AZ Residency Day 3 – Ideas Are Like Rabbits On Spring

The bre­ak­fast table side pro­jects mee­ting seems to have jetlag­ged sligh­tly to lun­ch hour. Cold water mor­ning shower is truly revi­ta­li­zing but i wouldn’t want an enco­re tomo­row! Des­pi­te the early shock some folks cle­arly fue­led with their sle­ep depri­va­ti­on mana­ged to come up with a few other pro­ject ide­as to add to our pool. Among whi­ch we seem to have a top secret face­bo­ok jun­ki­es clothing line and a not that top secret Boris Vian pia­no cock­tail idea revamp, for the drun­kards in us all to rejoy­ce aplenty about (rela­ted elec­tro val­ve expe­ri­ment docu­men­tary pic­tu­re below).

misc purchases

electro valve

So an excur­si­on to the local city sto­re was in order, visi­ting ran­dom local Chi­ne­se sto­res, hard­ware sto­res, tex­ti­les sto­re, pet sto­res, elec­tro­nic mate­ri­als stores.
BTW, you should know that using a mul­ti­me­ter to pick a zip­per at a tex­ti­les sto­re might get you kic­ked out!

misc purchases

Also, musi­cal christ­mas cards + che­ap ear­plugs + sili­co­ne + skills = con­tact mics + hydro mics + led + cute paper lef­to­vers for our col­la­ge club! Be afraid!

Meanwhi­le, in a land far far away, Tara has been very busy iro­ning a few ran­dom plas­tic bags to cre­a­te a DIY PCB pro­toty­pe and suc­ces­s­fully unra­vel­ling many dis­tinct ways on how it will def­ni­tely not pos­si­bly work! Plus dis­co­ve­ring an advan­ced paper prin­ting tech­ni­que. Fol­low up should come within the next few days. We hope.

misc purchases

Tia­go Ser­ra and Jor­ge Ribei­ro from xDA have also arri­ved tonight, so our din­ner plans also invol­ved a lit­tle brains­tor­ming on all of the­se ide­as and more top secret ones TBA. Meanwhi­le here is another ran­dom silly photo:

silly ps

a glove that lights up when you shake hands

light up glove

This mit­ten lights up when its wea­rer sha­kes hands with some­o­ne. It has two expo­sed soft con­tacts around the thumb and across the palm whi­ch, when brid­ged by bare skin, turn on the LED embed­ded on the flower. The mit­ten itself was cre­a­ted by fashi­on desig­ner Isa­bel Tomás, and we then sewed a sim­ple tou­ch swit­ch cir­cuit onto it using con­duc­ti­ve fabric and thre­ad. It also works with high fives and hol­ding hands 🙂

high five and holding hands

Isa­bel and I desig­ned this as a soft cir­cuits exer­ci­se for some upco­ming mate­ri­als workshops. You can find all the ins­truc­ti­ons and ima­ges we pre­pa­red for this pur­po­se @ openMaterials:

AZ Residency Day 2 – Nothing Like The Fresh Smell of Vinegar Early In The Morning

Day star­ted with a small queue to access the showers and a bre­ak­fast table side pro­jects meeting.

Today’s plan for world domi­na­ti­on involved:
— Con­nec­ting OSCu­lat­tor with Pachube
— Trac­king fish in the fish tank
— Coo­king bio­plas­tic sam­ple experiments
— Twit­ter bot with pro­ces­sing and/or javascript
— Taking apart old keyboards
— Plan­ning a real­ti­me vide­owall for AZ Labs

Most of the goals were rea­ched des­pi­te the usu­al setbacks.

