Gas station without pumps

2016 February 26

Applying for Mini Maker Faire round 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:29
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I’m getting closer to applying for the Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire, as mentioned in Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire 2016 and Applying for Mini Maker Faire.

I have a title for the display:

Dr. K’s Applied Electronics

and an initial design for a table banner (to be printed as a yard of 56″-wide “Performance Piqué” fabric for about $18):


I have the design at high enough resolution for fabric printing, which is recommended to be a 150dpi.

I’m not real happy with this design—the book cover is boring and anemic, and the cover should probably have a dark border.  The PteroDAQ logo is better, but the colors of the logo and the book don’t fit well together.  The banner also doesn’t include Dr. K’s Applied Electronics, which is a nice name for a Maker Faire, but not one I’d currently want to put on the book.

Anyone have any ideas for improving the book cover or the banner?  

That leaves me with one main task: writing a one-paragraph blurb to go with the application, covering the things I plan to show:

  • The desk lamp and the strobe light (which use the same electronics hardware: only the firmware is changed to turn the dimmer into a strobe controller).  I can show both at once and have a few of the LED boards on display also. Maybe I should modify the firmware so that I can just move a jumper plug on the programming pins to switch between strobe and dimmer functions—I wonder if there is enough flash memory in the ATtiny 13A processor for that.  The strobe takes 364 bytes, and the dimmer takes 372 bytes, so even if no code can be shared (unlikely), they should be able to both fit in the 1kB flash.
  • An optical pulse monitor (with standalone display based on a 240×320 RGB ILI9341 TFT display I got from PJRC). I might want to make one that is more open than the wooden blocks I’ve been using, so that it is easier to see where you have to cover the hole to the phototransistor.  I might also want to try seeing if a green or yellow LED gives a better signal (I have a bright yellow LED that has a much narrower beam than any of my red LEDs). I’ve not tried using the display yet, but it sounds pretty easy to set up—I should have some time in the next week or two to try it out.
  • Function generators hooked up to an oscilloscope for Lissajous patterns?
  • A microphone and small amplifier hooked up to an oscilloscope? Note, I only have one analog oscilloscope, and it is a bit touchy to use—there was a reason for it being sold used on eBay! It also takes up a lot of table space—but it is the cliché icon of an electronics enthusiast or mad scientist. I could set up the Bitscope oscilloscope on my laptop, but it is not as iconic, and that would use up one of my 2 displays that could be used for PteroDAQ.
  • An EKG with PteroDAQ display? (It would need to be wired to me—too much trouble and expense to put electrodes on others)  I could also use the same standalone display design as for the optical pulse monitor, if I get that designed and built in time.  I don’t think I’ve got time to get the software working and build a case for a wearable EKG—I wonder if I can find a case that works with the TFT display.
  • Aquarium air pump, soft tubing, and pressure sensor hooked up to PteroDAQ?  (people can play with pinching the tubing to see the effect of pressure changes)   I usually use the pressure sensor with a blood pressure cuff or a breath mouthpiece, but the cuff is too much trouble to work with if there are many people, and I have no good way to clean the mouthpiece between users.
  • The PC boards I’ve designed.
  • Some of the tools a hobbyist needs (soldering iron, bread boards, wire strippers, …).
  • Laptop and iMAC for PteroDAQ displays.

I’ve decided against

  • Displaying the nerf-gun prototype (not pressurized) and the soda-bottle rocket launcher (again not pressurized).  These are a bit off the main theme of electronics and take up a too much space.
  • Having kids make LED “throwies” out of CR2032 batteries, LEDs, magnets, and electrical tape. I’d have to spend a lot on parts and spend all my time helping kids put together their throwies, not to mention the ecological disaster of using so many disposable batteries.

I will also want to hand out business cards that point people to this blog, PteroDAQ, and my book. I still have to design the cards. I haven’t decided whether they will be “professional” or “fun” designs, nor what graphics I want on them (other than not the book cover). Probably I’ll do one PteroDAQ-only card with the logo, the URL, and a brief description of PteroDAQ.  I’ll probably do another one for my book, with the book cover, the URL (or even a limited-time reduced price coupon), and a very brief blurb. I don’t know what to do about advertising this blog, if anything.

The bulleted list of things I want to show has to be alluded to in the “Project Description”, which “will also be used on [my] Maker sign”. So I need something simultaneously catchy and descriptive. Here are some key phrases:

  • See your pulse on a home-made optical pulse monitor!
  • Record air pressure waveforms using Arduino or Teensy boards with free PteroDAQ data acquisition software!
  • Bright LED stroboscope and desk lamp, with custom-designed PC boards!
  • Home-made electrocardiogram (EKG)!
  • Microphone amplifier!
  • Use oscilloscope and function generator!

Can anyone suggest some catchier things to put in the blurb?  I want to submit this weekend, if I can. (And before a writing teacher points it out, I’m aware that the list of key phrases is a mixture of noun phrases and imperative sentences, and so fails the “grammatically parallel” test.  I’ll probably fix things to be all imperative sentences, but I’m still trying to figure out the content, and not worried so much yet about copy editing.)


  1. Well, I’m not particularly artistic, but when I look at the diagram, it looks like a pterodactyl itself. So, perhaps a clever artist could merge the 2, which I think would be pretty neat :-)

    Comment by whatisron — 2016 February 27 @ 09:42 | Reply

    • I’m not much of an artist myself, and I don’t see a good way to make the op-amp diagram more pterodactyl-like. As you say, perhaps a clever artist could. I’m going in a different direction with the banner—I’ll post another draft later, this evening, I hope.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2016 February 27 @ 19:38 | Reply

  2. […] I’ just submitted my application for the Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire, as mentioned in Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire 2016, Applying for Mini Maker Faire, and Applying for Mini Maker Faire round 2. […]

    Pingback by Applying for Mini Maker Faire round 3 | Gas station without pumps — 2016 February 27 @ 20:10 | Reply

  3. […] Mini Maker Faire (mentioned in Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire 2016, Applying for Mini Maker Faire, Applying for Mini Maker Faire round 2, and Applying for Mini Maker Faire round 3), was accepted this week.  I’ll have a […]

    Pingback by Accepted for Mini Maker Faire | Gas station without pumps — 2016 March 25 @ 00:02 | Reply

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