Monday, April 18, 2016

Time: The Ultimate (Sometimes) Fix

Hello readers, Nicholas Dundorf here. Now many of us have had a lot of ongoing issues with technology in pretty much every part of our daily life. Oyster River High School is no exception. There's always some kind of glitch that someone will encounter on a work day when the laptops are out, or one day the network will be all but nuked. For me, it was in the Hack Shack. The Silhouette printer, one of the many marvels of the room, had sat next to me for a number of days begging to be used by me. Finally, I relented. I hit the power button on the sleek white machine and it whirred to life. My hands turned to the computer and I clicked on the "Silhouette" icon. Nothing happened.silhouette-cameo.jpg
The software simply refused to start. The icon would flash upon me clicking it, and nothing else would happen. To top things off, I couldn't even redownload the software due to school installation restrictions. I asked others about the problem and soon discovered that this one was unique to my school account and a few others.
After this predicament, I simply left the machine alone until deciding to try the machine a week or so later. This time, I clicked the icon and it booted right up! The next day, it did not. And the next day, it did. I was faced with a software that seemed to function on a whim. As time progressed, the software must have warmed up to me (or something), because it worked more and more consistently. This brought me to a realization. Perhaps the fix was just that: time. Sometimes with computer problems, on simply has to be patient, do a few reboots, and just wait. I don't really understand how each individual strip of code interacts between the Silhouette program and the computer. So sometimes, you've just got to let time fix the problem.

BBC's New Micro Computer

By. George Philbrick

Minimalistic programmable computers have been on the rise recently, especially in the educational field. There are the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi, and the Galileo. Each of these comes with its own strengths and weaknesses, but all have the general purpose of versatility and ease of use. Now, a new player will enter the field, the BBC micro:bit. This device's uniqueness comes from its specific intent to teach children how to program computers. Its educational prowess means that it is fairly simple to use, small, and inexpensive.
It comes with 25 red LEDs to create a sort of display, two buttons, a built in accelerometer, five input and output rings, and a built in magnetometer (This can detect compass bearings and even different types of metal). The coolest feature of all in my opinion is the smart bluetooth technology. This allows the micro:bit to connect to nearly any device with bluetooth technologies, including phones.
With so many younger people owning phones these days, the applications of a programmable microcomputer will be far more appealing to children. The ability to make a remote for their phone or television is pretty useful application.
Even better, the programs for the device can be made using mobile or desktop devices. This ease of access should open technology education up to large groups of people who never would have such an opportunity.
One million of these such devices will be given away to year 7 students in Britain. This will be a truly amazing accomplishment in the country and is something that I personally think all countries with technological capabilities should strive for. The micro:bit will soon be available for purchase to the public for an unannounced  price.

Works Cited
Martin, Jim. "Every Year 7 Kid in the UK Will Today Receive a BBC Micro Bit - but What Is That?" PC Advisor. PCA, 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
"The BBC Micro:Bit." BBC. BBC, 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Creating 3D Paper Designs Using the Silhouette Paper Cutter

By Thatcher Ervin

The Silhouette paper cutter is mainly used for cutting out two dimensional paper shapes to be pasted onto other surfaces. I figured I could take the two dimensional cut outs from the printer and make them into three dimensional objects. I opened up Silhouette Studio, the design software provided by Silhouette, and designed several shapes to fit together as polyhedra. I started with equilateral triangles with tabs on the side to glue them together. This is an icosahedron, a polyhedron made up of 20 faces of equilateral triangles. I also made a dodecahedron, which is a polyhedron with 12 faces. All of the faces are made up of pentagons and I tucked the tabs inside for this shape.
After I designed the two dimensional shapes on the computer, I cut them out using the Silhouette Cameo paper cutter. After they were cut out, I fold up all of the tabs on the sides that I used to connect all the pieces.Then I glued them all together piece by piece until it was all put together. Come to the Hack Shack if you'd like to see these in person or make one yourself.


