"Media Labs in Europe" magazine

October 30th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

We have a copy (offered by Habib and Clement) of this magazine at Xinchejian if you want to read it.


Pandaboard donation!

October 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

image image image

For more information, check our wiki.


Quadcopter assembly workshop

October 29th, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

image image

Building an army of inexpensive quadcopters…


Visit of Hackerspaces from Washington DC to Montreal

October 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Planning the trip Since I had a round trip ticket to the US east coast for the 100 Year Starship Study Symposium, me and Min Lin also wanted to visit friends and family in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) on the same trip. While at it, we took the opportunity to visit similar spaces to ours on the east coast between Washington DC to Montreal. As usual, Min Lin did a fantastic job organizing the trip and getting in touch with all the people we visited along the way… HacDC HacDC is the first Hackerspace we visited on our trip to the east coast. HacDC is in a neighborhood of historic buildings in Washington DC near Columbia Heights metro station. HacDC was founded in 2008 and they most recently are renting space in the community building of the St Stephen Church (“a very open-minded church”), which host a variety of other non-profit organizations. HacDC is a District of Columbia Non-Profit Corporation. The space is made up of basically two different large rooms: one with the mechanical and electronics tools, the other for computer work. They have two days of weekly events (Mondays and Thursdays). They also did an Stanford Artificial Intelligence class preparation workshop so I joined in for an improvised review of linear algebra and an overview of Markov chains! They’ve also just received a large donation of lasers and servo-controllable mirrors from X Laser USA. They have a cool idea of doing “stuff” exchange with other Hackerspaces. You fill a box of stuff and send it to them and they fill it back and send it back… Baltimore Node The Baltimore Node Hackerspace is a 1700 square feets space with great windows three blocks from the Baltimore Penn Amtrack station. The rent is 1000$USD monthly. The space has existed for 2 years and has between 25 and 30 paying members (50$ per month). OpenHack night weekly has a dozen people doing their projects in the space. The space has homemade work tables and shelves, sofas, microwave, fridge, a full complement of mechanical tools, 3d printer (working!), a foosball table, etc… Todd from inceptiontops.com was our guide for the visit of the Baltimore Node hackerspace. He’s a mechanical engineer who’s been doing 3d design for 15 years… He left his job 6 months ago to dedicate himself to do products that he ships all around the USA. Among other things, he sells spinning tops as can be seen in the movie Inception. It takes about one month to get these spinning shapes and so far he’s sold 700 of them. He does a wide variety of things such as necklaces and rings from movies. He has built an “Holocron”, an object from the deleted scenes of Star Wars. He’s also behind an “Han Solo in carbonite” replica and the Shrinking Ray (Ignite Baltimore 8: Todd Blatt – How to use a Shrink Ray for Real). Lots of the smaller parts he sells are made possible by using shapeways.com, a company that specializes in turning 3d CAD shapes into actual real objects in a variety of material (silver, gold-plated, etc). Although he favors Autocad, he sees a big future in web-browser CAD software such as 3dtin.com. He’s really inspired by software generated designs such as those produced by n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com and blog.virtox.net We also met the owner of the building loadoffun.net, Sherwin. Load of fun is a building with art studios, art gallery, exchanges, theaters, etc. The space has been running for 6 years, much longer than even Sherwin was planning on. Sherwin is very interested in building a LED display on the roof similar to blinkenlights.net. He asked us about doing art exchanges between Baltimore and China; we don’t really have any ideas on how to do help with that, yet. Hacktory Visited hacktory.org Hackerspace in Philadelphia. Their 3 rooms is located on the third floor of NTR (Nonprofit Technology Resources), an organization with around 6 full-time employee dedicated to providing IT services to low-income people in Philly. Stephen gave us a visit from NTR; they have a thrift store, classes and process a large number of computers for repairs. Sadly, with the state of the economy, both the funds from the fed and the state have dried up leaving NTR in a precarious situation. Hacktory had a free electronic music concert on the Thursday evening we were there with two guys from Holland. They have weekly open house on Tuesday with about three to ten persons coming. Founded 5 years ago (in 2007), they’re in the process of reorganizing the space. They have a variety of workshops such as Arduino workshops, electronics jewelry workshop and testing the new chromatograph. BernieS (aka Ed Cummings, a long-term hacker and ham radio operator), one of the active member that guided us around that evening, was actually the one who originally invited Mitch Altman to HOPE (Hackers On Planet Earth) igniting a lifelong passion. Also there were Gloria, Andrew and Stephanie. Hive76 Hive76.org is another Hackerspace in Philly that we got a chance to visit after the free concert at the hacktory.org. They opened in the Spring of 2009. They have an open house every Wednesday and a microcontroller meetup once a month. Yesterday, Thursday, they were hosting the Philadelphia Robotics meeting who are thinking of building a sumo robot for competition. We were welcome to the space by Brendan aka RandomLame, a superbly creative maker who just plunk all his savings to build a beautiful flight simulator cockpit panel that adds tons of realism. He built the whole thing in a intense two weeks, mostly constrained by the time to laser cut the panel. Want your own? He’s selling the ready to play system for 5K$ (3K$ for just the controls). In addition to that, he also makes electronic boxes for classes and beautiful handcrafted boombox that double as luggage (from 250 to 350$USD)! His friend does laser imprinted beef jerky business cards… Other members have built things like RC controlled quadcopters. Daniel Hugo, another member, is building a space game based on the Unity engine. New Work City New Work City, is a coworking space at 412 Broadway (corner canal) in New York city. Comfy, quiet and big with one of the best location in town! We met up with Tony Bacigalupo, the owner of NWC who came to Shanghai last August for a panel on coworking… We mentionned Todd and his product on the Shapeways community and he told us that his roomate worked at the HQ in New York! We took a meeting the same day. Shapeways We visited Shapeways headquarters in New York City, an innovative company that has created an online community of people designing objects to be produced on-demand. This lets creative people directly benefit from their design without having to worry about manufacturing, selling and shipping. [caption id="attachment_1687" align="aligncenter" width="470" caption="Ceramic, metal, plastic"][/caption] Eyebeam Eyebeam, an art and technology center in New York city at 21st and 10th. They have a panel on “Internet economy: porn, labor, banking”. I’ll let you guess which one of those piqued my curiosity! We dragged all our luggage across half of the island to get here… The talks:

