New Tattoo

by Jimmie on January 11, 2013

resistor tattooI finally got my new tattoo yesterday. I’ve been meaning to get this done for the past two years, but being a nomad and being able to get appointments from good tattoo artist is a bit rough. Luckily Marcio Bornholdt at Blut & Eisen in Berlin had an open slot and was up for doing my tattoo on short notice, as I already had all the design files ready to go. There’s a ton here, despite the plain look.

The most obvious thing is the resistor color codes. Doing electronics for a living, that’s kind of easy to see why I would get such a thing done. However, that’s a very small portion of the population that will initially recognize it. Most people tend to see just the rainbow, and that leads to lots of fun questions. I’m openly bisexual, and have done queer geeks panels at both CCC-Camp 2011 and again at 28c3. So I’m fine with the ambiguity, which adds itself into the meaning of the tattoo for me.

While I didn’t really need to have the colors implanted into my skin (already have them memorized), it will be a fun way of teaching others how to read the colors in classes. Also, I had the tattoo made to be five inches long, making each block one half inch. So I can use this tattoo as a reasonable-guess ruler. Being skin, it stretches and deforms, so I’ll have to learn the proper way to hold my arm so that it’s at least moderately accurate.

The next part of the tattoo, is that I programmed it in processing. It’s obviously open source, so do with it what you will. 😉 Here’s the source code:

int[] colors = {
#000000, #964B00, #DF0101, #FF8000, #FFFF00,
#04B404, #0101DF, #BF00FF, #848484, #FFFFFF
float Phi = (1+sqrt(5))/2;
int X = 140;
float Y = X * Phi;
float ratio = X/TWO_PI;
size (int(X*10 + ratio), int(Y + ratio));
for(int i = 0; i <10; i++){
  rect((i*X)+(ratio/2), ratio/2, X, Y);

So in summary, it’s a resistor color code chart, it’s a rainbow, it’s a ruler, it’s got both the golden ratio and Tau built in, and it was written in a programming language. So it’s a meaningful tattoo that’s also useful for me beyond looking great.


Residency at Unit One

by Jimmie on October 14, 2012

I’m doing a residency at Unit One in Allen hall at the University of Illinois for all of this week. If you are around, then please stop by! I’ve created a quick LoL Shield animation for my door to tell you whether I’m in or not (source for that is here, and uses the EEPROM if that’s interesting to you, so I just have to turn it off/on to toggle it).

Sunday, October 14
7pm – Opening Program: Meet Jimmie Rodgers (south rec room)
Jimmie Rodgers is a full time hacker, artist, musician, open hardware developer, and techno-nomad. He travels around the world teaching people how to make things. He does everything from digital to physical art, but everything he does is either open source or creative commons. He’s best known for the LoL Shield (an Arduino shield with lots of LEDS), and for various circuitbending and music projects.

Monday, October 15
7pm – Atari Punk Console workshopbuild a basic synthesizer or optical theremin (south rec room)
The Atari Punk Console is an easy to build synthesizer that you can use to make lots of fun sounds. This workshop will include all the parts you need to make the synthesizer, or even to create your own optical theremin! Bring your own case – Altoids tins, cigar boxes, or anything else that has at least the internal volume of a pack of playing cards.

10pm – tea time: building custom electronic instruments (guest apartment)

Tuesday, October 16
7pm – Building Contact Mics (south rec room)
Learn how easy it is to build your own contact mics. This workshop will have everything you’ll need to build a mic. We’ll then explore finding sounds in everyday objects, and some fun things to do with those found sounds. If you have your own amp, then please bring it!

9:30pm – Depression Meetup (guest apartment)
Depression can be a hard burden to bear, both for people who suffer directly, and people who help to support them. Come and talk about it with Jimmie Rodgers, who has been dealing with depression since he was a teenager. He has spoken at a number of events about depression, and has been an advocate of speaking openly about its effects and treatments. Many people suffer from depression, but there’s no reason to suffer alone.

Wednesday, October 17
7pm – Circuitbending (south rec room)
Circuitbending is the art of modifying toys, synthesizers, effects pedals, and anything electronic that makes noise or shows video. You’ll be bending a Staples Easy button, and learn enough of the basics to go exploring on your own after this workshop.

10pm – Noise Night (main lounge)
Bring your electronic instruments, noise makers, mixers, amps, effects pedals, hookup cables, and anything you can make sound with. People will hook their noise makers together and just jam. An open mind and tolerance for crazy sounds encouraged.

