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Active Projects

  1. Mojave Projects
    • Flight Code Project - Doing interfacing from Mojave, CA to Makers Local 256 in Huntsville, AL to see what is possible for initiating and supporting a project going for Masten Space Systems' Project Prometheus. Maker project is to design, code and fly a program to do sensor readings in-flight on a rocket vehicle. Masten requires an education connection; involve high school and college students in design, code, fly process of code development.
  2. Publicity Projects
    • PR - Spreading the word on Makers Local 256.

Projects Warming Up

  1. Light Art & Technology
    • Backlit Print - A print of MrWorld's artwork on a piece of translucent plastic that has all the white areas backlit by single or tricolor LEDs either directly or by fiber optics. With tricolor LEDs and a microcontroller, the colors could be cycled for a dynamic effect. Future plans for this method would be to do pointillism with LEDs or fiber optics as a dynamic art form using color cycling. MrWorld has also expressed interest in having lights integrated into the planned Art Curtain.
      • Notes
        • Have found items on EBay under 'Fiber Optic Filament'.
        • The Fiber Optic Store
        • Monofilament plastic fishing line is a cheap alternative, but does not conduct light as well. Keep the lines short to make it viable.
        • Two kinds of fibers; end glow and side glow. The end glow only light at the end and the side glow light over the full length. The side glows need a strong source of illumination.
        • For pointillism and the backlighting, larger gauge optical fibers are better since they will be easier to work with and cover more area.
        • For outlining, side glow filaments will be perfect.
        • Sans fiber optics and with the prints on transparent material, if one side can be partially silvered, this could be done: Infinite LED Tunnel.
      • To Dos
        • Need to figure out how to print on transparent material - MrWorld's is teaching me how to do linoleum prints onto transparent material like acrylic.
          • 7/10 - Printed a linoleum stamp I made a while back on a sheet of clear acrylic plastic.
        • Play with fiber optic filaments to get to know them.
        • MrWorld recommends that I test out how well fiber optics/backlighting works before I try it big on the Art Curtain.
    • LED Mood Lights - A string of Tri-Color LEDs that shine in various colors. Controlled by an Arduino taking commands from IRC. Could be programmed to shine in one color, flash, fade in and out or cycle between colors.
      • brimstone said that if I can provide the LEDs and arduino, he can do the software.
      • Resources for LED calculations: LED Circuitry Tutorial & Current Limiting Resistor Calculator
      • To Dos
        • Need to figure out how to do PWM MOSFET control to lights <- Will need arduino and computer with arduino connection and programming
        • Need to look into switching power regulators and examine long wire impact on voltage drops for low voltages.
        • Need to find out LED power consumption and size proper power source. Play with a independently-variable I and V power source.
      • Alternatives
        • Instead of tri-color LEDs which require either low voltage or high regulating resistance (and therefore wasted power) for high voltages (since tri-color LEDs can't be put in series due to common cathode/anode), try using individual RGB LEDs in series. Will then only need low regulating resistances and therefore, more power is being used to make light. Furthermore, they can be arranged on a circuit board and their light projected into a long diffusing medium to create the color (e.g. LED circuits as caps to a long translucent tube, tube could be made of a clear tube that has been sanded rough or painted white).
        • As of 4/24/10, I have purchased a variety of blue, green and red LEDs to build a single light unit that I can use to test the projection and control scheme for the lights.
      • Extension of Project
        • Could be used as an attention-getter on the outside of the shop.
  2. Green Makers - Need to develop a project and the learn/find the necessary associated skills.
    • Ethanol Distiller - Don has expressed interest. Would like to start in late March to early April
    • Green Hack - Build a simple green project from, whereever or from members that can be done in a day. Do one every other week or once a month.