By. George Philbrick

The Silhouette Printer in the Hack Shack has many capabilities beyond simply cutting out pieces of paper. Of course this primary function shouldn't be overlooked either. I am absolutely sure that not one person in this school could cut as well as the printer. The complicated cuts it can do work for many projects, from scrapbooking to building 3d models with pieces of paper.
The program which the printer uses is remarkably simple. It is a very easy to use drawing program, where all one needs do is draw where they wish the cuts to be. Then the user simply needs to plug their computer into the printer and click send to printer. There is no hassle, no exporting, and no difficulty.
The printer can be used for far more than scrapbooking; the sheets of material sold for the printer range from magnetic to stickers. So if one wants a bumper sticker for one's car, or a magnet for their fridge, they are perfectly able to do so.
In addition, the Hack Shack owns pens that the printer can use. These come in 24 different colors. All one needs to do is replace the blade with the pen, then the pen can trace all the lines that the printer would normally cut.
The only downside is the process by which one loads paper into the printer. It isn't very clear and it is easy to make a mistake. If you ever do use it, which I recommend you do, tape the paper you are cutting to the buildmat, place it so that its end is touching those white rollers and its left side lines up perfectly with the blue line, then press load. If it doesn't load straight, unload it, then load it again.
All in all, the Silhouette is a very interesting and useful tool which I recommend you try.

The Silhouette Cameo

The Silhouette Cameo
By:Rusat LaTulippe

The Silhouette CAMEO produces quick and clean lettering and designs and can cut through thin materials to create amazing visuals. The simplicity of the Silhouette CAMEO is appealing and is very easy to use, especially with its touch screen. 

Its blade makes it hard to cut through anything tougher than thin sticky paper or thin card stock.  It cannot do things such as engraving and embossing. Sometimes the touch screen requires a lot of pressure to work properly.

This cutting machine lacks versatility but is capable of creating amazing designs and cool art projects.  You can use the Silhouette CAMEO to make custom designs, stickers, cards and more.  The Silhouette CAMEO does not have the power required to cut through materials like the card stock paper we have (most of the time it gets stuck), but it is an excellent cutter for most crafting projects like drawing on paper and creating cool designs.  Not everybody needs an industrial strength cutting machine, but for those, like us, who want a basic cutter, the Silhouette CAMEO is the perfect match.



by Adam Hookway

Hey Everyone! So I decided since my last post was a DIY, I'll make a post for all my gamer fans.

Everyday, sitting at my desk playing "Stack" or Qubed" I feel like I'm missing out on my favorite games because my Iphone doesn't have the firmware to play anything off my steam account (which btw I've put over $200 into). So I did some research and found the solution to all my problems. It's an app called "KinoConsole" and it's the answer to our prayers.
(Link at the bottom)

Now this is only available to windows users, which can be a problem to us linux fans. (I don't say mac fans because chances are you're not a mac gamer... Gross;) But even though it has its short-comings, it's a great little app.

To use you need to install KinoConsole on your phone and PC. Then through a short install session, and reading a few instructions, you can sinc up your phone and laptop and play any of your steam games from your phone. Play FTL with a touch pad, or Crysis with customization, virtual joysticks and buttons. It works amazing and I suggest it to anyone who is going brain dead from hours of color switcher.
Thanks for reading,


PS: The full version is worth the $5. The graphics and speed are amazing. 

PC Site

Iphone App Store

Heretic's/Blasphemer's(Android) App Store

Friday, April 8, 2016

What Really is a Drone?

