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!

Heeeeere's Guido!

Finally, the big moment everyone's been waiting for: I present to you, GUIDO!

Guido being Al's Zen Toolworks CNC machine, of course.

It is alive and kicking; as you can see it scribbled something on this piece of wood last night:

Guido at work 

Heiko and I were there to witness it, I even took some video, but I'm not sure where to post it yet.

I have updated Guido's page with some overview info on how to make it bore out your own design. Check it out (it is very high level at the moment, but will add more as I set up our systems specifically for Guido): http://wiki.acemonstertoys.org/Zen_Toolworks_CNC 

Quick update! -clamps are in! they are 6mm t-slot clamps that can be used with Guido's platform. These should hold down pretty much anything you can machine on this machine (wood, aluminium, plastic, etc.)

DIY Book Scanner in Progress

I own a lot of old or obscure books. Many of these are from small publishers who disappeared long ago. I've been moving more and more to ebooks during the last two years but I own something like 8,000 or more books. I'd like to preserve a lot of the hard to find books and something to scan them would make it easier to do so. I've stood over my share of digitizing photocopiers to facilitate them but they work slowly and often badly. Unfortunately, most of the time the easiest ways to scan a book will destroy the same books. There are other solutions though...

DIY Book Scanner
A current laser cut book scanner

Yesterday, I went over to Ace Monster Toys to work on a DIY Book Scanner. Daniel Reetz came up with this idea a while back for cheaply and easily scanning in books into computers without cracking the spine on his books.

Adventures in the land of Arrfid, Part The Second

In which our heroes frantically rework the RFID reader after catastrophic failure.

I have here visualized the security system as of our last update. We have a parallax rfid sensor feeding serial data to the arduino. The arduino sends that data (over serial) to the controller laptop. The laptop authenticates the tag that comes in, then activates the latching relay (through the parallel port), which then turns on the door.

Door thing

So this next detail isn't clear in this diagram, but where I have marked 'Parallel', what I really mean is that we took an old parallel cable, plugged it into the computer, then cut it in half, and stripped some of the individual wires poking out of the frayed end, soldering them to the relay. This is something you might say is Not Robust (TM).

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