Montreal Grand Prix was a “plus bon journey!”

I had the good fortune of going to the Montreal Grand Prix this weekend! It wasn’t the greatest weather Friday and Saturday but on Sunday the sun came out and it was 24 degrees C, It was awesome on race day!

There were 5 different race series at the venue; Porche GT Cup, Canadian Touring Car Championship, Ford 1600 Series (open wheel mayhem), The Ferrari Challenge series and of course the Formula One Series!

I went for all three days with a good friend of mine and we sat at the hairpin, corner 10 on Le Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where we could see them come rippin’ into the corner, hard on the brakes and then stomp on the gas and fishtail out of the corner! Great location for passing opportunities and we saw our share of moments. A couple of spins and some contact in the F1 race made for some exciting times no doubt but the peoples favourite has to go to the driver in the Canadian Touring Car Championship that drove a Honda Fit. Black base with red and white highlights. Every time he came around he would get closer and closer to the wall on the exit of the corner until he just touched the mirror and folded it in. It didn’t break, just pivoted in. The crowd would see him coming and cheered him on! I am sure he could hear the crowd over the motor!

Here are some photo highlights of the weekend including the Honda Fit mentioned above!

Me with my souvenir.

greg f1 montreal


Fernando Alonso comes into the corner a little too hot and locks up the tires during qualifying on saturday.DSC_0140 These are the Ferrari 458s that race in the Ferrari Challenge. They are really awesome and usually come to Toronto for the Indy.DSC_0207 Pictured is the entire 20 car F1 field in one shot. Ferraris, Mercedes and Lotus to name a few. DSC_0787 Here is the winner Sebastian Vettel waving to the crowd on his victory lap.


This is the Honda Fit, if you zoom in you can see there is less than an inch between the mirror and the wall.DSC_0572

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Hit 1000 followers on Thingiverse!!

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 7.05.04 PMAbout sirmakesalot – Thingiverse.

Check it out! In less than two years (since Aug 2011-Apr 2013) I hit over a thousand followers on my thingiverse profile; I am super jazzed!! I never would have seen this coming back when it all started.

To celebrate I am going to make something really friggen’ super wicked awesome for all of my loyal followers! While it is to be determined what that will be and it will take some time I will only say this…Star Wars.

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Augmented vision project

Some of you may have seen this before on my wearable technologies class blog but I thought I would put it up here too. I had so much fun working on this project and would love to take it much further.

The story behind the…vision.

Like thousands being born without 3d vision, I want to experience distance. I thought I have a hearing aid so why not a seeing aid?

What would it look like if I were to make a device that allowed me, or the user, to experience visual information in a new way? Distance and heat seemed to be likely candidates. Safe from oncoming objects and fires or heat sources like machinery. I thought an infrared heat sensor is accurate enough and an ultrasonic distance sensor that would be relevant at a personal body distance of about 5 feet.

The components

-Arduino, Lilypad micro controller

-Arduino, battery holder. 1.5v to 5v, with surge protector circuit

-Lilypad, Tri-light (RGB led)

-Lilypad, green LED

-Ultrasonic sensor

-Infrared, heat sensor

Putting it together

I began by using the wiring guides I found on the following web sites to solder it together. I didn’t proto-board it or alligator clips as I was confident in my soldering skills and wiring map to go for it! (cocky bastard!) This was the tutorial and sample code for the Maxbotix Sonar LV EZ1 ultrasonic device. I found the sample in out sensor code and used the tutorials on the blog and meetings to get it working and map out the flashing to be appropriate to the distance it represented. This site got me wired in no time for the thermal sensor. The little infrared device is accurate to .02 degrees F! So if it mattered you can have a wicked degree of accuracy. These are commonly used in cars for the size and reliability and robotics. It is a very nice non-contact sensor indeed.

This site was a wealth of information but it leaves out the very important detail of pin association. In a nutshell, one must wire it according to the convention provided due to the internal components of the microcontroller. I had them wired on different pins and couldn’t get a reading. Thanks to Kate for getting me on track! I would have never figured that out. This was the only hardware hurdle I had. Once re-soldered it worked instantly.

The merging of the codes

That is a movie title for sure! I struggled quite a bit with tutorials and the like online and found they all had one thing in common, that they make assumptions as to the level of your knowledge going into this and that you have some basics… I do not. I had never been exposed to this before and was way out of my comfort zone. I understood the basics of code modifying, setup and loop (sort of) but anything I did with regards to following the wickedly confusing amount of information about coding didn’t work out and only lead to frustration and distain for the process. I had two functioning codes but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to merge them.

I met with a classmate for an hour and we hammered it out. Borxu showed me how setup creates the conditions for the loop to happen. We transferred the commands and tried out samples along the way till it worked right. I assigned the appropriate pins and values to the sensors. It works like a charm! (I knew it would)

Wearing the device

There are two considerations for this section, first being the personal aspects and the second being the social ramifications of wearing a Borg-like device.