by Jason Boryszewski

Drones have exploded in popularity over the past few years due to their ease of use and access. The FAA even instituted a program because of their popularity that requires all "unmanned aircraft systems," as the FAA refers to them, over 0.55 lbs to be registered online.  Drones available to consumers range from $50 to $2,000 and even beyond.  Obviously within such a large price range there is a wide variety of features available, from gps and autopilot to stabilized camera systems.  At it's core though, all drones are made up of the same basic components.  There are seven different basic components that are present in nearly all drones: the main controller, sensors, electronic speed controllers, receivers, motors, propellers, and the transmitter.  
The main controller, as the name suggests, is an embedded computer that is the "brains" of the UAV(another name for drones).  There are many different designs of MC.  Some are modular (removable) and allow for modification and attachment of accessories such as gimbal controllers.  Others are included on a circuit board along with sensors and electronic speed controllers.  Modular designs tend to be on higher end drones, but allow for upgrades and modification.
Sensors allow the drone to keep track of its movement, and communicate that information back to the main controller so changes can be made.  How fast the drone is accelerating, in which direction it is travelling, and whether the drone is right side up or not are all determined by the sensors.  Electronic speed controllers perform a similar purpose, as I'm sure you are able to figure out.
The receiver, paired with the transmitter, allows the operator to communicate with the drone.  Instructions are sent from the transmitter and are received by the receivers.  Flying a drone is not like flying a RC plane though.  Many drones include autopilot features, and also allow for pre programmed flight paths.  This is part of the reason drones exploded in popularity.  Everyone remembers getting an RC plane for Christmas and crashing it catastrophically the first time they flew it, but this is not the case with drones.
The last piece of the puzzle are motors and propellers.  For each motor there are two parts: one motor that rotates clockwise and another that rotates counterclockwise.  The motors themselves are usually brushless electric motors.  Most consumer UAVs use propellers made out of plastic, but UAVs designed for extreme performance and commercial purposes use carbon fiber propellers which are much more rigid, but also more dangerous.  The most popular UAV design known as the "quadcopter" has 4 propellers, hence the name quadcopter, but there are many different designs that include up to even 8 propellers.
As mentioned earlier, the more expensive the UAV the more features included.  On higher end drones features such as GPS and "optical flow" become available.  GPS allows the drone to hover automatically, return to the operator on demand, and generally have a much higher degree of autonomy.  Optical flow is essentially indoors GPS, allowing the drone to fly much better indoors.  Also higher end drones come with better transmitters that include features such as telemetry.  Telemetry is just a feature that allows you to track data related to your flight such as speed, battery voltage, and altitude right on your transmitter.

Creating a "Spy Watch"

by Adam Hookway

Hey Everyone! This is my first blog post and I have a super exciting idea for all of you DIY-ers that you're gonna love.

"A spy watch"

Now I can assume you know what I mean by this. But if you don't, it's the watch James Bond sports as a two way radio, nerve gas emitter, garrote, etc. Although all those things would be amazing to have on your wrist, most of his gadgets are mildly illegal in the states to say the least. But what I can show you is how I made my watch have Bluetooth capabilities.

I started off with a basic Bluetooth headset meant for those business types. I ripped it apart and stripped it to its barest parts. Then I went to my local Walmart, strolled over to the $10 watch section and grabbed the largest one in stock.
Next I emptied it of all moving parts, turning it into a neat little wrist locket.
I then placed the Bluetooth speaker inside the watch, making sure it fit correctly. It may turn out you need to widen portions of the watch, which I accomplished by using a dremmel tool with a cutting wheel. With a few quick adjustments, my headset fit snug into the watch.
After fitting the headset into the watch I cut an access port into the side so I would later be able to charge the headset, once placed into the watch.
Just above where the speaker sits, three holes should be drilled into the glass (it's most likely plastic if it was <$20). These should be small, and not noticeable at first glance.
Finally, print off and cut out a picture of an analog clock (harder to tell it's not actually moving) and glue it to the glass, on the inside.
Once everything is in place, you're free to hot-glue that puppy down and reassemble it! It's great for showing off to your friends, or low-key listening to music. This method is great for whatever you want to make into a phone, just realize that the object you inject with the headset most likely will need to be taken apart so be however liberal with your items you choose.
Thanks for reading,


Thursday, April 7, 2016

I'll Take The Burger Please

By Alex Szymanski

We all know that there are great things that you can do with the 3D printer but what about the most important things? Like food?  Well fear not because the era of 3D printed food is here. According to 3D, there are great easy ways to begin printing right now! The first is with an extruder add on called the BotBQ. This 3D extruder add on turns your printer into a grill! (eventually) With this you can print burgers and cook them in whatever shape you want! Although through my research, the quality of the burgers really varies.

