Dublin Maker



The final prep was/is upon us! We were incredibly tight to the deadline so we’re doing this one post hoc…
Two nights of pain, misery and electronics lay/lie ahead/?. Baton down the hatches and tell your other halves you love them.

Thursday night

Martin and Greg do science.

Martin and Greg do science.


Martin worked on the sensor aggregation and Greg worked on the sensor box enclosure and PCB design. The PCB came out awesome. It was made using the etching process described in a related post. It is surprisingly detailed!!! Check out the close up…


For a compact package it does quite a lot! temperature, humidity and light are being measured. It is then read on a ATTIny chip and then transferred over bluetooth to a gateway device. It is, to borrow a word, the tits.

Box enclosure

The box came out alright! Pic of drawing it up with martin during the week… I’m going to write up a post about the process separately. It was quite nice to go from an idea to a working prototype in 3 days. shows the power of modern maker tools. Anywho, the output was pretty!

It was cut in the UCL institute of making, on their super awesome laser cutter. we’re going to go through a big upload of the various parts of the design, between thingiverse and github. Stay tuned, we’ve a big lump of this to do over the coming month or so!

Plug was fun, it always facinates me the practical mechanical solutions to older technologies. I would always think of electronic solutions to problems.

The classic example is the shower (bear with me)


A shower does PID style portortional control of temperature using purely mechanical technologies. The mixer uses a 3/2 valve to mix the hot and cold.

HydraulicSystems DVHFigure

However as you shower the hot water reduces and the cold water increases and your temperature changes. how the system adjusts for this is by including a wax in the inside of the barrel of the 3/2 valve. The wax contracts as it gets colder and shifts the valve over a bit. This increases the flow of hot water in relation to cold water and to the user maintains (theoretically) a more steady and temperature consistent flow of water.

This obviously has its downsides… The response time of the material (or its {science term for what I’m talking about}) is quite slow and cannot account for sudden reducitions in hot or cold water. This is why a flush of your toilet can scald you or someone turning on the hot tap in the kitchen makes you super cold. Anyway I digress… So 3/2 valv… Extension cords.


Its super mechanical. Taking it apart was a lot of fun and brought me back to my mechatronic roots. It was a simple fix. Remove the switch and wire in wires to each of the individual live lines of each switch. We stripped a kettle lead to get the proper thickness wire and broke our the wires through the the bottom part of the plug through drill holes. These fed into the acrylic box through the lasercut holes. This was attached to relays and hey presto, electromechanical switches that can be arduino controlled. Check out the final product:

stay tuned for github and thingiverse link ups here and feel free to comment on any suggestions for changes below the fold.

Hope you learned something about showers smart plugs.

Friday night

I’m tagging in the gang WWE style here as I was sleeping

MakerFaire Day

The weekend went really well. Got to talk to a lot of people about our open source projects and how home automation can be improved through the use of open source technologies. The stand looked pretty cool too!


One of my favourite bits of the faire was the twitter knitter from TOG. You can see our bedlab scarf on the table, it was awesome!!!

There were some other really fun projects. There was a modular music modulator box system, a turntable giant spirograph and a blacksmith.

We also met our first fan, everyone was happy about this other than the fan.


I spent a fair bit of my time at the intel stand as it was a bit of a work trip for me. It was a lot of fun, I played the Mrs. Doubtfire for the night (sans the crossdressing (or even a reversible shirt)) managed to get over to both for much of the day. I was showing a twitter activated bubble maker. I never thought I would utter the phrase “I just can’t get my bubble machine to connect to the internet” but alas I did. It looks pretty nice though!

Embedded image permalink

Anywho, that was us. We look forward to the next one… Bring it on!!!

Treo - pure living

We had an amazing time at the sponsors and participants for making it an unforgettable event.

Team Breazy presented Treo, the route to healthy living. A personal pollution exposure monitor, that empowers us to make smarter and better decisions, leading to a healthier lifestyle.

The solution, made available on github., comprised:

  • A wearable device and docking station designed in AutoDesk and delivered as 3D-Printed and Lazer Cut models.
  • An RedBearLab Micro brains inside the wearable.
  • The server receiving, processing and serving the information stored in a Node-RED.
  • Finally a Mobile App built on the Ionic framework presented the analysis and provided suggestions for a healthier lifestyle.

