Resistive Troll

May 25th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Resistor Troll

My latest creation the “Resistive Troll”. Allthough that might not actually be the case becasue all of the resitors are in parallel so the actual resistace is really small. None the less, Twin Cities Maker has their first mini mascot. Isn’t it cute?


Keeping “More” Smoke in: Basic Electronics for Makers

May 25th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Photo by skenmy on Flickr

Mike, the newly elected president of Twin Cities Maker will be putting on another round of his basic electronics class, the first round was at Studio Bricolage and was an overwhelming success. Hence another, this one will be fine tuned and most likely better than the last one. If you are at all curious about electronics and want to learn more, this is the place to do it. Mike has a degree in electrical engineering and has been working in the industry ever since, he also has been making awesome things with resistors and other things that have an affinity for electronics on the side. This event is in collaboration with Studio Bricolage and will be hosted there.

Note there is only room for 8 read EIGHT people so sign up soon if you want to get in. Also there are 4 session so you will get your moneys worth.

* From Studio Bricolage

Keeping the Smoke in: Basic Electronics for Makers – session 1
Date and Time:
Jun 9 2009 – 6:30pm – Jun 9 2009 – 8:30pm
Leonardo’s Basement 4301 Nicollet Ave Minneapolis, MN 55409
$80 for four (4) sessions. Take home materials fee $20. Pay instructor at class. Limit 8 students.

* Tuesday, June 9, (very brief) math refresher, volts, amps, ohms, and using your multi-meter.

With platforms like the Arduino and resources like Make: Magazine, it’s never been easier to get started in electronics. Having an understanding of the basics can make your projects go smoother and save you from costly mistakes that can easily let the magic smoke out of your expensive new Arduino Deumilanove board.

All sessions will include some hands on projects involving solderless breadboards and multi-meters, and all sessions will include some “insider” information on sourcing components (Ax-man, internet shops, etc) and sources for additional information, including books and websites. Bring a meter capable of measuring volts, amps, and resistance.

Instructor: Michael Hord ( is an electrical engineer, perpetual tinkerer and unrepentant dumpster diver.

* Tuesday, June 16, diodes, LEDs, and switches.
* Tuesday, June 23, power supplies and batteries.
* Tuesday, June 30, transistors and a VERY basic intro to the world of integrated circuits.

This program is a collaborative venture of TC Maker and Studio Bricolage.

Excellent Mini Documentary on Fou Lab in Montreal

May 23rd, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Awhile ago I got the chance to visit Montreal which is an amazing city and headed over to Foulab but nobody was home, I am glad to see that there is some activity going on now. You can read more on that non adventure here. Below is a great little video documentary of the space and some of the people building stuff there.

Fou Lab in Montreal, Yes!

Hopefully this will get all of your quests for a space reviatalized again.

Fou Lab Website

Fou Lab Logo

About half way in you can see Fou Labs new logo which is a version of the ground symbol for circuits, and I like it.


May 13th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

This image is © Wellcome Images, but has been altered into a Derivative Work by Paul Sobczak by cropping, removing and adding content

Twin Cities Maker has held it’s first elections and they are as follows:


name – forum handle

Mike Hord – uptownmaker

Vice President:
Wayne Martinson – wammie

Brandon Paplow – orion

Theo Durbin – Theo

Development Coordinator:
Michael Freiert – metis

Congratulations, to everybody elected.

The soul of an old machine

May 12th, 2009 by danbackslide

Atwater-Kent Model 20 chassis

Atwater-Kent Model 20 chassis

This spring I’ve been taking a hands-on class on vintage radio repair at the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting. The first radio I brought in (an RCA 96T1, ca. 1938) I thought would be simple. It turned out to be in pretty bad shape — bad power transformer, bad speaker, almost all the caps need replacing… In short, it’s turned into a major project.

