Hybernaut’s Tinker Blog

A software engineer’s journey into hardware

Brian Del Vecchio

I’m a software engineer exploring the world of electrical and mechanical engineering.

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Reprogramming a Boston City Parking Ticket Kiosk

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My personal credo / bad habit of saying YES to opportunity recently paid off as I got to work with the talented designer Mayo Nissen on a hardware hacking project. Mayo was invited to reincarnate a project of his called City Tickets for a show at the Boston Society of Architects Space called Reprogramming the City, and our mutual friend Debbie Chachra introduced us. Since I work a few blocks from the BSA Space and ride past the building daily, I couldn’t say no.

The challenge? Reprogram a city parking ticket kiosk and connect it to Boston’s Citizen’s Connect service API. The idea of the project is that this expensive infrastructure is equipped with solar power, wireless networking, and a printer–can it be used for any purpose other than spitting out parking receipts? Show curator Scott Burnham convinced the BTD to loan us a Parkeon Strada with the electronics removed, and we went to work with just a few short weeks before the show’s opening.


- - posted in 3d-printing, inspiration

I am inspired by the ability to explore iterative, organic form in 3d printed objects. There is math behind the beauty of creatures like the seastars, and I would be thrilled to write the code, translate it into a physical object, and hold that math in my hands.

I’ve recently discovered OpenSCAD, 3d modeling software with a programming language using iterative transformation to generate complex shapes for 3D printing.

This particular seastar, modeled from seashells, was discovered in the storage area of my favorite pet shop, Jabberwock Reptiles in Winchester, MA.

Tindie: FriedCircuits’ USB Breakout Board

- - posted in tindie, usb

In December I discovered Tindie.com, an electronics market that’s a mix of Etsy and Kickstarter. [skip ahead if you’re a Tindie regular.] The majority of the listings are existing, finished boards, but to me the Fundraiser projects are the most intesting. With the rise of small-batch PCB service, there is a large and growing hobby electronics audience, full of projects which need a fairly minimal critical mass to get small production batches of boards printed and assembled. The project funding goals are typically under $1000, and changes to Kickstarter’s rules disallow projects which are at the CAD stage, so Tindie.com launched specifically to serve this market. And so far they’re doing a great job, at least from my experience as a buyer.

I’ve backed half a dozen projects so far, and while a few haven’t reached their targets, I’ve received some awesome little boards.

First Post

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After over 20 years working as a software engineer in the networking field, I’m diving into the world of electrical and mechanical engineering, and I’m taking my young daughter with me. For the last two years I’ve been working on an intelligent lighting system, building the configuration and monitoring interface. Though I’ve worked on embedded software in networking equipment in the past, I’m as far from the hardware as it’s possible to be in this system.