Bio­plas­tic is sick. It’s basi­cally star­ch, water, gly­ce­ri­ne and vine­gar sti­red together and hea­ted slo­wly to a pasty bub­bly form that takes a day to strengthen up. Today we coo­ked a few vari­a­ti­ons of the stan­dard reci­pe to make a few sam­ple expe­ri­ments with dif­fe­rent ingre­di­ent ratio, coo­king time and thick­ness, to com­pa­re the pro­per­ti­es and pos­si­bly may­be pro­ba­bly figu­re out some inte­res­ting use for them in futu­re pro­jects. They take about a day to cure, so we have no con­clu­si­ons just yet, but we’­re all pretty sick of the smell of vine­gar by now! Stay tuned for the fol­low up, coming to an hac­kers­pa­ce blog near you soon.

Fish are nice. We like fish. Fili­pe brought some with him and seems to be plan­ning some cute trac­king sys­tem ins­tal­la­ti­on. A crack in the main expe­ri­ments tank hold him back a few hours whi­le the sili­co­ne pat­ch dri­ed up, so it isn’t qui­te ope­ra­ti­o­nal just yet, but we’­re alre­ady wor­king hard on the next evil step for world domi­na­ti­on: devi­sing a cle­ver way to cen­tra­li­ze and reu­se his lit­tle fishi­es trac­king valu­es. And sha­re them with the world whi­le we’­re at it. Who knows who might need a bowl fish trac­king stre­am of valu­es out there.

We took a lit­tle walk wan­de­ring about Mon­te­mor-o-Novo, qui­te a pea­ce­ful town as it turns out, we mana­ged to find an open res­tau­rant with some excel­lent tra­di­ti­o­nal Por­tu­gue­se food, whi­ch was nice. Meanwhi­le, back in the new tech world, our plans for tonight’s gene­ric audio mis­chi­ef jam got held back by the lack of a mix table, some lag with nin­jam wire­less and an all­nigh­ter live bro­ad­cast stre­am pum­ping out of Aute­ch­re’s web­si­te.

AZ Residency Day 1 — We Have Arrived!

After many months of plan­ning and plot­ting and con­ju­ring evil dark for­ces with a few selec­ti­ve fri­en­dly con­tacts of the Audi­ên­cia Zero col­lec­ti­ve, the day finally arri­ved whe­re we head out for 1 week resi­dency with mem­bers form all of our three hac­klabs: LCD from Por­to, AltLab form Lis­bon and our very own xDA from Coimbra.

I mana­ged to setup a ride with a cou­ple of the big bos­ses from LCD, mis­ter Ricar­do Lobo and Pedro Ange­lo. I wai­ted for them the enti­re mor­ning, still sligh­tly reco­ve­ring from Satur­days pho­to exhi­bit ope­ning at Gale­ria Icon (whe­re xDA cola­bo­ra­ted with Sue doing some dj’ing and pro­jec­ti­on map­ping). Pho­ne­call reve­a­led they were alre­ady run­ning late and suf­fe­ring a major set­back, a for­got­ten wal­let, for­cing them to go back to Porto.

Long story short: The northern comi­ti­ve arri­ved a few hours later than sche­du­led to our des­tiny: Con­ven­to da Sau­da­ção, Montemor-o-Novo.


Peo­ple from the other labs were alre­ady moving around wor­king on some of their own pro­jects: Móni­ca gre­e­ted us out­si­de whe­re she was tes­ting the wifi access dis­tan­ce for her tree pro­ject. And insi­de we unra­ve­led the AZ room whe­re Gui­lher­me was bot­ching latest robo­tic cre­a­tu­re and Cata­ri­na gre­e­ted us with a handsha­ke using her latest spe­ed­pro­ject, a glo­ve with a led that lights when you sha­ke hands. Fili­pe was set­ting up his fish trac­king sys­tem in a cor­ner. Mau­ri­cio, Sér­gio and Tara were also around doing their own thing and others are sche­du­led to show up through the rest of the week.

Quick tour of the loca­ti­on reve­a­led it to be pretty cool. A reha­bi­li­ta­ted con­vent insi­de a typi­cal Por­tu­gue­se cas­tle with an over­vi­ew of the enti­re city. Plans for sight­se­eing abit aren’t enti­rely out of the ques­ti­on but we are mos­tly all really eager to get down and dirty with the technology.


