Blog Archive

As part of our new space we have ceiling mounted a projector with only one composite and VGA connector. To remedy this and enable us to plug in our SNES, PS3, N64, and computers in we purchased an inexpensive video switcher from monoprice.
2013-06-01 16.40.00 The video switcher uses an IR remote to switch between signals, but that was way too easy. To fix that we decided it should be arduino controlled. Rather than wiring the muxes to the Arduino directly (way too easy) we decide to use an IR laser fiber optic transceiver and a length of fiber optic cable. The fiber optic cable is mostly used to keep the 100mw IR lasers from blinding everyone in its path, and since we had it laying around we might as well put it to use.

To pull this off we hooked up an IR receiver to the arduino and captured the IR signal output by the video switchers remote. We then put together a quick arduino sketch to send the IR signal over a PWM pin to the IR transceiver to send the signal. Once we were able to send the signal from the arduino a small mod to the video switcher attached the fiber optic cable right in front of the IR receiver and we were off.2013-06-01 16.44.44

Disassembling the Video switcher is rather easy. It is held together with four screws, three under the rubber feet and the fourth under the sticker on the bottom. Once removed some gentle prying pulls the unit apart exposing the rather bare interior.2013-06-01 16.40.21
2013-06-01 16.41.31

And here is the final product. Code will be posted soon.
2013-06-01 16.45.00

As part of our recent expansion the Santa Barbara Hackerspace has acquired a 3.5 axis mill for all our milling needs. Out of the box it is manual but we will be conerting it to CNC and post the build log in the coming months. This will be replacing / supplementing our current somewhat limited milling abilities. So check back in a few weeks for more information as we tweak and convert our shiny new toy. Once the CNC conversion has been completed we will start a series of classes on how to design things to be milled and how to mill them, so keep an eye out for coming announcements on that.

Update 7/3/2013:

The mill has arrived, and in one piece no less. The mill will need a little attention before its production ready, but we should have that done soon. The mill comes coated in a layer of red grease, after a few hours with a rag and non-flammable solvent we’re ready to grease the moving parts and start tuning it for maximum accuracy and repeatability. Evidence suggests that with some work this mill will reliably cut within .001″. Once we have it dialed in the next step is to purchase or build a cnc conversion kit for the mill. Watch for more updates as we continue to work with the mill.

Some big news coming from the Makerspace this month — we’re growing!

We’ll be moving to a new unit in the building where we’re currently renting (158 Aero Camino in Goleta). We’ll be moving from unit A to unit D, which means a move from 450 sqft to 1600+ sqft. We began the move in project last weekend by patching, sanding, and painting the new unit. There is still a lot of work to be done in the next week. The plan is to be more or less fully moved in around May 15th. Some new features of the new space include… our own restroom, shower, kitchen area, and a dedicated workshop area for large, noisy or dirty machinery.

The new space will be divided into three areas: (1) the electronics area for hardware projects including soldering, 3D printing, embedded programming, debugging, etc; (2) a software area where we will have tables, network connectivity, a number of tables and couches, projector, monitors, etc; and (3) an area for machine tools, PCB making, wood and metal working, and anything generally dirty or noisy.

New project

The new space will make classes, workshops, and meetings much easier as there will be a large dedicated flexible space for people to meet and work. In this vein, if anyone would like to organize a class or Meetup in the new space, please let us know so we can begin scheduling and outreach. We are also going to begin active advertising to try and grow the space and make it the best it can be. As part of our new space we will be adding a large number of wood-working tools which, up to this point, have been in storage.

We also are launching the site, this is intended to be our outreach site our efforts with the Santa Barbara library, and other organisations. This was done as there is unfortunately still a negative connotation to the word hacker. With this in mind we’ve created the site to help organize our volunteers for the library collaboration and other organisations as we grow.

At Maker Faire I was showing a clone of the Oculus Rift built out of an iPad Mini.

This is one of the two iPad minis we had showing my Virtual Reality project built using an iPad mini. The controller is built using an arduino and the redbearlab BLE shield.

