Professional Maker


My LED Clock at Oggcamp 13


This a Last weekend I attended Oggcamp 13, the biggest and best open source & free culture conference in the UK. I took this opportunity to exhibit my LED Clock and demonstrate to the free & open source community what I have been upto and hopefully get some direct feedback…

The John Lennon Art and Business Building Rise and shine LED Clock stall at Oggcamp

Oggcamp 13 was kindly hosted at and sponsored by The John Lennon Art and Design Building, a part of Liverpool John Moores University. Oggcamp is an unconference focused around free culture and open source software & hardware. The Oggcamp 13 tag line sums up what its all about perfectly… “Learn/Teach/Play”.

Oggcamper checking out my LED CLock Oggcamper engaing in my LED CLock

Exhibiting My LED Clock and getting direct feedback was a very rewarding experience.ย  I displayed the current 2 versions of my clock, where the LED strip is facing inwards and where the LED strip is facing outwards. As my outwards facing clock was open and incomplete, it wasn’t perfectly clear of the effect it could achieve, especially in such a very light environment. Once I had chance to explain the effect the clock will achieve when complete and in the correct environment, peoples interest and enthusiasm suddenly went to the next level. I had some great thoughts and ideas shared with me of how the clock could be hacked, in terms of both software and hardware, which is exactly what this project is all about. As and when I have time, I will write up all those ideas and add them to the development list, for either myself or the community to implement.

Morgan Barke at Oggcamp 13 exhibiting his LED Clock Free Pizza for all those Oggcampers

Lunch on both Saturday & Sunday was kindly provided for free by the sponsors of the event. There was a party on Saturday where a free drink and food was put on by the sponsors, of which was greatly appreciated by all.

Oggcamp 13 Raffle Ubuntu vs Firefox OS for phones

There were a wide range of talks, covering topics such as why free music, Ubuntu vs Firefox OS for phone (as pictured above), how to build your first quad/tri copter, git basics, introduction to werewolf, Raspberry Pi Jam, and so on… I now look forward to next years event and would highly recommend it to anyone who is wanting to get in touch with the inner geek! ๐Ÿ™‚

Updated Rise and shine code to v0.24

After buying a new laptop and installing the latest version of Arduino (1.0.1) and uploading v0.23 to test my com port, it didn’t work. But as you can see in this video, it’s not a bad thing…

At the time I was listening to “Summer Stepping” by Dr Meaker at it seemed to fit perfectly. Check it out…

While it doesn’t actually dance to the music I am playing, only looks like it, it shouldn’t be too hard to hack in a microphone to do exactly that… Maybe you might have time to hack it before I do… If so, be sure to let me know… ๐Ÿ™‚

I have now updated the code so the LED Clock now works with arduino v1.0.1 and onwards. You can now download v0.24 from sourceforge, of which I have also added the menu flow diagram.

I will keep you posted when I get chance to add the music dancing functionality… ๐Ÿ™‚


After posting this video on the “FastSPI_LED Users” Google+ community (this is the LED library I use), I received a variety of potiential ways of implementing the sound/music reacting functionality.

Here is someone elseโ€™s implementation…

I have ordered some sound “arduino sound sensor modules” of which run off 5v and I should be able to combine with the Arduino FHT Library from Open Music Labs. I will post an update as soon as I get the clocks dancing… you know, really dancing…

Best free open hardware projects

oshw-logo-800-pxAs with free and open source software, free and open hardware are key components to a sustainable and enriched future for all. We are all faced with a wide variety of environmental and social problems, of which the current closed and proprietary based economic system has little chance of solving. The inefficiencies of consumption based economics contribute highly to both these issues. The mass majority of designs and patents are owned by companies, with their primary interest is of selling you more products. Therefore it is not in their interest to design and create the best, long serving, repairable & upgradable products.

This is where free and open hardware comes to the rescue… If the consumer take responsibility of these products, longevity, upgrades & maintenance will be inherent in their design and creation.

It is early days for the free & open hardware movement and it needs your support, so I have compiled a list of what I currently believe and am aware of, the best and most important free and open hardware projects to help you understand what it is all about. These are not necessarily in order of best, as they all hold their own in their respective field. I am sure I have missed some other worthy projects out there, so please update me with them.

