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Hi pals!

I'm Cinnamon. You may have seen me around Scuttlebutt for the last couple of years, mostly thinking about usability and harassment prevention.

My current project is Earthstar, which is similar to Scuttlebutt but designed for usability from the beginning.

Also: procedural art, music, drawing, photography.

Today's Earthstar Picnic livestream starts in 20 minutes! Join us in our Discord:

gwil will be demoing a forum-like app made with Earthstar, we'll answer questions, etc etc.

Figured out how to set vanilla Arduino devices to negotiate lower USB power draw, so they work when plugged into iOS devices.

Now I can play my Thumble on the go!

I'm using an old iPod touch as a small MIDI synth with battery, speakers & headphone output. Can anyone recommend another option that (besides building one)? Ideally that takes MIDI in through USB?

Does anybody know how to change the USB current draw that an Arduino type device requests when you plug it in? The Thumble its rejected by iOS devices because it requests 500ma, which is far more than it needs.

I know this is changeable in the DFU bootloader used by QMK mechanical keyboards, but I am using the default Caterina bootloader that works with the vanilla Arduino IDE, to make the project easier for anyone to make.

The board is an Adafruit Feather 32u4 basic proto.

Big thanks to two friends who did the woodworking and soldering for me while I was sick. πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Also I was surprised that Figma was a sufficient CAD program for making the laser cutting design. I would have learned more open software if I wasn't in such a hurry but it worked out.

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The Thumble is done!

A DIY midi controller made from microcontroller, keyboard switches, & laser cut plywood. open hardware, GPL firmware.

I added build photos and a Lessons Learned section at the end. This is surprisingly different to play than my previous instrument, the Waffletone - dancing thumbs instead of stationary fingers make a big difference. Next time I'll use flatter stiffer keys and spread them out a bit more.


And most importantly, we can keep messing with it after it's built. I don't have to pre-plan the entire thing in my head up front in the computer.

Working with the material, being able to touch it and adjust it, is really great. There was a corner in the way of the USB cable and we just cut it off.

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I don't know much about old-school woodworking, I've only done CNC and laser designs. This limits designs to be very 2d, flat-pack, subtractive in nature, with complex joints and lots of bolts and stacked layers.

Working with my friend who has a proper woodshop has been so freeing. You mean we can glue things instead of using fasteners? We can join things at random angles? We can bevel, we can drill holes at 30 degrees? So much 3d thinking, it's very different than I'm used to.

Having local access to a laser cutter is so nice! You can iterate and iterate designs on scrap cardboard without long distance shipping delays.

A friend is sanding down the Thumble for me and keycaps arrived in the mail.

Usually mechanical keyboards are built from laser-cut acrylic plates, but I've used plywood instead. The keys won't quite snap in, they'll have to be glued instead, but wood is so much... rounder, more forgiving to work with and nicer to touch.

I didn't make a custom PCB either, I just made this weird plywood plate with little holes and I'm hoping glue will be enough to hold the keys.

Learning to glue laser-cut plywood layers for the Thumble MIDI controller. Apparently the correct amount of clamps is always More Clamps

Building a MIDI controller that's shaped like a video game controller! You play it with your thumbs.

It uses the Shepard Tone audio illusion to let you wrap around the edges seamlessly, ascending or descending forever.

(If you're opposed to touching Discord as we work to replace it, please let us know what's acceptable to you.

We used to use Matrix but have been able to reach a wider audience of less-technical developers and users using Discord, which is one of our core goals)

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There will be more of these office hours / picnics soon, but if you're interested don't hold back, I won't be around forever and we'd love some help!

We're aiming to get grants but have not yet; otherwise this is an anticommercial and anticapitalist project, helping communities own and control their own communications infratstructure.

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The context is that I'm stepping back slowly due to big health problems and we want to share the knowlege about how Earthstar works before I'm out of the picture.

Earthstar aims to fill a niche in the p2p/distributed space: closed, invite-only groups that are hosted in a distributed way, with a focus on accessibility, user safety, and code simplicity. It's sort of CouchDB but collaborative, or Scuttlebutt for smaller groups and you can delete your messages.

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Gwil and I are having video office hours tomorrow (at 18:00 UTC, which is 11am Los Angeles). We'll be discussing what's going on with Earthstar, how you can help out if you want, answering questions... maybe we'll livecode something, who knows?

This will take place on our Discord (sorry for proprietary platform, we're getting there):

(Earthstar is our little GPL project to replace Discord and Slack and other collaborative tools with decentralized ones.)

I forgot to say, here's a pub server you can use if you don't want to run your own


And here's how to run your own. The easiest way is to fork my Glitch pub.

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You're invited to the Discord server. This is a good time to get involved, we could use some extra help. It's just a few of us volunteers on this anti-commercial project. (Blockchain-free!)

We're making something that's sorta halfway between Scuttlebutt, DAT, CouchDB, Dropbox, and Slack.

Distributed but with a heavy focus on simplicity and accessibility to users and developers. We think communities should own and control their own communications tools.

Other recent news from your favorite poorly advertised mutual-aid distributed communications protocol:

* We're moving our docs to a proper docs site

* IndexedDb support is coming soon, allowing for larger workspaces

* Now we have a graph database too!

* Soon it'll be much easier to handle complex data like blogs, comments, kanban tasks, etc which can be collaboratively edited

* React-earthstar is getting simpler

I'm happy with how things are turning out!

is coming along!

I used it to build a little visual timer app I use every day. It syncs with a pub server I run on and a raspberry pi under my desk.

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Revel in the marvels of the universe. We are a collective of forward-thinking individuals who strive to better ourselves and our surroundings through constant creation. We express ourselves through music, art, games, and writing. We also put great value in play. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.