Here's the transcript from last week's soldersesh with Natasha aka TechnoChic (pronounced Techno-Sheek)! During this time, Carrie and Natasha put together some of TechnoChic's DIY Blinky Bow Ties and lit up their look! Carrie also worked on putting some LEDs on her OHSummit bag (where the LEDs are, of course!) while Natasha got started on one of her DIY Light-Up Tutu Kits! Read below about how Natasha got started with STEAM growing up and throughout college and how that led into the idea of merging fashion and technology for TechnoChic! Natasha also did some show & tell with the Lady Gaga matrix mask (AND OUTFIT!) she made for Halloween and a project idea she had for a keyboard she had laying around. Hint, she completely reskinned it!
You can find Natasha on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, & Instructables.
You can shop for TechnoChic products on her website and Etsy!
(1:15 – 5:40) Why Natasha Started TechnoChic
Carrie: So, tell us a little bit about the bow tie kits. What was your impetus for creating them?
Natasha: It was all about Maker Faire. I went to a few Maker Faires, and I knew that the branding and the vibe that Maker Faire was giving off probably wouldn't be something that my parents would have brought me to as a girl. I'm an only child and I was a little ballet dancing girl, but I also obviously love all this tech stuff now. I knew that my parents wouldn't see that in me when they saw this big red robot and all these engineering things; they wouldn't bring me there. So, I thought, “You know, maybe I could try to make a really quick craft project that had that tech in it but was a craft project at its heart.”
Natasha: That way the parents might be like “Oh, look, it's a crafty place, let me bring the stereotypical mindset of bringing the girl into it.” I started to create these mashup projects and tried to figure out like, “Okay, if you're the type of person who only buys in the girl aisle and there's no tech there, that's not good.” So, I started to think about how I could do these crossover things, because the Maker Faire did a good job of welcoming the more masculine stuff, but not as much as the feminine stuff. So, that's kind of where it came up and I actually started; I made little flower pins and then I was like, “Oh, I could make a play on formal wear. So, you could wear it as a bow tie or a [hair] bow.” I was trying to bring in all the ranges of gender, all the ranges of different types of tech and shiny stuff. Just kind of throw all those things together and then make a project that was as simple as possible. So that you would feel not only was it a good experience, but you felt empowered by it, and you could then take the next step and think, “Oh look, there's an Arduino project with a flashing LED, I wonder how that works.” You know, be that little, tiny bridge that gets people feeling confident. So that's where that all came from.
Carrie: I love it. I also love that these are circuit board themes [bow tie patterns] too. Super cool. I didn't even know that when I got the kit and was like “Whaaat?!”
Natasha: You got a lucky one because they are random! There's I think seven different patterns that I made. Actually, it's kind of cool because you got two [bow tie patterns] in a kit with the circuit board and that would be kind of rare because they're randomly chosen.
Carrie: Dang I feel kind of special now. Now that I am noticing, it is pretty lucky that I got two circuit boards.
Natasha: So yeah, you have the blues kit and I have, there's actually four kits. I have two of the other ones in front of me. Should I do pink, orange, yellow, or red, white, black. What should I do?
Carrie: Well, I was going to say for us, it was between the blues kit and the neon kit.
Natasha: Okay, I’ll do the neon one. Let’s open this up and see what I got. It's a box of chocolates.
Carrie: They come with these nice instructions here.
Natasha: Yeah, everything in here is designed by me. I made the little instructions, and I made the battery packs and I added on it, “You have the power to change the world” so that if this is your first project with a battery, you feel empowered to keep going.
Carrie: Yeah. I loved that. I thought that was so cool that you had the batteries branded too. I was like, dang that is fancy.
(23:52 – 29:31) Natasha’s Path into STEM
Carrie: How did you get into STEM in the first place? Because it sounds like it might not have been on your parents' radar.
Natasha: I wasn't offered a lot of encouragement in that, but the funny thing is my parents actually owned a little mom and pop computer store when I was little. So, I remember being counter height, like I could barely see over the counter and watching the guy in the back soldering the machines, because when I was a kid and your computer broke, you didn't send it away – you got it fixed. It was not disposable or like, “Oh, send it and they'll repair it and sell it to someone as refurbished or whatever now.” So, there was a repair guy in the back; you bring your computer in and he's literally soldering on the computer itself. I think I was just around it a lot. That's what made me feel comfortable enough when I was out in the world to be like, “Oh, this is interesting to me.” But coming from the expectations of what a little ballerina looks like, you don't get offered as many of the more masculine [opportunities]. In that era, a generation above me, it was a masculine thing to be an engineer or to be a computer geek or whatever they wanted to call you.
Natasha: I kind of had both sides tugging at me like, “Oh, this is really cool, and I feel comfortable because I've been around it.” I kind of kept that in the back of my head. I did take a few computer art courses in high school, they honestly weren't very good, but they at least kept me in it. Then I went to art school where I thought I was going to do advertising and produce TV commercials, but that didn't really work out. I graduated in 2008 and there were no jobs. So, I was like, “I like teaching, I like computer stuff.” That was in my background and my mom's actually a teacher. So, I got a job at the Apple store, teaching computers. I did that for a bunch of years. That was interesting because I met so many people. Everyone comes into the apple store, right? So, you have this really wide range of personalities that you meet, expectations that people have for you and all of that. Through those classes, we sat down, and I would teach people how to use Final Cut Pro and Keynote and even how to use a mouse sometime – all ranges of people.
Carrie: I didn't know that the Apple store actually taught classes. Is that something that still do?
Natasha: I don't know. I know that they still do something. It used to be that you basically would book time with me, we would consider ourselves the “shrinks” of the Apple store. I could sit down and make you feel better about your relationship with your computer for an hour. So, it'd be these one-on-one classes with people. We would do small group workshops and at the bigger store, the one that I worked at in Soho, we actually had a theater! So, there would be a group of maybe like 30-40 people who could sit down and learn at once, like a classroom. That was really interesting because I was watching people learn software and kind of make them feel good about their confidence and their abilities to use everything.
Natasha: One of my students, actually, I was explaining that I really kind of loved this whole smart home thing, all these cool products coming in. I really would love to know how to be a creator of that, not a consumer of all this. She told me about this program at NYU that was called ITP [interactive telecommunications program]. It's basically a combination of art and tech. She was actually a professor somewhere else in NYU and she was like, “You need to go here to find people that are like you.” This weird mashup of artists and techie enthusiasts. And she was right. So, I went there, and I come at it hard from the arts, like “I'm just here to support my art, but I want to be able to learn how to incorporate all of this because they're so much more linked than anyone will ever let you believe, you know?” So, I hate that they put kids into boxes and say like, “Oh, are you good at art? Or are you good at science?” It's like both!
