Hivelord at the Barnes STEAM Fair

 

The Hivelord made an appearance at the STEAM Fair at the Barnes, in his new business friendly attire, along with Hive76 members Chris Terrell and Mike Barretta! In case you didn’t know, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, ie all the good stuff. Mike was there to entice visitors into the STEAM lifestyle with his custom portable gaming machines based on the Raspberry Pi and emulationstation, while the Hivelord took photos of unwitting participants using his face, and thus stealing a tiny portion of their soul (as it is told in The Legends). Click the link below to see the photos from the Barnes!

-> Click here to see the Hivelord’s Photos from this event! <-

 

Make a keychain, learn about laser

New to the laser cutter? Want a quick intro on the basic workflow of taking a design and cutting/etching it? Want a neat little hive76 keychain? Stop by and see me (pete [the tall one]) during open house!

Hive Retro Game Night

Join Hive76 members for one of our signature tech week events, our retro machines and game consoles are dusted off brought from the brink of obsolescence for your enjoyment! Your favorite classic consoles – NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Game gear, Commodore 64, 3D0, and more – will be available on a ‘does it work and is there a spare CRT tv’ basis, and one of our members will be debuting something new, multiplayer, and completely righteous.

When: Tuesday May 3 7 PM – 11 PM
Where: Hive76 HeadquartersThe Bok Building
Room B06
1901 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19148

The Hivelord at Maker Faire 2015

 

Look, it’s Hive76

It’s a bit late, with all the building shut downs and nautical hackerspacing lately, but here they are, pictures I took with my face-backpack-thing at Maker Faire while wearing an orange spandex skin suit! We pulled together a heroic effort to fix it after everything was basically broken on arrival, so the mask now supports a new raspberry pi and fresh camera. Other than that it went great! I even had an extra battery to swap out as needed. See you all at the next Maker Faire (and other assorted local events!)!

Playing the Lumiphonic Creature Choir!
Hello, mortal.

OPEN HOUSE TONIGHT CANCELED 9/9

 

Sorry everyone, due to a fire that happened last week in another artist’s studio, the 915 Arts building is closed to occupants, pending repairs and bringing things up to code. We will keep everyone updated when our scheduled open houses and everything is back in order.

Building Your Own Keyboard – Part 1

 

 

How to build your own keyboard, or as I like to call it, spending way too much money on a computer peripheral you could get for like ten bucks. Hearken back to the old days, though, a true aficionado knows the glory of a loud, heavy, indestructible keyboard, like the IBM Model M, which has a cult following to this day. I was surprised to find out that there is a small but thriving community of manufacturers and hobbyists making mechanical keyboards, keycaps, switches, firmware, and all. You can design and assemble the entire keyboard yourself, and it can be fully customizable, with the firmware running on a Teensy 2.0 microcontroller.

I’d like to thank matt3o, who wrote the guides I followed to build this keyboard, and helped with a few issues in my design. His guides are linked below [0]. I’ll probably refer to them a lot, as my keyboard is pretty much a stright run through his guides, though with a different layout and a (what seems to be) novel and much faster way to solder the diode grid to all the switches. I also added a nifty transistor switched LED strip to illuminate through the acrylic layers on the case. I hope this guide can convince anyone interested in custom keyboarding to take the plunge and build their own!

Pictured above are the three¬†keyboards I made. The first one, with the unlabelled keycaps, I considered purely a prototype, but it turned out perfectly functional. It’s made out of clear acrylic and some wood middle layers. The goal was to just test out my layout, CAD design, LED strip, minimize costs, and develop firmware before dropping the huge moneybomb on aluminum/wood cases. What I like to refer to as the ‘executive’ version is made of of waterjet cut 6061 Aluminum 0.06″ sheet, laser cut 0.15″ Poplar wood, and 0.062″ clear acrylic. The switches are all handwired with bare pre-tinned 28 AWG wire and heatshrink on the columns to prevent shorts. The keyboard with the NERV key is a work in progress and is basically the same as the DSA dolch keyset, but with different keycaps and a teensy++ microcontroller.

On to the tutorial! I’m going to break it up into multiple posts since it is a fairly long process. Here are the categories:

1. Case design and manufacture
2. Switches and keycaps and stablizers
3. Assembly and soldering
4. Firmware, LED strip, and transistor

[Part 1 – Case Design and Manufacture]
This part was the biggest learning curve for me to deal with, but thankfully there are a few tools made by members of the keyboarding community that takes a lot of the tedious gruntwork out of the situation.

You’ll first want to check out www.keyboard-layout-editor.com [1]. I highly recommend sticking with a straight ANSI layout pictured below, which is the standard you will find on most stock keyboards. My custom layout is similar to an ANSI 60% layout, but I added a column and scrunched in the arrow keys at the bottom right. I like it a lot, but buying keycaps is a pain, you’ll have to use a blank layout or pay too much for a special modifier pack to get the correctly sized right shift key and function keys. I designed it to fit a stock DSA Dolch kit from Signature Plastics. I’ll comment more on choosing keycaps in the next section, for now keep in mind that, when planning your layout, you are going to have to later spend money on the keycaps.

