The Hunt Is On

Following our Annual General Meeting and all the associated bureaucracy the hunt is on to find a new space.

We’ve been grateful for the space at the former Randles Garage in Newcastle-under-Lyme, but as we expected, due to redevelopment of the site, that option is now coming to an end.

We’re currently in talks with local authorities and large businesses in the area to explore more options.

We’ve got a few ideas of options being thrown around, including a space at a large business or space for a portacabin or container.

We will continue to meet on Tuesdays, working on our projects (such as the 3D printer), hacking apart unwanted donated hardware for recycling and general hackspace hackery.

More updates to follow…

First Annual General Meeting

Hi all,

It’s decided.

Tuesday 8th April 2014 will be our first Annual General Meeting (AGM).

It will be held opposite our normal meeting place at the Waggon and Horses pub from 7PM.

The Management Committee will need to be present. There needs to be at least 6 members to turn up to the meeting for the meeting to go ahead.

If you wish to have a say in the future of the group, it is important for you to attend this meeting.

See you there!

Happy 2014

Happy new year everyone!

This time of year usually gives you opportunity to look back on the last year and reflect, as look at where we are right now, as well as the future. So, I decided to do just that for Potteries Hackspace.

I trust you’ve all had plenty of turkey and enough drink to sink a small ship, but now all the kids are back to school it’s all back to normal.

The Potteries Hackspace group has been meeting almost every week throughout 2013 with the exception of the festive period, of course.

But we’re back! We’ll be open as normal on Tuesday 7th January (Tomorrow) at 7PM.

This year is set to be an interesting one for Potteries Hackspace. We’ve already got a few things lined up to get us going after the festive break.

Due to the success of the last Raspberry Jam at Newcastle College, there will be another on January 30th.

Also for 2014, we’ve got a challenge set.

Si said:

Hello Folks,
As you may remember, a little while ago I suggested we hold a line-following robot challenge at the end of December. Not sure if anyone has thought anymore about this so I thought I’d send out a post.

If you’re unaware what a line-follower is, its basically a small robot, normally 3 wheeled, that has light sensors underneath to detect a line on the floor, and follows it.  Normally you’d have a row of sensors, so it can detect whether it has strayed off the line.

A good and simple example is this: http://playwithrobots.com/make-it-form-scratch/simple-line-follower-robot

Here is an example of some rules: http://robogames.net/rules/line-following.php

This should be a interesting and simple way for people to build a robot, and if a few of us do it, any problems should be overcome easily.

I’ve designed some motor driver PCBs if anyone wants one, they will drive 2 motors independently of each other in both directions from any 5V board, e.g. Arduino, and could be interfaced to a Pi with a bit of jiggery pokery. They are 5cm x 5cm and I’ve got about 5 spare, PCB and components run to about £10.  Its mostly surface mount so should be a fun soldering challenge, or I can assemble them if its too daunting.

I’ll attach the schematic to this post, after the comp, they can be used to drive motors for other stuff, or a single stepper motor instead….

So who’s up for the challenge? The Gauntlet has been thrown…

Cheers

Si

You can read more about that on the Potteries Hackspace Google Group. We’re estimating a deadline for March. More information will follow once the details have been nailed down.

But that’s not all, some of our members have been busy working away on their own projects over the break which I’m sure they’ll be dying to show off.

What have you been working on?

Raspberry Pi Competition – The Results

Last night at Potteries Hackspace was the Raspberry Pi Competition.

The judges were:

  • Carl Plant (bITjAM)
  • Richard Smedley (Founder & Programme Manager at Cuprium c.i.c.)
  • Paul Simmons (Curriculum Leader for Level 1 and 2 Vocational Computing at Newcastle-under-Lyme College)

The scoring system was (similar to Robot Wars):

  • INNOVATION. (Weight of 4) 1-5 points x 4 = Score for Innovation.
  • FUN. (Weight of 2) 1-5 points x 2 = Score for Fun.
  • PRACTICALITY. (Weight of 2) 1-5 points x 2 = Score for Practicality.
  • STYLE. (Weight of 1) 1-5 points x 1 = Score for Style.

The deadline was:

  • Tuesday 29th October
  • 9PM

All entries will be displayed and demonstrated at the Newcastle-under-Lyme Raspberry Jam event on November 7th. (PS. If you’ve not already signed up, sign up now).

We all had Pizza and soft drinks.

Thanks for everyone who attended and made it a fantastic evening!

The Projects

In 4th place, we had Dave’s greenhouse system. Dave wasn’t able to attend and we struggled to get it working initially.

The idea was to automate a greenhouse, turning on or off various switches for water, light, opening vents and such depending on the input of temperature and water saturation sensors.

Unfortunately the screen wouldn’t turn on and we struggled to get the relay to switch on or off until after the demo.

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In third place was the “MusicBox”. A system that booted up to load the Music Player Daemon (MPD), stream the playlist over Icecast and download new tracks released under the Creative Commons License, for commercial use from ccmixter using a scraper written in Python. The MPD allows you to remotely control it from your mobile phone or PC too.

The idea of the project is to circumvent license fees charged by companies such as PRS or PPL, which could potentially save a business thousands of pounds each year.

Given more time the project would have a voting system allowing you to easily drop the tracks you don’t like and replay the tracks you do more often. Giving you more control over what is played.

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In second place, John had decommissioned his ferret web server to replace it with something a little more entertaining.

A Raspberry Pi based Arcade machine, running MAME and a Wii arcade controller with a USB converter.

It was hooked up over HDMI to a neat little display he’d managed to acquire for next to nothing which displayed the games beautifully.

All in all, it was lots of fun and probably because it was overclocked slightly more than is recommended, it ran the games very smoothly.

Impressive.

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In first place was “The Beast”.

As it’s almost Halloween, this was definitely the most seasonal of the projects.

It comprises of a coffin, a former robot project, a Raspberry Pi and a speaker.

Once booted, you can SSH into the Raspberry Pi to control direction using the “old skool” W,A,S,D configuration and for the piece de la resistance, certain digits will play our various Halloween related sounds or tracks.

For effort alone, this thing wins hands down, but the fun factor really gave it the edge.

Well done guys!

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Thanks again!

Thanks again to everyone that came down, especially the judges who took the time out of their business schedules and called in favours to make it down to our first ever competition.

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Before the evening was over, we even managed to get Dave’s relay system up and running.

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Next time: Robots

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Oh and don’t forget we’ll be displaying and demonstrating all of these projects at the Newcastle-under-Lyme Raspberry Jam event on November 7th, so get signed up!

Raspberry Jam Competition

Raspberry Pi Users

Are you ready?

Just a quick update to let you know that the competition is less than 2
weeks away (29th October).

The judges and prizes are now secured so now it’s just down to you.

We’ll be opening up this Saturday (19th) from around 10am until about
1pm which should give some extra time to make headway.

However, don’t worry, your project doesn’t need to be complete, it just
needs to be able to demonstrate how a Raspberry Pi can be used.

The winner will be decided on a points based system by independent
adjudicators.

The best projects will be demonstrated at the NULC Raspberry Jam on the
7th November.

Good luck!