Category Archives: Research

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. sudo apt-get install lsb-release
  2. lsb_release -a
  3. Confirm OS code name is “Jessie”
  4. git clone
  5. cd RPi_Cam_Web_Interface
  6. chmod u+x *.sh
  7. 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!

Host a live website on Google Drive

Google has instructions on how to do this, but they kept confusing my students. Here’s an attempt to make the process clearer (and more useful – we’ll be sharing folders instead of pages). Note that this feature will cease working as of August 31 2016.

  1. Log in to Google Drive. This may not work from an institutional account like those we have at Columbia College. Safari can also try problems, so maybe try Chrome.
  2. Create a new folder
  3. Right click this folder and select “Share”
  4. then “Advanced”
  5. then “Change”
  6. the “On – Public on the Web”
  7. click Save, then copy the “Link to Share”
  8. Paste this link into a plain text editor, then delete everything to the left of “=” and the right of “&”. Delete = and & as well.
  9. This is your Document ID
  10. Now put  in front of your Doc ID
  11. Now you’ve got a live URL! Type it into a browser and see if it works.

Remove titles from WP Bootstrap Carousel plugin

Every time I update WP I lose the changes I made to the WPBC plugin. I know there’s a better way to do this with theme children or something, but here’s a note to self for now. Maybe you’ll find it useful.

Plugins > Editor > Select Plugin > WP Bootstrap Carousel
Comment out the following:
$carousel .= '<h3 class="carousel-post-title">' . $item-&gt;post_title . '</h3>';

Carpetvista competition 2015

I entered a carpet design competition with a little generative Processing app, because why not? I’ve really had textiles on the brain…

Seeed Studios GPRSv2


I picked up a couple of these GPRS boards when Radioshack liquidated their stock. You can use them to place/receive phone calls and SMS messages. I’ve got two, so stay tuned for some wicked M2M project that I have yet to dream up. In the meantime, I pushed my initial tech research to Github.

Hacking the Knitting Machine (workshop) @ ISEA 2015, Vancouver


Hacking the Knitting Machine
Friday August 14, 2015 9:30am – 5:30pm
Room 4945, Simon Fraser University Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H4, Canada

Update: Our workshop went really well! You can read about it on vancouverisawesome and the New Media Caucus website.

Textiles are the original digital medium – It’s no coincidence that the Luddites were named for artisans that protested against the mechanization of textile production in 17th century England. Unlike their predecessors, today’s Luddites are associated with a distaste for the virtuality of modern devices. However, with the arrival of affordable 3D printing and the Internet of Things, it’s becoming clear that the technologist need not choose between digital and actual. Machine knitting is a great example of this overlap.

Dieter Kirkwood and I will demonstrate a useful modification (originally exploited by Davi Post and Becky Stern) to the Brother KH-930e knitting machine at ISEA 2015. These devices were originally released in the 1980s, so they are available relatively inexpensively on sites like eBay. The KH-930e features an early digital input capability, meaning that users could purchase patterns to communicate to the device via floppy disk. We will show how to spoof this connection, upload custom patterns, and “print” them into actual knit shapes.

Each workshop participant will get to design and knit their own custom beer koozie. Is there anything more Canadian than that? Space is limited, so email me or Dieter see this link to reserve your seat today!


OpenKnit build progress

The OpenKnit build is coming along nicely! We’ve had to make a few alterations to account for US suppliers. Here’s a preview…

OpenKnit build underway

Dieter Kirkwood and I are building an OpenKnit this summer with financial support from Columbia College Chicago.  OpenKnit is an awesome open-source project with a really generous instigator, so we’ve been emailing back and forth with project leader Gerard in Madrid to get things off the ground.  We’ll be converting the BOM for Americans, making design improvements, and having a good time.  All the data we generate will be redistributed online.

Fun fact!  Gerard initially got a takedown notice for the video above because his project documentation included visible commercial logos.  He contested and the video was restored.  Fight the power!

Beer koozies @ ChDM

Dieter Kirkwood and I made a set of Chicago-themed beer koozies for the Pop-up Design Museum in Chicago (ChDM).  The opening is June 13 at Block 37.  You can find more info on the event’s Facebook page.  Come on out and buy some fun stuff!