J and I just gave to the Ada…

J and I just gave to the Ada Initiative and there are a lot of things about their fundraising process that is well done. I’m sharing it here as inspiration/ideas to steal for Mach 30:

Twitter stream is full of reasons to support their work with Retweets, photos, everything. All of it geared toward the cause, not the organization: https://twitter.com/adainitiative

Website includes specific asks to help spread the word–including sample social media posts: https://adainitiative.org/how-you-can-help/spread-the-word/

Site lists concrete ways people can support the mission of the organization with or without giving money: https://adainitiative.org/how-you-can-help/

Donate page makes it easy to give, has unique funding levels, and includes short, powerful reasons to support the initiative: https://adainitiative.org/donate/

Provides easy ways for supporters to do matching campaigns. Here’s an example campaign: http://bookmaniac.org/make-hackerspaces-better-support-ada-initiative/ –It’s not clear to me how you start a matching campaign which is less good, but that might be because they are nearly done with their drive.

Also, great blog posts: http://adainitiative.org/

In general every page makes a powerful argument, but is also very short and to the point. There is no slogging through text to get to the “give us your money” part, but it also doesn’t feel like “give us your money because I said so”

I shared this on Twitter but thought I’d…

I shared this on Twitter, but thought I’d bring it over here as it’s a better place for discussion. The article explains the details, but basically India just successfully placed a craft in Mars orbit–and spent basically a blockbuster movie budget on it. From a layperson’s perspective this seems like a great example of the value of using Mature Technology, as well as FIST principles. Anyway we can use the story as leverage to promote those philosophies?

#communications, #fist, #mature-technology, #social-media

Some ideas have been rattling around in my…

Some ideas have been rattling around in my head for quite awhile regarding distributed labratory/test systems. Mach 30 is distributed, so it stands to reason that it’s testing tools should be as well. “Here’s a little concept I’ve been workin’ on” for the last few days. It’s very high level and doesn’t address anything like user roles for sending commands, etc.


Each site is connected by a VPN, and a Python server uses a websocket as the transport mechanism to get shuttle data and commands between the hardware and the web client(s). Web based clients cannot create the usual TCP socket connections directly, but most browsers support websockets now. Using web based clients would give us a much richer and more platform neutral UI, and using a websocket decouples the client from the low level heavy lifting of communication with the hardware. Video could also be streamed over the VPN connection so that those at other sites could watch the test as the data was streaming through.

The web server is the piece that I’m still thinking about. There could be a central web server that contains all of the UI combos that Mach 30 uses, and the user just plugs in which websockets/channels/events to subscribe to. On the other hand, each Python server could have a coupled web server so that when you connect you get a UI that’s ready to go.

In the diagram, the web client UI at Rocket Shop 1 could be configured to display data from multiple sources at once if there was ever a need for that, although none come to mind right now.

#collaboration, #distributed, #software, #testing

Here’s another reason to support sharing one’s failures…

Here’s another reason to support sharing one’s failures – it counteracts publication bias in scholarly journals.


#ground-rules, #open-source, #values

I have noticed that we have been having…

I have noticed that we have been having some trouble getting folks together for #EngineerSpeak hangouts. I was chatting with Aaron about it on G+ and he for one reports that changing the day and the time (earlier works better for him as it turns out) could help him make more meetings.

So, I think it is time to do another poll to see what works best for people. If you are (or would like to be) a regular attendee of #EngineerSpeak hangouts, please post a reply below with the days/times that work best for you to meet. Please use the following format (so it is easier for everyone to process the feedback), one entry per line.

Day of Week: Window of time you can meet during (in Eastern time, please)

Example, if Monday & Tuesday nights starting any time 7 or later, and ending no later than 10 and Thursday night but only from 6-7 are good times for you, you would put (note, these are not my available times):

Monday: 7:00-10:00
Tuesday: 7:00-10:00
Thursday: 6:00-7:00


SpaceX is starting to build up quite a…

SpaceX is starting to build up quite a bit of momentum for their launch operations (6 flights this year, 10 in the last 12 months, 4 in the last 10 weeks). Color me impressed.


#commercial-space, #news, #spacex

So we had an nontraditional but very good…

So, we had an nontraditional, but very good hangout last night during #EngineerSpeak (I think it lasted almost 2 hours). Matt, Juli, and I talked about OSHW, lessons learned from the Open Source Hardware Doc Jam, 3D printers, and the latest news from commercial space (including Blue Origins’ new contract with ULA to build a methane fueled replacement for the Rd-180 and NASA’s selection of Boeing and Space-X for the next phase of the commercial crew program).

Some interesting lessons about open source hardware documentation came up, including:

  • the OSHW community would benefit from some social norms around documentation, licensing, etc and to enforce them through social pressure (aka – if someone wants to label their project/product open source hardware, especially if they want to include the open source hardware logo, they should live up to community norms around licenses – aka do not use non-commercial licenses – and documentation standards – aka have some, and make sure it is enough to replicate the hardware in question)
  • labeling something as open source (hardware or software) should describe the past, not indicate the future; if you have not yet released documentation, then your project is not yet open source
  • better yet, we should see documentation as an ongoing and integral part of the design process

Much of the documentation discussion revolved around three documents the board is reviewing describing the fundamental assumptions and development procedures for open source hardware at Mach 30:

  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UVswwPGYcvW51NgS9Zsu8TxTN4tWw3lgf7Che9o_neQ/edit
  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/13v1Pk247vyg15Caef0XGGz_mztj4zWZ9Y7euLU3l6Bk/edit
  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/192_9zf7kDYMdIBcapdGduBPpd6_Q2ZpbIhOoi3cNMBQ/edit

On the topic of documentation, Matt shared a project he is working on to capture documentation iteratively during the development process. The central theme to this project is a piece of documentation is done (for now) when no one has any more questions. Central to implementing this theme is a tool that makes it very easy for someone to ask a specific question about something in documentation, have that question tag the specific something in the documentation, and then make it super easy to address that question directly in the documentation. This is a concept closely related to Mach 30’s proposed Prime Directive of open source hardware.

Finally, on the topic of 3D printers, Matt is working on an up to date, fully documented calibration guide for 3D printers, and we all shared links to printers we had seen or heard about including:

  • Orion – http://seemecnc.com/products/orion-delta-3d-printer
  • Nectar One – http://3dprint.com/15781/nectar-one-3d-printer-richrap/
  • 3DR – http://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/3dr-reprap-delta-printer-part-1-release.html
  • http://3dprinter.dremel.com/

Like I said, nontraditional (nary a single design of our own was discussed), but still a great hangout!

#3d-printers, #documentation, #oshw