Thursday, October 18
7pm – Building (and playing) quality didgeridoos out of PVC (south rec room)
Learn how to quickly and cheaply make good sounding didgeridoos out of PVC. You’ll learn how to build and play them in this workshop. Advanced techniques will be covered, so you can continue to make nice didgeridoos long after the workshop.

10pm – Drone Night (south rec room)
Bring your acoustic instruments, drums, didgeridoos, singing bowls, and anything else that can make a trance-like sound. We’ll sit around and play the didgeridoos made in the previous workshop along with any brought instruments. Beginners welcome, and experimentation will be encouraged.

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A State of Depression

by Jimmie on July 11, 2012

This is part three in my series on depression (Part 1 here, Part 2 here). In the last post I focused mostly on my general history with depression, and in this one I will focus mostly on what depression is like for me. Depression can last anywhere from a few days, to a lifetime for some people. Regardless, it always takes many times that to recover most of the things you may have lost, or to just pick up the pieces of things you’ve let go.

I think that it’s important to go into what being depressed is like for me, because it could be important for someone to understand a friend/family member/loved one/etc who is also suffering from depression. That being said though, depression is a highly personal thing. The things that someone may be depressed about may seem mundane to you, but there’s usually a ton of stuff going on around the “main” issue. On the other hand, sometimes you just don’t know what the fuck is going on, or why you feel so bad, and that makes you feel bad. Also, the way depression affects people can be different. I am going to share my experience with depression, which I cannot claim to be how it effects everyone. I can only speak for myself. [click to continue…]


A History of Depression

by Jimmie on July 10, 2012

A picture of some koi I took in Japan.
My last post was a sort of coming back to the internet post. It took a ton of effort just to get past that artificial hurdle I had given myself. My goal is to hopefully finish up a series of posts to provide a bit more information about my experiences with depression. It’s my hope that it may inspire someone else out there to go get the help they need, or maybe to just reach out for help. The communities I’m a part of have been amazingly supportive, and some of us are working on getting some better resources online for people to find others to talk to about things. Privately, and anonymously if they wish.

I’ve had so many friends in the hacker/maker communities suffer from depression. People that you wouldn’t initially suspect. My blog posts are directly influenced by a number of them who have already spoken out about such things; Mitch Altman, Matthew Borgatti, and Schyler Towne have all posted things online. Matt did a great two part (part 1, part2) writeup for his blog, and Schyler is actually keeping a blog to record his own recovery. It was inspiring to me, so hopefully this can further that trend of sharing. Mitch has posted some great stuff to the Noisebridge wiki, but I had difficulty finding them, I’ll update this once I do.

The rest of this post is rather long, so I’ll post it after the break. Please click on to read more about my history with depression. [click to continue…]


On Depression

by Jimmie on July 9, 2012

Around Berlin

You may have noticed, but I’ve not really been on the internet much since last year. I haven’t updated my blog since last February, and have barely posted to twitter in the past 8 months. Many people have been worried about me and reached out. It has been appreciated. Long story short, I went through one of the longest periods of depression I’ve had in my adult life.

I’ve had extreme anxieties in coming back online and starting up my business again, but I’m finally getting around to poking my head up online, billing people, and generally getting kits back in stock. I had a friend doing order fulfillment for me, but I didn’t keep her in stock to do it, so orders have gone unfulfilled. This has caused me far more anguish than I can easily express in words.

To everyone I have let down, frustrated, or worried; I am extremely sorry.  Apologizing can’t really make it better, but know that I’m working hard every day to get things back on track. It’s slow work going through the better part of a year’s worth of stuff.

If you have ordered something from me, you will get it. Not only will you get the kits you ordered, but something extra for it. If you cancelled your order and were generally frustrated about my lack of communication, then I am sorry. I will send you something as well. I know I’ve caused a ton of frustrations by simply not communicating. It’s a ton of work climbing out of this hole I’ve dug, but I’m working on it. I’m sorry if it takes a while to get everything done, but I’m working on it. I’ve even got help.

That’s it for the short answer. I was depressed, stopped doing anything, and stopped communicating. Everyone will get what they paid for. I’m not here to rip anyone off. If you would like to hear the longer version, then I’m willing to share. I plan on posting a few additional blog posts to share my experience with depression and failure. I will also be speaking at HOPE 9 about it on the Geeks and Depression panel.


Quick 555 PCB for bending

by Jimmie on February 11, 2011

555pcb I started working on a schematic for the 555 looping circuit, and I ended up doing a PCB for it as well. You can download the files here. My plan was to hopefully etch and test out the board today, but those plans got delayed. I’ll probably give that a shot tomorrow. I’ve gone ahead and uploaded the PCB files I’ve been working on. It’s only at v0.5 till I test the board out. I’m also going to play around with the silk screen, but the layout probably won’t change, as I can’t see anywhere to reduce it further and still keep it single sided.

