The Lab Times

July 11th 2017

Brian, Brian, Dan, Danielle, Reagan

Welcome to the blog of SimcoLab, Barrie’s best techie hangout!

Today in the basement started with panic, as Brian locked himself out. Then Frankenserver failed to start properly. Fortunately, Reagan identified the cause as the router being down. Brian tried (successfully!) to turn on the router, bringing Frankenserver to life! It then took the rest of the evening to install and update the OS.

Reagan’s project of making his own keyboard was delayed when he decided he wanted a different board model, and didn’t want to de-solder the key caps if the case broke. Since he’d have to wait to cut new plates, he started prepping the board for the headers (with a suitably damp sponge for the soldering iron).

Brian and Dan put up the peg board. Dan cleverly used a tape measure as a spirit level, and Brian used a screwdriver to hammer in holes. Once it was secured to the wall, they started attaching whatever they could think of to it.

Brian and Dan needed a way to transfer internet across 260ish feet, where neither they nor their neighbour owned the intervening land. Since a router couldn’t cover that distance, the best solution was a suspended cable, preferably not connected to the utilities towers.

Reagan decided his switches for the keyboard had feet that he didn’t need (after a failed internet search), so he started clipping them all off. Meanwhile, Brian took over the soldering machine to remove damaged caps from a circuit board.

The crew wrapped up at 9:30 before they could be kicked out, since none of them had a key.

Other topics of conversation: vestigial whales on snakes, the housing market, xkcd, other makerspaces, and how Canadians talk to strangers.

Today’s injury count:

  • Brian’s finger (got a plastic-cut while cutting plastic)
  • Brian’s, Dan’s, Danielle’s, and Reagan’s waistlines (consumption of strawberry rhubarb crumble)

July 4th 2017

Brian, Simon, Eric, Danielle, Kenny, Jordi, Elliot, John

Today’s group started with a meeting to work on the future direction of SimcoLab. It was decided that we will repoen the bank account and start the quest to become a non-profit. Unfortunately, it was discovered that we need to obtain additional directors before embarking on that quest.

During the main session, quests to acquire a USB stick, and later, a stapler, were attempted. Both failed due to a lack of materials.

Brian took apart a monitor to investigate a power failure. Eventually, it was determined that an old solder joint was at fault. The power supply board also had two popped caps. The monitor was left disassembled to fix at a later date.

Meanwhile, Brian tried to install an OS on the Frankenserver. Unfortunately, it was missing a hard drive. Instead, he ran a memory test and tried to get the CPU information.

Simon discussed creating a hydrofoil surfboard with his friend. The main problem discussed was cooling the (enclosed) motor. Thermal paste, combined with water cooling, was the best proposed solution.

Jordi found a bag of zip-ties, provoking several people to demonstrate how to break out of zip-ties. No hands were removed. Later, he confirmed that zip-ties can fix everything, using an old golf bag carrier.

The future location of the pegboard was voted on. It will be situated on one of the drywall walls; anchors will hopefully be acquired next week.

Today’s injury count:

  • Elliot and John’s wrists, from being zip-tied together and ineffective break-out attempts

June 27

Brian, Simon, Danielle, Dan, Brian, Kenny

Welcome to the blog of SimcoLab, Barrie’s best techie hangout!

Today in the basement, Danielle was almost refused access when she had to enter via Creative Space upstairs (because Simon forgot to open the door). This long-standing member was told to wait and the man would be along shortly. Fortunately, Brian and Simon were there to ensure her entry.

Brian continued on his quest to resurrect an old medical server. After filing a complaint that the bite-sized brownies were not bite-sized (future iterations will be smaller to compensate for Brian’s small mouth), he gradually assembled the Frankenserver. The dust-covered motherboard evoked memories of a simpler time, when DDR was the only kind of RAM, and model numbers of CPUs were unnecessary. And the need for a mini vacuum. While it can’t boot from USB, it can PXE-boot (take the boot image, or operating system, from the internet), leading to a brief discussion of the best operating system to put on it.

Danielle and Simon talked British politics while Brian and Dan tried to figure out how they attached Frankenserver’s motherboard to the base plate. After removing most visible screws, Brian used a dremel to partially cut the last (fairly inaccessible) one, then Dan managed to unscrew it with a pair of pliers. However, the motherboard stayed firmly attached.

For a change of pace, they cleared the dust off the Frankenserver using an air compressor, interspersed with discussion about current drone regulations. After a bit more dremelling, Brian managed to fully detach the motherboard. Then they managed to extract the last part of screw from between the motherboard and mounting plate.

Things wound down with a discussion of future plans for SimcoLab and where a peg board can hang without falling or damaging the walls. Dan tried to check the thrust to weight ratio of a fan, but couldn’t remember the ballistic pendulum calculations. Other plans include 3d printing rocket shells or engines, and testing if you can set t-shirts on fire using conductive thread.

Today’s injury count:

  • Dan’s left index finger (injured checking if Frankenserver’s fans were setting up a beat frequency)
  • Dan’s head (injured due to lack of clearance)