  • Susanna Paasonen has worked for 9 years analyzing online porn and has a book launch and signing tonight. Started by showing porn.com (“the obvious destination for those who don’t know how to use search engines or browsers”) on the big projector screen. She had a book launch tonight. Followed by showing youporn.com and all the specialized porn “Youtubes”. Kind of shocking to see porn site on a huge projector site. She talked about how profitability is moving from production to distribution and how amateur porn is more profitable but with ethical problem (from “gift” economy to profitable ventures) – wifebucket.com as an example. Amateur productions come from a labor of love. [Ed: It is quite distracting to see porn sites on a huge projector!]
  • Stephanie Rothenberg was next, talking about the creation of an adult fantasy website, Laborers of Love. They use Amazon Mechanical Turk workers finding images and videos related to the fantasy. 70s site of collage. They talked about how porns profit center is shifting from production to products. Pirates porn movie high definition movie, largest budget ever, 1 million$. Digital formats and Internet distribution killed the porn industry; “How can you compete for free”. Next, we’re all sex workers; boyfriends used to be ashamed to say that their girlfriends were porn stars – that is now gone. Her introduction is followed by Jeff Crouse, who’s there to demonstrate their laborersoflove.com website with a step-by-step wizard to generate your fantasy from mechanical turks workers. 80% of workers are from India and Asia but a majority of the workers on laborersoflove are from the US indicating a cultural bias.
  • The tone changed abruptly with Fran Illich’s spacebank.org with hacked together ATM and made-up currencies, micro-financing, banking around their own bank “SpaceBank: don’t hate the banks, become the banks”. Using Ai Wei Wei seeds as the real currency. Comparison to BitCoin with its p2p economy and try to compare to digital.
We skipped out during that last presentation and checked out their lab where a group of hackers were working on a kinect controlled puppet. They had built a prototype during a one day hackathon using a teddy bear and had received as a prize the rights to use the lab. NYC Resistors The next day we checked out the NYC Resistors hackerspace in Brooklyn, a big space at the fourth floor of an old factory in Brooklyn. The day we were there was their monthly laser CNC class that we sadly missed by half an hour… They have craft night on Thursday. Monday evening is “Lazzzzor night” where operators help makers use the laser cutter.  The space was started in part by the same people behind Makerbot who’s office is just next door. Alpha One Labs  (231 Norman, room 312, Brooklyn) Alpha One Labs, another hackerspace in Brooklyn. They were having their first robotics meetup watching Google IO cloud robotics video. Sean and his wife are the founders and their homeschooled children use the space to learn. The space is 700 square feet at 1200$ a month. 43 members paying 40$ each per month to be members.

