NASA: The Blue Marble, 2012. Click the image for full resolution.

NASA: The Blue Marble, 1972. Click the image for full resolution.

NASA today released a crazy high-res reconstructed photograph of the world, 61 megapixels (8,000 x 8,000)… we can finally replace the one from Apollo 17 from 1972.

Here are the deets.

A ‘Blue Marble’ image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite – Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth’s surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed ‘Suomi NPP’ on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.

Suomi NPP is NASA’s next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.

Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.

Image Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

 

The MAKE blog recently posted a notice of an event being held this weekend–Art Hack Day–that I find very intriguing. I’ve been bandying about an similar idea, in part inspired by the Bravo Channel’s reality TV series Work of Art. The show has the typical “Top XYZ” format of elimination challenges. What strikes me about the show is that their work space looks very much like a hackerspace, and once the artists settle in to the work format, they start producing some extremely intriguing pieces.

In a lot of ways, the artist’s studio and hackerspaces are very similar; indeed, we here at Hive76 have made a former artist’s studio as our fire-retardant-home-away-from-home here at 915 Studios. So with that in mind, we are putting together a similar event to the Art Hack Day. We would like to make it an open build session with recycled materials. Stay tuned for the full details in an upcoming blog post (honestly, I will write it, really, I will).

 

The GPSd Project

Eric S. Raymond has recently asked for some help from Philadelphia’s DIY and engineering community with an exciting project. Amongst many other interesting projects, ESR is the lead developer on GPSd, a “service daemon that monitors one or more GPSes…”. He needs help building a cheap GPS repeater to forward the RF data from his roof antenna to his test rack in his office. For any student or hobbiest electrical engineers looking to make a name for themselves, this could be an excellent opportunity.

 

The JayOscillator

The JayOscillator is the stupid name that I came up with for my HTML 5 synthesizer that I’ve been working on over the last month or so.  I spent a good part of today making it look pretty, though now It works in Chrome and Safari right now. It technically works in FireFox, but the displays for the variables don’t seem to want to open their eyes. Take a look:

The JayOscillator

I named it the “JayOscillator” after the Korg KAOSCILLATOR, as my thing is a similar sort of notion, written in JavaScript.

You can try it out here for now, though no promises that the URL won’t change in the future.

Unfortunately, I think I have to give up on iPad support. Apple nerfed the ability to auto-start HTML 5 audio tags from JavaScript. Without that ability, their is no way I can keep a continuous tone going.

I’m considering rewriting this as a native app, though. Most of the effort here has been in figuring out the math necessary to get this going. Since that work is done, porting to different languages and platforms is more of a chore in API calls.

 

See... rendering is fun!! I downloaded a partially completed batmobile model from Blendswap.com (thanks Xuan!), but it wasn't ready for primetime yet. So I segmented, textured, and lit everything (including the Tron style wheels), before rendering it with Cycles. Everything was done in Blender 2.61 FTW.


Blender continues to be my favorite open-source 3D modeling and rendering software package. It has seen tremendous growth over the last couple of years, moving from a fledgling modeling project to a blockbuster production quality modeling, animation, lighting, rendering, and post-processing toolkit.

It’s snowballing into a truly stunning software package. So, there’s no better time than now to teach you how to use it!

In about two weeks I’ll be offering an Intro Blender interface, rendering, compositing, and video motion tracking class right here at Hive76. I’m looking at a 2-day class January 28th-29th, probably 4 hours each day. The beauty is you don’t need to have any 3D modeling skills… there are a TON of LEGALLY FREE and INSANELY DETAILED 3D models widely available. Pick your favorite model and I’ll help you work with it over 2-days to get you positioning, rendering, texturing, and lighting. Hopefully on day 2 we’ll have enough time to try some basic animations inserted over video recorded from meatspace.

Any questions, come to our weekly Wednesday night open house and see what we’re talking about.

 
Option 1) Lasercut, Laser engrave, and LED-light-up your very own Snowflake

Option 1) Lasercut, Laser engrave, and LED-light-up your very own Snowflake

Join us on TUESDAY, December 20th, 7 pm – Midnight

Meet-and-Make, Hive76 and NextFab Studio Members
@ http://NextFabStudio.com/ @ 3711 Market Street

This “Maker Collider” event will be a great opportunity to make awesome stuff.

We had proposed these projects:
All details are here on the Wiki

After reviewing the projects here and those proposed by NextFab members it sounds like we will be doing some form of the Chess boards, the snowflakes, some robotics, and a bunch of laser-engraving. But what if you don’t like those? Come by anyway and you can rally troops for helping you on your own project(s).