Carrie: Yeah. Can there be room for all of that? It's interesting how many people think that engineers are not creative. I'm just like, I don't know what engineers you’ve been hanging out with but man, engineers are some of the most creative people I know actually. Yeah, I’m definitely about breaking down those weird stereotypes and misconceptions.
(45:44 – 52:25) Lady Gaga Mask Project
Carrie: I would love to hear more about you're Lady Gaga mask project, because that was so impressive. I mean it looked like legit, the real deal and I'm curious, did you ever get any notice from lady Gaga herself for it?
Natasha: I didn’t… but the company that made the original mask, I tagged them, and they were like, “Oh, this is amazing! Good job doing a knock off of our project.” Which was awesome because sometimes when you do that, people are like, “Don't knock off my project.” It was clearly for a Halloween costume so hopefully they’d be cool with it. I just saw that, and I think that was when COVID hit and all of us were going, like, “What skills do I have? What skills do I want to have?” At the time I was working– I had like five jobs. I was working for a company that did LED lights and code and dance as this class. So, I was teaching in a few schools in Brooklyn, and then I was doing an afterschool program in Manhattan, and I was doing my TechnoChic stuff, and I was doing some content creation and I was also the janitor because I needed to afford this space. So, I was literally just so overworked. So, I went from being absolutely exhausted to just, “Bye no more work.” I just had started to list things like, “What would I like to do more of?” One of it was I'd like to get back into sewing.
Natasha: That's something that I really enjoyed when I was younger and haven't picked up with. I had started to do some LED stuff and I had never done a matrix before. I'd done LEDs preps, but never had a reason to do a matrix. Then I watched the VMAs and I saw that costume. For those of you who have never seen it, it's like a spandex bodysuit, that's pink and it has all these shapes cut out of it. I thought two things, first, I was like, “This is an amazing use of pink that doesn't look young.” And that's just exciting, because I actually love the color pink, but you risk looking like not being taken seriously if you wear it.
Carrie: I have a difficult relationship pink because of that. It's a difficult color for me because of that. I avoided it for a very, very long time because I wanted to be taken seriously as an engineer and that means you can’t be girly.
Natasha: Right? I mean, not right – wrong, but yeah. Working in retail, I learned how to control how people would talk to me based on what I was wearing and how I was standing and all of those things. Then I saw this costume and I thought, it looked powerful to me. It's a weird costume. It's totally weird. Go look it up.
Carrie: I mean, it's Lady Gaga. It's going to be weird. It's going to be great.
Natasha: It really was. First off, I just thought it was an amazing costume. Then she had this mask that was totally techie, which is obviously also my other passion. I thought, “Okay, first off, I had always wanted to sew spandex because I wanted to get into costume making and never did it. Plus, I had heard it was really hard; and I'd always wanted to do a matrix and I heard that was hard too, but I had time. So, I decided this is what I'm doing.” It was around my birthday actually in 2020. My boyfriend got me the matrix, I wasn't going to buy the matrix; I think it was over $200 worth of LEDs in the matrix. So, I was actually going to fake it with a raspberry PI with one of the little screens that you could get, but he got me the actual ones that lady Gaga used for my birthday! That was just cool because I was like, “Now I get to feel legit. I'm going to make this thing and it's going to look exactly like the real thing.” A lot of the fabric that I bought, not all of the colors, but some of them I'm pretty sure, were the same color swatch that was used in her costume. I was so happy to see this goal come up after all those, you know, 2020 was just, everyone's just scrambling for purpose and all of that and that's what I did with it.
Natasha: I have the mask here if you want to take a look. I don't actually know if it even turns on, but I can plug it in and find out. This is like a two-year-old project, but I have it on a little head here. I'll plug it in. Let's see what happens. Want to bet on it?
Carrie: I'm optimistic. I think it's going to work. Yeah, it’s on! Nice!
Natasha: Oh, the tape did undo itself, no. It was funny, I don't usually use duct tape, but this thing has to last for one Halloween night, so.
Carrie: Cool. You publish the instructions for it too, right?
Natasha: Yes, they're on Instructables and on my blog technochic.net. I'm still in the process of creating the video for the spandex bodysuit, which I did. I shot everything. Unfortunately, I had a hard drive failure at the end of 2020. It's still now two years later and it's on my to do list. I have to put that video together.
Carrie: We have plenty of things like that. Plenty of things that are on the to-do list and kind of languishing at the bottom.
(1:20:12 – 1:27:59) A Maker’s Mind
Carrie: I'm probably overthinking this. I mean, you know... [Carrie is sewing LEDs into her OHSummit bag]
Natasha: I think you're only overthinking it because you've probably had the experience of a stretchy fabric doing that. When I got those bags, I was adamant that it was going to be a non-scratch fabric, because if it is then exactly what you described, it bunches up and then it comes back together. Now there's a weird bunch in your threads also touching the wrong thing, and now it's not going to turn on. If it's not that, then, I liked your idea of potentially once it's done either sewing a piece of fabric on top of it or doing an iron-on fusible once it's all working and then that'll protect everything and keep it all structurally flat, I guess.
Carrie: Yep. Exactly. That was one of the things, too. I really liked about your bag is that you obviously designed it with the kit in mind to have that really big pocket on the inside that would cover up all of your stitches. I was like, “Oh, that's really smart because I could see that wearing as you use the bag and put stuff in and out or accidentally shorting your LEDs out, if you have something metal in there.” I was thinking I kind of want a protective layer on this bag, but it doesn't have a pocket.
Natasha: Yeah. I had a tote bag similar to the one that I ended up getting made for the kit and it did have a pocket and I actually loved that pocket first for its ability to hold my phone and it doesn't get lost in the bottom of the bag. But then I realized that's the perfect place to hide a circuit and have something useful. All it is, is two squares of fabric sewn together and then sewn at the top with the top side open. I am sold out of those bags so if anyone out there is wanting to make this, it's a fairly easy sewing project to make a pocket too. So, you could do that. The other benefit is if you just did with the bag from a year ago, a year has passed and you're like, gosh, I'd like to make another project, I wonder what the circuit looks like. It's not embedded into something that you can't lift up and look at anymore.
