Outbreak of the future: 3D printing takes off like a shot.

Last week there was a cluster of outbreaks of the future (thanks, Warren Ellis, for the term) in the field of 3D printing that caught me by surprise, not by their appearance but how they appeared in rapid succession to one another.

The first is an industrial grade 3D printer called the Objet1000, which is marketed for the production of full-scale prototypes and industrial models. It has a fabrication platform 39 inches by 31 inches in size (a little bigger, actually, but I'm deliberately dropping decimals today), and can print with any of 120 different substances, of which 14 at …

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GPS tracking device smartassery at its finest.

The battle over whether or not law enforcement agencies can legally use a GPS tracking device to monitor your activities is still raging in the US court system. Right now animal rights and environmental activists are being surveilled with these devices; it's only a matter of time before cypherpunks who have come in from the cold, lawyers, and privacy and anonymity advocates come under the watchful eye of Big Brother for exercising their First Amendment Rights. To complicate matters, lower courts scattered around the United States all have different opinions on the practice, so a few are hoping that the …

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Chaos, robots, and Faith and the Muse - all in DC!

Last Friday evening brought with a second attempt at the Chaos in DC meetup in Silver Spring, Maryland. I'd driven out there straight from work because I wound up leaving the office late, and when you factor in travel time it really wasn't a good idea to to do too much driving that night. In other words, there was no way I was going to drive two hours home through rush hour traffic on the DC Beltway, get there when the meetup began to pick up a few things and meet up with Jason, and then drive two hours back …

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Memristors now a viable component of electronic circuitry.

In the early 1970's an electrical component was hypothesized by Leon Chua, who was working at the University of California at Berkeley as an electrical engineer. Chua was said to be working on a mathematically rigorous foundation for the science of electronics, and during the course of his work he concluded that a fundamental component was missing. A memristor is essentially a component which remembers how much current has passed through it for a duration of time (technically, there is a relationship between the integrals over time t between current and voltage). While that doesn't seem all that interesting it …

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Electronics projects to make you sit up and take notice.

During my daily morning mainline injection of news on the Net this week, a couple of electronics projects caught my eye that I hadn't seen before. The first is a project from SparkFun Electronics that uses higher voltage than I'm used to working with - a Geiger counter kit with a USB interface. The kit is constructed around the popular ATmega 168 microcontroller, which means that the basic Arduino development kit can be used to write code that pulls samples from the Geiger-Muller tube (powered by a tiny high voltage power supply) and outputs numerical values over USB, where the 'counter …

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A fob watch for the twenty-first century.

A man named Howard Pounds was considered by some in Australia to be a master horologist, or watchmaker. Possessing a surgeon's touch and the patience of the mountains he was one of the rare few knowledgeable enough to repair ladies' watch movements. His talent with clockwork mechanisms was so sought after that he was not permitted to fight in World War II because the Toowoomba Foundry required his abilities far more. Sadly, this master of the most arcane of mechanical arts went beyond in the year 2005. Four years after his passing, Howard's grandson Paul constructed a fitting tribute: a …

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Coming to you live and direct from HacDC's noisemaker class.

Taking one of Elliott's noisemaker classes at HacDC is a lot like practicing chaos magick: you're never sure what you're going to have to work with at any given time, you don't know what sort of result you're going to get until you're halfway through the process, a large part of your instructions will consist of "Let's try this and see what happens," and you're guaranteed lots of funny noises (often modulated with different kinds of light).

Scaring the neighbors is completely optional.

An assortment of photographs.

Does anyone else find it amusing that a cast metal and plastic drum is manufactured by a company called Touch the Earth? This is about as far away from their ideal as you can get without hopping a space shuttle.

Attention secret societies: you're really doing it wrong if your handbook wound up at Barnes and Noble.

Mist rising off the river near the Kennedy Center after a few days of rain.

A selection of four-resistor sound sequencers built on breadboards. Toward the end of the night we had a veritable symphony of beeps and boops sounding through HacDC

A …

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Noisemakers and electronics at HacDC.

Thursday nights at HacDC for the next couple of weeks have been taken up with a nifty new class courtesy of Elliot - a basic electronics course in the guise of building noisemakers. From basic oscillator theory we moved on to... I couldn't make it to the second class due to a scheduling conflict, truth be told, so I don't know what was taught. Jade and I did make it to the third class which was about low-pass filters (which allow low frequencies to pass (the definition of 'low' is highly situational) but filter out high frequencies), how to vary the …

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Interesting times at HacDC.

Sorry for another late post, everyone - between work, wedding stuff, and trying to keep from falling ill, I've had a lot on my plate lately.

On Tuesday night, after coming home and having dinner, I ran a couple of last-minute errands for Lyssa and then set course once again for Washington, DC proper for the weekly HacDC administrative meeting. While I'm technically not a member because I haven't started paying dues yet, I've been doing a lot of hands-on electronics work at the site, more specifically my steampunk sonic screwdriver. Most of what I've been doing lately has been repairing …

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