Last weekend was quite exciting, as a few members of 757 Labs built a project for Shmoocon. It was an audience feedback moose that took feedback via an internet website and visually (then audibly) responded. The eyes were BlinkM LEDs and the audio feedback was done by means of a Harbor Freight airhorn kit powered by ham radio power supplies.
Of course, being a con project, it was a bit last minute. Planning and software started much earlier, but it's just how things go. One huge last minute issue was when a relay failed. This relay was supplied with the Harbor Freight airhorn kit, and was used to switch the high current load of the compressor by means of the the microcontroller which was triggering the relay by means of a MOSFET.
After only a few tests the relay seemed to fail. One would guess the transistor failed, given that it's a 40 amp automotive relay. This failure, however, seemed to echo some online comments about the air horn kit.
Before heading to Radio Shack, I popped the top on one of the relays and low and behold, it's a lie. The 40 amp relay is really a fake case on a 5 amp relay. It was purposely made to look like it was a heavy duty 40 amp automotive relay, when it is not! I've heard about Chinese vendors doing this with capacitors, but never have witnessed it in real life. So here you have it, the 40 amp relay included with the Harbor Freight air horn kit is a lie.
The fix was ultimately to go to Radio Shack and pick up some replacement relays. A few taxicabs and a few Radio Shacks later relays that looked pretty similar to the Harbor Freight ones were in hand, but the Radio Shack ones weighed quite a bit more. We had 3 of the air horn kits, and sourced 3 replacement relays. The air horns draw at least 20 amps, so there is no way the supplied 5 amp relay (mocked up to look like a 40 amp relay) would last very long.
Unfortunately this delayed the airhorns until mid-day Saturday, as the Radio Shack nearby in the city closed early.
I wonder if Harbor Freight knows their supplier is lying to them?
It's been a good while since there has been a post on the blog. For anyone that doesn't know, there is a mailing list with a link over on the right side of the 757labs.org page where you can sign up for a mailing list. The mailing list allows people to post as well as read, bi-directionally.
757Labs has an interim board, and investigation is being done into 501(c)3 status.
There is a high probability that 757Labs will be moving to a different space in the same building. The space is smaller, but it will allow us to focus better. It will be a good move.
Microcontroller Mondays (every Monday, 7pm) continue to amaze. From introductory simple projects to demonstrations of quad-copters, it's been amazing.
Open hack nights continue to be great social events. Meet those into technology in the area.
Some members of 757Labs are working on an event for next year that is posed to be pretty epic. More details after the paperwork is signed.
Various members are working on a number of projects. Members have a key role at MAGFest, the Music and Gaming festival in Maryland on January 5th through 8th. There is also a project to be unveiled at Shmoocon in Washington DC. There is some upcoming involvement with another project that should be at PAX East in Boston. There are some other secret projects that could be huge. Once we clear the new year we hope to start posting some videos of what is going on. So hang in there!
This 4th of July weekend has started off with a few happenings. The Lab went to Hampton for the Mid-Atlantic Developers Expo (MADExpo) on Thursday and Friday to show off a few projects. Saturday was the closing of the Art|Everywhere event that has been running on Granby Street the last few months
Ethan is discussing 757Labs to attendees at Mid-Atlantic Developers Expo in the Hampton Roads Convention Center. Slide-show of the Lab and past projects, LED Cube on display, development progress of the Laser Pong, and Space Balloon box. MADExpo was a great convention for a first run and we currently plan to return next year.
Mike runs the Drum Circle on display at the Art|Everywhere closing event off Granby Street in Downtown Norfolk. Kids were scrambling at the chance to bang on the drums and have a good time while enjoying the weather. Some buttons on the drums gave the player a toggling ability to change instruments and octaves, adding to the chaos and entertainment of those who stopped by.
The Laser Pong game was set up next to the TCC building and had a handful of the young and old stop by and play some Pong, 757Labs style. There are still bugs to be worked out, but it added to the quirkiness of the game and was entertaining to many. The hope is to re-platform the game to remove the Linux system reliance out, leaving only Arduinos. Expect an interesting twist to the game in the future!