Carrie: Yeah, that's true for this one. If I do the iron on stuff, then it's going to be one-way.
Natasha: Right, one and done. Maybe that's just the maker in me that you don't want to cover anything up, because you know someone's going to ask you how you made it.
Carrie: Yeah. That is true. It's also definitely a sewer and a knitter thing where it's like, let me see the back. I want to see the back. I need to see how you did this.
Natasha: Yeah. I was so lucky; they did a show in New York that was all the costumes from Broadway when Broadway was shut down. You could look at the costumes up close, and I just thought that was so neat. You see it from the stage, like that's so pretty, but how did they do that? Then you get to see all the hand work that goes into everything. So yeah, it's a maker thing. We’ve got to see how stuff is put together, reverse engineer everything in our heads.
Carrie: Absolutely. How can I make something like that?
Natasha: I wasn't even thinking about like all the components that I've saved. I had USB microscope and I broke the USB on it and I was like, “Oh my gosh, there's a tiny LED ring in the end of this, I must harvest you.” I have no idea what I’m going to use it for, but it just seemed like something that could not possibly be thrown away.
Carrie: We have a junk box and it's that same sort of thing where broken electronics go. Sometimes you just want to see how did they do those buttons? What was their implementation? Was it a Silicon stack up? Did it have a hard plastic point on the back of it that was actuating it and pushing another small button on a circuit board?
Natasha: I love that. I love looking through all that stuff. Oh, actually I have a show and tell. Do I have it? Well, I'll have to send you somewhere else to look for it then. What I was going to show you is one of the projects that I haven't created a video for yet, but plan on it. Hold me to it. I don't know if you watch Bob's Burgers…
Carrie: I don't, but Charlene who was on the show does. She does amazing, amazing stuff with LED rings and things like that, she is a big Bob's Burgers fan.
Natasha: Awesome. So, on Bob's Burgers, one of the little boy characters [Gene] has a keyboard and it's a very stylish, little 80s keyboard. I bought this rolly piano, which is a piano that rolls up. It’s silicone, has a little controller, and it rolls up. It was perfect because I wanted to make his keyboard. I basically disassembled it and re-skinned it. It looks just like the keyboard so, keep an eye out for that. When I had to cut the keyboard to use it in my project, I opened it up and it's just this gorgeous labyrinth of tiny little metal traces that went into each key in the keyboard but are on a flexible, I guess it's like plastic, transfer sheet basically. I saved the scrap that I cut off of this thing, just because I thought it was a beautiful circuit board, and the same thing, I basically repurposed all the buttons on the board and fed them through to the buttons that I had created for the keyboard in the style of the cartoon. So that was a fun project. I really got to get on posting that one, too. That's a fun thing to do with electronics, just give it the case that you want it to have.
(1:36:19 – 1:41:35) Keyboard Project
Carrie: Pat [in the comments] says they would love to see the inside of the flexible piano board and you've sparked some cool ideas.
Natasha: Okay, I will give it another 30 seconds of looking. I know it's in here. Oh wait, I found it. I'll give you a sneak peak of the project. You want to see a sneak peek of the project?
Natasha: So, this is Gene's keyboard from Bob's Burgers.
Carrie: Dang. Wow. That looks cool.
Natasha: If I remember how to turn it on. Oh, here's a little on-off switch. If you know the show, I made little foam buttons. I don't remember which one does it. There we go. It's a fart sound.
Carrie: Nice, I love it.
Natasha: There’ll be a video coming soon, but I'll show you the inside of this. So, I cut this off because it's scrap.
Carrie: And that's just like, sort of rubbery plastic on the outside?
Natasha: It's got to be some type of silicone because I tried to glue stuff to it and every adhesive was just like, no. So, look at this beauty.
Carrie: Oh, wow. Yeah.
Natasha: There’s actually multiple layers here. Then there's these little, tiny dots and then the mold of the interior of the keyboard. I don't know if you could see that, but there's little tiny dots underneath that line up with the little, tiny dots on here, which almost feels like braille to me. They must align up perfectly with whatever's on the next layer and then you see all the traces running back to the board. I think this thing costs maybe 20 bucks on Amazon. It’s marketed as a toy, but it's a really nice object.
Carrie: Yeah. I find that so interesting. I don't know anything about how to make, like how people make the kind of cheap circuits that aren't on circuit boards. There are, I mean, I didn't even know, but there are sometimes in some toys, there are paper circuits, which is crazy. It's just paper with, I guess, conductive ink on it. I'm just, I'm fascinated. I would love to learn more about how those very inexpensive circuits are made because that's cool.
Natasha: Yeah. I mean, I'm not a circuit, I do paper circuits as a craft. Not as an electrical engineer and I'm going to put those in a product. The flexible ones just are so interesting to me just because of their wearables application and it seems like a good way to do it, too. Why make something rigid when you can make it flexible.
Carrie: [Reading comment] “Looks like the remote we used for the traffic light game.” Yeah, I need to revisit that because that remote did not work like we thought it would. Now we have some ESP whatever's, not 32s, the other ones. I want to just use those maybe instead of Leonardo or just hook them up to the Leonardo and use them just for Wi-Fi. We have actual traffic lights that I got a surplus store. Robyn and her dad built this really cool wood enclosure for them. We made them into a Simon Says game with arcade buttons so the traffic lights flash, and you have to enter the sequence on the matching buttons. The only kind of issue was it was the traffic lights are really, really bright, like blindingly bright. So, we had these really long wires running to the controller. So, it'd be nice to make the controller and the traffic lights have wireless communication so that you could put the traffic lights way up and out of the way so that they don't blind you.
Here's the transcript from our soldersesh backlog - enjoy this gem from Nov 2021!
In this soldersesh, Carrie got to put together one of Charlyn's LED rings and jumped into some great conversations! Charlyn, a programmer by day and maker by night, loves to design wearable electronic jewelry and other glowy things! She talked about her first kit she designed for Adafruit (DotStar Fortune Necklace), growing up in the Philippines and how she grew an interest in STEM, and her awesome LinkedIn class: "CircuitPython: Connecting a Robot Cat to the Internet."
You can find Charlyn (aka @chardane) on Twitter and Instagram, and find her website here!
