The Machine That Goes PING!

February 1st, 2011 by noise

I never appreciated my internet connection enough when I lived in the city. Now that I’m a country mouse I think it really IS a series of tubes. Reliable it’s not. So I thought it would be fun to use an Arduino, my BlinkM and a bit of python to create a visual network monitor.

Here are the steps:

1. Plug your BlinkM into analog ports 2-5 (the standard way instructed by ThingM).

2. Load the Communicator sketch from ThingM onto your arduino.

3. Run the python script. This must be run as Administrator on windoze and although I haven’t tried it yet I believe it must be run as root on Linux. The code should be safe, but review it anyway for your own piece of mind.

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Simple Diet Coke and Mentos Nozzles

February 1st, 2011 by noise

There are various plans for nozzles online but I wanted something simple and a bit more elegant (if that’s possible with PVC) than what I was seeing. I also wanted my nozzles to use as few parts as possible.

Here’s what I came up with:


* 1” PVC threaded to smooth adapter
* 3/4” PVC end cap that fits inside the smooth end of the adapter
* 12, 16 or 20 ounce plastic bottle of soda. Some caps work much better than others, look for the ones with numerous thin knurls. Regular Pepsi caps are good for instance.
* PVC cement.
* 5 minute epoxy.
* A nail or non tapered toothpick to use as a trigger. It has to be long enough to go all the way through the 1” adapter and stick out on both sides.
* String to use for the remote trigger.
* Drill.
* Drill bit the same diameter or slightly larger than your trigger.
* 3/16” drill bit.
* Hobby knife or Dremel with a spiral cutting bit.
* 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi.
* Package of mint Mentos

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Reminder: Ask-an-EE and Soldering class – 5/15 @ 2pm

May 14th, 2010 by noise

Mike Hord will be holding geek court this Saturday from 2pm on. Come and chat about all things electronics and stay for the soldering primer ($30 for the class).

See the original post for more details.

[image attribution]

Makerbot has Arrived!

May 6th, 2010 by noise

Our Makerbot was delivered to Brandon on Tuesday and we started working on it last night.  As you can see we made good progress.  With some luck we will be printing by next Wednesday.  It a great kit with good instructions and quick progress was made.

We also received the sister Makerbot that will be sent out to the raffle winner in the coming days.


Beckie and Jon worked on the Makerbot some more on Thursday night and got it working.

There’s some more tweaking to do before it’s fully functional, but here’s the first object du 3d:

Handmade Music: Minneapolis #3 – May 1st – 5pm

April 21st, 2010 by noise

The next Handmade Music: Minneapolis will be on Saturday May 1st, starting at 5pm. Alex Deeba (from GetLoFi) and Micheal Una will be holding a Workshop to build an interesting bleepy electronic instrument and there will be lots of other great stuff going on.

See the blog post for details at the dedicated HMMM site Also if you are interested in the workshop please sign-up at Eventbrite so that we have a head count. There will be a $10 parts fee collected at the time of the workshop. GetLoFi Workshop Registration.

Stop the presses! Alex just sent me this video of an example of what we will be building.

More information about Handmade Music Minneapolis over here, along with photos of past and information on past events.

Coming Soon: Handmade Music: Minneapolis #2

March 22nd, 2010 by noise

This Thursday is the second installment of Handmade Music: Minneapolis.  There will be some fun stuff to see, hear and do.  Come check us out, the festivities start at 7pm.  We have created a blog dedicated to the monthly event, so you can read all the details about this month over there.

Also, if you would like to to help us spread the word there are some fliers that you can print off and distribute.

Handmade Music: Minneapolis #2


March 4th, 2010 by noise

If you didn’t get a ticket to Ignite Minneapolis or would rather hang out with a bunch of cool geeks instead of marketing drones and social media consultants then head over to the Hack Factory.