Sit­ting down we finally start to assi­mi­la­te all the poten­ti­al: We have a Maker­bot table for 3d prin­ting. A microwa­ve oven, some star­ch, vine­gar and gly­ce­ri­ne to do some secret bio stuff (not bre­ak­fast pan­ca­kes). Tool­bo­xes, com­po­nents and PCBs for elec­tro­nics fun and non pro­fit. Plenty of pro­ject ide­as invol­ving data visu­a­li­za­ti­on, and fabric inter­fa­ces. And a very evil plan for col­la­bo­ra­ti­ve sound synthe­sis that will hope­fully invol­ve the PA, some con­tact mics, ran­dom MIDI/OSC valu­es from the run­ning pro­jects and plenty of laptops.

We can alre­ady pre­sent the first pro­ject, the Whi­te LED Red Glo­ve quick pro­ject by Cata­ri­na and Isa­bel. Whi­ch it’ll be easi­er to des­cri­be by quo­ting her own description.


This mit­ten lights up when its wea­rer sha­kes hands with some­o­ne. It has two expo­sed soft con­tacts around the thumb and across the palm whi­ch, when brid­ged by bare skin, turn on the LED embed­ded on the flower. The mit­ten itself was cre­a­ted by fashi­on desig­ner Isa­bel Tomás, and we then sewed a tou­ch swit­ch cir­cuit onto it using con­duc­ti­ve fabric and thre­ad. Isa­bel and I desig­ned this as a soft cir­cuits exer­ci­se for some upco­ming mate­ri­als workshops, and we’ll post some ins­truc­ti­ons soon.

First Soft Circuits Open Lab

soft circuits open lab

This Sun­day we’­re hol­ding our first Soft Cir­cuits Open Lab at the Scho­ol of Fine Arts in Lis­bon (FBAUL — Facul­da­de de Belas Artes de Lis­boa). The­re is no pre­de­fi­ned struc­tu­re for the event. We will meet for the cour­se of one day with the pur­po­ses of sha­ring kno­wled­ge, expe­ri­men­ting fre­ely, advan­cing on-going pro­jects, and just having fun wor­king together. Some of the peo­ple atten­ding will be spe­ci­a­lists in elec­tro­nics and others in tex­ti­les. Bar­camp sty­le impromp­tu pre­sen­ta­ti­ons are very welcome.

Altlab will pro­vi­de some basic tools such as pli­ers, scis­sors, sol­de­ring irons, iro­ning board, etc. But par­ti­ci­pants must bring all the mate­ri­als and addi­ti­o­nal equip­ment neces­sary for their own projects/experiments (inclu­ding lap­tops). Here are some sug­ges­ti­ons: any kind of fabric, nee­dles and thre­ad, yarn, t‑shirts, con­duc­ti­ve and/or resis­ti­ve fabric, con­duc­ti­ve thre­ad, con­duc­ti­ve and/or resis­ti­ve yarn, knit­ting and/or cro­chet nee­dles, LEDs, coin cell bat­te­ri­es, bat­tery hol­ders, EL wire, strands of fiber optics, cop­per foil, cop­per adhe­si­ve track, alu­mi­num foil, resis­ti­ve foam, regu­lar foam, ardui­nos (lily­pad or any other kind). If you’­ve never wor­ked with any of the­se mate­ri­als and don’t have them handy, come anyway, you can help some­o­ne else with their pro­ject and learn along the way.

For more infor­ma­ti­on on soft cir­cuits tech­ni­ques and mate­ri­als, check out the Soft Cir­cuits Resour­ces sec­ti­on on the open­Ma­te­ri­als wiki.

This open lab will take pla­ce on Febru­ary 21st, from 10:30 to 18:30, at the Scho­ol of Fine Arts in Lis­bon, room 307, 1st flo­or (sin­ce our own spa­ce is still under cons­truc­ti­on). All are wel­co­me, the­re is no fee nor regis­tra­ti­on, but ple­a­se do let me know if you are plan­ning on coming: catarinamota(at)