Making of an Electronics Lab at Pumping Station One: Day2

Submitted by ayu on Thu, 08/16/2012 - 12:24


DAY 2 of making an electronics lab at PS1

We had to build out counters for the electronics lab. The counters would allow for work area  and also storage for materials and equipment that are used most often.

We used wood that were pretty much salvaged from the old loft in the old space. We had to to dig out 4x4s to use as legs for the counter and 2x2s for the shelves supports.


Coming up with a design. We had countertops from the old space that we use to build the counters. We had to decide on the perfect standing height for our new counters.

Jordan using the new circular saw that was donated by fellow PS1 member Dan Meyer to cut the legs.

Moving the built out counter up the stairs.

We learned a alot in building the first counter. We will assemble the next ones upstairs.

Moving the first counter in place.

Hurray! First built out counter with storage bins in place. The shopping baskets were generously bequeath to us by our landlord. We quickly found uses for them.



Making of an Electronics Lab at Pumping Station One: Day1

Submitted by ayu on Thu, 08/16/2012 - 11:55


DAY 1 of making an electronics lab at PS1

Pumping Station One finished the move to our new space on June 18 this year. Now that we have over 6000 square feet of space we had to begin the build out. Since I have plenty of experience in building out electronics / mechatronics labs, I volunteered to help PS1 build the new electronics lab. I helped Jordan Bunker the electronics area host in designing a new space where workflow and organization was a priority. When building out a public lab, one need to take in to account different peoples' working styles. The lab must to be clearly organized so anyone can come to use it without struggling to find things. A functional electronics lab have hundreds of components and materials that are required to sustain such a facility. Here are some documentation  of day one of our progress.

Jordan Bunker (Electronics area host) and I looking for materials to build out the new lab.

Since this wall was by the washroom we considered this area as dead space. We decided to put shelving for storage of equipment and materials that are not accessed as often.

The shelvings that we had put up right after the move were cleared off and repositioned on the other side of the room.

Jordan Bunker satisfied with the first day of work.

Now the main wall is prepped for the new counters that we will have to fabricate.


NERP at Evanston Mini Maker Faire

Submitted by Ed_B on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 16:43

My next posting on the RPi will describe the technical issues in making the serial comms work. Finding my way through the initial setup process and some of the RPi's quirks was seriously helped by a couple of people at NERP.

At the Evanston Mini Maker Faire, I got to advertise for NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi embedded systems interest group at PS1) by hooking up my old Televideo 910 dumb terminal to a Pi and running a login shell on it. The terminal has physical visibility (you can see it from across a room) that the RPi does not.

raspberry pi on a dumb terminal

We are logged in as root and have read our "fortune".

The dumb terminal has no processing ability of its own. I was surprised at how much attention it got. The RPi doesn't have an exactly imposing presence, so the terminal got people to come by and see the Pi.

Rasberry Pi connections

 Getting the terminal up and running was a bit of a task, but it was fun and definately worth it.


Drew explaing what the RPi is

 Drew Fustini explanins what the Rasberry Pi is.


Raspberry Pi and dumb terminal are photogenic

 Several people took pictures of the setup.


Raspberry Pi demo

Video on one terminal, text on the other.


 Jay stopping by

Jay stopped by. He was showing people his Raspberry Pi in an enclosure made from a cassette box.



The fellow on the left is a world geography teacher. I think he knew more about the RPi than I did. He really wants to see it used at his school, but that's obviously not his department. He was so enthusiastic about the RPi that I took  a break and let him do the demos.  


attentive faire-goers

There's something about the RPi that holds non-techies' attention for longer than you would think.


I was surprised by the number of kids who glommed on to the terminal, and by the number of people who stopped to reminisce about having seen or used one years ago.


 Clearly not of this era - does it bite?

"Its a command line -- shouldn't we be scared?"


the command line

"Scared schmared. Terminal sessions are fun!"


help with scratch

She spotted the Scratch icon on the desktop from about 15 feet away. She was happy to see something familiar amongst all the wires.


scratch on the RPi

"Got root?" Apparently, yes.





Flourish 2012, Arduino 101, PS1

Submitted by Ed_B on Tue, 04/03/2012 - 03:49

The Flourish 2012 Conference was mentioned in this earlier post. About 40 people took part in the workshop, sponsored by Flourish 2012 and presented by Pumping Station: One. I was the instructor.

