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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Late Summer

Summer went by so quickly!

I hosted a Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Geek Trivia. It's my favorite this year :)



















Had some fun with a shark toy that mysteriously showed up, then vanished:


Got to see Eddie Izzard perform live!


Finished physical therapy after knee surgery!




Put stairs in this hill:









































Helped husband promote his first video game by tying information to tiny dinosaurs and watching him photograph wildlife:


Monday, August 31, 2015

Nerdopolis T3R3

Totally lost track of July, but here are my submissions for Round 3!  A bunch of coffee cups to give to my LibraryCon volunteers for manning the information table, watching sessions, keeping statistics, and taking pictures!


Rav handle: zombearthur
Team Name: Shady Cels
Craft: crochet
Description of how event theme is met: Shady Cels are celebrating summertime activities. One of my favorite activities is going to the beach. The blue in my coffee cups remind me of the cool blue ocean:
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Photo of project:
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Team shout out for Nerd Cred: (Optional)
These cups are pretty much identical. Much like Kaoru and Hikaru, the twins in the manga/anime Ouran High School Host Club.
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Rav handle: zombearthur
Team Name: Shady Cels
Craft: crochet
Description of how event theme is met: Well, the yarn I used is stash, but no one gifted it to me. I made some coffee cups to give AS thank you gifts for library volunteers, so that’s something.
Photo of project:
Untitled
Team shout out for Nerd Cred: (Optional)
These are coffee cups full of coffee. In the cartoon Regular Show, Rigby and Mordecai run on coffee.
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Rav handle: zombearthur
Team Name: Shady Cels
Craft: crochet
Description of how event theme is met: I made tiny coffee cups. Pictured with my regular size coffee cup for scale. They are adorably tiny.
Photo of project:
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Team shout out for Nerd Cred: (Optional)
Comic strip character, Garfield, is quite the coffee advocate. His coffee cup is red, just like my tiny coffee cups.
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Rav handle:zombearthur
Team Name: Shady Cels
Craft: crochet
Description of how event theme is met: Still doesn’t meet the theme, but more gift coffee cups to show off.
Photo of project:
Untitled
Team shout out for Nerd Cred: (Optional)
These coffee cups are orange, like Kyo’s hair from the manga/anime Fruits Basket!
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Rav handle: zombearthur
Team Name: Shady Cels
Craft: crochet
Description of how event theme is met:
I have always loved these ball-shaped flowering onions. Every time I see them, I think of Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. And these are a really pretty shade of purple and green, similar to the purple coffee cups I crocheted.
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Photo of project:
Untitled
Team shout out for Nerd Cred: (Optional)
My coffee cups have a purple face, just like the Marvel supervillain, Thanos!
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Expanding my Recycled Jewelry Collection

Somehow this month I found some time to make more jewelry!

Manga necklace made same way as these necklaces:

This necklace features characters from Samurai Champloo, Rurouni Kenshin and Fruits Basket

More bracelets!

Inuyasha (from a book purchased out of the library book sale):

Calvin & Hobbes (damaged library book):

Saturday, August 15, 2015

LibraryCon Crafts

So, the 2015 summer reading theme was superheroes. As an end of summer party, I planned a comic-con for our library. It was terrifying, stressful, and amazing. You can read about the process behind the event on my library blog. On this blog I get to post all the crafts I worked on for LibraryCon!

So, we started planning LibraryCon in mid-March. Unfortunately, the library budget had been decided in mid-february of the previous year, so there wasn't a ton of money. I was able to get a lot of volunteer support and was able to get 100+ door prizes donated or made. It was awesome.

LibraryCon Craft Program
We actually had several crafts that day. I worked with one of our volunteers who is quite fond of anime conventions to create a furry animal ear craft similar to one she'd seen at a con she went to. This idea came up long before I bought way too much fur for my Squirrel Girl costume, but it ended up using all my extra fur nicely. We made templates for bear, fox, and cat ears. I made a bonus pulsing vein hair clip. I love it.


Prize: Paperback Wallets
I used this tutorial as a guide. I used contact paper to laminate my wallets, black construction paper for the inner lining, and stick on velcro dots instead of grommets.


Prize: Nerdy Magnets
I love this craft so much. I sacrificed a water damaged Calvin and Hobbes book to the cause. It was worth it.



















I even used this tutorial to make packages for the magnet sets so they looked like totally legit prizes!  I didn't bother with washer though. My magnets are stuck to the cardstock with a glue dot.




My last two crafts involved a lot of silver spray paint and the Dollar Store.