The nice part about keyboard-layout-editor.com is that you can export your layout as text in the Raw data tab. Cut and paste my layout below if you want to follow along. It will also come in handy with the next tool, which can do the majority of the CAD design for you. You can import your design from keyboard-layout-editor and http://builder.swillkb.com/ will make a CAD file for you [2]! That’s easily 90% of the work done right there! It’s an ongoing project, so you’ll want to open the output files in CAD and make any changes or modifications you want. Here’s the code for my keyboard layout, pictured below:

[{c:”#f16f3b”,a:7},”ESC”,{c:”#909596″,f:6},”1\n1″,”2″,”3″,”4″,”5″,”6″,”7″,”8″,”9″,”0″,{a:4,f:3},”-\n_”,”+\n=”,{c:”#f16f3b”,w:2},”Backspace”,”DEL\n~`”],
[{w:1.5},”Tab”,{c:”#909596″,a:7,f:6},”Q”,”W”,”E”,”R”,”T”,”Y”,”U”,”I”,”O”,”P”,{a:4,f:3},”{\n[“,”}\n]”,{c:”#f16f3b”,w:1.5},”|\n\\”,”Pg up”],
[{w:1.75},”Caps Lock”,{c:”#909596″,a:7,f:6},”A”,”S”,”D”,”F”,”G”,”H”,”J”,”K”,”L”,{a:4,f:3},”:\n;”,”\”\n'”,{c:”#f16f3b”,w:2.25},”Enter”,”Pg dn”],
[{w:2.25},”Shift”,{c:”#909596″,a:7,f:6},”Z”,”X”,”C”,”V”,”B”,”N”,”M”,{a:4,f:3},”<\n,”,”>\n.”,”?\n/”,{c:”#f16f3b”,w:1.75},”Shift”,{c:”#909596″},”\n\n\n\n\n\nup”,{c:”#f16f3b”},”End”],
[{w:1.25},”Ctrl”,{c:”#909596″},”Win”,{c:”#f16f3b”,w:1.25},”Alt”,{w:6.25},””,{w:1.25},”Func”,”Ctrl”,”Home”,{c:”#909596″},”\n\n\n\n\n\nleft”,”\n\n\n\n\n\ndown”,”\n\n\n\n\n\nright”]

I’ll explain more about stabilizer types in the next section, but a quick intro will suffice for now. When you press a key, stabilizers transfer the force from the sides of larger keys to the switch. There are a few different types, but I recommend going with costar stabilizers, since they fit in a rectangle and are easy to work with and readily available to purchase on The Internet (don’t ever underestimate how difficult it can be to source the parts you want for a keyboard).

When I first used swillkb it only output the top plate design, but it was easy enough to start from there with some basic CAD knowledge and make all the other layers for a the entire case. Use cut and paste and try your best to run up the learning curve of your CAD program of choice.

Without having and 2D CAD experience I tried out a few software packages before settling on Draftsight [3]. It’s free once you register and pretty straightforward to use. I also ordered the aluminum plates from eMachineShop, which has its own CAD program you can import dxf files into and order your own custom parts, which made it easy to get an instant quote on the design cost. Incidentally they were also the cheapest option. I ordered the Poplar wooden middle layers from Big Blue Saw, which was cheap but it turned out they were out of stock, so it took a month before the parts arrived in the mail. It’s worth sending off an email to double check what they have in stock if their website isn’t explicit.

Once you have your top plate designed, and if you already ordered your keycaps or have a spare set laying around, go ahead and print off, to scale, a paper version of the top plate. It’s an easy way to double check your layout and design before sending the CAD files off to be manufactured.

I lucked out, and have a friend in a design shop who cut out the entire design in acrylic so I could first verify the layout and case design before dropping the cash on a metal and wood case. Thankfully the layout was spot on, all I had to do was raise the stabilizer holes 0.25mm on the y axis to get them to work smoothly. With the tight tolerances in the design, you may end up having to file down the stabilizers to get a smooth travel. That’s fine and almost expected, I haven’t had any issues with it after filing down a bit of the plastic.

Next article I’ll talk about the fun part, choosing the switch types and keycaps to get the right look and feel for your keyboard!

 

 

Links:
[0] http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/brownfox-step-by-step-t6050.html
[1] http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com
[2] http://builder.swillkb.com/
[3] https://www.3ds.com/products-services/draftsight-cad-software/

Photon Extrusion

Our old Makerbot case sitting in the scrap parts bin has been resurrected as a grow case for my terrariums! All it took was an afternoon, some scrap plastic sheets, a few LED strips + power supply, and liberal use of a hot glue gun.