(0:00-5:03) Meet Charlyn
Carrie: Hello, everyone! I'm Carrie Sundra with Alpenglow Industries. Today I have Charlyn Gonda with me and she is amazing! She is @chardane on Twitter and if you are not already following her, you should. She is a coder by day and maker by night; as a software engineer, she makes all sorts of beautiful creations! Today we're going to make one of her creations, which is this really cool, twisted, LED ring. Welcome to the show and thank you so much for coming on.
Charlyn: Thank you for having me.
Carrie: No problem. There’re so many things I don't even know where to start. Why don't we start with some show and tell? It's always fun to just start with show and tell.
Charlyn: Okay, I've got a few things! My first LED Adafruit guide is a capacitive touch necklace that predicts your fortune, but only if your fortune consists of a yes or no answer... So, if you touch it, it dies. (Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work in the stream, the necklace turned off lol.) It says hello world right now, but if I disconnect it from Bluetooth, then this capacitive touch actually does something. (Charlyn: “I think I introduced the firmware bug there.”) It's powered by a little power pack in the back and has a nRF52840 chip, like the ItsyBitsy Bluetooth one. The entire case is laser cut, which was really fun to cram everything in there and the wires are actually inside the chain. I did a little bit of wire wrapping there with gold floss, so that was fun/tedious.
Carrie: Sounds like you could do in front of the TV.
Charlyn: Exactly, I had to put on some Bob's Burgers to make it actually bearable! I was super happy with how it turned out and the matrix inside here is a DotStar matrix, the little itty-bitty one from Adafruit. The first time I saw that matrix, I thought, I need to do something with it, but I didn't know what for the longest time! I learned about that Matrix kind of early on in my maker journey and just didn't have enough of a creative toolbox to make it happen. But that sort of black LED obsession actually started with this ring.
Carrie: Oh, cool! I just have to interject and say how I love, how you just unabashedly covered a corner of the of the Matrix. It looks so cool and works so well, and yet I feel like I would have done the engineer brain thing of, “Oh, I can't cover any part of this. I have to incorporate the whole thing,” but you just decided to block part of it and make it a different shape and I think that that is super neat!
Charlyn: Yeah, I was just trying to figure out a compelling shape because it's a square and it's kind of really uninteresting to me when it was a square. So, these brass shapes, I actually have a bunch of them. I had posted on my Instagram, this exploration that I did where I just kept combining different acrylic shapes with different brass shapes because it looks really strange, but these brass shapes are really satisfying to look at. Every time I look at them, I want to think about something to make with them because they're so compelling to me! That's kind of part of my process. I think is just finding something that's weirdly appealing and just pulling on that thread of what can I make with it so that it keeps its shape or the thing that makes it appealing, but then with LEDs.
Carrie: I like it, LEDs make everything better. Everything. It’s a proven fact.
(16:12 – 21:15) Hobbies, Projects, and Business
Carrie: So, what do you tell people who say, “Oh, you should totally make those and sell them.”
Charlyn: Oh my gosh, that's a pretty common refrain. As a software engineer, I could cobble together a script that will do a thing, but to put these into production and get them into people's hands is a different exercise entirely. I think it's the same with hardware, but 10X. I can't, I can't even begin to- I mean, it takes me a long time just for this one ring. We're going to make one today so we can see how long it takes, but to make something like this at scale…
Carrie: We could try to put an equivalent retail price on it.
Charlyn: Yeah, there we go. That would be really fun! Honestly, I have the luxury to not productionize it at the moment because it's a hobby. So, I'm kind of just leaning into the fact that it's a super fun thing that I get to do! There's a certain hesitance in putting pressure on it in terms of monetizing it because I am afraid of spoiling it for myself almost, although that's not always going to be the case. I think there's a lot of people who do the thing that they love and it's a sustainable sort of lifestyle. But it's scary, it’s a scary sort of thing to think about.
Carrie: Definitely. It's a big deal to turn a hobby into work, too. I have definitely seen people lose the enjoyment that they used to get out of it.
Charlyn: But it's also not guaranteed. I think there's also a world where both is true. You see the negative parts of it, but then you also experienced all the positive sort of highs with that. Maybe I'm just missing out on that, too, I don't know – it's different.
Carrie: Right. It's very different. It's still stressful just a different set of stresses. There are still things that are wonderful about the two, about work or making a hobby or work, but they're just different.
Charlyn: Yeah, for sure. And I mean, I'm sure you know, how that experience goes.
Carrie: I’ve done it a few times, with both results. Like when I dyed yarn for a little while and was actually doing yarn shows and I was going on the road and having booths at these different yarn festivals and stuff.
Charlyn: Wow, shows and festivals – it's a whole world that I have not yet seen.
Carrie: They're pretty cool. There are different ones. I think the ones that I liked the best are the ones where there are also fiber animals that you can actually see. Fleece judging shows are really interesting. At the end, after they've judged them all, you get to go around and just paw everything!
Charlyn: No cuddling though, even though you really want to.
Carrie: I didn't like the dying enough to do what I would have had to have done in order to make it work.
Charlyn: Well, it's good. I feel like the fact, you couldn't have known that until you have gone through that journey, right?
Carrie: Yeah, absolutely. And it was a great break from engineering because I was super burnt out on it. Then after I took a break for a little while, I got back into it and got a lot more enjoyment out of it, doing it on my own terms. So, it was good. It was a good break, even though financially it was not good.
Charlyn: That's always the case. That's always the eternal struggle, isn't it? But that's crazy. I have so much respect for you and the fact that you went through that journey because that's an adventure.
Carrie: It has definitely been, I still feel like the adventure is somewhat ongoing.
(1:44:50 – 1:50:48) Circuit Python Class
Carrie: So, tell me about learning circuit Python and the class that you just had. I am totally unfamiliar with LinkedIn in classes.
Charlyn: Yeah, to tell you the truth, I also was unfamiliar until I produced this course with them. I have recently launched this course; it's called Circuit Python: Connecting a robot cat to the internet. It's about using Circuit Python and Adafruit.io, this MQTT server that Adafruit has that is mostly free. It uses a Metro M4 Express AirLift Lite, which is a really long name. It's their M4 form factor board that has an ESP32 chip. Or is it ESP266? I don't know which one, but it’s one of the two Wi-Fi chips. As a side note, as I'm getting into a lot of this hardware stuff, the thing that hardware engineers and people who are really into hardware do, is memorize a bunch of random numbers and letters. That totally make sense once you know what they are, but when you don't, you're like, what? What do you mean? Why do you have to call it its full name? I mean, I guess it's an abbreviation, but anyway, I feel like I've had to learn a lot of it coming in. Ooh it’s lighting up!
