the orchidarium

Posted in hardware hacking, open source, projects on October 23rd, 2013 by fabienne

tonight at the IoT meetup in berlin, i presented the orchidarium, a co-project built over the last couple of years by skytee and i. the orchidarium is a Wardian case for the modern nerd home.

here are the slides for the talk: orchidarium slides [pdf]

it’s been purring away at home for about 1.5 years now, keeping the orchids alive when we travel or get super busy. here are the quick facts:


– beagle bone with debian, first smart device with IPv6 in our home

– usb controllable power strip Energenie EG-PMS (unfortunately i’ve only found these for 220v so far)

– code here:

– light, fan, and ultrasonic mister control happens in a crontab

webapp for local control when on the LAN with the orchidarium, includes override functions and daily sensors in a graph

– pictured below: the custom water resistant sensor box for the orchidarium includes light, humidity and temperature:

– pictured below: the beagle bone running debian with IPv6 in a custom laser cut enclosure:

– pictured below: the orchidarium’s usb programmable powerstrip, an Energenie EG-PMS:

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skull logo arrrgyle ipad sleeve

Posted in hardware hacking, knit, knitting machine, open source, projects on August 18th, 2011 by fabienne

In February of 2007 I worked out an argyle pattern based on my blue skull logo (see graph paper drawing below). In June of 2008 I knit the two color pattern up by hand (see shot in front of graffiti above). This week, August of 2011, I knit my skull argyle on a hacked knitting machine (Brother KH-930, documented here, code on github here). Sometimes it takes years to complete a project, especially if a project requires a new machine with which to make it.

The finished ipad sleeve (see images below) is knit from cotton on the hacked KH-930 (with computer control) and finished with a sewing machine. It isn’t all that complex, and is drawn pixel-wise on the Gimp and exported to the knitting machine with some code to emulate a TDD Tandy floppy disk drive, a bit of hardware, and some code to parse the resulting bitmap into a format which the knitting machine will recognize. This happened during cccamp11 where I had brought the knitting machine to demo in the HXX hardware tent. In the process I have learned all about the mechanics of knitting machines, their capabilities, how to get them to be computer controlled and the yarns that knitting machines like. In the end, I really still hate hand knitting two color stranded patterns, but I love the way the finished products look. The machine gets to offload that burden and still output beautiful pieces.

Update (September 18th, 2011): I redid the sleeve in a cotton that doesn’t fuzz so much, made the pattern repeat properly, and made the skulls right side up on both sides. The ravelry page for the first version is here, and the second version is here. The second version is pictured below:

and a before and after shot with the old on the left, new on the right:

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blog clean up

Posted in blawging, cologne, hardware hacking on June 14th, 2010 by fabienne

after a long break in posting, has moved to a happy new wp hosting that i am administering myself, and has had a bit of a facelift. those of you who have followed this blog for more than a year will notice that it looks a lot like it did 2 years ago. yay for a new css of shinyness and all that!

the other big news is that i am living in cologne (germany) now full time, the 3rd annual hardhack happened and there will be even _more_ hardhacks this year as subconferences of other conferences.

i am currently helping found a fablab in cologne called Dingfabrik (a factory that makes things) which you can follow on twitter (feed in german) if you are interested.

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makerbot 'lectric cupcake cnc 3d printer

Posted in gadgets, hardware hacking, open source, projects on November 13th, 2009 by fabienne

just a quick update to let you know i was sponsored a 3d printer by wim of and i built it and got it working. i presented some slides (odp format, pdf here) about open source hardware and how the makerbot fits into all that at openchaos at the C4 in cologne a few weeks ago. a photo build log of me putting mine together (some assembly required) is here.

i will be bringing ‘lectric to dorkbot aachen next week on wednesday, so stop by if you want to print something out or if you want to see a 3d plastic extrusion printer built from scratch up and running. you can design your own stuff to print and upload it to the thingiverse ahead of time, or just contact me with your digital file and some contact info by email fabienne attt fabienne do0tt us.

a 3 second short video clip showing ‘lectric, my makerbot, printing its very first print (a lego brick) is here below:

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hardhack 2009 wrap up

Posted in berlin, conferences, hardware hacking on June 3rd, 2009 by fabienne

hardhack was awesome! thanks to all who participated in my and fh‘s hands-on hardware thingy this year! you all rock. heise posted about it, and i look forward to seeing you all at HARdware in August.