This is one of the two iPad minis we had showing my Virtual Reality project built using an iPad mini. The controller is built using an arduino and the redbearlab BLE shield.

This version was built with a 3d printed case wrapped around an iPad mini. The software and controller are the same I wrote about on my personal blog previously.

The case was designed in Sketchup based on the dimensions in the apple case guidelines for iPad mini and printed on the RepRap at the SB Hackerspace.

First iteration of 3d printed case design in SketchUp

First iteration of 3d printed case design in SketchUp

It turned out every iPad mini I tried in the 3D warehouse had the wrong dimensions, so I just created a box of the correct dimensions from the a PDF with iPad mini dimensions from the apple developer site.

Individual 3d printed parts for HMD. The pairs on the left are identical.

Individual 3d printed parts for HMD. The pairs on the left are identical.

Before 3d printing I printed paper versions of each piece on paper, and I cut out foam core to make sure things were the correct size.

Actual-size printouts from SketchUp were traced onto foam core.

Actual-size printouts from SketchUp were traced onto foam core.

The foam core was used to make sure everything fit together as expected before 3d printing.

The foam core was used to make sure everything fit together as expected before 3d printing.

For the first printed part I quickly noticed my design would take FOREVER to print quickly, but this also gave me a chance to find that the 3d printed part was coming out too small. I corrected for this by setting a 1.03 scale factor when slicing future parts.

I cancelled the print of the first piece on the 3rd layer because it was taking forever to fill everything. In the process I learned that the prints were coming out too small by comparing with my paper printout.

I cancelled the print of the first piece on the 3rd layer because it was taking forever to fill everything. In the process I learned that the prints were coming out too small by comparing with my paper printout.

I intentionally made the gap for the iPad mini 2mm too large on each dimension so that there would be some tolerance if the prints are just a little too small, and so that the plastic doesn’t scratch up the iPad. I lined the inside parts that touch the iPad with adhesive felt from a craft store.

The overhangs for the lenses (Because lenses are mounted on both sides for increased magnification) didn't all print well, but this was easily cleaned up with a knife.

The overhangs for the lenses (Because lenses are mounted on both sides for increased magnification) didn’t all print well, but this was easily cleaned up with a knife.

These overhangs didn't have any support so they droop. These were cleaned up with a knife.

These overhangs didn’t have any support so they droop. These were cleaned up with a knife.

This is what the overhangs cleaned up to become. A later design didn't include this overhang.

This is what the overhangs cleaned up to become. A later design didn’t include this overhang.

Building this for yourself

You will need everything listed below:

  • iOS Developer subscription to deploy on a device. ($99/year)
  • Mac with Xcode (I am using Xcode 4 on OS X Lion 10.7)
  • Access to a 3d printer.


  • iPad Mini
  • 3d printed parts (Two sides, top/bottom parts (identical), lens holding piece)
  • Nuts and bolts. 12 3/4″ long 1/4 20 hex head bolts, and corresponding nuts.
  • 4 Lenses (
  • Adhesive felt (I bought a 9×11 sheet for something like $1.50 at a craft store)

Controller Parts:

  • Arduino Uno
  • RedBearLab BLE shield (
  • Sparkfun Joystick Shield (
  • Power Source. A 9V  battery with a barrel connector cable works fine. I used a MintyBoost.
  • Two LEDs, a small pushbutton, and two 330 ohm resistors are used for status lights and a “Start” button. One LED/resistor are used to indicate power (between 5V and ground) and the other is between A2 and ground to indicate that the controller is connected. The small pushbutton for “Start” connects pin 7 and ground when pressed. None of these are required for the application in its current state.

The Xcode projects, Arudino sketch, and 3d models are on github:

  • Arduino/BleJoystickShieldArduinoSketch is the arduino sketch to send the joystick information over BLE.
  • iOS/BLEJoystickShieldMobile is a test application for the arduino sketch that shows the position of the stick and all buttons.
  • iOS/CameraProcessing is the virtual application to run on the iPad.
  • Sketchup/ contains the Sketchup file for the current case design, and the STL files in case you’re working outside SketchUp.