Speaker Gifts
I found tiny Bartman figurines at the Dollar Store. I don't know why they were there, but I took it as a sign that I needed them for LibraryCon. I spray painted them silver, glued them to the top of glass jars (also from the Dollar Store) and filled the jars with M&Ms (of course I had to layer the colors). I also attached a small gift certificate to my favorite coffee shop! Each of my presenters volunteered their time and talents. This was a very small way I could show my appreciation.


Costume Contest Trophies
I was inspired by this tutorial to create my own trophies. I found professional wrestler figures at the Dollar Store.  They came with weird accessories, like a ladder, a chair, and a barrier. I didn't have a solid plan in mind (other than spray painting them) until I messed around with one of them and his arm totally popped off (classic Dollar Store):


I could have reattached it, but something about the look on his face and his missing arm clicked in my mind and I decided I was going to incorporate all the pieces in the playlets and the fact that the costume contest is at a library to make some epic trophies. I created some origami books using this tutorial and pasted on tiny covers of books from each age group.  The letters were cut on my Silhouette machine using scrap vinyl...


Children's trophy book: Elephant and Piggy by Mo Willems


Teen book: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Adult book: First Aid and Safety for Dummies
This was my absolute favorite. I kind of wished I could get a trophy for making such fun trophies and that this trophy would be my trophy.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

AdaFruit Sparkle Skirt

This year, my library was awarded a grant to start a makerspace. I am project lead on this endeavor, and though the grant allows for training on makerspace projects, I have been trying to expand my knowledge by doing projects for myself.

My husband showed me this really neat project from Adafruit a few years back: Sparkle Skirt

At the time, it seemed a bit daunting. But, in our supply kit provided by the grant, we received some neopixels and Adafruit Gemmas. So, at some point, we'll have to do a wearable electronics program to use these supplies. 

I have been keeping my eye open for awhile for a lined/lacy overlay skirt, and finally found one on sale at Fred Meyer for $10. I thought that wasn't too much of an investment in a skirt in case I really screw this project up, so I bought it. Then I bought the electronics components for ~$100. So, the pressure to make this work was back on.   I had a knee surgery scheduled for May 19 and thought the recovery time would be a great opportunity to work on this project.

May 18: Supplies arrive!
I bought my supplies (not pictured, the actual battery BECAUSE I FORGOT TO BUY IT!)


May 22, 2015: Test the Flora and neopixels
Well, first thing's first: I needed to make sure all my electronic components worked before I took the time to sew them into the fabric. 
I had a challenge getting the Flora and the Arduino IDE to communicate. My Flora connects with mini USB, but it didn't come with the cord. So, my husband dug one out for me. So, I used some alligator clips to connect my Flora to a neopixel, uploaded the neopixel test code and...NOTHING HAPPENED!  

Well, something happened: 

So, I stressed for a bit. Then thought a bit more, then did some troubleshooting. The lights did come on on the Flora board, but I thought maybe the neopixel was too much for it. However, with the neopixel unattached, I still got errors uploading to the board. So, I asked my husband for a different USB cord and it worked the first try! The other USB cord went into the trash. So, for the time being, we can either charge our PS3 controller, or I can code my skirt. It's a tough decision to make.

I used this process to test my Neopixels.

May 24, 2015: sew Flora, accelerometer, front 7 pixels' data line to skirt

I sewed the Flora and accelerometer to the skirt. I already messed up because in the tutorial pictures, they used thread to tack the Flora down using one of the GND pads.

So, I did the same.

But when I looked at the wiring diagram later, I noticed they had an extra line of conductive thread coming off that GND pad to the neopixels on the back of the skirt (notice the green line on the left side of the Flora?).

So, I later cut the regular thread and tacked down that side using the TX pad next to the GND.

Next, I wanted to test my lines for the Flora and accelerometer. Hooked it up, loaded the sample accelerometer code in the tutorial and opened the serial monitor in the Arduino IDE:

Ah, yeah! Worked on the first try! WHOO!

Then I started in on sewing the front seven neopixels. This is a very tedious process. I used the process outlined in the video for the Amplitie. I sewed data lines first: 1). lay out pixel locations, 2). use a shorter piece of conductive thread and start on the fabric between two pixels, 3). sew to one pixel's data line, then double back to sew to the other one, 4). double back one more time to end in the middle again and knot off the thread.

This was my progress after seven hours of hand-stitching:
Note the top right pixel. It's going to be the bane of my existence in this project...

May 26, 2015: sew GND
 I took a break from my skirt, but I had the goal of getting this ready to show off for the Adult Craft at my public library on May 30. Back to work. But I only made it through the GND for the front seven pixels.  I sewed ground with one lllloooonnnngggg piece of thread. It was kind of unruly.

May 26-June 4, 2015: ...
Life kind of happened. I didn't get my skirt even close to done for my May 30 deadline.