SONIA and ETSMTL At our university visiting the student club that me and Min Lin co-founded ten years ago: SONIA , the autonomous robot submarine club. We’re very proud that they finished 1st at the international competition this summer thanks to the technical leadership of the 2011 captain Kevin Larose who worked hard machining most of the mechanical parts and designing a majority of the electronics boards. The robot is a sophisticated and complex piece of hardware with a very sophisticated software interface that can control the robot in real-time or replay logs. The main hall of ETS (“Ecole de technologies superieures”) is full of student clubs projects that place well in international competitions against some of the best universities in the world year after year. Wind powered car, cement canoe, human-powered submarine, solar boat, ultra high efficiency car, etc. FOULAB (999 du Collège, 3rd floor, near métro St-Henri, Montreal). Foulab is the first Montreal Hackerspace… Turns 3 years old next November 20th, 1800 square feets. Various projects: boombike, twitter Teletext, 3d persistence of vision, soon to be cluster, computer security. They’re very focused on computer security and organize the yearly Recon event.]]>

100 Year Starship Study Symposium

October 27th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

100 Year Starship Study Symposium in Orlando, Florida October 30th to September 2nd. The goal of the 100 Year Starship Study is to create an organization with a small amount of seed money (one-time half a million dollars US) that can lead the development of an interstellar starship within the next century. At the symposium, I joined Tan Huei Ming and Eddie Cho, both at the National University of Singapore. They had independently submitted a document to the 100 Year Starship Study and I had met them in person while participating in DARPA “The Future of Make” executive panel in Singapore.


