Retro Lamp goes HypnoOrb

Candice saved this hideous old lamp from a bulldozer (literally) and for the last year and a bit we’ve had it hanging up in our basement for extra ambient lighting. The light was setup only to be turned off/on by pulling/placing the plug and that part’s so sketch that we rarely use the thing. So when it came time to replace a bulb, I decided to use a HypnoOrb instead of a more typical bulb.

Check out the Photos here.

Retro Lamp HypnoOrb
Tactful Controls
Tactful Controls
New Lamp Guts
New Lamp Guts
Arduino Action
Arduino Action

Essentially what I did was very carefully solder wires on to the light socket and connected them to a power adapter. The power adapter was then connected in to one of my Arduino boards programmed with the HypnoOrb code, though slightly modified to respond a little nicer to the potentiometer input.

I of course had to also hook up an RGB LED to the whole deal and I goofed with that for awhile. I ultimately decided to try using this whole setup with no resistors on the LEDs.

Now, normally you should never do that as if you don’t limit the current through a diode with a resistor, you could (more like definitely will) burn out the LED. But I knew that for some reason with the Arduino that doesn’t seem to happen. Anyway, this time I opted to leave the resistor out for maximum brightness.

A couple of hours, some solder and a TON of hot glue later, It’s all come together rather perfectly. Bamboo Skewers were key in providing a little needed structure and of course much electrical tape and some soldering filled in the gaps. I also added a little off-on switch and latched on a potentiometer to set varying speeds of operation.

You can Get the code from here.

For other HypnoOrb specific stuff, check out the project page here.

Toor Camp 2009 in Review

Toor Camp Logo

Well I’ve been home from Toor Camp 2009 for a week now and I’m feeling it’s about time to post my personal review of all of this.

In Summary

  • In Short: It was awesome
  • In slightly less-short: It was rough in terms of heat, closed silo and drama
  • The Bottom Line: I’ll be going next year
  • Photos Here

The Good

In the Silo
In the Silo


Toor Camp was awesome as I met all sorts of cool people. It was awesome in that at night when the heat was reasonable, it was fun to go around to various camp sites and visit with random like-minded people. I had many conversations with people where we shared a sense of relaxation around the notion of being able to talk full-speed and in the way we generally thought and still be understood. I guess that’s just a perk of being around a bunch of people that have spent just as much time grinding on the same kinds of stuff.

There was tons of interesting stuff being setup all over. People were quick to share their creativity and ideas. I learned a fair bit about security topics, which I suppose is to be expected at a hacker conference. I presented my old usb mouse mod at a little late night event called Ignite Toor.

The Bad

Gettin By
Gettin By


The heat was brutal. Most days were a few degrees over 100F/40C and several people from our group were overwhelmed by it. As such they spent a fair bit of time in idling cars with the AC on full, puking in a bucket. Personally I was just really overheated, but I didn’t get sick, possibly due to massive water consumption on my part.

Dust was rampant. The camp site was located in an extremely dusty place. The dust was a very very fine powder that would get in everything. It was a factor that everyone there had to just accept as there’s little you can do about that, especially when the wind picked up.

The Venue (a retired nuclear missle) silo was highly attactive when discussed in HTML, but when it came to in practice – I can’t know the full facts, but the result was the silo didn’t get opened until near the end of the camp. And once it was opened the coordinators offered a list of hazards like Asbestos, Lead Paint, Possible radioactivity (though quite unlikely), Poorly Lit Drop Offs and so on. I suppose that’s to be expected, but I didn’t really consider it before hand – once on site I wasn’t very motivated to expose myself to much of that sweetness.

The Ugly

Douche-bags: Yes that little bit of grey metal to the upper left is their wind array for their main trailer. I never did see a solar panel.

The hilarious ugliness at the camp was surrounded by this remarkably foolish “Energy” company Levitate. In the future, if you see this name just think Lying Morons and you’ll be fine.

As a key part of a forced last minute deal by the site owner, the campers were forced to attend a concert put on by this company claiming to be preparing to launch it’s hybrid solar/wind power technology. The campers were forced in that their attendance was required if access to the silo was to be granted. That in and of itself was epic moronity in the only thing attracting people to that site was the silo, denying access at all was entirely confusing and made me wonder if there were potential liability issues that perhaps needed to be reconsidered.

Levitate posted the below freakin’ amazing bullshit facebook post for the event that was saturated with blatant lies about the camp and the campers therein endorsing their activities:

A group of the world’s smartest hackers will convene on July 3rd 2009 at a decommissioned nuclear missile site in the desert of Eastern Washington State. The goal: to solve some of the world’s most challenging issues through technology and to showcase a new large-scale renewable energy solution for the World.

Literally on top of a symbol that once represented global destruction, Levitate Energy and Tri-Film Productions present a renewable energy concert featuring the talents of Seattle bands Amber Pacific, Visqueen & Throw Me The Statue.

The entire production will be powered by Levitate’s ultra high efficiency hybrid Wind and Solar Modular Turbine Unit.

This is an invite only event but for more information contact Tri-Film Productions.

A Banner Levitate should adopt
A Banner Levitate should adopt

I could spend time explaining how this is all bullshit (except perhaps the fact that “Tri-Film” was involved too). But the short of it was as follows:

Gas Powered Wind Mill
Gas Powered Wind Mill. And by "Wind Mill", I mean "tiny boxed-in air-shovel POS"
  1. They took power from a diesel power generator used by the camp to power their concert.
  2. Their trucks with their wind power generators had at least one small gas power generator hidden away aboard
  3. The fundamental design of their wind power setup makes no sense if you have a crude understanding of what a moment force is – also understanding the absolute bare basics of fluid dynamics is enough to make you spit milk out your nose when you see their setup
  4. One of their people tried to get some friends of mine to cease standing like poles (as they were protesting). This began with dancing very very close to them and escalated to some kind of punching (I didn’t see it first-hand).
  5. To Reiterate: They blackmailed people to attend their concert, which was really a promo event where they were trying to snap a bunch of photos and the like

At the end of the day

Silo Entrance
Silo Entrance

At the end of the day I had a damned good time at Toor Camp 2009. I met a crap-ton of awesome people and had a great time learning, when I could take the heat.

I hope that as this was the first Toor Camp, the next one will secure a more suitable venue and for me that mainly entails much less dust, heat & drama.

The camp organizers nailed down some key features fairly well (stuff like providing electrical power, internet service, water, pseudo-showers and a few other things).