By reading the following and watching the respective videos, you should have a good understanding of why I and so many other people are excited and engaged in the open hardware movement…

Arduino Programmable Board

The Arduino is the perfect platform to get involved in programming and electronics. A lot a new open hardware projects involve Arduino’s, as they are so versatile and accessible, including my Open Source LED Clock which is based around the Arduino Nano. The first video should give you what it is and what the Arduino can do for you. The second is a 28 minute documentary that explains the initial journey of the Arduino and why it came into existence and if you want to get a deeper understanding of the open hardware movement, then this is well worth watching.


Open Source Ecology

This in fact encompasses a wide variety of projects, needed for a modern society, from a brick maker to tractor.


RepRap 3D Printer

Localised manufacture is key to a sustainable future and the open hardware movement. The below video was released about 4 years ago and has become a great success. The Reprap project has now evolved from the original reprap to a variety of new designs all that are all free to download and make yourself.
On the left you can see one of the original designs (RepRap Mendel) and on the right one of the latest( 3DR RepRap Delta printer).
RepRap Mendelย 3DR RepRap Delta printer


Lasersaur – OS Laser Cutter

Laser cutters are becoming an important tool in the makers and hardware hackers arsenal. They allow for cutting and etching of a variety of materials, such as paper, wood, textiles and even light metals. Here is an open source laser cutter which is very close to an official release. Meanwhile, with a small donation you can access the beta files and get building.


Kikori CNC Router

Inspired by the Reprap, Judah Sher designed a free and open source CNC router for his final year project at Uni. It is predominantly made of 18mm Plywood components, of which can be cut on itself. This project was successfully funded in Kickstarter giving Judah the time to complete and release the designs into the community. Judah no longer has time to further develop the Kikori, so it’s now over to the open hardware community and is certainly on my projects to do list…
Kikori CNC router


Wikihouse Open Source Construction Set

Its all very well having all of the above open source tools, but what if you don’t have a workshop to house them? Well, now you can build an open source one, using the Wikihouse constructions set on a CNC router like the Kikori. Wikihouse is a construction set designed for anyone wanting to build their own timber framed home (or workshop). All the construction components are cut out of 18mm plywood which can be easily sustainably sourced.


Open Hand Project

I recently supported this project on Indiegogo and thought is was well worth adding to the list. This project is a open source prosthetic hand that open/closes when the user tenses their forearm muscle. A large proportion of the components can be printed using a 3D printer like the RepRap.


SmoothieBoard – OS CAM Control Board

Smoothie is a control board specifically designed for open hardware manufacturing tools, such as 3D Printers, Laser Cutters & CNC Routers and Milling Machines. The current design can handle up to 5 axis machines.


Parallella Parallel Computer

This is a powerful new parallel computing platform, design to run GNU/Linux. For certain computational tasks a regular desktop computer is simple not powerful enough and doesn’t have the correct type of architecture to get it done efficiently. Parallel computing is a subject in itself, but this video should give you an idea of why it important.

CNC Routing of Draycote Water Signs

Last year I was apart of a consultation to see how Severn Trent Water (STW) could enable its signage to be manufactured in house, as at the time it was outsourcing it all to an external company. STW owns lot of managed forest that surround its reservoirs, yet the timbre used for its signs in and around the public accessible areas was oak sourced from all the way in the United States. STW has it own saw mill capable of processing green freshly harvested timbre, along side a full equipped work shop and willing staff to manufacture their signs. The only issue was they lacked someone with the necessary skills, training and enthusiasm to create all the CAD files and operate the CNC router, and that’s where I came in. As and when required I work on site to complete my part of the sign manufacturing process.

Shortly after it was establish that it had become feasible to create any signs in house a new project emerged consisting of large welcome road entrance signs for the 6 largest public access sites.

Draycote Water was the first to be completed in April 2013, just in time for the re-opening of its renovated visitors centre. Below you can see the road entrance signs, each consisting of a Severn Trent Water logo, large “Welcome to…” and 4 icons representing some of the key activities of this site.

