As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been involved in the Dallas Makerspace for quite some time before. Lately I’ve been getting more involved in volunteering for events and some governance with the electronics committee.
We recently had a big “Grand Opening” for our new-ish space. We had over 500 people out that day and it was so much fun! I attempted to do some Squishy Circuits but my dough wasn’t cooperating that day. I ended up leading over 10 tours and practically losing my voice. Fun pictures of the event are below.
Attempting to make Squishy Circuit dough
Liquid nitrogen ice cream
Room of pinball madness
The awesome (and huge!) new CNC router table
I got the pleasure of volunteering with First Lego League again this year. It’s such a neat program and it’s always so inspiring to see these young kids so excited about engineering, math and science. I know I’ve said it before, but I really wish this was around when I was young!
Over the holiday break, I was looking for some reading that was fun but still related to engineering and science. I got recommendations for two books: Ada’s Algorithm by James Essigner and Zero by Charles Seife.
Ada’s Algorithm is a look at Ada Lovelace’s contributions to the digital revolution. Her work with Charles Babbage is particularly impressive. The book also questions where we could have been had her ideas been taken more seriously. Overall, a fascinating read.
Zero examines the idea of the number zero. It seems crazy that a 215 page book can be written about 0, but it is fantastic. It goes into the history as well as the philosophy of basically nothing.
Both books were lovely and I recommend them to anyone looking for a good read.
I have been intrigued by software defined radio (SDR) for some time. The basic premise is that many of the components of a radio that were traditionally implemented in hardware, can now be done in software. This includes filters, mixers, amplifiers, modulators, etc.
RTL-SDR came about when someone discovered that with a little software, a cheap USB TV dongle can be used for wider SDR, and I had to see this in action. After a little research, I decided to buy a Terratec T-Stick Plus (sheesh, the price has risen dramatically) because of the chip used. This particular dongle has an Elonics E400o chipset, supposedly one of the better choices.
The software was a bit of a beast to set up (first I tried on OS X, big mistake) but I finally have something going. I haven’t fiddled with it much yet, but I can’t wait to try and put that RF school-learning to some proper use.