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September 15 2014

On intergalactic space travel, sound waves, the Guzman prize, and human communication

So I’m just back from a 400-odd year space flight, which felt like a weekend, but actually took 270 years, depending on where you’re standing. Imagine the jetlag! Sunday was mostly taken up with the first recorded arts-based intergalactic mission in human history, also known as Starship Hack Circus. Starship Hack Circus

My involvement in the project started some months ago, with a trip to the utterly brilliant Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum in Howth, Co. Dublin, and some research into early radio transmissions for some upcoming workshops. It was in Howth that I first learned of Fred Cummins and his Guzman Boxes. From Wikipedia:

“The Prix Guzman (Guzman Prize) was a 100,000 franc prize announced on December 17, 1900[1] by the French Académie des Sciences to “the person of whatever nation who will find the means within the next ten years of communicating with a star and of receiving a response.” It was sponsored by Clara Gouget Guzman in honor of her son Pierre. Pierre Guzman had been interested in the work of Camille Flammarion, the author of La planète Mars et ses conditions d’habitabilité (The Planet Mars and Its Conditions of Habitability, 1892). Communication with Mars was specifically exempted as many people believed that Mars was inhabited at the time and communication with that planet would not be a difficult enough challenge.[2] Nikola Tesla claimed in 1937 that he should receive the prize for “his discovery relating to the interstellar transmission of energy.”[3] The prize was awarded to the crew of Apollo 11 in 1969.

Cummins, a keen astronomer and radio enthusiast, had retired to Howth in the 1930s, where he built hundreds of basic radio kits to try to detect alien transmissions and claim the prize. Each used a helical resonator tuned to a specific narrow band of frequencies, in an attempt to pinpoint an ET signal. Ultimately, Cummins failed, but left behind a huge legacy of hundreds of beautifully crafted yet utterly useless ‘Guzman Boxes’.

Earlier this year, fellow Tog Dublin member Jeffrey Roe and I were gifted the shell of a Guzman Box from the Cummins estate, little more than a wooden cube with a helical resonator attached, to restore and develop for the Hack Circus voyage. We decided to flip the Guzman prize on its head – instead of looking for extra-terrestrial communications, we would examine the signals that have left earth, to wander indiscriminately through the galaxy, acting as unwitting human ambassadors. With the help of woodworker extraordinaire Javier Leite we were able to return the box to something of its former glory. Jeffrey worked on engineering and code, while I researched appropriate transmissions, ably abetted by Benjamin Schapiro in the States (thank you again Ben!).

The box plays the most historically significant transmissions from exoplanet exploration, catalogued by where in the galaxy that transmission is now reaching. For example, Reginald Fessenden’s Christmas Eve 1906 transmission of Handel’s Largo (now reaching the planet HD 37124c in the Taurus System – the furthest reach of human art), a moving recording of Allied troops landing in France, 1916 (just now reaching the first-discovered-and-closest rogue planet CFBDSIR2149-0403) to the fall of the Berlin Wall, transmitting to possibly our closest neighbour in the habitable ‘Goldilocks’ zone – Gliese 667cc. What must our neighbours think of us?

Because it’s Hack Circus however, and that means never taking *anything* for granted, Jeff and I decided we couldn’t count absolutely on human means of aural detection. In space no-one can hear you scream (or sing along to Ken Dodd’s 1965 classic Tears for that matter – just now reaching habitable exoplanet Gliese 163c), so we needed a means to transmit audio through the vacuum of space, and through whichever aural cavity alien physiology might have evolved. The safest bet was bone conduction, and a method ruthlessly stolen from Dave McKeown at Artekcircle earlier in the year – biting down on a copper rod attached to a motor, attached to an amp. Here’s a tweet of @metabrew, demonstrating technique -

And the Guzman Box itself: IMG_20140914_184218 The Guzman Box will be available to try at Tog Dublin on Culture night – this coming Friday 19th September, along with the Tachyonic Antitelephone , and a host of other art, craft, tech, and engineering projects from fellow members.

