Hexbright Hacking

August 24th, 2013 by Jeff

The Hexbright is an Arduino-compatible open source flashlight that was the subject of a very successful kickstarter campaign in 2011.

Today I spent a short time working on some custom firmware for it.

My firmware adds two new features:

  • Button presses cycle between modes (low, med, high brightness) as usual, but if you wait longer than CYCLE_DELAY (default 5 seconds) between presses, the next press turns the hexbright off.
  • If the hexbright is left on for longer than AUTO_OFF_MINUTES (defaults to an hour), the hexbright turns off.  Handy for when you prop the light somewhere and forget about it.

You can download my custom Hexbright Arduino sketch here.  If you’re new to the Hexbright, read these well-written instructions first.  You’ll need to install the required USB driver and Arduino board configuration file.

Amazon link: HexBright FLEX, 500 Lumen Programmable LED Flashlight

Rescue Shield kits back in stock – fix your bricked AVRs!

August 3rd, 2013 by Jeff

A new batch of HV Rescue Shield kits are fresh off the hotplate and ready to rescue your bricked AVRs! You can purchase kits here.

Also, I only have a few Geiger Counter kits left in stock. Things have been pretty busy here lately, so it will likely be a few weeks before I can build more. Get one before they’re all gone!

Both of these kits are great for both electronics newbies and experienced kit builders.

Don’t know how to solder? Learn how today!

The Seattle Mini Maker Faire is next weekend!

June 2nd, 2013 by Jeff

smmakerfairestranger

The 2nd(?) annual Seattle Mini Maker Faire will take place next weekend (June 8th-9th, 2013) in the Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Center.

I’ll be there showing off my Glowy Geiger Chimes and selling open source Geiger counter kitsAlan is bringing his Glowputer, and many other Seattle-area makers will be there (here’s a list).

See you there!

Come see my Glowy Geiger Chimes at the 2013 Maker Faire Bay Area!

May 12th, 2013 by Jeff

It’s that time of the year again! The 2013 Maker Faire Bay Area is next weekend (May 18-19th) in San Mateo, California.

I haven’t had time to post about it, but over the past few weeks I’ve been busy working on a special project for the Maker Faire this year.

This year I am bringing a new and improved version of the “Geiger counter-powered ambient music thing” that I threw together at the last minute last year (and never really came up with a good name for). In that project, I connected five of my open source Geiger Counter kits to an Arduino that sent MIDI commands to a Sparkfun Music Instrument Shield. When each Geiger counter was triggered by background radiation or one of the weakly radioactive sources nearby, the Arduino would send a command to the shield to play a musical note.

This year I’m bringing a new and improved version that uses a new piece of hardware that I designed specifically for the Faire – the Geiger Pad.

Each Geiger Pad contains a fully functional Geiger Counter based on my Geiger counter kit. The output of the Geiger counter is connected to a cluster of 14 very bright 5mm UV LEDs. On top of the Pad is a petri dish filled with uranium marbles. Each time the Geiger counter detects that a gamma ray was emitted by the marbles, it flashes the UV LEDs. Since the uranium marbles fluoresce green under UV light, this produces a brilliant green glow.

Today (yes, once again at the last minute) I finally got all the pieces together and working. If you come to the Faire you’ll be able to see it in person, but I also posted a short video on flickr:

The Maker Faire website lists me in Expo Hall, but it’s more likely that I’ll be somewhere in the dark area of Fiesta Hall instead. Check the Maker Faire website later in the week for more details.

See you at the Faire!

Glowy Geiger Chimes at makerfaire.com

My Hardware/Maker/Arcade/Pinball Geeky Events Calendar 2013

April 21st, 2013 by Jeff

It’s officially event season!  I was sorting through my calendar this afternoon and I thought I’d share a few geeky hardware/arcade/pinball/open source/hackercamp events that I’m looking forward to over the next few months.

April 22-25: DESIGN West, San Jose, CA.  I’ll be there.  Joe Grand is speaking on Wednesday

May 18-19: Maker Faire Bay Area, San Mateo, CA.  I’ll be there with a booth this year (Glowy Geiger Chimes).

May 17-19: Dayton Hamvention, Dayton, OH.  I want to check out this HUGE ham radio event sometime, but my attempt to go to Dayton this year was thwarted because, yet again, it falls on the same weekend as the Maker Faire.  Maybe next year.

June 2-7: MTT IMS 2013, Seattle, WA – Expo is free on Wednesday

June 7-9: Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS), Tacoma, WA.  Definitely checking out this local show this year.

June 8-9: Seattle Mini Maker Faire, Seattle, WA  (Another geek event collision, this time in Seattle.)

June 22-23: ARRL Field Day

July 13-14: California Extreme (CAX), Santa Clara, CA.  This might be my first year at CAX, if I don’t have to cancel at the last minute like last year!

July 31-Aug 4: OHM2013, Geestmerambacht, NL.  Deadline to submit a talk is May 1st.

Sept. 6: Open Hardware Summit, MIT (1st year held separately from the World Maker Faire!)

Sept. 21-22: World Maker Faire, Queens, NY.

Did I miss anything?  What other events are folks excited about?


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