Dracote Water Left CNC Sign Dracote Water Left CNC Sign

Both Draycote Entrance CNC Signs Dracote Entrance with Car


Within the visitor centres their are several maps to help visitors navigate the facilities open to the public.

IMG_2024_web IMG_2025_web IMG_2023_web

Beneath the visitors centre are icons to highlight the restaurant, toilets & shop.

IMG_2030_web IMG_2034_web

At the point of publishing this blog post Foremark Reservoir & Carsington Reservoir have now been completed and installed. The final 3 of 6 of this initial signage project should be installed before the end of the year. I will add photos of these new installations soon.

Derby Makers at the launch of Proud of Derby campaign


Being an active member of Derby Makers (a collective of individuals who share an interest in making, modifying and improving anything and everything), I helped out in representing at the launch of a new campaign by the Derby City Council “Proud of Derby”.


At this event Derby Makers shared a stall with Derby Silk Mill, of which we displayed just a few of the projects that the Derby Makers members have created. One of which was my Arduino powered LED clock. This was the first time my prototype has ventured out into the public. My objects of the LED clock project is to create a open source, hackable clock, as an educational device to encourage people interested in technology to learn how adapt and improve something for there own needs, of what hacking is all about. I still have some improvements to make before I will be have to officially launch my open source LED clock, along with creating the tools to encourage a thriving community, so watch this space…


Here you can see rope being made using Mark’s rope making machine, of which he has used on previous occasions such at scout meetings to engage and educate.

Below are a few links to press releases about the launch of the “Proud of Derby” campaign if you wish to know more…

BBC Video News feature

Derby City Council Article

This Derbyshire – Derby Evening Telegraph Article with video

Free & open source 2D Inkjet Printers

Free and open source 3D printers have really taken off in the past year, most likely based upon the Reprap. All the press will have you believe that 3D printers will be in every home, just like we have 2D inkjet printers! I am still not 100% if that is a good thing or not, of which I will get into in another post at some point…

Yet, there isn’t a suitable open source 2D inkjet printer out there (well, at least that I could find). There seems to have been a few attempts as the video below highlights, but this hasn’t created any traction in creating a viable open source option to replace what HP, Canon or Epsom have to offer.

You can find the components here on thingiverse, to make your own.

This article is worth a read, on open sourcing the inkjet scam discussing the options of hacking the inkjet printers to circumvent the chips that force you to buy new cartridges, rather than re-filling them.

But hacking the chips doesn’t really solve the core issue, of that we don’t have an open source 2D inkjet printer alternative, that could ultimately provide us with a repairable, upgradable and in the long term a cheaper method of home printing. There is no doubt that open source 3D printers will further advance, along with the growth of open source hardware community and hopefully the public will take notice and action that these big corporations are just ripping us off.ย  So maybe we will have run, then learn to walk, by in the future taking few steps back, designing and creating a viable 2D print in the public domain.

UPDATE: The Light Bulb Conspiracy is great documentary that explains planned obsolescence, of which can be solved by the free culture community. Here is the featured youtube video about The Dirty Little secrets of Inkjet Printers.

Didnt post correctly, so try try try again

It posted to twitter just fine, but posted to my personal facebook page, instead of the Barkeng Mad page. Let me try again…

Auto Posting to Facebook and twitter using Social

In order to get my posts automatically on twitter it seems to be best using the “Social” WordPress plugin. This also has the feature of linking to Facebook pages, so I have disabled the “Add link to facebook” plugins, so not to duplicate posts… Lets see if it works…

Auto posting from WP blog to facebook and twitter

I am in the process of configuring my wordpress blog, so it automatically post to facebook business page and personal twitter. It looks like I will have to manually update my and Google+ accounts.

Once I have it all set up, I will post here on how I have done it and why.

Lets all get Britain cycling

I finally got out on my bike this weekend. 38 miles on the road on Saturday and 7 miles off road on Sunday christening my new (to me) full suspension mountain bike “Keith”. I am looking forward to getting out lots this summer.

I have just signed the e-petition on improving cycling on Britain’s roads. I suggest you watch this video and sign it too if enjoy cycling…

Here is the link to the e-petition….