• SoCal Mechanical Keyboard Meetup

    04/03/2016 at 20:16 0 comments

    April 2 was the 3rd or 4th SoCal mechanical meetup at the Datamancer workshop in Montclair, California. Here are a few pictures:

    Datamancer

    Datamancer was kind enough to open up their workshop to the geekhack, deskthority, and /r/mechanicalkeyboard community. They make steampunk computer gear, and that means they do their own bronze casting:

    Datamancer is relatively famous for their steampunk keyboards. They've done wood and brass laptop chassis in the past, but the mechanical keyboard market is booming:

    Of course this wasn't all about Datamancer keyboards. There were probably a hundred different boards in attendance

    How about some custom keycaps?


  • A Visit To W6TRW

    02/02/2016 at 16:55 6 comments

    While I'm stuck in the middle of Pennsylvania right now, I'm lucky enough to have a job that's based in LA. It's a pretty sweet gig; working from home means I don't need to wear pants, and sometimes I go out to the office to enjoy the wonderful 70 degree weather while there's three feet of snow back home.

    One thing I haven't done while I was out in LA was visit the ham swap meet at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach. It's always on the last Saturday of the month, and until now I haven't been in LA on the last Saturday of the month. Because I went to Sparklecon last week, I was also able to head over to the swap meet. Here are the pics:

    You want weird as hell consumer electronics? Here's the best. LCDs stuck inside stuffed animals. I offer no further comment.

    The swap meet was a mix of people who actually knew how electronics worked and people who re-sold scrap. This was a booth demonstrating the former. Basically, you're looking at a tarp with piles of maybe-working electronics spread around. You can find just about anything in these pi HOLY CRAP IS THAT AN iPAQ?

    A gigantic rectum fryer

    Learn COBOL

    Parts bins filled with just about everything. If you need a connector, this is the place to go. Looking through the bins, I realized I needed a power adapter that had an IEC male connector on one end, and a two-pole 'bowtie' laptop power adapter connector on the other. I found two at the swap, so all I need now is a bit of time with a dremel and some JB Weld.

    My sewing machine is better.

    Test equipment / Video production shit

    A lot of really cool old gauges

    Yeah, remember these? I remember these.

    Here we see the best thing available at the swap. It's a modem. A wooden modem. There aren't any markings on this modem, but it looks extremely similar to the Livermore Data Systems acoustic coupler modem famously seen on YouTube. No one at the booth selling it knew what it was, and once I pointed out it was an antique modem, the price went up $5. I took it home for $20. There will be a Hackaday teardown video on this item.

    It's not in the best condition. It's missing the acoustic coupler (I'm on an eBay hunt for one) and the DB-25 connector is loose. There are no markings, and I don't know if the lights on the front are LEDs or something a little more ancient. By far the best thing I found at the swap meet.

    I also found an UltraSPARC-based laptop. it's a Tadpole Comet, former property of Quallcom. It was $10, but the guy couldn't break a $20 so I also took home a toilet seat iBook. Win-win all the way around.

    Is W6TWR worth it? Hell yeah. The event is only from 7AM to 11:30AM. I thought that would be plenty of time to wander around a parking lot. It's not. If I didn't have to get over to Sparklecon, I could easily see spending the entire time wandering the booths.