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Page history last edited by Ariel Waldman 8 years, 5 months ago
  1. Turtle Party Wagon
  2. Id vs. Ego
  3. Spacetime Shift
  4. ArmAlarm
  5. Galaxy Karaoke
  6. Chicago City Stats
  7. Geo Stats
  8. Chicago Pan Dynamo
  9. Hacking Misconceptions About Science & Astronomy
  10. Table-Top Cloud Chamber
  11. AirRamp control descent system
  12. Quantum Foam
  13. Grainger Dark Matter visualization 

Turtle Party Wagon

Creators: Blake Kurinsky Dan Slowinski Thomas Martin David Kam Moral Support: Ali Karbassi Gary Koehl


A lot of us have fond memories of LOGO. LOGO was a simple programming language that controlled a drawing turtle. It was great for kids due to its simplicity and instant feedback. Lego LOGO was a version that included physical parts and eventually evolved into Lego Mindstorms. However, Lego Mindstorms is not exactly easy to use. Even as an adult, the user interface and block diagrams is often times counter-intuitive.

We wanted to bring the simplicity of LOGO back. But with real live cars. And a web interface. And KITTENS. OK, just kidding about the kittens.

APIs, data and tools used: arduino
Java (RXTX)

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCANZuJKvJOOQstrYpepEL8w

Source code and links: https://github.com/davidkam/TurtlePartyWagon

Hack URL: N/A - running off of local machine

Id vs. Ego

Creators: Steven Oxley (http://twitter.com/xonev) Sean Massa (http://twitter.com/endangeredmassa)


For Science Hack Day Chicago, my colleague Sean Massa and I decided to put together a game using a couple of different devices that we found interesting for input.

First of all, we used the NeuroSky MindWave portable EEG brainwave headset. This device senses the user's brainwaves and provides an interface to access data from the device. We used this information to control how the levels of the game itself are generated. The more calm and focused the player is, the easier the level becomes. This leads to some interesting moments when the player panics because the level is too difficult causing the level to become even more difficult.

Next, we took the motion sensor output from an Apple iPad to control the character in our game. This made for a more intuitive experience when playing the game and makes the game more physical, which has some effect on the mental state of the player.

The game itself is a rather simple one. The player must avoid rising platforms as they scroll toward the top of the screen. The speed at which the platforms rise is controlled by the player's level of calmness while the size of the "holes" between the platforms is controlled by the player's level of focus. The player uses the iPad to move the onscreen character back and forth.

APIs, data and tools used: Neurosky MindWave
MindWave ThinkGear Connector
Apple iPad

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_JSkrTVRNM

Source code and links: Code: https://github.com/EndangeredMassa/mind_wave

Neurosky MindWave (http://store.neurosky.com/products/mindwave-1)

MindWave ThinkGear Connector (http://developer.neurosky.com/docs/doku.php?id=which_api_is_right_for_me)

Node.js (http://nodejs.org/)

EaselJS (http://createjs.com/#!/EaselJS)

Hack URL:

Spacetime Shift

Creators: Stuart Lynn (@stuart_lynn), Arfon Smith (@arfon), and Ariel Waldman (@arielwaldman)


A web app that calculates how far you've traveled in space and time based on your flight data from TripIt or Dopplr. The site calculates 1) what percentage you've traveled to the Moon based on the distance you've traveled around the Earth and 2) how many nanoseconds into the future you've traveled due to time dilation (your time slows down relative to those stationary on Earth and thus you are able to travel into the future). Calculations based on all of your available flight data, using gravitational and lorentz time dilation and the average distance to the Moon from the Earth.

APIs, data and tools used: APIs from TripIt and Dopplr

Screenshots, photos and videos: Home page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arielwaldman/7189738190 . Logged in page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arielwaldman/7189737958 .

Source code and links: https://github.com/stuartlynn/jetDilation

Hack URL: http://spacetimeshift.herokuapp.com


Creators: - Nathan Krapf - Lou Nigra - Elaine Cheng - Andrew Chen - Andy Scarpelli - Christina Yang


ArmAlarm will wake you up in a completely new way. Studies show that feeling awake is positively correlated with being physically active. Instead of annoying sounds, ArmAlarm is a wearable alarm that wakes you gently with vibrating pulses on your wrist. The alarm begins pulsing at your set time, and stops only when the built-in pulse reader determines that you are awake and active. With ArmAlarm, there is no snooze button. It won't turn off until your heart rate is up.