Another form of food printers is a printer that prints candy and toppings for cakes and other baked goods. This is more realistic than the mean printer but at the same time could be done by people without the 500$ price tag.

The last from of printer is the one that is being looked at my the military. This printer would be used to make nutritious and tasty meals for soldiers in the field and would be able to provide them with meals on demand.This printer is still heavily in the works and needs a lot of improvement before it is rolled out.

The world of 3D printed food is far from close. All of the products that I have seen are either strong impractical or need much more work before they are rolled out for public use. The most practical use for these would be pasta. Pasta is incredibly hard to make on your own but a 3D printer would have no issue with that.

So, hold off on your purchases because the world of 3D printed food is not cooked all the way though yet.

Works Cited
Luimstra, Jelmer. "US Army Might Use Food Printers in the Future." 3D Printing., 23 July 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Luimstra, Jelmer. "How To Get 3D Printing Into Your Kitchen - Food Printing." 3D Printing., 09 June 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Luimstra, Jelmer. "A New Candy Printer to Enter the Market." 3D Printing., 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Making a Game

By. George Philbrick

When I first tried video game design, I had no clue what I was doing. Now I can comprehend and write in a couple programming languages. The first game I designed was made using GameMaker studio. It was a trashy three quarter view endless zombie survival game. That being said, the process was insanely fun and intuitive.
What's great about the program is it can be used by people who haven't a clue what they are doing to create a simple fun game while learning about coding. I began with just a simple zombie and player, the player could shoot and the zombies would simply spawn randomly. Simple right? That's only how it starts.
Once one starts making a game, one is immediately immersed into an easy and fast learning curve. All of sudden, one is no longer worrying about simply making the character move when one presses a key, but about how to make the water pump in that randomly generated house give a different amount of water to the player depending on the distance it is from the nearest water source. Or how to make sure the zombies chase the player once he gets on a bike and becomes a new object.
The program is amazingly simple to use. It all operates using objects and variables, teaching some of the most complicated programming ideas in an intuitive way. It even has a built in photo editor for designing the sprites for the objects you make. To code using it, one simply needs to drag and drop a vast array of code blocks.
Game Maker has been used to design many games that are sold for profit, such as Nuclear Throne and Gunpoint. Nuclear Throne has a 97% positive rating on Steam and is has been purchased by over 5,000 people.
The one downside to the application is that it is only free to an extent. The free version has all 2d features of the regular one and a massive amount of capabilities, but leaves a watermark on the game. If one truly wanted to publish a game, one would have to pay $149 for the full version. This removes the watermark and adds a module allowing the design of 3d games. Additionally, a user may pay extra for export to mobile devices.
All in all, I think one can ignore the watermark for the free version, as it still offers a vast amount of fun and learning opportunities. The upgrades are worth it if one truly intends to publish a game, as in reality the full version is not that expensive. So if you want to mess around with video games and try to make your own idea a reality, Game Maker is definitely for you.

Replacing Essential or Decorative Components of Household Objects

By Thatcher Ervin

Think of the last time you've lost a small piece of an item, that has made it useless or not fully functional; a pen cap, a missing chess or checkers piece, a glue cap, or dial? There are tons of items that are discarded, or made useless, due to the loss of a very small, but necessary piece. These pieces are often just as hard to get as the full item itself, so they are rarely replaced. But now, with the technology from our 3D printer at the school, these parts can be easily and effectively be replaced.
The core of one of the library's tape dispenser had gone missing, therefore making it useless to the library. The tape dispenser sat in a drawer in the library for about a year until we had the idea of remodeling the core on the 3D printer. The first step to remodeling it was taking measurements. I used a caliper to gather all the most important measurements of the core. Then I measured the inside diameter of the tape because that was the easiest way to get an accurate measurement. I redesigned the piece in Google Sketchup and made the most practical design for the 3D printer. I calculated the price of the print from the projected print material and the whole print cost less than 30 cents. This cost less than any of the ones I found online, nevermind transportation. The next day I printed the design, and it was ready and fully functional in under a day from being requested.
If you would like any similar thing replaced, come to the Hack Shack located in the library and we can design it and replace it for you.