a regular 1/2" copper tube coupler, that's has a slit cut down lengthwise, then held tight by a hose clamp. Ever since I've done this mod...well I haven't blown up a heat barrier since.

So as I wait for my reprap hardware to arrive, I've been reviewing my past week, I realized that I could almost quantify an entire week of my life in a physical manner. Essentially every second of down time I had was devoted to printing my reprap, The below picture represents just over 80 hours of my life last week, combine that with roughly 24 credits of school, and you have one extremely busy week!

I didn't include all the electronics, nor did I include all the steppers, but I'm essentially using the Makerbot electronics, with Lin Engineering steppers for my projects. Hopefully I'll have time this coming weekend to put everything together and I'll soon have a working reprap, you'll be hearing from me soon when it's all done!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We Are Spime Wranglers!

"Having conquered the world made of bits, you need to reform the world made of atoms. Not the simulated image on the screen, but corporeal, physical reality. Not meshes and splines, but big hefty skull-crackingly solid things that you can pick up and throw. That's the world that needs conquering. Because that world can't manage on its own. It is not sustainable, it has no future, and it needs one."

Today I stumbled upon a transcript from a (rather inspiring) speech given by science fiction author Bruce Sterling at a 2004 computer graphics conference.

Sterling begins by giving a brief treatment of the different classes of objects that humans have created throughout history: Artifacts, Machines, Products, Gizmos, and Blobjects. And marching after these classes of objects, says Sterling, will come the Spimes.

Spimes are objects that are "have identities, they are protagonists of a documented process." In Sterling's imagination, Spimes reveal to you information about their origin, ownership, ingredients, ways to customize, and market value. Spimes can update themselves and inform you when they need service. Spimes are open and transparent.

And, perhaps most relevant to the LearnMakeCupcake project—"A true Spime creates spime wranglers. Wranglers are the class of people willing to hassle with Spimes. And it is a hassle. An enormous hassle. But its a fruitful hassle. It is the work of progress. Handled correctly, it can undo the harm of the past and enhance what is to come."

Sterling does not, however, suggest that his vision is without menaces, without a potential dark side. I am in agreement with Sterling there. That's why I want to be a Spime Wrangler. That's why I do HCDE.

Arduino Super Happy Fun Time

We started our evening off with some talk about Discovery Days! For those that don't know, Discovery Days used to be called Open House where the Engineering Departments at the UW showcase themselves. Most of the Engineering departments would not be holding classes that day (except my CSE class! Grrrr) so that students may participate in the event. LearnMakeCupake will be there to show Frank off with his cool new lights and, according to Kevin, has been running smoothly.

The above was written on Thursday afternoon, the day after our weekly Wednesday meeting. Discovery Days is said and done and we're on to continue our project of development in Wearable Social technology.

On Wednesday we had an impromptu arduino session lead by Alexis. The Lillypad and arduino kits had come in and we were overcome with joy. (Pictures incoming) We learned about how to program the arduino to blink. The arduinos use a programming language that needs to compiled tested then uploaded to the arduino.

With the knowledge that we accumulate in the next weeks are so, we hope to develop a system that will bring us closer to Wearable Social Technology.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Things.

1. I just watched a hypnotic video of someone assembling a simple arduino device. I feel like I know what an Arduino is, and I'm glad I took that electronics class at Metrix.

2. I bought a MacBook on Saturday. Hard to say who loves it more--me or my cat (he's a youtube junkie). Here we are, looking cash poor and technology rich.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Metrix Makerbot Madness was a sure success! And as the norm we were able to get sound advice from our friends at Metrix Create:Space. Apparently, making Frank work (properly) required some tweeking between the heat and the speed, 240 and 210 respectively. (If I remember correctly.)

As I arrived at Metrix last night Kevin had the plastruder separated and tugging on a piece of ABS stuck in the ceramic piece (again). In attendance were: Matt (the owner of Metrix), Nick, Alex, Alexis, Kevin, and 2 high school kids and later Matthew. Matt was able to make another piece (or did he have it laying around, I really didn't clarify that) and Kevin was able to piece it together again.

While we were waiting for Kevin to put Frank together (again), I brought up our idea from the meeting on Wednesday: developing Wearable Social Technology with Matt. Our concept consists of some sort of technology that communicates with an item similar to itself that pings when wearers meet. Here's what I got from our discussion: 1) Matt does not wear many accessories 2) Should this wearable technology multitask? 3) How will this technology communicate the pings? We will definitely be using Lillypad. Matt talked to me about his own idea for Wearable Social Technology, and since I'm didn't ask him if I could blog about the topic, I'll have it said that I would love to see his idea in action. It was great to communicate this idea with him because he had some concept of what we were trying to accomplish. Having that insight raised more questions and allowed us to work out some details. As I brought back the info to the group mates we discussed further our audience type, brainstormed some ideas about what type technology we should use and whether we wanted it to be versatile (ie, jacket, shirt, necklace, have the ability to be placed inside multiple items of clothing. etc.), have a visual display.

