Robot Hackathon Update

by on Apr.08, 2011, under Uncategorized

Eight people met tonight and we decided on a plan for hacklab’s new robot overlord. Some of us will be meeting at 9am to start the shopping expedition (first stop: George’s Trains). We’ll be reconvening at or before 1pm tomorrow (Saturday) in order to start construction.

The robot will be a gondola robot, hanging from train track suspended from the ceiling. It’ll have a winch, enabling it to raise and lower a load up and down. We envision an ultimate application being to carry empty pop cans from the desk to the recycling bins :-)

At least four different teams will work in parallel:
– suspended track construction
– gondola train mechanism
– motor control electronics & programming
– winch mechanism

Once the robot is moving, we have a super long list of cool features to add such as responding to light & sound, wireless control via ZigBee, pan & tilt laser “eye”, eyebrows for expression, R2D2 sound effects, etc. Hopefully we will get to some of that fun stuff tomorrow!

If you’re keen to learn about robotics or get put to work in any way on a robot, please show, we can totally find something for you to do! 1pm tomorrow, Saturday April 8th, 2011.

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Integral Transform Workshop

by on Apr.03, 2011, under Uncategorized

On April 25th, at 7pm/1900, I will be doing an integral transform workshop. This workshop will introduce ideas like convolution and the Fourier Transform (and possibly L² Spaces, the Laplace transforms or Fourier Series). Examples of applications will include solving PDEs.

Integral Transforms and the Fourier transform in particular are very powerful ideas. The Fourier transform changes from looking at functions in terms of amplitudes at points in time to amplitudes at frequencies. It has applications to audio and image processing; see examples of what it does to these images (though note that the author is using discrete 2D Fourier transforms, which are a little different from what I’ll be showing).

They’re also very useful in ODEs and PDEs, making them invaluable in physics, including electronics.

NOTE: You should know what derivatives and integrals are if you intend to come to this workshop. I’m really sorry, but I simply won’t have time to teach introductory calculus and cover this material. And it isn’t nice for people who do know calculus if I try to do so.

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Hacklab Toronto Video

by on Apr.03, 2011, under Uncategorized

Check out our new Hacklab Toronto video! See inside the lab, meet a few of our members and check out some of the cool stuff we do. Hacklab Toronto is open to the public every Tuesday night starting at 1800h. Come down and meet us sometime!

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Robot Hackathon

by on Mar.28, 2011, under Uncategorized

Come one, come all and help build a robotic denizen for hacklab! Announcing the first ever robot hackathon at hacklab. We’ll be gathering on Friday April 8th 7pm-onward to brainstorm and discuss what to do, and then all day Saturday April 9th to hack on our robot! Alan and I will be running the session, thanks also to Rob and Geordie who will hopefully be there as well.

The plan is basically to make a robot of some sort that will be a permanent resident of hacklab. A possible idea is to make a “spider bot” that would live above the bar area, roving back and forth on a clothes-line type of thing. It would be able to raise and lower itself from the line, and could have light and sound sensors to enable it to respond to it’s environment. It would be Arduino based in order to make it easily hackable. Bonus points if it can lower itself into a charging port when needed! But this is just one idea, if we can come up with something better that would awesome! We’re keen to have something fun to show off at the hacklab party later that month.

If you’re at all interested in robotics, please come! No experience necessary, we will be forming small teams so that more experienced people can help less experienced people learn, in the true spirit of hacklab. Stay for as little or as long as you like. If you’ve got stuff to donate to our cause (motors, batteries, electronics, etc.) that would be super awesome as well. The more stuff we get the less we will have to buy and the more things our robot will be able to do!

So mark your calendars for April 8th and 9th and prepare for your new hacklab robot overlords :-)

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Soldering RSVP Links

by on Mar.12, 2011, under Uncategorized

The soldering workshops are coming up real soon! The women’s workshop is coming up this Monday. The general audience workshop is a week from Monday, on March 21st. Please RVSP today, space is limited and the last soldering workshop was filled to capacity!

