Springing Back into the Swing

Happy new year, and welcome back to the BTU Lab! The Spring 2018 semester is in progress, and we hope it’s been treating you well so far. Alicia’s returned from her side project (he’s a really cute baby), which means Wayne is no longer filling in for her. Welcome back!

Speaking of Wayne, he’s running a Practical Electronics workshop every friday from 12:30AM to 2:20PM, starting on February 9th. You can find more details on that here. We also have two student groups already meeting: Drone Racing Club is meeting during their usual time at 6PM on Thursdays. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Club is meeting every other Wednesday, also at 6PM. Check the calendar for exact dates.

Coming up soon, we have an Open Hack Night on February 13th, starting at 6PM and continuing into the night. Bring a project, bring a friend, eat some snacks! Open Hack Nights are open to anyone, member or not, to come hang out for as long as they’d like, whether they have a goal in mind or not. No technical experience needed! We have a few more coming up on March 6th and April 3rd as well.

Libi is running Take It Apart-ies this semester, where you can come fix your broken electronics or just tear them up to see how they tick. Bring your own if you can, but we’ll have things to take apart at the lab too! Those will run from 6-8 on the third tuesday of each month, starting on February 20th.

Meanwhile, Alec has started BTU Monthly Hackathons in the lab! The first one is going to be next week, on February 16th from 6-10. The goal is to create something – anything, from an Arduino project to a painting – in four hours. There will be prizes and food!

We’ve also partnered with the Colorado Sewing Rebellion to run a few sewing workshops, starting with making winter hats on February 21st. Check the calendar for more!

Finally, a few things that are new from last semester, and a few things to keep in mind:

  • Danny, Slaton, and Libi built a giant, four-player connect 4 in the window. This is the most important news of all.
  • The Facewall now has a new member section. Give them all a warm welcome!
  • The materials shelf and tool room have been revamped. Can’t find it on the tool wall? It’s probably in the drawers underneath the table!
  • If your material isn’t labeled with your name and a date, it’s free for anyone to use. If it’s been here for more than two weeks, it’s also free for anyone to use.
  • There’s now a sticker wall next to the calendar. Add lots of stickers. Engulf the walls in stickers.
  • We have a BTU Advice Twitter now! Follow it at your own risk.

That’s all for now. Happy hacking everyone!

ATLAS Practical Electronics Workshop in the BTU Lab – Fridays, 12:30 – 2:20

Date/Time: 12:30 – 2:20 pm, Fri Feb 9 – Apr 27
Location: BTU Lab – ATLAS, Room 113

Please fill out this registration form.
You will be subscribed to the btutronix@lists.colorado.edu mailing list.

ATLAS Practical Electronics Workshop
Weekly hands-on workshop on practical electronics. Learn how to make things that blink, move and make noise. No prior experience needed; experts welcomed too!
Need some help with electronics design and implementation for your project?
Come learn about….

  • Digital and Analog Circuits that create light, sound, and motion
  • How to use measuring instruments
  • Hands-on electronics construction skills (wiring, soldering, prototyping)
  • …and more based on participants’ interests

More info: https://btutronix.wordpress.com/

Please forward to your friends and colleagues who may be interested in participating in this workshop.


ATLAS Light Tower Hacking


Slaton  Spangler (Slaton.Spangler@colorado.edu)  said (on Dec 8, 2017):

I recently finished an internet connected controller for the ATLAS Tower lights.
Mess with the lights here: https://atlas-tower.herokuapp.com
(It might take a second to load)
And check out the documentation for integrating the tower into projects here: https://github.com/slsp8752/atlas-tower-light-controller
Make something cool with it!
For more info, see this story.

CU Pumpkin Carving Contest

The BTU Lab entry for the 2017 CU pumpkin carving contest won 2nd place overall and 2nd place for scariest.
Creepy moving tenacles, triggered by an ultrasonic motion sensor. Would you have expected anything less from Libi, Slaton, Sammi, and Benji?



Contest results:
With 253 ballots collected, the winners for the 3rd Annual CEAS Pumpkin Carving Contest are:

1st Place – #10 – ECEE – 67 votes
2nd Place – #4 – ATLAS BTU Lab – 51 votes
3rd Place – #1 – ChBE – 27 votes
3rd Place – #11 – Civil – 27 votes

Engineering Themed
1st Place – #7 – NCWIT – 51 votes
2nd Place – #12 – AES – 44 votes
3rd Place – #2 – Civil – 36 votes

1st Place – #14 – CS – 62 votes
2nd Place – #12 – AES – 42 votes
3rd Place – #13 – Civil – 21 votes

CU Themed
1st Place – #6 – Civil – 43 votes
2nd Place – #9 – Dean’s Office – 41 votes
3rd Place – #20 – Idea Forge – 34 votes

1st Place and winning the pizza party – #1 – ChBE – 45 votes
2nd Place – #4 – ATLAS BTU Lab – 27 votes
3rd Place – #12 – AES – 25 votes


Fall in the BTU

Welcome back! We’re excited to see both new and returning faces for the new school year. To kick things off, we have an Open Hack Night at 6PM on September 5th which anyone – member or not – is welcome to attend. On August 30th at 9AM, Libi is also hosting cartoons and cereal (for members only, sorry!)

