Archive for the ‘diy’ Category

Candy Launching Pumpkin



After the popularity of Butterscotch I seem to have got a reputation for adding fire to things (even though it was FireTim that did the pyro half of Butterscotch).  So when the Mythbusters posted a link to a fire breathing pumpkin I was bombarded with questions about when I would be building one.  Not being the type to do what others expect me to do I rejected the idea of doing a pyro pumpkin outright.


Though I was set on not building a fire breathing pumpkin it did make me think about building other things inside of a pumpkin.   Then it hit me just two days before Halloween. I needed to build a pumpkin that would forcefully deliver candy to Trick-or-Treaters much in the same way they would deliver eggs to my house if I did not provide candy to them.  From that point on I had a mission. Throwing sleep and other responsibilities to the wind I went to the bowels of the LVL1 bone yard to hack together a candy launching pumpkin.


After design concessions due to time and help from fellow LVL1ers (thanks FireTim and Jon the Kilted) I was able to defend my house this year.  Although I never saw the pumpkin Mythbusters link and I am sure it is cool I considered this a spite project similar to JAC 101 Micro-Laser Cutter.  I just hope everyone enjoys it as much as I enjoyed making it.


I have posted an instructable for this project to help others defend themselves next All Hallows’ Eve… but really, why wait.  Go to that instructable and start defending yourself for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas.  There is nothing like a fruitcake chucking Santa to keep those damn carolers at bay.

Announcing: LVL1 Summer Camp!



Sign up now on EventBrite:

This summer only, at the LVL1 hackerspace in Louisville, KY, you can learn how to Design, Etch, Solder and Program your very own microcontroller project.

This series of four workshops will take place across every Saturday in June, from 1pm to 5pm.  The first Saturday, you’ll learn how to use EagleCAD to route PCBs for manufacture.  No more perfboard!

The second Saturday, you’ll learn how to use dangerous chemicals to turn a blank copper board into a functional AVR programmer!  With this clone of LadyAda’s USBTinyISP, you’ll be able to program almost ever AtTiny and AtMega chip ever manufactured, freeing you from the surly bonds of the Arduino develoment environment.

The third Saturday, you’ll learn extremely useful skills in prototyping with surface mount components, soldering tiny parts on to the boards you etched the week previous.  Surface Mount soldering is  an important skill, as projects and parts get smaller and more powerful.

Finally, on the fourth Saturday, you’ll learn how to program a CapsLocker, a nefarious device which masquerades as USB keyboard.  This device is capable of entering any key sequence at any interval, super useful for makinG SURE YOUR MARK ALWAYS TYPES LIKE THIIS.  Or p#erha#ps #ann#o#yin# him# in ##eve#n #mo#r#e interes#ting #ways.

If you want to enroll in all four workshops, purchase the four-pack and the four pack only!  If you’d like to participate in just the etching and building, purchase the “Etching It and Soldering It” ticket.  If you’d like to participate in any just the Eagle or Programming workshop, without the fun parts to take home, simply purchase those tickets separately.  If you’re confused, or would like any combination of the above workshops, contact us!

LVL1 members, you get a discount! Contact the appropriate authorities!

Sign up now on EventBrite:


Donate to the Laser Cutter fund!


Admit it, you have always wanted to build a penny sized dinosaur

Well here is your chance! LVL1 is raising money to buy a laser cutter for the space. With a laser cutter you can do all sorts of neato things like this…

Scroll thought the link and think about what you want to make. Then donate to the laser cutter fund. The sooner we make it to $2500, the sooner we can get a laser cutter for all to share. IT IS GONNA BE SO AWESOME!

Here is the Laser Cutter we are going to buy.

and a video of it in action…

As you can see, you want to give to this fund! Watch the progress bar on the right side of this blog to see how much further we have to go!

By using the donate button below you will be taken to Paypal to make a donation to the laser cutter fund. When you use this button the donation is earmarked for the laser cutter fund, not the general fund.


How to Build the World’s Lightest Quadrifilar Helix Antenna


Another day, another repost from another project I’m working on. This time, from White Star Balloons, the world’s lightest quad helix antenna.

After the scrub on the launch pad for flight attempt A, we went back to the books, to try and figure out what we could do to improve our odds the next time around. One of our biggest setbacks was the inability make an antenna suitable for our use: We needed an antenna tuned for 149 MHz, not needing a ground plane, weighing as little as possible.

After 4 tries, and some expensive test equipment, the end result was a Quadrifilar Helix antenna weighing only 80 grams!

Our ground test antenna was a 5/8ths wave whip antenna, which works well, but unfortunately needs a ground plane. Tests with both a quarter-wave dipole and a J-pole antenna were lackluster. Documentation from our satellite service provider implied that a quadrifilar helix antenna would provide the best coverage at all. While these antennas are pretty, their design and construction was voodoo magic at first.

Thanks to some design documentation here: and some help from the balloon community, we had some baselines for creating such an antenna. We still went through *quite* a few revisions.  We went through 3 revisions that didn’t work, and one which works pretty darn well!

Here are the antennas which didn’t work:


LVL1 Hackerspace
1205 E. Washington St.
Louisville, KY 40206