AGM/QGM, Vancouver Hack Space Society: Sunday, Aug 17 2014

Time again for our Annual General Meeting (AGM)! As with last year, we’re splitting off a separate Quarterly General Meeting (QGM) so that anyone who is very time-limited will hopefully be able to attend the entire AGM.

Who: All members of the Vancouver Hack Space Society

Where: VHS, 270 1st Ave E, Vancouver

When: 11 AM, Sunday August 17, 2014.


AGM: (Short and sweet!)

  • Electing a Secretary, and Chair to host the meeting.

  • Adoption of rules of order – Explanation of how the meeting will be operated.

  • Approval of previous AGM’s minutes

  • Report of the directors/members of the previous year.  (NO NEW BUSINESS)

    • Treasurer – John C

    • Membership – Bruce F

  • Election of directors

QGM to follow immediately afterwards

  • Electing a Secretary, and Chair to host the meeting.

  • Adoption of rules of order – Explanation of how the meeting will be operated.

  • Approval of previous QGM’s minutes

  • Old business (from our last QGM)

    • Lease extension on 270 1st Ave E

  • New business

    • Proposal (Jon G): nominal Laser Cutter Usage Fee.

    • Proposal (John C): obtain a quote from a licensed electrician for installation of either a 120V 20A circuit or a 240V 15A outlet dedicated for the lathe, and if under $400 to proceed with the work.

    • Proposal (John C): VHS to formally recognize VHS-ARC as a committee within VHS with the role of engaging VHS members in Amateur Radio.

    • Proposal (Garth): Limits on personal laser material storage

      • All personal materials need to be labeled with name and date. If *both* items are not provided or 6 months has passed then the material is fair game for everyone else.

    • Proposal (Jon G, if no-one else will sponsor): Increase Membership Rates

      • If VHS membership income does not increase net membership income by $750 a month by August 2015 (a net increase of 30 (new members / members stepping up to keyholder status), VHS membership rates will increase to: Standard membership: $30 (a $5 increase), and keyholder membership to $60 a month. No changes is implied to the policies of supporting members with financial hardship at the directors discretion. Contributions less than $30 are considered friends of the space, as contributions of less than $25 are now.

DevboardAholics Anonymous Night

a selection of devboards

The first step is admitting you have a devboard.

It’s that time again. Time to admit that you have no power over devboards.  Time to dig them out of your sock drawer, your closet, your hollowed-out books.  Time to collect them all together and bring them down to VHS.  And if you’re lucky, time to say, “whew, at least my stash isn’t as bad as that other hacker’s pile!”

  • When: 7:30PM, Monday Aug 11, 2014
  • Where: VHS (270 East 1st )
  • Who: You’ve read this far, you must be interested!
  • Why: Because breakout headers = unbounded potential
  • Cost: There’s more boards in the vending machine, if you bring the quarters…

GROW Hackathon in Whistler!

* This event is not hosted by VHS, Some VHS members are attending * 

Come Hack in Whistler! The GROW Hackathon presented by Wavefront will be 2 days of Internet of Things innovation and networking at North America’s top resort.

The Goal

Make Whistler the smartest, most connected resort destination in the world. The work you do over the two-day hackathon could end up implemented by the City of Whistler to make this resort a global showcase for IoT innovation and cities of the future.


The city of Whistler is your sandbox for innovation. Over 2 days, designers, developers, project managers and engineers will collaborate with restaurateurs, civic administrators, hoteliers, shop keepers, and resort operations to make Whistler the most connected resort destination in the world.

Accolades & Recognition

Teams will have the opportunity to demo their prototypes to an audience of GROW Conference attendees, Silicon Valley investors, and tech super stars from both sides of the border. Prizes Stay tuned! Prizes will be posted soon.

Toolkit & APIs

You have the opportunity to work with tools from:

  • Recon Instruments
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Arrow
  • Kiip
  • IoT Design Shop
  • Telus

Get the full schedule and event details here and register now!

SMD August – Cooking SMD Stars

For SMD August we’re breaking out the toaster oven and controller to cook some SMD stars.  Participants are likely to end up with a working product but they’re more likely to end up more knowledgable about the electronics fabrication process.

Apparently real SMD hackers only use solder paste and toaster ovens so we’re here to prove them right.

Using a stencil you’ll be applying solder paste, a little better than I did I hope – am planing to add a template to make this easier.


Next you’ll be placing your components by hand.


Finally baking your project to perfection in the toaster oven.


There is only one stencil and one oven controller so I’m spreading the tickets out across the night.  Please make sure you can come at the allotted time or buy a ticket for another time. You’re welcome to come early and watch.

The end product is the smd star project from July’s beginners workshop but the focus is on the process.  The price reflects the need to buy the stencil and paste.

