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5116  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: What processors are available? on: January 24, 2011, 12:11:45 am
I picked up a dual core 1.6ghz atom micro atx with everything but ram on board for 60 bucks shipped on ebay

I recently picked up two Via Epia M-10000 mobos each with a 512 MB stick of DDR for $60.00 on ebay; couldn't pass 'em up at that price!

5117  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Getting into the interaction design world? on: January 20, 2011, 11:10:01 pm
Going to burning man does sound really cool and interesting - but I am not sure I would look at it as 'an important step towards a career in the technical end of fine arts, or the artsy end of technical things'.. It may be a good place to see some really awesome stuff and people though.

The thing about BM, is that its a great place to network with fellow artists of all nature. On an Arduino-related (ok, ATMega8 - who's counting?) note:

5118  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Getting into the interaction design world? on: January 20, 2011, 02:53:52 pm
Yes, you're going to find some "LSD Hippy" types but you could find them at college or an art museum as well. BM only get's that stigma cause they are the crazy ones who get a lot of camera time and stories told about them. You don't hear about the 45yo dentist I met who flew his Sesna in or the former #7 Yahoo employee who spent $10 grand on an art car covered in elwire, LEDs and had moving parts I rode on or the gourmet chef who cooked the best lamb and duck I've ever eaten and followed it up with liquid nitrogen ice cream.  There are a lot of good people you can meet through it.

That's Burning Man alright. Wow - you make me miss the Playa. Haven't been back in while (time and money issues, mainly)...


Anyhow - first year I went (2003), after a super-long caravan drive with others on a road trip from nowhere (ok, Telluride - after getting lost on a mountain searching for King Boletes during the 'shroom festival held around the same time as BM), we arrived really late, and set up camp in the dark. Jazzed but tired, we went to sleep. I woke up early the following morning to a beat of techno that didn't stop (not even while sleeping - I dreamed the Playa) until...well, never - its still with me.

I climbed a rickety scaffold and looked out over the city - seemed like something somewhere between Tatoonie and Blade Runner. Fantastic and wild doesn't begin to describe it. I watched a fur-covered couch drive down the road in front of our camp with George Jones blasting from hidden speakers, a guy with not much on except a cowboy hat and boots steering it.

Welcome to Burning Man.

I then was summoned outta nowhere to work on a polka-dotted fur-covered VW Jetta convertible whose fuel-pump shorted out the wiring. Got that working, was treated to an amazing ham sandwitch. Everytime I saw the group with the car, they whooped and hollered and thanked me with bows. Sadly, the car ended up burning later in the week near the Thunderdome (no injuries, fortunately); I guess it was destined to. Later - fire dancers, pole dancers, DJs, the Journey to Mars and a long time in a ball pit, tons of art (Temple of Gravity - woah)...

If you haven't been, nothing will prepare you. Its really something everyone who can should attend at least once. Eye opening, exhilarating, inspiring, awe inducing - all this and more is there, the vast majority of it created by ordinary people, who have ordinary lives. That isn't to say everything is puppies and rainbows at BM, just like any large group that grows larger every year, there are bad apples - but the vast majority of people there are good people who are in it for the community. In a way, its like a large family, with many of the same benefits and warts.

5119  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Getting into the interaction design world? on: January 08, 2011, 09:00:55 pm
I am an undergraduate student in computer science in an area of the USA that doesn't have much going for it (Nebraska)

I think you may be selling your state short; I could say the same thing about Arizona, if I knew it wasn't false.

and I spend most of my time working on projects using Processing, Arduino, openFrameworks and more for fun. I even secured a grant last year to bring technologies like these into my university, and am actually going to be teaching a course this semester on interactive and generative art.

Good for you - use this time well, because when you get out into the real world, paying bills, having a relationship and a mortgage, there won't be many opportunities to explore in the same manner.

But in May, I graduate, and I really want to keep going, applying myself in the field of interaction design, as close to the edge as possible. But it SEEMS like all of the 'fun' interaction design work going on in the world right now is happening in design schools, and whenever I ask advisors from these schools about attending, they all tell me that with a degree in computer science, I'm screwed. Everyone I've talked to insists that I must have extensive art history knowledge and an art portfolio to rival any of their own undergraduate art students.