Carrie: I'm now testing out the fit on different fingers. I think the middle finger is probably our best bet there.
Charlyn: Yeah. I actually think it's a little bit cramped on this finger, but you know, like I said, it might end up being a midi ring. That's always an option, right? Here we go, it's a midi ring right now. See, it's fancy! But yeah, that's the course and it's really fun to make. We filmed it at my old apartment in San Francisco and they shipped me seven boxes of equipment – lighting and cameras and all of that stuff. I had been writing the course in 2019, we were supposed to film it early 2020, and then locked down happened. So, we dropped the ball hard on producing the course and I was not in a mental state anyway to actually be productive. So, we picked that back up again earlier this year, cause we were like, okay, either we wait until next year or we try to get it to happen with remote filming. I decided I just want to have this course out there; I wrote most of the content already, I just needed some editing. I think that was maybe the most challenging. Well, two challenging parts were that I had to write it and then I also had to perform it. The performance piece of it was actually pretty challenging because I felt like I needed to know every single line of code and exactly what it does and every single component and exactly what that does before I could be confident in talking about it. So yeah, it's out and I am happy to have been able to do it.
Carrie: That is super cool! You said it is free for anybody with a LinkedIn account?
Charlyn: Yes! So if you have a LinkedIn account there's a specific link and it's in my Twitter feed (@chardane). The link makes the course free for 24 hours after you click it. It's not a super long course, it's like an hour, over 11 episodes. So it’s a bite sized thing.
(1:55:15 – 1:59:46) Path into STEM
Carrie: So, I do want to also hear, before we go, what was your path into STEM and how did you become a professional software engineer? What do you do? What's your day job, if you can talk about that.
Charlyn: Yeah, I’m a software engineer by day and the way that I got into it was kind of by luck. I actually grew up in the Philippines and I went to high school there. My junior year is when they started offering computer science courses and I was one of the lucky ones to be able to actually go to a school that offered computer science. We had computer classes, but they're mostly about using the computer, not coding.
Carrie: Yeah, I had typing, I had typing twice.
Charlyn: I feel like if I did not have that computer science course in high school, I definitely wouldn't have chosen computer science as a major – I wouldn't have gotten into coding. After I took that course, the other thing that happened was that Neopets was a thing. Do you know about that?
Carrie: I don't. I remember Tamagotchi.
Carrie: It’s more different from your normal day to day.
Charlyn: Yeah. I already have work; I already have to fight a bunch of complex coding systems at work.
Carrie: It’s not what you want to do when you’re at home to relax.
Charlyn: Some people really like doing that too as a hobby, but I think this is fun. Being able to just make stuff like this is fun.
This week we had Halle and Connor of Lixie Labs join us for our weekly soldersesh! While Carrie was assembling up two of the Lixie II displays, she talked with them about their journey from Lixies to Pixies, the process of crowd supplying their Pixie Chroma and the lessons learned along the way, making open source products and getting them OSHWA certified, and we even got to see some of Lady Lixie's rad art!!
You can find Lixie Labs on Twitter (and Lady Lixie!), Instagram, and YouTube & you can check out their products on Tindie, Crowd Supply, and GitHub!
(1:42 – 8:41) How Connor & Halle got Started in STEM
Carrie: So, tell us all about everything. I would love to hear about how your journeys into STEM got started, how your fascination with LEDs got started. Tell us all about how you kind of went from the Lixies to the Pixies and everything.
Connor: Around 2012 I went to school with a guy named Andrew and he told me one day that there was this computer that was $35 and the size of a credit card. I didn't believe him. I thought, “No way, that's got to be a scam.” He's like, “No, it's called a Raspberry Pi,” and he let me borrow it. One of the first examples you can find for Raspberry Po is how to put an LED on one of the pins and then do the little pseudo pin, whatever to set it on. As soon as that led came on, it just clicked for me. Because I had done software before, like websites, but all of that code exists behind a screen and in a different universe. But when the LED comes on, it's literally like a little light bulb.
Halle: It's exciting.
Carrie: It is really exciting. And it's kind of hard to convey how exciting that is until you've actually done it, I think. But yeah, making a thing do a thing is super cool.
Connor: Yeah. So, I stuck with that, and I ended up getting really interested in it and found the Arduino. Adafruit has just thousands of tutorials for how to do this stuff. I end up in 2016, I've got a few years under my belt, and I'm really interested in Nixie tubes because they're just gorgeous, but they're finite – except for the ones that are being made by people like Dalibor Farny. So, they're quite expensive, especially the bigger ones. I saw a few videos of people that had done edge lit signage and stuff before or animations with it and kind of reapplied that with a PCB, a light filter, and then 10 acrylic panes each with a numeral. So that became the LED Nixie, the Lixie.
Carrie: Love it.
Halle: We actually have a Nixie tube here, so you can see how small you actually get them.
Halle: The smaller ones are cheap, bigger ones are like $150 per tube.
Carrie: Yeah, one of the first things I did on a solder sesh was actually put together a Nixie tube clock. I had had those Nixie tubes sitting around for a year or so, I think I got them for $15 a tube and the last time I looked, I think that they were going for over $20 a tube.
Connor: They're pretty expensive.
Carrie: Yeah, definitely expensive.
Halle: Well, they have expiration dates. That's why it's so hard because if you get an old one who knows, because this one–
Connor: Yeah, this one, I don't have a functioning tens place on the seconds anymore. It got a little bit of burn-in or something.
Carrie: Yup, that's definitely an issue and they're not really being made anymore because it's old tech. Although I guess there are a few places that are sort of doing custom.
Halle: There’s two. Dalibor Farny and then I can't remember the other one, but I know they’re in Ukraine.
Carrie: I was going to say yeah.
Connor: So, the Lixie becomes quite popular, and the original design looked like this. I've got one here.
Carrie: Oh, look at that. Super cool.
Connor: Yeah. So, the 10 panes and then a base here, we'll light this up later to look at it, but it had hot glued tops with wood and acrylic. Once they were assembled, they weren't meant to be disassembled ever, which was kind of unfortunate. If it was damaged or, cooking grease in the kitchen nearby made them a little foggy. So Lixie II was my solution to that and then just leaving the panes as a modular top-loading version of that.
