Encabulating Photon Emission Interface

My small lab assistant and I tossed our hats in the ring and were invited to compete in the 2013 Red Bull Creation competition. In short, it was great. Team swan tron didn’t make it to the finals, (this year, suckers) but had a great time and learned a ton. Dual hats off to the six teams heading to NY for the last phase…you all earned it.

Team swan tron entered for consideration an Encabulating Photon Emission Interface.

team swan tron
team swan tron

Red Bull’s concept was simple and brilliant…the accepted applicants were given custom Arduino shields, a whole bunch of LEDs, and a path to a git repo containing a library with which to make them crank. That, about four weeks, and a nudge to do something awesome with lights. We did this…

We used all of the PWM channels at our disposal to handle the colors on our Encabulating Interface, and tossed in some analog stuff for good measure. Our software utilized the Encabulator’s accelerometer values as the interface’s interfacing variables, which is nice. Most of the board’s function was exercised, as was my brain, Emma’s brain, and Emma in general. She liked the feedback in a belly laugh way…so that is that. Pretty sure she and I both came out ahead on this effort.

Here’s to 2014…look out for team swan tron.

The SEO Web Ninja Incident

So. I sell some links on my site from time to time. The people who do the actual purchasing of said links tend to be sketchy…some are just penny pinching scumbags, while others are outright nefarious. I had the opportunity to interact with the former type recently, in an email conversation / offer that turned a little sour.

For purpose of reference, the SEO genius sketchball from this post works here (as a web ninja) and here (as a shirtless starfighter.) See what I’m talking about?

Without further ado…the email thread:

Yoav – Operad Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 1:25 PM
To: Joseph Swanson

Hello, how much do you charge for a positive review on a software?
And how long does it take to go live?


Joseph swanson Sat, Jan28, 2012 at 12:15 PM
To: Yoav – Operad

Hello Yoav,

I typically do three review levels

$25 – Links only, worked into a post on a similar topic

$50 – Links and screenshots, brief post (appx 100 words)

$100 – Links, screenshots, user experince…lengthy review (appx 300 words)

I would prefer 48 hours to complete a review, but could do it within a day from acceptance if time is a concern.

If you are looking for a more comprehensive review, we can negotiate a price. All of my posts are topical, and will blend in with my typical content. I have had good luck driving traffic on my previous work.

Look forward to an opportunity…cheers



Yoav – Operad Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 8:24 AM
To: Joseph Swanson

I want two posts (with 100 words and links) Can you make it around
70$ total ?


Joseph swanson Tue, Jan31, 2012 at 5:37 AM
To: Yoav – Operad

$85 and we have a deal. Send me details and I’ll have them for you in two days from time of email.

swantron.com is the url…I’ll add relevant pictures to the posts as well.


Yoav – Operad Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 11:17 AM
To: Joseph Swanson

Let’s make 3 for 100$ and call it a day?


Joseph swanson Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 11:06 PM
To: Yoav – Operad

I’ll do three posts in the 100 word range for $100. Positive reviews, blending in with the look and feel of my site.

Payment via PayPal.

Send details if that sounds reasonable


Yoav – Operad Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 9:22 AM
To: Joseph Swanson

100 words is uselss for SEO, it’s too little.


Joseph swanson Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 6:31 PM
To: Yoav – Operad

Now you are catching on. Allow me to remind you of the rates I run:

>>> $25 – Links only, worked into a post on a similar topic
>>> $50 – Links and screenshots, brief post (appx 100 words)
>>> $100 – Links, screenshots, user experince…lengthy review (appx 300 words)

I am not going to slide you three hundred dollars worth of my services for one hundred dollars, Yoav. Nice try.


Yoav – Operad Sun, Feb 5, 2012 at 5:55 AM
To: Joseph Swanson

I’m not trying to get you to “slide” me anything,
But I’m sure that your’e aware that 50$ for a short paragraph is too much.

If you can compromise on a lesser price or more words let me know and I’ll
order 2-3 posts.



Joseph swanson Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 8:38 AM
To: Yoav – Operad

Truth be told, I’m not sure I can rattle out one hundred words about any of your “products.” Your website is full of empty drivel, and the SEO game is a dead horse.

Best of luck and happy kicking…


Yoav – Operad Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 12:11 AM
To: Joseph swanson

Now you got my curious. I still haven’t given you any of my websites or products,

How did you gather the information to write me this rude message?


Joseph swanson Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 9:08 AM
To: Yoav – Operad

…my starting point was the gif attached as your email signature. It doesn’t take a web ninja to do the rest.

