We are now one week into the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge, and the activity level on mailing lists, Google groups and blogs really spells out that everyone is gearing up for what will undoubtedly be a truly epic competition! So far, the communication between the hackerspaces has been pretty massive, and I'm starting to get my hopes up that - as well as all the inherent benefits of 30+ groups of talented, creative, determined people working on 30+ projects that will enhance education world-wide - this challenge could also be a major contribution to a much tighter global network of hackerspaces.
On a somewhat smaller and more immediate scale, though, it's time for a summary of the first week of work on the BioBoard project at Noisebridge. So far, we've introduced the crew, built a wiki, laid out a fairly detailed project plan, delegated main tasks, set major dead-lines, tested (so far unsuccessfully) our first prototype sensor build, held our first meeting and posted (almost) 3 updates to this blog. Which, when you put it like that, seems not too shabby at all for a bunch of geeks, freaks, and mad scientists.
So, in the very sketchiest of outlines, our plan is this: to build a thermometer, a dissolved oxygen sensor and a NIR spectrophotometer ourselves within 3 weeks, and supplementing with a commercial pH meter. Failing that, we'll buy a thermometer and an oxygen probe as well and spend the last 2 weeks attempting to hack them instead, concentrating on standardising data protocols, building the supporting controller hardware and making the graphics look pretty. There's a somewhat more detailed time line here if you want to know more about who will be doing what when.
In other news, your truly heaved a great sigh of relief earlier this evening, when Charlie and Rolf (whom I will introduce if he turns out to be a recurring member of the cast) took over the DS18B20 digital temperature sensor prototype project - Charlie took home the set-up I posted pictures of on Friday, while Rolf got the spare chip I had. After much agitation and bugging of friends, I'd finally managed to get the sketch to compile correctly and upload it succesfully to the Arduino board, only to receive absolutely zero signal in return. Somewhat dismayed, I figured I had probably fried the chip when encasing it in heat glue, so I wired up the other chip, triple-checking my circuit before I plugged it in, only to get the same result: nothing. Not exactly an impressive feat, considering that the 1-wire devices must be about the simplest thing in the world to work with, at least as home electronics go. -1.
Fortunately, we not all as hopeless as this shamed geek; Sean has already made quite a bit of progress on the dissolved oxygen sensor (dO) or optode, which is basically a solid state probe that uses a ruthenium complex as a visual (fluorescent) indicator of oxygen concentration. He has promised pictures and progress reports documenting his trials, so those should be coming up shortly. Stay tuned to this blog for more exciting updates on his exploits into the world of modern-day alchemy, and don't forget: Be excellent to each other, dudes!