Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday season 2016 general update and MAGFest panel announcement

Happy Hackerdays readers! Since the last update I've been absolutely slammed between life and projects which had a drastic balance change that took more time and energy away from the blog than I'd have liked but thanks to a few alterations it is looking like I'll be back on track to get updates out more frequently and have an increase in project progress.
Hackertree 2016, with even better gear and Wi-Fi LEDs!

Ornament details

Items around base of tree detail
First off, for the third year I've brought back the Hackertree! This time with 100% more Wi-Fi enabled WS2812B "Neopixels" thanks to the ESP8266. Getting these lights up and running was for the most part dead simple thanks to a library I stumbled across, WS2812FX, which also contained the example for an ESP-based server control that switches between effect instances using websockets. I did run into an electrical problem on another set of lights that forced the ESP into a reboot and UART disconnect loop due to not enough current to drive 90 LEDs available on the 5V rail available through the dev board. After directly connecting a 5V 2A max power brick to the VCC and GND terminals of the strip, then data to the ESP on a different power brick the LEDs enabled but were misbehaving quite badly with strobing and effects not propagating across all pixels. Thinking about the way data signals work, realized I had ground differential (voltages for 0V reference weren't the same and that can cause signal wierdness) and ran an additional line from strip GND to the board's. This modification solved and all 90 LEDs were working as intended. As ornaments I used some sensor boards, a radar module, capacitive keypad and some other bits I had around the lab to complete the look. Lastly, under the tree was placed the Rigol oscilloscope, one of my new variable power supplies, DX7 RC transmitter, Quisan Magicforce 68% Mechanical keyboard (Outemu Brown switches), Nikon D3400 with two lens kit, some 18650 batteries, and lastly two rockets; a hobbyist model and the last generation stabilizer section. Finally, I've already started work on something special for next year involving hackertrees and a contest with prizes, more info coming next year.
I'll be in attendance again and hope to meet some of my readers there!
For anyone attending MAGFest (Music And Gaming Festival) next month, I will be hosting a panel on Friday night from 6:00 to 7:30 in the forge called  "Lights, sound, movement: Taking cosplay to the next level with Arduino". I and my cohost @64_B1T will be covering the basics of integrating the Arduino system with LEDs, servos and MP3 modules to add more WOW factor to cosplay. Come on by and say hello, I'd love to meet more of my readers. For those who can't make the panel, look for the guy in a lab coat with a blinky top hat and a LED staff, and keep an eye on my YouTube channel since it will be recorded for your later enjoyment and for the people who couldn't attend the con too. All code will be available on a GitHub repo that will go live at the start of the convention. Also for those who find me, I'll once again have 3D printed OSHW crest rings to hand out this year.

You have no idea how much I was freaking out internally
That is the Antares 230 for OA-5 800 feet behind me
I also had the INCREDIBLE experience of being granted Press-level access to the Antares return to flight mission out at Wallops Flight facility this past October. Standing a mere eight hundred feet away from a flight-ready spacecraft sitting on the pad was an experience that is terribly hard to describe and by far the highlight of the entire event. The sheer SCALE of these craft and realization that it's just about ready to leave atmosphere creates this odd tingling warmth in your chest as you look at it pointing skywards. A more in-depth post on this trip is coming soon.

LWIR selfie with a new piece of gear
New gear wise, I recently won a FLIR Lepton in the great Lepton giveaway which has blown my socks off with the new perspective it has given me. Seeing in a whole new wavelength where the unseen becomes visible had me meandering around my house just pointing the module at things to see how they looked to varying degrees of success. More detail is coming in an in-depth writeup and a pi-based handheld version is under development and will be put up on my GitHub when it's nearing user-readiness.

Small teaser of the testbench for the positional control development
I have not stopped work on the rocket stabilizer either, been slowly chiseling away at the new challenge of positional control of a DC motor which has been slow going but the basic foundations are done in the form of a bang-bang control plant. Major update coming before May, depends on life factors, development hiccups and part shipping negotiation from China.

New cleaner workspace configuration
Here's to the progress in 2016 and to hopefully getting to kinetic testing or even launch in 2017!

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