I was working under the assumption that you were looking for a review for something that either operand or sorezki is peddling. If there is another degree of separation, I am even less interested in writing a review. The thought of a software producer actually purchasing services of this nature makes me want to puke.


Yoav – Operad Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 11:42 PM
To: Joseph swanson

Well if you knew half a thing about SEO you would know that SEO agencies don’t pay for articles about THEMSELVES but about their clients that has to do with dozens of relevant subjects to the websites.

This conversation will now end because I’m having a hard time keeping myself from laughing at people such as yourself,

Have a great week amigo!



From: Joseph swanson [mailto:joe@swantron.com]

Joseph swanson Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 12:55 PM
To: Yoav – Operad


Thank you for the lesson ins SEO. As payment for said lesson, I have prepared for you an image to be used as your email signature. I feel it is more befitting of a Web Ninja than what you currently use.

Kind regards,




Yoav – Operad Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM
To: Joseph swanson

thanks brother!


Operad OffPage SEO


I guess we all learned a lesson today. I’m just not sure what that is. I thought I was going to get some money, but instead got a way better post. Yoav thought he was going to get some work done, but instead got a sweet new email signature.

I was getting sort of fed up with this guy, but once I found his bio thing…

yoav the web ninja
(you made more internets)

…it turned into a whole different thing.

Maybe I should start selling signatures instead of links…that looks pretty killer.

Android IOIO Project | IOIOSeek

I hope you don’t mind, but I went ahead and stepped it up a few notches.

My newest project brings my end-goal a few steps closer. I now have the pieces in place to put together an actual robotic implementation with the IOIO…since things have officially reached the cool stage, I decided to drop this as a stand-alone project. Complete with pics, a vid, and an app.


IOIO android servo seek
dig the lighting

What I have here are two slider bar controlled servos, an analog input-read solar panel, and some LEDs toggled via a button. The control is via the IOIO / Android.

servos and solar panels on ioio android
dig the wires

The pictures, however nice, don’t really tell the story. Take a look at the video to see this thing in action:

As the video alludes to, I am going to run with this concept. The automation (robotics) lies in the analog reading with respect to the servo positions. I plan to ‘scan’ the panel…that is the piece that is missing. Once I can implement that mess, I will have a tracking system. Implementations will fall out of that.

analog input ioio
+1 tape

As with the last few projects, I have dumped the app on the Android Market for general perusal. The app’s description provides the details of the pin configuration, which is straight forward. I have two PWM outputs, a pure 3.3V digital toggle, and a pin configured for analog input. That is that.

I will push my code to GitHub as well eventually, and provide a link therein. I still need to polish my generic servo code, since my latency was borderline awful in retrospect. Look for that in the near future as well.

As always, drop any questions to joe[at]swantron[dot]com. Feel free to share your IOIO projects with me…

IOIO Servo Controller

I just doubled my Android Market presence with one fell swoop. IOIO project number two is in the books: IOIO Servo Controller.

IOIO Servo Controller
servo in altoids can smells like altoids

This project is a one-off of the PowerSwitch Tail relay project I have out in the wild. I took the button out of the mix and implemented a slider bar…removed the relay and am now driving a hobby servo.

IOIO Android app
brand placement

Displayed is the relative level (zero to one) of the slider, the slider itself, and a shameless plug. The onboard LED also fires with a brightness relative to the slider position…which I implemented in the coding and sort of left in there.

The basic concept was to get the PWM output configured correctly, in order to control the servo positioning…the slider function is pretty much just the stock slider from the Android Development docs, widened a bit for the sake of video capture. The rest was just mashing around the code I had out there…not too bad.

Check the thing in action:

This project is available for download in app form on the Android Market. Right next to my other guy…search for IOIO. I will toss the code on my GitHub account as well. Fun project…I may branch and see If I can do anything cool with a few servos. We’ll see.

Shoot any comments to joe(at)swantron(dot)com. I can help with any setup issues, if they may arise. Good luck…

IOIO PowerSwitch Project

I can finally report a conclusion of sorts on the IOIO / PowerSwitch Tail project. The ‘of sorts’ disclaimer is in regards to my Android App, which is pretty much a working beta. I have some issues with my onResume code, and want to put some polish on the UI. That said, I have released the code to the interwebs, so had better provide a write-up.

The setup is the same as I have been posting. Dual open drain pins with a 10K pull to 5V do the lifting…triggering of pins is handled via my IOIO board…Android app providing a UI to do the switching.

beta version: check.