No special skills required except patience and reasonable hand co-ordination.

When: 28 August 2014, times vary
Where: VHS, 270 E 1st Ave, Vancouver
Cost: $8 plus Eventbrite Fee

Eventbrite - SMD August - SMD Star Paste and Oven Workshop (7pm)
Eventbrite - SMD August - SMD Star Paste and Oven Workshop (8pm)
Eventbrite - SMD August - SMD Star Paste and Oven Workshop (9pm)

MakeyMakey Bootloader programming over ICSP

I’ve been asked about how I programmed the bootloader so I’m putting the doco here. For all my AVR work I use a bus pirate v3 with the stk500 firmware. I have a cable I made that adapts the bus pirate to the 6 pin AVR ICSP connector.

For MakeyMakey I made an adapter cable to convert the 6 pin AVR ICSP connector to the MakeyMakey header. I prototyped the cable using individual 0.1″ socket to pin cables and then moved them to single 2×3/1×6 housings to make the cable permanent.

The MakeyMakey schematic decodes the header in two parts


A random ICSP image from google images.

The pin mapping is

orange  MISO   6x1-6   2x3-1
yellow  MOSI   6x1-5   2x3-4
green   VCC    6x1-4   2x3-2
blue    GND    6x1-3   2x3-6
purple  RESET  6x1-2   2x3-5
grey    SCK    6x1-1   2x3-3


Do you like candy? I like candy.

Here’s a very brief overview of the thought process for building something to amuse and frighten your neighbours.

I originally wrote this up on May 31st and posted it elsewhere, but I thought I’d give the VHS regulars time to explore it on their own before I ruined the surprise.

Some of the readers may recognise this big red button o’ fun:


When somebody holds it, it starts up an air raid siren that can get really loud. Unfortunately, it spins up very slowly, so people let off as soon as they figure out what the button does. That results in one tiny little blip of the siren, barely enough to bother anyone. That’s no good at all!


So for this build, I didn’t want to spend very long at it, and attempted to do everything very roughly and as quickly as possible. I found all of the appropriate components kicking around, and designed around those.

Here’s what I came up with:



I found a transformer with outputs that measure at about 12VAC. 10:1 winding ratio, I guess. After rectification and smoothing, it’s a little over 18VDC. On the right side, I used an ALA2F12, a 12V relay. The transistor is a 2N3604, just a very generic NPN BJT because this application doesn’t require anything special.

The original button was just the AC line voltage to the fuse, then through the switch to the load. Very simple.


Okay. Starting from the left:

  • Transformer outputs at 12 volts or so,
  • through the half-wave rectifier diode (1N4007 I think) – results in 12 * root 2, about 18V,
  • big filtering capacitor (200v, 820uF),
  • 1MΩ bleeder resistor so the system doesn’t hold charge indefinitely,
  • original switch (connected to the big red button),
  • 100Ω resistor(to prevent sparks)
  • into timing cap (160v, 220uF) – charges to full very quickly,
  • another bleeder resistor,
  • Rb controlling current going into the transistor’s base (more on this later),
  • BJT  base.
  • At the top: resistor controlling going into the relay coil,
  • relay coil,
  • BJT collector going to ground.


Because I’m abusing a 12V relay by driving it with 18V, I had to compensate for that a little. According to the data sheet, the coil is nominally 272Ω, taking 43mA of current. Ignoring the transistor’s collector-emitter voltage (probably ~0.2V): 18v / 43mA – 272Ω = 146Ω. So I tossed a 150Ω resistor in series with the coil, and it seems to work.


For the base of the transistor, this resistor (along with the capacitor) is what controls the active time of the system. It also controls the maximum current that can conduct through the collector-emitter junction of the 3604. Typically the gain of those are in the 70-100 range, so current going into the base should be Ib = 43mA/100 = 0.43mA. Base-emitter junction is around 0.7v, so the base resistor can be figured out by 18v – 0.7v / Ib when the base cap is fully charged. Overdrive Ib to 1mA to ensure max-on, so I used 18kΩ.

I tested everything to check timing issues, overheating, etc., and it works well. The relay gets latched for about 7 seconds, which is perfect. If I cared about being more precise with that, or wanted to change the timing values, it’s pretty simple to treat that portion as an RC circuit and tweak the resistor or capacitor values.

So I built it.

Perfect! Start to finish, including laser cutting, about seven hours. Not counting the abortive first attempt last week.

So before, when newcomers pressed the button, there was only a very short blip of the air raid siren. Now, the thing latched for a good seven seconds. And it gets very loud in that time.


The real purpose of this hack (and doing a write-up) is to encourage more members to go out and hack something! I haven’t seen anything really cool in a while.