At Science Hack Day Chicago, we combined an Arduino board with a salvaged cell phone haptic motor and IR transmitter and receiver bulbs as a pulse-detecting mechanism. We were able to use IR signals to detect pulse rate when held against the skin, and the vibrating alarm is fully functional.

APIs, data and tools used: arduinos, IR emitter and photo transistor, old Nokia phone for unbalanced motor (vibration tool), oscilloscope, capacitors, resisters, op amps, soldering irons, old sport watches

Screenshots, photos and videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOrDKsqFTT8



Source code and links: Workflow
- when the current time reaches the wake up time,
- start counting the number of beats
- start vibration mechanism
- when x seconds have gone by,
- calculate BPM
- compare BPM to target heart rate
- while pulse is lower than the target heart rate, continue vibrating
- when pulse has reached target heart rate, stop vibrating

Hack URL:

Galaxy Karaoke

Creators: Steven Bamford (@thebamf) Mark SubbaRao Amit Kapadia Tristan Davies Patrick French Doug Roberts


We made a planetarium into a karaoke machine / audio-visual extravaganza!

A while ago a bunch of awesome Galaxy Zoo forum members collected a complete set of real galaxy images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which just happen to look like letters of the alphabet, numbers, and punctuation.

We resurrected some previously hacked together code which takes these images and pastes them together into arbitrary words and sentences (yes I know it's like a font, but we didn't make a font). We then used this to generate lyrics to David Bowie's "Space Oddity", put these images into a 3D model of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and choreographed a fly past the lyrics in time with the song!

We also attempted to make the process as automated as possible, i.e. parsing karaoke file formats for lyrics and time stamps, but the final hack required a manual step to time the fly through to the song.

APIs, data and tools used: Sloan Digital Sky Survey images.

Galaxy alphabet from the Galaxy Zoo forum, collected by many Zooites and heroically collated by "pluk".

UniView planetarium software.

Python and Django for messing around with galaxy images and the web app.

Amazon Web Services EC2 and S3 for hosting the web app.

Screenshots, photos and videos: Have a go at http://mygalaxies.co.uk/.

We've got some murky video of the planetarium show, which I'll try to put somewhere. Much better, it will get properly rendered into a video at some point - maybe with audio if David Bowie will let us - otherwise you might just have to play your own mp3 along with it! You might even be able to catch it on the dome again sometime.

Source code and links: Source code will hopefully appear on github soon.

Google the resources we used!

Hack URL: http://mygalaxies.co.uk

Chicago City Stats

Creators: Ian Odea ianodea@gmail.com Sean Schraeder schraeds@gmail.com Victor Zhagui zhaguiv@gmail.com


Original concept was to create a "Data Explorer" for Chicago City Data.
We created an alpha based on this premise that grabbed chicago datasets and visualized them with the d3 library. This morning we realized the municipal tools for this task were actually rather good, and we were hard pressed to offer many features/benefits over that.

We reevaluated and pivoted to utilize the datasets we had wired up, and added the Twitter API to allow people to interact and find data by tweeting.

APIs, data and tools used: Ruby
Twitter API

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2409440/ChiCityStats.key

Source code and links: https://github.com/tomekr/chicitystats

Hack URL: https://twitter.com/#!/chicitystats

Geo Stats

Creators: Michael Parrish, Javier de la Torre, Robert Simpson


The site allows users to upload their data from OpenPaths - or use an example - to explore how they travel, how fast they travel, and where they go. Some basic stats are provided on the current version of the site.

The idea is that this app is a basis for exploring your own personal geographical stats. It could eventually be compared with other city-based geospatial data sets to tell you things such as where/when there may be a better route home or to let you know that you pass by interesting places and events in your daily life.

APIs, data and tools used: CartoDB, OpenPaths, Rails, Heroku, Brighter Planet

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://geostats.herokuapp.com/

Source code and links: https://github.com/parrish/shdchi

Hack URL: http://geostats.herokuapp.com/

Chicago Pan Dynamo

Creators: Donald Jacobson, with lots of schmoozing with other participants (but no real work). Project pretty trivial and did not require additional effort. No original ideas involved, but the expression may be unique (but I doubt it).


Low profile wind generator to serve as supplemental power source for flat-roof buildings.