Tan Huei Ming and Eddie Cho from NUS
Tan Huei Ming, Eddie Cho
Initiated by Mr David L. Neyland (DARPA tactical technology office) and Dr Peter Worden (Director, NASA Ames Research Center). As a major driver of the whole endeavor, Mr Neyland kicked off the symposium and introduced the keynote speaker: Ariel Waldman of spacehack.org with her talk “Hacking Space Exploration”. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Ariel Waldman and me"][/caption]   Ariel is a graphic designer that has always been fascinated by space and she talked about how doing something changes how we see something and that we don’t need to be an astronaut to do space stuff… don’t even need to be at NASA to explore stuff! “. We should not let lack of knowledge prevent people to send stuff into space: we need to make technology disruptively accessible. This can be done through competitions and communities such as Google Lunar X Prize, Lockeed Martin’s Aerospace Exploration, university rover challenge, Galaxy Zoo. There was many talks on many tracks throughout the 3 days of the symposium, all very informative and interesting. [caption id="attachment_1675" align="aligncenter" width="470" caption="A sample of the talks"][/caption] I tried focusing on those that could help guide our developments in the short-term (next decade):
  • “Long-term computing” (Andreus Tziolas, Icarus Interstellar): Autonomous software and decision making processes for Icarus (presenting on behalf Dimos Homatas). Piece of software for a piece of unseen hardware that you’ve never seen before: centennial mission – twice as long as the history of computing itself. How much space is needed for a century mission? How much data will you collect? What about failures during that timespan (rebooting computers once a week)?
  • “Big questions in Science-Fiction” (M. O’Keefe): who are we, how did we get here, what are we here for, what’s man’s place in the universe? The vision provided by science-fiction is one where technicians and scientists find answers to these questions. Direct inspirations from science-fiction designs.
  • The Interstellar Vision: Principles and Practices (P. Gilster, Tau Zero Foundation): Near-by space missions will lead to an interstellar space mission because we will find those things that threaten Earth. Add the ability to find and nudge out the things that threaten.
  • Creating Materials for the Starship (David Weiss, Eck Industries): Sophisticated alloys are the key to the metals we produce today. Transmutation is not as weird as it sound… We do it everyday (heat treatment) changes structure. Bombarding by radiation. High magnetic field processing. How to best spur materials development: challenge Grants, InnoCentive Challenge, X-Prize approach.
  • Using video games to help the 100YSS” (Luke Blaize). Check out the  Kerbal Space Program game.
  • Marketing the Starship (Gordon Gould): Why a starship? Especially given the actual problems… Because we need a long-term goal. Thinks this is mostly a marketing problem: how to get humans excited about it.
  • Project Icarus / Project Daedalus: fundamental science achievable in the near future. Making smaller versions of Daedulus (Pathfinder; 1/100th the mass of Daedalus Stage 2). Target speed: 100 au/YR, Isp: 50,000s, Vex: 500km/s).
  • Building blocks to building a starship: repurpose “space trash” into new ships – DARPA’s Phoenix project.
  • Jefferson Middle school presentation about their own one-month research in 100 YSS: Impressive presentation for a middle school: “Parliamentary democracy is the ideal system”. “People on long flight may go insane”. “Need to convince all religions to support this project”. “If space colonization is possible, communication is quite important”.
  • Moon mining robot for the Lunabotics 2011 competition; an X Prize competition turned into a yearly student competition. See the ERAU Daytona Beach Lunabotics Competition 2011 video.
  • Virgin Galactic talk (George Whitesides, President & CEO) with Sir Richard Branson doing a pre-recorded video encouraging participatings to the 100 Year Starship.
  • ISS life support system (Monsi Roman, NASA): complete analysis of needs and effluents from astronauts.
  • Small Body Exploration Technologies as Precursors for Interstellar Robotics (Robert J. Noble, Mark V. Sykes) : Learning how to explore small bodies here as a first step to interstellar flight. Challenges: AI, robotic governance, adapting to the unexpected. Noted the exotic idea of building an “Astrochicken”, a bio-cyber-electro-mechanical probe that can explore space independently.
  • Going to Mars as a one way mission (Dirk Schulze-Makuch): Going to Mars as a one way mission (Dirk Schulze-Makuch), as a lifeboat, as a first human colony. Why one way mission? Cost of going one way: 20 billion$USD. Cost of round-trip: 100 billion$. This is due to lift-off fuel when coming back from Mars. He’s Looking for a 9-month study to produce a whitepaper on how to proceed technically and economically – need 80K$ from donors .
I was invited at the symposium to be part of the organization panel on the last day. This was my statement on that panel: Hackerspaces are community-operated physical spaces all around the world, where people can meet and have fun making things together. Each Hackerspace is an autonomous entity, but they all share the same philosophy of having fun building things. An Hackerspace is an environment where people can learn and tinker with technology, work in ams, participate in international competitions or do ambitious projects from flying machines to biology hacking. XinCheJian, an Hackerspace we co-founded in Shanghai (China), is one of the many hundreds Hackerspaces all around the world that have been created in the last few years. As an example of this global collaboration we joined hackerspaces from San Francisco, New York, Australia, Maui to give a response to DARPA Request For Information as part of the 100YSS. Hackerspaces are part of a large family of organizations called FabLab, TechShops, Makerspaces, etc that exist all around the world. Another example, is that of Tan Huei Ming is part of Ground-Up Initiative in Singapore which does urban farming and have their own workshop. As local communities, they are adaptive to their environment and the make up of their local societies. Some are privately incorporated, some are non-profits, some are part of universities and schools, some are funded by individuals, some are sponsored by corporations or governments, some are coops. Anyone can be part of an Hackerspace, from young kids to retirees, engineers to hobbyists, students to professionals. They all share a philosophy of making things so they are equipped to do a wide variety of inter-disciplinary projects in mechanical, electrical, software engineering disciplines, arts and/or design with a focus on teaching each other how things work and how to make things. Hackerspaces typically use OpenSource and OpenHardware technologies and generally have a consensus-based, democratic or even anarchism approach with a focus on action. Some of them, such as Noisebridge in San Francisco with its SpaceBridge program and Melbourne Connected Community with its Lunar Numbat program, already have undertaken a variety of projects related to space. Our proposal is to inspire some of these already existing communities to join and participate to a well-defined, realistic, global 100 years space program roadmap that can be broken down into small buildable projects with a focus on dual-use technologies on Earth and in space to work towards our long-term goal of reaching the stars. Hackerspaces philosophy is one of openness, sharing, collaboration and communities which is essential for humanity to building the knowledge and knowhow to reach the stars. Hackerspaces are best suited to attract the kind of people fascinated by space and the promises of space. Hackerspaces, because they are born from their local communities, have organizations well-adapted to their social environments and through their members, connected to the organizations surrounding them. They are also by their existence already self-sustainable communities. For the purpose of the space program, instead of centrally organizing, we believe in inspiring and evangelizing through a common dream and repository of common technologies. The 100 Year Starship Study could funnel the small amount of money it has remaining into funding a variety of realistic short-term projects that fit into the larger plan with the hope that these projects can be further funded through crowd-funding and productization. This will give the opportunity to space fans, amateurs and hobbyists to move beyond part-time endeavors while equipping further Hackerspaces with the tools they need to build space technologies. Hackerspaces can extend their existing community to work in partnership with individuals, other non-profits, universities, private companies, state-owned enterprises, governmental organizations and governments to connect efforts to a global one. By using this open platform for the 100 Years Starship, we can increase the number of stakeholders dramatically and ensure that the next four human generations are intimately involved with the global starship space program through making. On a personal note: In the short-term, walking back from the long-term proposals discussed at this symposium and while we wait for basic breakthrough in physics to make the trip to the stars practical, I personally believe that we can focus the next few years on self-sustainable ventures around near space. This means a focus on making robots that can prospect and mine near-earth objects, use the material generated to build space factories and power stations that together can build more things. This is to both escape the gravity well tax and find a profitable way to exploit space by bringing back valuable resources to Earth. This is a necessary first step to any sustainable long-term development. We have until November 11th to write up an RFP for the Request For Proposal. Being part of the symposium was quite an inspiring experience; such long-term thinking is probably unprecedented in the history of humanity and the challenges that we are given can advance our civilization tremendously. Given that the keynote speaker is herself a well-known hacker, there seems to be a favorable opportunity for us to take the lead here.]]>