Project Incubation

  • 4x4x4 LED Cube - Like this or that of individually addressable LEDs. Follow-on to the LED Mood Light Project to use the left over LEDs.
  • ASL Translator - Webcam app that observes what is signed in ASL and is turned into text. Can be spoken using a text-to-speech app.
  • Backpack Glider & Scope - A lightweight telescope and an RC glider that can fit into a backpack-sized case.
  • Bicycle-Powered Computer - Like this, for those of us who need exercise. Or maybe even akin to these projects;
  • Computer VoIP videophone - As discussed with Brimstone, a dedicated computer in the shop could run a VoIP to function as a videophone.
    • Can be integrated into the Kiosk using Skype/VoIP Webphone software and a webcam.
  • Cluster Computer built from old computers around the shop. Could also be set to light up as they compute/wake-on-lan. On an even deeper level, individual parts of the computer could be rigged to light up as they function. Would make a great wall display. (See Single-System Image, Beowulf Cluster, ClusterKnoppix and DragonFly BSD.
  • Cold Cathode Light Art Piece
  • DIY Green Building Retrofit For ML256 Shop
  • Dynamic Lighting - Similar to Vanessa Harden's Dynamic Street Lamp Design, it would be an array of high-powered white LEDs that would turn on and off in response to peoples' proximity. Would use infra-red sensors. The more hot spots sensed, the brighter the light will be.
  • Expressionistic Robotic Sculpture - Build a robotic likeness of your personality.
  • Laser Show Lunchboxen
  • LED Display
  • LED Stagelights - Collaboration with Simon Hart to develop wirelessly controlled LED stagelights.
    • To Dos
      • How to turn LED mood lights to individually-addressable wireless-control stagelights?
  • ML256 Shop Webcam Face ID & Display - Have a simple face ID app that can identify and project a person's name over their head on the shop webcam display. That way, we can tell who we are looking at in the shop.
  • ML256 Telephone & Video Conference Table - Set up a table with full VoIP and Video over IP capability. Develop a lightweight web-based applet that can let someone outside join the conference online (minimum dialup).
  • ML256 Tour Bus - Buy an old bus and modify it into a shop on wheels with a places to eat, cook, sleep, bathe and live. We can take it to conventions and use it as a project display piece and a place to stay.
    • During a brainstorming session, we concluded it may be cheaper to have a non-motorized camping trailer. That way, insurance would be cheap, it would be easy to maintain and keep from being stolen and a member with a truck can pull it around. Also, it may be better to have it be a rolling make shop rather than a place to live. Depends on how much space we have.
  • Multi-Purpose Workbench/Workspace - Some kind of fold-out furniture and area that can be reconfigured quickly to meet different needs. Akin to this.
  • Networked Graffiti Wall
  • Radioactive Barrel Podium - Have a full multimedia presentation system in a steel drum on wheels. The system would include a computer with peripherals, speakers, a microphone, a paper stand and a projector. The barrel can be painted to look like a radioactive barrel. Akin to JimShoe's Radiation Computer.
  • Real Instrument Guitar Hero - Have a Guitar Hero-like program that instead of taking inputs from a controller, takes the direct sound input of a musical instrument (either by direct plugin or microphone) and determines a musician's performance against a score or soundtrack of music. Think like the vocals for Rock Band. Can start with Frets on Fire.
  • Remote-Controlled Robot Arm Over IP - A tabletop robot arm that can be controlled to manipulate objects over an IP connection.
  • RF Popcorn Popper - Pop popcorn using the power of RF!
  • Wearable Shop Camera & Phone - A way for video and audio communication in the shop between a person working on the floor and another person at a computer. Mount a minicam and an earbud headphone & microphone on a set of safety glasses or headphones. Feed the data to a belt or pocket-mounted wireless transmitter that will relay video and audio data to the shop server. The server then transmits the video and audio over the internet using VoIP and Video over IP to the other person at a computer. This way, someone at the shop can show another over the net what they are working on and they can discuss it in real time. Could also serve as a feed for the ML256 Video Blog project.
  • Whiteboard Meditation Box
  • Wifi Flying Drone - Have a solar-powered UAV with a WiFi hub and GPS programmed to hover at or orbit a specific point. A quick way to have internet access anywhere you want it.

Ideas/Projects To Pass On

  • IRC-Based Shop U-Stream Control - strages and CrashCart have a U-Stream that runs in the shop. Why not have a control on the IRC channel so that with a command, one can start the U-Steam broadcasting/recording when they see something interesting happening in the shop. Could be feed for the ML256 Video Blog project. Pass it on since the idea is more of a programmer's project.
  • Kiosk Project Photo and Video Album Screensaver - Setting up and putting together a screensaver on the Kiosk that displays an album of our project photos and videos. Pass it on to the guys who run the Makers Local 256 Ustream and YouTube since I am not very savvy with a camera nor knowledgeable on who has photos & videos and how to manage them.
  • 12/17/11 - As I am moving on to Mojave, CA, the following projects are up for grabs:
  • 12/18/11 - The following projects have been passed on:

Completed Projects

  • ISDC Conference 2011 - Short-term project to get the shop some publicity. Had fun, learned alot, met alot of great people passionate about spaceflight and introduced them to the hackerspace movement. Even met some people from hackerspaces around the US.
  • HSIS Project - Started 2/10, Completed 9/10. It was a really fun learning experience in low-cost near-space flight with weather balloons. I'm looking forward to see what other people do with what we've learned from the project.
  • Community Garden - Done over the planting, growing and harvest season of 2010. Learned alot about gardening.
  • MakerGarden 2011 - Done over 2011. Used the knowledge from the garden of 2010 to great effect.
  • Facilities Committee - Was part of the committee from Spring 2009 to Summer 2011.