Two weeks left in the Pumping Station: One Design Contest


Only two weeks left in the competition! Thank you to everyone who’s sent in a design, so far, and I look forward to seeing the designs to come!

You can submit your entries throughout this month of September, with the deadline on the 30th. after that will be a week of member voting. The winning submission will get a complete set of the shirt (any size), sticker, and pin, as well as a “special meet and greet with the president of Pumping Station: One” (Bry asked me to include that last bit).

Guidelines for submissions:

  • Designs are for the tees, 1″ buttons, and 3″ stickers(round or square, depending on the chosen design). Unless you think the design will be optimized to look good in all three formats, I suggest you edit your designs for each application. By all means, have the same elements in each, but keep in mind that the button has less space for detail than the shirt.
  • Unless you’re designing in vector format, make sure your original copy will be of sufficient size and detail. The canvas you work in should be about 10″ wide by 15″ tall and at LEAST 400PPI if not working in vector.
  • Be excellant! No inappropriate themes. Remember that PS: One is a safe space, I know we have just f@*!ing do it as a central theme, but keep it PG or your entry will be invalid for the contest.

Send your submissions to with “Design Contest Submission” in the Subject line


September 14 2014

Pints of water all round!

IMG_20140914_171411Today saw the inaugural meeting of the Leeds HackSpace “You better believe I’m going to taste all the ingredients” (Lick All The Things!) Brewers and caffeine aficionados society (name to be confirmed).

tldr: Equipment was sterilised, water was boiled and secret ingredients were weighed out to 2 decimal places of precision. Oh -and there’s a good chance we’ve actually made some beer, too!  (read more for how it went down)

Kicking off in the customary HackTime((HackTime: Somewhere between 15mintes and 54 years later than you agreed to start, finish or meet.)), BuildTheRobots managed for once not to be the last (Stanto receives today’s Early for Next Week Award) but was still late getting lost finding his own kitchen. After getting everyone together and asking the same questions twice, we were happily on the same page and ready to crack on.

As this was our first attempt brewing, we decided to go for the easy kit form, so here’s what we used:

IMG_20140914_155712First you start by sterilising everything. (Boiling?) hot water and a teaspoon of steriliser and clean your  bucket and stick thoroughly. Also make sure you rinse it well afterwards. Discard this water.

You need to heat up the tin of brewgunk. We laid ours on it’s side in a baking dish and then covered with boiling water. Over the course of 10minutes we kept turning the tin and used the opportunity to boil approximately 4 pints of water. By this point the tin seemed to be cooked through (even temperate, slight discolouration, glistening softly in the afternoon light) and if you’re following along without reading ahead, I should have told you earlier we removed the label.

Brew: The tin was opened and it’s now liquid contents dropped into the bucket. On top of this we put most of the boiling water, the rest of which was used to rinse out the tin (and burn my fingers slightly), everything was all combined in the bucket with use of the stick thing. The stuff from the tin didn’t taste too bad… marmitey with a bitter after. You could almost get away with it on toast.

IMG_20140914_160808Enhancement: Brew enhancer is basically your sugars and some 21century chemical magic in a bag.We had to wait for the temperature to drop slightly, except I got bored with waiting so stuck the bucket in the sink and applied some cold water to the outside. This also got boring quickly so we started pouring the Brew Enhancer in bit at a time combined with plenty more stick action. 1kg of enhancer for however much we were making, which happily worked out to be the entire packet. The enhancer was a really fine grain, very reminiscent of artificial sweetener and clumped up in pretty delicate structures as it got damp. It tasted of sugar and SuperMalt and I don’t think it’d be unpleasant in coffee. I tried some more to be sure. We mixed more vigorously.

Liquid: After the enhancing comes the watering it down to taste. We pumped for North Leeds flavoured water with just a hint of Roundhay Park; that is to say we used the tap and actually I think it’s piped in from Bradford. With the occasional swilling we ended up with 40 pints of liquid in the bottom of the barrel and a nice frothy froth on top. This didn’t taste as nice as it looked.

