chebe: (StarryNight)
I think that's right, yeah. There's a festival this weekend called Prototype, which focuses on play and interaction. There are some interesting talks and performances ranging from games, to analogue human interaction, and even some wearable tech. Niki and I are running a workshop tomorrow morning, teaching the basics of soft circuits.

We're going to be making pet stars. Now, we all know that stars like to shine, but they have to feel safe and loved (go watch/read Stardust). And pets like being petted and cuddled. So when you pet your pet star it shines brighter! If you poke too hard the lights go off. If you do a good job the star will purr! (Turns out a star purring is a lot like lights twinkling.)

Here's the prototype I did up. The real ones will be much nicer, have proper felt, and be more cushiony.

A blue felt star, with a silver star in the middle with a trail of white LEDs

Pet Star - prototype
Photo by chebe



insider details )

I'll take some photos of the proper finished pieces at the workshop. And if the workshop goes well I'll do up detailed instructions on how to make your own.
chebe: (Default)
As we learn, we grow. We're iterating on the existing projects, to make them better, stronger, more reliable.

One piece that definitely needed improvement was the Talking Torque. An over-abundance of technical issues meant we were left using a microcontroller to control a malfunctioning specialised microcontroller. So version two has just the one (functional) LilyPad MP3 Player, a microphone, and we replaced the tilt switch with an accelerometer (for finer control with less dependency on placement). Niki also wanted to make it much bigger, and give it a back. See it from the front on display here.

Back/inside of version two of the cough torque; just a LilyPad MP3 player, microphone, and accelerometer

Version two; LilyPad MP3 player, microphone, accelerometer
Photo by chebe




The Kelp then was more subtle; we changed the LEDs from blue to green, reinforced the connections more, and varied the appearance of the felt.

Version two of the humidity neckpiece; electronics just added and wired, using green LEDs this time

Version two; humidity sensing neckpiece freshly wired up, with green LEDs
Photo by chebe




There will probably be at least one more iteration of the Kelp (and perhaps an instructable on it), but we're looking forward to coming up with new pieces, new explorations and adventures.
chebe: (Default)
Things have just kept on keeping on.

My work with Niki is just finishing a run on display at a felting exhibition in Farmleigh called Common Ground. I was at the opening on the 25th September, feeling quite out of my depth amongst the very talented craftspeople. But the nibbles were delicious, and I got to see some beautiful pieces.

Kelp piece displayed on a square of clear perspex, with mine and Niki's name visible on a label next to it

Kelp piece on display at Farmleigh
Photo by chebe



The 4th October then saw newer versions of our work on display at RuaRed as part of Digital Week. I was unable to attend, but Niki tells me there was great interest, which is exactly what we're doing all this for! At least she wasn't alone, with plenty of company from toglodytes. (Photos; close-up of the kelp, and newer, larger version of the talking torque.)

Niki demoing the kelp piece

Niki demoing the kelp
Photo by Joseph Carr at Rua Red



Yesterday, 11th October was the UNs International Day of the Girl. Intel had an idea and got in touch with both tog and CoderDojo Girls and #GalileoGirls magic happened. 75 (or so) girls and teens crowded into the usual CoderDojo space, and got to play with some hardware. From getting started with the Galileo board, to then choosing to play with electronics, wearable electronics, or social media programming. It was a long, chaotic day, but fun seemed to be had, which is very important imho.

Some of the CoderDojo mentors early in the morning

Mentors on parade
Photo by Niambhs, source



Next Saturday, 18th October, Niki and I will be running a 'Playful Wearable Electronics' workshop. I'm looking forward to it as it's a slightly different demographic and I'm curious on what aspects they're interested in, and grasp the fastest.

It's also my last commitment for a while, so I'm looking forward to break afterwards. And I totally mean it this time.
chebe: (FlowerInHair)
Post Dublin Maker I haven't exactly had much of a chance to rest.

TOG had a stand at Dublin Comic Con (out near Swords), where we dazzled people with many, many LEDs. At least I think that's why people seemed confused that we weren't selling anything. I was impressed by the quality of the costumes; both the professional ones on display, and the ones worn by attendees. I attended a panel on Special FX, and was charmed by both Al Matthews and Virginia Hey at another. I may have acquired one or two (too many) books on art/design/costumes of various films.

