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Showing posts from September, 2016

My Project: Travel time bot with Google Maps API and Python - Part 2 - Making the travel data useful

In Part 1 of this series, I showed you how I found the travel time data I wanted and how I figured out how JSON data files function and how to pull out just the data I need. Now that I have this data, I needed to learn a bit of Python coding to extract is and use it in calculations and present it to the screen and other in other ways. Learning Python As has been the case throughout my technology work history, I learn on-demand. For me, this means coming up against a problem and then researching how to solve that problem on the Internet, adapting sample code and finally getting it all to work. That was exactly what happened in the project. I was not very familiar with Python, so each time I needed to accomplish a task I would head over to Google Search (which almost always led to me Stack Overflow ) to find the answer. Let me walk you through my Python code and explain how it works and a little about how I developed it. Learn more about Python with these books from Mo

Event: FrankenPumpkin at Orchard Supply Hardware, Oct 1, 2016

I saw a flyer in this Sunday’s paper for the OSH FrankenPumpkin event for kids. OSH will provide the pumpkin, hardware and decorations for free. This decorating idea is new to me and I think it is a very cool “maker” event for kids, too. Quite a neat idea to use hardware parts — of which OSH has many — as decorations Check it out at your local store. There is a store locator on the web page. Want more ideas for your jack-o-lanterns this Halloween? Check out these books from

Project: Build an Arduino BLE-Enabled Indoor Air Quality Monitor via All About Circuits

I am very interested in projects which help me gain a better understanding of the world around me and monitoring my environment is certainly one of the more important tasks in that regard. I have been thinking about projects like this as builds for school-based maker groups so that they could monitor their own surroundings and perhaps find areas that need improvement, long before research projects through more official channels could even be mounted. I would consider this an intermediate to advanced project with lots of components to be managed and coded for. I love the inclusion of Bluetooth LE (or any other wireless system) so that data can be read and monitored even at some distance. For me, all IoT devices need some way of sharing their data easily in real-time and Bluetooth is just one way to accomplish that. This would also allow for the creation of a dashboard to monitor data, in realtime, in some central, public, location, which would greatly help to make the data known to a w

Project: Victorian Ticket Dispenser via

Here is an old school project — using no electronics — but still a cool build in many ways. I suppose you could add some electronic bells and whistles to make it even cooler, but it is a great idea and a great build for when you want something retro, interesting and cool! Victorian Ticket Dispenser I was asked by my wife to create a "contraption" to help sell tickets [all proceeds to charity] for her book launch at the local independent bookseller. Since the novel is set in 1880 New York, I wanted to create a Victorian feel and opted for a true, gear-clanking coin mech over a electronic version. I Borrowed/stole heavily from this piece for the guts of the device. The overall feel had to be Victorian and inform the users about the launch. I had a great time doing this and learned a lot about gearing, brass and a method for affixing paper to wood that I will be employing from now on.

Help Create Maker Faire LA 2017! – Kick-off Meeting: Thu, September 22, 2016 @ 7pm

Help Create Maker Faire LA 2017!  Please join Hackerspace LA for a meeting for all individuals and organizations interested in forming the leadership team for Maker Faire Los Angeles 2017!  What is Maker Faire? Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. It’s a venue for makers to show examples of their work and interact with others about it. Many makers say they have no other place to share what they do. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) is often invisible in our communities, taking place in shops, garages and on kitchen tables. It’s typically out of the spotlight of traditional art or science or craft events. Maker Faire makes visible these projects and ideas that we don’t encounter every day Time/Location Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 7PM  Marvin Braude San Fernando Valley Constituent Service Center 6262 Van Nuys Blvd. Van Nuys, CA 3rd floor conference room RSVP Here We will discuss the Maker Faire Los Angeles D

My Project: Travel time bot with Google Maps API and Python - Part 1 - Finding the Data [Programming]

My son will be starting university in just under a week at a school where my wife is also a professor. This means they are going to be carpooling on many days. Since the school is about 60 miles from our house, it is important to keep tabs on the driving time as here in Los Angeles, these times can change dramatically over the course of the day. This need to track driving time gave me an excuse to dive back into programming — which I was never that fond of anyway — despite my 30+ years working in computer support and consulting. Here is a step by step story of the project and where it stands today. Get the Data The first step, of course, is to figure out where I can get the real-time routing and drive time data. I immediately thought about Google Maps and found the Google Maps API pages . It is free to sign up for a developer account, which gives you an API key for each request you make to the Google Maps API servers. For me, my usage of the API is well below the number of free AP

Project: Flickering Flame Lighting Effects with Arduino for Halloween and more!

Halloween is rapidly approaching, so I went looking for Halloween specific projects I could make and share with my fellow makers at Hackerspace LA . Here are a couple of links, and a video, for creating realistic flickering flame effects using a few LEDS and an Arduino micro controller. I am thinking of putting together a couple of these for our jack-o-lanterns this year. Realistic Flickering Flame Effect with Arduino and LED's by TheArduinoGuy  In this project we will use 3 LED's and an Arduino to create a realistic fire effect that could be used in a diorama, model railway or a fake fireplace in your home or put one inside a frosted glass jar or tube and no-one would know it wasn't a real candle inside. This is a really simple project suited to beginners. Check out the entire project Here’s a video, too. …and a large collection of similar projects from How To Do Learn more about Arduino Arduino Boards and Components via Amazon Arduino Boards and