Saturday, March 18, 2017

Paper Speakers and Adapter Wiring

Recently Christopher, Colleen, and I were talking about building speakers and exchanging links. We ruminated on it for a bit then I set it on the back burner.

Over my break I prepared for a workshop and looked at the great Makey Makey Interactive 'Zine project page where I noticed a link to a paper speaker project. It seemed simple enough so I built one!

Home Despot sells neodymium magnets and I had the conductive copper tape on hand. 

I soldered hookup wire to the wires from a set of headphones I disassembled. I started with one speaker and removed the solder from one headphone. I soldered the hookup wires to the existing solder pads.

Instead of relying on the tenuous connection, I secured everything to a wood block. I used hot glue and two headed tacks. 

I used Mary Fahl's cover of "Brain Damage" to test the speaker out for the first time.

I was so happy with the results and the aesthetics of the adapter that I built a second speaker and adapter!

Next to look into some amplification! 

This was a great project that seems magical because you are coaxing sounds from the paper, magnets and copper. There are many better paper speaker designs out there but I loved the simplicity of this one and its packaging in a 'zine.

HD20 on the Mac 512K

In preparation for Winter Storm Stella I got the Mac 512K to boot to the HD20. Well, almost boot: the Mac 512K cannot boot from the HD20 but rather can boot from a floppy with the Hard Disk 20 INIT on it. The floppy boots the computer, then under the "Welcome to Macintosh" message "Hard Disk 20 Startup" appears and the floppy ejects. The Mac 512K is then booted to the HD 20 and can run applications from the hard drive, albeit at the speed of a floppy. The Vintage Mac World Notes on the Hard Disk 20 was invaluable in helping me remember how to make this magic happen, as I used the HD20 with a Mac Plus for the past 30 years.

I learned at the same time the "Feathers & Space" from 1985 was recovered and posted to the internet. This was one of the first games I had on my Mac 512K in 1985 and though I still had the floppy it was damaged and unplayable. I learned that DiskDup+ was the way to convert the .dsk archives back to physical floppies. I used a PowerMac G4 for its USB ports, a USB drive to move the file from an internet connected computer, a USB floppy drive to put the file on a 1.4 MB floppy disk, and then using a Quadra 610 and DiskDup+ to write the 400K floppy: whew!

It was worth it!

My son was super interested in some of the old games. We had fun taking turns playing them and cheering each other on.

We both loved Gun Shy, a great matching game. We never beat it!

I love all the old Mac icons and was able to identify many of the programs that they came from: ResEdit, ThunderScan, FWD Toolkit, Servant, Megaroids, MacDraw, Mathmatica, Crystal Quest, etc. I love the Bill Atkinson icon, and I noticed that the Steve Jobs icons have variations on his smile, smirk, and frown.

It is amazing that 32 years later this hard drive and computer still work. The number of programs you can run on a Mac 512K is limited, but each is a little gem.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

LogoTurtle Knows the Alphabet

I was inspired by Erik Nauman's student's project to program the LogoTurtle to draw the alphabet. I mused in a reply tweet that one could program each letter in a single document then call the letters in the startup procedure to spell words. And thus began a great Logo programming challenge.

I drew the first four letters on a piece of graph paper to determine the overall size of each letter. The letters occupied a 10 x 10 grid that I translated to a 100 x 100 grid on the LogoTurtle. Also, each letter was programmed so the LogoTurtle returned to where it started. This way I could program a kerning procedure to move the LogoTurtle into place to draw the next letter in a word.

I programmed about four letters an evening, refining the angles and degrees so it could write with relative precision when I finished.

I wrote my son's name with the first complete alphabet procedure.

You can download the alphabet text file and use it with your LogoTurtle. It is an interesting addition to the LogoTurtle's capabilities. It was also a fun experience to design a "font," though I claim no proficiency at this art form!

Friday, February 3, 2017

PIX-E Gif Camera

The "GIF-MAKING CAMERA" announcement on the cover of Make: volume 55 immediately caught my eye, and the easy-to follow directions convinced me that it would be a great project to cut my teeth on the Raspberry Pi, specifically the tiny Pi Zero.

