San Francisco Amateur Astronomer banners

I created some Banners, Parking Signs, and Stickers using the SFAA Logo for the club. They were all created using the CNC Vinyl cutter at the techshop. Being my first venture into that area, I’m actually impressed with how well they came out. The stickers and one of the banners was created using glow-in-the-dark vinyl, so it should look impressive even after dark.

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Laser Engraved iPhone

Legend of apple?

Did some laser engraving on my iPhone. Turned out pretty well. I’m happy with the results. What do you think?

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Rhythmn Player – Arduino Based Rhythm Automatic Game Player

This is the code behind an arduino based Rhythm game (Rock Band, Guitar Hero, etc) automatic player. The project consisted of 3 sub-projects:

Rhythm Player Midi – This project is designed to read the midi files from the disk and create an intermediary file displays the notes and the delay between each note. The code was never completed to a ‘releasable’ stage, but was completed enough just to work for our project. Changes will need to be made to get it to read different games formats correctly. This was a fun project that had me learning the ins and outs of how MIDI files actually work.

Rhythm Player Client – This code reads the intermediate file that was created by the Rhythm Player Midi project and sends the notes to the arduino to be played. Again, some tweaking will be required to get it to work in different modes.

Rhythm Player Arduino – The arduino code that listens to the notes via the serial port and sends the notes to the modified guitars.

All projects were simply hacked to get it to work under different situations. (Single Player, Co-op, multiple player, etc.) If people are actually interested, I’ll take time to make it ‘release’ worthy. (Add drop down selection to change to the different modes, etc.) My real goal was to combine the first two into a single project that would read the midi file and send the notes to the arduino without the intermediate step. I might still do this someday.

The guitar hardware changes involved using opto-couplers to separate the Arduino circuit from the guitar controllers. We simply soldered wires to the points that connected the buttons and by triggering a note on the arduino it basically tapped a button.

Code can be found on the github page.

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Rock Band – Visual Detection

As I started working on my Arduino Rock Band Player, I originally attempted to read the screen and watch the notes as they scrolled down the screen. It was an interesting project that let me attempt my hand at scaling, cutting, creating histograms, and other computer vision techniques. This also let me try my hand at learning and using C#. I only worked on it for a week, but it was still fun and taught me a lot about the trouble software engineers go through as they try to watch the world and make some sense from it. This project seemed simple to me, notes moving on a static background. However, to my dismay, I learned it wasn’t as static as I thought. Hammer on notes are smaller and are basically right on top of each other, which are registered as one note. Star power shoots lightning throughout the screen that can cause issues as well.

I had some ideas such as tracking the notes, and doing closer monitoring, but I scrapped this project in favor of reading the MIDI file directly from the disk. (I’ll post that project later on. I’ll add a link when I do.)

If you want to see the code, it’s posted on github. It uses the aForge.net computer vision libraries.

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Programmers, Hackers, and Technology. I glimpse behind the hollywood myth.

I wrote a new post for Fictorians about how my profession is common misconstrued via television and in movies. I tried to give a realistic view, but I wonder how useful it’ll be. I figure it might help some author who is looking to add some background story to their computer savvy characters. Who knows.

Feel free to check it out: Programmers, Hackers, and Technology via Fictorians.com

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Free tickets to San Fran Writing Conference? Yes please!

There is an amazing opportunity to get free tickets from Writers Digest to the San Fran Writing Conference coming later this month. Editors, publishers, and authors will be in attendance making this a prime place for networking. Best part is, if you’re not from the area, you’ll be able to visit me! (No, really, that IS the best part!)

Check out the contest HERE.

Good luck!

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Have a good Thors-day? (Thursday)

Thursday is named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. As you may have seen via recent media, namely the movie that is coming out that bears his name, Thor is well known for his giant hammer, Mjolnir. This hammer had the ability to return to Thor’s hand when thrown. Even with all his strength, he wore a belt that doubled his strength. He is known for his temper and was a dangerous warrior.

Thor was a favorite god among the working class. Many wore necklaces of Thor’s Hammer and asked him for blessings of fertility.

So, I hope you had a good day. Go bash someone who deserves it. 😉

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Happy Wōden’s Day! (Wednesday)

Nearing the end of my “Gods of the week” series, we reach Wōden’s Day. Wōden is the Old English equivalent to the Norse god Odin. Both gain their origins from the Roman god Mercury.

Mercury is the god of trade and was a messenger among the gods. His appearance was very close to that of Hermes to include the winged shoes and the herald’s staff. He is attributed as being a psychopomp, which is someone who guides the dead to the afterlife. There are even stories of Mercury bringing dreams to people as they slept.

So, go take a nap and ask Mercury to bring you good dreams!

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Happy Mars/Tiwesdæg (Tuesday)!

Continuing with my look at the gods as we approach the holidays, today we look at Mars. (Mars was translated into Tiw in Old English.) Mars is the Roman god of war and was worshipped by the soldiers of the time. Among the order of gods, only Jupiter was more powerful than He. While his look varies from bearded man to clean-shaven youth, he is never without his spear. Even when depicting peace, his spear visible. Peace was what happened once you won the war.

Festivals toward the god happened in March, which was named after him, and in October. These festivals signified the beginning and ending of the military tours of duty and the planting and harvesting of the fields.

So, on this dies Martis, or day of Mars, thank your soldiers for the peace they’ve secured and thank Mars for his blessings upon the nation!

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuesday
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_%28mythology%29
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/366325/Mars

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Happy Selene/Moon-Day (Monday)

Monday gets its name from the old English Mōnandæg, or Moon day. The Greek Goddess of the moon is Selene, or Luna to the Romans. She is depicted as a beautiful woman with long black hair. She rides across the sky in a silver chariot that is pulled by either a pair of horses, a team of oxen, or even dragons. She is well known for her love affairs, including one with Zeus, the king of gods. Selene is a favorite among poets and authors for the love of the moonlight.

Despite the name, Monday has a far darker side. According to Wikipedia, Monday is the most popular day to commit suicide, call in sick, and surf the web in the Netherlands. It also receives the criticism of every member of the standard working class. The constant wavering and inconsistency has come out in English as the word ‘lunacy.’

And as I publish this, the moon is about to experience a total lunar eclipse. So, go out and enjoy it. And give thanks to Selene for the lights she shines.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monday
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selene
http://www.pantheon.org/articles/s/selene.html
http://www.indepthinfo.com/weekdays/monday.shtml

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