Vaccuum Desolderer; Pump replacement overkill.

Heya. starting a small hackerspace with some guys.
I’m the resident electronics dude, so i’ve taken it upon myself to get a semi-decent lab going.
I already got a fairly decent digital soldering station there.
However, at work we have these super sweet Hakko vacuum-desolderers and i’m absolutely addicted.
A sucker would be a blessing when salvaging parts and such.
Enter the old solderstation from way before i was ever employed at my company. donated to me.

This combi rig seemed decent for its age but the pump was terrible. if the legends around the office are true, it has always been terrible.
My brother, TinkarLjarl suggested i try this pump. a 350w mains driven vaccuum pump!.

Size comparison:

Never thinking i’d actually use it, i went along and hooked up the hose and he plugged it in while i tried to desolder some components.
A bit loud, but it worked like a charm!

Seeing as these pumps have never been of use to the company, and my boss never explicitly saying no, I got to work after hours at the office.

The carrier plate for the pumps looked useful for making this beast more manuverable, so i got one pump off..

..and bolted the station snugly it its place.

A quick relay board for driving the thing, triggered by the old pumps 24v. fuse for good measure.

Cut open a slot for the vacuum and pump mains with a hacksaw. ugly but functional.

Heatshrink muffler.

Works good. the relay sparks like crazy so i might go SSR when the contacts go bad.(they will!)

And there you have it! weighing in at 18Kg its not for lugging around.
A bit of a pain to get to the hackerspace.
going from 8w to 350w will put on some weight.

The CMeTron

Got a request from the Brage Theater in Drammen / Norway. They wanted a weird contraption to visualize the dream of a 12 year old boy. A great invention that would change the world. They gave me a good budget and mostly free will so I ended up with this:

the thing

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The Lamp Forest #2

Foto: Torbjørn StråndOk, there never was a post for Lamp Forest #1 because of Norwegian dept’s prolonged uselessness.

The Lamp Forest is a grid of old worn indoor lamps individually controlled from a laptop. This makes it possible to make the lamp dim and twinkle in interesting patterns, or to let the lamps interact with the audience or actors.

Foto: Torbjørn StråndAt the fall of 2010 the Lamp Forest was set up for the first time for Stedsans Porsgrunn. It consisted of 64 lamps in a 8 by 8 grid in the park. Add some rain and we probably set the record for Porsgrunns ground fault of the year 2010!

Anyway it all went well with no dead actresses or technicians, and this year we will try again at Stedsans Drammen. I have still not discussed the matter with Mario, my programmer for the last year lamp forest (hatted gentleman below), and I still do not know what to change and what to keep. I’ll keep you updated! (maybe.. or maybe I just fall into prolonged uselessness again…)
E, Norwegian/Technical department.

These dimmers are older then you... Yes you!

Let´s Play!

I have been teaching the second year students in Digital Design at IED Madrid. The workshop was called Alternative Interfaces and we were using MouseMan to interact with animations that the students would make in Flash.

The exhibition opened last Thursday and will run for one more month. From the 17th of May two new and improved versions of Mapping Madrid are also scheduled next door. Nice.

The Demodrama Platform

Our loosely based affinity group Demodrama has just launched its on-line platform and during the research I found the video above. I predict this will happen again and again in the future: small low/no budget groups reinventing and developing work that was done 10 years earlier by big institutions with a lot of money. As cameras and projectors become cheaper,  computers more powerful and open source is widely used, this type of technology will be for everyone. We still need some more rounds on the code before it’s ready for release though.

What have we done? What do you need? First of all hacking a PS3 Eye camera, they are cheap and fast. Then a tracking software, we use Open CCV 1.3 (formerly tBeta and originally made for multi-touch screens), that will communicate with Processing through TUIO. In order to handle the complex setup with scenes, backgrounds, masks and sounds we use the Eclipse integrated development environment.

Random Art Games

After years of experimenting with machines and chance in creative processes, the time has come for reflection and teaching others. We are doing this the next week at CAMON in Alicante. So I have spent some time lately reading up on randomness, aleatoricism and improvisation, including their branching into artistic practices from the 20th century to the present. Fun stuff, but it reminds me of all the times I tried to make a machine with one button that would rearrange my material and failed, ending up learning something else instead. Random is not easy, but its epistemological journey from the divine via scientific discourse to our present Take-away-random, has made it soft. Magic on the other hand is the result of tangible processes.

Here is my first cut-up, it was made during a writing workshop some 10 years ago based on a personal story describing computer games, roleplaying and finally theatre.