So I switched over to my other radio, a 1925 Atwater-Kent Model 20 “big box.” It’s a lot simpler than the RCA: 5 01A tubes, 3 condensers, a handful of resistors and capacitors. I also thought it’d be simple, and I was again wrong. 3 out of the 5 tubes tested bad. The grid-leak detector had been replaced with a soldered-in fuse in an earlier repair attempt. Thanks to the museum’s massive supply of vintage parts those items were fixed in short order, but when power was applied I found none of it was getting to the RF tubes.

Luckily, this radio was made at a time when manufacturers expected people to repair things. Remove 8 screws from the front plate, and the entire chassis lifts out, revealing all the components. A bit of poking with a multimeter (and a trip to Google for a better schematic) soon revealed a bad solder joint. And a wound wire resistor that’s open, so I have to fix that next. Then I’ll have to build a power supply — did I mention this thing runs off lead-acid batteries?

I keep reminding myself that, with all the troubles I’ve run into, I’m learning a lot….

Yea for massive online storage on the cheap

May 11th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Update: This post is full of garbage info concerning prices, it’s not cheap

This image is © Wellcome Images, but has been altered into a Derivative Work by Paul Sobczak by cropping, removing and adding content

I have been looking around for awhile on a suitable storage option for a decent size of data. I want to host the podcasts for a small radio station that I used to work at up in Fargo, ND, and I also want to have the storage capabilities myself.

Enter Amazon S3, the storage capacity is unlimited, and it’s cheap, the only problem that I was running into was that I didn’t want to create an application to do all of the uploading in the format that amazon likes.

Enter S3 Fox this firefox add on is exactly what I was looking for, but I didn’t know it existed. Now with it I can do exactly what I want, upload files easily and access the direct file on the internet.

Amazon s3 for those interested has the following price structure:


  • $0.150 per GB – first 50 TB / month of storage used
  • $0.140 per GB – next 50 TB / month of storage used
  • $0.130 per GB – next 400 TB /month of storage used
  • $0.120 per GB – storage used / month over 500 TB

Data Transfer

  • $0.030 per GB – all data transfer in April 1, 2009 through June 30, 2009 – 3rd Anniversary Celebration!
    (Note: data transfer in will return to its normal price of $0.100 per GB on July 1)
  • $0.170 per GB – first 10 TB / month data transfer out
  • $0.130 per GB – next 40 TB / month data transfer out
  • $0.110 per GB – next 100 TB / month data transfer out
  • $0.100 per GB – data transfer out / month over 150 TB


  • $0.01 per 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests
  • $0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests*

* No charge for delete requests

So anyway you look at it the price is really cheap, cheaper than the price of running and the initial purchase of an external hard drive, and as a bounus you can access your files on the net.  Digital Web has a great article about s3 and it’s where I found out about s3 fox. I recommend if  you want to learn more about s3.

Hacking the Spaces Essay

May 10th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Hacking the spaces

Johannes Grenzfurthner/Frank Apunkt Schneider have written a little essay on the history and future of hacker spaces called Hacking the Spaces. The article is also available in plain ascii which I thought was funny.

an excerpt:

The history of the so-called hackerspaces expands back to when the counter culture movement was about to make a serious statement. In the decade after the hippies attempted to establish new ways of social, political, economical and ecological relationships, a lot of experiments were carried out concerning the construction of new spaces to live and to work in.
These were considered as niches to relieve and rescue people from the monotonous way bourgeois society directed civic spaces from kindergartens to cemeteries to be exactly the same and to reproduce its patriarchal and economical order.
The politics of establishing open spaces were meant as explicit statements confronting a capitalist (and in the East: an authoritarian communist) society whose very structure, purpose and operating mode were broadly considered to “alienate humans”, to take control of and to modify their basic human needs and relationships.
Thus, the failed revolt of the sixties survived and flourished in the shadows of a ubiquitous bourgeois lifestyle. And the idea of change was conjured up from nebulous lysergic dreams and pathetic speeches to get one’s dreams and/or feet back on solid ground – to be dis-obamaized, if you like.

