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Hive will be at the Philadelphia Museum of Art TONIGHT from 5:00 to 8:45!

Come out and support us on the museum’s PAY WHAT YOU WISH ADMISSION night. For as little as a penny, you can see some amazing art and play our 12-foot high Connect Four in the grand stair hall!

 
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We had a lot of fun yesterday building a Time Machine with Pafa’s Art Summer Camp. The kids helped us add lots of awesome features like an Ejection button for Time Warp Emergencies. Also, who could forget invisibility and cloaking!? Thanks Pafa and Sue Liedke for having us! We had so much fun!  
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Tonight’s MMMM

I regret to have to cancel tonight’s microcontroller night, but I am out of town and won’t be able to make it in this evening. We’ll pick MMMM up on July 14th.

See you then!

 

Philly Tech Week 2014: Arcade At The Oval

Edit: The arcade jawn is now April 5th @7pm because of weather.

Arcade @ The OvalPhilly Tech Week 2014 kicks off on April 5 at The Oval in front of the Art Museum, and we’ll be there! The big draw, of course, is Tetris on the Cira Center. But just to show that we can play the gimmicky-oversized-kid’s-game game too, we’re building our own gimmicky oversized kid’s game:

Frame Under Construction!

Frame Under Construction!

Light-Up Disk Wiring

Light-Up Disk Wiring

While everybody’s staring at the Cira Center, you can play our giant electronic game of Connect Four. The jams will be pumping while you skillfully use a DDR pad to strategically place your checkers. Pretty sneaky, sis.

Plus: The whole oval is gonna be filled with games from local developers, presentations, musical performances, food trucks, and a Yards Beer Garden. Nice! The fun begins at 7pm. See you there!

 

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1:00 – 5:00 PM   $10/ at door

Leave a comment below for RSVP :)

 

Got a sweetheart?  Want to meet a sweetheart?  David and Leslie are back to share the Valentine’s love.  Make sweet gifts and  learn about 3D printing and paper circuits at the same time.   For the gamer in your life,  there’s  a Valentine  Creeper.  Got an inspirational do-gooder?  Here’s a movie inspired MockingJay pin.  Just want to show you care?  Well, they’re working on a pixel heart necklace/keychain, that is sure to please.

 

Val Creeper M SwallowJay Pin M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While your piece prints, make a Valentine card that will illuminate your sweetheart’s soul.  Bring some materials from around your house and combine them with a variety of papers, copper tape, LED and battery to create the perfect paper circuit.  If you love crafting and electronics, you are about to experience  maker heaven.  If you’ve never been here before, you can tour the space and find out more about other member’s projects.  Munchies will be on hand.  Don’t forget to comment below so we know you are coming!

 

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3D Snowflake3D Ornaments

Okay, so the boys and girls haven’t been nice.  However, that shouldn’t exclude you from having some fun holiday hacking.  Join us this Sunday at Hive  for either of these workshops:

3D Printed Ornaments

1:00 – 5:00 PM

Want to witness 3D printing live?  Join David Morfin and Leslie Birch for this festive workshop where you can choose from a variety of ornaments to print (including an epic Star Wars snowflake).  Then, hack it here with a battery and LED to get it glowing.  Tour our space and enjoy holiday snacks at the same time!

Price:  $10 Collected at door

 

Get Your Tickets Here

 

Remote Controlled Car Hack

1:00 – 5:00 PM

Learn how to turn almost any toy RC vehicle into a simple robot.  Because most RC toy vehicles are incredibly similar, you can easily learn how to hack them.  We’ll teach you some of the theory behind these circuits and then we’ll help you put it into practice.  A cut here, a jump there, a microcontroller and a little code and — voila! — you will be the proud creator/owner of a small-but-evil robot, just in time for XMas.

We will have microcontroller kits and cars available if you need them, or you are free to bring your own.  If you bring your own controller, we would recommend that you bring an Arduino or an MSP430 Launchpad.   If you bring your own vehicle, just make sure is has a TX2/RX2 chip (as a suggestion, the Thunder Tumbler is one of my favorite bot platforms).

Prices: Based on car and will be collected at door

 

Base Price — Donation for materials etc. in whatever amount you feel is appropriate

Large Car — $20

Medium Car — $15

Small Car — $5

Micro-controller kit — $5 (MSP430 Launchpad)

 

 

Let’s make a tablet!

UPDATE: I’ve since returned this unit to the vendor. It’s really bad. The native screen resolution is abysmally small, plus is a weird value such that none of my OSes could handle it. The device did its own down-sampling, but did a terrible job of it. Also, the touch sensing was almost completely broken.

Apparently, there is a thing with these small displays where they advertise them as “1080p input!”, meaning they will make attempts to downsample a 1080p data stream to whatever their native resolution is. The resolution on this one was actually 800×480. I couldn’t get Linux Mint or Windows 7 to display on it at the native resolution. It would take other resolutions and do some pretty awful down-sampling, but it always managed to cut off the edges enough that the taskbar and window title bar were never visible.