I went ahead and published my app on the Android Market. It will pop for sure by searching for IOIO.

android market app

Price: free ninety nine. Can’t beat that.

I also tossed this code up on GitHub. Go nuts.

github example

Video time: see this in action.

Basically, between all of the shaky camera work, I download my app from the Android Market, connect via USB, and control the 120V relay via my Droid 2. I will shoot a better video once I clean up my code a bit.

Stay tuned. The README on GitHub and the app details section should have all of the connection information. I can provide any further details via email / comments / @swantron. Have fun with this one…

Link to android market
Link to project code at GitHub

HTML to Python to Arduino to LCD

Last week found me standing tall upon my shell script soapbox, shouting command line praises to all who would listen.

Thou ought direct thine output aftways, to-wards thine USB port of thee. And that is well and righteous.

Well, that still is the case. My latest project has made it glaringly obvious that sometimes a little Python script will render a whole bunch of shell scripting moot. Namely, parsing HTML. Let’s see a picture…

outdoor hacking
bad lab mobile

Lunch hour project: parse the comments from swantron.com; feed said comments to an LCD screen.

I was horsing around with wget from a CLI a few days ago. I found myself trying to smash through the resultant file via pure regular expressions…which is incredibly clumsy. Well, as luck would have it, my go-to after my main go-to is Python, and this type of thing has been issue enough to warrant a library. BeautifulSoup. It acts to parse the HTML info into items, that can be smashed around as I see(med) fit.

My setup was simple: py script to snag my comments and write serial, Arduino sketch to drive a LCD and read/write serial. And a source of shade. And a WiFi signal to snag.

mobile mobile
bad lab mobile-mobile

Check, check, check, etc. Video time:

Pretty slick…hit the fold for the code, as promised, and a summary.
Continue reading “HTML to Python to Arduino to LCD”

How to Use a Ladder

Ladder safety is a must in my book. Before tackling that weekend project around the house, take a look at these ladder tips I have collected.

* Ensure the roof of the vehicle you are using is obstruction free
* Make sure the ladder is fully opened, with both supports extended to their maximums
* Look for and remove any dangerous/pointy objects from around the vehicle
* Take note of any overhead power lines and or cables

dangerous ladder setup
plus one dangerous

Here, I have safely used a ladder to open this second-story window that had been painted shut. Safely used a ladder like a baller.

DIY Minority Report

Spoiler1: This is awesome.
Spoiler2: I’ve never seen Minority Report.

I do know that there is some sort of hands free interface, and that is what I have put together.

minority report
+1 dizzy

Long story short, I have extended upon my PING))) project to include some sweet touchless home automation. I have the ultrasonic sensor interfacing with my garage door and a lamp, utilizing a servo and a PowerSwitch Tail, respectively.

Hit the bump for an awesome video of this thing in action, and for my spippet.

Continue reading “DIY Minority Report”

Garage Door Hack

Introducing Open-er-o-matic 3000. OOM3K. My finest project to date. I have my Arduino poking around with a PING))) sensor, a servo, some LEDs, and best of all…my garage door opener. End result: some Star Trek-ass shit.

hit the vid
Ronco alert

Check this footage of the OOM3K in action. Here, I had it configured to open the door when the ultrasonic sensor echoes off of something within 8 cm…

After the bump, of course

Continue reading “Garage Door Hack”

How to Fix a Paper Cutter

I walked into my designated printer room at work today to find the paper cutter broken. What a tragedy, right? I have absolutely no idea why we need a paper cutter, let alone several paper cutters, at our software shop FWIW. Regardless, I took it upon myself to remedy the problem. Sleep tight, thy co-workers…rest assured that you can again transform 8.5″ x 11″ paper sheets into 8.25″ x 11″ paper sheets, thanks to my pro bono paper cutter fixing skills. Observe.

What You’ll Need:

*Broken Paper Cutter
*Tape (Scotch)


1) Locate Point of Failure

You can see that this particular cutter has malfunctioned due to a broken cutting arm.

paper cutter

2) Procure a section of tape

(If you are unsure with what to do with the tape at this point, don’t worry…this will come into play in step 3)

paper cutter

3) Place tape section on the displaced cutting arm


4) Place displaced cutting arm on cutting arm articulating housing; secure tape

paper cutter

That’s that. Leave it in the printer room for the next idiot who actually uses a paper cutter…I bet bewilderment will ensue