Blog

Follow the thread

29th June 2020

Today we’re going to talk a bit about one of our favourite resources to get people being creative that ties in nicely with our connection to Hull Libraries.

Those of us of a certain age will no doubt remember the brilliance and wonder of a ‘choose your own adventure’ book. When our development manager was growing up it was Fighting Fantasy, but other page turners are available.

For those of you who missed out on this craze, basically it’s a book, but you don’t read it from cover to cover, you make choices. These choices lead you to jump around the book, maybe you chose to go left – turn to page 10… maybe you go right, flip to page 24. In this way, the story you experience is your own, and you can read the book again and again to get a different story. 

Now there are a number of ways you could recreate this at home, or in the classroom, but usually they involve lots of pages or lots of paper and people usually keep their thumb on the choice page (so they can go back and make a different choice if they don’t like the way their path takes them).

But what if it was possible to write an adventure and learn some basic web development and computer coding at the same time?

Well, thanks to the wonderful team over at www.twinery.org, it is!

There are two versions of the software available, one is hosted on their website and one that you can download to your laptop or computer. The good news is that the web version works on all devices, so you can even play with this on your smartphone or tablet. They both work basically the same, with only minor changes between them (and that’s only really when you get to the more complicated stuff).

Twine starts out very easy to use to create a story, but can grow to include real world programming skills and ideas. From changing colours in html to loops and if/then/else this can be a fun practical way to learn the basics of programming while exploring literature and creativity.

So, how do I get started?

We’d suggest heading over to www.twinery.org and tap/click ‘Use it online’.

You should now get a quick introduction to the tool, you can click or tap ‘Tell me more’ and this will explain a bit about the way Twine works but it does leave you pretty much on your own. You can hit ‘Skip’ to get going straight away.

You should now, have a screen like the one below (if not hit that ‘Ok’ a few times).

We need to click or tap on ‘+Story’ button to start our new story.

Green button with +Story text

 

 

 

Give it a name, so you can find it and play it later (or come back and make changes) and then choose ‘+Add’.

You should now have a screen that looks like graph paper with a small white ‘Untitled passage’ box in the middle of the screen. Do as it asks, and double click/tap the box to open your first passage.

Main screen for Twine website

This will be the start of our story, so delete the text that is already there and start telling your story. It helps if you talk to the reader, “you are in a room”, “you head to the north”, “you see…” all help to draw the reader into your/their adventure.

When you want to give the reader a choice you simply type each choice in square brackets [[ ]] like this…

[[You leave through the door]]
[[You climb out the window]]

The great thing about this tool is that once you’ve created these choices in your text, they’ll appear on the graph paper for you! Simply close the text window you’ve been typing in, and they’ll be there, connected by little arrows, something like this…

screenshot showing multiple options on twine

Now you can select each of these passages and continue your story. Remember that you can add as many choices and as many paths as you want. Make your adventure as big as you want it to be, the only limit is your imagination.

You don’t need to save the story, it does this as you go along behind the scenes, and if you leave the website, or accidentally close the browser your story should still be there when you go back to the website.

If you want to keep it forever, you can choose to archive your stories and this is download the code for your stories quickly and easily.

To play through what you’ve written then you simply need to click/tap the ‘Play’ button in the bottom corner.

Play button

 

 

 

To go back to the main screen, to start a new story or archive your work, simply use the Home button in the bottom left of the screen.

Home button and story name

 

 

 

Advanced Functions

There are some clever things you can do to hide the name of the passage from the reader, make text bold or italic , which we've listed below, and you can learn how to create inventories, have events take place if the reader has been somewhere else, and more..

You can change the text to "Bold", //italics//, AA superscriptAA, --strikethrough--, and <p>HTML tags</p> are available. 

To display special symbols without them being transformed, put them between 'backticks'. 

To link to another passage, write the link text and the passage name like this: [[link text->passage name]] or this: [[passage name<-link text]] or this: [[link text]]. 

