Thursday, August 02, 2012

research results on the TechnoCNC

for the past 5 weeks at the UWF FabLab i have been training on the machine. the device is a TechnoCNC L4896 (4ftx8ft) with vacuum and tslot. we are running a Porter Cable 3.25HP router to spin the endmill.

in the beginning i couldn't get the right tool profiles to load, but i was still able to sculpt my likeness.

once I got the tool profiles dialed in the resolution was much much better

I exported some Minecraft models and some USGS topo data to the machine:

and now i have sucessfully discovered a workflow for using this giant machine to mill my circuit boards:

Sunday, June 03, 2012

the Neutrino Food Labs is raging today

the Neutrino Food Labs is raging today, i started an experiment to culture my own cider yeast. over the past few weeks, i have been pining away for a good glass of home brew. we are very lucky locally because about 1 year ago the Pensacola Bay (micro)Brewery opened; they make a fine Brown ale which i have used as a component for my own fine chili. i am also spurred on by the price of a decent beer at the supermarket; last week when i wanted to grab a six pack for a small gathering i was holding the average price for a sixer of my favorites in domestics and microbrews was over $10. oooch! i went with a Leinenkugle specialty brew for about $8.

oi, i was feeling mighty sad this morning when the urge to brew came on strong. i keep missing the brew shop hours, they are closed Sundays and Mondays, because i generally have meetings all the rest of the week. then i saw an instructable by member, creasemaker, where he had sucessfully cultivated his own cider yeast from organically certified apples. not too many months ago i cultivated a strain of yeast for my sourdough breads, following some lore published by Peter Reinhardt. to do this, i soaked some organic raisins in warm water and slowly fed the critters in the tea flour and purified water. similarly, creasemaker took apples and soaked them in a good quality apple juice. my fingers are crossed and i can't wait to report back.

secondly, I was inspired by all the chatter on 'cold brewed' coffee so i started a pot today. i was impatient and i have dug into it after only 6 hours and it is amazing. very similar to a really lovely espresso, i think it is very high octane. i feel like i have taken some speed. lovely, delicious, Pete's French Roast speed, that is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


recently, i bought some Arduino clones known as the Teensy 2.0 from PJRC. the device is thumbnail size at 1.2 in. by 0.7 in., a ATMEGA32, and boasts 25 I/O, 7PWM, and 12 analog pins. there are many small clones available on the market, but most of the designs require you to use a FTDI breakout board. i was really sold because the Teensy includes a USB jack and all for $16 to $19 for the model with pins already attached. the ++ version offers 46 I/0, 130MB and is only a few dollars more.

i have purchased these as part of a wearable i am designing and hopefully i will be telling you all about very soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


i have been asked to participate on the Board for a new startup with the mission to found a Science and Engineering Museum to Pensacola. the initiative is headed up the researchers Dr. Megan Pratt and Dr. Jerry Pratt from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) and they reached out to our nascent makers club ECCM to see if we want to do something with this summer's programming atMESS Hall. MESS Hall has an innovative plan to mix up the usually button pushing exhibits with real hands on project based learning modules. called a MESS kit, they are mostly designed to be low cost kits which includes a booklet with a challenge and then a step-by-step guide if you get stuck. Jerry cam to our Makers Group this past Saturday and the members of the ECCM are busily plotting a program for one session this summer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mineways woot!

as part of the V2V project (Valley to Valley), I have started using Mineways to extract data from Minecraft. my charge is to direct an installation build in CA and Russia for the September. Colleagues will be modeling the Silicon Valley(CA) and the Titanium Valley(RU) for the project in an effort to seek out the heart of these places. Mineways is a stellar app that I have been using to extract STL's of the project server (code named) Orwell. to date i have printed about 8 models and Mr. Bickford in SJ has printed a few too.

today i needed to distract myself from some idiocy on campus, so i printed a maquette of the momnument I am building for the V2V project. this is a dual print pieced together. i am not happy with the monument yet but holding it helps me make some choices in my redesign.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

no less than 2!

two of my students from the PhysiComp class were featured on Instructables this past week! it was the first time i required the students to participate on the community forum and it paid off! they recieved free pro memberships and some other prizes. I am feeling like the proud Patron.

Wireless nunchuk controlled animatronic doll
Beheaded Doll Night Light

Friday, May 11, 2012

pbs gets hip

i am seriously impressed by the campaign that pbs seems to be on top of for the arts/culture programming. in the past 12 months, they have been producing witty, inspired, short format. you might have already been introduced to PBS PBS off book and the relatively new PBS IDEA Channel that have been burning up the YouTubez, both of which seem to be very interwebs/technology/theory oriented... go figure!

here are two episodes if you haven't been introduced:

it is not confined to the interwebs,the other night i caught a 3minute short on the local PBS OTA broadcast featuring a comedian riffing on  contemporary life. unfortunately, i didn't log his name and i need to get back to my real work so mebbe i can do a follow up.

what i like about this type of programming is the fresh way that some seriously interesting theory is being introduced, what they lack in depth they make up for perhaps waking up my 20-somethings that some seriously deep shit may be behind the fascination with things such as immersive worlds, consumerism, open source, and pop culture. as i start to develop my theory course for the Spring semester, i think i will need to consider these closely as media for the students.