NextFab Studio will have these staff members on hand throughout the event:
Chrinstine : Textile and Industrial Design ( fabric knowledge, product design,cad, sewing )
Ian : Electronics (pcb design/fabrication, coding, wiring, soldering, etc.)
Seth : Mechanical Engineer (handtools, cad, product design)
Brandon : Multi-Media Designer ( 3d printing, graphic design, product design, cinematography, cad)

Anything you want to do, you can do. AWESOME.

Check out all their equipment.

Oh, and there will be food too. Be there at 7 pm!!

To Join in on the Discussion, please join our mailing list

 

Making… Paint!

Electrolysis of water for side effects

Back in late August, when we did the experimentation with ferrofluids, I discovered-for-myself an interesting process for making the requisite Fe3O4, aka magnetite. Through an electrolysis process, and then some other steps, I was able to create a fair amount of magnetite from iron screws. I ditched this process in regards to ferrofluids, but eventually picked it back up again for making paint pigments.

Yes, real paint is pretty cheap, and there are easier ways to make black pigments, such as carbonizing just about anything (though I don’t know of easier ways to make brown from a scratch process). That wasn’t the point. I specifically wanted to make paintings in which I could claim I made the pigments.

From the time of the Renaissance up to the late 19th century, artists often were engineers and scientists, and vice versa. Leonardo Da Vinci should probably be more accurately remembered as a government contractor in weapons engineering rather than artist. Prior to the industrial revolution, any painter kind of had to be a competent chemists to able to make their pigments. And any student of botany, biology, and other natural sciences needed to be competent sketch artists to be able to record their work.

I strive to maintain a lot of that tradition in my own work, and I think it’s important to know what goes in to the things we make, even if that thing is “just art”.

I started with a beaker full of salt water. Ahem, excuse me, “aqueous solution of sodium chloride”. Right. The sodium chloride acts as an electrolyte to allow the electricity to conduct through the water. Basic stuff here. I’ve got a laptop battery charger with alligator clips holding on to the plug. I have iron screws as both electrodes because I didn’t want to bother making sure I had the right polarity on the charger plug. The screws dangle from wires that are taped to my beaker so they stay in place.

WARNING! This process creates a couple of nasty things. First, there will be a small amount of hydrochloric acid produced in beaker. It won’t be a lot, but if you keep your hands submerged in it for long enough, you could get a slight rash (yes, I speak from experience, from many, many years ago when I accidentally blew up my bedroom as a kid). It also creates small amount of chlorine gas, which is poisonous! For the small scale at which I was working, as well as working in a well-ventilated room, it was not a concern. However, I should have used sodium bicarbonate as the electrolyte, it would have eliminated both of these issues. Alas, I didn’t have any at the time.

It also creates a LARGE amount of hydrogen and oxygen gas, which if you’re dumb like I was when I was 15 and try to collect it, can be quite explosive. You are forewarned!

Iron hydroxide painting

The orange stuff floating in the top of the beaker is iron hydroxide. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but there is a slight green tint to rest of the water. That is also iron hydroxide, in another form. Iron hydroxide is apparently very difficult to control in color. However, I did use a little paint brush to sweep up the orange stuff from the edges of my beaker and make this little painting.

The greenish-black iron hydroxide was what I was after. I actually thought it was the magentite iron oxide that I was looking for at the time, but I’ve since learned otherwise. Black iron hydroxide is slightly magnetic, so I balanced my beaker on top of a large, neodymium magnet to draw the precipitate down to the bottom of my beaker, allowing me to pour most of the water off of the top of the stuff I cared about.

It's kind of like silt

I wanted to boil the rest of the water out, as the leftover looked like diluted ink.  Eventually I was left with a liquid that was quite thick, almost like river mud, meaning it sputtered too much to continue boiling. The material on the edges dried out and turned brown; more on that in a bit. This was at the time we were doing the ferrofluid stuff, so I was very keen on removing the water and replacing it with a very light oil. One of our members suggested using acetone to dissolve with the water and increase the overall volatility, to speed natural evaporation. At the time, I still didn’t know that I only had iron hydroxide, I thought I had iron oxide, so this step was quite serendipitous. Green-black iron hydroxide in anaerobic conditions will oxidize to magnetite! I believe the acetone deoxygenated the water and left water protons for oxidizing the iron hydroxide. It very clearly went from a greenish-black, pluming precipitate to a very black precipitate fell out of suspension very easily and was much more magnetic. It still didn’t make a great ferrofluid (I didn’t have a surfactant, confused emulsifiers with surfactants, got unconfused and tried to use dish soap as my surfactant, and eventually just had a mess everywhere).

Asteroids

But I was intrigued by how dark of a black I had on my hands, and how readily it stained everything it touched (much to our quarter master’s chagrin). At this point, I had something I could start painting with. I mixed a little with some more water because I knew I wanted to do something spattery, and then made this stylistic interpretation of the classic video game “Asteroids”. There is a little bit of a brown tint to it because of an inefficiency in my process, but then I recontextualized and made it part of my process. I made a frame for it out of scrap wood, but I probably should not have. Now it just kind of looks cheesy. Grumble.

