the funny thing about making some sort of electrical engineering shit for thesis is it feels like feminist frivolity because who does this shit for fun. gonna delete this after graduation when i try to be a legit person.

“…no more than there is any innocent medium can there be any painless transmission.”
— Régis Debray, quoted in CTRL(SPACE)

current status

Finishing up my last class at ITP called Towers of Power, which is about DIY cell phone towers like openBTS and some open-source cell phone modules like the ArduinoGSMShield.

I had the silly idea that it’d be fun to make a phone that worked when my hand is in the old-school phone formation. Like so:

To do this, I used the ArduinoGSMShield on an Arduino along with an 8 Ohm speaker I found in the junk shelf. My main goal was to use this Knowles MEMs Slim UltraMini SiSonic Microphone SPU0410HR5H-1.

It’s a tiny surface mount microscope from Knowles that works SURPRISINGLY well. Like really, really well. Has an op-amp in it too.

So this could work like this: (I’m exhausted)

Long story, short - pretty sure the microphone wasn’t working at all. I borrowed it from Ben because he had already soldered a bunch and I didn’t have the time and he had extras. I put it through an oscilloscope and got nothing. I need to re-work the circuit and probably move to Benedetta’s GSM shield because it worked for everyone

The GSM shield worked to send texts and to call using the Arduino GSM code. But I need to rework the hardware. And my other thought was to figure out how to send serial data from the XBee to the GSM shield so I could make it wireless.

Found this hole-y glove in the wood shop:

More info on surface mount technology here, from Michelle Temple’s circuit design class.


Sister Ramona Africa, the only adult survivor, speaks on the May 13, 1985 Philadelphia police terror-bombing of the MOVE family house:

They bombed us [on May 13, 1985] because of our unrelenting fight for our family members, known as the MOVE 9, who have been in prison unjustly going on thirty-two years now, as a result of the August 8th, 1978 police attack on MOVE. I just wanted to make that clear. 

In terms of the bombing, after being attacked the way we were, first with four deluge hoses by the fire department and then tons of tear gas, and then being shot at—the police admit to shooting over 10,000 rounds of bullets at us in the first ninety minutes—there was a lull. You know, it was quiet for a little bit. And then, without any warning at all, two members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s bomb squad got in a Pennsylvania state police helicopter and flew over our home and dropped a satchel containing C4, a powerful military explosive that no municipal police department has. They had to get it from the federal government, from the FBI. And without any announcement or warning or anything, they dropped that bomb on the roof of our home. 

Now, at that point, we didn’t know exactly what they had done. We heard the loud explosion. The house kind of shook. But it never entered my mind that they dropped a bomb on us. But the bomb did in fact ignite a fire. And not long after that, it got very, very hot in the house, and the smoke was getting thicker. At first we thought it was tear gas. But as it got thicker, it became clear that this wasn’t tear gas, that this was something else. And then we could hear the trees outside of our house crackling and realized that our home was on fire. And we immediately tried to get our children, our animals, our dogs and cats, and ourselves out of that blazing inferno. 

The adults were hollering out that we’re coming out, we’re bringing the children out. The children were hollering that they were coming out, that we were bringing them out. And we know that the police heard us. But the instant, the very instant, that we were visible to them, you know, trying to come out, they immediately opened fire. We were met with a barrage of police gunfire. And you could see it hitting all around us, all around the house. And it forced us back in to that blazing inferno, several times. And finally, you know, you’re in a position where either you choke to death and burn alive or you possibly are shot to death. 

So we continued to try to get out of that house. And I got out. I got Birdie out. You could hear the shots hitting all around us. A cop grabbed Birdie, took him into custody, grabbed me, they threw me down on the ground and handcuffed, you know, me behind me, in the back of me. And I just knew that everybody else had gotten out. They were right behind me. And I didn’t find out until police took me to the homicide unit of the police administration building that there were no other survivors. 

(via liberationtechnologiesamc)

Steps to printing your own circuit board.

Navigating the Really Real

I was biking over the bridge this morning thinking about how I will frame my thesis for people. How I want it to be talked about two to three years from now. And I think it is this - it is an experiment in navigating the really real.

How do we know what messages are true? How do we even know what is true in society today? How have we been taught to decipher the innumerable messages surrounding us? Is there enough nuance that many things can be true? How do we navigate the fact that that almost every message we see is in some form a manipulative lie designed to get you to consume something that is probably not helpful for the world? There are so many layers. There are so many “yes, and…“‘s that exist.

How do we navigate the fact that we are staring our own success in the face - that we already know that the solution to all of our problems is working together with others to fix it. That “making the world a better place” involves the removal of those in power, of power structures that repeatedly support the ruling class and the status quo. We know this. We really, really know this. We know we’re headed for destruction. We know that those in power have enacted mass violence against the planet and will not suffer the consequences.

And so, my thesis. What are the use case scenarios for these things? Where would it make something “more real” to use a cell phone jammer? A way of finding our way. A way to no way. A way in itself. A way as itself.

I shot the shit with some cool dudes on the Undergrowth podcast. And yes, I go in on drones, PGP, js sdks, bike touring and advertising (thats just the first hour).

  1. The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.

  2. The Critical Engineer raises awareness that with each technological advance our techno-political literacy is challenged.

  3. The Critical Engineer deconstructs and incites suspicion of rich user experiences.

  4. The Critical Engineer looks beyond the ‘awe of implementation’ to determine methods of influence and their specific effects.

  5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user’s dependency upon it.

critical engineering manifesto this was the first thing i put on my locker at ITP. (via itpthesis2014)


Finally got a triangle wave generated with the LM1458 integrated circuit. It turns out being really, really precise is very important!

Working on some stuff.

A Firefox addon that appends politicians and brands with their corporate owners.

A Firefox addon that slowly deprecates the internet.

A cell phone jammer circuit - designing, prototyping and printing it. It’s really complicated and difficult.

Schematic and circuit design for a basic amplifier using a LM386 chip. You can plug your ipod into a speaker powered by a 9V battery. The schematic was based off of Mark Kleeb’s. More to come.