Data sonification with Sonic Pi + Planet (Labs)

Sweet logo by Tanya Harrison

Oh, man! Last week was Planet Hack 2020, and it brought together several of my favorite things:

  • Significant advancement in creating generative music with Sonic Pi! I love making music, and I want to produce license-free background tracks for my videos. I got a bunch of help from Sam Aaron, the creator of Sonic Pi... #goals, honestly.
  • Getting to mind-meld with my bestie, Moheeb, whom I haven’t been able to hang out with for ages because of you-know-what… plus, catch up a bit with Tanya Harrison (who created that SWEET logo…

Interviews from the past year at

Allow me to present six of the most talented humans I’ve ever met. It’s been my immense pleasure to interview these people about their work over the past year; I hope you enjoy these just as much as I did. Presented in order of appearance on the Hackster video channel, because I could never presume to rank them. :)

Jean Rintoul, Spectra (🐦 jeantoul)

Jean is an insightful innovator who works on hard problems, including in the biomedical realm. …

My retroreflective dress is a canvas for light art — and provides a bit of privacy, as well.

A couple years ago, I was playing with some leftover retroreflective fabric with Andy Lee. He’d ordered it from Alibaba to make garments, and we also used some of it to cover our tent while camping. (With headlamps on, we could spot it from hundreds of meters away!) After the trip, that fabric was fairly dusty, but I was entranced by it and didn’t want to throw it away… so into my stash it went.

In March of 2018, I dug…

This totally counts as pie.

We christened the Glowforge a year ago with Insta-Grahams, and we’re back with another terrible food idea!!

This year, since Pi Day is also a Throwback Thursday, I decided to go old-school with a reference to the Apple Newton. We happen to have these deceptively sugary snacks in the office:

Apple cinnamon flavor “Fig Bar” by Nature’s Bakery

…basically hipster Newtons. And of course, we have them in Apple Cinnamon flavor! So it’s clear what must be done:

Awesome maker tools and materials that didn’t fit in the podcast!

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly on their podcast, Cool Tools — which is exactly what it says on the tin. We ended up with a focus on livestreaming tools, which I use to broadcast video to Facebook and YouTube 3–4 days a week for

Since a half hour only lasts so long, here are some more sweet upgrades for your maker toolbox!


Disk Inventory X: I use this all the time, to find out what’s eating up my hard drive. Working with video leaves me with lots of large files…

International Space Party Time!

Yuri’s Night is the annual celebration of Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space! According to Adafruit, this is recognized by the UN as International Human Spaceflight Day, as established in 2011… but I have embarrassing pictures from a year before that.* (The About page indicates that Yuri’s Night has been going since 2001.)

My favorite part of Gagarin’s legacy is this quotation, which is roughly:

“Orbiting the earth in my spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and foster that beauty, and not destroy it.”

How to Celebrate?

Check out the interviews and citizen-science opportunities from my…

This is part of a series about last week’s eTextile Spring Break, held in Wassaic, NY. I sponged up a ton of knowledge about integrating electronics and textiles, including thermochromic pigments, soft interfaces, radio technology, and more! Here are my notes from the first workshop I attended.

Live demos at 1:00 and 5:30

We had a three-hour workshop on each of the first few mornings (with 2–3 options each time). I chose one on audio tech, taught by Adrian Freed and Martin De Bie. We worked with SparkFun’s Lilypad and Adafruit’s Gemma M0.

We got acquainted with a few Arduino…



We just got a Glowforge desktop laser cutter! (More specifically, I got a Glowforge and prayed to the gods of company reimbursement.) Someone was selling her Basic model locally, since she got a discount on a Pro.

Both models will cut/etch the same materials — wood, fabric, leather, paper, and more — but the Pro goes faster and has a pass-through slot so you can cut loooooooonnngg things. We don’t need a ton of throughput, in either sense, so the Basic’s fine.

Out of wrapping paper for last-minute gifts? Use mine! I made this custom, snowflake-inspired design in OnShape.

The DXF files below should be compatible with most laser cutters, but you can also export your own from OnShape (use the sketch, or the simpler drawing). Just set the laser to “etch” or “score” and tile the design. (Note that a densely-packed design may take a while to cut.) Looks great on plain brown paper!

Beautiful | Simple

(Major props to the andybot for using his laser!)

A quick guide for the curious.

We’re doing a hack day for Friday the 13th / Halloween, and a colleague asked: What is a PCB? What are they used for? Why do we need them?


PCB stands for printed circuit board. It’s the next step beyond a breadboard: like a template with all the wires already laid out, just waiting for you to solder on the components. A proto-board is also a PCB, usually laid out like a breadboard, and you apply solder instead of plugging wires in.

Pretty much any electronic circuit you’ll use is mounted on a PCB. It’s the physical foundation of…

Alex Glow

DIY robots, music, EEG, wearables, languages. FIRST alumna. Hardware Nerd @hacksterio. She/her

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store