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

Photo by chebe

White rolled icing decorated cake with blue and yellow logo

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.

Artek Circle

2014-May-11, Sunday 03:41 pm
chebe: (BeautyQueen)
This weekend I've been at Artek Circle. This has been an incredibly fun, and inspiring, event bringing together artists, scientists, engineers, and even philosophers! For a day and a half we have worked together on projects. It's been surprising how much has been achieved.

I kind of floated around, helping out with some debugging, busying myself with finishing up an RGB gauntlet (more details to come), and being a subject for some eeg experiments. Mostly it involved watching cat videos. For Science!

Me, holding up right arm with RGB gauntlet lit up in blue

Me, playing with RGB gauntlet
Photo by CreativeDynamix

The eeg project was Sinead's idea. A bunch of eager people gathered round, and magic happened. My involvement mostly involved me wearing one of the eeg sensors (as seen here) while watching cat videos. We were using the TrueSense Exploration Kit which is available for the really reasonable price of US$48. The cat videos was inspired by The Sympsychograph.

Want to hear the first pass of what my brain sounds like on cats? Later in the evening we retired to the hackerspace, and the recording of my brain on cats got printed on the 3D printer. This is my very own Cartesian Portrait.

A 3D print of the recording of my brain watching cat videos

My brain on cats, 3D printed
Photo by chebe

Such antics can lead to unexpected side effects however. Like having to pose for many photos. I'll keep you updated as the project evolves.

Sinead's take on the weekend.
And I just heard my cat brain mapped onto Love Cats!

TOG at the Exchange

2014-Jan-20, Monday 09:00 pm
chebe: (WalkSign)
Our hackerspace is currently showing off some projects at the Exchange. Among the projects are the constellation quilts we made for MakerFaire Dublin last year.

Always with the last minute )

View from street through window of the Exchange. The quilts are visible on the back wall, behind other LED projects from TOG.

Display at the Exchange, from street
Photo by chebe

So if you get a chance pop down to the Exchange and have a look. They're a great group and do some really cool stuff. You'll be glad you did.
chebe: (WalkSign)
The first GaelHack took place a couple of weeks ago, the weekend of Friday 7th to Sunday 9th of June. It was a nice way to start a new tradition, with about twenty people from all over Ireland attending. (I think all but two of the hackerspaces were represented.) It was held on a scorcher of a weekend, in a boarding-school-converted-into-Scouts-Centre, with the option of camping or boarding in the hostel like rooms.

We took over a large room with a bunch of tables and chairs, set up the projector, and got started. There were a few presentations, a couple of hands-on workshops, and a few excursions out-of-doors into the beautiful sunshine to play with aerials and satellites. And to get the occasional ice-cream. In some ways the location was ideal (sunshine, quiet, facilities), but it did lack in some respects (insufficient internet, barely any phone signal, children everywhere). It was definitely a good start though, and at the end there was a great discussion, with people from different hackerspaces volunteering to look around their own localities for alternatives. I'm looking forward to next years. (There's a very thorough write-up by another attendee on the way, I'll link to it here when it's live. *EDIT* link)

Throughout the activities, in spare cycles, we worked on our own projects. It struck me how awkward Ardunio can be when you don't have an awful lot of internet to go looking for, and downloading, documents, tutorials, and libraries. But I persevered, emboldened by fellow attendees reminding me that there is almost always a library out there already. I got started learning to use I2C, real-time-clocks, and seven-segment-displays. Obviously I built a clock. This is the first step towards something else, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Arduino Uno, (you can ignore the MicroSD-shield, it's not doing anything here,) Sparkfun Real Time Clock Module, Adafruit 4-digit 7-segment display. The display requires you to install two libraries details here, and even though I'm using the Sparkfun RTC it uses the same chip as the Adafruit one, and Adafruit provide a library here.

The only gotcha that I ran into is that the RTC time is not set, and it is not running when you get it. (It also needs to be hooked up to 5V, otherwise when you query it you get a nonsense response.) To set the time to the time on your computer there's a section in the Adafruit example setup().
  if (! RTC.isrunning()) {
    Serial.println("RTC is NOT running!");
    // following line sets the RTC to the date & time this sketch was compiled
    RTC.adjust(DateTime(__DATE__, __TIME__));

By default it doesn't execute. I had to remove the not to get it to run, i.e.
  if (RTC.isrunning()) {

You only need dto do this whenever you want to change the time, so ideally just the once. After that I just played around with the display, and got the colon blinking like commercial digital clocks.