I am personally comfortable wearing the device as my vision allows for it. I found others who looked through the device found the light to be too bright and distracting. The light can be further defused but more importantly what happens is something the military has coined “helmet fire.” Essentially helicopter pilots who use a wearable computer screen with inflight information being broadcast in one eye and real world vision in the other get confused easily in the heat of combat with the brains ability to process two images at once and can briefly shut down causing the helicopter to crash. It is a real problem. My limited vision lends me well to this technology but the signals need to be very deliberate hence the choice and sequence of colours listed bellow.

Blue light is connected to the thermal sensor and is on when a temperature of 80f or lower is detected. The blue light turns red when above 80f is detected. I used this number, as room temperature won’t set it off. It loves the stove and after some time you can map out the heat in the air with it! It will pick up a hot cup of coffee or body heat at close range of 2-3 feet.

The green LED flashes according to distance so the closer the object the quicker the flashing, simple enough but effective.

Socially wearing the device is another story. Of course here at OCAD-U it I easily accepted and met with great curiosity and fanfare but in public people don’t understand what it is. Hearing aids are well accepted for their sleek, tight form factor so that I am sure is a huge part of why people are uncomfortable with it. I have been asked most of all if the device is recording them. It has no camera or the capability to record any of the incoming information. But just like a hearing aid it provides what is missing and gives the wearer new information in a usable way.

Further development

For the visually impaired the uses are obvious but for the completely blind new outputs could be used like a hat with vibration motors in key locations. For the fully sighted individual this could act as a real time safety device in hazardous areas of work like monitoring air conditions or detecting land mines. A tighter form factor would make this more user friendly and acceptable. Batteries could be integrated, rechargeable and be made smaller, components could be better mapped out and tightened up, wires and traces could be strategically embedded and hidden and waterproofing the device would be greatly beneficial. The IR sensor can see through rain but the ultra sonic wont like driving rain, too much interference.

Closing remarks

This was a very challenging and personal project for me. The narrative has been a lifetime in the making and the skill set I learned to assemble and code the device is stronger than ever before. The seeing aid is more than the sum of its parts. The abilities it gives me makes my vision more complete but also acts as a window into our very complex social behaviors and notions of personal space. This is an ongoing experiment and has only begun with the creation of the device. I wish I did record for the best things it will see are the reactions of the people it encounters as I wear it but it will never know them.

Here are some pictures.

me wearing my seeing aid

me wearing my seeing aid

the device

Green flashes for distance and blue under 80F and red above

Green flashes for distance and blue under 80F and red above

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Robocop remake in my backyard!

Today Robocop came to visit and bust some drug dealers!  The scene they were filming was for the upcoming remake of one of my favourite movies of all time! Robocop rides down the lane on his kick ass bike and busts three drug dealers killing two and interrogating the survivors then riding off. Complete with bums and backgrounds of old Detroit, the movie has a more high tech feel with Robocop being able to hook up to the web and access closed circuit cameras. Here are a couple of the pictures I was able to get!



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Behold! The 3D printed Toddler!

I know I go on about 3D printing but this is why. No level of manufacturing can come close to what 3D printing is capable of. Have a look at this project and tell me I am wrong.

3D Printed Toddler – With Internal Bones Visible!.

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Wild weather in Toronto…almost

Living downtown sometimes allows for some impressive weather events to pass by. I have definitely seen an increase over the past 10 years of severe thunderstorms in the GTA and this past week it has been in the 40’s with the humidity here in Toronto with no relief until today.

Here is a picture taken of some clouds rolling across the sky getting ready to dump some much needed moisture. It rained briefly and about a half hour or so after it passed it was pretty much dry on the streets.

The other photo is from my friends cottage and shows some sheet lightning rolling across the northern shore of Georgian Bay here in Ontario in the spring. I have seen the remnants of water spouts there before also. Lots of weather up there to admire.

These clouds looked like the inspiration for some sci-fi effects. I love extreme weather but don’t get exposed to it as often as I like. Don’t get me wrong, sunny days are certainly preferred but it sure is amazing to see the weather process unfold. So much power.

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Made the popular page on Thingiverse!

Sooooooo. Recently I posted a design to Thingiverse for a modular hollow universal joint that is for cable management. Industrial machines, like a plasma table the size of a small warehouse, often have gantries with a cable chain to support the operational cables. There are several designs on Thingiverse but they all do pretty much the same thing. One axis pivot that generally bend up over itself. My design offers the ability to make the cable chain move in one or two axis.

Building on the modularity of the components, I added an accessories kit to add to the adaptability of the system and to top it off they all print without support just fine. It takes some time to get a useable amount but one could always scale the system to fit a given application. I tried to think of what would be fairly universal so I thought of plumbing and the connectors used in that industry.

It seems that my design caught the eye of a Thingiverse admin and has been featured! What’s even crazier is that as I write this it sits at the #5…oh wait looks like #4 position on the Thingiverse popular list! I watched it rise up over the weekend. I would never had guessed it would have been received with such fan fair! I want to see this on someones machine soon!

Here are some pictures of what I have so far. The first few pictures show some of the basic components and some of them together. The other picture is a screen shot of the popular page on Thingiverse. Check out my designs via these links and a big thanks to all who support me and my designs!






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