Personally, I would quietly say to myself (or loudly to them - whatever you feel as an artist) "screw you". Then I would plan a trip to this year's Burning Man, and meet up with people doing real interactive art.

In effect, it feels as though theres a monstrous wave of creative development going on right now (3D printers, interactive installations, experimental music, and so much more), but I'm not "allowed" to participate!

Define your own limits - don't let other define them for you.

I hate the idea of being a "weekend warrior" where I only toy with tech on nights and weekends between a crappy full-time cubicle job, so does anyone have any advice for me?

Hey - that sounds like me; except I love my job, and I don't work in a cubicle currently. My advice, though, is to realize that sooner or later, schooling will stop (though your education can and should continue!), and you just may end up in a "crappy full-time cubicle job". From what I have seen, its either that, or living as a "starving artist in a rented bohemian flat with a lot of roommates" (and/or still working a "crappy cubicle job" to pay rent). Ultimately, its a choice you'll have to make (and by all means, there are other options - so while you have the time, look into all of them, because sooner or later you'll have to pick one).

Do you know of any graduate schools that are 1) doing creative, interesting work and 2) will take a wide variety of students into their program? Does anyone want to give a hyper-ambitious Midwest hacker a chance in their interactive design firm? Any discussion will be appreciated!

No idea here - its completely outside my frame of reference; I do know, though, that some of most interesting and technically challenging artwork I have -ever- seen (whether in technology, scale, or both), was at Burning Man. If you really want to be on the "cutting edge" (or the flaming edge, as the case may be!), you want to find the people involved; whether there are many in Nebraska I don't know - but I am sure there are at least a few Burners there.

There must be, but I have not found any that would take me. My university created their own "computer science" program that cuts out a lot of math required by grad schools (how an 18 year old is supposed to know that, I don't know), so CS programs haven't been too interested in me either.

I never went to a university, but to me a CS program without advanced math seems more like a "how to operate a computer" type coursework. Let me guess - plenty of "how to program in Java and/or .NET" type courses are available, but not much on lambda calculus?

Schools like MIT, NYU and Carnegie Mellon are doing tons of great stuff, but I have no chance of getting in (relatively low GPA, deficient in math courses, no publications to my name). At least thats why my advisors have told me.

It sounds like you aren't sure exactly "what you want to be when you grow up"; which is OK - I certainly didn't envision myself being where I am at today when I was young, but it is what it is.

You seem to see yourself working/creating/doing these "creative technologies", as you put it. With what you have noted, though, getting into the grad programs at other Unis doesn't sound possible. Have you thought about continuing to be an undergrad at one of those Unis (are your grades good enough for that?), and then applying yourself hard-core to the areas in which you lack knowledge (and writing the papers, publications, etc)? That might be one route, and you sound like you are young enough that you have plenty of time to do so (though money might be a concern)...

The school I'm at currently has nothing. And I literally mean nothing. No one at my school knows what Arduino is, or Processing, or even know about the wave of creative technologies going on right now. I work closely with the chairs of CS and physics at my university, and am also undertaking an independent study with a professor from the graphic design program explore the technologies from that perspective. But more often than not I find myself having to educate everyone around me about what I'm using, and I am left with not a lot of time to actually DO these crazy kinds of projects.

Perhaps more doing and less explaining might be in order?

I want to go to a bigger school like MIT so that I can be surrounded by like minded people and immersed in a creative atmosphere where I can be pushed to learn things far beyond what I am able to on my own. But in my experience, the schools I want to get into look past my actual work and experience in the subject matter and grill me on my GPA and the 'quality' of my degree from an academic perspective.

I understand your thinking, though at a different level; I wish I could be in your position right now. If I only had a benefactor who could pay my regular bills, I have the money to go back to school; but then again I am nearing 40 years of age, so I am not sure what good it would do beyond my own edification.

Do I really stand any sort of a chance getting into a bigger school like MIT based mostly on my enthusiasm/amibition and non-traditional work? I have the sense that I'm 'competing' with hordes of wealthy, extremely intelligent students who have been given many more opportunities than I have to get into such a school


Quit comparing yourself against others and their "talents", for starters. When you stop competing with others, and instead start competing with yourself, different opportunities can arise. Maybe you could start your own "hacker space"; maybe there are others out there, right now at your school, that feel the same way? Maybe there is a Nebraska corn farmer looking to automate his tractors who would employ you? Who knows!