Next Steps:

I plan on porting the native portions of this to Unity 3d so that I don’ t have to build a game engine myself. Unfortunately, this will require the pro edition (even after the free iOS announcement today) because of the render-to-texture required.

[Also, I should finally get to try a real Oculus Rift in a week or two to see how it compares.]

Welcome to everyone visiting our page after meeting us at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. We are in the process of posting the build logs and code for the projects we had displayed and those will be coming shortly. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth and asked questions and enjoyed our projects. The response we received is extremely incouraging and we are already working on projects for our booth next year.

Those of you in the Santa Barbara area feel free to stop by our new location at 158 Aero Camino Ste D Goleta CA 93117. The best time for new hackers is Saturdays after noon. That is when we have our general meetings and the most stuff being done. We also have regular meetings on Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6pm to 10pm. For further information or details please checkout out our IRC at and our google group at

The Hackerspace will also be holding an event at the Santa Barbara public Library Tuesday May 21st at 6pm so please stop by for details on our new partnership and to see some of the other like minded people and programs we have here in Santa Barbara.

I recently purchased a Nexus 4 and the Nexus 4 wireless charger. In typical hacker style I used it for a few days and then decided to make it better. The wireless charger works quite well, though it is a bit slow to charge. My only gripe is that the phone is held on the charger at a 30 or so degree angle with a sticky rubber pad, and that if either are dirty it slowly slips down misaligning the coils and stopping the charge. This being the case I decided to tear the inductive charger apart and put it in my own casing. Looking around for a teardown I was unable to find one so I’ve made my own.
2013-03-21 15.03.34

Examining the unit there are no visible screws or easy pry points. After some poking and prying I found four screws under the rubber pad on the front of the unit. Attempting to unscrew the four screws proved dfruitless and it was much easier to drill them out.
2013-03-21 15.03.49

When drilling out the screws be careful as they are surrounded by a PCB, though it is only a ground plane and hitting it shouldnt do any noticible damage to the charging abilities. After removing the screws you will need a plastic spudger to pry off the front face and expose the coil and PCB.
2013-03-21 15.04.11
Once the pcb is visible gently pull outward and swing it to the right. It is attached by a few wires to the micro-usb port on the back of the unit.
2013-03-21 15.05.07
After moving the front PCB and coil there is a single screw holding the micro-usb port in place, un-screw it and you’re done.
2013-03-21 15.05.31

The Hackerspace recently acquired a coin acceptor from Sparkfun. We brainstormed a bit and decided that a vending machine was the best use of such technology and work began. The coin acceptor is programmable and can be trained to accept up to three coins, and upon accepting a coin outputs a configurable pulse train. There is some sample code available but we had issues making it reliable and modifying it to work like a regular vending machine, so we cooked up our own available below. TheOtherMike came up with a neat little trick of using the serial port to count coin pulses much more reliably. Though we did find that building up a static charge and half inserting a coin would cause it to increment without actually inserting a coin, this was solved with a decoupling cap on the coin acceptor power rails. Once we got the basic code working we added an HD44780 type LCD to display prices and how much had been deposited.

We plan on adding a handful of new features such a numeric keypad to punch an item number, and debug commands to see how much is in the acceptor and to display inventory. In keeping with the Hackerspace tradition of making something slightly less useful we are also going to add an option to pay less but in return the machine does something annoying. Ideas so far have been attaching a siren, attaching a large off balance motor to shake the machine, and using a camera flash circuit to shock people in return for the discount. Updates will be posted as they develop.

