Posts Tagged ‘soldering’

Mayor’s Summer Works at LVL1


Over the summer, member Divinity Rose coached a team of Junior Achievers as they worked to develop their technology based product and startup “Sensor Buddies.”  The team was being paid as part of the Mayor’s Summer Works program that employed 4200 youth over the summer. The team of three 17-year-old students from Central High School learned to solder and use many of our resources, including the wood shop, vinyl cutter, and laser cutter.

Their experiences at Lvl 1 facilitated growth, confidence building, and creative problem solving; it was so inspiring to see each of their individual strengths blossom. You can see their summary of the summer in the video below.

We look forward to seeing what they accomplish this year as senior in the business magnet program at Central High School with their teacher Dana Kelly. Thank you Mayor Fischer for facilitating such a great program.


A SOPA you can get behind


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.

All code is posted online at

A video demonstration and more pictures of construction lie below the break.


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:


MintiBoost workshops 12/6 and 12/18


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:

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