An important note, especially for prospective members: Alicia will be gone at the beginning of October, to return next semester. Wayne, the one behind the Arduino workshop and Studio: Electronics course, will be filling in for that time. That means the last day to apply for lab membership is September 20th!

We have another soldering workshop planned for October 17th at 3PM. Libi is also hosting a series of Fix It events, on fridays from 1-3. October 6th is themed around sewing; November 10th is themed around phones and computers; and December 1st is a general workshop. More events are on the way, stay tuned and check the events page or the lab calendar!

The Drone Racing Club makes a comeback this year, to meet every Thursday at 6PM. For more information, talk to Kristof (kristof.klipfel@colorado.edu). In addition, the Autonomous Vehicle Competition is still running, with the actual event happening mid October. While there’s currently no meeting time, email Cicada (cicada.scott@colorado.edu) to get in on the action!

All of our tools should be in working order, and we’ve also rearranged the tool room to give everyone more space. The table saw has been put away for use on the dock only – if you would like access, let Alicia, Cicada, or a resident grad student know.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Safety goggles are mandatory in the tool room! We encourage the use of other safety gear so you don’t lose fingers.
  • If you’re leaving your work unattended for any amount of time, please fill out one of the labels in the center of the tables so someone won’t clean it up.
  • Pay attention to new signage around the lab!

Happy hacking!


Soldering Workshop Success!

Monday, July 24th, we had a small soldering workshop to echo the table we had at the Red Hat summit. Only a handful of people showed up, but all of them successfully soldered their badges! We hope those of you who joined us learned some new skills to take moving forward.

Learning to Solder

If you missed it, don’t sweat. There will be a second workshop on tuesday, October 17th at 3PM.

Summer at the BTU

Things have quieted down over the summer, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s happening in the lab! Lots of students have still come by to work on projects, and we have an ongoing class as well as an upcoming workshop.

A few of our members are working on an entry for the Autonomous Vehicle Competition. So far that means we’ve hacked a razor scooter into a precarious speed demon! We need all the help we can get, so if you’re interested in joining us (and maybe riding a cool car), email Cicada (cicada.scott@colorado.edu) to be added to the email list.

Kristof working on our car for the Autonomous Vehicle Competition

The Arduino class is ongoing and meets most Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30. Check the calendar for a more detailed schedule! While the class is several projects in, all work is done out of a Sparkfun guide so you can catch up pretty quickly. The class requires the Sparkfun Inventor’s Kit, but there is no cost and no prerequisites. Email Wayne (wayne@theseltzers.net) for more information.

Last but not least, there will be a beginner’s soldering workshop on Monday, 7/24 from 3PM to 5:30PM. Join us and make your own light-up badge, just like the ones from the Red Hat Summit! No prior experience required, and we’ll provide everything you need to learn. Hope to see you there!

Thank you to Red Hat!

The BTU Lab partnered with Open Source Stories at Red Hat to have a soldering booth at the Red Hat Summit in Boston last week. Fun was had by all who stopped by and made themselves a fancy light up badge. Of course the badges where Open Source Hardware. Source files can be found on Github.

BTU Lab grad students, Libi, Danny, BTU Director Alicia, and Red Hat volunteer Liz

BTU Lab Director, Alicia Gibb, who is also the Executive Director of the Open Source Hardware Association gave a Keynote presentation entitled ‘The Physical Future of Open Source’. The talk was a primer on Open Source Hardware and the future possibilities of communities working together. In her talk, she said: “The more we band together, the more the world becomes open source.”

Alicia Gibb’s Keynote at the Red Hat Summit

For this open source future to happen, combining open software and open hardware, we need help from all communities asking themselves “is there an open source alternative out there?” when working on projects, said Gibb.

Back at the BTU Lab / Open Source Stories booth, lines formed to get a fancy light up badge made. We had a steady stream of participants over the three days of the conference.

BTU Lab / Open Source Stories soldering booth at the Red Hat Summit

BTU Lab students taught approximately 1,800 Summit participants how to solder. Thanks to Red Hat, our students could participate in this event and share their excitement for creating open source hardware. We were grateful for the volunteer help and all the support Red Hat provided for us to have such a successful booth.

Teaching Red Hat Summit participants to solder

Open Source Stories plays a vital role in educating about open source and bringing forth examples of where open source touches the daily lives of many individuals, making it easier to explain open source and the benefits and values to communities who have not heard of it.