I wanted to now take advantage of the brown crust on the edge of my previous boil experiment. I realized that it was actually another form of iron oxide called hematite, Fe2O3. Magnetite oxidizes to hematite in open air under a flame, so I took some of my black material and blasted it under my pipe welding torch. I eventually shattered my shot glass that I was using as an impromptu beaker from overheating. Yet another instance of my lack of preparation and use of proper tools nearly getting me hurt. But I digress.

Steel Bearing

The last painting was difficult to work with because the water took forever to evaporate, which warped the paper I was painting on. This time, I mixed my pigment with acetone. It was more difficult to keep the pigment in suspension, but the much more volatile acetone evaporated much quicker, leaving me with dry paper that didn’t warp. The result was a painting of a steel bearing, which I thought was interesting because I’m technically painting with “rust”.

Entrance

I finished up with the iron oxide by making an ink with it and this last drawing of the entrance to a mysterious forest.

So now what? Now, I’m experimenting with different metals to see what other colors I can get. I know that copper can lead to some green tints, which I’m very excited to try to replicate. I was able to

Mint-green copper hydroxide

make a very, very small amount of copper hydroxide last night, which you can see in the following pictures. I also made a small amount of yellowish brown copper oxide. Unfortunately, it rather readily oxidizes in air to make black copper oxide, which I’m not too interested in as the black iron oxide is easier to make.

Yellow-brown copper oxide

The brown is nice because it’s not as dark as the brown iron oxide, but I’m excited about the possibility of making green.

Oh, I also made a blue flame.

 

We are excited to announce a very hacking winter-time Hive76 open-house hosted by NextFabStudio:

Hive76 Open House
December 20th, 7pm – Midnight
@ http://NextFabStudio.com/ @ 3711 Market Street

This Hack-tacular event will be at NextFabStudio and will get us free access for the night to some of their most awesome tools, such as: CNC plasma, CNC embroidery, e-textiles, electronics, 3D printers, shop bots… Check out all their equipment.

There will be food too.

So Awesome.

Now we need to brainstorm project ideas, let’s start things off in this email thread. Please reply-all so the proper NextFab people (cc’ed above) can tell us if this is possible and, if so, the logistics for how to make it happen.

All details are here on the Wiki

I’m proposing the first project (we can have many of them!!)…

A double-set of Hive76 chess pieces and boards. This will make use of their lasercutters, embroidery equipment, and possibly the electronics and 3D printers too. I really want a double-set (4 different colors) so we can play Bughouse Chess (You will love this game)

If we get really creative maybe some magnetics and electronics could be enabled as well.

Let’s get hacking!

To Join in on the Discussion, please join our mailing list

 

high resolution Yoda printed on Ultimaker
Last week I got to attend the Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire NYC. Both events were really excellent.

There were so many wonderful things it was hard for me to pick a favorite. That is, until I hit the Ultimaker Booth. Ultimaker is another open source 3D printer offshoot of the RepRap Project. Erik de Brijn, Martijn Elserman, and the rest of their team have been hard at work perfecting v1 of the Ultimaker (and now Ultimaker+). The quality of this machine continues to amaze me (I’ve seen a previous beta version in person at Botacon). New this year, when mixed up with the newest firmware Marlin (which was recently ported to 3D FDM printers and is based on GRBL, the same firmware codebase picked to run Lasersaur), the Ultimaker is able to get insanely high resolution prints. You can get the Marlin firmware for RAMPS and RepRap from HERE on Github.

High mag of Finger on Ultimaker Print. Scale Bar = 1 mm.

Erik gave me one of the high res Yoda prints (Thanks Erik!) which I put under the microscope last week. You can see with the scale bar… we have 162 pixels = 1 mm. The average layer height in that pic is around 12 pixels, or 0.074 mm (That is 74 microns). And that orangey low res looking thing on the left? That’s not a print… that’s my finger. Click the image to see in higher detail!

Apologies to my buddy Dave Durant, but Ultimaker just beat your high res Cupcake record. And they’ve gotten even thinner layer heights than those, recently. Join their google group to learn more and stay apprised of the latest.

w0w. The future for FDM is so bright. Really Amazing.

 

Flying Robots At Hive

Yesterday we had the Philadelphia Robotics Group (PHROG) stop by for their monthly meeting. We demoed a few robots, talked other projects, and we also talked about the possibility of having classes and workshops in the future.

This robot requires 4 rotors to compensate for the amount of torque it generates.

The coolest part of the night was when Glen Adukas demoed his flying quadrotor robot. It still needs a few tweaks here and there, but he was able to get it off the ground.

Our next meeting will be October the 13th. Feel free to join us!

 
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