Carrie: Yeah. No, I can see how that would have been, how not being able to take it apart would have been maybe a little frustrating after it sits around for a while right.
Halle: Yeah, it can get dusty. I'm really new to this whole entire world. The first LEDs I lit up were his Pixies, his original Pixies and stuff like that. I'd love to say that I fully understand everything, but most of the time he talks, I'm like, I kind of get you, but definitely if I talked to myself a year ago versus now it's so different. I'm much more of a, I'm a very hands-on artist. I love putting together a lot of products and doing all that sort of stuff. I mainly like the logistics side and the shipping, all that for Lixie Labs.
Carrie: You know, we all have to start somewhere and wherever you start is totally fine. A year from now, you're going to be like, oh my God, I've learned so much just in this past year or two. Hopefully we all never stop learning. Right? I'm a beginner at a ton of things too, because it's impossible to know it all.
(22:35 – 26:23) How the Lixies became Pixies
Carrie: Tell me about how the Lixies became Pixies.
Connor: So, the Lixies, I eventually found these little displays called LTP 305s, and they're these little micro-LED displays that have a 5x7 dot matrix on them. I thought they were so cool and I found a compatible driver chip called the ISFL 3135, or something like that.
Carrie: Say that 5 times fast.
Connor: I realized I could make these little displays chainable, like the Lixies were. So, the Lixies are really easy to add onto later, if you want to make a bigger display, just because they're the neopixel. You just need the three wires and then another one and then another display and another one. I did a similar thing with this ATTiny on the back where these are chainable. They talk one to the next, so you can have a big, long Marquis. And then trying to think, trying to remember my history here. Oh yeah, the pixie. So, they're just pixel Lixies. Then the chip shortage starts to happen. The very first signs of it were I couldn't get, for whatever reason, I couldn't get these LTP 305s very easily.
Halle: Especially the green ones. The red ones were everywhere, but the red ones in photos, they seem a lot dimmer. So, our green ones are what are really selling. So, it was a struggle.
Connor: So, I switched over to 0402 LEDs, basically just cloned it myself and sold those. These were all Pixie pros; these had faster firmware. It ran on assembly code. Then the chip shortage really starts to hit, and you can't get microcontrollers, you can't get the LED driver chip. I kind of had to pivot and in the end, it was for the best, I think it's an easier product. It's a better product. And that's our Pixie Chroma PCBs.
Connor: They are super easy to chain together. You can put them in little modular printed enclosures like this and make them as long as you'd like, and any color you want. So let me get this plugged in so we can show it. I recently got to make something for myself, in 2019 around the time that Lixie II came out I made myself a little plaque that says, Lixie Labs 1,000 sales. A little 3D printed thing with a Lixie I board on it. Then just this month I got to make another one. Lixie Labs 3,000 sales with my Chromas running on the bottom.
Carrie: Nice with a little infinity symbol.
Connor: And a kind of circuit sculpture thing in the back running it.
Carrie: Excellent. That's super cool.
(32:37 – 38:23) PNP Machines
Carrie: So, with the crowd supply campaign, how ready were you to go when you launched? Was it like, “We have all the parts ordered,” or was it, “We have everything except the order, because we don't know how much demand there's going to be, so we're ready to go but…”?
Connor: So, the way we did it is I got 20 prototype boards completed for myself first, just to verify the design and get photos and write code for it and get that all. So, the code was all completely done. Photos were done, PCB design was done but we didn't order any of the parts until after the money had cleared from Crowd Supply. After a campaign on Crowd Supply ends, you'll have two to three weeks before the money clears, everything's verified on their end, and they send it off. At which point I put in an order to PCBway to get 77,000 LEDs placed on boards. Then when those boards were ready and they came back, one of my biggest warnings I can give other makers is don't forget tariffs. There was a 25% tariff on that whole order. That was $1,600 we weren't expecting, and we had enough to cover it – that didn’t stop us. But wow, it was a sad day.
Carrie: Yeah. Yikes. Well, and it can be hit or miss with tariffs too. Sometimes it'll just sneak through without, and you're okay. But yeah, having to plan on them stinks and it's also hard to keep track of because everything changed very quickly.
Connor: Yeah. The tariffs, the misplaced intent, I believe of those tariffs was to bring manufacturing to be more domestic. I hate to say it actually worked because I just bought a pick and place machine from a really cool guy named Stephen Hawes. Who's been on YouTube for two years building an open-source pick and place kit that he can give out. So, I just bought one of his pick and place kits so that I never have to do that tariff thing again.
Carrie: Yeah, there are a few US places that that I've used for circuit board assembly, but it's definitely more expensive than PCBway, for sure. So, it just all depends.
Connor: I just like the prospect of running a pick and place machine, too. That just seems fun. Even if it is someone domestic, I can outsource it to it just seems fun to me.
Halle: Well and you built two of your own.
Carrie: Oh yeah?
Connor: Yeah. So, the first one, my first pick and place was like $150 3d printer from eBay that didn't even have a heated bed, but I had XYZ movement out of it. Then a specially printed base plate that could take the LEDs from peeled tape with a suction nozzle and bring them over, which is hard-coded G-code to where they go on a PCB for Lixie I. The solder paste was sticky enough to break the suction on the nozzle whenever you placed them down. So, it didn't even have suction changes.
Carrie: That's hilarious.
Connor: I attempted to convert an Ali Express laser cutter kit, like the black extrusion rails kind of ones, to my own pick and place. But that machine Stephen Hawes built just kind of outpaced mine. It has a huge community on it now. So, I just disassembled that the other night and I'm waiting on a new machine.
Carrie: Nice, nice. I will definitely have to check that one out because that one was not on my radar. I've seen – maybe this was a few years ago, like the $2,500 ones on Ali Express and I've always been like, “Hmm…”
Connor: Those Charm High ones on Ali Express, the main problem I think for makers with those is that they are a closed firmware. So Open PNP Project right now is trying to basically take all of those and reverse engineer those machines to make them work. The Lumen PNP is the thing I bought from Stephen Hawes. It's like $1,100 and it looks like one of those laser cutter frames and it's actually really cool how he did it. It comes with all the rails and the fasteners and cameras and motherboards and vacuum, but you print all of your own structural pieces on your own printer from a big list, like a bill of materials.
Carrie: Nice. So, it's definitely like a print your own.