Rob at our stand with all the blinky LEDs

Rob and the blinky LEDs
Photo by chebe



Two weeks later I attended Shamrokon (a literary con, and this years Eurocon), and was a talking head on three panels; 'Wearable Tech', 'Back to the Couture', and '3D Printers and Copyright Law'. (Name drop; two of which were with Charlie Stross, a delightfully contrary man.) I attended two long days of great panels, my favourite probably being 'Peaceful Science Fiction' and 'Genre Toys'. It was also good to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while (who were mostly busy running the con), and to meet a few people I know mostly online (*waves at [personal profile] vatine*).

Bill Thomasson, @chebegeek, @ickle_tayto, @cstross, sitting at table before panel begins

The only proof that I was there at all
Photo by Joe Mansfield, source



The next week Tog Duck (and some tog members) migrated East to Bletchley for EMF Camp. It was camping. With internet. I made it through two nights this time (yay, improvement!). But it was still camping. The trip also included many hours of driving (omg the M6, the horror, the horror!) and a couple of ferries. So it was fairly exhausting overall. But a good time was still had. There were interesting talks (including the inner workings of Quasar, and Bletchley Park), and Saturday night had people out displaying their finest light-up wearables. There were hats with chasing RGB patterns, animated dot matrix displays, a green EL wire outfit (waistcoat, tie, and hat), and a superb EL wire dinosaur wire mask (with operational jaw). I ran around the motion sensitive LED-poles Grid, and generally marvelled at peoples' projects. But I missed chances to catch up with people, so hopefully there will be another chance at the next run of events (April seems so far away...).

pics )

Also took the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Computing and marvel at the old(est) computers still running (both original and resconstructed). And Chester as well, because it was on the way and contained hotels.

I'm running real low on reserves, so I'm trying to take it easy over the next while. If that happens there should be more blogging happening here. Should.
chebe: (Default)
All the pieces were inspired by bits of Irish heritage or sayings. Some people seemed a little insulted that we were explaining the inspiration to them, while the majority of people had never heard of them at all. Were they just very regional activities/sayings, or are we largely discarding our past?

Which brings us to my own personal favourite piece. My favourite because of its relative simplicity, and because it's the closest to actual etextiles. During this piece I discovered just how wonderful real felt is to work with, and how perfect the thick soft fabric is for running channels of conductive thread, completely hidden.

And so I present, arguably, the piece most suitable for modern Ireland (perfect for the daily grind in an office); a waistcoat that lets you know someone is standing behind you, by sending a shiver down your spine.

Mannequin wearing felt and spotted silk waistcoat, front Mannequin wearing felt and spotted silk waistcoat, back

Waistcoat at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe



Magnificent details )

And so our tale comes to an end. I learned a lot, had fun, stress, and sleep deprivation, along the way. But it's always worth it. I'll leave you with photos of the day from the official photographer. *falls down in an exhausted heap*
chebe: (Default)
In times gone by, when you caught a cold or got a cough, one of the things you could do to try and cure it was to tie a red flannel around your neck, under your clothes. Did the extra layer of warmth actually help, or was it just superstition? I'm not in a position to answer that, but it sparks some interesting questions.

For all its vibrant colours, traditional torque design, and dynamic nod-to-Newgrange kerbstone spirals, this piece strikes me as something futuristic, or interstellar. How Niki massaged the felt into these shapes I've no idea but, except for the torque clasp, this is one solid piece.

Mannequin wearing black tshirt, and a red felted torque piece

Red flannel neckpiece at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe



Glorious details )

But for all the set-backs and frustrations, this piece turned out to be many peoples favourite. Everyone who tried it laughed, some almost split their sides. Niki has some good ideas on improvements for the next version, and at the very least there will be fewer microcontrollers involved! So keep an eye-out for the next revision.
chebe: (InADream)
A time not so long ago, in this very land you're standing, some people were known to hang seaweed out to dry. Whenever the moisture in the air reached a certain level the seaweed would rehydrate; warning those around of rain.

Ruling out wearing seaweed around your neck, how can we use this knowledge to help us avoid getting wet? Thusly was the kelp neckpiece born!

Mannequin wearing black tshirt with white Dublin Maker logo, and a green felted kelp piece

Kelp neckpiece at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe



I have already talked about parts of this project; in getting many LEDs to light up, and then getting the humidity sensor working. But to recap/elaborate;

Wonderful details )

There you have it; a felt neckpiece that warns you it might be about the rain. I began trying to leverage the extra information (temperature and pressure) from the sensor, and fit it onto local historical weather data to more accurately predict rain, but was pulled away from such indulgent pursuits by the need to complete the other pieces.