While I waited for the hardware to be delivered I 3D printed the housing on my Replicator in blue and translucent red ABS. The parts were refined and very well designed and printed beautifully.

I used these helpful directions to set up the Raspberry Pi Zero to run headlessly after connecting it to my router with a USB to ethernet dongle. It helped immensely that I run Linux on my daily laptop and knew my way around the command line and filesystem. It was surprisingly easy to get the Pi Zero up and running with the required packages. The small form factor and zippy Linux distribution really intrigued me: I can foresee using this device more often.

While the article included a circuit diagram, I found a Pi Zero pinout to be very helpful since I soldered the PowerBoost directly to the Pi Zero and needed to know to which of the GPIO pins I needed to connect.

The camera, Pi Zero, and battery fit beautifully inside the housing (again, the design refinement was evident); the battery even snapped into the housing!

I added to the project by designing a lanyard bracket that can be attached with two 16mm M2 machine screws: since the camera is bulky, it's nice to be able to hang it from my wrist when not taking photos.

The Python script that makes the magic happen takes six photos fifteen milliseconds apart, hands them off to imagemagick, and churns out a gif. Sometimes imagemagick does not properly process the images and creates 0K gifs, but that is kind of like the disposable film camera that inspired this project.

The oversize power button, while awesome looking, tends to get flipped when I stuff the camera in my bag. I have resorted to taping it in the off position.

Here are a few of my photos.

I would highly recommend this project for anyone interested in photography, 3D printing and the Raspberry Pi. The Python script can be customized and changed, the housing is a fun 3D print, and the results are whimsical!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bringing Logo to NEIT17

I was privileged to attend the New York Association of Independent Schools NEIT17 Unconference at the Mohon Mountain House where I facilitated an open session on Bits to Atoms: Logo and Fabrication for a group of teachers. We had enough time for them to play with Turtle Blocks, and Maureen even built a piece of jewelry!

Several people were able to work through the workflow and were excited to bring the project back to their schools. One person planned to adapt the workflow to the work she and her students do in MicroWorlds by using online-convert to create an svg from the graphic file they produce in MicroWorlds. 

I also gave an ignite talk about the LogoTurtle.

Judith Seidel also spoke in part about her long relationship with Logo in the classroom and shared images of many of her favorite projects.

It was exciting to get people thinking about Logo and to showcase some projects, new and classic, that are very usable in today's classroom.

Friday, January 27, 2017

MacPaint Dot Matrix Art: Circuitboard01-03

Circuitboard01-03, 2016-17.

This is a piece I thought about for a while, worked on and didn't finish, then suddenly finished this afternoon.
I drew it in MacPaint on a Mac 512K using Brush Mirrors. I was given a Mac 512K and an ImageWriter I with two bags of ribbons in various colors. Evidently, kept properly packaged, they resist drying out.

I printed successive parts of the drawing in different color inks on the dot matrix printer. I rolled the tractor feed paper back into position as closely as I could to print over the same areas multiple times.

These photos are details of the piece, where you can see the impact from the print head. 

I really love this process; it is akin to multiple runs through a printing press from 1984.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

3D Printed Fisher Price "Records"

During my time as the Creator of Learning and Discovery Experiences one project I worked on was 3D printed records for the vintage Fisher Price phonograph. The vintage version of the phonograph operates like a music box, with the "stylus" consisting of many tines that are plucked by the notches in the record grooves. 

There is an excellent Instructable that walks you through the technical process of fabricating your own records using custom software. The program where you create the music that the record contains is a Windows executable. I run it in Wine on my Linux laptop; the sound does not work in Wine on my machine, unfortunately, but that does not stop me.

My latest records are a copy of part of "Stairway to Heaven," which is included along with the software. Additionally, I created another Moondog record, this time of part of his "Elf Dance." His music lends itself to a music box, in my opinion.
I would enjoy the opportunity to 3D print a record with a resin or powder-based printer. Milling a record would also be a fun opportunity. This is a fun project, especially if you take the opportunity to compose your own music for a custom record. Give it a try and share your work!