Philly Tech Week Signature Gala

We had an awesome time at the Philly Tech Week Signature Gala last week. While certainly any event with free booze is going to be a hit with us, it was surely all of the amazing people we got to meet. We had quite a few things on display and people were very interested in talking with us about our projects, how we got started, and even the very nature of hacking, DIY, and hackerspaces (To quote Adam Savage, “I reject your reality and substitute my own”).

Manning the table we had Jim Fisher, Chris Terrell, Dave Morfin, Chris Thompson, and me. Here is a video showing off our table and some of the things we had there.

 

Standing Workstations

So the word is out that sitting is bad. And most people have pretty bad ergonomics when they are sitting, anyway. This was certainly the case for me: my desk sits 30 inches above the ground, which is about 6 inches too high for my chair. If I were to raise my chair, then my knees would be overly strained. As you can see, my wrists are at a pretty awful angle.

Bad Ergonomics is Bad

Not to mention that I also have a serious clutter issue.

Clutter Clutter Clutter Clutter

And I can’t even see a large part of my second monitor.

Hidden Monitor

Whatcha doin' back there? Ya hidin?

I yearned for something that would, I don’t know, kinda… fix it.

Actually, now it kind of looks like an escalator for laptops.

And then I remembered, “I work in a freakin’ hackerspace! We have things, like tools, and wood! I could, you know, bang some hammers together or something.So I said…

So I took some measurements and tried to get a better idea of how this would work.

I was actually wearing shorts today, but didn't feel like drawing the back of a shoe.

And then I got really serious.

Aha! Why did I not just use real graph paper? What was the point of drawing a grid first? IDK, I was bored.

And after a couple of hours of banging hammers together, I had something.

It's ugly, but I don't really care. I am the awesomest boy in the world now.

You can’t really see it under there, but I also now have access to my printer, which before was under a pile of papers and other boxes.

 

It’s almost time for the first meeting of the Philadelphia Game Developer Collective. We’ll be discussing our ideas, projects. We will also be looking at the multiplatform game engine Unity.

Join us as we delve into the depths of games!

The meeting starts at 6 PM on March 4th (Sunday).

 

Philadelphia Star Trek Meetup March Meeting

Hailing frequencies… open…

It’s almost time again for the Philadelphia Star Trek Meetup Group.

We’ll be watching Journey to Bable (TOS), and Sarek (TNG), and then we’re following that with a Star Trek computer-aided live action roleplaying game. Bring a laptop if you can make it.

The meeting starts at 2 PM on March 3rd (Saturday).

Live long, and prosper.

 

January Star Trek Meetup

Hailing frequencies, open…

Attention all Trekkies, Hive 76 is hosting another meetup for the Philadelphia Star Trek Meetup Group! We’ll be watching an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and then taking part in an immersive starship bridge simulation, so bring your laptops!

The event is happening this Saturday (Jan 21st) at 5 PM. Sorry for the late notice, but if you can make it, please sign up to our meetup group and RSVP.

Boldly go where no one has gone before, with us!

 

Super Saturday!

This Saturday we’ll be having an open house at 2 PM, then onward from there we’ll be watching an episode of Game of Thrones, and playing Dungeons and Dragons as part of our new Geek Out event. Unfortunately for now, the game is limited to the first 4 participants, but if there’s enough interest we’ll be expanding soon enough.

Feel free to bring snacks and stop by for the fun!

 

DIY Scale (and some other fine instruments)

Ok, you probably can’t make the baby grand in this picture, and even the metronome is likely to be a serious DIY challenge — but you can definitely make a pretty accurate DIY scale, and you can do it cheaply and easily.

I needed an accurate scale for a science project and knocked this baby together (based on this design) using found parts.  I was able to easily measure to centi-gram precision and with a little care, a scale like this could be tuned to measure to milligram precision.