There will be minimal structure, just another great night of creating at the factory, including but not limited to the following:

  • Free software swap – bring your favorite free app on a cd to trade, be prepared to do a pitch about how cool it is.
  • Lensbaby test and review.  John Baichtal from Make blog and Geekdad scored some lenses from Lensbaby so he could write a review, so we will be testing those out.  He has a pinhole and soft focus lens, can anyone say geek boudoir?
  • Kicad hacking, etc. – Adam Wolf (inventor of the Tactile Metronome) will be there doing something awesome as always.

Handmade Music: Minneapolis #1 – Report

March 2nd, 2010 by noise

What a great night! Our first Handmade Music was a big success, lots of people showed up and got to show off and learn a bit more about sound. The night was mostly just a free for all with no direction or organization, it was awesome, none-the-less we had a great response and some terrific enthusiasm.

A few people brought things to show off or play. It was a pretty diverse collection:

– Cigar Box Guitar
– PICaxe-based Synth
– Mini-theremin kit
– Synth chip and MIDI file playback.
– Drum Pad Game Controller
– MIDI drum pad and ChucK apps
– PAiA Theremin, KAOSS Pad, Drone Lab, Supercollider Apps, MFOS Weird Sound Generator
– 555 Throwies, Arduino Synth, Thingamagoop, Assorted contact mics

I didn’t take a head count or record attendees (live and learn) but I think we probably approached around 30 people total throughout the night.

Here are some pictures from the event.

And here are some of the ambient sounds of Handmade Music.

The next event will be on March 25th, 7:00 to whenever again at The Hack Factory, please bring things to share with the group. More information on that night and future nights can be found at Handmade Music Minneapolis Page on TCMaker’s Wiki.

Short demo of the Paia Thermax at The Hack Factory in Minneapolis.

Handmade Music Minneapolis #1

February 14th, 2010 by noise

The first handmade music is coming up on the 25th @ the Hack Factory. The itinerary is being worked on currently as more info becomes available we will be posting it here.

Sneak peak: we have procured a sound system and are planning on having a little performance at the end of night, and lots of people at Saturday’s minne-faire have shown interest in the event, it should be fun.

We are exploring some ideas for the first time around, so please if you have some ideas or thoughts worth sharing about handmade music or perhaps you have been to an similar event and know what works, please share. You can comment on this post or email myself at sobczak.paul at Gmail or Pat if he wants to post his email.

Hi, this is Pat.  Feel free to email me at lifeisnoise at gmail or post on the forums or tcmaker google group.

More on Handmade Music over at Noisepages

First Update:

I’m thinking a fun project we could do is 555 “throwies” that I’ve been working on.  It’s an idea that is still in development (I built one prototype which I gave away), so it could be fun.  I’ll try to build one and post a pic later today.
Wayne (wammie) also has some speech synthesis chips that could be fun to play with.

We are looking for 2 acts to perform each set will be 30 minutes long, but we would like the artists to walk us through exactly what they brought to the stage, nobody is currently booked so if you are interested let us know.

February 18 update:

People have been wondering what this even is really all about, to get to the bottom of it I offer the following justification.

Handmade Music: Minneapolis is trying to cultivate a DIY music scene in Minneapolis, by having these open nights at the Hack Factory for people who make sonic machines to socialize and share ideas. (Note: This is basically the same goal as TC Maker has but just narrowed down to musics.)

Wayne will be bringing 2 or possibly three of the SN76477 chips to the event.

Talking to him last night about the chip, he had these up and running about 15 years ago so there is no telling if they still work but it should be fun to try. There are a few suggestions on the data sheet of setups to try, see the suggested setups from the data sheet:

The mothership connection again from the data sheet has the following setup:

I think we will try to set up one of the first ones. And possibly someone will wire up the mothership connection and bring it to a future event. If in the mean time you at home are interested in messing around with this chip there is a newer version of it here.

There has been some interest in performance but nobody has jumped forward as of yet so if you are interested let us know. There will be no compensation this time around as we are not charging for the event at all, that said, if you have been looking for a venue to show off what you have been working on this might be it, read it doesn’t have to be a finely tuned, a bit of sonic tom-foolery is welcome.

Also If you are currently working on or with with any of the following things:

  • DIY Analog/Digital Synths
  • Max/Msp
  • SuperCollider
  • Pd
  • Arduino
  • Circuit Bending
  • Instrument building ect…

We are looking to find people to teach classes at The Hack Factory if you are interested and have some ideas of things you would like to do in the future let us know and we start to set it up.

For those new to The Hack Factory we do have some things if you want to build a kit or do a bit of trouble shooting during the night, We have a few soldering irons and 1 (1/2) oscilloscopes, a dc power supply and a few other things so you can bring pretty much anything to put together. We don’t have any electrical components yet so if you have some that you would like to donate that would be great.

Weekly Gathering – Wednesday, 7pm at the Hack Factory

January 20th, 2010 by noise

Twin Cities Maker will be having its usual weekly meet and greet at the Hack Factory this Wednesday, Jan 20, at 7 pm.  This event is open to the public as well as members.

For those new to the organization, our weekly meetings are usually geek fests where you can meet up with and talk to people about whatever catches your fancy.  Ask for help, share thoughts, inspire and be inspired.

Of course, anyone wanting to pay dues or bring in tools (or anything else they want to contribute to the stocking of the space) is welcome to do so.


We’ll see you there!

Hack Factory
3119 E 26th St
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Use the side door, it’s yellow and just around the corner from the garage door.

View Map

Hack-a-thon! Enough with the talking, let’s make some stuff! 1/22 – 8am-???

January 19th, 2010 by noise

A few of us are getting together this Friday, Jan. 22nd at the Hack Factory to do some group hacking. Bring your projects and join the fun. Somebody will be hacking at the factory starting at 8am and going until at least 8pm.

I’ll be working on a couple of arduino video projects that I’ve been itching to check out and who knows what else.

BYO-Project, BYO-Tools, BYO-Whatever else you might need, I expect we’ll order pizza at some point.

(Image: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

First Meet-up At Hack Factory 12/30 7pm (Come pay your dues!)

December 29th, 2009 by noise

Let’s have our meet-up at the new space this Wednesday.  It will just be a casual get together, no business, but everyone should try to stop by and pay your dues so we make sure to have rent for the first month.

Make sure to bring all the cool toys you scored for Christmas, or anything you made over the break.

See you there: 3119 East 26th St.


December 17th, 2009 by noise

It’s official! Twin Cities Maker will partner with Hack Factory of Minnesota to share a maker space. The members meeting resulted in a unanimous vote to merge with Hack Factory. The new space is located at 3119 East 26th St. in Minneapolis.

Starting January 1st, monthly dues will be $50. Membership will include access to the space and other benefits to be determined.

Full details on partnership structure, membership responsibilities and opportunities, etc. will be resolved going ahead. We’ll announce further information as we have it. Both the Twin Cities Maker and Hack Factory names will be retained in some regard.

Business Meeting Tonight, 7pm

December 16th, 2009 by noise

This month the business meeting will be held at 3119 East 26th St. in Minneapolis. This will be the location of our new space once we officially merge with Hack Factory. Details will be discussed at the meeting. Please be prepared to pay dues (cash or check).

To enter the space go through the chain link gate on right side of the building and enter the first door on that side of the building.  There should be some signs in place to help. Here is a link to the street view of the building, you can see the yellow door on the side of the building just past the gate (right side of the image): Street View.

Bring your own chair (or bean bag or pillow or whatever you feel like sitting on) or you may be sitting on the cold concrete.