Macros like (set:) and (display:) are the programming of your passage. If you've (set:) a Svariable, you can just enter its name to print it out. 

To make a 'hook', put [single square brackets] around text - or leave it empty [] - then put a macro like (if:), a $variable, or a lnametag> outside the front, Ilike>[so]. 

Hooks can be used for many things: showing text (if:) something happened, applying a (text-style:), making a place to (append:) text later on, and much more! 

There is a brilliant and comprehensive manual available online via the website if you want to take this further and learn more. There are also some brilliant examples of adventure games/stories made using Twine available online, just search for ‘Twine games’ in your search engine of choice.

Now if you’ll excuse us we’re going to [[make something fun]] or [[head back to the spreadsheets]].

If you'd like to share your stories with us, then please do get in touch via twitter or facebook we'd love to see them.

Making an impact

8th June 2020

 

We thought we'd take this opportunity to share one of our success stories. In the past year we've had some amazing makers pass through our workshop. Some came along and made something brilliant and went, others came because they wanted to learn and can't wait for us to be open again.

We'd like to focus this week on Feo, a member who has joined us for an amazing journey as you'll see...

Feo is autistic and came along to a workshop on how to use 'Adobe Illustrator for makerspaces'. As someone who has been traditionally denied access to “do 3D sculpture” in formal education, she had taken it upon herself to learn the basics and develop her own skills.

While Feo struggled at first to get to grips with the IT and the rather unique differences between the Apple Macs and Windows PCs she was more familiar with, she soon came back to the makerspace, hungry for more.

When she first visited the makerspace, Feo struggled to explain what she wanted help with and how her designs would look. She needed quite a lot of hands on assistance from our facilitators and technicians in order to articulate her ideas and designs.

After a few weeks, the team helped her to produce a piece of work based on a topographical map of Australia using Illustrator and the laser cutter to create a number of different coloured layers.

Thermal map of Australia
Laser cut 3D model of Australia

Feo regularly asked for help from the team, who patiently explained any limitations and where the software, her skills and ideas met. Working with Feo to break her ideas down to smaller starting points, the MakerspaceHull team helped boost her confidence as a creative and helped her develop the skills to create her own art work.For Feo, this wasn’t quite what she wanted, but she had picked up enough of the basics to feel confident enough to try things herself.

Recently, Feo has been exploring the nature of light in ice and crystalline forms. Developing her own designs in Illustrator and laser cutting them in the Makerspace.

Tracing snowflakes and icebergs and reshaping them into more recognisable structures as practice to increase her skills and confidence as well as explore her interest in 3D forms and light.

Laser cut 3D hearts in orange acrylic

 

Feo is benefiting from her time in the makerspace on a health level as well, with the team noticing an increase in confidence, a willingness to discuss her artwork with other members and an increase in how she articulates what she wants to do next.

Feo often still asks for help, but is able to now do a large amount of her Illustrator work on her own.

It’s amazing to see the Makerspace having such a profound effect on someone who felt that they had been excluded for so long - helping her to grow and to feel part of a community.

We’ll let Feo have the last word…

Touch-free sensor

1st June 2020

 

Our Development Manager, Matt, has been working from home since lock down began in March but hasn't let that stop him spending time improving some of his skills and trying to learn more about how to code.

Matt has dabbled in coding with python in the past with Raspberry Pi devices (and often helps out with Hull Raspberry Jam in the Central library), but thought it might be interesting to build something that reacted to a real world stimulus. The current situation with Covid-19 led him to attempt to build a touch free button. Something that you could interact with without touching it.

"I knew I had a load of ultrasonic sensors I'd bought a while back that I hadn't used yet and thought they'd be interesting to learn how to use. They use sound to determine the distance to an object and are often used in simple robots to stop them driving into walls. With a range of up to 4m, they're not great at accuracy, so I wouldn't use them to measure distances, but would be perfect for this project".

