Puzzle Break

Here we are having dinner at the Cha Cha Lounge before heading over to Puzzle Break and the 20K Under the Sea escape room. I am working on stuff for the new room coming early January.

I made an X-mass scarf today…

With family coming in for Thanksgiving from all over, I wanted to make a holiday scarf that really slapped people in the face with a big sack of JOY! Something not so annoyingly gaudy that I would not go out in public with it, but at the same time visually irresistible. So the Ultimate Holiday Scarf is born. This scarf is designed to look like a Christmas tree with all the trimmings. Aside from the glittery tinsel, I added some NeoPixel LEDs from Adafruit to really brighten the mood. Upon startup, the scarf will play a holiday tune to get you going while putting on a colorful LED light show. People love the scarf, then drop their jaws when it is turned on.

The Cloud connected Weather Cloud

What better way to visualize cloud data than with an actual cloud. This project sets out to create a device that will visualize information using light and sound surrounded by a white fluffy cloud.


The Weather Cloud connects to and pulls the current forecast for your location. Weather conditions are pre-programmed into the cloud that will put on a light and sound performance for each weather condition that comes up. You can use IFTTT to set up the connection to as well as a schedule for the cloud to follow so that it is already showing you what to expect for your commute.

Aside from the default weather stuff, you can manually trigger any of the weather performances you want. It may be raining outside, but the sun is shining and the birds are chirping inside. Fall asleep to the soothing sounds of a rumbling thunderstorm.

Other notifications can also be added to the cloud. Use IFTTT to set up the cloud to blink red when you have new email or change from Blue to Green when the Seahawks game is on.

Now for the techy stuff, this device is powered by the Adafruit HUZZAH ESP8266 Wi-Fi board along with the SoundFX board and some NeoPixels. and IFTTT provide the interaction between the user and device.

Limitations to overcome
All of the functions of the cloud works as described, however it dose take a moderate understanding of how to program the chip as well as update the API to get this all set up. This makes the initial setup not so user friendly… This needs to become more streamlined.

Connecting to the internet
Currently the Wi-Fi SSID and Password are set into the Arduino sketch that is flashed to the ESP8266 along with the credentials. We need too get things set up so that this can all be setup and changed by connecting directly to the ESP8266 as a host. The ability to store multiple SSIDs would be cool while we are at it.

Now it’s time for data
The internet of things is not very good at doing things without an API to communicate with. Setting up accounts, managing feeds and public keys are not things that everyone considers as cool.

These are all issues that are easy to solve, but take time. Perhaps the first iteration of this kit will require a bit of technical knowledge, but will be easily fixed with a software patch. I am hoping that this will be a good gateway drug for IOT.

Just in case you are really interested, I recorded the entire prototyping process for this device. You can see all 4 hours of the process in the following videos:

Sorry that the audio is not super good. I am working on it :)

My Robot Blimp

The robot blimp is a project that I am currently working on as part of a weekly visit by a Seattle high school.

wpid-wp-1446780194153.jpgThe group wanted to come up with some ideas that could help firefighters while they fight forest fires. While many of the ideas were good, they all had one thing in common. They needed something high over the fire to help relay radio transmission, get a better image of what is going on with the fire, and to provide real time data to the ground crew. We thought that a robot blimp could do all of that rather well and set out to see if it was possible.

wpid-wp-1446780172633.jpgThe video is of version 1 of the blimp. I tried placing the horizontal thrusters on the sides of the balloon. Version 2 moved the horizontal thrusters to the gondola to ensure that they were evenly spaced. That worked much better. For now it flies with no sensor feedback, we just wanted to see if it could fly according to it’s program. Next we will start adding sensors and trying to reduce as much weight as possible.

The balloon is a 32″ helium filled latex monster and that is just enough to lift all of the hardware that is needed, plus a few extra Grams. We will likely add an gyroscope/accelerometer and Sonar sensor to help with some basic nav.wpid-wp-1446780204950.jpg

The Adafruit ProTrinket connects to a dual H-bridge that control the horizontal thrusters. One more motor will be added for vertical control later.

The thrusters are basically just replacement motors from a mini quad copter that I found on Amazon. They were cheap and they already come on counter spinning sets.

3D Files:



Arduino Code:

Witnessed an attempted murder on the balcony today.

A few thoughts on Pinhead


The Hellraiser series provided us with plenty of nightmare fuel in its day. However, when I think back to the many epic monologues the Pinhead delivered, his message is one of hope and optimism.

image“We have such sights to show you.”
Pinhead just wants to share the unique sights that his alternate realm have to offer. I am sure this would be an unforgettable experience…

“Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell.”
While suffering is not ideal, it is a critical part of what defines us as individuals. I think that what Pinhead is really saying here is that while he understands that we all make mistakes that lead to suffering,  Kirsty is a strong and independent woman who can handle more suffering than most.

“Oh no tears please, its a waste of good suffering.”
The job of a Cenobite is likely not an easy one. Someone opens a dimensional portal to “Hell” and maybe then suddenly they want to close it once they have a look. Ever heard he professional, Pinhead defuses the situation by letting them know that it’s not so bad and it is really not worth crying over. As bad a you are, he has had worse.

So there you go, positive words of wisdom from a guy who has truly been to Hell and back.

First fire of the season

With all of this stormy weather, I decided it was time to light a fire.

Watch “The Real Threat to Our Jobs Was Never Offshoring — It’s Robotic Automation” on YouTube

This addresses a rather unexpected aspect of technology automation. Basically, making machines that can take over manual labour is very hard/expensive. However, we already have software that can preform intellectual tasks that are preformed by programmers, lawyers, and doctors. I am not saying that automation will take over those jobs, butt will drastically reduce the number of man hours it takes to debug software, preform discovery tasks, and cross-reference drug interactions. Hence reducing the demand for qualified professionals in those fields.

Playing with large robots.

Today we start getting trained on how to use the new large CNC mill that we will have access to at the makerspace. This thing can take a sheet of plywood and cut it into whatever parts and pieces you could ever need. It also has 12 tool heads that it will change automatically. That means I no longer have to switch bits halfway through a job. Fun times

Morning Biscuit Time

Made a few breakfast biscuits for the next few days. Maple sausage, eggs, yellow peppers, and cheese on a big ol biscuit