Halle: Which is kind of funny because a lot of companies are clearly moving to that. Like Prusa, you see all the orange you're like oh that was the printed part. That's so cool. The cool thing about that is we can kind of color it to whatever we want. So, we just got this really, really insanely pretty fuchsia pink.
Connor: So, my machine is going to be this wild pink.
(52:54 – 58:00) Crowd Supply Process
Carrie: So, we went from Lixies to monochrome Pixies to Pixie Chromas, successful Crowd Supply campaign and now you're just shipping them, right. People can go buy them off of Crowd Supply. Is there any wait time or are you kind of still doing it in batches or?
Connor: The way crowd supply works for anyone who doesn't know, it's really neat. You raise the money, you get the capital, you do your order, and you actually send all of your finished units with special barcode tags in bags to Mouser who is Crowd Supply’s parent company. Then Mouser will handle the individual fulfillment of all of the orders and they also purchased stock for themselves. So, if you sold a hundred of something, Crowd Supply will buy anywhere from fifty to a hundred for themselves. Then they become a vendor for you. So right now, you can go buy a Pixie Chroma kit on crowd supply still, even after the campaign and your order will get delivered at the same time as the backers orders in this first batch.
Halle: Yeah, we shipped everything all at once, all in one box.
Connor: It was terrifying.
Halle: It was so scary. I had to go and meet him at the FedEx store, and we were like, oh, this is the scariest thing we've ever done.
Carrie: Oh man. I can imagine how terrifying that would be.
Halle: It was also weird to have that many units in one; it wasn't a very big box either because they're so tiny. Then they got here, they came in these panels, I depanelized all of them, and Connor tested them. We had a really, really good rhythm going, but then after that we realized we needed headers and I ended up cutting out 80,000 headers in sections of 3.
Carrie: Oh my god.
Connor: Yeah, it was a lot.
Halle: We have 2 pairs of flush cutters, and if I didn’t have the good ones with me or I was at work or something I was just not having it. We have a very destroyed pair and then a good pair.
Carrie: So, I'm like how many episodes of Grey's Anatomy did that take? Or what other things were you watching that has to have like 30 seasons for you to get through all of this.
Connor: We watched American Horror Story and YouTube and whatever we could to pass the time.
Halle: Yeah, we forgot to order the bags for the headers. We didn't want to put the headers just straight in ESD bags. So, I made these little paper, folded things and rubber banded them and I did that about a thousand times.
Connor: And we love her for that because wow it was a lot.
Halle: So, when you get them and you open it up and you're like, oh wow look at this nice little rubber band wrapped around this paper, I had done that a thousand times. It was the most exciting thing ever though, because when we were doing, because my first product with him was the regular Pixie and then moving on to the Pixie Pro. So, whenever I got to cut out, I don't know, 50 headers. “Wow. That was so cool. Oh my gosh look at this batch.” Then you're like, “Oh yeah, we'll go through this whole bag that’ll probably be fine.” We go through the whole bag and we're like, “We have to buy 40,000 more headers!” It was fun though.
Carrie: Yeah. That is super exciting though. I mean sending off that box must have been scary, but also very fulfilling. Right.
Connor: It was like a postpartum depression for me, I felt so useless the day after it was all done. It started in late July on the PCB and then August is when I started the CGI ad that we did for it and all the preparation for it. So finally, this month, March, I finally have days where I'm just kind of waiting because they're all off at Crowd Supply. They’re being forwarded to customers now. So, no one has them yet, I don't have them, and I'm in this weird purgatory.
Carrie: It's the anticipation, right? It's like the calm before the storm of everybody getting them and then posting all about their projects and that'll be super exciting. I mean, that'll be the best part, seeing your things go out into the world and seeing what people make out of them. Right?
(1:25:42 – 1:32:54) Lady Lixie’s Art
Carrie: Is there anything else that you guys want to tell us about, anything else that you're up to?
Connor: Do you want to show off some art? We should get some background on what Lady Lixie does. She makes the coolest art.
Halle: I feel so weird feeling like I'm in the maker community. Cause I'm an artist. I know that that is sort of in the maker community.
Halle: I don't know. I feel like I don't do all the cool stuff you guys do.
Carrie: You do super cool stuff.
Connor: She knows how to color with like yellow, magenta and cyan and stuff. I don’t understand that at all.
Halle: I know that’s something that we’re always polar opposite. I'm so much more pigment based and he's so color based. I’m like yeah just mix those colors and he's like, that's not how that works.
Carrie: Additive versus subtractive, yeah.
Halle: Gosh, I don't know what to show off. I guess, I have a lot of bases in horror art. Is that okay to share.
Carrie: Yeah, anything goes.
Halle: Here in Utah, we have a lot of thrift stores, like a lot of them. I don't want to say privately owned, we have like a lot of chain ones, and our biggest one always has the weirdest, slightly religious art. I love taking the art and just taking those types of paintings and just kind of destroying them. Like taking this boy that I can tell was in a church because of the markings and that’s where the frame originally came from and I just really gory him up and stuff like that. So yeah, I do a lot of stuff like that, I love it. I know my stuff doesn't do anything. It just sits there and looks the way it is. It doesn't change colors. It's just there.
Carrie: Art does things, it makes you feel things.
Connor: Yeah, it moves you.
Halle: And then this is a little creepy guy. I’m not done with his hair application; I still need to give him a full Mohawk all over the front. But his eyes are super shiny because I actually used resin from our resin printer and cured it in our resin curing machine.
Connor: That’s a hack, that counts.
Halle: I'm starting to try and do, obviously we're not really going to be able to tell, but I'm starting to try and do lithophanes with 3D printing, which you can't really see. I love doing the 3D printing stuff because it's much more, I have to see everything. So coding is really difficult for my brain to process. If I can't see every single part of it all at once I get lost and confused and frustrated and just like, I can’t see it, I don’t get it.
Carrie: It’s a lot of weird compartmentalizing that you have to do with coding yeah. It takes a while to get used to it.
Halle: I learned to do MIDI music. Is that what I did? I think that's what I did.
Connor: She transcribed MIDI to Arduino tone functions.
Halle: Yeah. I wish I had it to show, but I don't, my mom has it. I made her this 3D printed thing with like four different parts that were just stacked together of the Deathly Hallows symbol. Then the front was, we were going to try and put LEDs in it, but it just didn't really work out to try to fit everything inside. I did a little MIDI to Arduino tones playing, you know, just certain songs from Harry Potter. One of the more, I guess, classic maker, things is pottery. So, I'm huge into pottery specifically, things like teapots. I love working with the glazes and stuff like that. The science that goes in for glazes and stuff is just absolutely crazy.