Lights off
Ready to go
Printing some plants

Making the Hivelord [Part 2]

It’s been a while, but here’s the second post on making the Hivelord. This post will focus on the frame of the Hivelord mask, which is mostly made of copper tubing and scrap wood. Unfortunately this means it is relatively heavy for something mounted around my head, but I found a military external frame backpack that works well to transfer the weight to my hips. The length of the mask helps balance it over the frame, and I added an adjustable strap to the back to hold the laptop screen in the right position in front of my face. The end result is surprisingly comfortable!

To start, check out those copper tubes. This may have been the most expensive part of the project, I spent around $60 on copper tubing. I bought a few lengths from Home Depot, cut them into fourths, and then hammered the ends flat. You can also squish the ends in a vice to flatten them, but hammering it was a lot more fun. Once the end was flat, I carefully used the drill press to put a hole in them, then bent the end to an appropriate angle. Use a vice to hold the flat part while you bend it. I used some spare nuts and bolts to hold the copper tubing to the wood part of the frame.

Here’s the mount for the screen. The backside of the repurposed laptop screen sits on those wooden blocks, which are glued to the wooden board. I drilled those holes in the block and then hot glued the nuts inside them so you can tighten the bolts into place with the screen installed on the front. There’s enough space between the laptop screen and the mounting board to house the screen converter. I was originally going to put a camera on the inside to project my face onto the screen, so I designed the mask to be around 9 inches in front of my face.

Here I am making sure my head fits in there.

Now, to attach the screen. I had some scrap copper tubing left over, so I made some custom brackets to hold the screen in place. Flatten the tube with a hammer and bend it in the vice. Hit the bend with the hammer a few times to express yourself and give the bracket a nice 90 degree angle. I pretty much made these up as a went along, marking where the bend had to be and then making it in the vice.

The whole thing is held onto the backpack frame with a few zip ties. I was originally just testing it out with the zip ties, but they worked so well I kept them there. You can see a metal wire coming down from the back mount board. That was replaced with a backpack style strap, allowing me to adjust whether the head is looking down or up and counterbalance the mask.

Here’s the periscope. It took me a few beers to convince myself that this would be a good idea, but I was surprised at how well it works. It’s made entirely out of hot glue, square dowel rods, two mirrors, and some math. If I had to make it again I’d make the mirrors a little larger, you can only really see out of it with one eye.

Next I tested out the electronics. The screen was upside down but that was simple enough to change in the raspi. I mounted the electronics to the wood board behind the laptop screen. It’s always been a wonder to me what’s the best way to mount electronics to a solid surface. This time around I penciled in where the mounting holes were on the pcb, then I drilled some pilot holes in these spots. A dab of hot glue held the boards in place as I put in screws and or wood nails through the pilot holes. Of course, most of these stuck out the other side of the board, so I used the dremel to cut off the pointy ends. In the end it was pretty solid but the process was a bit nerve wracking.

Last but not least I had to cover up the sides of the frame. I found some scrap foam board, cut them out to size, and then spray painted the panels orange. They are held to the frame with EL wire threaded through the foam board, with the copper tube in between. I marked every half inch, then used the drill press to make some clean holes in the foam board. It took a while to thread the wire though, but I was amazed that each side required exactly 15 feet of EL wire. Sometimes you luck out when wingin it.

Thanks for reading. Next up will be a post on the Boomfists I designed for the Hivelord; speakers attached to my fists. They haven’t made a public appearance yet, but chances are high they will make an appearance with the rest of the costume at MAGFest in January!

The Hivelord at UArts Design Charette 2014: Cyborgs

I heard there were smoothies here?

Salutations, flatlanders! Your electron based mail message reached my hyper-dimensional lair, I was lured out of the 67th dimension by word of snacks, refreshments, and of course, your attempts to augment your meaty forms with your so called ‘technology.’ The idea: to design artifacts made 50 years in your future. How will they affect the fragile social human construct? More specifically, are these items you’re designing to simplify and enhance your lives creating one step forward in the inevitable march toward a dystopian hellscape? I’d answer these questions, but I’m technically not allowed to break causality.

But I digress, I’m really here to show you all the souls I stole pictures I took with my face. It only took a few years off your lifespan, and there’s a 50/50 chance they were bad years anyway. Thanks for being such good sports!

Click here -> The Hivelord at UArts Design Charette 2014 <-

Halloween Themed Open Build Night 10/24!

Hackers! Need to finish your costume and/or decorations before the spooky festivities begin? We will be hosting a Halloween themed open build night this Friday, October 24th, 7pm – late o’clock! Suggested themes include wearables, microcontrollers, LEDs, and blood. Bring something to work on!

WHAT: Halloween Open Build Night
WHERE: Hive76 Global Headquarters
WHEN: October 24th, 7pm – ????
WHO: Wizards, witches, warlocks
WHY: ?????