The most notable improvement from the previous hardware hackathon was the addition of a strong design element, which enhanced the form to follow the hardware functionality.

In that spirit we’d like to thank Meadhbh, Alan and Tom; the design leads; for ensuring the product came to life. Hendrik; the business lead; who put the commercial viability into the plan. The hardware leads; Jason, Conor and Greg; for producing functional prototypes. And the software leads, Victor and Martin, who delivered the mobile application and web service behind the product.

Congratulations to the winners Cash-up and here’s looking forward to the next hwhackathon and TechShop Ireland. Treo_Design

Retro Gamebox Workshop - Rua Red - Digital Week

After the heady preparation work last Tuesday, we eventually got to put the plan to test on Thursday at the oversubscribed workshop, with 9 participants.

There was an eclectic audience, ranging from school kids to retirees! Some people were just eager to play Space Invaders, or rather Pacman – apologies again for not having it. Others had previously worked on the mechanical side of an Arduino project and were eager to get stuck into the the Software/Electronic side of it. Some had even hacked outdoor Solar powered lights and programmed with the Sinclair but were new to the Arduino. All in all it was a wonderful mix of ages and experience!

Five Bedlabbers: Greg, Martin, John, Mick and Victor, were at hand to facilitate the workshop, which meant no one was short of assistance or guidance throughout the project.

I am ecstatic to report that everyone got to complete their projects and go home with a Space Invaders game console or the odd Asteroids one. Most importantly though we all (facilitators and participants alike) had an amazing time and learnt a great deal.

You too can can have some Retro Gaming fun by checking out the apcmag tutorial derived from the nootropicdesign games which we updated to work with the uno. Enjoy.

A big shout out goes to Beccy and all the staff and participants during Rua Red‘s Digital Week, which was a great success!

Gearing up for Retro Gamebox Workshop

SpaceInvadersBuilding on from work by Nootropic Design and APC Magazine, The Bedroom Laboratory are running a Retro Gamebox workshop in Rua Red tomorrow at 6pm. During the workshop, we’ll be showing participants how to use an Arduino and eventually how to build your own games console with one. The workshop is free and all parts are yours to take home when we’re done, so there’s no excuse not to jump into Arduino programming now! All the available spaces have been allocated but there may be some sort of a waiting list, if people don’t turn up. So make sure to get in touch with Rua Red if you want to get your name on that list.

We’ve nearly finished the last of our preparations for tomorrow and our skills at Space Invaders have been polished-up (we’re still not great though)!

Here’s a link for the Arduino sketches that we’ll be using for the workshop: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B06YemMHUafCWGZvVVBneWUxTEU&usp=sharing

Just before our workshop, at 5pm, one of our members, Greg, is also doing a talk on STEAM, so make sure to come along to that. See you tomorrow!

Running your own Doodlebot Workshop

Princess Doodlebot
Photo by Niki Collier, 2014

Last Saturday saw the launch of Digital Week out at Rua Red. We joined in the festivities by facilitating a Doodlebot workshop, which went down an absolute bomb with children and adults alike! We got a couple of requests for some info on the behind-the-scenes preparation for the workshop, so here goes.

Your first port of call should be http://www.deferredprocrastination.co.uk/blog/2014/building-doodlebots/ where the guys there have a page all about setting up this workshop. They sell kits too, so this can be your first and last stop for preparing the workshop if you like. We wanted to reduce the cost as much as possible though, so the doodlebots could be given out for free. With that in mind, here are the cheapest places we found for getting the parts:

