Bubbles, cars, and more cars!

Do you know what happens when you blow soap bubbles into a cooler full of liquid and gaseous nitrogen? Neither did we, so we found out. It turns out to be pretty cool.

Totally unrelated: This Saturday (9/29), there’ll be a repeat of the “roadside emergency skills for non-greasemonkeys” class, which we’ve run several times. Change a tire, jump a dead battery, that sort of stuff. Please register if you plan to attend.

Speaking of cars: Our Power Wheels car #3 is going to World Maker Faire in NYC! It happens this weekend, so if you happen to be on the east coast as you read this, come say hi!

BeagleBone hands-on workshop May 25th

What makes these tiny Linux computers great for hacker projects?  The BeagleBoard.org project launched in 2008 and started a revolution in low-cost ARM computers (see Linaro.org).  Beyond introducing the world to affordable low-power computers, the BeagleBoard has been the platform-of-choice for demonstrating open innovation on ARM—meaning—you can find real examples of people having tried to build something like what you have in mind, be it a remote drone quadcopter (100% compatible processor), open source handheld gaming system, object recognizing robotmobile phone, video wall, connected home automation building blocks or remote underwater exploration vehicles.

These computers are supported by most major Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo, Fedora, ArchLinux, etc.) and are capable of running Android, QNX, Windows Embedded and a number of other operating systems.  The latest computer, the BeagleBone, provides a bit of an Arduino-like platform in that it enables access to an extensive amount of low-level I/O, including 7 analog inputs and over 60 general-purpose I/O pins multiplexed with an LCD interface, 2 I2C serial ports, 5 UART serial ports, an SPI port, a CAN bus, an secondary MMC/SD port, 6 pulse-width modulators and much more.  At 720MHz and 256MB of RAM, with on-board Ethernet, microSD (for operating system storage), JTAG hardware debug, USB-to-serial and more, the BeagleBone is capable of running Python, Perl, Ruby, Java, JavaScript, GCC C++ compiler, autotools and a full GNOME desktop with word processors, spreadsheets, 3D games and web browsers.

I’m a co-founder of the project and I’ll be giving a hands-on workshop tonight at i3-Detroit, starting with the BeagleBone 101 presentation and diving into whatever topics attendees are looking to cover for their projects.  I’ll leave a couple of boards in the space for people that want to hack on them and will be putting together some larger workshops at the space if there is enough interest.  If you have a project you’d like to execute in the hackerspace using the BeagleBone, it’d be really great to work with you on it and help make i3-Detroit the home for advancement of low-power, high-performance embedded processing.

Upcoming events at i3 Detroit, including two more classes

Friday, April 6, 5pm-10pm-ish: Open Shop Friday, holiday weekend edition! With so many members off work for the day, there’ll be someone around the shop earlier than normal to open the doors and host guests. This is an ideal time to drop in and see the space, meet the members, and work on a project!

Saturday, April 7 8pm-2am: Twisted Toys and Mad Scientists, Victorian/Steampunk show at District VII. (off-site) Several i3 projects and members will be there.

Thursday, April 12, 7:30pm: Arduino Meetup, newbies welcome. Good platform to get started in microcontrollers.

Friday, April 13, 7pm: Open Shop Friday for those sad souls not in Cleveland at the midwest’s finest tech/art/everything conference.

Thursday April 19, 7pm-???: Tabletop Gaming. Does Dominion ring a bell? How about Settlers of Catan? Guests welcome.

Friday April 20, 7:30pm: Lockpicking for Beginners. Please register for your seat now!

Saturday April 21, 1pm-4pm: Roadside Skills For Non-Greasemonkeys. Registration required. Learn to patch a puncture, install a spare tire, jump-start a dead battery, and more.

Friday April 27 thru Sunday April 29: Penguicon (off-site). Geek-interest conference, expanding to larger digs in Dearborn this year. Several i3 Detroit members are presenting, teaching, and otherwise involved. There may not be an Open Shop this day because most of us will be at the con.

(Also, hello Detroit News visitors! What do you hack? What do you make? Let us know in comments!)

Open Shop Friday: Tool of the week: Vinyl Cutter

Looking for an excuse to visit the space? As if Open Shop Friday weren’t enough already, come this week (2/24) and get a quickie demo on how to use the vinyl cutter!

Of all the machines in the space, this is one of the easiest to learn, cheapest to run, and most addictive to use. Start with vector art, and within minutes, you’ll be sticking it on your friend’s car. With their permission, of course…

Like every Open Shop Friday, first-timer visitors are explicitly welcome. Just show up, 6pm or later, and figure out the doorbell. 😉