Caffeine: During our original planning we had spent some time discussing the best time for adding the caffeine powder and how much to use. I’d naturally concluded that “during all of the stages!” and “until it reaches saturation point!” were the correct dosages, but luckily cooler heads prevailed. Stanto had heard it on good authority that you didn’t want to add it too close to the start of the brew as it could lead to odd if not awful flavours. It was also decided that “enough to kill an elephant” was probably a little on the ambitious side for our first ale.

Whilst on our side of the room we were guestimating and slopping liquid around with a stick, on the other side Stanto was using maths and measuring doses out to within 3 decimal places of accuracy, and calculated 32mg per 100ml of water which should put us on a par with caffeine levels found in Red Bull (other branded gutrotters are available,) and it seems most people should be able to easily make it through over 100 cans before the caffeine levels put you into toxic shock.  I have been left 7.360g of caffeine powder which I will mix with water and add to the brew on Tuesday night.

Done (gone and forgot the yeast). And at that point we were done and congratulating ourselves. No rule0 violations and it wasn’t too sticky to walk out. We had decided to leave the lid off our fermentation bucket until Tuesday as the start of the reaction can be quite vigorous with plenty of gas escaping. I’ve elastic-banded a tea-towel over the opening to keep most things out. Someone then asked the question “what’s in that silver packet” and we realised we needed to add the yeast. This gets sprinkled on top of the foamy gunk (think River Calder for reference. For reference to the reference think Ankh Morpoch) and not mixed in as I would have expected. As Joe explained using science words, it starts as a <something> reaction before later becoming… the other sort.

So that’s it. I forget about it until Tuesday, add the powder and then dri— -what do you mean three more weeks? I can’t wait that long for a beer… why didn’t we think of this a fortnight ago?

Crew der abgestürzten Raumstation c-base gibt technische Unterstützung für Kulturraumschiff

Am 5.9.2014 dockte ein persönliches Shuttle mit dem Ziel Hamburg von unserer äußeren Luftschleuse ab. 6 Crewmember waren unterwegs zu einer technischen Unterstützungsmission für das Kulturraumschiff MS Stubnitz [Website] in Hamburg.

photo by falque

Die MS Stubnitz im Trockendock

Das Kulturraumschiff MS Stubnitz ist ein ehemaliges Kühlschiff [ Stubnitz_(Schiff)], aus der Fischereiflotte der DDR. Es beherbergt seit 1992 eine Crew von Freiwilligen, die mit diesem Schiff Kultur und Kunst in die Seehäfen des Nord- und Ostseeraums bringen.

Als voll zugelassenes Seeschiff für unbegrenzte internationale Fahrt muss die Stubnitz alle 5 Jahre ihre Klasse erneuern (quasi “Schiffstüv”). Teil dieser amtlichen Untersuchung ist eine Begutachtung des Zustands der Hülle, welche nur in einem Trockendock erfolgen kann. Die durch das Trockendock und die Klassenerneurung entstehenden Kosten konnten nur teilweise durch Rücklagen aufgefangen werden, für den anderen Teil der enstehenden Kosten gibt es eine bedrohliche Kostendeckungslücke, die nur durch ein Crowdfunding abgedeckt werden kann.

Selbstverständlich muss sich das Kulturraumschiff in dieser finanziellen Situation auf freiwillige Helfer verlassen, weil das Personal für solche Arbeiten nicht bezahlt werden kann. Die Crew aus der c-base traf Freitagabend ein und begann Samstag morgen vor Sonnenaufgang mit der ersten Arbeitsschicht. Im Trockendock werden auch die Ankerketten untersucht, weshalb die Ankerketten vollständig im Trockendock ausgebreitet waren. Dieser Umstand bot die Chance den Kettenkasten (Aufbewahrungsschacht für die Ankerketten) zu reinigen, denn dort hatte sich über das letzte Jahrzehnt eine mehrere Kubikmeter große Menge Schlamm angesammelt. Dieser Schlamm bestand aus Seewasser, Meeresboden, Rost, Eisenstaub und Schmierfett der Ankerwinde.

spezialle c-base EVA Overalls wurden für diese schmutzige Mission erzeugt.

spezialle c-base EVA Overalls wurden für diese schmutzige Mission erzeugt.

