Laboratory B Burlington's Community HackerSpace

12Nov/140

What is a trolley? (link)

Posted by Aaron Minard

I recently found a great set of posts about what a trolley is and how they work at Nathan Vass' website.  The short version is that a trolley is an electric bus that gets its power from overhead lines.  There are many advantages to using a bus with rubber tires over a train (can change lanes, can avoid obstacles, climb hills without wheel-spin) and many advantages to using an electric bus over a diesel bus, the main reason being torque to climb the hills of San Francisco.

Part i is here
Part ii is here

I originally became interested in the topic last year when I visited San Francisco.  There were many things I liked about the city that appealed to different interests of mine (city planning, green spaces, diverse cultures), but one of the things that stuck out to me was the infrastructure for the trolley system.  This was not something I had expected.

edit_IMG_2122

When you look up while downtown, just below the common sight of power lines at the top of the utility poles, you see what looks at first like a rats nest of electric wires.  This is especially so around intersections in the road.  But upon further examination, patterns emerge.  I noticed that the wires were running in pairs of parallel tracks, and where one track crossed another, one of the pairs would have some extra hardware.

edit_Muni_trolleybus_wires_at_Haight

I only spent a moment trying to figure out what they could be used for when one of the Muni buses (a trolley) passed me on the street.  These are quiet, exhaust-smell free giants of public transportation that I was instantly in love with.  And this post isn't about public transportation overall, but if you need an explanation as to why it is good and how a bus can greatly reduce congestion, this GIF explains it beautifully.

tumblr_mvqe8gUMzP1qzft56o1_500

Filed under: fun, learning, Link No Comments
20Oct/140

Adding More Temp Sensors

Posted by Aaron Minard

Since my previous post I have added a couple additional temperature sensors to my piHouse project.  One is an outdoor temperature sensor that I previously programmed but never installed outside, and the other is a new sensor in my bedroom.  This involved some hardware planning and effort installing because I had to run a cable through the house and outside, but once I tested the new cable run, it was relatively simple to duplicate the software for the sensors I already had.

The part of this that took the most time was pulling the cable and then soldering the connections.  The biggest problem I have is placement of the outdoor sensor.  I am having issues with direct Sunlight.

Here are some highlights, you can find the whole story here.  This time I also include some examples of the commands I use on the raspberry pi to obtain the data.


When testing my hardware connections, I use this command to ask the pi to take a reading and then display the result to the command line:

house@raspberrypi ~ $ cat /sys/bus/w1/devices/28-00000512f401/w1_slave 2>&1

 

show_graph_2014-10-11.cgi_[1]

ROOM TEMP lowered during day, OUT temp. sensor moved outside

Photo-Oct-14-15-20-27[1]

Three-way splice for room temp.

show_graph_2014-10-13.cgi_[1]

Added bedroom plot, outside sensor in sun

6Oct/140

Champlain Mini Maker Faire Roundup 2014

Posted by Aaron Minard

The Laboratory B crew had a great time at this year's two day  Champlain Mini Maker Faire! This year we had additional support from FairPoint Communications to allow us to teach kids & adults how to solder.  We had really impressive students this year, many of whom have seen us before at the previous events.  Many people were coming back for their second or even third time.  Good work everybody and thanks for coming out to see us!  As usual, if you had trouble with your kit or ran out of time please feel free to swing by the Lab, but let us know your coming (Info@labotatoryb.org) Awesome!

Charley helping out as usual!

Charley helping brothers that don't need much help. Good work guys!

3Oct/140

Lab B at Champlain Mini Maker Faire 2014

Posted by Aaron Minard

Laboratory B is all set up and ready to see you at Champlain Mini Maker Faire this weekend!  The event is on Sat. October 4th 10am - 5pm,  and Sun. October 5th 11am-4pm at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne Vermont.

Lab B has been at the Maker Faire since it started 3 years ago, and like last year and the year before, we'll be teaching kids & adults how to solder! FairPoint Communications made a donation to help provide kits, and we have four kits from SparkFun in the mix this year; Weevil Eye, Big Time Watch, Simon Says & Mr. Roboto.

From our excerpt in the schedule:

"Join the folks at Laboratory B for a self-paced soldering workshop. We bring the soldering irons and the kits, you bring the desire to learn.  We will have kits from SparkFun and all the required supplies and safety gear for you to sit down and learn how to solder, and when you finish you take the kit home!  Have you soldered in the past but are not familiar with some of the newer techniques such as surface-mount soldering?  No problem!  There will be beginner kits, intermediate kits, and advanced level kits to fit all skill levels."

pre_maker_faire_2014

3Oct/140

Aaron’s piHouse Monitor part 2

Posted by Aaron Minard

Assembling the whole thing

In March I posted about using my Raspberry Pi to monitor my furnace and the temperature of my apartment.  I moved over the summer and the new apartment does not have the same type of heating that the last apartment did. So I had to make some changes.