The touch feature was also almost completely broken, as well. I tried it on Linux Mint first, trying a variety of different drivers available for the device. All Linux drivers from this manufacturer were compiled from source. I tried the one copy named “Linux” on the included CD and tried two copies downloaded from their website for “Ubuntu 6.06″ and “Debian K26″. Of course, if we’re compiling from source, why would we need separate sets of source code? But anyway, at first it didn’t seem to work, so I thought I just failed to install the drivers, but things that happened later changed my mind. Windows 7 found a HID driver for it, identified it correctly, but it still didn’t work correctly. I also tried to download the latest driver off of their website, but their ZIP file is corrupted and won’t open with either the Windows Compressed Files utility or 7-Zip.

Moving on with the driver found for me by Microsoft, I now tried using the touch screen as the primary display, disabled my main monitor, unplugged my mouse, and restarted the computer, thinking it might help stabilizing the situation. I finally realized that I had seen the same behavior on Linux, I just hadn’t yet figured out what was going on because Mint wasn’t showing a cursor for the touch events and Windows did. It had the axises completely swapped, and also reversed, so dragging down the screen moved the cursor left. Also, it had no concept of a continuous drag event. It would sometimes drag, sometimes spawn a series of rapid clicks instead.

In other words: complete, unworkable garbage.

I’d be interested to hear from people if they have a recommendation for a simple touch screen. I think I’d like at least 15″ size, and I’m a little concerned about the popularity of multi-point capacitive sensing over the older-style, one-point-only resistive sensing. Yes, the capacitive is more precise, but the resistive doesn’t freak out if it gets just a little damp.

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So here is my latest toy. It is the Lilliput 7″ SKD Open Frame Touch Screen VGA Monitor with HDMI, DVI Input (note: this is not a referral link). You can see more pictures of the device on my Tumblr page. I’m thinking of either building my own tablet computer or a sort of remote control system. It’ll end up being a little chunky, but I don’t mind.

The natural DIY platform for such a project is the RaspberryPi. I’m thinking I want to take the stock Raspbian distro and hack together my own window manager for it to suit the small, restricted dimensions of the system. I’d like something halfway between a CLI interface with its infinite possibility and a GUI interface with its emphasis on geometric arrangement.

Anywah, I’ll keep everyone posted with my progress.

 

FOSSCON 2013

FOSSCON is right around the corner, and Hive76 is gearing up for another run. Our very own Jordan Miller is presenting the keynote talk on building Open Source Infrastructures for Science. We’ll be in our own room again this year showing off our latest gadgets and creations, our tools and our know-how.You can expect to see a 3D printer in action, Circuit Bending, Piezo madness, Battlebots and more. We’ll be there August 10th, 9AM-5:30PM.

Consider registering and getting a FOSSCON T-Shirt and helping us come back next year! As always, feel free to come and ask us questions via WordPress, Twitter, E-mail, or IRC.

 

Genetic Algorithm Visualization Toy

Some explanation for a program I posted here a little while ago.

 

Genetic algorithm playground

See the effects that small changes in environment have on evolution

See the effects that small changes in environment have on evolution

I’ve been studying artificial intelligence for many years. One of the AI constructs that has fascinated me the most has been Genetic Algorithms (GA). With a GA, one “evolves” a solution to ones problem. A “gene” is a candidate solution to a problem, and individual alleles in that gene are individual parameters to the function that attempts to solve the problem. The output of the function is evaluated for “fitness”–essentially, how well it solved the problem–and good candidates are intermingled for the benefit of future generations, while particularly bad candidates are discarded; “survival of the fittest” in its most incredibly literal sense.

This little sketch was written for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been seeing some AI code that I felt like has been overly complicated. A lot of principle AI algorithms are quite simple to implement, once you understand them. But also, I wanted to demonstrate the flow of a GA and how it tends to find intermediate solutions, improving over time.

This sketch will require some basic programming knowledge to be able to alter the fitness function and make the GA do different things, but I think it can be an exciting and compelling exploration into code. There are actually a few simple things one can do to alter the course of the algorithm. Each “gene” represents a row of pixels in the image being drawn when you click “start”. As it currently stands, it will “evolve” solutions converging on the color red. If you change “if((i%4)===0)”* to read “if((i%4)===1)”, it will converge on green. “if((i%4)===2)” converges on blue. There is a 4th opacity component at #3, but it basically just ends up showing black. It isn’t necessary but I just didn’t feel like fixing the code to get rid of it, and maybe someone else will find it useful.

Instead of “if((i%4)” you replace the 4 with another number–say a prime number like 31–you get some interesting results as well. There are a lot of things that you could do here, it’s just a matter of whether or not you wish to pluck at it.

* the percent sign, ‘%’, is known as the modulus operator. For positive numbers, it returns the remainder of a division operation. So, “13 % 5 ” return 3 because 13 divided by 5 is 2 remainder 3 (i.e. 2 x 5 + 3 = 13).

 
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