Photo and video )

Hanami Kanzashi

2013-Jun-13, Thursday 01:45 pm
chebe: (FlowerInHair)
One Saturday (the 6th) in April last I went to Anime Dublin (facebook twitter). I'm but a casual anime fan, and this was my first convention. I was blown away by the costumes! Big (some really really big), elaborate, detailed, high quality materials, utterly beautiful. It didn't matter that I didn't recognise most of them, they in themselves were wonderful. And I'm in awe of the dedication wearing most of them required. (I should tell you about how annoying I find wearing my fairy wings one day...) And everyone was so full of energy!

But I was there for a reason. To show people how to make LED flowers. There was a hanami (cherry blossom) theme to the event, so I stocked up on my pink and white fabrics and even acquired a few pink LEDs. I thought I'd do something even more special though, and set about learning kanzashi (folded fabric flowers). I found this tutorial to be really helpful. There are quite a few variations there that I might try out in future, but for this event I stuck with just this one.

In short, get two colours of fabric (polycotton in my case), starch the life out of it, cut into small squares (I think mine were too small, but I've hundreds now so I'm stuck with them), and then start folding. You make each petal individually, then string them together. Which is by far the trickest part. So tricky in fact that after the first couple of people attempted them at Anime Dublin I decided to abandon the design in favour of the basic flower design. ... which it appears I've never talked about here?! It's just this simple LED soft-circuit in a basic felt-flower design (that you can see here), but I should document it at some point. (In case you haven't noticed, I quite like LED flowers.)

For speed and ease on the day I used the conventional plastic battery holders (instead of the elastic holder), but it left the bottom of the design very bulky. Okay if you're wearing it in your hair and can conceal it, but not the most attractive result.

I'm not the worlds greatest lover of pink, but in these cherry blossoms I do think it works quite well. (I wore it in my hair to a wedding later that day, which just happened to have a cherry blossom theme! I was warned the bride might try to steal it :)

At MakerFaire UK I found a lady selling kits on how to make kanzashi. Her's seem to stick up out of the plane where mine were laying flat (which is the bit that gave me so much trouble). So needless to say I snatched up the kit, and hope to learn how to make these better.

Updates of stuff

2013-Mar-12, Tuesday 09:01 pm
chebe: (Default)

Work has been keeping me busy so coherent ... speech stuff ... is little beyond me at the moment. (I'm going to a grammar workshop on Saturday, maybe that will help.) So this will be blessedly brief.

Those are crepe-paper cherry blossoms at the top. I roughly followed this tutorial, only I lack a tree branch.

I've taken to learning how to needle-felt. Here's my first attempt at a rectangle in green wool, and conductive stainless-steel fiber.

I've also been experimenting with fusible fibers (and sheets) together with conductive fibers as well.

In tangential news we got a 3D-printer. I haven't logged much time with it yet but am looking forward to some of the translucent and UV-reactive plastics.

Finally, to conclude, I'm going to be busy this year attending all the things.

April, Saturday 6th. Anime Dublin (facebook twitter) Showing people how to make LED-flowers.

April, Saturday 27th - Sunday 28th. MakerFaire UK (website twitter) Helping out at the TOG hackerspace table.

June, Friday 7th - Sunday 9th. GaelHack (website twitter) Doing... something.

July, Saturday 27th. MiniMakerFaire Dublin (website twitter) Again helping out TOG.

July, Wednesday 31st - August, Sunday 4th. O.H.M. (website twitter) Trying to forget that I dislike camping.

Now to find the energy required to do it all.
chebe: (Default)
I try to keep this blog about things that have gone right (or at least experiences I can learn from). As such, I would be remiss if I did not mention the night of talks we had in TOG last night. The topic ended up being Computer Games and Development, and it's one of those rare times when everything just went right.

Back in December I said to the other members, I've a speaker lined up, let's have a night of talks! December being so busy it got pushed out to January. Which is good, because January is so quiet, and devoid of interesting events. But then a wondrous thing happened. Julie and Becky said, hey, I know someone who might like to talk, and suddenly we had a topic and more speakers than we could fit in one night!

It's one of those examples of just how a hackerspace should work. One person starts something, others join in, and a location is provided. Easy as pie, an event happens. And this one was spectacular (if I do say so myself)! One speaker presented from an iPad, controlled by a phone. Another provided my first real life experience of Windows 8. One was part of a team that won a BAFTA. And we had possibly the largest audience yet, including possibly the youngest yet. All on top of the genuinely interesting presentations!

But personally, the icing on the cake was that of the six (excellent) presenters, four were women. In the area of computer games. It happened without thinking, without specific effort. It was simply that when people thought of others involved with computer games, these were the people they thought of. It's a small thing, but it makes me happy.

Julie made the point that we reaped the fruits of past effort; of going to all those tech events and cons, of making a point of seeking out other women in tech, that made this possible. (And to be fair, in this case it was mostly Julie's graft.) So this, is not only a fine example of a hackerspace working well, but also a good reason why women-in-tech events are important. They lead to great events!

Moving on, people are already talking about a 'next one'. Guess we'll have to do something about that :)
chebe: (Default)
Bear with me, this is going to be a long post.

This Saturday just gone, July 14th, was Dublin's first Mini Maker Faire! It was held in the Science Gallery and on the Physics Lawn of Trinity College. I was there as a part of TOG, the Dublin maker/hacker-space. It was a fantastic day. So many people showed up who already knew a lot and came up with interesting questions and ideas. Some people were just wandering through Trinity like they do every weekend and were a little confounded to find us there. Yet others showed up wearing ESOF lanyards! I'm sad I didn't get to see much of the other makers or exhibits, things were just so hectic! It certainly seemed like everyone was having a good time.

Maker Faire )

TOG's new tshirt )


Arduino IR receiver )

LED matrix top )

Constellation Quilts )

Well, I fairly collapsed with exhaustion about 4pm (missing the after-party and everything), but up until that point it was a great day and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Post Octocon thoughts

2011-Oct-16, Sunday 09:46 pm
chebe: (StormyThoughts)
This year was Octocons 21st. But it's the first that I have actually managed to attend. It's a Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror convention (with a great representation from the comics world) and I had a really good time. There was a wide range of things that I wanted to attend, even allowing for the inevitable problem of sometimes wanting to be in two places at once. (Why was there another panel on at the same time as the awards ceremony? That was just cruel. ... Can anyone tell me who won?*) And although I did actually run a workshop, for most of the time I got to sit back and enjoy as a regular attendee.

Something that was pointed out to me, was the almost complete lack of any actual science-fiction. I happily lapped up all the horror talks, was glad to see diverse topics like YA fiction, the issue of ebooks and piracy, and the rather meta panel on whether female-focused panels at cons are actually helping. But where was the sci-fi? I suspect this problem is far more wide-spread as I look around local and virtual bookshelves and see endless heaps of paranormal romance, but no new sci-fi. Where is it?

Also, this was a con at which the majority of the panelists were authors. Published, successful authors in a range of fiction, talking about what makes a gripping story, what makes a good character, what elements can be included and what pushes the suspension of belief too far. Yet none of the people I know who aspire to be published authors were there. Not one. Why?

Nonetheless, I had a great time. The staff and organisers were helpful, the event was well run, very organised, and only the last couple of time-slots on the last day ran over (because they wanted to squeeze in a couple of extra shorts, and some people have run-away, if entertaining, mouths). Speaking of which, I feel the film shorts (entrants for the Golden Blaster award), the Vault of Terror (commentated sections of a really bad film), and the Fandom Challenge (university challenge style quiz) were refreshing changes of pace that added to the roundness of the whole event. I made it all the way from Opening Ceremony to Closing Ceremony and am currently very tired, but in a happy way. I'm left with a head swimming with ideas, book recommendations, and a renewed interest in the entire range of speculative fiction. I'm even already looking forward to next year. Yep, definitely a good time.

*Oh twitter, you do fill in all the gaps: Blasters and script award winners.


2011-Aug-22, Monday 06:15 pm
chebe: (Default)
Em. Hi! So I haven't been around much, and I am terribly sorry, I just lacked the time and energy to make anything new, or write anything up (still have some three or four old projects to mention). But, I'm back now. And with news!

This week is Irish Hackerspaces Week. Check out the list and pop over if something catches your eye. I'll be at the Craft Night tomorrow (Tuesday) working on some project ideas.

September 3rd and 4th a bunch of us from tog will be running drop-in workshops at Electric Picnic! For those not in the know, it's a large outdoor music festival with a strong cultural focus and many non-music activities. We will be running soldering, origami, and electro-craft (yep, that one is me) workshops. Still sorting out the finer details, will let you know when I do.

October 15th and 16th I will hopefully be at Octocon, which is a sci-fi, fantasy, and horror convention! Running more electro-craft workshops, but I reckon this one could be more fun and I am on the look out for sufficiently sci-fi-themed project ideas.

On a more personal note, I've been getting back to skating, and have signed up for roller derby freshmeat training with the DRG. I just hope I don't break anything!

So yeah. Busy, but so much fun :) And simply because it seems all the cool kids have them, I'm getting moo mini-cards printed up; very nice, and good value little cards. I'll be back with the regular project updates soon. Thank you for sticking around.
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