Oct 02

Friday Post: Raspberry Pi Display and Orlando IX

Hey All,

Happy Friday!

This weekend is Orlando IX.  It’s the first time this event is happening, and they are trying to make it like Orlando’s SXSW.  Let’s see if they can pull it off.  My coworkers are going to be there representing UCF, while me and some friends are going to be showing off PiPlay, and our custom arcade cabinets.

I recently got one of the Official Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Displays, and it is amazing.  I love it.  PiPlay looks great on it.

2015-09-26   2015-09-27 (1) 2015-09-27


2015-09-30 (1)

I’ve been working on some prototype cases for the display :)

Wish us luck, this weekend is going to be crazy!



Sep 18

Friday Post: Maker Faire Orlando 2015 Was Awesome!

Hey All,

Maker Faire Orlando 2015 was amazing!  It was awesome.  So much fun was had by all.  We set a new world record for the tallest arcade machine (playing Bubble Bobble).  I am so proud of all my fellow makers that made the event a success!


You may have noticed an all black arcade cabinet and a game being played at our booth.  A few friends and I are working on a classic shoot em up style game, and it is getting really good.  Hopefully I’ll have more to say about that real soon ™.

Have a good weekend all!


Sep 11

Friday Post: Orlando Maker Faire is here!

Hey All!

Orlando Maker Faire is here!!!  If you are in Orlando, make your way to the Orlando Science Center and come see 300+ exhibits including PiPlay and our custom arcade machine!

IMG_5647.JPG-1 IMG_5648.JPG-1


Factur, FamiLAB,  PiPlay, and Free Play Florida also have the worlds largest arcade machine being setup!  It stands at 15 feet tall and plays Bubble Bobble!

IMG_1827 playing_some_bubble_bobble__1024

The screen is 60″ and the buttons are 2.5″.  This thing is a beast.  More pictures to come!

I am exhausted from the push to get this all done today!  Hope to see you there!

Sep 05

Friday Post: Another week, another Make: article!

Hey All,

Maker Faire is in one week!  Holy cow!  Not enough time to get everything done!

We are on Make: again, this time talking about the quest to make the worlds largest arcade game!




My own exhibit will be about PiPlay and my own arcade cabinet that I’m building:


That’s all for this week!

Have a great weekend!




Aug 28

Friday Post: Cool Stuff for Maker Faire Orlando

Hey All,

First week of the semester is done!  Can’t say everything went off without a hitch.  Ran into a nasty timezone issue between servers that I just couldn’t figure out.  One image, two servers cloned from that image.  When pulling the info from Python one reported UTC, the other Eastern.  Tried a bunch of different ways to force Eastern, but eventually used this:

from datetime import datetime
from pytz import timezone
fmt = "%m/%d/%Y %I:%M:%S"
# Current time in UTC
now_utc = datetime.now(timezone('UTC'))
print now_utc.strftime(fmt)
# Convert to US/Eastern time zone
now_eastern = now_utc.astimezone(timezone('US/Eastern'))
print now_eastern.strftime(fmt)

So yeah, that was a fun couple days trying to make sure our data wasn’t 4 hours off :)  Also, we might be getting hit by a Tropical Storm / Hurricane on Monday.  Yay.

Onto the cool stuff!  Maker Faire Orlando!

I am working on two projects for Maker Faire.  The first is with Factur and FamiLAB.  We are making the worlds LARGEST arcade cabinet!  It is so awesome.  I can’t wait for the electronics to come in so I can help wire it up.  I’ll be posting more details as we get closer to the Faire!

facturworldsbiggest facturforscale

The top panel was recently added on, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it because it is about an inch from touching the ceiling of the warehouse, and I just couldn’t get a good angle on it.  This thing is massive!  It’s a beast!

My personal project is a new modular arcade cabinet.

This is a 3 piece cabinet that breaks down into sections for easy movement, transporation, and customization.  My main requirement was that it had to fit in my PT Cruiser, everything from there was negotiable.  This is what it looks like so far:

2015-08-26 copy1/3 Model.  Cat for Scale.

IMG_5534 IMG_5533 IMG_5516 IMG_5514 IMG_5511Team working the ShopBot CNC Machine.


3D Printed a Bulbasaur using glow in the dark filament!


Have a good weekend all!





Aug 21

Friday Post: Start of Semester

Hey All,

Sorry for not posting last weekend.  I needed a break.  I have been super swamped these past two weeks.  Fall semester begins on Monday, and for some reason, this feels like a weird one.  Something is in the air.  My team is launching a new app for teachers and students.  It’s coming out of pilot phase after a year.  I’m so excited and nervous!

Of course things didn’t roll out as they were supposed to.  Network errors, department ticket freezes, ubuntu issues…everything but the software has been blowing up around me.  Though this means on Monday, everything will work A-Ok!.  If everything went smoothly, I would really be worried :D

Next week, once I hopefully have some time to breathe, I will have some big things to post about.