May also be used as source of mechanical rotary power. Possible applications are for water pumping, air compression, drill presses, etc.

Working model still in development, but functional.

APIs, data and tools used: X-Acto knife, white glue, cardboard, drinking straw, adhesive tape, push-pin...

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links:

Hack URL:

Hacking Misconceptions About Science & Astronomy

Creators: Pam Greyer, Ryan Roche, Tyler Deal, Amit Kapadai


The Night the Stars Went to Sleep is a children’s book that turns familiar night sky objects and events into a cast of amiable characters that find themselves in a world of endless light after Darkness disappears. He’s been tricked into believing that he is feared and unwanted, but without the spreading of his velvet cloak the sky will stay bright and we won’t see the stars. The stars all agree that he has to be found and convinced to return. The bravest constellations head out on a quest to find and bring Darkness back. Their journey leads them down a path of universal wonder and helps explain natural occurrences and facts while
dispelling some common science misconceptions that include when we can see stars, if the moon really gives off light, and explores the relationship between Darkness and the Sun.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links:

Hack URL: http://ubret.s3.amazonaws.com/NightStory/index.html

Table-Top Cloud Chamber

Creators: Emily Connover Wesley Ketchum Matthew Bellis


Cloud chambers are particle detectors, sensitive to the movement of charged particles through a vapor. Cloud chambers can be built with easily-accessible materials, and provide a view of subatomic particle like muons, created by collisions of particles in our atmosphere, and alpha particles, which are produced in some nuclear reactions.

Our goal was to (1) build a simple cloud chamber using materials that are readily available, and (2) capture images/movies of particles detected in our cloud chamber that could then be analyzed using software to create visualizations showing the trajectories of sub-atomic particles.

We succeeded in building a cloud chamber using iso-propyl alcohol as a medium, and dry ice as a way to supersaturate the alcohol. We saw both tracks from cosmic muons, as well as tracks from the decay of a radioactive source extracted from a smoke detector. We took several movies of the decays, but we had difficulty in capturing still images of the decays. We think there are promising avenues for turning this working detector into a broader tool for scientific inquiry, and look forward to continuing this project.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://hep.uchicago.edu/~wketchum/CloudChamber/movie_source.MOV

Source code and links:

Hack URL:

AirRamp control descent system

Creators: Brenda Lopez Silva @nanocontroller Wei Cheng @wei1228 Timothy Nettleton Tom Caprel Diego Ballesteros @dballesterosv Noah Schloss


It attempts to balance a payload attached to a AirRamp kite, by tilting an internal load based on the tilt measured by an accelerometer connected to an arduino which controls the mechanism by driving a servomotor.

This allows the payload to descent safely after a High Altitude Balloon bursts, the kite is supposed to be steered to control the landing point so it is a desired one, the hardware for this was not implemented but some of the software was also embedded in the arduino.

To determine the safe sites, the designers of the team made a new UI for the predictor in:


APIs, data and tools used: Arduino uno
The source code and predictor: http://habhub.org/predict/
AirRamp kite
Electronic laboratory equipment
GPS sensor LS23060
Parallax servo motor

Screenshots, photos and videos: UI Screenshots:
Flying kite video:
Payload device:

Source code and links: Arduino source code: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21206797/KiteController.ino

Hack URL:

Quantum Foam

Creators: Matt Bellis @matt_bellis


Quantum field theory is the marriage of quantum mechanics and special relativity and predicts that particles are spontaneously popping in and out of the vacuum. When energy is put into the vacuum, as in particle colliders, these particles can become ``real". This hack is a very naive visualization of this process, where the user puts energy into the vacuum through the mic on the computer.

APIs, data and tools used: Processing (minim)

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links: https://github.com/mattbellis/shd_chicago_2012

Hack URL:

Grainger Dark Matter visualization

Creators: Matt Bellis @matt_bellis Mark SubbaRao msubbarao@adlerplanetarium


We take data from the CoGeNT dark matter experiment and map it onto a cylinder for projection in the planetarium. This provides a touchpoint for explaining about dark matter and how we are searching for it. This visualization is brand new for this dataset.

APIs, data and tools used: CoGeNT dark matter dataset (publicly available).
Grainger planetarium and its associated software tools.

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links: https://github.com/mattbellis/shd_chicago_2012

Hack URL:

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