LED Jack-o-lantern workshop

LED Jack-o-lanternMake your own LED lighting system for a Halloween Jack-o-lantern.  $5(for non members) plus $5 materials.  7-10:PM, Sunday, October 23

Learn Basic soldering(No experience needed),  Learn very basic electronics.   Make and take home a cool reusable kit!  (Battery Included! pumpkin is not)

Photos from the event Can be seen here!



Peggy 2LE 3

This is what I'm making

(Image via Flickr/oskay)

Early last year, I got involved in the planning stages of Quelab because I liked the idea of having a coworking space in Albuquerque. While I’m still mostly involved with the coworking side of Quelab, hanging around people putting together great projects for the last few months has been inspiring, so I decided make something of my own for LED night. I picked up a Peggy 2LE kit from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. If it works properly, I should be able to make it do cool things like this when it’s done. But that’s a big if: this project involves lots of soldering (there are 625 LEDs alone) and I have very little experience soldering. It’s a little intimidating, but I’m the type of person that likes to dive off the deep end. In any case, I’m sure it will be a good learning experience. I’ll be working on it on Sunday’s Hacknight. Feel free to come on down and give me some moral support or, better yet, some pointers on soldering.

Saturday, January 29th – Explore LEDs: LEDs as Art and Science 5


Learn what your high-tech phone display has in common with a pickle!

As Adric mentioned a couple of days ago, we’re celebrating LED month with a special event, Explore LEDs: LEDs as Art and Science. Come see our LED projects, including a LED soil moisture sensor we’ve been developing in conjunction with a local farm cooperative and, as recently featured on Hack a Day, the LED player piano!

Want to work on your own LED project? We’ll teach you how to make magnetic LEDs (aka throwies) and LED jewelry you can take home with you. Materials provided!

For those who (like us), can’t get enough of LEDs, local LED vendors LED to the Light will be there to provide you with all your LED needs.

Saturday, January 29th at 6 PM @ Quelab
1112 2nd St. NW
Materials provided!

January is LED Month! 1

LED Candelabra

Ah, the humble LED. A key component in everything from remote controls, to traffic lights and Nintendo Wiis, their enormous contribution to modern life is too often overlooked. We here at Quelab seek to correct that and give LEDs the recognition they deserve. As such, we’ve declared this January as LED month at Quelab! We’re working on some great LED projects (like this one, for example) and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you here in the days to come.

Hacknight Experiments to prepare for the LED Event on 29th of January! 1

Details still evolving, Walter will fill you in on more of the specifics, January 29th we will be holding a special event at Quelab, “Explore LEDs: LEDs as Art and Science”.

In addition to examples of interesting LED applications, projects and art, we are thinking of having folks play with LED’s in textiles, as jewelry, and other crafts. So I’m devoting a good portion of my Sunday and Tuesday night Hacknight’s  towards experiments involving LED’s

So far I’ve had some successes with flexible circuits using copper tape and also finding that one can run a led via a pipecleaner, and helped Walter build a small LED candelabra. Had a few non-successes: I was not able to get cheap dollar store playdough to be conductive putty using my powdered graphite nor my powdered aluminum. I’m not sure if the fault was the putty, the graphite or the proportions.   But I have a few weeks to try other things.   Not to mention I will soon have conductive thread, magnetic switches, and much much more!

The above and more related photos can be seen up on my flickr.

Player Piano Roll Reader Project 8

I have about 50 player piano rolls (exactly why I have 50 piano rolls is another story).  Despite the fact that most of the rolls are about 80 to 90 years old they are in surprisingly good condition.  However, I do not have a player piano to play the rolls on.

In this part of the country (the Southwestern part of the US) player pianos are very rare so getting a player piano, much less having the room for a player piano, and investing the time and expense of repairing a 90 year old instrument, is not very likely.

Today in an average living room the television is the centerpiece of the room, followed by an entertainment console that usually houses a DVD player, a bunch of DVDs, and maybe a gaming system.  In the 1920’s when most of these rolls were manufactured, there of course wasn’t television, DVD players, or gaming systems, and commercial broadcast radio was still about 20 years away.  Records were available, but records sounded tinny and were rather expensive.  So what was “must have” the entertainment machine sitting in an average living room in the 1920’s?  Most often it was a piano and most of those pianos were player pianos.

Back then, piano rolls were like CDs are today.  All of the “Top 40” songs of the 1920’s were on pianos rolls.  But just like listening to CDs, sooner or later you get tired of the music and want something new.  Back then people would go to Sears Roebuck and buy piano rolls.  Families would often spend evenings together singing songs around the player piano.  Yes, I know. It sounds incredibly lame by today’s standards, but back then they didn’t have much else as far as entertainment in the home.  The player piano was pretty much the “in thing”.

In looking over the rolls I found such interesting titles as “I’d rather forget than forgive”, “I’m gonna let the bumble bee be”,  “Can I sleep in your barn tonight?” and a few with familiar titles like “I’m looking over a four leaf clover”.   I began to wonder what music might be on the rolls – Just what did “Top 40” sound like in 1928?  What secrets have these rolls kept hidden for the last 90 years?

I decided to find out.  On Ebay I purchased a player piano “spool box”.  This is the mechanism that reads the rolls in a player piano.  I wanted to find some way of converting the spool box into something that could extract the music on the roll and send that note information to a PC.  Then on the PC that information data could be converted to MIDI.  If all worked, I would be listening to music that few people have heard in nearly a century!

Well life often has other plans and I put off the Player Piano Roll Reader Project for another day.  It sat along with a number of other neglected projects for about 3 years until I discovered Quelab.  In discussing the project with several Quelab members, there was renewed interest.  These people wanted to hear what was on these rolls as much as I did and the idea of converting 90-year-old digital information to MIDI seemed pretty cool too.

90-Year-Old Digital Data

So the basic plan is this: Put a bunch of infrared LEDs on one side of the roll and 88 light sensors on the other side of the roll and read the data from the sensors.  I chose infrared LEDs because paper is mostly opaque to IR while visible light pretty much goes straight through.

Infrared Light Bar – 50 IR LEDs Closely Spaced Together

Since the “read holes” in the spool box are too small for commonly available IR sensors, I will be using fiber optic cable to transmit the infrared signal from each hole in the roll to IR sensors on a separate circuit board.

IR Output From the Infrared Light Bar

I used my cell phone camera to capture the IR output of the light bar.  Although it is hard to see in the picture, all of the LEDs put out a strong IR signal.

The next step is to order the fiber optic cable and start building the IR sensor board.  This will be 88 IR light sensors connected to 88 fiber optic cables.

See Part 2 http://quelab.net/172/player-piano-roll-reader-project-part-2/