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? 


Open House for 8/31

We’re going to be trying to make our own ferrofluid on Tuesday night to have available to play with on Wednesday night. If our efforts are successful, then for Open House we’ll show you how to make it using old audio cassette tapes and acetone. I don’t know what kind of results to expect, but here’s a video giving an idea of the extreme:


Scratch Project that I used to test the DIY Scratch Sensor Board

I downloaded Scratch to play with it after a presentation on E-Textiles at UPenn back in April.  I found it kind of interesting, and I was particularly interested in the “Scratch Sensor Board“, which provides a way to send physical signals into Scratch scripts and have Scratch respond to them.  It’s a pretty simple protocol, and I filed away “build a Scratch sensor board” as one of those projects that I might do … someday.  Well, nothing like being stuck at home during a major weather event to crank up the boredom level to the point that ya gotta do something.  So, courtesy of Hurricane Irene, here’s a DIY Scratch Sensor written as an Arduino Sketch.

This sketch uses information that you can download here.  You may need to use the Scratch Board Watcher to get things cooking 100%.  For example, this is how I learned that the sense of the Button input is inverted.

This code emulates a Scratch Sensor board

// --- sends serial bytes corresponding to a signal with value given by "data"
//     coming from the channel designated by "channel"
//     data is in the range 0 .. 1023 inclusive and generally gets mapped to the range 0 .. 100 by Scratch
void sendScratchData(int channel, int data);

int buttonPin = 2;   // Change this if you want to use some other pin for the Button input. Just don't use pins 0 or 1.
int ledPin =  13;    // LED connected to digital pin 13. I used this just to monitor the request/response traffic

void setup() {
  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);
  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);   

  // Set baud rate expected by Scratch sensor:

void loop()
  int inByte;
  // if we get a valid byte, send the scratch data
  // Technically, we should check that the value is a 0x01 byte,
  // but, meh ...
  if (Serial.available() > 0) {

      // toggle the LED so that we can see the request/response activity
      // this is optional, really
      digitalWrite(ledPin, ~digitalRead(ledPin));

      // get incoming byte:
      // we really should test the value, but meh++
      inByte = Serial.read();

        sendScratchData(0,analogRead(0)); // Resistance "D" is mapped to Analog 0
        sendScratchData(1,analogRead(1)); // Resistance "C" is mapped to Analog 1
        sendScratchData(2,analogRead(2)); // Resistance "B" is mapped to Analog 2
        sendScratchData(3,digitalRead(2) * 128); // Button is mapped to Digital 2
        sendScratchData(4,analogRead(3)); // Resistance "A" is mapped to Analog 3 
        sendScratchData(5,analogRead(4)); // light is mapped to Analog 4 (signal is inverted)
        sendScratchData(6,analogRead(5)); // sound is mapped to Analog 5
        sendScratchData(7,0); // slider did not map slider, but any analog input could be moved here.
        sendScratchData(15,4); // version info The current version is 4

void sendScratchData(int channel, int data){
   byte highByte;
   byte lowByte;
   data = data & 0x3FF;
   highByte = 0x80 | (channel << 3) | (data /128);
   lowByte = data & 0x7F;

   // --- send the data

Philadelphia Geek Fest

Hive76 desecrates the Philadelphia Folk Fest Logo

Friday was a bust — weather was bad and I unexpectedly got stuck at work.

Saturday was, by objective measures, not a good day.  We had almost no traffic at our spot and one of Matt’s giant QR posters went missing sometime during the day.  But it was a good day .. for whatever unfathomable reasons.  Matt and Chris showed up with a RepRap  and had live 3D printing demos for hours.  We ended up giving away a plastic octopus to some jewelry vendors that we met at random when they parked on my lawn.  The solar weenie roast worked reasonably well (film to come) and we got an MSP430 POV working to display the message “HELLO ARLO”  (film of this on the way as well, you can find source code here).  Matt and Chris used the UV flashlight and the glow-tape pad to design the 5×5 fonts that we used for the POV — it was ingenious.  They would draw the character and when I saw it, I was able to work out the hex codes in my head.  We also used the fresnel lenses to turn ordinary LED flashlights into blinding search beams — when you take even a small light source and focus it to a beam, it’s shockingly bright over surprising distances.

Sunday — who knows — things are fluid

I think we’ll try to do this next year, but with a bit more preparation .. and Matt suggested maybe we can get on the fairgrounds proper to do our thing, which I think is a fine idea.

We will be on this corner