We can’t avoid it any longer, Christmas is arriving soon.
The most import part of Christmas is, of course, finding as many flashing lights as you can and concentrating them all in one area. Any good hackspace should be full of flashy lights at Christmas. So if you have a cool project that’s mostly just flashing lights, you should definitely bring it to the hackspace next Wednesday and show us all how it works! Let’s light up the space with all the pretty LEDs we can.
To get us started, I’ve brought along a couple of my projects, repurposed slightly to create a more festive atmosphere.
But it’s not all about lights. Continuing the tradition of previous years, it’ll soon be time to gather in a pub somewhere in York city centre and have some drinks to celebrate. You’re welcome to join us if you like!
I found some LED strips that were not doing much, so they’re now decorating the mains trunking
I also threw together a raspberry pi and an old project that had a scrolling text display on it. It’s difficult to photograph, you’ll have to trust me that it looks okay to the human eye. You can send it a new message if you’re connected to the wifi.
Tetris is one of the world’s greatest games. Perhaps one of the reasons Tetris is such a ubiquitous computer game is because you don’t need a particularly high resolution display. You might even say it works better at low resolutions. Perhaps this is what John was thinking when he filled a table with neopixel-like LED strips to create a large low-res display for playing Tetris. If this looks familiar, perhaps you spotted it at the Derby Maker Faire.
John built the table himself from scratch and even gave it York Hackspace branding. He has ten LED strips running the length of the table. They are neopixel-like LEDs which chain together to form a single individually-addressable strip. The ten strips are wired together as one continuous line, snaking its way from one side of the table to the other.
The inside of the table is mostly hollow. The LED strips are stuck to the base and point up towards the perspex lid. To separate the LEDs and make sure that they each illuminate only a small square just above them, John has added a grid of foam walls.
The game is written in python and is running on a Raspberry Pi 2. John’s built a small board with an IO expander for driving the LEDs and reading the buttons.
Of course, there is nothing restricting the table to just running Tetris. At the last hackspace open evening, Nick had a go at writing a snake game. The controls for snake are not so intuitive when you just have four buttons in a straight line, but that adds an element of challenge to it. You can try any of the games or write your own using the tetris table simulator that John wrote as part of this project. All the code for playing in the simulator or on the real hardware is available on github: https://github.com/choffee/tetris_table
Write your own Tetris table games! John will be thrilled to see your pull requests. With potential for two player games, you could get quite creative.
On the subject of creativity, I’ll leave you with this photo of “The Lucky Penny” that definitely isn’t in a hole that was drilled in the wrong place.
Just an average Wednesday open night down at York Hackspace.
Nick took an old plank from a pallet and with a little elbow grease and some shared knowledge turned it into a fine backing plate to the hold the coat hooks that he designed and printed on the space 3D printer.
I took a very cheap hand plane and managed to get a good enough edge on it to let Nick clean up old pallet wood and turn it into quite a fine looking board.
This ended up with a fine mess of wood shavings that Nick was particularly pleased with.
We had the loan of a PS4 and VR Headset for the night and Nathan spent some time playing at “Job” a virtual world created by the future robots to simulate what it was like to do Job in the 21st century. A lot more fun than it sounds. Everybody was enjoying his attempts to “repair” a car.
Through some more donations of kit we now have a fine looking multimedia setup in the works. It started with a projector that got attached to the ceiling. Then an amplifier and some speakers that is to be mounted on top of a shelving unit ( if you know of any spare shelving please let us know). Then through a convoluted set of connections and boxes we should be able to hook all the ageing kit up to most things. Wire lengths where measured ( in feet, meters, ceiling tiles and string lengths) and we may be able to hook it up next week. It will be useful for doing presentations or just playing tutorials from Youtube. Even the laser painting might be setup at some point.
As any true hackspacer knows things can always be improved with more LEDs and so I added a few more to his bike. Wrapped around the handmade wooden box on the front they currently provide a neat running light setup, red and white back and front then pulsing orange down the side. As they are run from an ESP8266 chip that has built in wifi it seems only a natural next step to add a wifi hotspot to the bike and a web server to control the lights.
Many more things where happening. John was having some problems with his new 3D printer but was having fun developing shapes in OpenSCAD. Dave and John where discussing wiring up sheds and sharing the tools to do it. A surprising amount of time spent trying to find something to play music to test the speakers, /dev/urandom, the computers random number generator, only goes so far. I really love the mixture of physical and digital that is happening in the space especially when there is a big group. Oh and we have a new member, Carwyn.
See you all next week.