ok ok. i will get back to work.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

the garden & chemical warfare

so my garden is moving along very nicely; the combination of the warm winter, being able to over-winter a few plants in a makeshift greenhouse, and some starts from the warehouse store gave us an aggressive start on this springs season. we have already dined on the first green tomatoes (fried greens baby!) and there must be 2+ dozen more fruit on the three already mature tomatoes. i have already made one harvest of Kung Pao peppers and the Datil peppers have fruit on the plants. about two weeks ago i notice some wilt on the large tomato vine. a few branches would turn pale yellow start to wilt, now i got seriously depressed because this will be our 3rd summer and it looked like our tomato crop would fail again. for two years we would watch the vine vigorously grow and almost get to fruiting stage and then the extra hot weather here or a swarm of insects would literally devastate them in 48hours. i can get good fruit from the local farming community but it is so satisfying to eat the produce you grow.

this past week i was tending the garden and i saw a cluster of orange-red six legged critters on the tomatoes, i wondered ifthese guys could be causing the wilting. after a couple of hours of digging, i discovered that they are the nymphs of to the leaf-footed plant bug. the adult Leptoglossus phyllopus have a flattened spot on their back legs that looks leaf like and are related to the common stink bug and ugly as sin. i immediately recognized the adults as the bastards that stripped 3 vines and desiccated the stems in the space of 36 hours two years ago. it was horrific how fast they could devastate a plant. sure enough upon my return to the plants later that day i found an adult and another cluster of nymphs.

i grabbed the adult and did a quick flattening of my own and quickly ran around looking for the other adults, but i could only find nymphs(small, pun intended) blessings. i picked and hosed off the buggers, but i was feeling conflicted because i really don't want to use a synthetic chemical/pesticide on the food plants. i followed up my reading about the species looking for alternatives. most sites immediately said that you can try a home-brew of natural soap and water, but it is a difficult pest to control. the soap (don't use a detergent!) breaks surface tension and essentially drowns the insect (i can live with it).

to concoct the brew, you combine about a tablespoon of natural soap (castille or animal) and optionally you can add a couple tablespoons of chili sauce as an irritant to dissuade the critters. i used sirracha because it also has garlic which is known for pest control too. the only castille soap i could get had peppermint in it, again peppermints are known to repel some critters. it has a odd aroma, but it is not a chemical pesticide in the Malathion sense of the word (though some people think it makes an awesome cocktail).

so far i am off work, summer class has been canceled) so i can do about a half dozen checks a day and spray the living hell out of the nymphs. i don't know with everything i need to do this summer if i can continue and i might need to do one or two sprays of the more intense stuff.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

my students are rad and squeaky

this is a followup from the post earlier this year about a circuit from my friend, Andre Castro. here are three homebrew instruments from the PhysiComp class

exciting summer... ¿break?

it was a small blessing and curse in the same breath when my boss said "Sorry we have to close your summer course due to low enrollment."

i have gotten it into my head to purchase a studio; in this depressed economy there is so much cheap real estate available down here on the frontier. one of my colleagues even told me that a professor emeritus from our department had both a dumpy old house in a poor part of town to use as a studio years back. and it looks really possible. there are literally 900sq. ft. houses here on a small lot under $15k.I really only need it to have a solid roof,and not fall through the floor. even with 15 year mortgage an 10% down the payments will be around $250 with all the trimmings or much less than renting a place from someone else. so i will miss the income from the summer job.

the blessings are that i accepted a position on the V2V project for the 2nd Ural Industrial Biennial (Ekaterinburg, Russia) and Zero1 2012 (San Jose, CA). I am leading the international teams on building the installations. we will be exporting data from the modeling of Silicon and the Titanium Valleys as we 'seek' for them. these models will be used as part of our exhibition design at each venue. pretty exciting stuff and i am getting to apply the research and explorations in 3D modeling i have been doing this past year.we are exploring lots of outputs, FDM, CNC, laser etching,maybe combinations to build the exhibitions. here are a couple of exports from this evening.

of course, a summer away from class planning is also opening other doors for me. i have started practicing with the Processing language again, studying the Unity 3D modeling engine, practicing more with the CNC, building up my local makers club, developing a theory course in the history of New/Computational Media, participating on an arts organization Board of Directors, and joining a Board for a new science and engineering museum for the Pensacola area.

i don't think i am going to get very bored...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Craig Colorusso is BOSS

I ahve had the awesome honor to hang with Craig and his project Sun Boxes currently installed at the Uni this week. Today I simulcast the event for an hour you can watch the recording and hear the discussions I was having:

Video streaming by Ustream.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The generous Mr. Castro and squeaky circuits

Last week, I recieved a gift from André Castro ( when he generously shared his circuit diagrams and plans for his noise circuits he calls Tactile Noise Machines. I combined his drawings and with my new drafts using Eagle CAD so that I could prepare PCB's and printed guides for my students.

here are my files to share:

Experimenting with these circuits over the past two weeks, they are making circuit bending instruments using found circuits in a 'sound toy' and adding in one of the Tactile Noise Machine plans. Next we start working on HMI. THey are all assigned to look at the act of making an instrument and consider the aesthetic/symbolic and maybe semiotic value of the methods that the instrument will require to 'play'. Taking a cue from the criticisms in Hertzian Tales by Anthony Dunne, I have asked them to look for these additional interpretations and metaphors that they can create in the instrument's form.

The sounds they are achieving from both explorations are pretty darn fantastic.