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Dec 142008

Bill (KD4ISF), Diana (KC2UHB), and I (W2VV) spent a couple of hours at the shop this afternoon building a dual-band Yagi antenna for working ham satellites. Yes, believe it or not, there are multiple satellites orbiting the earth right now that are dedicated to amateur radio. All you need is a license, an inexpensive portable radio, and a weird looking antenna to use them. As of 3:00 pm today, we only had two out of the three, but by 7:00 we were on the roof listening to two different “birds”, SO-50 and AO-51.

We’re just getting our feet wet with this, so stay tuned for future updates as we improve our equipment and skills. In the meantime, why not get your license so you can join in on the fun? All you have to do is read this book (or visit one of the free online study guides) and then take a test given by your local club.

LED Umbrella

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Oct 262008

Ever wanted to grow grass in your cubicle? I did. But the grass kept dying. So I made a custom grow light out of LEDs, and now I have the nicest lawn on my block. Build photos, schematic, sourcecode, etc. are on the project page.

LED Cylinder

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Jul 262008

Last night as we were preparing for the party, Eric broke out his camera and took this cool video of my LED Cylinder project. Thanks Eric!

More details on the project, including schematics and sourcecode, are available at

If you want to learn how to make projects like this, check out our classes! We have several electronics and LED classes coming up, including Introduction to LEDs next weekend and Building LED Displays the weekend after that. Also you should come to our Party / Art of the Game Gallery Show tonight (Saturday, July 26, 2008) to see this project and a bunch of other cool things on display.

Jun 092008

Dave's awesome LED cylinder

It’s that time of the month again: NYCR’s public Microcontroller Study Group is meeting this Wednesday from 7-9pm. If you missed the last meeting, we had a number of interesting guests and projects, including Devon Jones who brought his Tinct, and Chris Fenton who brought his microcontroller laptop. The MSG meetings are free and open to the public (a small donation is appreciated, to help pay the rent), so if you’re in the New York City area and you have an interest in microcontrollers or electronics or blinky things, why not stop by? And if you have a project that you want to show off or get help with, bring it along. We love meeting new people and seeing what everyone is working on.

Jan 132008


This is a Macintosh 512k which I upgraded to run OS X by replacing the innards with a modern Mac Mini and various supporting components, including a grayscale CRT monitor, an LS-120 floppy disk drive, and a microcontroller-based USB device that interfaces the Mini to the original keyboard and mouse. Why? Mainly because I wanted to experiment with creating a custom USB device. Also I guess I wanted to waste hundreds of dollars and countless hours building a semi-useless computer with a 9 inch black and white screen and no arrow keys.

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Jan 072008


Pat and I checked out another space today. It’s in a loft building in the Northeast corner of DUMBO, near (actually, surrounded by) the big power transfer station. The F train is a few blocks away and the A/C a walkable distance. The rent is $2300/month with a 1 or 2 year lease. The owner listed the size as 1100sf, so it’s probably more like 1000 in real life. The space is divided into 3 windowed rooms (2 are about 9×15, the third is about 12×10) plus a center hall/room (10×10) where we could have lockers or rolling storage units. The views are pretty good. There is a large private bathroom and a second small sink. The layout is not ideal for having big classes but could be good if several people wanted to work independently and had different music tastes, for example.

Overall I’d say that this is a nice space, but probably not the best for our needs. Option #1 has similar space, a more flexible layout, and much better train access. Gowanus has similar train access but more space and other benefits for less money.

More photos after the jump…

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Jan 062008


I looked at an L-shaped loft today on the 5th floor of a commercial building on Bridge St. between Willoughby and Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn. The rent is $2200/month with a 1 year lease and no fee. It is 900 sf (my measurements) with high ceilings and good light. The location is extremely convenient to trains and also happens to be close to a good hardware store, a Radio Shack, and Polytechnic University. The surrounding buildings are mostly commercial and low-rent retail, although this is a gentrifying area and some luxury condos are being built up the street. Rent includes heat 9-5 M-F but nothing else. There is a small bathroom down the hall which is shared with 2 other tenants, but there’s no shower or kitchenette. Since this is the first space we’ve really seen, I can’t say how it stacks up in terms of value, but it certainly seems like a viable option based on our criteria. More photos after the jump…

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