Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Getting to Know FirePick Delta - the $300 Pick-and-Place/3D Printer

The "$300 Pick and Place / 3D printer" project featured on Hackaday Projects (and an entry for the Hackaday Prize) is a machine called the FirePick Delta.

It is currently under rapid development, and while there is a web site as well as the Hackaday project page and various github repositories and wikis, it's hard to grasp it all if you're not elbows-deep in the development yourself.  (Update 2014-07-19: new website for the FirePick Delta!)

This page is intended to help people more easily understand the following:

What exactly is the FirePick Delta, and what (does and doesn't) it consist of?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Laser Cut Your Own Solder Stencils, and Matching PCB Jigs Too

Laser cutting solder stencils from Mylar sheets is effective and economical - especially if you have access to a laser cutter.  But just the stencil is only part of the solution.  If you have more than one or two boards to do,  you'll find that as soon as you do one PCB you'll find it hard to line up the next one because you can no longer see through the stencil.  Also, it's harder to get an even paste layer because you need to press the stencil down evenly on the board while squeegeeing - which gets harder to do with your fingers the more the stencil gets pasted up.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Beta Testing for the Mooltipass (offline USB password keeper)

I will be Beta Testing the Mooltipass - an offline password keeper designed and prototyped by a community of developers.


The Mooltipass is a USB connected device that takes care of storing (and generating, if you wish) secure passwords for your online services and works with any computer or browser without the need for any plugins or additional programs.

It is a "little black book" that remembers passwords for you and can fit in a pocket.  But unlike a little black book, it uses a variety of means to ensure that you are the only one who can access the data inside.

The Mooltipass final prototypes have been made and I will be testing one.


The Google Group for Mooltipass is here if you are interested in learning more.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses wins an Honorable Mention

I won an honorable mention in Hack a Day's SCI-FI contest for my entry - I made a version of the Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I put a lot of attention into documentation for my entry, but I think I also lacked a bit of crowd appeal - possibly as a result of the project not being terribly visual in nature.



But it was fun, and there's also Hack a Day's contest for the Big Prize - a trip into space - to think about!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses for Hack a Day's Sci-Fi Contest


UPDATE: I won an honorable mention in the Sci-Fi contest.  I put a lot of attention into documenting this project, but it did lack crowd appeal - possibly because it's not particularly visual.  Anyway, I had fun!  (March 8, 2014)

Hack a Day is hosting a Sci-Fi contest on their new projects site.  I decided to design and build Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses.




Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses have lenses that turn completely opaque at the first hint of trouble, thus preventing the wearer from seeing anything that might alarm him or her.  Douglas Adams' book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy featured them.  Click that link to follow the project's progress!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Wireless Hardware Buttons for a Mobile App - for $20

I tried out an idea: using bluetooth (with the Bluefruit EZ-key) to make some real-world hardware buttons wirelessly control an app on my phone using simple and off-the-shelf components.

I successfully made a wireless hardware interface to a custom phone app without learning a new language, without installing a development environment, without doing any sort of low-level configurations, and only spending about $20.  It was both easier and a bit more difficult than I expected, but in the end it worked just fine - albeit with a couple quirks.

What This Is

It's two buttons that wirelessly control a custom-made app on my phone, using a $20 part and no significant configuration or setup.



This was done because the app in question is a timer app to be used with a timed sports event.  The buttons can be abused and mashed, unlike the phone.  All the app logic (and the time display) is on the phone.  The interactive bits are the wireless (and rugged) arcade buttons.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Things Learned From My Kickstarter Campaign

I was recently (Nov 5, 2013) part of a panel on Crowdfunding organized by CAPS at the University of Alberta.  It made me reflect on some of the things I learned in the process of my own Kickstarter campaign (which was successful and shipped all rewards on time).  I have a few things to share with anyone interested in launching their own crowdfunding campaign.