What you may need to do - beyond bettering your skills in your deficient areas (math, and maybe general CS) - is develop a portfolio of projects. Ideally, these projects would address potentially novel solutions to existing problems, perhaps ones which are endemic to your current environment (Nebraska - and corn). What if you managed to make an Arduino-controlled mini-ethanol still? Or what if you could apply your CS skills toward the challenge of increasing corn yields? See what I am getting at?

Once you have this portfolio (plus your better skills and hopefully grades), then maybe you can shop it around to the schools you are interested in.

Worst case scenario - you'll have a good portfolio for your resume in order to get a "crappy full-time cubicle job" when you join the real world and pay a mortgage (and your student loans)...

5120  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: New CMM programer here on: January 22, 2011, 10:57:12 pm
CMM? Coordinate measuring machine?

What is your question, specifically? :-?
5121  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Good perfboard supplies? on: January 13, 2011, 05:53:28 pm
One thing to note about MeasureExplorer's boards is that they are not only "PPH" (pad-per-hole), but that they also have connecting traces in a grid pattern (or other pattern) between holes; you're supposed to remove the traces where you don't need lines (definitely not what you want). Still, an interesting prototyping PCB style...

[edit]As an amendment: MeasureExplorer sells several different prototyping PCB styles - some a double sided, some are single sided, some with adjoining traces, some without. I think all of the double sided PCBs are plated-thru-hole designs. Regardless, you'll note that these PCBs all look to be custom made - so maybe if you ask him nicely, he can either make up one (well, the design - you would have to order many to make it worthwhile) for you for a fee, or he could point you to an existing design, or maybe someone else or some other company who could help. [/edit]
5122  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Good perfboard supplies? on: January 13, 2011, 05:49:58 pm
You might try contacting these guys and explaining your needs:

I don't think they are an "official" company - but they might have something that would work...?

Another option would be to get in contact with one of the sellers on ebay that seem to sell a lot of PCB designs - for instance, this guy:

I have heard (but I haven't ever purchased from) is a good seller; he might have something, or could get you what you need - it might be worth browsing his site/store - and getting in contact with him.
5123  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Good perfboard supplies? on: January 13, 2011, 05:37:28 pm
But either it doesn't exist or my googling skills have abandoned me.

I'm sure something of the right size exists, or can be manufactured - it likely comes down to being able to find it, and whether you can afford the cost.

You still haven't noted what you consider "cheap"? Also - are you only looking for one board, or multiple (or many?)...
5124  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Good perfboard supplies? on: January 13, 2011, 05:31:01 pm
Ah, my apologies.  Yes Jeremy is right, I meant "square pads" to indicate that I don't want stripboard.  I wasn't aware that circular pad types existed.  To be honest, circular ones would be fine too.

Ah - ok; I was thinking by "square pads" you wanted square-shaped pads around each hole, instead of circular shaped pads. I would imagine that the need would be for more surface area for bonding of solder or such, but that raises the price of manufacturing the board.

However, your explanation of individual pads as what you need suffices.

Am I right in thinking that these boards have one side insulated from the other (no "vias")?  I haven't been able to lay my hands on anything like this even in my local shops in town (Maplin sucks these days)

Some do, some don't - generally, those that have what appear like a "via" are called "plated-thru-hole" or "plated-through-hole" construction; those that don't (that just have a pad around each hole, one on each side) generally aren't noted as such; in other words, if the holes are connected, it will be noted in the description that it is of "plated-thru-hole" design; if they aren't, generally there won't be an indication.

PTH construction, by the way - while being more expensive, can be a preferred board, simply because the solder for a joint will have much more contact area and form a much stronger joint more resistant to flexing and other mechanical stress. However, your layout of parts when doing a double-sided design would have to be carefully considered to prevent problems, of course - whereas on a non-PTH board this wouldn't be an issue.
5125  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Good perfboard supplies? on: January 13, 2011, 03:19:38 pm
Here's a 2x2 inch piece fairly cheap - maybe you could custom order something from him?:

Here's an 11 x 8.5 cm piece:

The only problem I think for both of these boards is that neither meet your "square pad" needs (any particular reason the pads need to be square?)...