Aufgrund der besonderen Enge des Kettenkastens im Bauch des Schiffs konnte hier nur mit Muskelkraft gearbeitet werden. Nur mittels spezieller Schutzkleidung war es möglich diese Mengen an Schmutz mittels Eimern über eine Höhendistanz von 5 Metern dort rauszuhiefen und über eine enge Treppe zu tragen. Dabei stellten wir fest, dass die Holzbohlen, auf denen die Ankerketten lagern, teilweise zerbrochen waren. Aus den an Bord befindlichen Holzmengen konnte unsere Crew entsprechende Mengen an Bongossi-Tropenholz entnehmen und mittels einer Tischkreissäge, die elektrisch vorher instand gesetzt werden musste, die Bohlen ablängen. Das Tropenholz ist an dieser Stelle technisch notwendig, weil es nass nicht verrottet und die tonnenschwere Stahlketten in dieser anspruchsvollen chemischen Umgebung jahrelang tragen kann.

Der Backbord Kettenkasten von oben mit Crewmember

Der Backbord Kettenkasten von oben mit Crewmember

Samstag abend übernahm ein Teil unserer Crew eine Schicht an der Außenhaut und entfernte Rost und Farbe mittels einer 500 bar Hochdruckanlage, die Wasser gepulst auf die Außenhaut schiesst. Obwohl wir alle keine Höhenangst haben, waren die hydraulischen Steiger nicht auf den Rückstoß der 500 bar Anlage ausgelegt und so wurde es ein Rodeoritt im Trockendock, bei dem wir alle plötzlich doch wieder Höhenangst hatten.

Sonntag morgen vor Sonnenaufgang (06:00!!!) gingen die Arbeiten an der Außenhülle weiter, paralell auf zwei Steigern wurde gestrichen und gespottet, also Rostblasen und Risse mit der 500 bar-Anlage punktbehandelt, um einen sauberen Haftgrund für die Farbe zu schaffen (oder anders ausgedrückt: man schiesst sich einen Haufen Farbsplitter ins Gesicht und hält dabei gefühlte 10kg in den Händen).

zwei Crewmember auf einem Steiger an der Backbord-Bordwand der Stubnitz

zwei Crewmember auf einem Steiger an der Backbord-Bordwand der Stubnitz

Die Außenmission wurde am Nachmittag auf dem Vordeck der Stubnitz abgeschlossen, um anlässlich des Geburtstags von Ihmis-Suski eine Flasche Champagner zu köpfen (ja, wortwörtlich…). Die Crew begab sich kurz darauf wieder in das persönliche Shuttle und begab sich zurück zur Raumstation.

Nachtrag: Am 13.9.2014 verließ das Kulturraumschiff MS Stubnitz das Trockendock und liegt nun wieder am Kai im Baakenhöft in Hamburg.
Gleichzeitig erreichte uns die Nachricht, dass die Klassenerneuerung erfolgreich war und die MS Stubnitz wieder für 5 Jahre ein vollständig zugelassenes internationale Seeschiff ist, also ein weiterer Betrieb wie bisher möglich ist. Als letzte Aufgabe gilt es nun noch für das Crowdfunding genug Unterstützer zu finden.

Aufruf:Die Crew der Stubnitz und die teilnehmden c-basecrewmember bitten euch herzlich, euch am Crowdfunding [] zu beteiligen, um einen weiteren Betrieb des Kulturraumschiffs Stubnitz zu ermöglichen.

September 13 2014

Awesome continues……

BoardsOur lonely little circuit board now has 511 friends and Light Night is fast approaching. Construction continues.

A phone with a frickin’ laser!

