Synesthesia in the Lab...

Literally meaning “sensations together” in Greek, synesthesia is a very interesting condition where the stimulation of one sense triggers a perception in another.  Those who experience synesthesia might “hear” the color red, or “see” a loud noise. When listening to music in the lab, I wanted a way to visualize what I was hearing – creating my own artificial synesthesia.  This latest project is a simple sound visualizer, what sound engineers might call a volume unit (VU) meter.  There are three main parts to this project: the audio sensor (mic), the microcontroller, and the LEDs.  After finishing the project, I mounted the strip on the back of my new adjustable desk with some velcro.  I got all of the parts from Adafruit: Electret Microphone Amplifier – MAX4466 with Adjustable Gain Trinket – Mini Microcontroller Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip – White 60 LED Here’s a video of the final...

Mad Scientist Googles Aug23

Mad Scientist Googles...

… or are they Cyber Googles?  Whatever you want to call them, these things are most likely going to be part of a Halloween costume this year.  The lights are a line of LEDs called Neopixels.  I mounted a Trinket microcontroller and small rechargeable battery in the eye pieces to control the Neopixel Rings.  The result is an animated set of goggles sure to attract lots of attention. Note:  These goggles are now unusable in a safety capacity since I’ve added all of the electronics inside of the housing.  Wearing them could actually be dangerous and uncomfortable since the blinking lights may cause nausea and vomiting for some people, if worn over the eyes.     Here’s the code for the Arduino-compatible Trinket: // Low power NeoPixel goggles example. Makes a nice blinky display // with just a few LEDs on at any time. #include <Adafruit_NeoPixel.h> #ifdef __AVR_ATtiny85__ // Trinket, Gemma, etc. #include <avr/power.h> #endif #define PIN 0 Adafruit_NeoPixel pixels = Adafruit_NeoPixel(32, PIN); uint8_t mode = 0, // Current animation effect offset = 0; // Position of spinny eyes uint32_t color = 0xFF0000; // Start red uint32_t prevTime; void setup() { #ifdef __AVR_ATtiny85__ // Trinket, Gemma, etc. if(F_CPU == 16000000) clock_prescale_set(clock_div_1); #endif pixels.begin(); pixels.setBrightness(85); // 1/3 brightness prevTime = millis(); } void loop() { uint8_t i; uint32_t t; switch(mode) { case 0: // Random sparks – just one LED on at a time! i = random(32); pixels.setPixelColor(i, color); pixels.show(); delay(10); pixels.setPixelColor(i, 0); break; case 1: // Spinny wheels (8 LEDs on at a time) for(i=0; i<16; i++) { uint32_t c = 0; if(((offset + i) & 7) < 2) c = color; // 4 pixels on… pixels.setPixelColor( i, c); // First eye pixels.setPixelColor(31-i, c); // Second eye (flipped) } pixels.show(); offset++; delay(50); break; } t...

MakerCon & World Maker Faire Aug12

MakerCon & World Maker Faire...

Hooray!  I was selected to present at both MakerCon and World Maker Faire in New York City this fall. Here’s an overiew of the MakerCon, which will happen on the 24th of September: MakerCon connects the individuals at the forefront of the Maker Movement and taps into the best thinking on how to make things and get them to market, from new technologies to manufacturing models to funding methods. MakerCon is a meeting place for passionate entrepreneurs who want to test the commercial waters for their prototypes; cultural and civic leaders driving Maker initiatives; and product developers inspired by the Maker Movement. And of course, the World MakerFaire, scheduled for 26/27 September: Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.     I’ll be discussing some of the projects I’ve been working on for cyber security education and frameworks for military cyber operations, all in the context of the maker movement.  If you’re in the NY area during the 24th-27th of September, come see me at the New York Hall of...

All Systems Go! Part 2...

After many months of planning, building and organizing, I’ve finally gotten my basement lab set up.  This workshop complements my woodshop, which I wrote about in All Systems Go! Part 1.   In addition to housing all of my networking equipment, the space also has my CNC, Mac mini workstation and a new adjustable height desk. This is the second adjustable height desk I’ve made.  The first desk came at Gina’s request a couple of years ago.  I liked the design and fucntionality so much that I made one for myself with wood from my seemingly endless supply of mahogany: The Mac mini is a recent acquisition that I immediately upgraded with an SSD drive and 16GB of RAM: Here are a few shots of the entire work space: Panavise & helping hands Adjustable height desk CNC Mac mini workstation LED lamp Storage SmartJars SmartJars  ...

Northeastern Spirits Jun28

Northeastern Spirits

After visiting three breweries, a meadery and a distillery, our trip certainly looked like a booze crawl, but we managed to learn a thing or two. Maine Mead Works Maine Mead Works was founded in 2007 to promote the ancient tradition of the oldest of all fermented beverages, mead. Using honey, water and a special yeast, this Portland meadery makes some very tasty drinks. Imagining myself as a Viking about to drink from a ram’s horn, I ordered a few samples. I expected the drink to be like a stout or porter, but it’s actually very similar to wine.  After the tasting, I got a nice set of slate coasters with their slick logo.   Alexander Keith’s Brewery Founded in 1820 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, this brewery is one of the oldest commercial breweries in all of North America. Its namesake was a Canadian politician, brewer and philanthropist.  Located right in the middle of Halifax’s shopping district, the brewery offers a short but entertaining historical tour of the facility with a chance to sample a few of their ales. Rising Tide Brewing Company Situated in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood, this tasting room & brewery for the family-owned business specializes in artisanal, hand-crafted ales. We sampled all eight of their creations, and although I only liked one or two of them (I’m not a fan of ales), I enjoyed the presentation and creativity of their offerings.   Maine Craft Distilling Maine Craft Distilling is a very cool distillery located right next to Rising Tide Brewery.  On display were some familiar spirits such as rum and whiskey.  We also sampled a spirit distilled from fermented carrots – very...