Dublin Maker 2014

2014-Jul-28, Monday 09:06 pm
chebe: (Default)
If you follow me on twitter you may have noticed a rise in the number of barely sensical tweets lately. That is the effect a deadline has on me. Last Saturday, 26th July, was Dublin Maker 2014. It was the events first time as an independent entity (previously Dublin Mini-Maker Faire). And it was a fantastic day! I didn't get to see as much of the other makers as I had wanted to, but I loved what I did see, and from all the photos, videos, and write-ups coming in everyone had a great time.

This year along with the event getting bigger, the branding also got much better. Check out my beautiful ladies-fit tshirt, and badges.

Black tshirt with white Dublin Maker logo, white and blue laser-cut badge, and blue and white soldering kit badge

Swag
Photo by chebe



White rolled icing decorated cake with blue and yellow logo

Cake!
Photo by chebe



This year was also my first year not exhibiting with TOG. They still had a very large, very hectic stand, but this year I've been collaborating with Niki Collier on some felt wearable tech pieces. We went under the name Adore, Adorn, Play and ended up with three wonderful pieces to show;


I'll do up individual posts over the next few days about each piece (you are here for the minute techie details right?). For now I'll mention the unofficial fourth piece; my fascinator.

Purple petaled felt daffodil with green headband and leaf, with a white LED and fibre optics core

The best kind of daffodil
Photo by chebe



While I was debugging some problems at one of our sessions in the weeks before Dublin Maker Niki started working on felting me a headpiece to wear on the day. I love daffodils, and I love purple. So, with no small amount of magic, in short time, she turned a pile of fibre, soap, and water into this beautiful headpiece! The Friday night before DM, I actually managed to get home before midnight. But found myself wired, and in the wee small hours rigged my flower up with an LED (complete with hot glued fibre optics and rubber tubes) and a battery.

Purple petaled felt daffodil with green headband and leaf, with a white LED and fibre optics core

Daffodil power!
Photo by chebe



It's just done quickly by stabbing two holes for the LED legs through the middle of the flower, and connecting them to the battery terminals with conductive thread (and a hint of fabric paint to avoid shorts). I got many compliments on it during the day, and wore it all night! (At which point people actually began to notice that it lit up *harrumph*) It now has pride of place among my growing LED flower collection.

It was a great, if exhausting day. And I'm already looking forward to both next years DM, and to working with Niki on more projects.

New Gadget; CuBox

2014-Jun-30, Monday 08:35 pm
chebe: (AsciiC)
I've always wanted my own server. Although I haven't exactly had much need for one. Then I heard about these little beauties; the CuBox (or rather one with the older chipset). For some scale here it is next to a 250ml teapot and a one-Euro coin.

CuBox next to a 250ml glass teapot and one-Euro coin

Just too cute
Photo by chebe



It arrived with Ubuntu (10.04!) installed, which would just not do. So I copied all the cool kids and installed Arch linux on it. For that extra-low-level feel. I actually used the CuBox installer, which was very simple to use. But Arch is very stripped down, so I then had the fun of installing all the things I normally take for granted. Like vim, and sudo. Though to be fair, once I figured out that the package manager was called pacman, and an update is just pacman -Syu, things got much easier.

I've configured it up as a DNS server, and installed this dotey USB wifi dongle. So now it can sit happily next to the power socket (all the other cables unplugged), and I can ssh in to it. I'm still not sure what, if anything, I need it for, but at the very least I'm going to play around with mongodb and django for a bit.
chebe: (Sewing Machine)
It has been a busy few weeks! From dipping my feet in the fog cloaked Pacific Ocean, to walking along the bright three-hours-of-night Baltic Sea, and all within a month. From San Francisco to Stockholm, I somehow managed to not visit any hackerspaces. I just didn't have the time. Work sent me to the Bay Area for training, and I went to Stockholm to take a sewing course.

Stockholm is very easy to get around. The city centre not being that sprawled means you can easily walk around all day. But there's also public bikes, buses, trams, and trains. Everyone is friendly and has great English, which is just super convenient for the clueless tourist like myself.

However, the number of similarities between not only Swedish/English, but also Swedish/Irish is quite interesting. For example, button in Swedish; knapp, and button in Irish; cnaipe, pronounced almost identically. And then there's the Irish Viking place names, and Irish Norman family names... It's almost like they're related in some way ;)

But, back to the course! It was two days of exhaustive sewing. And I mean exhausting. I was falling asleep on the twenty minute train journey back to my hotel each day. Clearly I would never be able to do anything as strenuous as the Great British Sewing Bee!

Details and pictures )
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