Connor: Glazes will have data sheets.
Halle: Glazes do have data sheets, crazy data sheets. Because they're very, most glazes will just give you cancer, not like state of California cancer, like everywhere around the world.
Connor: Yup. So, do you have a pottery studio that you're a part of?
Halle: I used to be, I used to work at one as a teacher and the manager. But over time it just, it's one of those things where, when the owners don't care enough you kind of got to move on from there. I started out as pottery and then, because I lost my ability to have access to a studio and to fire things and stuff like that, I moved towards other art forms, like sculpting with polymer clay and stuff like that. And now that I've kind of figured out lithophanes I'm really going to try and actually push myself more into lithophanes with LEDs. He's probably going to do a lot of that.
Carrie: Well, I was just going to ask, are you thinking of incorporating LEDs into your art now?
Halle: Yeah, I definitely wanted to take our jig that has the cute little eyes. I've been wanting to just take a Chroma just like this and sculpt a spot into a little robot that I made. That's kind of like that one, where I can plug this guy in and have it be a cute little face. Because I think it would just be adorable to have this standing sculpture that I'm able to paint, but then he has a fully functioning face and stuff. Yeah, it was definitely something we realized that these are perfect eyes.
(1:36:50 – 1:45:30) Open Source & OSHWA Certification
Carrie: So, Bob is asking, “So when are you going to sell the Lixie test jig?”
Halle: We've actually had a few people ask if it's open source. Which I mean, it can be.
Connor: It can be, I just haven’t done that yet. I don’t really have any reservations.
Halle: It only works if you're going to test when you already have. We tested them all already, so hopefully they all work.
Connor: Yeah, the design itself or the firmware that's running the LED checks and that voltage drop a thing, that's definitely something I should generalize and release soon.
Carrie: I was going to say, I think that that is definitely the thing of interest because there are a lot of different people doing different things with addressable LEDs. I think that it would be very interesting to other makers who are doing addressable LED art type of things.
Carrie: We have a recommendation in the comments to make some money first before making it open source!
Halle: Yeah. Well, open source is just an interesting thing. Who was the guy who said it best about…?
Connor: Oh, Nathan Siedel co-founder of SparkFun. He has a Ted talk online if you guys haven't seen it where he discusses the pros and cons of open source and it turns out by the end of it, there's no real cons. Not really. The obvious ones you would throw up, if someone doesn't understand the open-source hardware community, they'd be like, “Wait a minute. Why? That's like the opposite of a patent? Don't you want a patent?” Not necessarily because there's a lot of creative thinkers out there. People willing to share their work and people that can take your work and make it into something you've never even thought it could do. Even if you have a patent, you're going to get cloned anyways, it doesn't matter. So just make it better for the customer. I’ve had stuff before, like that little vector robot that rolls around, that company went defunct and now you can't do anything until makers go through and figure out how to dump the ROM contents on all the little chips and decrypt it – it's a pain in the butt. Whereas, if it was open source or had an SDK [software development kit] that stuck around, I would still be able to use it as a customer; I would have only benefited if they’d made it open course.
Carrie: Yeah. It is a hard and a scary thing to contemplate too and I think it depends upon your product a little bit. Definitely, I would say that, especially for things that are geared towards learning and are platforms that you can build other things upon, open source is definitely the way to go.
Connor: Yeah. So, I didn't go to school for computer science or anything. I went for graphic design. So, all of this computer science, or programming Arduinos, or writing assembly code, it's just because there was thousands of open source things out there that I could dig into. I could break one thing and say, okay so I now know that that function was called from this one. It's a good exercise just to go pick a simple Arduino library and just read it, just go look at all of it. See how they did it. How the class constructors work or how verbose they are with how many functions they make you do or don't make you do. One of the things I pride myself on with the Pixie Chroma displays is the library is no more complicated than you need it to be. If you just needed to show text, it's like three lines, but if you wanted it to have an interrupt service routine that keeps some animation going inside of the text or something complex like that, you can also do that, but you don't have to know how to do complex stuff to do the basic thing. I think if you can make a product with an Arduino library, especially that is perfectly suited for whoever picks it up. So, if it's brand new, like this your day one, working with Arduinos and wires and stuff you should be able to hook it up with really good comments in the code of how to do so. And if you are super advanced with it, you should be able to have a lot of fun, you shouldn't be bored of it too fast.
Carrie: Yeah, no, I think you've definitely nailed it. Just definitely reading through other people's libraries has helped me a lot. Adafruit’s stuff is really great in that regard. I definitely learned about driving graphic LCDs through their open-source graphic LCD driver. That was really useful. Bob says, he thinks about how to test hardware and code before he actually creates any portions. So, he's all on testing from the beginning and Tom also echoes that open source is the way. You're actually OSHWA certified with the Pixie, too.
Connor: We are yeah.
Carrie: Nice. How was that process? Did you have to do a lot of extra work or were you pretty much like, well, we already made all of our documentation open-source and had it online, so it was pretty easy to do.
Connor: It's actually not too bad. So, for anyone who's out of the loop, if you want to get a little mark like this on your PC or an ID that goes with it. The original Lixie was US54. I was really early on that one and then the Pixie chroma is US 2058. All you need to do is make sure that your Arduino code is on GitHub or GitLab or whatever, GitBucket alternative and try to make sure that any hardware files are in an accessible format. So not everyone has Autodesk Inventor or even uses that anymore. So, it counts as open-source hardware, but it's not a preferred way to do it if you have a proprietary file format. I use Eagle for my PCBs and the PCBs are all small enough that the free version of Eagle can still work with them. But if I had a bigger one, I would probably want to do something like KiCAD that anyone can open up. It's like Adobe illustrator versus Inkscape. If you can leave up Inkscape files that's better for everyone. So OSHWA, the Open-Source Hardware Association, is in charge of verifying basically your integrity with how open source you are and make sure you've got that whole checklist, there's nothing really missing there. Once they've signed off on that, you get a permanent ID that you can put on the boards. Then in the future, what's really cool about having that ID on there. is if somebody just completely lost the documentation or how to get to it, they can type in the ID number it'll show up on the OSHWA site and you can get to all of the stuff that was submitted to have it qualified as open-source hardware.
Carrie: Very cool!