Låda, a custom project box system


HALO is an EL-Wire night light. Photo by Emily Shaw

Project boxes can be a real pain. You can get a standard size box from a place like Radio Shack or you can make your own custom box. If you have access to a laser cutter, you can make yourself t-slotted boxes.  While the t-slotted boxes do the trick, the open slots leave an unfinished look to projects.

I wanted a more polished look for my latest clock, so I set out designing Låda.  The Låda (or Lada) Sytem, based on standardized 3D printed corner and edge pieces and custom laser cut face pieces, allows you to define a box of any size bigger than about an inch and a half on a side.  A program written in Python does all of the tedious calculations for you and spits out a PDF file.  Custom openings can be added with InkScape to accommodate stand-offs, buttons, cords an sensors.lada_diagram

The edge and corner pieces have mounting holes 0.4″ from the inside face.  They have an elevated platform to cradle your project.  Hex cutouts captivate a M3 nut so that once installed, they remain in place and the box allowing the final face to be screwed into place.  +Kevin Osborn has been keeping our 3D printing non-stop so that now I have plenty of Lada pieces to play with.


HALO consists of an AlaMode, a Grove Shield, and an EL-inverter. Photo by Emily Shaw

The Lada system works fine for small projects like the EL-Wire night light seen above.  It also works with larger projects, like the Kandinsky Klock (or Kandy) for short.


DSC_0539 DSC_0540

About the projects:

Halo is an EL-Wire night light configured to outline a doorway.  It helps to prevent falls by both providing light, and creating a frame of reference to orient you if you need to be up in the middle of the night.  I made it for my father who could use a little assistance getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  The idea comes from a story I heard on NPR.

Halo was easily assembled from: an AlaMode,the Grove Starter Kit, and a USB based EL-Wire inverter.

A special thanks to +Kevin Osborn who lined me out on what I needed to drive EL-Wire and pointed that the Grove Started Kit had everything I needed aside from the inverter.

Kandy is a two-sided mountain bike race timer that I’d promised to build for my collage roommate two years ago.  It is 4 TiM boards with c prototype LED controller called TiNA.  It is bluetooth controlled (thanks to the FTDI compatible BlueFruit module).  I think it is worth the wait.

None of these projects would be possible without Anool’s tireless work designing amazingly flexible circuit boards.

WyoLum goes to MakerFest 2014 at Ahmedabad, India

The first week of January had me and Samata Mahidharia driving down to Ahmedabad, about 550 kms North of Mumbai. We were on our way to attend MakerFest 2014, organized by the awesome folks at Motwani Jadeja Family Foundation, at the uber-cool design school – National Institute of Design.

WyoLum gave away 40 of our BADGEr – e-paper conference badges for Makers attending the Maker Fest. We didn’t have time to program all the BADGEr’s , but the Makers were kicked to be able to take them away and get hacking. I took a few pictures.

I gave a talk about the Maker Movement – talking about how the Maker revolution is bringing us back to our Maker roots, using my personal experiences as examples.

Samata and me did an Origami Workshop. The initial plan was to limit attendance to 20 people in a classroom. Eventually, a much larger number of people turned up, and the organizers asked it we could accommodate all. Seeing as how enthusiastic everyone was, we just couldn’t refuse, and moved our workshop to the main stage of the open grounds. It was wonderful to be surrounded by almost 50-60 folks – from little kids to grown ups, eager to learn some folding. Due to the large crowd, and also that no one had a good flat folding surface in front of them, we cut down the original plan of folding about 6-7 models in an hour to a more manageable 3 simple models. Eventually, I think everyone managed to fold the models – a tumbling toy, a cawing Crow and a Swan.

The most exciting event for Samata and Me was to team up with Albie Brown and run a MakerFest Treasure Hunt. Up for grabs was a bag full of goodies, including a WyoLum BADGEr, a BeagleBoneBlack and other cool stuff.

Visitors to the Fest were handed over a “Guide for Hunters

This explained how the hunt worked. On the back of the sheet was a list of 100 words, numbered 00 – 99. Only five of these were relevant to the final solution of the puzzle, the remaining 95 being duds. Hunters were asked to stroll through the booths at Makerfest 2014, where they had to find, and solve, five mini puzzles.

The starting “hint” was that there were a few logos on the clue sheet that indicated which booths are presenting challenges. In no particular order the five booths were:

  • Education for Design (e4d)
  • Microsoft Research
  • WyoLum
  • FabLab
  • Printajoy
  • E4D is working towards bringing education to everyone. Beginning with a handful of Centres in southern India, they are building a higher educational model focused on reaching the masses, rather than building universities. They seek to minimize infrastructure and costs, while taking full advantage of freely available online educational resources. Their activities also include education for blind persons. Their clue was – What is the name of this code spelled backwards? This hint was written in braille on a piece of a can and the can was glued to a stick of bamboo. Puzzlers had to translate the braille and answer the question to solve the clue. The answer was “elliarb

    Microsoft Research is working on conductive ink printers made from regular Ink Jet Printers, but using special cartridges filled with ink made from Silver nano-particles. These printers, along with a range of sticker adhesive elements, allows designers to quickly fabricate prototypes. Their clue was – “What am I made of? (Hint: they sometimes call me 47)” and the answer was “Ag” (the symbol for silver).