Tentative Agenda

  • Introduce Hack Factory to TC Maker
  • Vote on merger with Hack Factory
  • Brainstorm about the future

12/2 Casual Meetup – Change of Venue

November 30th, 2009 by noise

The next casual meet-up will be held at the house of noise (a.k.a. Secretary Pat Arneson). To take maximum advantage of the changed venue (and frankly because I’ll be ready for some visitors after a few days of an empty house) people are welcome to show up any time after 5pm. Let’s also do an informal potluck for anyone that feels like bringing something. I will try to get together a pot of clam chowder or chili.  Bring your own beverage of choice.

Most importantly, bring something to show off or play with, especially those things that you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable bringing to Common Roots (hmmm, lots of room for misinterpretation/misuse in that sentence).

Here is the map. My house is on a hill, so if there’s something you don’t feel like dragging up the stairs feel free to drive around back in the alley.  There will be space enough for a couple of people to park.

LTSpice – Free As In Beer

November 13th, 2009 by noise

LTSpice is a free SPICE simulation tool from Linear Technologies.

For those in the electronics world, SPICE simulation can be a great way to answer the “will my circuit work as advertised” question without breadboarding. It’s a great sanity check- if it don’t work in SPICE, it won’t* work on a breadboard.

LTSpice is Linear Technologies’ own incarnation of SPICE. It’s a nice little product, and comes with models for many of Linear’s products (power supplies, op-amps, etc) along with many supporting components from other manufacturers (diodes, transistors, capacitors, inductors, etc) and generic parts (555s, LEDs, etc). Obviously, they provide it expecting people to download it, sim up a solution involving Linear parts and then sell eleventy-billion a year, thus providing a nice income stream for Linear (and it works- LTSpice makes it much more likely that I’ll reach for a Linear part for power supply design than another manufacturer’s parts).

[via uptownmaker]

Business Meeting, Wed Nov 11, 7pm

November 10th, 2009 by noise


Twin Cities Maker is having a business meeting, Wednesday November 11 at 7pm.  As usual, our meeting will be in the back room at Common Roots Cafe, 26th and Lyndale, Minneapolis. Topics for discussion:

  • Maker Faire Attendee Ideas – Please come to the meeting with at least two ideas for groups or individuals that could be invited to a Maker Faire.
  • TGIMBOEJ Collection – Bring any electronics junk that you would like to contribute to The Giant Internet Migratory Box of Electronic Junk.
  • Halloween Event Report
  • Prototyper Build Update
  • Financial Update
  • Vote for Secretary
  • Grants
  • Officer reports
  • AOB

Hope to see you there!

A Thin Grey Line

October 26th, 2009 by noise

A Thin Grey Line

Attendance at the TCMaker Clothesline and Halloween Costume Contest was pretty light, but we had a good time nonetheless.  The were four total entries in the clothesline race, two racers that had been built ahead of time, one was built from scratch on site out of LEGO and one that wasn’t quite done but made an attempt at running.

Nobody fully completed the course out and back, although Michael and John came very close with similar solutions at opposite ends of the complexity spectrum.  Scott’s racer made it down the cable one way and then failed catastrophically upon contact with the end plate.  It was difficult to judge an actual winner of the contest because a number of factors, so it was decided to reward all participants for making the effort. Prizes were distributed from the box of swag that Mike received from Make: Magazine.

Clothesline Racers

At the very least by the end of the day we were all pretty excited about the concept and started to brainstorm about some fun ideas for future racers.

There were no entrants in the costume contest although as you can see from the group picture above there was a certain level of personal style from some participants that may have qualified.

Please visit the TCMaker flickr pool for more images from the gathering.  Mike has also now uploaded some pictures and video to our new Picasa public gallery.

Thanks to John for the venue, Jude for setup, Michael for the fun idea and to everyone that brought chow.

Business Meeting @ Common Roots

June 10th, 2009 by noise

The Twin Cities Maker business meeting will be at 7pm this evening. We will meet in the back room of Common Roots Cafe.


  • PayPal, bank account, and collection of money
  • Non-profit registration in the state of Minnesota- adjusting the constitution and by-laws to meet the requirements for registration
  • Collecting data on fees and rates- SurveyMonkey? E-mail?