Introducing a useful SOPA- The Stop Online Productivity Avoidance box.
After having an extremely productive day on January 18th, I had a thought: What if every day were January 18th? Well, at the push of a button, now it can!
The button, switch, and display are wired to an Arduino. The Arduino communicates with a python script running on the router, which controls a Squid3 proxy blacklist. In SOPA mode, the whole of the internet is my oyster. In NOPA mode, however, distracting websites like reddit, hacker news, and hackaday are blocked. This isn’t very useful without a great deal of self control, however. In weaker instances, nuclear mode must be employed. Turn the key switch and press the button and all distracting sites are blocked for one hour. The only recourse is to restart the router, but the router requires 15 minutes to restart, blocking the entirety of the web for the duration. Overriding nuclear mode is not appealing.
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.
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!
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.
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: http://jcoppens.com/ant/qfh/index.en.php 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!
LVL1 is great. A place for creative and motivated people to get together and goad each-other into doing more creative things. It’s also a great gathering place for tools, as well as knowledge. A few months ago, the spoiled electrical engineer that I am, I never would have considered making my own PCBs. Any project worth taking off the breadboard was worth sending to China to get made “right.”
Of course, there isn’t always time and money to send something to China. Today’s installment is the Sumo-bot board I’m trying to put together for the Hive13 sumobot competition. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like poor Snoopy bot will make it to the ring, but the board making process itself is worth talking about.
Laying out a PCB using software like Eagle is beyond the scope of this post. If you can follow the appropriate Sparkfun Tutorial, it’s pretty easy to pick up. Something to note: for single sided home-made PCBs, put all traces and surface mount components on the BOTTOM layer. Put any necessary jumpers on the top layer. When you’re ready to print, just turn off all the layers you don’t want turned into copper.
Dale Dougherty, Make Magazine publisher did this nice Ted talk on Makers. If you are ever looking for a good way to tell people what LVL1 is all about, have them watch this video. BTW, Dale is from Louisville and visited our Hackerspace last summer.
We are having a Car-B-Gone workshop at the space this afternoon. Sorry we did not get the Eventbright announcement up. Just show up to build your very own Car-B-Gone tonight at 8-ish. If you do not know what a Car-B-Gone is… it is another fine Mitch Altman project. Read about it here
Following the Car-B-Gone workshop will be the ever popular Beer-B-Gone workshop. Hope to see everyone there.
Many readers of this blog have probably either built a mini-Sumobot or watched one in a mini-Sumobot competition. They are works of art, a tight little bundle of power, sensors and control, with one task in mind: push the other little bugger off the mat. The designs on these little bots vary widely in design as well as performance. Did I mention that they can be expensive? Even ready to make kits are over $100 shipped to your door. And if you are going to buy a lot of specialized parts online including the right motors, wheels, sensors and a brain can cost you a fair amount.
A son of one of LVL1′s members got a little too close to a bandsaw over the Christmas break… Remember, safety first! But what started as a lesson on what *not* to do (i.e. don’t be too cavalier with a bandsaw) turned into a nice lesson on DIY stitches. Why would you stitch yourself up? His explanation was “something something waiting rooms something something scar tissue.”
Remember if you can’t fix your body, you don’t own your body.
Just in time for the holidays! Build a small & simple, but very powerful USB charger for your iPod, iPhone, mp3 player, camera, cell phone, and just about any other gadget you can plug into a USB port to charge! Perfect holiday gift! Only $35 – cheap!
Sign up for the class here: http://wiki.lvl1.org/MintiBoost