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

 

Hacktory Happenings

Our friends at The Hacktory are hosting an event this Friday from 7 – 8:30PM to discuss their experiences at the Chaos Communication Camp. I hear tell they will have popcorn, which is quite something. I wish I had gone just to see Disco Lenin.

 

Saturday September 17th, Hive76 members Chris and Peejay will be co-presenting at the Phila Area Computer Society’s Season Kickoff Software Freedom Day Extravaganza.

PACS meets at the Super Giant in Willow Grove, PA.

 

 

We had a solid, but uncrowded open house last night, complete with all the usual unstructured goings-on and a side order of semi-structured activities.

Two "Bacterial Cellulose Bioreactors"

Adam Korshid, UArts Industrial Design alum and local “kombuchaneer” stopped by to share some Acetobacter Xylinum cultures and give Pez’s microbial cellulose operation a re-boot.  We were joined by local artist and 915 building neighbor Ann Saintpeter.  We mixed up two 44″ by 18″ trays with a special “blanco cellulose” medium in the form of sugar, yeast and apple-cider vinegar. To prepare the medium we used a rigorous, proven methodology that is generally referred to in the relevant scientific literature as TLAR (“that looks about right”) and verified our efforts using the TTAR2 methodology (“that tastes about right, too”) — as if we know what constitutes A. Xylinum’s standards of delciousness.  Then we turned the bacteria loose in the pond to do their thing.  We’ll deliver the resulting paper to Ann to see if it has a place in her art.

Chris and Brendan pop the hood on an Epson 7700 in need of TLC

Ann also donated an Epson 7700 that needs some TLC.   We spent some time working on it, and learned a thing or two.  For example, we learned how to reset the counter on the maintenance tank (yay, $60 unnecessary expense avoided) and also tried to clear the black ink line by “replacing” the cartridge (boo, $50 unnecessary expense incurred when the printer apparently rejected our “spent” ink cartridge for good).  We’ll re-flash those ink cartridges and show the printer who’s boss — and the printer is well worth the effort involved in rescue.

Dan and some-guy-whose-name-i-didnt-catch were off in a corner working on developing something using some framework whose-name-i-didnt-catch.  Maybe Dan will edit this part.

And Monday’s MMM workshop — Great Success — we had five or six fresh faces and it seemed that a good time was had by all.  We were prepared with lecture materials, if needed, but everyone in attendance seemed to be in a loosely structured kind of mood — so loose, in fact, that we didn’t bother to take a single picture.  PJ has suggested a Halloween theme for the next workshop, and we’ll probably prepare some reading and code snippets in advance on things like LEDs (charlie-plexing, POV and the like)  and maybe some schematics and code involving upcycling old CD drives into creepy animatronics.

 

DIY Photo Studio at Hive76

Adam and I have been talking for a while about a little collapsible photo studio for posting images to the blog and to instructables. Well, its here now, for all to use!  All I did was take a roll of photo background paper and mount it semi-permanently above our main workbench.  To use it, pull down a length of paper to cover the desk, then turn on the fluorescent work-lamps. The paper rolls back up out of the way when you aren’t using it.  Here are some spiffy test shots I took of one of Chris’ sculptures.  Neat, huh? 

 
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