Second AVR/Arduino class tomorrow (Wednesday) night

David's second AVR/Arduino class will be tomorrow (Wensday) night. The main topics are:
1. Troubleshooting USnooBies aka why isn't my power LED coming on? We'll walk through the process of checking all solder joints and figuring out why some of your kits aren't working after they were put together
2. Simple programming walkthrough: Once we have them working, I'll go through the basics of setting up the software, a few simple code examples, and where to look for more info.
3. Whatever: If anyone has their own arduino hardware and wants help/advice on it, I'll do my best.

DIY Book Scanner is almost complete

Myles and I have continued to spend a few hours a couple of times a week on our DIY Book Scanner. As you can see below, it is mostly complete at this point.

Yesterday, we finished putting the physical parts together, figured out how to hang the lights, and made sure that the cameras could focus correctly on the pages (as well as get external power). The only thing left to do with the body of it is to hang a counterweight from the pulley at the back. This will allow us to raise and lower the platen without putting a lot of force on it. Sooner or later, we expect to rebuild the platen as we learned a few things while doing it and the acrylic that we are using tends to build up a big static charge, which holds onto the pages from books.

You can see our overall build progression in my Flickr photo set.

Our next step is to get all of the electronics working. This is non-battery power to the cameras and a foot switch to cause them both to take photos. We're using a linux virtual machine with the open source scanning software so people should be able to run the software on any computer at Ace Monster Toys, assuming they install VMware's tools.

One of the discussions that Myles and are having is how we could build a book scanner from scratch in an easier fashion, using some sort of standard parts and maybe molded corner pieces or some sort of interlocking system. The idea would be to create an easy to assemble set of parts that we could then turn into kits, making it easier for other people to build their own book scanners without staring at pictures of the builds of others on the DIY Bookscanner forums and figuring it all out for themselves. These conversations are just in the beginning stages but it seems worthwhile to discuss.

 - Al

An Embarassment of Makerbots

That's a Whole lotta Nerd in One Place!

So Makerbot issued user groups a challenge to put two makerbots together and take a picture. Fortunately we are able to over deliver on the request. AMT <3's our Makerbots!

Get your AMT Stickers!

Stop reading this post! Turn your laptop around and look at the back of the screen. If there's more that an inch of bare aluminum or plastic showing through, then it is imperative that you obtain one (or 12) of these stickers. Your laptop is a part of who you are (at least that is how most of us here @amt feel), and it is socially awkward to carry your identity around like that... so... naked!

To remedy your nakedness, please stop by AMT as soon as possible and pickup your stickers. We're asking $1.00 per sticker to recoup some of the cost and allow us to buy more stickers and stuff in the future. We will have a sticker/tip jar setup in the near future. In the meantime, you can find the stickers in the electronics area.

[Update March 9, 2011 6:52 PM PST]

The tip jar is now complete. Please look for it upstairs near the conference tables.

More Bookscanner Progress

2011-03-03 21.37.03
Gaze in awe at the completed base

Myles and I met up before and after the weekly AMT meeting last night to do a little more work on the bookscanner. Other than building the platen, which holds down the pages of the books and mounting it, we're getting much closer to being done building it. It has to rise up and down on rails and getting those squared and fitted is a little tricky for those of us with weak wood working skills.

The real challenge is going to be the electronics to control the Canon 480 cameras. The firmware on those cameras is well hacked, which means that we can mount them and have them each take a photo of a page (one side of the book per camera) at the push of a button and then pull the images directly into a Linux virtual machine that Myles has put together.

I took a few photos but I'm hoping that we will have more impressive looking results after another workday on it on Saturday.

 - Al

2011-03-03 21.37.11
No, we are not woodworkers

Upcoming AVR/Arduino microcontroller workshops

USnooBieI will be starting a biweekly class / workshop on using AVR & Arduino-like microcontrollers. The first one will be 7 - 9pm on Wens. 3/16. We will have USnooBie kits available for a suggested donation of $20, and the first class will focus on putting together the kits (allowing you to learn basic soldering skills if you don't already), and writing some simple programs to blink a LED etc to get started.

Please send me an email, or post a comment here, or somehow respond to the google calendar event (is that even possible? I don't know how this thing works), if you plan on coming, so I can make sure we have enough tools for everyone. This class (like most) is open to the public, no need to be a member of AMT to check it out!

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