That journey was one get’s whole new world the different confided for me and when house with thick books beginning of fantasy/mind, into the real world a hack’n’slash and how you stone and he answered; reality and the end worlds of the different playing on tired of you want “to do” we started of game it was possibilities roleplaying was it wasn’t anti different styles just throwing so I’ve travelled different dimension like a stepping started playing so we a bunch of boys trapped in the TV-set the concept of a very strange idea no playing board and pictures sitting around a gradually exploring the anything why do anything this box world and I asked my friends social but still eventually the glory days you can a totally is theatre game, but still infinite in dragon’s a opened up very basic the game is my stepping stone after playing is that was dungeons & I was young table from into took win etc. I think computergames all over the galaxy in my for me could I saw this sci-fi had to end a year of later I do whatever I remember – I don’t wanna grow up basis this games of dices with a year but what type it at.

MouseMan Mapping Porsgrunn


This is an image of Dag Jensen, the photographer that has done most of our performance photos, standing in our installation, taking pictures of a picture he took in 2006, with the audience in front of a 6 x 5 meter poster of the photo he took in 2005 of a girl running away from fire. The sequence has a dizzying effect, it reminds me of learning strange new words in college, like mise-en-abyme meaning, “placing into infinity” or “placing into the abyss”.

First of all the two MouseMan projects in Porsgrunn and Madrid are almost opposites, in Madrid it was inside the Altamira Palace, all made of marble, with a cool atmosphere and plenty of time for people to interact.  In Porsgrunn it was inside the popular Folkets Hus, at the end of a 2 hour theatre walk in the city, together with lapskaus (traditional norwegian food) and entertainment. The visitors had become audience and as an audience they where in a theatrical time mode.

We tried making interactive things for Stedsans in 2007 with little success in the field, so we ended up performing the interactivity. With the Tesla Coil in 2008 we dropped the interaction altogether and did a Pythonesque mad professor routine which worked well. This year, because of reproduction and MouseMan being our new project, we went back to full scale interaction. It seems that Stedsans and interaction doesn’t belong together.

But then a challenger appears. Kids. The kind of people that’s not content with sitting politely at the table and listening about the good old days. We made an easy to understand interface, when you move the red circle follows, a 5-year-old could get it, but it was difficult to grasp for the pre-computer generation. The future for MouseMan could be a large 3D version of PacMan.

Harder Better Faster Longer


Dear Internet,

We are currently in Porsgrunn at the Stedsans festival updating our MouseMan project. In this small town we have access to more equipment and the infrastructure is of a happy-go-lucky type,  so v2.0 will be better, faster and longer. There is no hacked web camera, but a newly bought IP security camera. Not one projector, two of course. And why not use six par cans with RGB filters instead of buying one expensive IR light.

So the project is upgraded, but and this is why we ask for your help Internet, when we started testing our two projector vertical set-up, we found no solution to spanning the desktop over two monitors with a flash program in full-screen. Our dualhead2go can pivot the screen, we have downloaded Pivot Pro and searched up and down on the net, but still can’t find a solution. There was three entries in forums addressing the same problem, no one has answered yet. Come on Internet, this is relevant for everybody.

How do you put one projector on top of another and get their desktops to function as a whole, just like it is in horizontal set-up?

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MouseMan Mapping Madrid

We finally got the documentation together, so here are the photos from the making off and the opening day. This was one crazy project, we did our set-up in May in between the workshop we held, then one month later when it was inauguration time we finished the installation remote desktopping from Norway. Maybe for the first time I had the feeling of telepresence as we instructed the people at IED to walk in the room, chatted in WordPad and tried to calibrate the machine.

The installation is still running for one more week, upload your holliday photos from Madrid here.

El Mundo had an article about it.

MouseMan – the prologue


This process was an Internet success story, later in the real life production we ran into a series of failure.

During a presentation of our shopping-trolley robot at Universita La Sapienza in Rome some years ago I met David Dalmazzo. He does a lot of interactive works and explained me briefly how he used infrared cameras in several dance productions. This was the wonderful world of background elimination.

So when we where approached by IED Madrid to build an installation for the PHotoEspaña festival, the time had come to put the theory into practice. A quick search in the big library revealed a way to hack webcams into infrared cameras. The technical department did it in 5 minutes, while the performance department used a staggering 5 hours. Once inside the infrared part of the spectrum we started experimenting, finding light sources and filters, calibrating the software and preparing for the on-site setup.

The actual construction included memorable moments like using one day to build lights that we couldn’t use, buying infrared diodes at this very special shop only to discover that they gave us cancerous ultraviolet ones and so forth…