skinny's Blog


Submitted by skinny on Mon, 2017-05-08 14:56

The first DorkbotPDX Hebocon had some fierce competitors.  Check below for video and results!

DorkbotPDX DOBOHEBOCON 2017 from Brian Richardson on Vimeo.


Champion: Popcorn by Gary and Daniel

Gary and Daniel

Their bot has an actual piece of Popcorn in it.

Popcorn in bot!

Technically Poorest: Spring Thing by Drew

Spring Thing

This might be my favorite.  No electricity, just a spring.  

Fastest Fail: Lithium by Bill


Lithium was a pro looking bot!

Poorest Quality: Spitter Bot by Mathew

Spitter Bot

Spitter Bot spit 3d printing filament at its foes!

Loudest: Just One Bugfix by Brian

Just One Bugfix

Just One Bugfix played an intimidating scream as it competed.

Advanced Microcontroller Audio Workshop Summary

Submitted by skinny on Thu, 2016-06-09 20:33

As I said in my last blog post, I've been meaning to do little summaries of the workshops, so here's another one!

Paul volunteered to give his Advanced Microcontroller Audio workshop again and I jumped at the oppurtunity to finally take it. When I arrived I got my workshop packet which included well written documentation and a kit filled with a lot of great stuff. Paul and Thomas talked very briefly and introduced the workshop. It's structured to be done at your own pace with Paul and Thomas hovering around to help when needed.
DorkbotPDX April 2016 Workshop

The documentation is here if you want to look at it. The kit came with a Teensy 3.2, an audio shield, breadboard with switches and pots, hookup wire, sd card, and a TFT display!

The workshop starts off with verifying the initial hardware and software, playing sounds, playing sounds with effects, and finally builds all of the way up to playing audio and displaying a peak meter on the TFT. Most of the workshop is centered around using the Teensy library via the graphical Audio System Design Tool which is a lot like Pure Data.

Here's a quick video of the final exercise, sorry about the crappy audio, I knocked one of the wires I had plugged into the display around a bit and it distorted the playback.

DorkbotPDX April 2016 Workshop


I'm excited to use the audio library in future projects. I want to scare some kids this Halloween with a project, having an easy sound library to do it with will definitely help.

FuzzFace Workshop Results!

Submitted by skinny on Fri, 2016-04-22 17:44

I've been meaning to write short blog posts about the results of the workshops we put on. I got an email asking me about the last one and it reminded me to actually do it. So here it is!


I roped my friend Jim Titus into giving a workshop about guitar pedals since he started building them in his free time. The workshop started out with a presentation which you can download here. Jim talks about the history of guitar distortion which is very entertaining. Then he played some samples of early guitar distortion, there was a country song named "Don't Worry" by Marty Robbins which had an awesome sounding distorted bass. I'm not a country fan, but that part of the song rules. Jim then talked about the distortion circuit and showed some enclosures off (which became important later!)


Then it was build time! We all got our kits and got to work. We all help each other through the build and eventually tested them on Jim's o-scope so we could see the affect the pedal had on a sine wave.


There was an issue when we actually tried to use the pedals without an enclosure: there was no shielding and there was too much noise. Lucky for us one of the folks, Bruce Mulligan, had built an enclosure ahead of time. Bruce and his daughter built up their kit and installed it in the enclosure. After figuring out a grounding issue we had the distortion we were looking for!

Click below to listen to the pedal:


Be sure to check out our next workshop, Advanced Microcontroller Audio with Paul Stoffregen

Random November 2nd Meeting Photos!

Submitted by skinny on Sat, 2015-11-07 14:49

I just thought I'd post some random photos and projects from the last DorkbotPDX meeting.  Lots of fun stuff.

Tom Hudson brought his shaking haunted house. He worked on it with his coworkers at OMSI. It uses a saber saw as the shaking mechanism. Pretty sweet. He's posted an Instructable about it if you're more interested.

DorkbotPDX 11/2/2015


DorkbotPDX 11/2/2015

Mykle Hansen brought his Teensy Synth project. It made some sweet, crunchy sounds. I think it is based off of this project.

