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research projects

Off-grid power peripherals (Chris Carrick)

This project explores different possibilities for off-the-grid power charging peripherals for the XO. This includes evaluating the performance, lifecycle, human factors issues and feasibility of existing power options for the XO and expanding this list to include other existing peripherals. Chris is also working on the development of new power generating peripherals, particularly focusing on using appropriate technologies to allow users to develop simple power generating systems from scratch with minimal need for imported components. Results from this summer will be compiled into a “power generation” guide to help both XO users and developers learn from these findings and continue to help develop new power systems for the XO or for other applications.

Signal processing on the XO (Nikki Lee)

It should be possible to allow children to do fairly sophisticated signal processing work on the XO by using the camera and microphone as primary inputs and doing image and audio processing. As a first step, Nikki will work on edge detection and edge tracing in order to develop motion detection using the camera. Motion detection can be integrated with a number of existing Activities. Additional signal processing work might include audio processing, such as developing filters for microphone input. Such filters could potentially work in conjunction with introductory circuits educational content in demonstrating high-pass and low-pass filters. Emphasis will be placed on making the interfaces to the signal processing tools adapted/produced as transparent as possible so that children will be able to manipulate them.

Science Lab In A Box (Andrea Lai)

Andrea is designing a science "kit" for use with the XO that includes curriculum designs for various experiments and topics along with software and hardware/sensors to support these. She will be focusing on physics (mechanics, E&M) as well as an introduction to RC circuits and working with local students and teachers to design and field-test experimental apparati, as well as exploring new uses of current Activities (with particular emphasis on Measure).

Green machine: The environmental impact of XOs (Mia Kato)

Language learning through RPGs (Melanie Kim)

Accessibility (Mel Chua)

office space

I'm meeting with Christine Volpe today, the downtown realtor contact, at 2008/05/15 2:30pm cst. User:Shekay

dumping chat for refactoring later

(11:22:37 AM) smiguez@ I think downtown office space is a bad idea. It is probably going to be too
espensive. we should probably check out places along various metra places
(11:22:38 AM) Lisa Beal: For such a short-term lease, you might sublet
(11:22:59 AM) smiguez@ I think the Ravenswood stop, for example, might be good due to nearness
to both a metra stop and an el stop
(11:23:06 AM) Lisa Beal: you might be more central and less $$
(11:23:46 AM) Lisa Beal: I seem to remember seeing a map of office space cost vs. zip code someplace online ... worth a look
(11:23:48 AM) smiguez@ check the talk section of that page if you want to add more dcomments
(11:23:59 AM) smiguez@ I'll google that. I'll just talk to the person today without making any
(11:24:12 AM) Lisa Beal: a 3-month (June 1-August 31) rental will be tough

Meeting notes for 200 S Wacker

> Hey Sheila;
> Just wondering if you ever visited the office and what you thought of it if
> you did.
> Thanks,
> Kevin


Archana and I visited the office and walked through the facilities. We
don't have a price quote yet, and I didn't have a camera with me since
mine is broken but I should be getting a price quote and pictures
soon. If not, I'll call with a gentle reminder.

Here are answers to the crib sheet

> Checklist
> -----------
> 1. How big is it? (We are looking for 400-1000 square feet, ~700 sq. ft
> ideal)

The most affordable space will be 400 sqft in an interior space.
Places with windows or more space are more expensive.

> 2. Is it easily accessible via public transport? Which trains/buses go by
> it? (Easy accessibility from the suburbs is a bonus.)

200 S Waker is convenient to the Dearborn brownline CTA stop, and the
Union Station metra stop. I used to work in this building.

> 3. Is it handicap-accessible?


> 4. Is it open to us 24/7? How does building access work - do we get a key?
> Is there a security system? What is the neighborhood like?

It is available 24/7, the fulltime staff would have key cards, the
neighborhood is fine.

> 5. What kind of internet access is available in the area? If possible, what
> kinds of plans are available from whom, and how much will it cost?

Internet access of varying degrees would be included in a service
package of $325/month for 1-5 users. The service package includes

Telephone system
Kitchen amenities
unlimited local and long-distance calls in the US

I have a brochure that breaks these down into more detail.

> 6. What is the floorplan like? (Open floorplans are a plus.)

I have a paper floorplan and can scan it in when I have access to a
scanner. It is not open. It's more like hallways with rooms coming off
of them. The office we saw had desks that would comfortably seat 4
people, and probably 5. We could arrange the area as we like, and some
of you might have good space/design skills to make it more open

> 7. Is it furnished?


> 8. Is parking available (how many spaces? private or public? how much does
> it cost?) Ideally we would love to have at least one parking space reserved
> for the Turtlemobile, our mobile office that goes around doing outreach to
> local libraries/schools/groups.


