Monthly Archives: September 2014

HeatHack is launched!

Yesterday we had an official launch for HeatHack where we showed off some of the prototypes we’ve been working on and served cake to passers-by. You’ll see Tim in the pictures demonstrating his themo-lamp that displays an animated candle flame that grown brighter as things heat up. There’s also the cake-cutting with representatives from both of the churches that are supporting the project.

Tonight’s hackerspace

Sunday’s stall at Christ Church Morningside was fun – we even had an unexpected demo brought in, and found someone who’s just been given a Pi and camera by their children. People we met were enthusiastic about the prospect of understanding the premises and getting to know other people from around town this way.

We’ll be meeting up tonight at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church at 19:30 to put the finishing touches on our demos for the public launch (Sunday at 12:30). If there’s time we’ll also start to make some choices that affect the sensor networks we deploy. There are several competing libraries we could build on to collect the data, and it’s hard to know which is easiest to set up, or most stable. We need to figure out where we’re storing the data and to make sure it will make it possible to help sites compare what they see, which is a major undertaking in itself. We also need to decide where to target the funding that we have – what do we want to do ourselves, what will we easily find volunteers to do, and what’s so critical, or so specialist, that we should buy in help? These aren’t necessarily questions for a hackerspace, but they are the ones we need to think about, and we value everyone’s opinion on these matters.

Time lapse photography

Although there are smarter ways of taking meter readings, for some community buildings, time lapse photograph turns out to be a good option.  Here’s an example:  the gas meter during a spring Wednesday at Christ Church Morningside.

These pictures were taken with a Raspberry Pi and a Pi Noir camera – the light levels in the room are just high enough.  You can see the camera slip where we didn’t tape it well enough!   This setup will be happy running for reasonably long periods, although we need to work on power saving for places where there isn’t an electric socket nearby.   We haven’t tried doing optical character recognition on the pictures so that we can find the meter readings automatically, but that will come if we need it.   For another venue where we need flash, we’ve tried a Pi with an old Nikon Coolpix, but there’s more work to do on that equipment, too – it always crashes after around 8 hours and we aren’t sure why.

Late addition to schedule

We’ll be giving one of our host congregations, Christ Church Morningside, a sneak preview of the project on Sunday,  a week ahead of  the project launch at Doors Open Day.  We aren’t going to give away our best visuals before the big day, but we will have a little stall where we’ll at least be running this:

It’s a simple scrolling display of the time, temperature, and relative humidity, with a twist – the sensing data will be sent by radio from another location in the building.    We showed this previously at the Scientists in Congregations Scotland conference.  It’s a nice way of explaining the project, but let’s face it, there are more engaging ways of displaying the data.   One or two may even arrive in time for Sunday, if we’re quick about it.

Coffee starts at about 11:15 in the church hall (external door at basement level at the back of the main building) – as always, all are welcome there, as well as at our Tuesday night sessions.  Our next one is at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church at 7:30, where we’ll be comparing notes on our demonstrations, settling the details for how we want to log the conditions for the CEMC organ, and deciding our priorities for future events.