A few days ago, Arduino co-inventor Massimo Banzi spoke at the University of Michigan, as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design. In addition to throngs of art students, there were indeed a few die-hard electronics nerds in the audience. It seemed like the perfect time to do two things:
1: Give away a bunch of little laser-cut Arduino protectors. Attached to the bottom of the otherwise-bare Arduino board, this is a cheap-and-cheerful way to avoid short circuits when absentmindedly setting the board down.
Here’s where you come in: Even with a free month of membership on the line, nobody’s solved all of the steps yet! So it’s time to officially open it up to players who weren’t at the lecture.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The puzzle is open to any non-member, no purchase or anything necessary, but you’ll need to be local and 18+ to claim the prize. If not, feel free to play for fun anyway!
- If you want to co-solve with a physical friend, that’s cool, but please don’t share solutions over the internet. (Let ‘em work for it!)
- You’ll probably need to get your hands on an Arduino to solve one of the steps. If you don’t own one, perhaps you could use one at a nearby hackerspace….
[updated 4/21 to reflect that current i3detroit members can play for fun but not claim the prize.]
Event update: Friday’s car hacking meetup is cancelled, as I’m traveling and probably won’t be back in town in time to host it. If anyone wants to come hack on cars anyway, well, that’s always a welcome activity!
Now, on with the post. The sort of work you do with a laser cutter can depend a lot on its material capacity. Some things, like Greg’s wood inlay and Lego-compatible gears, work fine in any size of machine:
Others, like Donny’s picture frame matting, might not fit in a table-top machine:
And then you have projects that really take advantage of a giant cutter bed, like Andy’s dinosaur:
So, with access to 150 watts of CO2 creativity, what will you make?
It’s 3-14 and that means it’s time to make bad pi/pie jokes! Won’t you join us?
This evening at i3 Detroit:
- Laser-cut a nice acrylic case for your Raspberry Pi!
- Savor Meijer’s finest gourmet raspberry pies!
- Share projects you’ve completed or only just started!
- Pun-ish each other with brutal wordplay and awful jokes!
When first stepping through the door, the University of Michigan’s Walter E. Wilson Student Team Project Center feels familiar, like a well-equipped hackerspace/makerspace. A Haas vertical mill dominates the main floor, more modern than i3′s but otherwise similar. In the back are manual mills and lathes, and a nontraditional vehicle (in this case, a solar car) hangs from the ceiling. Upstairs, an electronics lab is giving rise to the next generation of self-contained autonomous quadrotor helicopters. There’s a feeling of easy camaraderie and a subtle sense that the future is taking shape within these walls.
What’s different about the Wilson STPC is that there’s no hobby activity here — no couch, no gaming, no rogue bumper stickers, no tinkering for the sake of tinkering. Use of the Center is for students only, of course, but beyond that, it’s restricted to official student teams competing in various events. Among them is the Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles team, competing in the International Aerial Robotics Competition. Dissatisfied with the suitability of commercially available UAV platforms, MAAV is building their own, and they were kind enough to give i3 Detroit a behind-the-scenes tour on Sunday.
Unlike the internet-darling quadrotors performing aerobatics in a sensor-studded room, MAAV’s machines are almost entirely self-contained, designed to operate in an uncontrolled environment. So in addition to the obvious motors and rotors and batteries, they’re flying sensor platforms, with two onboard LIDAR units, accelerometers, gyroscopes, cameras, and several processors to handle the numerous tasks required. That’s all fixed to an astonishingly strong carbon-fiber frame, home-brewed using a novel molding technique.
i3 Detroit’s tour group got to meet several MAAV team members, check out various early and current hardware versions, and ask tons of questions. As several of our members have robotics and quadrotor experience, there was idea-sharing in both directions.
To demonstrate the stability of the quadrotor’s control system, our guide Jonathan told it to take off and hover at a particular position, and then grabbed one corner of the machine and pulled it several feet out-of-place. It returned immediately to its commanded position and held there, steady as a hummingbird, until commanded to go somewhere else. See the full video of the demonstration here.
After leaving the STPC, half of our group continued on to the day’s second destination, a datacenter by the name of MACC: the Michigan Academic Computing Center. Housing servers and equipment for numerous university departments, it’s a rack-mounted forest of Infiniband cables, storage arrays, and machines with names like “dixiedynamite”. We compared notes about power and cooling, talked about fiber optics and interconnect latency, and hunted down a lone GPS time server.
There are plenty of interesting places in southeast Michigan, and with these field trips, we’re exploring some of them. Stay tuned!
A: Chris Peplin’s sweet ride, with a prototype OpenXC translator plugged into it!
On Friday, i3 Detroit’s first car hacking meetup brought a good turnout, with pizza and drinks and solder and software and tons of fascinating ideas. The mix of attendees included several industry experts, some hobbyists of varying experience, and a few curious newbies.
We were treated to the first public demonstration of the recently-released OpenXC platform, a standard API for interfacing aftermarket software into vehicles. Unlike common OBD2 interfaces that only work with a limited set of messages, OpenXC decodes the live CAN traffic and reveals lots more data, neatly formatted as JSON for your apps to parse.
What sort of apps? Well, that’s up to you — come to the next car hacking meetup (fourth Fridays) and get involved!
phone: (248) 906-8473
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