Yuri’s Night Celebration


Yuri’s Night celebrates the first manned space flight. i3Detroit is hosting a Yuri’s Night event on Saturday April 12th starting at 7PM, open to the public. Come to i3 and join the celebration. We will have demonstrations of planetary dynamics, observation of the night sky, water rocket launches, space themed refreshments, videos, and games!

LAN PARTY – March 1st 7pm

March 1st 7 pm until the sun comes up.

 A LAN party is a temporary gathering of people with computers or compatible game consoles, between which they establish a local area network (LAN), primarily for the purpose of playing multiplayer video games.

Come hang out, bring a computer with the games below installed, or bring a console and a few games (Usually some classic systems show up and some mario kart 64 gets going for a few hours) Sega, dreamcast, N64.

SWiT will be demoing an Oculus Rift with a Razer Hydra for Halfelife2 VRMod and the Crashland demo. If you have a Rift bring it and we’ll try some VR deathmatch.

We’ll probably pickup a few pizzas at some point, Pop is always onsite in the fridge $0.50, Energy drinks available too.


7:00 Starcraft 2: Warmup Go to https://us.battle.net/account/sc2/starter-edition/ download and install tonight.. It may take a while to install.
7:30 Starcraft 2: All out battles!
9:00 DOTA2
10:30 TF2
00:00(Midnight) Games of choice till dawn

What Really Grinds My Gears: NSA Mass Surveillance

Unless you’ve been hidden under a pretty substantial rock, you know about the recent revelation of the mass data collection program the NSA is running.  If you have been hiding under a rock, it turns out that your paranoia has been justified.  It appears that the NSA has been hoarding records of which rock you have been hiding under.

This program has been bothering me.  If it bothers you too, I invite you to take a minute to follow the simple instructions at https://thedaywefightback.org/ and tell your legislators how you feel about the current policies.

I’m posting this here because I suspect that many readers of this blog will share my concern.  I can’t speak for the membership or any governing body of i3Detroit, but you are welcome to leave comments here.

Twitterbot, part 0

Many hackerspaces have some form of notification system, allowing members to publicly announce that the space is welcoming guests. These systems take many different forms, but many boil down to one of two types of systems. The first is one with all the bells on, watching the space with motion sensors and people-detectors and automatically alerting interested parties that people are in the space! The other is effectively a simple switch inside the space and some local status indications, plus some simple scripting running on a machine somewhere to post to Twitter, or to update a website, or whatever.

Way, way, way back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and i3Detroit still occupied its first home in Royal Oak, MI, we had such a system.

The initial plans for the system were spurred by HacDC’s doorman switch, a PIR motion detector just inside the door which posted periodically when motion was detected in the space. This was useful for members to see if others were around, but not really aimed at getting guests to the space.

i3Detroit decided (in the sense that any do-ocracy decides things: someone proposed the idea, no one objected, and batch scripts ensued) that a voluntary switch with a single-frame image would service two needs: 1) respect privacy (webcams tell the world that $whatsherface is alone in the space…) and 2) offer the world an ever-changing indication that i3Detroit was alive and vibrant.

Affectionately and simply dubbed the Twitterbot (or, for some reason on the wiki, the Welcome Switch), this system consisted of a toggle switch and LED in a 1-gang box. When the switch would change from the “closed” position to the “open” position, the system would post that the space was open to guests to Twitter and our website.

Revision 0 used a D-Link network camera, with an opto-isolated input and a relay output. The switch wired into the input, and the LED was run from the relay output. Every 30 seconds, a batch script running on a machine elsewhere in the universe requested the switch status from the D-Link. If the state had changed to “open”, the script asked the camera to take a picture.

The resulting picture would then be posted to Twitpic, and a message indicating that the space was open for guests would be posted to Twitter and to the website.

If the switch went to the “closed” state, a message was posted to Twitter and the website indicating the space was no longer open to guests.

If either post succeeded, the script then changed the LED state to match the switch state.

This led to a neat cultural thing: Whenever someone (or someones) would open the space for guests, they would tend to pose and make ridiculous faces. Soon, a box of silly hats found its way to the area where the Twitterbot lived, to add further festivity.

Revision 1.4 moved into the space, running a Perl script on an ancient desktop machine running Debian, largely to avoid the whole “HTTP GET requests into the space every 30 seconds” thing.

Revision 1.7 saw Twitter move to OAuth-only login. However, Twitpic still allowed posting using basic authentication, so the system posted a “closed” picture as well.

The system then lost the camera, as its owner wanted it back. The switch and LED were then wired up to an RS-485-connected IO expander. The IO expander in turn was routed via an RS-485-to-RS-232 adapter and an RS-232-to-USB adapter to the Debian box.

Twitpic then went to OAuth too, and the Twitter announcement itself disappeared. Soon, the poor Twitterbot was reduced to simply updating a WordPress widget, and swung freely from its Cat5 cable, alone among the myriad hardware that festoons the wall near our front door.

Old, sad Twitterbot.

Unloved, and barely used, the Twitterbot languished in silence for months, until one day…

Next time, in part 1 of the Twitterbot saga, we see our fearless adventurers solving problems and designing things, for the good of all mankind!

Or, you know, a showing-off of the redesign of the Twitterbot.

Good luck, nullspace labs! An open letter to a Los Angeles hackerspace.

(Hi, readers! Time for a first-person interlude.)

Dear Nullspace Labs,

Having gotten the news about your impending move, I just contributed to your Indiegogo campaign. Here’s why, and here’s why I hope my friends will do the same.

We went through the same stuff back when i3Detroit was young! Ours was for a very different reason, but the tasks ahead are the same, and I wish you all success. I bet the next lease will have some strong terms about more advance notice, too. :)

Some background: We actually had good move-out terms in our first lease, but they didn’t apply to what happened. It turns out the landlord had been flying under the radar for decades, and nothing in the space was up to code.  Thus, the building didn’t have a “certificate of occupancy”, and it wasn’t about to qualify for one. We faced stiff fines for continuing to “occupy” the building without it.

However, the city thought we were cool, so we got them to hold off on enforcement, for 30 days. Just long enough to scramble for another space, make sure the new landlord had all the details in order, and shovel everything into a moving truck.

But oh, the expenses! We were “in the black” in that we were making rent, but we didn’t yet have enough in our emergency fund to cover a move. Another down payment and first month’s rent. More insurance. More renovations. (Lots of renovations…) Plus the actual truck rental. Yeah, we needed help!

We threw together a Kickstarter, and our family and friends came through in a big way. The money made a lot of things possible, plus the vote of confidence from so many donors really lifted our spirits through what was already an incredibly stressful mess.

It still wasn’t easy. We didn’t have time to organize much while we packed, and the unpacking was equally chaotic, so it took us *months* to get back on our feet and functional the way we’d been before the move. However, don’t despair! Our continued existence is proof that you can come through this! It’s now 4 years later and we’re bigger and stronger than ever.

I was lucky enough to squeeze in a visit to Nullspace Labs last time I was on the west coast. It felt instantly familiar when I walked through the door — the same kinds of stuff, the same kinds of conversations, and most of all, the same friendly and welcoming vibe that every open-hack-night seems to exude. I had a great time meeting M and Arclight and several others whose names escape me a year later. I learned a fair bit about microscopes and surfacemount, some of the group’s obvious strengths. And I hope to return sometime, although it’ll be to a different address, probably in a different neighborhood. Hopefully one with fewer stairs. ;)

(And hey, depending on how far you folks are willing to move, there’s plenty of cheap warehouse space in Detroit! Just sayin’.)

Best wishes from Michigan,

-Nate B-