Have a great weekend, and a great start of classes to my fellow friends in Academia!


Aug 07

Friday Post: Raspberry Pi iBeacon

Hey All,

Now that Hack Day at the office is out of the way, I would like to post about what I learned and some examples to get you started.  The following is some example code and an introduction to iBeacons.

Setting up a Raspberry Pi to be an iBeacon

Longer guide available here: Adafruit PiBeacon

On a fresh install of Raspbian, login to the terminal and type:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libusb-dev libdbus-1-dev libglib2.0-dev libudev-dev libical-dev libreadline-dev

Next we want to download, build, and install BlueZ, a bluetooth stack for Linux and the Raspberry Pi.

sudo mkdir bluez
cd bluez
sudo wget www.kernel.org/pub/linux/bluetooth/bluez-5.11.tar.xz
tar xf bluez-5.11.tar.xz
cd bluez-5.11
./configure --disable-systemd
sudo make install

Now that BlueZ is installed, plug in your Bluetooth Adapter and reboot your Pi with:

sudo reboot

When it is finished rebooting, log back in and go into the bluez folder by typing:

cd bluez/bluez-5.11

Check that your bluetooth device is listed by running:


You should see a few lines appear about hci0 and that it is currently down.

Issue these commands to bring up your bluetooth device:

 sudo tools/hciconfig hci0 up
sudo tools/hciconfig hci0 leadv 3
sudo tools/hciconfig hci0 noscan

Now we are going to turn the device into an iBeacon.

 sudo tools/hcitool -i hci0 cmd 0x08 0x0008 1E 02 01 1A 1A FF 4C 00 02 15 E2 0A 39 F4 73 F5 4B C4 A1 2F 17 D1 AD 07 A9 61 01 00 00 01 C8 00

The long set of character E2 0A 39 F4 73 F5 4B C4 A1 2F 17 D1 AD 07 A9 61 is actually the iBeacon’s ID.

The next four numbers: 01 00 are the major id and show up as 100.

The next four numbers 00 01 are the minor number and show up as just 1.

You don’t have to worry about the numbers before E2 and after the minor value 00 01.

You can set the major and minor to anything from 0 to 9999. This is how you will be able to tell apart different beacons in your app. The app is currently set to recognize Major 100 Minor 1 and Major 100 Minor 2.

If you change these numbers on your device, make sure to update the app.js code as explained below.

If you reboot your Pi, you will find that the bluetooth device has been reset and that it is no longer functioning as an iBeacon.

To fix this we are going to edit /etc/rc.local.

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

You will want to place the following code above the exit 0 at the end of the file.

sudo /home/pi/bluez/bluez-5.11/tools/hciconfig hci0 up
sudo /home/pi/bluez/bluez-5.11/tools/hciconfig hci0 leadv 3
sudo /home/pi/bluez/bluez-5.11/tools/hciconfig hci0 noscan
sudo /home/pi/bluez/bluez-5.11/tools/hcitool -i hci0 cmd 0x08 0x0008 1E 02 01 1A 1A FF 4C 00 02 15 E2 0A 39 F4 73 F5 4B C4 A1 2F 17 D1 AD 07 A9 61 01 00 00 01 C8 00

Press ctrl-x then y to save and quit.

Now reboot your Raspberry Pi and it should become an iBeacon on startup.

Application Side

We are now going to create the iBeacon app. The instructions below are to do this on a Mac with XCode, PhoneGap, and an iOS device with a developer subscription.  You can also do this on Android with Linux, OS X, or Windows, the Android SDK, and PhoneGap.

First, you want to install cordova. On a Mac or Linux machine use:

npm install -g cordova

(If you don’t have NPM on a Mac install the amazing tool Homebrew and then install node.js)

Then create your app directory:

cordova create beacon com.yourname.beacon beacon
cd beacon
cordova platforms add ios

(for android do cordova platforms add android, but make sure the android sdk is installed)

Add some basic plugins:

cordova plugin add org.apache.cordova.device
cordova plugin add org.apache.cordova.console

and the ibeacon plugin:

cordova plugin add https://github.com/petermetz/cordova-plugin-ibeacon.git

Now lets rename the www folder in the folder. We don’t need it, it’s the default phonegap application, but it could be a useful example later.

mv www www.example

Now let’s clone the ibeacon example!

git clone https://www.github.com/ssilverm/ibeacon-www www

Edit lines 7 – 23 of app.js to match the ID, Major, and Minor of your beacons. They will trigger the page changes on your device.

app.beaconRegions =
		id: 'Page1',
		major: 100,
		minor: 1
		id: 'Page2',
		major: 100,
		minor: 2


You can see how the above code is set to the same as the iBeacon we set up above, as well as another beacon with the minor value set to 2.

The next steps are how to build your iBeacon app for an ios device like an iPhone or iPad. I don’t have an Android device, but as long as you have the Android sdk the functions should be the same. Change ios for android.

