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It’s the Big Time

Posted 2012.01.18 22.16 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I just put together this simple fun kit from Sparkfun – it’s a great big chunky watch, with retro LED display!


The digits are much brighter and easier to read in person. I have not yet mastered the art of taking photographs of illuminated LEDs… either the LEDs are clear and everything else is dim, or the LEDs are dim and everything else is properly exposed.

Ice Tube Clock

Posted 2011.05.09 9.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I (heart) my Ice Tube Clock – another kit from Adafruit.

It was fun to build, and it’s just really fun to look at – high tech and old tech all together at once.

The Gakkenflex

Posted 2010.12.26 18.57 in Hobbies, Photography

Last week I assembled the Gakken kit # 25, the Gakkenflex Twin Lens Reflex camera. It was a pretty straight-forward assembly, the Japanese instructions are well-illustrated enough to get by, although there are some English translations around for the assembly.

As cameras go, this fits in the ‘toy’ category, next to other plastic wonders like the Holga or Diana. The lens is a simple plastic meniscus, the shutter is single-speed (about 1/125 allegedly) and there is a single fixed aperture (said to be about f/11). The focal length is roughly 40 or 45mm. The Gakkenflex takes standard 35mm film, and is actually very small and kind of cute in person.

Winding is manual of course and there is no frame counter, just an indicator to let you know when you’ve moved the film far enough for a single frame. Unlike the Holga, the Gakkenflex actually has a focus-aide! As a TLR, you are looking down onto the focus screen, and adjusting the twin lenses, so when it’s in focus on the screen it is (supposed to be) in focus for the film.

As with the Holga, the shutter release is not connected to the film advance, so you can take double-exposures, on purpose or accidentally. Finally, the Gakkenflex has a tripod mount (on the side of the body, so you mount it sideways) but there is no provision for a flash. None at all.

I rushed a roll of film through the Gakkenflex to see how it would go. As expected, the plastic lens gives a ‘soft’ look to the shots, and ¬†you can get some Holga-like effects by playing with double-exposures and other ‘artistic’ errors.

I quite like the Gakkenflex, although the first batch of shots won’t win any awards. Maybe if I spent more time outside and wasn’t in a hurry to ram film through it… Oddly it also makes me want to blow the dust off my Holga and play with it some more too. The Gakkenflex has the advantage in cuteness, and if you don’t have a cheap source of 120mm film then the Gakken wins there too for using standard 35mm film.

As usual with kits, 80% of the fun for me is in the building.

Blinkin’ Flashin’ Bliss

Posted 2010.12.15 0.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology

It’s a problem I’ve confessed to before. I love blinkin’ lights. LEDs, blinkins, flashins, flickering their magic little messages… and just recently, I’ve come across a wild and wonderful blinkin’ flasher that’s just plain blissful blinkin heaven.

Not only does it enchant and calm with it’s blinkins, but it also performs fun mathematical calculations. See, it’s based on Conway’s Game of Life.

It’s a GoL kit – modular boards, each with a 4×4 grid of cells (represented by LEDs). The boards can be linked to build larger and larger grids. I’ve started with 6 boards, for a 12 x 8 grid. It’s very addictive though. I already want to get another 6 boards and go to a 16×12 grid.

Here’s a short animation – it’s not perfect, there’s missing evolutions so the animation doesn’t exactly portray the way the game runs. But it’s close enough: a bunch of (seemingly) random flashes of LED light.


The Stephanie Maks Office Adventure Kit

Posted 2006.07.25 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I was just getting ready to head out to work and had some of my ‘important gear’ sitting on my desk ready to, when I noticed that my bit of kit was arranged somewhat photogenically.

That’s right, it’s the Stephanie Maks Action Adventure Kit!

The kit consists of the following:
A Pentacle necklace, properly cleansed and blessed.
A mechanical, home-made wristwatch. Today it’s the one-handed model, accurate to within 5 or 10 minutes.
An antique PDA, circa 1996. Hey, just because stuff is new, does not mean it is better.

And now, I must be off! Duty calls!

Stephanie Maks Action Adventure Kit