XinCheJian Wednesday Meetup – 7-9pm – Free

October 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

This week at XinCheJian – Ricky and Min Lin have come home from their North American tour of hackerspaces – from DC to Montreal. Tonight catch up with Ricky as he shares their journey including the stop off for the 100yr Starship project.

This coming weekend is Robo-racing, best time to finish your autonomous robot is this evening (or Saturday before the race), race on Saturday is free to enter and free to watch, participants are asked to arrive at 1pm for setup, racing will start at 2pm loose.

For the lock picking research group, it’s time to grind your own picks, Michael has printed out the templates so come see and come do, it’s time to have your own tools of the trade.

EL Wire introduction, come see the coolest thing since sliced bread, Just in time for Halloween – readily available in shanghai, weave/thread/stick/sow this stuff into clothing to create futuristic attire.

Please remember that this is a free event, with no set format, if this will be your first time attending a Wednesday meetup start by introducing yourself to people and finding common interests.


烙铁的部件 – The internals of a soldering iron

October 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


1,000,000 SHU Bhut Jolokia peppers started!

October 22nd, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Bhut Jolokia peppers on Taobao and start them today. The pepper is rated at 1,000,000 SHU. It will be fun to grow them and probably more fun to see someone eat them! 😉

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone



Whacking Wednesday – Show your Junk (Oct 19, 2011)

October 21st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Arcade Machines










New plants holder

October 11th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

This allows denser packing of plants and easier to build and is reusable.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Where am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for October, 2011 at 新车间 [XinCheJian].