When you have finished editing app.js, save it and then type:

cordova build ios

After a few minutes your terminal should read Build Succeeded.

Open the platforms/ios folder and double click on the beacon.xcodeproj file to launch XCode. With your device connected you should be able to run your app on the device.

Make sure location services are enabled for the app.

Now go walk around to where you set up the beacons and the pages should automatically change as you get closer to them. It will also revert to the main page as you move out of range.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 11.06.17 PM

I hope this has been helpful!

Have a great weekend all!


GitHub Code: https://github.com/ssilverm/ibeacon-www


Aug 01

Friday Post: Forgetting to set DNS

Hey All,

So for the past month I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out the issue where PiPlay says Could not check for updates.  I KNEW it was because of my server move but I couldn’t figure it out.  I couldn’t reproduce it on my end.  I really thought that it was because the requests module coudln’t do redirects.  Tonight I was dealing with a PiPlay issue with a cool teacher in Canada who is making games with her students, and we were troubleshooting a bad wifi card.  We got everything working, and then the can’t connect to piplay server message came up, and I was going to admit defeat, but I then saw it was going to WWW.pimame.org.  I had set up www on piplay.org, but I had never setup the WWW redirect on the old domain.  I feel dumb.  One DNS change and a 5 minute propagation and everything is working now.

On a side note, I designed this warp pipe planter in OpenSCAD, and printed it out today.  I drove out to a local nursery and picked up some venus fly traps, and voila!  One Super Mario Bros. “Piranha Plant” in my own home :D

11807716_10104381579905592_3981371305566672176_oYou can download the STL file at thingiverse, and it will be up on my Etsy as well.


Jul 25

Friday Post: Even more 3D printing…

Hey All,

This has felt like one of the longest weeks of my life.  Had a couple meetings about Maker Faire Orlando, pushed out some software that 60,000 students will be using in a month. It’s super stressful.  Luckily it’s Friday and I can end up sleeping until Sunday :D

I was hoping to have some cool stuff to show this week about the 3D printing software, but of course at the last minute stuff wasn’t working.

My 3D printer is a Micro3D 3D printer.  It’s a small $300 3D printer that is only now just getting people to hack on it.  With 3D Printing, you usually have two steps from model to plastic.

The first step is to run your model (an .STL file) through a slicer.  There are many slicers out there, Cura, Simple3D, Slic3r, etc.  These literally slice your model into layers which are written out as Gcode.

Gcode is an industry standard for 3D Printing and CNC milling that can control extruders, X Y and Z axis motors, temperature controls, etc.  Everything your print will do is going to be from a line of gcode commands.

The printing portion is actually a program that reads the gcode and sends it to the printer to act out.


There is a really cool open source suite of tools called OctoPrint, that combines a gcode processor and a beautiful web frontend to manage your 3D Printer.  A Raspberry Pi distribution was made call OctoPi which allows you to control most 3D printers from your Pi!


Because the Micro3D is so new, support is just starting to come out for it and the gcode processors are a little iffy at the moment.  I was able to get OctoPi to talk to my printer and manually move the axis, but it could not process the gcode properly.  Bummer :(

I am sure this will be fixed in the coming weeks though.  I am really happy with this printer.

Be on the lookout for a new PiPlay image.  It’s been too long!


IMG_5401This hasn’t been cleaned up yet :D

IMG_5403 IMG_5405 IMG_5406 IMG_5407 IMG_5408 IMG_5409 IMG_5410 IMG_5411 IMG_5412

Jul 17

Friday Post: More 3D Printing

Hey All,

Happy Friday!  Brain fried from a week of getting some new software at work prepped and ready to be moved to production.  Scary doing a push because some 60,000 faculty and students might run into an issue.  We test as well as we can, but theres always that one case that you miss.  So nerve wracking.

For the past two weeks my coworkers and I have been printing out tons of things on the Micro 3D Printer. After the first week, everything started to shift horribly to the left on each new layer.  Nothing would print right.  A vocal minority was also having this issue on the forums.  Micro3D has a huge support backlog, so communication was very sparse, BUT they DID keep us in the loop on how they were fixing the issue.  Two new software releases in 2 weeks and it seems to be working fine again.  I am extremely happy with the prints now.

Eevee (with support structure)

IMG_8146 copy IMG_5376 copy

Winnie the Pooh bear (with support structure cleaned off)IMG_5372 copy

Don’t mind the weirdness with the Eevee, that’s the support structure that pulls off.  I’m mailing it to a friend so I’m leaving it intact.  It’s like 3D printed bubble wrap, I can’t deny her the joy of ripping it off :D  You can see a couple remnants of the support structure on the pooh bear as well.  I need to clean it up a bit more before I send it to my Mom.  She will love it.

My conclusion: It’s a $300 3D printer,You get what you pay for.  I am extremely happy with it.  It was broken, now it’s fixed to Micro3D’s credit.   I am hoping the shifting issue is now in the past and that it was just a software bug.

Have a good weekend all!