Multimeter Usage for Artists

Somehow I’ve managed to make it ~15 years without really understanding the multiple lead ports found on a standard multimeter. At a bare minimum you’ll see COM, V/Ω, and A. COM is the easy one, as this is always attached to the black lead. I’ve always used my meter to sense voltage and/or resistance, so I’ve never connected the red lead to A.

I learned my lesson today when I grabbed a random meter from the lab at school. Someone had been noodling with the lead attachment, so COM and A were connected. When I tried to test AC voltage coming out of the wall, I got a big spark and fried the extension cord I was testing. This happened even though I had the dial set to the correct AC range.

So what happened? I found it difficult to track down the answer online, but I finally came up with this page. Near the bottom you’ll see an image that describes what I did:

00351

Sensing current (A) requires that the meter provide no or very low resistance. Makes sense – if the meter introduced resistance, you wouldn’t get an accurate current reading. This feature can also be dangerous; turn the dial back to V/Ω, but forget to use the correct lead ports, and you’ll short the circuit through the meter. Many meters have safety features to help remind you not to do this, but cheap meters lack these fail safes. Fair warning!

6040 Progress

Just pushed some big updates to Github, where I’m tracking the process of getting a Chinese 6040 mill up and running. Check it out and participate if you’re interested.

Dave Jones

DaveJones

Got a chance to hang out with the excellent Dave Jones on Saturday night at his studio. He’s been working with video artists since the 70’s, designing and fabricating electronics for live video signal manipulation. There was so much good stuff to see, including this old school schematic that was done by hand with tape.

Signal Culture vs. Unauthorized Repairs #004

Signal Culture residency begins

signalculture

One of the great things about the Signal Culture residency is that they understand tool making as a creative practice. I brought along my 6040, an aluminum mill that I bought from China via eBay. Though I did not fabricate this mill myself (like we did with DIYLILCNC), the 6040 came with no instructions, so I’m applying all my DIY know-how to getting it up and running. I’ll use both this blog and github to document the process.

Raspberry Pi Baby Monitor

Today I got down to business on a new Raspberry Pi project. I started with the following parts:

  1. RPi 2B (w/ 8G NOOBS)
  2. USB wifi dongle
  3. RPi Noir camera board
  4. Monitor, keyboard and mouse (just for setup)

Following a clean install* I set up my RPi to enable SSH and the camera. If your RPi system software is already installed, you can reach these features by entering raspi-config  in the Terminal. I also got the wifi dongle talking to my network. Camera installation is really simple. See this link to make sure you get the ribbon cable polarity right.

Now we install RPi-Cam-Web-Interface. The documentation is a little hard to follow, so here’s a condensed version:

  1. git clone https://github.com/silvanmelchior/RPi_Cam_Web_Interface.git
  2. cd RPi_Cam_Web_Interface
  3. chmod u+x RPi_Cam_Web_Interface_Installer.sh
  4. ./RPi_Cam_Web_Interface_Installer.sh install
  5. Restart RPi
  6. ./RPi_Cam_Web_Interface_Installer.sh install
  7. Pick configure, enable camera/autostart (this is from memory, I better check on this)
  8. Enter the IP address of the RPi into a browser from another computer on your network. You should get a page full of options and a live image from the camera.

Ok! Next time I’ll talk about adding UV LEDs.

*After one unsuccessful run at this project, I ran into problems trying to reinstall NOOBS from the RPi boot screen. You’re supposed to be able to do this by holding shift, but I couldn’t get it to work (even after trying all the voodoo like rapidly pressing both shift keys in alternating fashion). I wound up downloading a fresh copy of NOOBS and copying it to the SD after wiping it with the OSX disk utility. Everything worked perfectly after that.

Sponsored by Element14!

The_element14_company_logoThe good folks at Element14 got in touch after they read some of the Raspberry Pi tutorials on this website. They offered to send me some parts for a project, so I decided to start with a networked baby monitor. I’ll post progress as I go!

Testing Internet Speeds

AT&T tells me you can’t trust sites that test your internet speed. When I had a tech out for repairs today, I was able to ask him for live stats to compare to a few web services. This one matched the AT&T test almost exactly.

Defamiliarization

My colleague Greg Corness at Columbia College just turned me on to Defamiliarization, or the presentation of common things in an unfamiliar way. This leads to reevaluation of assumptions, and describes my research really well. Here’s a recent article dealing with the topic through the design of the kitchen.

The Wrong – The New Digital Arts Biennale

StarFork

This modified version of Controlled Feeding Status will appear as a part of Approximately 800 cm³ of PLA at the New Digital Arts Biennale. The show will live both online and in selected physical locations – more info TBA when the show goes up in November.