Stokes' ProjBlog

A journal documenting innumerable, mostly terminally in-progress undertakings. Nerdiness abounds.


Junk Box DrawBot June 13, 2013

Filed under: Miscelaneous Projects — Stokes @ 2:59 pm

Junk Box DrawBot, Front (?)Someone in the Introduction to Arduino class I teach at Artisan’s Asylum asked me what could he actually do with the knowledge and materials I supply. As an answer, I built a robot, using materials from class and random parts in my junk box.

It took maybe 90 minutes to construct, nearly half of which was simply rooting around for just the right part. I might have done it in less time if I’d used proper tools; all I used was a power drill, a nibbling tool, and a needle file, things I had readily available at home.


A real pain in the neck September 5, 2012

Filed under: Miscelaneous Projects — Stokes @ 1:12 am

Quick-and-dirty laptop standI’ve been working on my laptop on the couch quite a lot, and it’s started to cause me real problems. I’ve been getting intense ‘thunderclap’ headaches, and they appear to be a posture-related injury: slouching on the couch, looking at something in my lap has done something awful to my neck. To improve things, I’ve started spending my day working at Artisan’s Asylum, where I set up on one of the electronics shop benches. That’s better, but looking down at the screen is still aggravating my neck, so I put together a quick-and-dirty laptop stand out of yet more scrap wood and junk bin hardware.

The sides are part of an IKEA spice rack, and the other metal parts are server rack-mounting hardware. Thumbscrews on either side permit adjustment of both the height and the angle.

My neck is already feeling better.


We have liftoff! July 23, 2012

Filed under: GAMBY — Stokes @ 1:17 am

GAMBY: The first 20 packaged kits!GAMBY has officially launched! The first 20 kits have been packaged and are available for sale on! Jimmie Rodgers is also selling them in his touring soldering workshop.

The GAMBY site is also live, featuring detailed assembly instructions, programming documentation, sample resources and tools. The libraries and sample code are all up on Github, too.

GAMBY is Games for Arduino, Made By You — an acronym that I totally didn’t make up retroactively to fit the name. I can’t wait to see what people do with it!



I gotta gotta gotta gotta Kinect June 13, 2012

Filed under: Miscelaneous Projects — Stokes @ 9:52 pm

Kinect standMy Xbox 360 unceremoniously died one night, leaving the fate of New Vegas and the whole of the Mojave Wasteland hanging. My initial attempt at reflowing the solder, despite using the proper equipment, was an abject failure. Admittedly, I didn’t try as hard as I could have; I’d been coveting a Kinect for a while, and I finally had an excuse to get one cheap as part of an Xbox bundle. Say what you will about Microsoft, but the Kinect is a cool piece of hardware.

I didn’t originally intend to use it as a video game controller, but since it would take some time before I got it set up for hacking, I wanted to try it out. That required finding a place to put it that was high enough and — to work in my narrow living room — also as far back as possible. If this were the olden days, I’d have put it on top of the TV; here, in the future where TVs are thinner than they are tall, that isn’t an option. I’d have to get more creative.



Coffee to go May 9, 2012

Filed under: Miscelaneous Projects — Stokes @ 8:28 pm

New coffee table baseMy coffee table has a history, or at least its top does. When he was half my age, my father worked in a department store; there, he picked up a nice piece of plywood from an old window display. It, as a coffee table, followed him through grad school and eventually to his first professorship in the Pioneer Valley where I was born. My mother used it (with a different base) as a slide for me as a baby. I remember first eating Chinese food for the first time off of it. When I was in junior high and high school, the surface (with another base) bore witness to many Dungeons explored, Dragons slain, and liters of Mountain Dew consumed. The table (with yet another base) was the first piece of furniture in my first place after college. hen I moved to the Boston area to continue my career in the game industry, it came with me.

But now, its base is disintegrating again. (more…)


GAMBY’s Gone Gold! May 2, 2012

Filed under: GAMBY — Stokes @ 7:39 pm

GAMBY 1.0: Assembled board #2I received this lumpy (and unsettlingly squishy) package from China. Inside were more than 500 fresh, clean GAMBY printed circuit boards!

This is pretty exciting. Prototypes are one thing, but this is something else. GAMBY is now, undeniably, a real thing.

More pictures after the cut!



Kickin’ it February 18, 2012

Filed under: Miscelaneous Projects — Stokes @ 1:06 am

Razor trailer, first attemptThe new Artisan’s Asylum space is big. Very big. 31,000 square feet big.

The space maintains a fleet of Razortm kick-scooters. In a space the size of Artisan’s Asylum, they are actually quite useful; the space is the width of two city blocks, and it can take several minutes to walk from one end to the other. A scooter can make it in half the time. The only problem with the scooters is that you really can’t carry much of anything on one. I decided to remedy that.

One of the scooters has a ‘basket’ on the front, made from a square nail bucket. It’s very handy, good for moving small tools from shop to shop, but you can’t carry anything much larger or heavier than that. I decided to build a trailer hitch and trailer for handling bulkier cargo.



Look upon my workbench, ye mighty, and despair! November 4, 2011

Filed under: Miscelaneous Projects — Stokes @ 10:35 pm

My built-in workbenchWith the wrap-up of the big Artisan’s Asylum buildout, I was finally able to outfit my own 100 square foot workspace and unpack the 64 cubic feet of stuff in my assigned gaylord*, everything shipped over from the old Willoughby & Baltic space on Joy Street.

The huge new Artisan’s Asylum space is part of the former Ames Safety Envelope factory on Tyler Street. The slim majority of the place has been divided into 50 and 100 square foot rental plots, separated by chest-high partitions. Even with wood, welding, machining, and electronics shops — each nearly as large as the entire space on Joy Street — there are more than 100 of these private spaces. My space is #7, directly behind the front desk. It’s also next to the electronics shop (E+R, for electronics and robotics) where I do most of my work.



GAMBY Prototype #2 boards are done! September 11, 2011

Filed under: GAMBY — Stokes @ 12:07 pm
The second prototype of my GAMBY LCD/game shield.

I haven’t been updating the blog, but I have been working on things. Among them is GAMBY, my LCD/game shield for Arduino. I just had a second batch of six prototype boards manufactured, this time by Laenof DorkbotPDX.


Hopefully, this is close to the final design; there are a few minor changes to be made, but those shouldn’t impact the pinout, layout or components. I’ll assemble one today to verify that it works, and I’ll be modifying the existing code libraries to match the revisions made since the previous prototype.




“How I Spent My Summer Vacation” November 29, 2010

Filed under: Miscelaneous Projects — Stokes @ 4:28 pm

I have some excuses for not updating my project blog in a long, long while. For one, I spent a month doing this:


Part 1:

Part 2:

Incidentally, do kids still write ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’ essays when they get back to school, or have they gone the way of Penmanship classes and Chisanbop?