Current Code:

//developed by TheOtherMike and Swiss
 //Licensed under the beerware license
 #define COIN1 2 //type of coin that generates 2 pulses
 #define COIN2 3 //type of coin that generates 3 pulses
 #define COIN3 1 //type of coin that generates 1 pulses

LiquidCrystal lcd(8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13); //HD44780 type display assumed
 SoftwareSerial mySerial (15, 16); //software serial ports, connect COIn or COUNT wire from coin acceptor to RX

int total = 0; //variable for total value of coins
 int total1 = 0; //how many dollars should be in the acceptor
 int dispense1 = 100; //variable for an item worth $1, total must equal this for it to dispense
 int nickel = 5; //set coin names and value here
 int dime = 10; //set coin names and value here
 int quarter = 25; //set coin names and value here

void setup() {
 Serial.begin (9600); //for serial debugging
 mySerial.begin(9600); //software serial to count pulses from coin acceptor
 lcd.begin(16, 2); //this location will vary by lcd size
 lcd.print("Everything $1.00"); //welcome message

void loop() {
 char count = mySerial.available();
 case COIN1:
 Serial.println("Dime Inserted");
 total += dime;
 case COIN2:
 Serial.println("Nickel Inserted");
 total += nickel;
 case COIN3:
 Serial.println("Quarter Inserted");
 total += quarter;
 if(total >= 100) {
 lcd.setCursor(0, 1);
 lcd.print(" ");
 digitalWrite(13, HIGH);
 digitalWrite(13, LOW);
 total = 0;
 lcd.setCursor(0, 1);
 Serial.print((100 - total), DEC);
 Serial.println(" needed");
 lcd.print((100 - total), DEC);
 lcd.print(" needed");

Hi folks. A lot of you know about this, but I wanted to make sure we got the word out. The workshops start this Sunday, March 3rd!

Come on down for some hands on work with Arduino as we build out some cool projects for the upcoming Lucidity Festival (
Upcoming Workshop: Artists & Maker’s Introduction to Microcontrollers.
Learn how to make your projects electronic and interactive with microcontrollers!
Have you ever thought about adding an interactive “Wow!” to a project you’re working on? Microcontrollers, like Arduino, are emerging as the ideal way to create and program interesting electronic interactions using a wide range of input and outputs: buttons and buzzers, bells and lights, lasers and vibrators, video and sound. Everything customized to blink or buzz or move exactly when you want it to.
Fishbon ( and the Santa Barbara Hackerspace ( will be running a series of workshops to help creative people make interesting things with microcontrollers. The workshops will be held at the Pescadrome located at:
The first four Sundays in March, 10am to 12pm.  $15 per person per week. Bring an Arduino (Uno, Duemilanove, or any full size compatible) and a laptop. We’ll provide the rest for a self-driven, tutored introduction to microcontrollers, combining hands-on instruction, fun projects, a clear grounding in the terminology and setup, and plenty of free time to pursue your own ideas.
Now available at Radio Shack for $30
Or a generic version for $17.99 +S&H (no ftdi needed)
Also the protoshield for $10 is HIGHLY recommended.
Contact Joe Andrieu ( to sign up, or for questions. Additional details will be emailed to all who RSVP.
P.S. We’ll also be working on microcontroller projects for Lucidity, including a major Fishbon/SB Hackerspace collaboration that will float up in the sky!


The MYO armband lets you use the electrical activity in your muscles to wirelessly control your computer, phone, and other favorite digital technologies.  It has an open API so developers can tap into the information it gathers for control and feedback.

The Hackerspace recently acquired a Yamaha YK440 scara robotic arm, QRC-2 controller, and manual. There are all sorts of things this could be used for.  However before we start getting creative with it it needs a little TLC. Currently the controller powers up but it seems that the power supply is not sending power out to the arm. To remedy this the controller has been disassembled and some testing done but no luck as of yet.  we’ll update this post with progress as we work on this shiny new toy.

After a fair amount of troubleshooting, disassembly, we have given up on using the original controller. Since this arm uses DC motors with optical encoders as servos, building a basic driver for this should be fairly straight forward. The challenge we be supply the 75v at 2 amps to the four motors and driving them, as that will require a fairly beefy power supply and H-Bridge setup. More details on our driver and PSU to come.

a yamaha yk440 and qrc-2 controller

a yamaha yk440 and qrc-2 controller

What is the Hackerspace?

We are a group of makers and developers in the Santa Barbara community who love building things. The Hackerspace has a Makerbot printer, piles of Arduinos, and much, much more. Learn More →
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5782 Thornwood Dr
Goleta CA 93117

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