Twitter: lvl1hackerspace

Surface Mount Soldering Workshop

Photo Licensed CC-BY-NC-SA, Flickr User atduskgreg

The LVL1 Hackerspace will be hosting a Surface Mount Soldering

Workshop on Saturday, November 20th, 2010 from 1 to 5pm.  This
workshop will teach you the basics of soldering surface mount
components with a standard soldering iron, using a standard soldering
iron tip.   You’ll be given the tools required to build your own
surface mount projects, and during the workshop, you’ll work on
assembling your own Open Balloon CPU (A design of LVL1′s own White
Star Balloon Team).  You’ll solder 0805 Resistors and Capacitors, 1206
LEDs, and TQFP Microcontrollers, among others.  You’ll learn about the
packages  which can be hand soldered, and the packages which cannot,
along with the techniques required to assemble a working board.

At the end of the workshop, you’ll walk out with the knowledge and
skills required to build any reasonable surface mount project, along
with your own Open Balloon CPU.  These tools include small-gauge
solder, flux, non-magnetic tweezers, and a magnifying loupe.  The Open
Balloon CPU you’ll be assembling is a VERY general purpose sensor
platform, which can be used for a variety of projects which aren’t
related to Balloons or UAVs whatsoever.  Aside from the form factor of
the PCB, everything about the electronics design is generalized for
whatever development the user sees fit.  We will be outfitting the
Balloon CPU with a temperature sensor and Microcontroller, along with
all the passive components required to burn code onto the chip.  If
desired, workshop attendees may add additional sensors (a Real Time
Clock and/or a Barometer) for additional cost.

If you can read newsprint, and have a reasonably steady hand, you can
solder surface mount components!  We will also be doing demonstrations
of hot-air soldering and hotplate reflow soldering, to provide a small
taste of even more advanced soldering techniques.  We can provide
soldering irons, but if you would prefer to bring your own, feel free.
We also recommend you bring a laptop.  If you’ve got an FTDI cable
and AVR programmer, you can start hacking at your balloon CPU

For a preview of the skills we’ll be teaching, watch this Youtube

Note:  If we do not fill at least 12 seats by November 10th, 2010, the
workshop will be cancelled, and all tickets will be refunded.  Sign up
early, and sign up often!  Any questions, feel free to send them to
bradluyster (at)

Sign up early, and sign up often!  Seating is limited.  Buy tickets at eventbrite:

Contact Mic Workshop hosted by CMKT 4

Circuit-bending rock band CMKT 4 will be in town for a workshop on contact mics. They manufacture and sell bottle cap contact mics and plan to show how they do it. Bring cash if you want to purchase materials.

From CMKT 4:

We are circuit-bending rock band CMKT 4. We manufacture and sell bottle cap contact mics. We teach workshops about the process we use to make our microphones.

We price the workshops at $15 per person, which includes materials and instruction. Additional DIY kits are available at $10 apiece. We’ll also have finished mics for sale. We encourage people to bring instruments to which to add a piezo pickup or they can make a stand-alone model for use on various instruments.

Louisville Soundbuilders Meeting

This Monday Sept 20th we’re starting a Louisville Soundbuilder’s group that will be meeting every other Monday. We meet to talk shop about analog and digital synthesizers, circuit-bending, electronic noisemakers, computer music, etc. You are encouraged to bring equipment and show off some sounds. The focus is DIY and is a great resource for people that want to learn how to get started.

This first meeting will feature demonstrations from Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo, Elephant 6, et al. He will be demonstrating his Teletron, a hacked Mindflex device for completely mind controlled synthesis experimentation. Some video here:

I will be demonstrating my homebuilt analog synthesizers, including exotic interfaces like the Klee sequencer (a bit shifted analog sequencer) and some experimentations in isomorphic keyboard design.

The meeting is at 8pm sharp, free to anyone who wants to attend, learn and contribute.
Help out by promoting the facebook event page:

Distortion Pedal for Guitar

I just finished building the “Brown Sound In A Box 2″ distortion pedal. I’m not a professional by any means but it was a fun project.




[Les Paul Studio / Marshall 2x12 Combo amp]

Experimenting with DIY PCB dyeing

This past weekend I experimented with dyeing some etched PCBs. I used Rit dye easily found in grocery stores. It was quick and dirty. I just boiled some water, mixed in a heavy concentration of black dye and let it sit for a couple of hours.
dyed pcbs

The dye worked well enough. Rather than just soaking in a cooling dye, I should have been applying a constant heat and agitating the solution in order to get a darker saturation. And when removing flux after soldering the board, dye came off as well. But in general this is a promising way to make nicer looking DIY PCB boards in the future.

Freeduino Spring training materials

I have put the materials on line for the Freeduino Spring Training class if you want to take a look. In these lessons you will find sample circuits for most of the things you might want to do with your Freeduino/Arduino. All of the code examples work and are debugged. Enjoy!


Freeduino Spring Training Workshop

LVL1 is proud to announce it’s latest class- the Freeduino Spring Training Workshop. Time and place is May 18, 2010 from 7-10 pm at the U of L Speed School Room 210. This workshop will help you learn the skills to be able to play with that shiny Arduino or Freeduino that you have been dying to figure out! Our coaches will step you through building several fun circuits that demonstrate how to interface your Arduino with LED’s, LCD’s, switches, sensors, potentiometers, motors and sound. After taking this class, you should be able to breadboard a circuit and then program your Arduino. We know this class will be a GRAND SLAM!

The cost of the workshop is $50 ($80 if you need a Freeduino). Besides the world class instruction, you will get your very own breadboard, several LED’s (even a tri-colored one), a cool blue LCD display, a temperature sensor, a photo sensor, several switches, many resistors (with brightly colored bands!), a few potentiometers, a motor and a speaker… everything you need to batter up!

OK, enough with the cheezy baseball references. This highly requested workshop will be just what you need to get started learning electronics, bit-banging, embedded computer interfacing and programming. It is sure to be a h.. good time.

Sign up is easy. GO HERE!

Here is a copy of the flyer if you would like to read it, or post it somewhere. Hope to see you there!

Finishing the custom front panel Klee

Here’s some video of the Klee sequencer in action. Along with details on finishing up from previous posts. Continued from

So we left off with a PCB ready to go. I used my trusty tin snips to cleanly cut off the excess board. It’s a tight fit underneath the panel.
Trimmed panel

Read the rest of this entry »

Working on some CNC signs.

These are for my Boy Scout troop. They are being made on my homemade CNC machine. The plans for the CNC I used are here. There are newer plans now – these will be the next machine I build. This is where I got my electronics.

Click through the pictures, and I will tell the story.

I built an Elmo!

For those of you who do not know… and Elmo is a document camera. Basically what I did here is I took an old security camera (from a dome) that was abandoned and re purposed it with some pvc pipe and wood, etc.

I had to rewire the camera to a 12v wall wart plug and also change the composite video out to an RCA jack. I mounted the camera on the end of a piece of PVC pipe attached to some scrap wood. The pink thing on the top of the Elmo is a plastic gum container that is holding a circuit board that is needed for the camera. It is there for protection and is screwed to the pvc pipe. Not pretty, but functional.

The whole thing does work and produces a nice clean video signal that I can output to a projector. I hope to be able to use it for LVL1′s Freeduino soldering classes. The only problem with it is that it shows skin tones and tans as a green color. I think this has to do with the white balance or something.

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