The Pi now interfaces with a Rinnai heater, which was slightly more complicated than the furnace thermostat.

Here are some highlights, you can find the whole story here.

The new heater, a Rinnai  Energy Saver-551F

The new heater, a Rinnai Energy Saver-551F

rinnai_block_diagram

The Wiring Diagram and the Block diagram are on the inside of the front cover

Photo of “MICRO COMPUTER PCB” with relays circled

Photo of “MICRO COMPUTER PCB” with relays circled

Assembling the whole thing

Assembling the whole thing

18Sep/140

What’s a hacker?

Posted by Jesse Krembs

I get asked about being a hacker, what's a hacker, isn't hacking bad etc etc, all the time. Thanks Nova Labs for putting together this video which says everything I would have!

Filed under: fun No Comments
2Aug/140

Join us on Github!

Posted by Doug Smith

 

Unaltered image

Unaltered image

Altered image

Image with message "One if by land, two if by sea"

Keep up with some of the Laboratory B open source code by joining us on GitHub!

Last weekend Doug whipped together a toy steganography device called "Stegosaurus" [github] -- it will take a PNG image, and using a (very very basic) steganography [wikipedia] algorithm stores a payload in the least significant bits of the color definition of pixels in an image. It's a node.js module, and you can even install it with NPM.

It could use a little improvement if anyone is interested in forking it! It needs some testing with binary files. It needs a way to store the length of the message. And ideally, it'd use a pre-shared key (maybe?) to allow you both: A. define where the payload is hidden in the image, and B. actually encrypt the payload (which is, as of now, unencrypted). Which makes it so it doesn't follow Kerckhoff's Principle [wikipedia].

...Unfortunately every single message is decoded as "Drink more ovaltine" [youtube] (...just kidding. it'll do whatever payload you want)

14Jul/140

Warming up the Foundry!

Posted by Jesse Krembs

When Laboratory B got started we were excited about the possibility of other hacker/maker/community workshop spaces starting up and sustaining in Vermont. That's why we created Vermont Hackerspaces Inc as non non-profit designed to help others do great things. The Foundry is a community workshop getting started in the Northeast Kingdom. Building on the grit, and hard work they are going to bring together a community of creators, tinkers, crafter, artist and entrepreneurs. This great community is going to build a great new space for creation and innovation!

On July 7th, Vermont Hackerspaces Inc, agreed to become the Foundry's fiscal sponsor while they get started. The Foundry is looking to develop it's own 501(c)3 but it's a long when from getting going to handling your own books. Check out the website or  Foundry's facebook page and Foundry Info Pack for more info.

 

 

29Apr/140

Lego Key Ring Upgrade

Posted by Aaron Minard

I made an upgrade to my Lego key ring.  Now With USB!  Basically, I put a 16G flash drive into some Legos and put them on the key ring.

Here are a couple shots, you can find the whole story here.

 

drive3_small

lego_fit_small

lego_keys_small

 

Filed under: awesome, DIY, Lego, Projects No Comments
29Mar/140

Life Giving Bazooka – An Ethereum Contract

Posted by Doug Smith

tldr? "Life giving bazooka" is an example of an Ethereum contract that represents a pyramid scheme. Check out the scheme @ github. It's called "life giving bazooka" as a knock on multi-level-marketing schemes.

We've been having a lot of fun having some nights where we're chatting up Crytpocurrency, and recently we got together and had a working session taking a look at Ethereum. We got the client up and running, and moments later gdot had a little "banking contract" running, from an LLL (lisp-like-language) tutorial.

Which is awesome... But, I really wanted to write in the "c-like-language" (CLL) -- that's what I tend to get. So, I found Vitalik's got a CLL compiler, but it's pretty alpha. Also, it's made progress to work with PoC4, which isn't released yet. All the main releases of the clients (which you can download), are PoC3 based. So, I went ahead and fixed a few things in his compiler, and I'm maintaining my own branch @ https://github.com/dougbtv/compiler/tree/poc3-compat.

But, to make it easier, I've been maintaining my own pre-processor (inspired by the C pre-processor) that makes a few things a little easier to work with. You can download my cll-preprocessor at github, and it includes submodules that fix the things that I needed to get Vitalik's compiler working properly, especially with PoC3.

So... Where's this pyramid scheme!?! It's also on github! There's quite a bit more information there for you to read about how it works, and instructions to run it if you so please.

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