Runesketch Alpha ready!

The loins of #makgammon (make a game month) are bearing fruit. Runesketch the collectable card game is ready for alpha testers. When Runesketch was aired for #makgammon, common feedback was that the rules were incomprehensible, the multi player was hugely buggy to the point of being unplayable and generally it looked like a game that Read more about Runesketch Alpha ready![…]

When Git on Dropbox conflicts – No problem

I recently wrote about a free way of running version control without owning a server, by hosting a remote repository in a Dropbox folder. One concern raised about using git on Dropbox was “what happens if people push at the same time”. The fear is that the conflicts would irrecoverably corrupt the git repository and cause a headache. Of course we have the local backups of data, but there was a nagging doubt that perhaps a corrupted server could corrupt a local repository. Anyway I tested what really happens by doing it, and learn a bit about git in the process.


I wrote a script that commits random data and pushes to a bare repository hosted on Dropbox. After push blasting the Dropbox folder with 1,000 pushes from 2 machines in parallel, syncronisation with Dropbox took ages longer than usual (10 minutes)

PCB ordering

Janek “hand soldered BGAs” Mann has just published his extensive PCB prototyping buying experience. [Addition by Al] And Hacklab member Peter Jackson (@greenhac, not the Lord of the Rings guy) is documenting his experiences with laying out his first board and ordering prototypes from Seeed Studio on his blog.

Easy Version Control: Git on Dropbox

The problem: you need to share files with people on an ad hoc basis for a project.

One choice is sharing files with Dropbox. On the plus side of Dropbox is it’s ease of use, however, there is a drawback that if you work on the same files you get “My conflicted copy of x” spawning everywhere and making a mess. If you are coding you will trip over other author’ changes.

To work around that problem you need version control. But that can come with baggage. You’ll need a server to run a git/svn/cvs (infrastructure), or a project on GitHub/sourceforge/google code (open source requirement, or pro account). Some projects don’t have these resources or freedoms, so they do without version control, but there is another way…

You can run the best version control software from inside a Dropbox folder! (or Google Drive) Running git from a Dropbox folder does not require spending money, having a server or open sourcing files. Because git compresses its repositories, it also reduces your Dropbox quota usage. Awesome! And it is easy to install. In this article I will show you how to set everything up properly, and give you a quick user guide to git incase you (or your collaborators)  have not used it before. By the end you should be able to setup and use git like a true intermediate.

A Hacker/Maker festival is starting in the UK!

Camping + exuberance + technology = ?

A number of us from Edinburgh hacklab are going to the FIRST EMF camp in September. It might interest you, so here’s some information on the event from the organisers…

Electromagnetic Field ( is a great gathering of specialists, enthusiasts and newcomers from many disciplines. A three-day camping festival for people with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, scientists, craftspeople, geeks, and engineers. There will be talks and workshops on a wide range of subjects as well as open sessions where anyone who wants to kick off a discussion can claim a time and a space. But connections are as important as curricula, so expect many opportunities to get making with new friends or just have a drink and a chat.


Optical Localization to 0.1mm? No problemo!

Quick recap, “the mission”: we want to build an affordable open source industry quality robot arm. We think we can make it out of low quality components but stick an accurate sensor on the end effector (the ‘hand’) and sidestep the huge costs of precision mechanical components. Web cams are cheap, and people already own computers capable of the required visual processing, so we think that optical localization is a better strategy for many applications that researchers, entrepreneurs and engineers might like to do – if we can get the optical localization accurate enough.

Last time we calibrated our £18 Microsoft LiveCam 3000, and experimented using Vision Visp’s moving edge tracker. We found that the moving edge required a highly accurate object and we could not build one to the 0.1mm accuracy target we set ourselves. Furthermore, the actual moving edge tracker was not particularly CPU friendly, so we decided to pursue a different strategy this time.