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Get yer Tickets for Arduino Workshop II

by on Feb.11, 2011, under Uncategorized

Tickets are on sale at eventbright: Hacklab Arduino Workshop II. Tickets are $20, there are only 10 spaces available. Text from the event (copied here for your reference):

We’ll be using Arduino to do an edge-lit acrylic lighting project. This will involve:
– bread-boarding, placing a number of circuit elements unto a solderless breadboard and connecting the bread-board to your Arduino pins.
– attaching a super bright RGB (Red Green Blue) LED (Light Emitting Diode) to the acrylic and wiring it into the bread-board.
– writing code to make the RGB LED do pretty things. A momentary switch on the breadboard will allow the use of multiple modes without changing the program. Your imagination will be the only limit to how colorful or complicated it will be. Properly controlled an RBG LED can make any color that the human eye can perceive – and it can fade between them!

I will prepare small kits for each attendee, consisting of a small bread-board, the RGB LED, a bunch of wires, the mom-switch, and a laser-cut, laser-rastered piece of acrylic. The $20 charge is for these materials, you’ll get to keep them all at the end of the night (repurpose and use them for your next project!). Bring your own Arduino – any Arduino will do, including clones. Arduino’s can be purchased at Creatron.

This class is a follow up to the previous Arduino workshop, but is still suitable for near-beginners. You should have your Arduino working, software installed, and understand the Examples->Basics->Blink example.

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Arduino Workshop II

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Uncategorized

I’ll be hosting a follow-up to the previous Arduino workshop, since it was so popular. I’ve scheduled it for Monday Feb 21st at 7pm, which is two weeks from tomorrow.

This workshop will be a little more advanced than the last one, and there will be a materials fee, so that we can have a little more to work with than some surplus LEDs, and you’ll get to take stuff home with you. I’m not sure exactly what that cost will be (gotta go to Creatron and see how much the stuff I am thinking of will cost), but we’ll be learning some bread boarding skills (laying out a more complicated circuit), and writing a moderate sized program. I expect the class to take about 2 hours total. It will be helpful if you’ve already done at least the Blink tutorial (as we did the last time), but total beginners are welcome as always. Hacklab-membership not required, but RSVP will be – attendance will be capped so that I know how many kits of stuff to buy, and we have room to work. Watch this blog for RSVP link to follow sometime in the next week.

Also, quick reminder: this Monday’s workshop is LaTeX, the widely used text markup language, it’s open to beginners and non-members, hope to see you there! Note also that there will be no workshop on Feb 14th – rumors of “kissing for geeks” are just that, rumors!

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LaTeX Workshop

by on Jan.20, 2011, under Uncategorized

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be running an introduction to LaTeX workshop on February 7th. What is LaTeX? LaTeX is a text markup language; instead of typing in word processor like MS Word or Open Office, you type in plain text and then compile it to a format of you choice, such as PDF. Unlike HTML, LaTeX is not terribly cumbersome to type by hand.

LaTeX is the industry standard for math and science publication. Look at a random math paper or book, at you can be very confident it was written in LaTeX. But LaTeX is also capable of doing many things other than writing papers, including slideshows and posters. Here’s an example, a sideshow I made in grade 11. As another example, I made this image in LaTeX for digimer.

This workshop is only an introduction. By the end you will be able to create simple documents and typeset equations. If there is time and interest, I will go into how to make slideshows and the basics of diagrams.

This workshop is open to everyone — that includes non-members. It will start at 7pm.

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Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge

by on Jan.06, 2011, under Uncategorized

Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge! Objective: to mail a cupcake to another hackerspace in pristine condition. Cupcake must travel at least 1600 km. We are participating! Practice session number one at hacklab was a success, free cupcakes available! We’re gonna send to Noisebridge, and also to at least one Canadian hackerspace, such as VHS in Vancouver, ENTS in Edmonton or Protospace in Calgary. Join us and enjoy more awesome hackcakes!

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Plover Hackathon

by on Oct.13, 2010, under Uncategorized

This Saturday (October 16th) Fumon, Rob, and I are going to hack on Plover at the lab from noon until around 5PM. Plover is the just-released Open Source steno program, which (with much practice) lets you type 300 WPM!

We’ll be focusing on two things:

  • brainstorming about open hardware ideas for chording keyboards including a soft-circuit one. Have sewing machine, laser, and Makerbot, will prototype!
  • working on the GUI portion of the app – adding the ability to switch between custom steno dictionaries and edit them

Skills that will be useful and put to use:

  • hardware hacking
  • sewing
  • python (the code is BEAUTIFUL, incidentally)
  • gnome universal access
  • GTK GUIs
  • linguistics

Come on out and help build Plover!  We’ll also be posting updates in #plover on freenode, which you can access through a browser here.


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