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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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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boxee on ubuntu jaunty 64 bit notes

Posted in how-to, open source, projects on October 21st, 2009 by fabienne

i have a media server that i have been working on (slowly) with 2.2 terrabytes of space, an ubuntu machine, amd 64 bit, with mythtv running (german dvb-t or cable tv recording capabilities). all this is well and good but i wanted a better interface to navigate my growing movie and tv show collection. enter xbmc, the interface optimized for couch use (aka with a remote) for navigation of a home theater pc. i have had some woes setting up xbmc, and about a year ago someone recommended trying boxee as it is xmbc + online social network, so you can see what your friends are watching and loving. it turns out boxee still doesn’t have package binaries for 64 bit linux machines, so there are a few hacks to get it working. here is what i did yesterday (after upgrading my ubuntu box to 9.04 jaunty most of the day). i tried a lot of different ways of getting boxee to work, here is what finally worked for me, a bash script for grabbing the newest package (hard to find url on boxee’s site, this script helps with that) and it installs getlibs, a way to getlibs for 64 bit machines with 32 bit packages.

and then to get the network recognized by boxee, add this:

sudo apt-get install lib32nss-mdns

next on my list is getting lirc (the infrared remote control stuff) working so my remote works better with mythtv (some buttons working) and to work at all with boxee (not recognized at all). it’s fun to pick up working on all of this after putting it aside for over a year!

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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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