SMD July – Build MakeyMakey on July 24th at VHS

2014-07-01-12-35-49a small

When Kickstarter came to VHS to talk about launching campaigns they showed MaKeyMaKey as an example. They chose well. This has to be close to the most fun you can find in a circuit. You can find out lots about it online, it is even more fun than it looks!

MaKeyMaKey is open hardware, all the information we need to build the project is available online and we’re building them at VHS this month. “The code is beerware; if you see me (or any other SparkFun employee) at the local, and you’ve found our code helpful, please buy us a round!”.

The real MaKeyMaKey is a quality product finished in a nice box with clip leads etc.  You’re getting a bag of parts here and a cheap chinese pcb.  It works, it looks a bit substandard compared to the real thing, but it works well and you built it!

The parts on this board are mostly 0603 so the soldering is reasonably difficult.  The pins on the IC are 0.8mm apart, this is the same as the cpu on the internet of things board and not that hard (the very fine pitch stuff is usually 0.5mm or even 0.4mm spacing).  Please consider a beginners class before this one if this is your first time.  If you’ve made any of the other projects in our workshops you’ll be fine.  Please plan on coming for 2 weeks or doing some homework, there are a lot of parts on this board.

The socket connectors like the ones on the real MakeyMakey are quite expensive so I’ve added them as an additional option – you can see one in the photo below, there is just 1 at the bottom.  If you don’t choose them you’ll get pins like the 3 shown in the photo below to keep the cost down.  Both work fine, there is more risk of a short to something metal with the pins.

There are only 11 tickets for sale at the moment.  I’ll rerun next month with another 10 tickets – there seems to be a shortage on the cpus at the moment.  If there is more demand than that, I’ll do another pcb run (takes 4 weeks).

2014-07-01-12-35-27 small

If you want clip leads, I suggest these on ebay for $2.30 inc. shipping, they fit the holes in MaKeyMaKey nicely.

Refunds are possible, please contact me – you may need to find someone else to do the project or do it another time.

What: SMD soldering workshop
Where:VHS 270 E 1st Ave
When:July 24th at 7pm
Cost:$18.50 plus eventbrite fees

LED Wall of awesome nearly funded!

by Dan Royer

Several weeks ago our wonderful wall of LEDs returned to it’s Burning Man owners. It was 10×42 pixels and loved by all.

To replace it I’m running my third VHS funding drive. (The first was an 3D printer filament group buy, the second was the group quadcopter buy with Jon G.)

Every $30 will pay for one 8×8 panel of LEDs and a power supply. Just like the old wall it will be totally programmable through the Raspberry Pi. When the parts arrive I will host a group build party for all donors at VHS. Come decorate and assemble your panel in an afternoon of fun. Rainbows everywhere!

See two new panels

I’m also accepting $60 order of one-for-vhs-and-one-for-you. Take what you learn home and apply it to your next project. Burning Man? BITF? Bike Rave? Work less party? Halloween? So many good reasons! Please make clear this is what you want or I will assume you are donating two panels.

Minimum Goal

The minimum goal is to get 6×2 panels ($360) for a new wall that’s 48×16 LEDs.
Achieved 2014-07-08

Stretch Goals

If we get more donors than needed we’ll put the pixels closer together for a more detailed picture.
6×3 panels ($540)
12×2 panels ($720)
12×3 panels ($1080)
12×4 panels ($1440)

Donate Before…

This funding drive will end 2014-07-21.

Send your donation via Paypal to dan at marginallyclever dot com, or cash/credit card in person at VHS on Tuesdays from 20:00 to 22:00.

MakerLabs Grand Opening

MakerLabsOur good friends at MakerLabs are having their Grand Opening party (in collaboration with Aurora Digitalis) this Friday to introduce the world to their brand new makerspace, and the VHS horde is invited!

“After 9pm on Friday the 4th, we’ll be turning on many projectors, a whole bunch of sound and transforming the MakerLabs into a futuristic experience. There will be interactive installations, a wearable augmented-reality maze, blinky things and so much more.”

Sounds like an experience you don’t want to miss.  If you agree, you’ll want to RSVP as space is limited!

Arduino Open Night – July 10th @ 7PM



On Thursday 10th we’re having a Arduino Open night at VHS, 7pm ish.  Bring your Arduino(s) down and talk to fellow hackers about the projects you’re making with them.  Struggling with a sketch, bring it down and lets see what we can do for you.  Don’t have an Arduino?  No problem, Lees Electronics or Dan Royer’s vending machine can help you.  Prefer bare metal, no problem, lets talk AVR shall we?

What: Arduino Open Night
Where: VHS Bunker, 270 E 1st Ave, Vancouver
When: Thursday 10th July at 7pm or so
Cost: Free

PS: Did you know there are Arduino available in the VHS vending machine?