The PCB measures 1″ x 0.7″ and is single sided to allow for home fabbing. I could make this smaller with SMD parts, but it wouldn’t be single sided any longer. One position on each pot isn’t used, but I left them in there, as they could be used for strain relief instead. The diode is completely optional, as that causes the 555’s duty cycle to stop being 50%.

What that means, is that sometimes you want to press a button for a very short burst between longer pauses. Or have the button press for a long time between short pauses. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter, and you just want a square wave. In any case, you can change the configuration with this design. The diode also runs through a switch position, so that you can have an external control for it.

I also left a spot for an external trigger. That would allow you to hook this up to some kind of external circuit, like a sequencer or midi board. You’ll need to cut a trace for that, and the trigger voltage will have to be at least the same as the reference (which is currently tied to VCC). The trace you’ll cut is the one from TR to the 10uF cap. I’ll probably do a run of these if it works out, in which case I’ll make the side that needs to be cut.

I’m currently using two 100k pots to modulate the time. R2 is actually the left one (I should probably label them), and R1 is the right pot. If you want a simple oscillator, then just use a standard 10k resistor for R1. You can change both pots as well. Larger pots will give you slower rates, and smaller pots will give you quicker rates. You can also change out the 10uF cap to change timing as well. These are the values I found good for triggering simple toys.

555pcb I also did a quick PNG file for etching. You can either get it from Flickr, or from the PCB files. It’s high res, but should only be 1″ x 0.7″. If it isn’t then you’ll need to re-size it as well. The file has been mirrored, so this is actually the bottom layer as etched from a single sided PCB. Please let me know how yours turns out and what you do with it.


Triggering the Sing-A-Ma-Jig with a 555

by Jimmie on February 10, 2011

Wow, just wow. The 555 worked like a charm. I didn’t even need a transistor for it, which I mentioned in the previous post. I used a simple 555 timer to get it to loop. Turns out that Btn1 just need to be dropped to ground, and then it signals a button press. Luckily, the 555 output was designed to either sink or source current, so it can be used directly without a transistor.

This thing is so fun. You can even listen to me playing with it. Seriously, this thing is going to be great.

I’m using a TLC555CP from TI, which starts with a voltage as low as only 2v! What that means is that I can power this off of my 3v toy. My favorite page for basic 555 information is located here. I’m using the astable configuration with a greater than 50% duty cycle.

IMG_0438 I’m going to do a proper post on this later to fully explain what all this is doing, and how to use it with other toys. For now I’m having fun playing with it. I’ve also done three blog posts today, in short succession. I’m going to go and grab some food now, then I’ll probably do up a proper schematic in Eagle. I will probably do a PCB for this as well, since it’s extremely useful. I’ll actually submit that for the 555 contest.

[click to continue…]


Sing-A-Ma-Jig is a creepy toy!

by Jimmie on February 10, 2011

IMG_0357 Holy crap, I can’t believe they make this thing for kids! Even without the molestache(which I printed out), it’s still creepy.  It’s also quite ripe for bending. The thing is called a Sing-A-Ma-Jig, and I got mine at target while in NYC a few weeks back. I even opened it up that night and just used my fingers to see if it was bendable, and it is indeed.

This post is something that should have been posted yesterday, but I sort of started hanging out with my roommates. Then beers got involved, and then motivation was thoroughly lost. The previous two days was a combination of sleep deprivation, workshop preparation, visiting of friends, and travel. Seriously, I didn’t do anything creative for those two days, and I was running on only a few hours of sleep a night. That really tends to sap my creative energy. I’ll post a few projects after the month is over to make up for it.

This post is about the exploration of the toy, and how I go about finding fun points to bend. I made a quick video, and I also uploaded a bunch of pics to my Flickr. Behold, the first video:

[click to continue…]


Open Source Hardware Definition 1.0

February 10, 2011

The Open Source Hardware definition has reached v1.0! I’m proud to say that all of my kits fully comply with the definition, and will continue to do so in the future. I feel very strongly about the free culture movement, and believe that it is the best way of going about things. Knowledge and digital […]

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Modular Dice Tower

February 6, 2011

I totally failed to get a post up today by 7pm (that’s what I get for taking a “nap” at 5pm). I also failed to finish anything substantial, as I was hanging out with a good friend all day, and only spent about an hour in sketchup before taking my “nap”. I did come up […]

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