Throughout the night we were accompanied by Nick, who helped with some advice on how to fine tune zeroing Frank at the start of printing. His advice led Kevin to declare that once we are confident that Frank can run decently that he would print out a handle for the z-axis. Nick Burrows, for those that don't know, won (that's right I said it, WON) the NASA-sponsored PowerBeaming contest. Amazing people walk through the doors of Metrix.

Matthew came later in the night and told us to change some the settings. Looking at our ceramic piece (I should really find out its name) he told us the heat was too high, which is why the piece was bulging. (Giggle) I have to say that Matthew has been a constant source of help for our group since the beginning. So glad we were able to meet with him and through him gain more MakerBot knowledge.

Oh, yes, the high school kids... They were there with their own FrankenBot, to be presented only 3 days at school. I only had a brief moment to speak with them, as I was told their father was circling the block angrily. They started the group a short while ago when one of them found out about the CNC Cupcake. Hopefully, we'll see them again.

Matt (yes, another one) who is a prospective group member came by as well. He is part of the Experimental Art discipline and is interested in joining LearnMakeCupcake, if time permits. We bounced ideas off each other about how to make the wearable social technology bracelet idea come together. He suggested making the item more versatile, and also mentioned that he had friends who made makeshift bracelets from the sleeves of wool sweaters. We weighed the idea of using Bluetooth and WiFi (leaning towards WiFi). Would really like to see this idea through.

Next week: I'll be creating Franks hair and cutting him at Metrix.

PS Alexis, Kevin and I all got our memberships at Metrix.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Makerbot Madness

So after two weeks of constant jamming(even after adjusting the temperature) Bre reminded me to floss Franks teeth...As you can see in the picture below, they were quite gummed up.

But we then went to Makerbot Madness at Metrix on Saturday (4/10) where everyone was more than helpful to help us diagnose our printing problem...While there we did manage to blow up another PTFE Thermal Barrier, number 3 if you've been keeping track. But luckily Matt told us to turn down our temperature and slow down our printing speed. This did wonders for us! Frank has been printing up a storm. I essentially spent the past 48 hours making parts and playing with Skeinforge settings. Check it out!

So what you're seeing here are:
1.75x Wade's Geared Extruder bodies
2.5x Coin-op bottle openers cut
3.5x Makerbot Keychains
1x Coin-op bottle opener
1x Deluxe Makerbot light

When I tried to print Wade's Geared Extruder (The guys at Metrix are using the same style on their Reprap)I just couldn't get Frank to lay down even layers. As you'll see in the following pictures, either the base/raft is warped or somewhere mid-print the layer get's shifted, mind you these prints take just over 2 hours to complete so it's always a fun surprise to come back and seethe slightly distorted mess that Frank creates. From what I hear heated build platforms help take care of the warping issues, and make the material strong so I don't have to use as complicated fill's to make the object rigid...we'll see though.


Warped base and crooked layers. :(

OR maybe I roll the dice on PLA

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Spring Break

In the interest of expanding my mind and doing a better job of documenting this project I started reading two books:
Year's Best SF 14 (borrowed from Alexis) and Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. I won't know if these books will influence my participation in this project until we dig into things a bit more, but I will keep you posted. Naturally I hope I can take some decent fieldnotes now. Reading SF was about expanding my mind and trying to see the potential of technology. I can't tell if it worked.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Getting back up to speed

Alright, now that we're all back from Spring break and classes are just about to hit full speed, it's time to update everyone on the situation. So right as we ended last quarter we bumped into some printing issues...And thanks to all you great followers we've concluded that we're not printing hot enough. However, this was not discovered until we had already broke our second PTFE Thermal Barrier. Luckily I stopped by Metrix on their Makerbot Madness night and was able to pick up a replacement. Now we'll be back in business next week.

Prior to the break, Bre came to Seattle and showed off his...shall we say "pimped out" Makerbot...making our Makerbot look quite boring. This inspired our group to try and customize ours too, so we ordered some LED's. Now I already had a few thousand LED's in my possesion so instead of buying a LED rope...I figured I'd just build one.

Yes it probably would've been faster if I bought an LED rope light...But where's the fun in that.

Along with pimping our Makerbot, we're looking at ideas of how to continue our research this quarter. A few ideas we had were, an Arduino project of sorts, building a reprap, a 3D scanner, and/or something along the lines of wearable computing. More on this later.