DorkbotPDX 11/2/2015

Mathew Lippincott brought his Portal Gun from Rick and Morty. It used an 800 lumen flashlight to project the portal! Very cool!

DorkbotPDX 11/2/2015

Scott Dixon brought a new robotics platform that he's playing around with. It's not hooked up to his Bluetooth Barbie steering wheel yet, but maybe soon. I didn't catch what the platform actually is, maybe he'll chime in on the comments.

DorkbotPDX 11/2/2015

Here were some folks playing with using balloons to diffuse LEDS. Reminds me of this project.

DorkbotPDX 11/2/2015

Finally, some folks just hacking together. I didn't find out what they were doing, maybe they'll chime in on the comments below. DorkbotPDX 11/2/2015


Fun projects, great to see so many projects on display!


Art and tech events this week!

Submitted by skinny on Wed, 2015-02-04 16:54

We are extremely lucky this week to have THREE art/tech events happening here in Portland featuring artwork from some of our favorite creative coders. Have fun and support your art/tech community by coming out for these events! The first two are part of First Thursday and you can easily walk between them.

Dungeon Hacker at DIODE Gallery Thursday Feb 5 6PM-9PM 514 NW Couch Featuring Dan Cohen, Ryan Johnson, Andy Lunday, and Gabe Shaughnessy

Electric Fields by Jeremy Rotsztain at UPFOR Gallery Thursday Feb 5 6PM-8PM - 929 NW Flanders

ByteMe 4.0 at AFRU Gallery Friday Feb 6 6PM-11PM - 534 SE Oak St. Featuring Church of Robotron, Libby White, John Brown, Ben Purdy, and more!

A few of us worked on the Church of Robotron install for ByteMe, so here's a far too large flier for it!

This is how we disappear - projection notes

Submitted by skinny on Mon, 2014-11-03 16:03

I’ve been meaning to document my work on this project for about year now. TBA 2014 reminded me it is time to actually do it! So here it is:

For the past year and a half I’ve been working with a dance company called bobbevy. I’ve been creating graphics that go along with the dance performance called “This is how we disappear”. Here’s a review at Portland Monthly.


This is how we disappear - projection edit from Brian Richardson on Vimeo.


More behind the scenes information after the break!


Submitted by skinny on Fri, 2014-09-12 12:28

The Church of Robotron is coming to Portland, OR. We will be open the Last Wednesday of September (the 24th) and the First Thursday of October (the 2nd) starting at 7pm both nights at the Diode Gallery (514 NW Couch St) which is across the street from Ground Kontrol. We'll have multiple versions of Robotron 2084 available to train with and we will be triggering physical events in response to game events. One example: lasers when lasers are shot in game. For info about how this is accomplished, check out this older post.

Right now, we have an installation in the window at the gallery which is running 24/7 until October 3rd. It features a fully playable version of Robtron 2084, sermons, and a leaderboard that has pictures of all who attempt to become the mutant savior. Here's a video of it:

The window sensor is a capacitive sensor that was made by Philip Odom. He used the same techniques he taught during the Capacitive Sensing Workshop. Jason Plumb got audio working by using a transducer that turns the window into a speaker. The sign was built by Debbie Wager. Finally, this was all integrated together by the rest of the church.

Come check out the window anytime! Come to our open nights (9/24 & 10/2), check out this post for an idea of what to expect!

Processing Fundamentals

Submitted by skinny on Sun, 2014-04-06 16:43

DorkbotPDX invites you to "Processing Fundamentals".

A free workshop at Flux

DorkbotPDX is happy to offer a 4-hour intro to Processing -- a graphics programming environment. Students will learn the basics of Processing.
No prior programming experience required!


  • When: Sunday, April 27. 2-6pm
  • Where: Flux Hackerspace (412 NW Couch #222, Portland, OR)
  • Cost: FREE!!!
  • Bring: A laptop with Processing 2.0 installed (if you can)
  • RSVP:

Source code: Processing_Fundamentals

Built with Processing and Processing.js