Precision (the ability to discriminate between differences in mass) is largely a matter of careful construction — accuracy (the ability to weigh to an agreed upon standard) is another matter altogether,  and it basically hinges on having an accurate reference.  Fortunately, a great institution, born of Philly — the U.S. Mint — was wise enough to make Nickels and Pennies in rather convenient dimensions.  It turns out that nickels are 5.000 grams and pennies are 2.500 grams — so you not only have sub-milligram accurate references of convenient size — you also have an easy way to cross-check your scale by using nickels to weigh pennies and vice-versa.

Details of DIY Scale

The zoomed in photo shows most of the essential elements of construction.  Basically, I used a threaded 10-24 rod for the balance (10-32 would have been a better choice).  I used a wall-board razor as my knife-edge pivot point.  Two angle-brackets served as a hard, flat surface for the knife edge.  A nickel with a hole in it and some thread served as a reference weight (I wound up with a whole array of perforated nickels and pennies). A wall-board T-square served to measure the distance from the pivot to the reference weight.  I used an index card and a small mirror to make a sliding mirror in order to read the position of the weight w/o parallax error.  The whole shootin’-match was held on a stand that was salvaged from a cheap drill-press.  Measurements were performed by reading the distance between the movable weight and the pivot point, and entering that value in a Google Docs spreadsheet.

I definitely could have purchased a milligram scale for far less than this cost me in terms of spare time, but I learned a lot about scales in the process.  Almost all of it was stuff that I knew “in principle” — but actually building the scale infused my arm-chair knowledge with real-world experience, yielding an alloy whose properties seem to have exceeded its constituent parts.

The scale was nowhere near large enough to measure my satisfaction, but I estimate that this exercise yielded just about one metric ton of fun.

915 Holiday Sale

tiny books

tiny books

This weekend our building is hosting a holiday sale Saturday and Sunday. If you’d like to visit Hive76, this gives you an extra reason to stop by. 13 artists in the building will be participating. Our doors will be open because Chris Thompson’s finacé will be selling her wares in the space. She makes tiny books and other delightful handmade objects.

 

Moby Dick

Been reading Moby Dick lately on my Nook Color.  What a great, antebellum stew of literature, science and technology.  So may great quotes, so many scientific observations that still hold true 160 years later (and an amusing smattering of notions that have been turned on their heads in the interim).

You can download a copy from Project Gutenberg.  I used EPUB format on my Nook.  Very readable, and I love the embedded highlighting and annotation features.

And to close, here’s my most recent highlight, from a section where the Pequod slaughters a Right Whale solely for the sake of using its head as a counterweight to a Sperm Whale head attached to the other side of the boat:

“Didn’t I tell you so?” said Flask; “yes, you’ll soon see this right whale’s head hoisted up opposite that parmacetti’s.”

In good time, Flask’s saying proved true. As before, the Pequod steeply leaned over towards the sperm whale’s head, now, by the counterpoise of both heads, she regained her even keel; though sorely strained, you may well believe. So, when on one side you hoist in Locke’s head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant’s and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus, some minds for ever keep trimming boat. Oh, ye foolish! throw all these thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and right.

 

Ever work on a project and find yourself needing a spring? Ever go to
the hardware store looking for one, and have to compromise because the
offerings are so slim?

At the next Open House (Sept 28th) we will have materials for
making simple coil springs. If you have a project in need of a spring,
or if you’d just like to check it out, come on by. We’re certainly no experts and you wouldn’t want to mass produce them this way, but adding
a new tool to the toolbox is always fun and may come in handy one day.

If you have a project in mind, try to bring as much information as you
can so we can take a stab at making you something that will work. We
can do extension-, compression-, and torsion springs. Note that the
final heat treating process takes about 2 hours so I will probably do
that part at home and bring the completed springs in to the following
Open House.

Home-made springs (torsion, compression, and extension) and some examples of their uses: mini catapult, spring scale, and wear-compensating anti-backlash nut