  • Motors and Battery Holders: https://www.kitronik.co.uk/2543-miniature-low-torque-flat-dc-motor.html and https://www.kitronik.co.uk/c2231-1xaa-battery-cage-with-leads.html Use parcelmotel.com for cheaper delivery to Ireland (thanks to Jeffrey for that tip). For the battery holders, we stripped the ends of the wires a bit more so that they could be wrapped around the terminals on the motor slightly easier.
  • Markers, cups, tape and batteries: Dealz or one of the €2 stores are your best bet and the same price as places online, if not cheaper than them. For the tape, using dispensers will make your life a lot easier.
  • Spinners: The Deferred Procrastination lads (above) sell these separately. Alternatively, you could use lollipop sticks if you can get the right drill bit for making the holes (a 1.75mm diameter hole for a 2mm diameter motor shaft ensures a nice snug fit) . You could even use corks or bottle caps. We laser cut our own (thanks Greg!), if you want to make your own you can find the files at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:510262 (Thank you to Patrick from Deferred Procrastination for his very helpful design tips)!
  • Paper and frame: We managed to source a big roll of paper for free (thank you Rua Red) and then made up a very rough frame out of wood cuttings (free too), so that the doodlebots wouldn’t draw all over the floor. If you don’t have access to a roll of paper, you could tape some A4 sheets together or get some wallpaper and use the back of that.

You should be able to get the cost down to about €1.50 per head, if you’re careful. This makes it a very affordable workshop to run!

In case they’re helpful, here are our posters from the day too:

Putting your bot together

Digital Week Workshops at Rua Red

Hi all,

Just to let you know, we’ll be facilitating a couple of workshops over the next week, for Digital Week in Rua Red.

On Saturday, Oct. 4th, we’ll be running a Doodlebot workshop for all ages, from 12 until 3pm. Doodlebots are wonderful little devices that you can build yourself. They have colouring markers for legs and when you turn yours on, it will add to the drawing we’ll make together during the workshop. The best bit is that you can take your doodlebot home, to play with later. Just drop in and say hello and we’ll get you up and drawing in no time!

On Thursday, Oct. 9th, we’ll be back to run a “Make your own retro video game-box” workshop at 6pm. Have you always wanted to play around with an Arduino? Do you like video-games? Then come along to this workshop and we’ll show you some Arduino basics. You’ll then make your very own Arduino-powered game console, for playing some of the old classics (Pong, Tetris, etc.) on your TV. All parts included. Places are limited for this workshop, so make sure to sign up with Rua Red in advance. Advised for ages 15+.

There are lots of other fantastic events happening over the week, so make sure to check out the programme here.

See you at the weekend!

BrewMonitor: the Arduino-powered, cloud-based homebrewing controller

Demo: http://dev.thebedroomlaboratory.com/~martin/brewmonitor/

Github: https://github.com/thebedroomlaboratory/BrewMonitor

I recently started brewing beer at home with a group of friends and one of the things that quickly came to light, is that maintaining a steady fermention temperature can be the key to a good brew. We have a stick on thermometer on our fermenter buckets which we can use for reading the temperature of the beer, locally, but I was wondering if there was a system I could hook up, so that all of us could check in on the beer via the web. Lo and behold, there are a few systems available for monitoring/controlling the temperature of a batch of homebrew beer as it ferments. But most of them require expensive equipment and the ones that don’t are still based on the Arduino-sensor and Raspberry Pi-gateway model, which will set you back the bones of €80, if you make it yourself. As well as that, the webserver for the BrewPi system (most popular as far as I could see) runs on the Raspberry Pi in your home network. This means you have to configure port forwarding and something like dyndns to access it from outside the house, making the system configuration a bit of a chore.

BrewMonitor-SiteWith that in mind, have a gander at this: http://dev.thebedroomlaboratory.com/~martin/brewmonitor/ It’s just a basic site, based on this Scotch.io tutorial, which is currently plotting the temperature in my sitting room. It’s got a PHP backend (Laravel framework with RESTful API), MySQL database and an AngularJS frontend with (n3-chart/d3 for the graph). In the house, I’ve whacked together a quick breadboard circuit which comprises of an Arduino clone, a DS18B20 Temperature Sensor (with resistor for the i2c connection) and an ESP8266 module. Every minute, this wireless sensor POSTs the temperature to our REST API. This value is saved in the database and will appear in the graph whenever the page is opened. To hook it up to a fermenter, the sensor would just be placed in a thermowell in the fermenter bucket so we can see the beer temperature over time.