We used the Flex kit from Sparkfun. It has several types of resistive sensors, a breadboard, hookup leads, and an Arduino Uno. Although the workshop was free, seating was limited so we used Eventbrite for ticketing. Since some people already owned Arduinos, and others wanted to try it before buying it, we had two types of tickets. You could bring your own Arduino (preferably a Flex kit), or use one of ours and return it afterward.


Avner counting pins collaborative electronics Eric looking for trouble
Tim Saylor introduces Pumpng Station:One Ed Bennett shows the Flex breadboard It's almost working!

Working with circuits and breadboads isn't hard, but you have to train your eye to see the physical sense of the thing. For a beginner it's very easy to make mistakes. If it weren't for the volunteers from PS1 who patrolled the room watching for people needing help, the workshop would not have been possible.  Patrick, Anna, Avner, Steve, and Eric stayed very busy for the whole two hours.

 Images by Anna Yu

Flourish 2012 Arduino 101

Submitted by Ed_B on Sat, 03/31/2012 - 11:47

Flourish 2012 logo


Flourish 2012


Arduino 101: A hands-on workshop presented at Flourish 2012 by Pumping Station: One ( at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Room 430 Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted, 1:00pm


Instructor: Ed Bennett


The purpose of the Flourish Conference is to promote the use and adoption of Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) by demonstrating the practical applications of FLOSS in the business and academic world.



What's a microcontroller (MCU)?

embedded controller
hardware i/o interface

program memory (flash)


built-in peripherals

Arduino UNO's MCU: Atmel Atmega328p

8-bits (avr-gcc uses 16-bit int's)

20 MHz (16 MHz in Arduino)

32K of flash

2K of RAM

1K of eeprom


What's Arduino? (a registered trademark, open source software/hardware, a defacto standard, a community, avr-gcc, libraries, bootloader)


Arduino board image from Sparkfun

image is CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 (


Installing the Arduino environment

A brief word on the Arduino environment 0.xx to 1.xx transition (new reference design)

changes in the IDE

change in the USB interface

changes in libraries

Various components on the Arduino board

What does a minimal Arduino consist of


Arduino UNO schematic diagram

Tour of the board connectors
       5.0 volts
       3.3 volts
       analog in
       analog out
       digital in/out

serial ports




Launching and running

tour of the IDE

pick your board (Uno)
find your serial port (ttyUSB0 or ttyACM0 or comX)
find/set your sketches folder
how projects/files are named

external editor
save-as from the examples folder
code beautifier

Location of the examples and reference

Why is blinking an LED important?

toolchain test

universal on-off output method

“hello world” of microcontrollers

Basic structure of the language; Simplifed mix of C and C++

Buy it or build it? “Hardware is hard”. What is a shield?


Sources of stuff to hook up to the board




Always get libraries/examples before buying hardware

Contents of the Sparkfun “Flex” kit


How to use a breadboard

run an LED


Logic levels on input or output pins

1, TRUE, high, +5 volts, ON

0, FALSE, low, ground (0 volts), OFF

Running basic built-in examples with i/o
       digital output
       digital input
               fake pushbutton (pullup w/ a  with wires)
       analog input
               voltage divider / pot (a ratio w/ one unknown value)
               voltage divider / photocells
       analog output (PWM)
               Regular LED
               RGB LED
       data (intelligent) i/o
               serial monitor


Some possible future directions of the Arduino hardware development




Making Arduino-compatibles at PS1

Submitted by Ed_B on Tue, 02/21/2012 - 20:06


On Sunday Feb. 19th, I gave a workshop at Pumping Station:One. The subject was Intro to Arduino. We made a minimal Arduino-compatible on a protoboard. I like dong it this way because you're actually building the circuit and not just soldering parts in holes.


Making Arduino-compatible boards at Pumping Station<br />
            One Making Arduino-compatible boards at Pumping Station<br />


The usb to serial adapter in the photo is from FTDI, but we used one from Adafruit that comes as a bare board.


  very minimal Arduino-compatible  

 The success rate was very good and we look forward to having more Arduino based classes. The next one should be March 4th.


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