Messing with Itunes and Script Editor

May 9th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak


I wrote (read “modified”) my first script for the OSX. Over all it’s not to bad, I was working with Itunes and accessing the different variable inside the program, some of them were listed in the original program that I was editing, but I needed another one. I just guessed as to what it should be called, and well, I was right so that I good, mainly because I didn’t have to look up what the variables are called in iTunes. (I am not even sure where I would find this.)

So yea, here is my program it will access Itunes and ask you what playlist you would like to export as a txt file. Then it grabs the information and writes it in the following format.
#. Artist – Name (time)
The name of the txt will be the name of your playlist, and the file saves on your desktop.

an example output:

1. Sam Austin – Off the Top Improvisation (2:49)
2. Emilio – Maria (3:50)
3. Rodney James – Better Than Aladdin’s Magic Lamp (Nat King Cole Cover) (1:45)
4. Paul Neufeld – Registro (2:07)
5. Rene – Improvised Song (2:35)
6. Ian Waner – Golden Dawn (2:18)
7. Aubrey Bolton – Sam Stone (5:30)
8. Robert – Father and Son (Cat Stevens Cover) (3:05)
9. Dave – Improvisation (1:19)
10. Travis – Home Is This Way (2:27)

Here is the script, I am calling it >>> iTunes Playlist to Text File Script <<<

TC Makers Attend TI Technology Day

May 8th, 2009 by wammie

Yesterday a handful of Twin Cities Makers attended Texas Instruments’ Technology Day (2009 Schedule) at the RiverCentre in St. Paul.

Texas Instruments and several of its partners/distributors such as Digi-Key, Mouser, Osram, Newark, Ingenient Technologies, Arrow Lighting, Cymbet, and Laube showed a varied array of cutting edge products of great interest to the maker community.

Exhibits included high power LEDs and drivers, DLP displays and drivers, energy harvesting modules, digital power solutions, microcontrollers, and more.  The conference offered classes touching on many important technologies such as LEDs, analog and digital data acquisition, IP multimedia, and green power, though the classes were targeted mostly for engineering professionals.

Quicktime Volume Hack

May 7th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

I have used this little trick every now and then and I thought I would pass it on.

While watching any quicktime movie you can adjust the volume on the left hand side of the video, but sometimes the volume is not loud enough…what to do?

The regular volume control looks like:


Well there is a cool hack (or rather built in hidden feature)

Press and hold Shift while clicking the volume button and you get a much larger range as seen below:


Starting out with Max Patches

May 7th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak

Max is a visual programming language from Cycling 74.

From Cycling’s website:

Max, [is] a graphical programming environment that provides user interface, timing, communications, and MIDI support.


This is the back end or the programming that went into the patch

My first patch using Max generates a random note, and sends it to the midi device you selected in Max’s preferences.

My first thoughts are that Max is pretty neat, I am thinking about creating some interface for controlling some of my synths. The user interface that is created it pretty nice which really add to the programming language. Further the ability to simply create an exe file is great.

Download exe file

Although this is not an example of this specific max patch, it lets you know where I came from to get here, building the program up from here I think will be rather easy.

Front Page Blog Now Live

May 5th, 2009 by Paul Sobczak


Image by bridotcom (and yes he is looking at you Theo)

We have decided to migrate our static front page to a blog, and use it to post what is going on at Twin Cities Maker. Everybody involved in TCM will be able to post things related to the group including their personal projects. Since a bunch of the people here also have blogs of their own we are making no attempt to limit the posts here, meaning that some of the post you will be able to find elsewhere on the internet.

If you are an active member of the forum (sign up if you’re not) we will grant you access to register and post stuff here.

The old posts will be added again to the site but there was a weird thing going on with the mouse cursor when we imported them. The cursor would disappear when it wasn’t being moved, a attribute that I could not immediately figure out, but determined that it was somehow an artifact from the old blog . You can see what I am talking about if you follow that link. *Note to anybody who would know, what is going on there?

With that introduction lets start blogging!