HC-SR04 Sensor

"I found an Instructable online (Which annoyingly I can't find again now) that would help me set the device up and get the basics of how to code the sensor. I was a little concerned because I didn't have the resistors used in the tutorial, but it seems to work without."

Raspberry Pi Zero with Sensor and LED

Once he had some code that told him the distance sensor reading he could then tweak it so that if it detected a low number it would activate an LED. A nice bit of physical feedback, but actually the first step to greater things. Matt could now tie the sensor and code into an online tool that would email him when the sensor was triggered. 

"I'm not really sure why I decided to do that, but I was on a bit of a roll and I thought it would be cool."

#Import the various libraries
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
from hcsr04sensor import sensor
from time import sleep
import requests

# set gpio pins
trig = 18
echo = 24
currentstate = 0
previousstate = 0

#Set flags for GPIO
GPIO.setwarnings(False)
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM)
GPIO.setup(21,GPIO.OUT)

#Actual code that does the sensor checking etc
while True:
        x = sensor.Measurement
        # Sensor can be affected by extreme temps - use default temp of 20 Celcius
        distance = x.basic_distance(trig, echo)
        print("The distance is {} cm".format(distance))

        if (distance) < 60:
                currentstate = 1 #If the sensor detects something close then set flag to 1
        else:
                currentstate = 0 #if not leave it alone

        if currentstate == 1 and previousstate == 0: #check if there has been a change in the flag and activate
                previousstate = 1
                print ("LED on")
                GPIO.output(21,GPIO.HIGH)
                requests.post('https://maker.ifttt.com/trigger/distance_low/with/key/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx...') #This is the bit with the key to send an email
                print ("email sent")

        elif currentstate == 1 and previousstate == 1: #check if the hand has been held over the sensor
                print "LED on"
                GPIO.output(21,GPIO.HIGH)
        else: #If sensor doesn't detect a change then leave LED off
                previousstate = 0
                print ("LED off")
                GPIO.output(21,GPIO.LOW)

        #cleanup gpio pins.
        GPIO.cleanup((trig, echo))
        sleep(1) #Pause for 1 second then loops back to while True above

 

 

What's next for this project?

"Well, I'm not sure if the Raspberry Pi Zero can work with more than one sensor so it might be cool to try and make a multi directional sensor set to 2m and power it from a mobile phone charger bank to make it a portable social distancing tool"

Did you know we have a 'Programming with Python' workshop? If you are interested in learning more about coding then why not follow us on Facebook or Twitter where we'll be announcing new workshop dates just as soon as we've worked out when they might be and how we can deliver them.

Creative cataloguing staff helping out

11th May 2020

 

Sarah, a member of the library cataloguing team (they make sure the new books are where you’d expect them to be and ensure they show up when you search for them), has been doing her bit to help our key workers while she’s been at home over the last few weeks.

She’s been using her computer controlled cutter at home to make ear savers for those who are wearing masks all day.

In her own words…

“I saw someone on a Facebook group for Cricut who had made some of the ear savers over in America and I thought that they looked a good idea.”

 

Image of Cricut computer controlled cutter

 

Sarah contacted a family member and a friend who are both nurses and asked if they would benefit from them if she made some - they both jumped at the offer and said a lot of them already have sores behind their ears. 

Importantly, Sarah also contacted the hospital directly to ask if they would like some donating and they said yes.

“I set to work using my Cricut Maker, the design is available if you subscribe to the Cricut Design Space. I'm using 300 micron book binding covers.  After a couple of failed attempts to cut the plastic I managed to tweak one of the settings so it cuts.  The material type setting I am using is Poster Board, I have edited this setting so it cuts with 350 pressure and multi-cuts 4 times.  Some of the other material settings may still work but this is what I've found works for me.”

 

Ear savers ready for collection

 

Sarah has already made over 1000 ear savers, and the nurses she knows have already collected some, with them going straight onto the wards that they are working on at both Hull Royal and Castle Hill Hospitals. 

