Car hacking: Success!

IMG_0059Q: What has four wheels and sixteen hackers clustered around it?

A: Chris Peplin’s sweet ride, with a prototype OpenXC translator plugged into it!

On Friday, i3 Detroit’s first car hacking meetup brought a good turnout, with pizza and drinks and solder and software and tons of fascinating ideas. The mix of attendees included several industry experts, some hobbyists of varying experience, and a few curious newbies.

We were treated to the first public demonstration of the recently-released OpenXC platform, a standard API for interfacing aftermarket software into vehicles. Unlike common OBD2 interfaces that only work with a limited set of messages, OpenXC decodes the live CAN traffic and reveals lots more data, neatly formatted as JSON for your apps to parse.

What sort of apps? Well, that’s up to you — come to the next car hacking meetup (fourth Fridays) and get involved!

 

Gaming: Accomplished.

IMG_5009Saturday’s WinterLAN gaming party was a success by any measure. Game-wise, practically everything was represented — I think we had 7 or 8 vintage and modern consoles running simultaneously, plus dozens of PCs on the network, and tabletop games galore. People-wise, there were 40-plus people in the space most of the night, with the last game of Artemis finally wrapping up around 5am.

Thanks to everyone who made the party what it was, from the members who organized it, to the guests just making it to the space for the first time. By the way, there’s no need to wait for next year’s WinterLAN before coming back — there’s a regular tabletop gaming night on the calendar, and if hacking/making is more your style, we do that every night of the week! Just look for that little box in the upper right to say “open for guests”, and you’re invited, just like that.

TEDx Detroit was a rousing success!

We’d like to thank everyone who came out and supported TEDx Detroit. The attendance was phenomenal this year, the speakers were insprational and forward-thinking, and the networking and collaboration environment is providing lift to the rise of Detroit across the nation and around the world. In addition to the traditional TED-style talks, participants were also taken on tour to view the rework-in-progress on the Grand Army of the Republic building: one of Detroit’s oldest and most historically impactful structures. On display in the TEDx Labs this year were several hacker- and maker-spaces including i3 Detroit, many with interactive and exciting crafts and hands-on items.

We ended up having about 120 people stop by at various points throughout the day and talk with us about i3 Detroit and what makes it different from other hackerspaces around the Metro area. Interest in tours and membership was high, and we’re thrilled to have the possibility to show new visitors what the space is all about in person! Many of the projects we brought along were a great hit, including the ammo-can speakers, ChronoTune, Racing PowerWheels, and the Giant Connect 4.

In addition to spending time with the attendees, we also spent quite a bit of time talking with and getting to know the organizers, staff, and volunteers of TEDx Detroit. Contratulations on a great conference, and we are looking forward to next year!

Flowers made of light

When Karen (yes, that Karen) decided to host a DIY birthday party, and said that she wanted people to make flowers, my mind went blank. Mario brought casting resin to make plastic flowers, Roger brought color-changing LEDs that got used in a bunch of things. I saw flowers made of yarn, flowers made of vinyl, flowers made of piano keys, flowers made of filter media, flowers made of sheetmetal, flowers made of mylar, and of course, flowers made of Red Bull cans. Still having no ideas, I decided to ignore the party for a bit, and started salvaging some motors from a soon-to-be-recycled CDROM drive.

Then something clicked: At Tuesday’s electronics meetup, we used signal generators and oscilloscopes to display Lissajous curves. With a laser and some mirrors and some motors, I could make Rose curves! Those are flowers, right? Flowers made of light!

The only small mirror available was still much too large, so it got cracked into a bunch of sharp but useful little pieces. With some hot glue, some solder, and a quick trip to the bin of lasers, I had a rudimentary optical path. Joe helped set up a quick-and-dirty pot-and-FET motor speed control (inspired by reading an article about PC PSU testing a few days ago), and with a few more minutes’ work, the whole thing was stuffed into a project box and shooting flowers onto everything within reach, including Karen. Happy Birthday!

-Nathaniel-

(Caution: Laser light emitted from this aperture. Warning: Whirling bits of broken glass within this aperture. Danger: Flowerguns are addictive.) 

Power Racing Series season wrapup: i3′s medal count: Nine!

I3 Power Sports has completed another hugely successful season of PPPRS racing. We fielded two cars this year, and both collected a good number of medals, for 9 total. I3 was represented at all three races: Kansas City MO, Detroit, and Evanston IL. The I3 banner and name were on display, and there was a lot of contact with other maker-spaces and event-coordinators. That contact alone could define this as a successful endeavor for the space, but a big clutch of medals is nice too!

The season began in late June at Kansas City Maker Faire. Car #13, racing as SuperLuminal Racing, made the trip. As a brand new car and team, this was somewhat of a ‘shake-out’ race. Despite that, the car performed well, we qualified second, and we took home two bronze and a silver. It was also discovered that ‘SuperLuminal Racing’ is more syllables than the announcer likes to say, so we adjusted for future races.

The biggest race of the season took place at Detroit Maker Faire in July, and both i3 teams competed. #3 was freshly rebuilt before the Faire, and #13 (now “Tiger Hacker”) was running at half-power due to a controller issue. Despite this, we still represented. Our own Karen “Cannonball” Corbeill, on #3, took gold in the 15-lap races and the endurance race, finishing first for the weekend. Sean on #13 was handicapped on speed but buoyed by reliability, and managed to take bronze in the enduro.

The season finale took place at Evanston IL’s Mini-Maker Faire. Both of our teams made the trip, and the field was again large, with just a few less teams than Detroit’s race. The track was short and tight, which favored both of our teams. Sean was back to full speed on #13, and laid down the fastest qualifying lap. Even after multiple attempts by multiple teams to beat it, the time stood at 14.8 seconds. I3 took 3rd and 4th in the drag races, and then Cannonball cleaned up on #3, taking bronze in the 15-lap heats and gold in the endurance race, earning I3 2nd overall for the series!

Thanks to Jim Burke, Patrick Callahan, and the whole crew at PS:1 for putting on the races. And Thank You to Tom G. from Milwaukee Makerspace for loaning us an awesome controller for #13.