My recent acquisition of a Meade ETX-90 telescope with computer go-to system for locating objects in the sky got me thinking that it would be nice to have a system to locate objects in the sky when you’re looking through binoculars or a telescope that doesn’t have a computer and motors to drive it.  To that end I came up with the idea of mounting a green laser pointer, commonly used by astronomy nutz to point out objects in the sky to noobs, on a cell phone or tablet running a program such as Google SkyMap or Skeye.

sky laser all parts

CAD rendering of the parts

After much thought and a few prototypes I came up with a system that allows a laser to mount on a phone and that assembly to mount on a tripod, a handle, or a telescope.  The tube that holds the laser has adjustment screws to allow the laser to be aligned with the SkyMap on the phone.  It also has to slots that fit over standard gun sight rails.  On one side I have a phone/tablet bracket that has a gunsight rail and slides into the laser tube, and the other side can be used for a rail that mounts on a tripod or a handle.  Extra rails can be mounted on telescope tubes.  I haven’t yet designed a binocular mount, but will soon.



Parts printing on MegaMax

I printed the parts on MegaMax with Octave fluorescent red filament (that’s why the colors vary in the photos- the flash apparently excites the fluorescence in the picture with the handle).   All the parts fit VERY tightly together but I included screw holes for extra security.  The phone/tablet mounts on the bracket using velcro tape.  I think it may be better to print or buy a cheap case to fit the phone than screw it to the phone/tablet bracket.  I’ll be posting the design files to Thingiverse shortly.


Phone and laser mounted on handle


Phone and laser on a tripod



Reposted byriot riot

September 12 2014

Påmelding for loddekurs 4 oktober

Da er oktober og loddekurs snart i sikte!

Registrer dere på denne linken


Pax Instruments T400 datalogger on Kickstarter

September 11 2014

Stickers arrived

More stickers have arrived. Drop in and you can have one if you ask nicely.

2014-09-11 12.46.48

2014-09-11 12.47.07

September 10 2014

Beware! The UberCube is coming!

PixelIt doesn’t look much does it? How could something this mundane unleash such huge amounts of awesome?

Keep watching to find out!

September 06 2014

Solar Sun Chime Workshop
Letter Writing Workshop
Edible Arts and Crafts Design Workshop
Cat Dwelling Design Workshop
Soap Making Workshop
Embroidering in Architecture Workshop

What to do with Labor Day Leftovers

We have a couple of rocket scientists and many members interested in model rockets, so one of the members threw out the idea of launching rockets and having a BBQ in the local park.  Aside from the usual power line, roof, and tree issues it went off well.  Until it was over.  There were leftovers. […]

September 05 2014

Reverse Engineering with Hopper

Movie Night: Codebreaker

It’s movie night time! This drama-documentary was screened last year in Chicago, and it covers the life and difficulties of Alan Turing.



“Alan Turing is the genius British mathematician who helped save millions of lives by breaking the German naval Enigma code during World War II. He also was the visionary scientist who gave birth to the computer age, pioneered artificial intelligence, and was the first to investigate the mathematical underpinnings of the living world. Turing is one of the great original thinkers of the 20th century who foresaw the digital world in which we now live. In the eyes of many scientists today, Turing sits alongside Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Charles Darwin at the table of scientific greats.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Instead of recognition for his genius, Alan Turing was driven to a terrible despair and early death – by the nation he had done so much to save…”

When: Friday September 5, 7:30 PM-9:30 PM
Doors open at 7. Feel free to BYOB. Afterwards there will be discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

Where: PS:One Lounge

Additional links of interest: 1.)
“On Computable Numbers,” which lays out computability and the universal turing machine


“Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” which contains the Turing Test

September 03 2014


Vi har det siste året laget en del instructables på HackBergen. Disse kan man finne her
Det eneste som kreves for å komme med på søket er at man tagger med “hackbergen”

For noen dager siden ble det postet en ekstremt flott ny instructable fra to av våre medlemmer, som også er med i konkurransen om en laserskjæremaskin. Stem på den, så kan en Epilog være innen rekkevidde! :)

HackBergen LED Edge Lit Sign

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