Elwood’s Lab Jun27

Elwood’s Lab

A few days ago I met a Canadian xylopolist while touring the beautiful city of Saint John.  That sentence isn’t the product of a confused stupor, I assure you.  We were looking to get some lunch one afternoon and stumbled up a handsome storefront with a very attractive moniker.  Elwood’s Wood Lab just opened in Saint John, the largest city in New Brunswick.  The two woodworkers produces beautiful furniture and furnishings that combine classic woodworking techniques with popular modern industrial stylings.  Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the...

Retirement Box Jun19

Retirement Box

My boss is retiring from the Army after over two decades of service.  He was a key figure in the creation of the new Army Cyber branch, so he’ll have quite a lasting impact after hanging up the uniform.  For his gift, a keepsake box, I used some 3/8″ mahogany for the body.  I had a nice piece of bird’s eye maple that was perfect for the bottom and would contrast well against the wenge top.  Wenge is a very dark and dense African wood that’s sometimes an irritant.  The dust produced when cutting or sanding wenge can cause dermatitis and drowsiness, so I had to be extra careful when working it.  Once cut and finished, it’s quite beautiful though!  I used one of the new brass Cyber branch insignia and fixed it just below his initials, which I carved into the lid using my CNC.  I’m very pleased with the box and hoping it reminds him of the great work he’s done setting others up for future success in the new branch. Here’s a video of his initials being cut into the...

Side Tables Jun17

Side Tables

We replaced our coffee table just a few days ago, but the new addition seemed lonely.  Fortunately I had a bit more mahogany to make a set of side tables to match.  I aimed for simplicity in their design with a bit of figure showing on the tabletop.  I’m most pleased with the joints where the stretcher, table top and legs meet.  Since so many faces of the wood would be meeting at these points, I had to make sure that the angles were exactly 90°.  Any variation, even in the slightest, would be magnified as each additional piece was added to the joint.  It took a bit of fine tuning to get the saw blade cutting at exactly 90°, but it paid...

National Maker Faire Jun13

National Maker Faire

Longtime fans will know that I’m a huge fan of the Maker Faire events.  These unique show-and-tells are a great collection of technology, art and innovation.  Maker Faire made an appearance at the White House last year as part of the president’s initiative to encourage more making and a “renaissance in American manufacturing.” This year, the event was held at a larger venue and renamed the National Maker Faire.  Free to anyone interested, the event promised another excellent display of ingenuity.  I attended the inaugural National Maker Faire in Washington DC this weekend, but this time as an official Maker and presenter.  It was such great a great experience to share my experience with the maker community.  I can’t wait for the next big show. Chaos Machine Great machines on display Lego bridge 3D-printed Ben Franklin Awesome series of talks 3D-printed car 3D-printed car Makey! Dale Dougherty and I Dale Dougherty, founder of Make My...

Mahogany Coffee Table Jun11

Mahogany Coffee Table...

I’ve been checking things off the ‘to-do’ list slowly but surely this summer.  The wood for my latest creation comes from the giant stack of mahogany that I acquired a couple of years ago.  As with the previous project, I staggered and glued several panels to make one giant surface.  For this surface, I also added support cross pieces underneath for extra support.  It’s overkill since I don’t have any 120 lb coffee mugs, but I wanted to use the extra cutoffs in an elegant way.  Waste not! The legs are some 3/8″ steel hairpins that Gina found from a local seller.  I purposefully didn’t design any storage in this table to dissuade us from having so much clutter around.  Let’s see if it...

Happy Birthday Maker Faire! May16

Happy Birthday Maker Faire!...

Maker Faire Bay Area started today with much fanfare and national attention.  After all, it’s the 10th anniversary of the “Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth”.  When it first started in 2005, the Maker Faire was all about getting like-minded hobbyists together to talk about their latest creations.  It’s evolved into an extravagant event filled with musicians, magicians and vendors.  Modern Maker Faires are much more family-friendly and aim to appeal to engineers, students, artists, educators and, of course, the kids. This was my first Maker Faire Bay Area and I loved it.  The sheer volume of people was a bit shocking – far greater than any of the other Faires I’ve been to.  I’ve included a few photos from our day with captions of the activities.   Check out the shirts - it was Gina's idea! Mini tanks with lasers More mini tanks with lasers Notice that the "young makers" points right to our little guy The robot spider invasion begins Cool lady and guy riding around the fairgrounds Mechanical robot Fire-breathing rhino! R2D2 spotting Neat Lotus Seven replica Beautiful light tree "Rave Raffe" the electric giraffe The selfie curtain Wooden bike A lego robot that solves Rubik's cubes The new BeagleBone Green A park in the lego city display Lego city street corner Buttons and knobs Dale Dougherty, founder and CEO of Maker...

Picnic Table with a Secret May11

Picnic Table with a Secret...

Goodbye plastic chairs, hello sturdy picnic table.  This table was a weekend project that took just about 5 hours from beginning to end.  Started and finished this Mother’s Day, the table will seat 4 comfortably with space on the ends for extra guests.  The wood is pressure treated lumber from the local giant orange hardware store.  Add some bolts and a few deck screws and we’ve got a picnic table!  But wait, there’s more… hidden underneath the center plank are two buckets for beverage storage! The ‘coolers’ are just planters that are mounted underneath the tabletop. They are attached to the supporting crossbars and mounted flush so that they’re completely hidden when the covers are put in place. I freestyled this build – no plans or drawings and I’m happy that it turned out so...