“I have posted 500 to the hospital and also dropped some off at the local chemist when out collecting medication.

The feedback I've had has been positive and I will be making more this week.  Just glad that I can do something that hopefully helps a little bit.”

Well done Sarah!

If you have a cutter at home and want to help or just want to know more then why not head to the official Cricut Facebook page and find out more. 

 

Ear savers close up

 

Continuing to help key workers

4th May 2020

 

One of our newest team members, Anna, has been busy while on lock down. She's been working on her textiles skills.

Anna has been making scrubs (and scrubs bags) for local key workers at home. 

She has been using some calico fabric but didn't like the natural colour, so she has been dying it. She found some brown dye and has been using that.

 

Rubber gloves and dyed material



Once the material had been dyed and dried out on the washing line it was time to cut the material.

Dyed material hanging on a washing line drying
Material and paper template

 

With the patterns cut out to match the template, they were sewn together and the finished product looked like this! 

Finished scrubs hanging
Finished scrubs bags

 

If you are interested in helping out by making scrubs like these, then contact this group on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/2858325180919210/?ref=share

3D printing face shields from home

27th April 2020

 

Joe, our 3D printing guru, has been hard at work at home with his own printers. He’s working with partners at the Aura Innovation Centre to increase the print capacity of the face shields.

 

He’s also been working on how to increase the production of masks at home and a number of people have asked for more information on how he managed to get the print head to slide the finished print off the machine when done. This means that he can set the printer to produce a specific number of masks without interacting with the printer, increasing the numbers he can produce per day.

 

 

Using his own Ultimaker and these tweaks Joe is able to print batches of around 40 at a time.

He has shared a little ‘how-to’ using Cura to edit the g-code, which is posted below.

Be warned though, you’ll need to change some of the settings to match your own printer if you are going to have a try at this. So we recommend you only do this if you are familiar with your 3D printer and know what you are doing.

How to Auto print

Step 1 - In Cura go to settings, and select "manage printers"

Step 2 - Choose the printer you wish to use, and click "machine settings"

Step 3 - With machine settings open, you should see a text box titled "End G-code" Copy this G-code into the box, and adjust the blank X Y and Z numbers to work with your 3D printer.
 

M104 S0 ;extruder heater offG1 X95 Y100 Z30 F3000 ;Move up and centre  EDIT FOR YOUR 3D PRINTER
M106 S255 ; Cool the bed
M190 R36 ;Wait for bed to reach temp before proceeding
M106 S0 ; turn off the fan completely
G1 X95 Y100 Z1 F3000 ;Lower  EDIT FOR YOUR 3D PRINTER
G1 X95 Y1 Z1 F2400;Remove print  EDIT FOR YOUR 3D PRINTER
G1 x95 Y1 Z30 F2400 ; Rise EDIT FOR YOUR 3D PRINTER
G1 X95 Y195 Z30 F2400 ; back EDIT FOR YOUR 3D PRINTER
G1 X95 Y195 Z0.5 F2400 ; Lower EDIT FOR YOUR 3D PRINTER
G1 X95 Y1 Z0.5 F2400 ; Push off EDIT FOR YOUR 3D PRINTERG91 ;relative positioning
G1 E-1 F300 ;retract the filament a bit before lifting the nozzle, to release some of the pressure
G1 Z+0.5 E-5 X-20 Y-20 F9000 ;move Z up a bit and retract filament even more
G28 X0 Y0 ;move X/Y to min endstops, so the head is out of the way
M84 ;steppers off
G90 ;absolute positioning

Step 4 - Once you are happy with your printer settings, save and export the g-code file

Step 5 - Make a copy of the G-code file

Step 6- Open / edit the file with notepad

Step 7 - Copy the G-code in the file, scroll down to the bottom and paste the code again in a new line.

Repeat Step 7 for as many copies of the print you wish to make.