At Maker Faire Milwaukee in 2015 I presented a piece titled Apple Watch, and at least one person enjoyed it enough to make me think about creating another piece utilizing the same concept, so for Maker Faire Milwaukee 2016 I presented Apple Wait….
Apple Wait… (like Apple Watch) consisted of a Raspberry Pi Model B connected to an Apple Monochrome Monitor from 1988. Instead of just attaching the Raspberry Pi to the monitor with some gaff tape, I added in one more reference to technology, an iPhone box.
It seems the box for an iPhone is just the right size to house a Raspberry Pi Model B. Interesting enough, the iPhone 4S and the Raspberry Pi Model B were released about the same time frame. They are very different devices, with different goals, aimed at different audiences. Why not merge the two together? Technology is interesting!
T35TP4TT3RN (aka TEST PATTERN) is a piece I created for Maker Faire Milwaukee in 2016. It consists of a Raspberry Pi single board computer connected to an old Sony broadcast monitor. (I got the monitor from another member of Milwaukee Makerspace who was getting rid of old equipment.)
As I often do, I wanted to contrast old hardware with modern hardware. I ended up using a Raspberry Pi Model B which has composite video out via an RCA jack. I used an RCA to BNC adapter to connect to the monitor. The display is a whopping 640×480 pixels.
I used the Raspberry Pi Slideshow technique and with most installations, I tried to do a good amount of testing beforehand, letting it run for days at a time. I came across an issue where the system would freeze, and it would get stuck on an image. I contemplated switching to display of a video, but really wanted to avoid that, so I set a cron job to reboot the Pi every 30 minutes. I figured that if someone saw the screen during reboot it would be an extra BTS sort of treat. (The Pi boots very fast.)
I did end up altering the monitor a bit. I removed the case and broke out a bit of the battery compartment so I could slide the Pi and extra cable into the battery slots. Since I’ll probably never own the batteries for this unit, hacking it seemed like a no-loss situation.
Here’s a collection of a few of the test patterns that were displayed.
I thought that since I had the leftover parts because of a UWM connection, I should find a way to get UWM involved again, so I persuaded my Physical Computing class to help. (And by “persuaded”, I mean I bribed my students into helping me with assembly of the piece.)
I didn’t have a piece of posterboard large enough to make the star I wanted, so I make five segments that could be assembled into a star.
Since I don’t have a printer capable of tabloid printing, I split the pieces into halves and printed on letter paper. Some assembly was required.
I cut the pieces and taped them together, and then had the “star legs” I needed. I then used it to cut the black posterboard using an X-ACTO knife and cork-backed steel edge ruler on a cutting mat. (Sorry, no laser!)
And yes… things didn’t fit right. Again, no laser. I trimmed edges a bit until things fit together right and it was deemed “good enough”.
I took the star pieces to Kenilworth and attached them to the piece of sheet metal with some magnets. At this point, I had to wait until the Thursday night right before Maker Faire, which luckily enough, is when I have class! I brought in some bags of candy, and while I taught students in groups of two or three how to solder, the rest of them assembled everything…
200+ pieces of black construction paper were cut for insulation, 200+ batteries were opened and had 200+ LEDs stuck onto them, 200+ binder clips had the clippy parts removed, and 200+ magnets were attached and then placed on the sheet metal. Things go fast with so many people helping!
Here’s the first test with the lights out, which we did during the DECODE meeting. It was impressive!
I then had to get Star-Blinken from the fifth floor of Kenilworth to my car, which was fun, because the Milwaukee Film event was setting up and Kenilworth was a bit crowded. The stand is heavy to prevent tipping, so I needed a cart. Also, since there’s no on/off switch, it blinks all the time. No control!
I loaded Star-Blinken into my car and yeah, it just kept on blinking! It was a fun ride home. It kept blinking strong all night long in the garage and then I unloaded it the next morning at Maker Faire. I ended up placing in at the entrance of the Dark Room, mainly because there weren’t other things there, but I think being in a darker area may have been even better. (I was a bit busy producing the event to worry about a better placement.)
Dana helped disassemble Star-Blinken at the Expo Center, and I asked her to just drop all the pieces into a box. After I loaded everything out and took it home, I forgot which box it was in and opening the box gave me a pleasant surprise. I then spent over an hour putting all the binder clips back together, and taking apart all the pieces.
The cost of this piece was approximately $100, and about $36 of that was for the batteries, which are the only parts that cannot be reused. (Well, actually, some of them have life left in them! Some did die though. None are at full power anymore.)
So I can reuse all the parts, except for the batteries, either in a similar piece in the future, or in the Learn to Solder kit. I may return the sheet metal to Tom from Milwaukee Makerspace, and the wood was disposed of. (The wood cost $0.00 as it was all scrap, and I reclaimed all the screws.)
This is just one post in a series, check out the other posts as well:
I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t see some of my favorite UWM people at Maker Faire Milwaukee this year because they either accepted jobs elsewhere (including outside the country) or they were too busy with work/personal stuff.
To cheer myself up I thought I’d make a list of UWM people/groups that will be at Maker Faire this year. Some include my former and current students, and some are colleagues, and some are just doing awesome things and want to share.
Data Loss consists of 130 hard drive platters suspended in air with zip ties. The platters contain physical fingerprints which can be easily seen, and digital fingerprints which cannot be easily seen. The data on the platters is (for all intents and purposes) unretrievable, but you can still see yourself in the data.
Data Loss has been a group effort in many way. It started when we were dismantling hard drives at Milwaukee Makerspace. Harvey and a few other people spent a good amount of time taking apart hard drives and saving the platters for me. (Thanks, Harvey!)
After a few failed attempts at connecting the platters together I decided to use zip ties since Stacie at BBCM got a ton of zip ties for super-cheap at a local rummage sale. Kaivahn (ex-DCRL) helped me put together a ton of zip ties and put up with me requesting they go together with only 3 clicks and then be trimmed short with a diagonal cutter…
My daughter Madeline then helped use the zip tie harnesses to connect up strings of platters to prepare them for hanging. Right now there are over 100 platters sitting in a box waiting to be attached to the frame. I’ll probably get that done within the next week so the zip ties have time to stretch/straighten a bit before Maker Faire.
Besides being a sort of “light sculpture” (as it will be placed in the Dark Room at Maker Faire) it may also serve as a sound sculpture, but I’m still doing a bit of testing on that part of it.