Monthly Archives: June 2014

Brussels visits: HSBXL

While in Brussels on a DIY supercapacitors experiment with Michka Melo, we visited local organisations related to creative technologies. First we went to HSBXL, Hacker Space Brussels. The organisation occupies a whole house in the city centre, complete with a pleasant garden. We had a chat with local hackers who hang out in HSBX every Tuesday evening, very competent with feral networking and GNU.

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Typically for such a place, there were piles of old IT becoming e-waste, a few 3D printers in various states of operation, soldering irons and scattered workstations. The bar was well stocked, with bottles of mate in different flavours seemingly the drink of choice among coders in these quarters. An open source stock management system rules the fridge, and a cavernous voice announces new visitors.


We saw a book-scanning device, an in-progress ominous suitcase server with self destruct capabilities and an hydroponic tank full of healthy tomato plants… We walked out with a bunch of dead laptop batteries for our experiments, thank you HSBXL!!

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On the garden table I found a sticker for Phaune Radio, an internet station that plays engaging mixes of non-mainstream music and animal-themed spoken material, recommended.

Experiments in DIY supercapacitors

Just back from Brussels where I worked for 5 days on DIY supercapacitors with my inspiring friend Michka Melo. We worked on the premises of the equally inspiring organisation Foam, trying to build supercapacitors from upcycled computer batteries and other methods including chemically altered cuttlefish bone, in a true citizen science spirit!

[Supercapacitors are electrical storage devices that become a viable alternative to conventional batteries, making up for lower capacity with a very fast charging time and much longer life.]

Michka compiled a detailed account of our experiments. Thanks to Robert Murray Smith for valuable info on DIY supercapacitors.

Coucou clock making in Cévennes

I spent a week near Alès in the south of France, sharing tricks with the multi-talented William Brossard, founder of Artimachines. We started building a hybrid cuckoo clock using various techniques ranging from walnut tree sanding to Raspberry pi programming. The coucou bird is working nicely, coming out of a circular door designed by William. The clock runs on a Raspberry Pi fitted with an Adafruit PiTFT monitor. The bird and door are controlled by an Arduino Uno and a L298 motor controller.

I am thinking of changing the display as the PiTFT display is dim in daylight and when seen at an angle.


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Is Technology Eating My Brain? the machines

Several works were developed for the  Is Technology Eating My Brain? exhibition:

Geranium Survival Unit

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Pedal-powered automated watering and lighting system for a geranium
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techEatBrain Litany

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Endless computer speech declining public opinions on technology
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Big E-Waste Tech Head

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Participatory sculpture made of upcycled e-waste
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Slicing Photo-Booth

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Self-portrait machine with random slice-mixing function