Makers have an answer for everything

10:00 am(1/26/2013)- I get a text from @leftyfb “pipes broken at lowellmakes come fast”

11:00 am-  We find our store room with 2 inches of water, laptops switches and sparkfun kits all drenched.



11:30 am- Makers get to work!! @leftyfb brings in water pumps used in his fish tank to pump water out.

1:00pm- More makes join in with mops and buckets

2:00pm- The Lowell fire, police and public works try to stop the broken water line.

3:00pm- The water still keeps gushing down the crack on the wall

water water everywhere...

water water everywhere…

4:00pm- Makers build a dam to contain the water



5:00pm- There is too much water for the fish tank pumps to pump out.

6:00pm- We head over to lowe’s to get a real water pump.

7:00pm- We have the water pump hooked on to a timer that goes on every 30 min. to pump the water out from the store room to a drain

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timer connected to the pump

9:00pm- Ha! now we are getting some progress. but the water still keeps pouring.

9:30pm- Makers take apart laptops and use compressed air to salvage a few remaining laptops that were not completely drenched.

10:30pm- Makers get to work on a flood detection system using raspberry pi, pi-face and a block of wood.

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pi-saves the day…

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water detection..

11:00pm- With some bad python codes and the twilio API , we put together a floating water detection system that would send us an text message if the water rises above a certain level.(code here)

11:00pm- We setup up dropcams to keep an eye on the space.Thanks dropcam!! live feed

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a watchful eye

12:00am- All the makers go home for a nap 🙂

The pump worked the whole night in 30min cycles to pump water out, the dropcam kept an eye on the leak and the raspberry pi made sure it woke up the Makers if there was more flooding…  This might have been a small problem that was completely over engineered but this shows the dedication and creativity of Makers and their skill to use what was lying around to solve a real problem. The professional water damage contractor who came in the next day was surprised and very impressed with the ingenious way this problem was tackled and he said “we could not have done this better”… Thanks to all the makers who gave up their Sunday night plans to be here and help us out. keep checking out lowellmakes for updates (or @lowellmakes)

24hrs of hacking

just back from the first ever hackathon i helped organize, at LowellMakes . Met some awesome people and finally got to MAKE something(after a long break ). I build a simple framework for User and Entry management to maker spaces. This initial idea came to me when one of the makers told me how expensive it is to get a professional RFID entry system installed. “There was no reason we should not build one”- I said …

so i build one 🙂 … i used the ID-12LA, 125Khz RFID reader from sparkfun and a raspberry pi. The ID12-LA works on 3.3v hence we could directly hook it up to GPIOs of the Raspberry pi. i also ended up using the Pi-Face to hook up leds and Relays for the Magnetic lock. with a few lines of code, here i was able to create an RFID locking system that uses a CSV database of users, cards and access levels to lock and un-lock doors or activate machines at makersspaces (and maintain a log of everything 🙂 ). The tool still needs some work, but i guess it is good for the 12-13hrs I put in (i was a little distracted by the 3D printer).. don’t forget to vote for my project


pi time….

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pi+ RFID

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very distracting