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hardhack in berlin

Posted in conferences, hardware hacking on May 11th, 2009 by fabienne

my second annual hands-on hardware event hardhack has sign ups for workshops and a location. can’t wait to see you all here in berlin with your soldering irons in hand!

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events including hardhack 2009

Posted in conferences, hardware hacking, projects on February 25th, 2009 by fabienne

fbz hacking

lots of hardware related events are coming up. first of all i will be speaking informally at the baustel-montag this coming monday about hardhack. next up i will be speaking during re:publica about open hardware (namely licensing and historical implications of open circuit information). i will most likely attend sigint, (the ccc event not in december and not in berlin). after that comes my event, hardhack, which will be only hands-on hardware stuff, no blah blah at all. then ph-neutral which this year will include some hardhack components. and the newest addition to my roster, i will be organizing HARdware, a pre-HAR2009 event to build some really awesome interactive hardware things for attendees of HAR to play with during camp. my project will be a group of networked, interactive, and hackable couches in the slacker dome. other projects may include a huge outdoor capacitive dance interface, cotton candy representations of network traffic, and walls of networked color changing pixels. contact me (fabienne @ this website) if you want to get involved!

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talk on open source hardware at fsf europe

Posted in conferences, hardware hacking, open source on February 10th, 2009 by fabienne

i’ll be giving a talk at the Free Software Foundation Europe fellowship meeting in Berlin this week Thursday, February 12th 2009 at 19:30 at the New Thinking Store, Tucholskystrasse 48. more info here. i’ll be speaking on open source hardware and the presentation will be in english.

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massage couch

Posted in conferences, hardware hacking, projects on December 12th, 2008 by fabienne

i am way way way behind on blogging, but i just wanted to start to pull myself out of this hole of online silence by starting with the mobile massage couch i helped build in amsterdam during the rfid hacker camp put on by mediamatic during the picnic conference. i haven’t finished documenting the build process, but at least i’ve started. i have more photos not on the couch’s page here. the top level trac page for code is here and the source code for the various components (microcontroller code for massage units and led display units and python code for the eeepc to talk to the network and control the whole couch) is here. the couch was conceived of and built in five feverishly hacktastic days with a team of three: Edwin Dertien, Ralph Meijer, and myself. the massage couch had rfid readers built into the armrests and gave you a longer massage if you weren’t yet friended in the picnic conference’s social network. it was all wireless and powered by a 12v lead-acid battery, thus the mobility factor. we hacked the living daylights out of every single hardware component in the couch, and started to document what we did, the most extensive being the add-on circuits to control the once-static massage controllers. we upgraded them to pulse width modulation controls and wrote our own massage programs. check out the massage couch’s project page for more info.

by the way, if you were wondering what happens when the hardware team finishes and the poor lone coder is left to do some late night coding on the last night:

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plugging you in

Posted in conferences, hardware hacking on June 17th, 2008 by fabienne

hacked ipod cable

i finally got all the slides from this spring’s talk-tour uploaded. warning: all are in pdf format, and all are photo-heavy. contact me if you want them in open office or ppt versions.

“future fabrics” talk at dorkbot, description here, slides here.

“building the future” talk at re:publica, description here, slides here.

“hardware hacking on the cheap” at ggd, description here, slides here.

[photo: 5-minute-hacked mini jack male-male cable for a girl geek road trip, made from parts from dave’s basement, stripped with a pair of scissors, and some scotch tape. ghetto-tastic. photo by elisa.]