All posts by Windell Oskay

About Windell Oskay

Co-founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

Linkdump: September 2015

Thoughts on OSHW and OSHW certification

OSHWA, the Open Source Hardware Association, recently released a proposal for what they are calling Open Source Hardware Certification.  With some paraphrasing and handwaving, their proposal boils down to this:

  1. OSHWA will create a new logo and trademark it.
  2. To license this new trademark, you would need to agree to a contract that says:
    1. We will only put this trademark on open source hardware (as defined in the open hardware definition).
    2. If we use the logo otherwise (and do not stop when OSHWA repeatedly asks to stop), we agree to pay a hefty fine.

OSHWA has not yet fleshed out the details — neither the new logo nor the exact contents of that license contract. It’s easy to be cynical about stuff like this. But instead, let’s please give them the benefit of the doubt and suppose that when those details arrive, it turns out that they’ve done a superb job: the contract ends up to be simple, well thought-out, straightforward and does just what it says.

Maybe the new trademarked logo would look something like this mock-up:

placeholder oshwa certified logo

Given all of that, would there be a good case for some people to use this certification process? I have mixed thoughts on it. But on the whole, I’m tending towards a “probably.”

Continue reading Thoughts on OSHW and OSHW certification

Maker Faires and the BIYSL

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

This month I’ll be traveling to Maker Faires in Portland, Oregon, and New York City to sign and talk about my book, The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory. That, of course, is the new, updated version of Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory, the classic 1960’s hands-on science book by Raymond E. Barrett.

The Portland Mini Maker Faire is being held September 12-13 at OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I’ll be speaking on the Innovation stage at 11 AM on September 12. This is a bit of a homecoming for the book: Raymond Barrett was the Education Director at OMSI when he originally wrote the book.

The World Maker Faire is September 26 and 27 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. I’ll be speaking on the DIY stage on both days.

Bonus: During O’Reilly’s Back to School sale (through September 17), you can get the E-book version of The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory for 50% off using discount code B2S5.

Evil Mad Engineers

Every month or two since 2009, someone has sent me a copy of a particular comic from the webcomic Cowbirds in Love.  Here is today’s example, from @benk_at_work on twitter:

@benk_at_work tweets...

evil mad engineers @ cowbirds in love



There is, of course, only one appropriate way to respond in a situation like this: with another comic.

Back in 2011, I wrote an era-appropriate semi-autobiographical rage comic, that I could use as a standard response when people sent me that comic.


Joking aside, we really do spend a lot of our time engineering— and many of our friends and colleagues are bona fide engineers. On the other hand, I love to cook, but that doesn’t make me a chef either.

Linkdump: July 2015

XL741: Principles of Operation


Our two “dis-integrated circuit” kits are the Three Fives Discrete 555 Timer, and the XL741 Discrete Op-Amp. These two kits are functional, transistor-level replicas of the original NE555 and μA741 (respectively), which are two of the most popular integrated circuits of all time.

Last year, we wrote up a detailed educational supplement for the Three Fives kit, that works through its circuit diagram and discusses its principles of operation down to the transistor level. Today, we are doing the same for the XL741 kit, and releasing an educational supplement that explains how a ‘741 op-amp IC works internally, down to its bare transistors and resistors:

XL741 Documentation (PDF)

This ability to peek inside the circuit makes the XL741 a unique educational tool. In what follows, we’ll work through the circuit diagram, discuss the theory of operation of the ‘741 op-amp, and present some opportunities for experiments and further exploration.

You can download the supplement here: XL741 Principles of Operation (1.1 MB PDF)

Additional Resources:




Linkdump: June 2015

A Lego Mosaic Printer

JK Brickworks made this amazing “pick and place” style Lego Mosaic Printer:

It is built entirely using LEGO parts. It first uses the EV3 colour sensor to scan the source image and save the data on the Mindstorms unit. It can then print multiple copies from the saved image data. The 1×1 plates used for ‘printing’ the mosaic are supplied using a gravity feed system and the printing head is simply a 1×1 round plate that can pick up and place the 1×1 plates.

More information about this project can be found at JK Brickworks.

Politicians To Poop: A Chrome extension

Politicians To Poop

Politicians To Poop is a new extension for the Chrome web browser that replaces the names of presidential candidates (US, 2016) with the “pile-of-poo” emoji. Options allow you to “poopify” the names of Democrats, Republicans, or both.

Politicians To Poop is available now, for free, at the Chrome web store.


Politicians To Poop

Politicians To Poop

Politicians To Poop

Possible reasons that you might want to use this extension include:

  • You are from outside the US, and don’t need to hear these names every day.
  • You are temporarily overloaded by the amount of poop that the candidates sling at one another.
  • Because it is funny.

No judgement upon any of the named individuals, nor their platforms, parties, or beliefs is either implied or intended. This is intended to be an equal-opportunity text replacement tool, for the good of all humanity.

More information:
This project was inspired by Millennials to Snake People. Much more information including source code, the list of names, and additional attribution is available at our GitHub repository.

The books are in!

Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory has arrived! We’ve got them in stock and are now offering signed copies at our store, too!

“Would you like to know more?” I’ll be speaking about the book at Maker Faire this weekend, on the DIY stage. Scheduled times are Friday at 2:30pm, Saturday at 10:30am, and Sunday at 4pm.