Shop Ideas

  • Regular Company/Tech Presentations - Once a month, have someone from a local company come and talk about their company and present something techy. This would be a great opportunity for people to learn about local job/networking opportunities and see what technology is being worked on in Huntsville.

Community Outreach Ideas

Volunteer our resources towards projects in:

  • Architechture for Humanity - A non-profit organization for providing design solutions where they are most critically needed.
  • Habitat For Humanity - Madison County - Perhaps we can volunteer to help build their electronic/computer systems, etc.
  • Youth Summer Camps - An idea that has been thrown around for some time; invite students/youths to tag along in the shop for a week to help out or teach classes to them.
    • The trouble is working out the liability issues and other formalities for working with kids under 18 (background checks, etc.).
  • Computer Rebuilding - Take old scrap and salvage machines, refurb them with old hardware and open-source OSes and donate them to local organizations. Other hackerspaces/organizations have been observed running such operations.
    • 3/23/11 - Mrfranceisbacon discussed this concept with an educational focus as a community service.
      • Would qualify Makers Local 256 to be accredited as an educational institution so that we may have priority access to government surplus items.
      • Mrfranceisbacon is researching the monetary worth and hours required per week to meet accreditation standards.
      • He mentions the Khan Academy as something to have on the computers to provide access to education to disadvantaged people. How would this work if we made a public kiosk with the Khan Academy database? Strages states an example of this in the Hole-In-The-Wall Computer.
  • Running our own chapter of The Awesome Foundation. Would tie into our idea of having a 'fun money' budget.


  • Aerospace
    • Rocketry - High-Powered
    • Aviation - General & RC-Scale
    • Aircraft Design, Construction & Flight
  • Computers & Electronics
  • Mechanical
    • DIY
    • Microfactory
    • CNC Machinery
    • Carpentry
    • Metalworking
  • Green
    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Efficiency
    • Micro & Permaculture
    • Bioremediation
    • Community Salvage & Recycling
  • General
    • Creative Commons
    • Open-Source Software

Interested in Learning About

  • Computer & Microcontroller Programming
  • Linux-Windows Crossover Machines
  • Electronics Design & Manufacture
  • CNC Machinery & Operation
  • Welding


  • RC Aircraft Design, Construction & Flight - 5 years.
  • RC Piloting - 5 years.
  • Composite Manufacturing - CFRP, GFRP and Aramid composites manufactured with foamcore and hollow-molded methods, 5 years.
  • Rocket Motor Manufacturing & Testing - 3 years.
  • Project Administration - 4 years.

Lessons Learned

  • General
    • When planning a project, think:
      • Goal
      • Objectives
      • Strategy
    • Use the 'This is a minor edit' tag to keep from spamming the IRC channel with wikipage updates.
    • When posting events on the wikipage to the calendar, links can be added as URLs. The twitter bot will recognize and link them accordingly. However, be sure keep them short and readable using Conversely, there is also a 'Short URL' utility on the 'toolbox' on the wikipage (lower left frame).
    • When making a project, research previous efforts and their participants. There will be valuable advice and knowledge therein.
    • A group like this needs a balance of democracy and practicality. Do not lose one for the other. Always make sure the two are present in what you do.
    • You are never as smart as you think you are. There will always be something around the corner that will show you otherwise. You will always be constantly learning. Be ready for it!
    • Help the project along by having ready designs and plans, but be flexible and open enough for new ideas and unexpected occurrences.
    • Having a successful project takes teamwork and dedication as much as skill and resources.
    • Emergence can be a very powerful force in getting things done. Set the example and others will start to key in.
    • Delegate tasks when there is a group, it can help makes things easier and quicker.
    • Learn to listen to your people and they will listen to you.
  • Board
    • Three things are important to making the shop sustainable and a healthy and great place to work - A civil and open environment, balanced finances and working, clean and safe facilities.
  • Facilities Committee
    • To run a club, there needs to be a degree of dedication towards the place; e.g. manage the maintenance and buildup of your place carefully.
    • In a shop where many projects are being run at once, be mindful of who works on/owns what to avoid conflict.
  • DIY Power System
    • Efficiency and knowing your consumption is the first priority to knowing how to build an alternative power system.
    • Solar cells are really fragile.
    • Soldering well takes practice and experience.

Links & Stuff