Though I did ask, and this company manages similar office space in the
Chicago-land area including suburbs. If you get a space farther away
from the loop you'll likely have easier parking.

> 9. What utilities are included in the rent? Which ones aren't? How much do
> those typically cost? (Water, heat/gas, AC, electricity...)

Utilities are included.

> 10. Does the office have bathrooms within it or nearby?

Yes, and kitchenettes.

> 11. Is having a microwave/fridge/toaster in the office ok? Small
> electronic/mechanical fabrication devices (oscilloscopes, soldering irons,
> dremels)? We may be doing some light modifications to computer peripheral
> prototypes as part of our work with making the XO accessible to disabled
> students. If needed, we can bring our own workbench and put sheeting down on
> the floor before working.

The kitchenettes have microwave/fridge (toasters?) coffee machines and
such. I asked about the rest and didn't get an immediate no so we'll
probably be okay though I think you should go into more detail to be

> 12. Modifications to the office - what can/can't we do with the space? Hang
> posters? Paint the walls? Put signs on the windows? (Use your judgment on
> this one. If it's a beautiful office, we probably won't do anything to it
> except perhaps put up a poster or two. If it could use some paint, then...
> ask if we can paint.)

It would probably cost us to paint the walls, and the place doesn't
need new paint.

The space I saw had no windows, so no signs on windows there. :)

They seems okay with hanging art.

> 13. How is maintenance and repair of the property handled?

It is included.

> 14. Any other questions/notes you might think of here.

I think if you take this space and if you are not careful you will get
nickled and dimed from services that are not included in the package
such as cost per copy, printouts, faxes, personal answering service,
meeting room bookings etc.

On the other hand, it sounds convenient that you could rent a training
room or meeting areas, including spaces in their properties throughout
the area.

Is this the Chicago summer project?

Mel, is this what you were talking about back around March? If so, count me in. Contact me, info on my user page, or through my talk.

Rmyers 18:03, 15 May 2008 (EDT)

Budget draft

A total strawman. Don't hold me to this in any way. Current total $17,060. Call it a round $20k. Note that all our staffers are unpaid volunteers, and that housing/food is mostly taken care of while we're in Chicago.

  • Boston expenses - $3040
    • Housing, training period - $600/wk x 4 weeks = $2400
    • Food, training period - $100/wk x 4 weeks = $400
    • T passes, $15/week x 4 weeks x 4 people = $240
  • Office rent + utilities, 2-3 months - $2500
  • Mobile office - $900
    • 20 XOs - $0, developers program (hopefully. will return at end of summer.)
    • School server - $700 for hardware (small form factor) + active antenna
    • Storage bins and padding for all of the above - $100
    • Lots of USB flash drives - $100 (~10 1-gig cheap ones)
  • Travel for staffers to/from Chicago - $1200
    • 4 people at ~$300/person (either driving = gas + hotel + food, or flying) = $1200
  • Research budget - $5200
    • Chris - mechanical fabrication, needs lots of stock materials, basic tool access. $1500
    • Nikki - image processing, mostly with computers, maybe needs some books. $500
    • Andrea - school kit prototyping, needs sensors, communications equipment, etc. $1200
    • Mia - environmental impact studies, needs books, sensors - $500
    • Melanie - language-learning RPG - needs books, other game-type resources - $500
    • Mel - accessibility, needs electronics prototyping equipment, books, etc - $1000
  • Travel within Illinois - $2520
    • Daily commuting - say 40 miles/day driving, IRS estimates cost-per-mile at 50 cents per mile, this is $20/day for ~60 days = $120
    • Teaching classes/bootcamps/workshops outside the metro area w/ mobile office - say avg. is a 400 mile roundtrip (chicago-springfield) and we take 6 such trips - need 2 cars to fit everyone. 400 * 2 * 6 * 0.50 = $2400
  • Swag - $1700
    • Shirts - 200 shirts for volunteer thank-yous, at ~$6 each = $600 (could recoup by charging for shirts at-cost)
    • Screwdrivers - 200 XO-repair sized screenprinted screwdrivers for workshop participants and general "take things apart" distribution - $500. Also could recoup by charging for these at-cost.

Help us decide what spare parts to stock!

Please take a moment before Friday, May 20, 2008 to fill out a 7-question survey about what you've been doing with your repair center so far. This will help us figure out what to stock in the spare-parts store - more at the announcement here. Thanks! Mchua 09:17, 23 May 2008 (EDT)

Phone for Wacker Drive Office?

Is there a phone number for the ILXO Wacker drive office? None listed on web page. Rmyers 19:31, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

We do now! 617-401-7221, and this will soon be posted on the website. Mchua 17:57, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

Some interesting projects: How did it go? website not working, and few updates found, so wondering if it was funded, is there an exec summary of the project results, etc?

danceswithcars 19:58, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

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