    WyoLum put up one of their ClockTHREEjr with a code written next to the clock – C1F8D1H1N9G6. Reading off rows and columns (C1, F8 etc) gave them the word “Patang” which translates in to English as “Kite

    The MJFF donated a $140,000 Fablab from MIT to the maker community in Ahmedabad. The Fablab is a set of digital fabrication equipment and software to help makers transform their imagination into products. The Fablab is housed at the prestigious CEPT University Ahmedabad and will be open to the public at select hours every day. At the Fab Lab booth the manager told puzzlers to press print. They had to figure out how to use the vinyl cutter and print a document that was concealed by coloring all components black so the text was invisible. The machine then cut out the word “Replicate” in sticker form and the puzzlers had to pull off the sticker to reveal the answer.

    Printajoy is a photo printing service for Instagram photos – a “Print button for your Instagrams” India’s first affordable, online printing solution that converts your Instagram photos into beautiful lifetime memories! Their clue was – “There is something hidden underneath every Smile”. Then under the deck of business cards (which said smile on the front) there was one card with a label with the word “Memories” stuck to it.

    If you solved all five puzzles you ended up with five answers and five two digit numbers. Several teams kept asking us to check if they’d got all the right words, but we just encouraged them to continue going.

    At 3:30 we revealed the final clue. Albie wrote out the clue on a white board, and held it up for everyone to see

    _ _ _ _ _FEST

    The first alphabet taken from each our five answers, when placed in the right order formed the word MAKER. Almost everyone filled in the blank with “MAKER” but were flummoxed when we encouraged them to keep going since the hunt was not yet done. The smart winning team realized very quickly that the numbers still have not been used. “MAKER” indicated the order in which to use the 10 digits, which gave a phone number. When they called the number, they won!!! The winning team called the phone number within a minute of our releasing the final clue. Not just that, they even followed Albie who ran behind the stage when he picked up the phone they had dialed, and told Albie – “Turn around and look here – I’m the guy calling you”

    In the middle of the Maker Fest grounds, we set up a pop-up Maker Space where the makers got together and started building and showing off stuff to visitors, and encouraging them to join in. There was a lot of Arduino, flexible sticker circuits, wearable electronics, PVC pipe Lamp shades and other stuff going on. Samata even stitched a quick Dress from an old Saree and sewed a string of LED’s around the neck. Apparently she did a Ramp Walk with the LED dress in the auditorium, but I wasn’t around to witness the awesomeness !

    I set up a PolarGraph drawing robot. I had received the kit a few days before heading off for MakerFest, and had no time to get it working. At the Makerspace, I tried setting it up, and even managed to get one trial print. But I was constantly being interrupted by eager visitors asking me what it was, and ended up spending all my time telling them what it was supposed to do. I even managed to show it off to Mr. Sam Pitroda

    At the end of the second day, the MakerFest was wrapped up with a Panel Discussion featuring a bunch of Makers – Angad Daryani – a young Maker from Mumbai , Spandana Cheruvu – another young maker , Anand Gandhi – Ship of Theseus film maker , Freeman Murray from Jaaga Bangalore, Anna Waldman-Brown curator of MakerFest 2014 , Myself, Vaibhav Chabbra – from the EyeNetra team and also running Makers Asylum in Mumbai, Ankit Daftary – from the Arduino India team, Bangalore , and Kshitij Marwah from MIT Media Labs

    Thanks to everyone who participated! We had a great time putting it all together! We met some amazing Makers from all of India. Some of them we knew via Facebook or Twitter or Google, but meeting them in person was wonderful. And we made a lot of new friends ! All in all, this years MakerFest was a blast and we look forward to next year’s MakerFest.

    Reserve BADGEr_v4 available in our shop

    Rather than pay the huge shipping costs to send the remaining 19 BADGErs back to Seeed Studio, Amy volunteered to ship them from our house.  You can pick them up in our reserve shop.  Thanks!





    Open Hardware Summit 2013: Success!


    We did it.  We did it just in the nick of time.  We produced and delivered the hardware and software for 500 e-paper badges which were the hit of the summit. Flooding in Shen Zhen, where our Seeed Studio partners are located, delayed parcel pickup and nearly scuttled the whole affair. Frantic calls and emails on both sides of the Pacific only managed to confuse the situation. When seven of the eight boxes arrived in Washington DC we had them held for pickup and were greatly relieved to actually get the stinking badges in hand.


    We were able to distribute all of the boxed among all of our WyoLum passengers to get them from Washington to Boston without paying extra baggage.

    Registration CrushWe received the final registration list after the doors were opened to the conference center.  Needless to say, there was much to be desired in cross referencing the final list to the badges, but we managed to get most of the people in there seats with a 30 minute delay.  For the most part the OHS participants were friendly and understanding.

    Anool, Kevin and I presented a talk on #BADGEr directly after the keynote.  Video pending.

    Several people managed to customize there BADGEr using wifit.py.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    When we weren’t attending the summit, we got to hang out at an amazing home in Milton about 20 minutes South of Boston.  Every room was filled with beautiful original artwork and there were a lot of rooms and hallways, enough to get lost in and we did.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    With Amy, Munmun, and Samata cooking we did not go hungry.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    To top it off we had a brunch on Saturday after the summit.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    On Saturday night, we overcame our urge to go to bed early.  Jimmie invited the OHS volunteers for beers at Artisans Gallery.  The SKUL biker gang affiliated with the Asylum was out in full force.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.