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Sunnydale resident Eric Schaepler is a Google hardware engineer by day, and a serious alpha maker by night. Among other “down time” accomplishments, Schaepler placed second in the “minimalist” category in Jeri Ellsworth and Chris Gammell’s 2011 555 timer contest (with his 555 AM radio), and collaborated with Windell Oskay and Lenore Edman over at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories on the design of their gorgeous transistor/resistor-based “giant 555 timer” kit.

EMSL Three Fives kit.

EMSL’s “Three Fives” discrete-component 555 timer, which Schaepler helped design.

Back in 2011, Ellsworth caught up with Schaepler at Bay Area Maker Faire and got him on camera talking enthusiastically about his abiding interest in “retro” display devices, including Panaplex 7-segment characters, “one-plane readout” or IEE displays, Nixie tubes, and cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Here’s that video:

MF14BA_Badge-01We were excited to learn that Schaepler is going be joining us at Bay Area Maker Faire again this year, where he’ll be showing off several vector graphics demos running on vintage WWII radar-display CRTs. He’s promised “a 3D rotating cube, gravitational orbit simulator, radar PPI display, and maybe even an analog clock face,” and hinted at the possibility — “if we finish in time” — of a mini arcade cabinet running an old vector-graphics game like Asteroids or Gravitar. If you’re going to be in the Bay Area the weekend of May 17, don’t miss the chance to stop by Eric’s Tube Time booth, meet him in person, and pick his amazing brain.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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