It will be easy to add extra functionality to this basic system as time goes on (i.e. user accounts on the cloud, authentication, a screen for the Arduino, OTA firmware updates for the Arduino, relay control of a fridge/heater, etc.). The real beauty of this system, however, is that everything is saved to the Cloud and we don’t need an extra gateway device (Raspberry Pi) to get it there. This reduces the cost and complexity of the installation of the system immensely! The parts for the above circuit only set me back €17.20 (DS18B20, ESP8266 and 12v Adapter from ebay and Funduino from dx.com), and these costs could be reduced again by single boarding everything, instead of using the Arduino clone (we have done this for some of our other projects already)… Potential crowd-funding campaign possibly? I’ll keep you in the loop.

Fumblings in Home PCB Maunfacture

Work in progress…

The Dublin Maker event is now just around the corner, so we’ve reached fever pitch at The Bedroom Laboratory. We’ve embarked on Hack Weekend 2, to try cobble all of our separate pieces of the project together. One major issue that we have to tackle this week is making up the PCBs for all of our circuits.

We wanted to be a bit more professional this year and have some PCBs made up for our project. Due to other ongoing work, we didn’t manage to make the deadlines for getting the boards made professionally by iTead/OSHPark. Rather than break out the perfboard immediately, we decided to give home etching a shot. I got a beginner’s etching kit in Maplin a while ago so this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to break it out.

I have been periodically researching the best practices for home etching. For instance, I spec’d and bought parts for making my own UV light-box for exposing photo-sensitive boards last year. I still haven’t had time to construct it yet, but fret not, that shall be a post in the future. As a result, this post will deal with the toner transfer method. There is a fair supply of tips and tricks online elsewhere for home PCB etching (this is one of my favourites: http://www.bot-thoughts.com/2009/08/simple-diy-pcb-etching.html). Rather than rehashing them here, I’d like to share my own personal perspective on the whole process. For instance, the first thing that has become apparent is that getting the PCB design printed in Reads, on their “glossiest” paper, will not do for toner transfer. Despite some very careful cleaning, ironing, soaking and peeling, you can see that the transfer is quite dappled. I reckon the paper just wasn’t glossy enough for transfer to be honest. IMG_20140719_175811Tomorrow we’re going to take a trip to get as many different types of glossy and magazine-page types of paper that we can and try again.I’ll keep you posted on how the rest of the process goes over the next week. I have a feeling it could take a while to figure out all the issues related to making a functional PCB but it really is quite a fun challenge!

Power Strip - Relay

Having worked on the voltage and current meter previously, this time around the relay was the focus of attention. Although I was initially worried about working with mains power (240v), I mitigated the fears by using an adapter that limited the risk to 12v.

The circuit and code were pretty straight forward to get to grips with, although my search skills were weak today as I couldn’t find a complete pin-out for the Keyes_SR1y relay that I was working with, the closest I could get was a diagram showing the Arduino related side only. Luckily it turns out that the power side of it is pretty straight forward: whatever is in the middle is connected to one side or the other depending on the Arduino input being High or Low.

I have checked the code into github, which, like the screenshot shows,

Relay-Screenshotsends a High signal to the Relay when a 1 (49) is sent - via Serial Input and when a 0 (48) is sent, a Low signal is sent. Effectually turning the power on:

Relay-Onand off:


The next step is to merge the meter and relay code and finally to link up the power meter to the automation station.

Bring on Dublin Maker.

Map Making

So I made a map. What do you think?

It was surprisingly straightforward. I used illustrator to draw over an existing map (Kavrayskiy VII map projection for the map nerds amongst) and “laser”; cut it on some 5mm laser ply at the institute of making over in UCL. I think it came out pretty well, I’m going to make a few little tweaks, such as:

- South Africa is a little flat on the bottom

- Give New Zealand a little more love

- Canada/Greenland boundary needs cleaning up

The holes ‘lasered’ really well, sometimes you need to poke out some of the stubborn bits. A bonus of this is that all the circles cutout where left on the & “laser” bed when I lifted out the cut. It made for a nicer picture than the original!


I put all the circles in a jar, I think I have an oncoming hoarding problem. Anywho… I have to find the link to the inspiration to this, it will come along in an edit. It was a guy I saw on Reddit that did something not a million miles away on a plank of Oak with a drill. Different vibe but I thought I would give him his props.

Also stay tuned for thingiverse files, I’ll link it up once I’ve made the changes.

See the following link for the files to make your own! http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:561951