Dorkbot PDX | Amazing People Doing Strange Things with Electricity

Dorkbot PDX Logo

Dorkbot PDX is a Portland group that brings together an eclectic group of geniuses with a love of hacking technology. It is probably my favorite group here because of the energy and excitement that everyone has. Every time I go I gain a new respect and excitement for all things electronic. Everyone is brilliant, welcoming and always has something to say or work on.

Dorkbot meets twice a month at Lucky Lab NW (1945 NW Quimby). This week, about thirty people showed up to exchange ideas, inventions, and electrionic hacks. Here, my friend Mario Landau-Holdsworth is testing out a makeshift synthesizer using a Benito [designed and built by Don from dorkbot]. Alex Norman tells me that, “the Benito uses some i2c io expanders to scan the buttons and talks to the computer via midi over USB. It is controlling a step sequencer that I wrote using Pure Data and pdlua. It is triggering one shot samples.. I’m currently using drum samples”.

Ward Cunningham’s Dial-a-Door

“AboutUs CTO Ward Cunningham and his college roommate Rick Wartzok, had better than average audio/visual and beverage capability in their dorm room, at least for 1968. While happy to share with fellow residents, they then faced a dilemma. What about keys? They wanted some kind of combination lock that had a shared code that could be selectively enabled, and a longer, master code for private use. The solution was Dial-a-Door. Now its 2008, forty years later, Ward has located the mechanical technology that decoded the combination, restored it to working order, and prepared a display which he will present at the bi-weekly DorkbotPDX at the Lucky Lab in Northwest Portland,” says Mark Dilley on the AboutUs.org Blog.

More about Dial-a-Door

“I’ve written a web page describing my original application, Dial-a-Door”, says Ward Cunningham on the Dorkbot PDX blog. I found the SECODER that I spoke about last meeting. It was in the bottom of the wrong junk box with old antenna equipment, not old telephone equipment. My mechanically inclined friends helped me get it working again”.  More information is available on Ward Cunningham’s website: http://c2.com/~ward/Dial-a-Door.

BittyBot

Along the way, I had the honor of meeting Monty Goodson of BittyBot. The name explains what he does — which is basically the manufacture of really tiny circuitboards that can be used to make really small robots. They were very, very small. The one pictured is actually larger than some of the others ones that he had with him.

If you like technology, I urge you to come out to Dorkbot and mingle with everyone. It’s a very low-key, wonderful environment where you can let your imagination and expertise run wild. And if you’re not familiar with what Dorkbot does, you might want to look into using the open source Arduino development and prototyping platform. There is an article on Arduino chips from Instructables here.

Dorkbot Resources

Thanks to Tempus Dictum and PNCA, Dorkbot has put together a series of workshops around the dorkbotpdx arduino kits (http://www.dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/dorkboard) called the “Arduino Cult Induction”.(http://www.dorkbotpdx.org/workshop/arduino/cult_induction_rev4).

We will have these workshops on the last Sunday of every month, probably alternating between the Cult Induction, a focused workshop and an Open Lab. The workshops cost ~$25 which includes the hardware being built. The open labs are free.

Schedule

30 NOV 2008 — Sound/Midi Workshop (~$25)

28 DEC 2008 — Open Lab (free)

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For more events, check out the AboutUs Portland Tech Events Page. You can also follow me on Twitter, or connect with other members of the Portland Tech Community on the AboutUs.org Portland Tech Twitter Page. You might also want to attend CyborgCamp, which will be happening on December 6th, 2008 at CubeSpace.

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Amber Case is a Cyborg Anthropologist from Portland, Oregon. She likes attending events and studying the Portland Tech scene.

3 thoughts on Dorkbot PDX | Amazing People Doing Strange Things with Electricity

  1. The POS button thing is actually using a Benito [designed and built by Don from dorkbot], not an Arduino. The Benito uses some i2c io expanders to scan the buttons and talks to the computer via midi over USB. It is controlling a step sequencer that I wrote using Pure Data and pdlua. It is triggering one shot samples.. I’m currently using drum samples.

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