Also - what do you consider cheap for a piece of double-sided 8x4 inch perfboard with pads-per-hole? Do you need any ground/power planes or bus lines? Do you need plated-thru holes?
5126  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Homebrew Waterfall Display HOWTO on: January 15, 2011, 08:53:27 pm
That's a very good point, Fenrisulfr - something worthwhile to keep in mind...
5127  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Homebrew Waterfall Display HOWTO on: January 01, 2011, 04:25:29 pm
My initial thought about the actuator is that it still sounds kind of leaky.

Yeah, it really does, doesn't it? I tried to find rubber coated steel bearings/balls but had no luck, thinking such a thing could be used to seal it better. Perhaps if the idea of a cutoff nail were used instead of a ball bearing, you could dip the nail into some silicone glue?

Also - I'm not sure if minor occasional drips, at least for a homebrew system would matter in the end. As long as it wasn't a steady drip, nor a stream, it probably wouldn't overall matter (think of it as a bit of 'static' in the display).

But I am not trying to defend my design; it was the best I could come up with in a very short amount of time. Maybe a two-way magnetic driver, with a second coil around the bottom of the tip, to draw the ball downward to seal the tip? It would be current intensive, but possible...?

5128  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Homebrew Waterfall Display HOWTO on: January 01, 2011, 03:07:48 pm
how about something using a similar principle to bubble jet printing technology?

Based on what I read here:

I don't know whether such technology could be adapted to a continuous circulation fountain (which is what one of these displays ultimately are), or whether such technology could be fabricated at a larger scale by a hobbyist, or whether such technology would even work at larger scales.

Furthermore, since inkjet technologies rely on propelling droplets, whereas in the videos of the waterfall displays, you can see only gravity is being used (plus there's the fact that if the droplet nozzles were pressurized, the change in pressure from opening one or more would have a cascade effect on the amount of pressure behind others falling - which may or may not be difficult to compensate for in software).

But the idea is interesting - right now, no matter what, the goal to achieve this at a "homebrew" level is getting the cost of the valves to a low price per valve; such a system would need at minimum 5 valves to make characters (5x7), but more valves would be wanted to make the kind of effects shown in the videos (probably 64 at least on the low end, 100+ on the high end). If a valve cost $5.00 to make, such a fountain/display would get expensive quickly (though still much cheaper than the shown fountains, most likely).

I think my idea, if it worked, would bring the cost down to less than $5.00 each, possible much less (maybe even $1.00 each). But all options and ideas are worth trying and investigating, because they might lead to cheaper options.

One possibility might be to instead replace the ball bearings I noted with perhaps short lengths of a nail of similar diameter, with the tip of the nail ground or filed to a rounded point; that would entail more work, but might be cheaper than the ball bearings (though the steel bearings from are pretty cheap already).

5129  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Re: Homebrew Waterfall Display HOWTO on: January 01, 2011, 01:46:39 pm
I'd start by building around the TPIC6B595 chip.

While that would be a good chip to control the system with, I think ultimately one needs to start by first verifying if my valve idea would even work!


The controlling code and hardware can come later; what should be done is to build a simplified singular form of the valve. The idea is to have a valve that operates so that singular drops can be formed, with no pressure (other than gravity) behind the water droplets. Plus, the valve needs to operate at high speeds/cycles.

Such valves are possible to purchase, and I am sure that the videos of these displays use such valves; but they are anything but cheap. So my goal was to come up with a solution that could be implemented cheaply (though not easily).

If a singular valve worked (or if the idea could be used to make a cheap valve that worked), with perhaps it being controlled by an Arduino via a simple transistor switch - it would prove the concept, and that perfected valve could then be used to build the larger device.

Which leads me to wonder if a singular form of the valve wouldn't perhaps be useful in some manner to those who do water-drop photography...hmm.

5130  Forum 2005-2010 (read only) / Bar Sport / Homebrew Waterfall Display HOWTO on: January 01, 2011, 03:32:57 am
All - I wrote the following up for the Electro Tech Online forums, for a thread discussing such a system; I thought maybe some of you might want to see it. I'm hoping that it may help lead someone to build an inexpensive homebrew version:

Homebrew Waterfall Display HOWTO @

The thread on the Electro Tech Online forums is here:

Electro Tech Online: Waterfall Printer


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