On May 27-29 I prepared to lead kids through a library program using Arduino Nano to create robots with servo motors:

There were only a few robots that refused to cooperate:


The adult craft on May 30 was super fun (even without a completed skirt). The library director showed participants how to make decorative tiles using alcohol ink:

On May 31, I worked on a project for the upcoming community program, Geeks United:

On June 1, we had the maiden voyage of our retro-fitted Bookmobile as the Maker Bus to the KidU camp at Idaho State University where we had the kids work with circuits:


AND Summer Reading Kick-Off:

Did I mention that I was recovering from knee surgery on May 19?

Okay, so my NEW goal is to have the skirt ready for the community event Geeks United on June 5...

June 4, 2015: sew VBATT on front seven Neopixels and first test!
Today I made it through the power side of the Neopixels. It didn't quite take me seven hours, but still took long enough that I didn't even get started on the back of the skirt.  I was a little worried about spending all this time sewing and then plugging it in and not having any response. I wouldn't even know WHERE to start with troubleshooting it. Looks like a normal skirt:



HOLY COW! It worked!

You can kind of tell in the picture that the top right Neopixel isn't behaving (it's not even on in this picture). And it wasn't. It flickered a lot. I thought it'd be okay, because it turned on when I stretched the fabric out, but it ended up being a bigger problem later as it connected the back pixels to the front.

OBSERVATION: the fabric of the slip on my skirt is very stretchy polyester. I used an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric tight, and sewed tightly, but still ended up with some loose connections at the end. I was worried I'd have to rip out the entire GND and VBATT lines as sew them as one long strand again, but found I could rip out the troublesome lines and knot a new piece tightly to the ground and power and still get the connections to work.  HOORAY!

Okay, okay, so I was happy that the front of my skirt worked. I was not happy that I was only half-way done. I did not make it for my NEW June 5 deadline.  But, that's okay. My NEW NEW deadline is July 18 because I have an adult craft planned that involves sewing circuits. So, summer progresses....

June 12, 2015: sew back Neopixel data lines
Pretty straightforward. It took me an afternoon, but I was distracted watching anime, so it probably would have gone faster if I focused.  I tried to layout the pixels so I wouldn't sit on them.  the pixel in the top left is my troublesome light.  I was so young and naive back then...

June 22, 2015: re-sew the Flora, add GND and VBATT to back Neopixels
Today is the day I realized I need that GND pad and had to re-sew the Flora using the TX pad.

I have also gotten quite good at sewing in circuits. I was able to accomplish both power and ground in one day!


A picture of how the GND on the left-side of the Flora connected to the pixel line and my little battery pouch. I sacrificed an old tank top to provide the fabric needed for my battery pouch.
The Neopixel test code was already on the Flora from when I tested the front pixels WWAAAYYYY back at the beginning of the month. I hung my skirt up with a piece of fabric between the layers to keep the lines from touching and plugged in my skirt.

The front pixels lit up, but NOTHING on the back worked. I stretched the fabric and did a lot of observing on what lines were tight and which were loose and how I could get the back pixels to sort of flicker, and finally realized how much that one top right pixel on the front of my my skirt was impacting everything else. I decided that day that I was going to have to rip out the thread on this pixel and start over, but I also decided that day that I would work on it a little later. I was a bit discouraged, to say the least. And, I was out of thread. So I had to order more and wait for it to arrive...

July 4-8, 2015: re-sew troublesome Neopixel
I worked my way through re-sewing the data line, GND, and VBATT on my problem pixel. I was very relieved to find out that I only had to rip out the circuit back to a Neopixel I knew was working and knot on a new piece of thread to reconnect my problem pixel. Instead of a straight stitch, I worked with a staggered stitch which works much better in my stretchy fabric.  Maybe someday I'll go back and re-stitch all the circuits....

I tested the skirt again AND EVERYTHING CAME ON!

Feeling confident, I decided to upload the complete code that incorporates the accelerometer to make the pixels flash with movement. I uploaded the code and only the front pixels worked again. So aggravating! My NEW NEW deadline of July 18 was quickly approaching.

July 18, 2015: Contemplation...
Today was the day I needed to take my skirt to work and show participants what you can do if you learn to stitch soft circuits. My skirt lit up and was neat, but I really wanted it to use the accelerometer.

I studied the code for a really long time. I updated all my Adafruit libraries in the Arduino IDE. Then I studied the code awhile longer and FINALLY noticed this number (highlighted):
Of course I had seen the note before, but it hadn't clicked what it referred to until that moment. I looked at my skirt again. When it was turned on, only the first 6 pixels reacted to movement. Well, I had a few more than 6 pixels sewn into my skirt.  Hmm...let's change that number to 12, which is the real number of pixels I'm using...

THE SKIRT WORKED PERFECTLY!