Tour of Spain n°2

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This is part of a mail I wrote to Christine on 26/06/2007 waiting for the train to Barcelona (update: Google Maps of the travel):

I’m currently sitting in a small train station, in the middle of the Pyrennées, just before the border between France and Spain. A few days of perfect trip has made me come to this place 🙂
I’ve moved for a longer period to Madrid last week, with enough time to seriously learn spanish and speak about future projects (which are big too, building up a Fab Lab). Pablo and Lore, an argentinian couple are currently living under the Las Indias roof too, and we’ve got a mini-conference about copyright today in Barcelona.
Because it’s too simple (and too boring) to go straight to Barcelona, we rent a car 2 days ago, heading north from Madrid to visit Burgos and Santander on the first days. Arriving at 2am at Santander, the only opened hotel was a 4-stars on the sea-side, and I had this enormous view on all the old city roofs.
We followed the coast the day after, first to stop at a great beach, with mountains in the background to make it even better 🙂 Then, after Bilbao, we lunched in a small city restaurant, it was sunday and it seems to be the place where families go to regroup on this day. We were so full after the first dishes (entradas) that the main dish was something too much 🙂
From the beginning of the trip, I was hoping to take the northern route then, going by Toulouse to join Barcelona. I’m getting crazy somedays, and I needed to deliver a letter to a girl there 😀 But it was getting late, and it’s not a funny part to drive. So we splitted the group at San Sebastian, they’ll spend their night there, and I’ll try to join Toulouse.
It was pretty late (around 7pm) and the main goal was to get a train (which would have took me a night to get to my destination), but I was lucky enough to get the perfect hitch-hiker trip: a gentle family leaving me at the motorway toll, and just less than 3 minutes to wait to get a nice Basque guy going directly to Toulouse. I was in Toulouse at 10:30pm, and the night was saved in a friendly warm bed 🙂
Amazing how many good stuff can happen in a day: a small nap in a park, a phone call from a friend, another lucky coincidence to have breakfast with friends, discovering a new flowery part of the city (even finding Amapolas I’ve been looking for last few days) and visiting this most amazing underground bar on the Garonne border… I want these adventures everydays!
I’m in the train to Barcelona now, crossing the mountains. It’s 2 hours longer than the faster way, but it’s mainly time spend in full beauty landscapes, there’s no deal between travelling and time-saving.

[Fabbing] Link hunting

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A selection of links was needed to prepare this Fab Lab creation week:

Fab Lab inventory

A full list inventory to get your Fab Lab ready for all kind of fabrications and experiments (using Internet Archives, direct link no more available)

Draft Craft Manifesto

A simple manifesto with the few rules craftmen follows when building a new toy

DHS Fab Lab

Simple tutorials for various possible production in Fab Labs

1$ microscope project

A really complete tutorial, with lots of optic knowledge to learn

Vendor list from Fab Central forum

Some vendor where to find necessary items for Fab Lab

Fabbing and Fab Lab tags on

Great source for even more Fab Lab and fabbing related websites

RepRap-Fab@Home convergence

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RepRap and Fab@Home are doing a great job to build an open-source solution to get a cheap fabbing solution for everybody, each one at various stage of production, each one with amazing ideas to continue the adventure?

Yesterday, it was proposed to build a bridge between the 2 communities, mainly because RepRap members need some parts to build first Darwin machines (which would be able to replicate themselves after), and Fab@Home might be able to produce these parts quickly. That’s the beginning of a faster way for everybody to generate more ideas:

Have a look at Fab@Home Ideas Gallery to see what’s possible today with fabbing!

RepRap: PowerComms card soldered and tested

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PowerComms RepRap card

At last, I’ve just finished testing the PowerComms card for our Darwin RepRap machine.
This is the summary of differents tasks during this process.

Getting PowerComms card

Zach has made an excellent job with pushing difficult Darwin parts on a web-shop.
It’s simple and really faster than doing your own PCB cards, but supplies are limited, so I prefer to order parts step by step to give priority to people well more advanced than me in their RepRap building.

Finding componants

I’ve never order any electronic componants on the web, and when I tried to do so on RadioSpares, it was so complicated I preferred to look for help.
After a week, I went to this little electronic shop – Le Comptoir du Languedoc – in the middle of Toulouse, and everything was ready in 10 minutes 🙂

Soldering componants

Zach has made a great video available on RepRap blog where he shows the steps to follow. The only step to take care of is the PCB molex bug, it has to be reverted (5V to 12V position).

Looking for a power supply

It’s time of the century when you’ll find lots of people with dead computers at home, time to use their spare parts. After SMS-spamming all of my toulousian phone directory, Kortex answered first to the announce, and the power supply was retrieved the day after.

Switching on the power supply

Most of ATX power supply you’ll find won’t have a switch on them, this switch used to be connected on the computer motherboard.
You can easily make one yourself. For this, I used an old lamp switch, and connect 2 wires between the green wire and one of the black wire on the big pin plug.

ATX Power switcher

Mac USB Serial connector

I’ve been a bit lost at first with this usbserial cable, a unknown brand one. After connecting it to an ubuntu computer, it was detected as a PL-2303 chipset.
After that, you just need to install one of the PL-2303 drivers for your Mac, and restart the computer.
Just verify you’ve got this file after reboot: /dev/cu.usbserial

Testing card

  • Open iTerm (or another terminal)
  • sudo minicom -s
    • Serial Port Setup
      • A – Serial Device : /dev/cu.usbserial
      • E – Bps/Par/Bits : 19200 8N1
      • F – Hardware Flow Control : No
      • G – Software Flow Control : No
    • Save setup as dfl
  • Connect the usbserial cable, place a wire between Tx and Rx (pin 13 and 14 on max232 chip), and open minicom. If you type on your keyboard, something should appear on the terminal.
  • Remove the wire between Tx and Rx, verify nothing appear in your minicom terminal when you type.
  • Connect the power to the PowerComms card anb switch on the power supply. If you type something in the minicom terminal, it should appear.

Getting help

RepRap wiki and forums are a big place for information, you should definitely use them in case of problem with your PowerComms card: