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Madame Oracle

The Research Library

Calliope Collacott (a.k.a. Madame Oracle/DEUS-X) holds a Master's of Library and Information Science and thus has an affinity for information. Her overloaded shelves might also clue you in to this fact. As a fan of Science, Fiction, and Science Fiction is it any wonder that she ended up assisting with the informational needs of Dr. Geek's Lab? Her interests would fill an alphabet, after all.

Fun fact: She's always wanted to be the voice of a slightly creepy computer. Perhaps that's why the DEUS-X machine sounds like her. Who can say?

The mysterious Madame may also be heard on the Doctor Who podcast, Articles of the Shadow Proclamation.

To contact Madame Oracle or DEUS-X directly, email her at: and follow her at

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I’m not very good at sticking with one project alone, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to you all to know that I’ve also gotten my bits and pieces together to work on an Arduino project.

At this point, I’m sure that some of you are wondering what the heck an “Arduino” is. Well, let me tell you:

“Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.”   – Arduino –

More specifically, though, we are talking about the Arduino Board (or generic equivalent), which is basically a tiny computer that can help you do things like…make Robots.

You see why I’m so interested.

Sadly, I have a bit of work to do before I can build my robot army.  The book I will be working from is a bit out of date, so if you want more info, you can probably find it on the Arduino website.  If you have a hankering to follow along as I limp my way slowly through, you can do so with Beginning Arduino by Michael McRoberts.

Apparently, my first project will be an LED Flasher.  But first, I have to do some set up.

Cue the ominous music.

Well, I’ve actually started working on the “Tracked Vehicle Chassis Kit,” and surprisingly, even when dealing with tiny parts like this:

my not-really-that-steady hands have managed to make both the switch and the battery compartment! (The battery compartment is the white thing on the top left in the photo below.)

So, overall a successful start!  I had to get a little help from my husband to get the first tiny metal piece through the plastic back of the switch, as my nails are mightily brittle, but I managed the rest by myself.

Sense of accomplishment is go!

I recently developed a sudden interest in electronics.

…Okay, that’s not strictly speaking true.  I’ve had a vague interest in electronics for ages now, but I’ve been too lazy to do much about it. (I got as far as starting one project a while back, but it’s still sitting half-done on top of one of my bookcases. Don’t get too close.  It’s dusty.)

What well and truly caught my interest this time? Well…it was several things that I ran across in rapid succession: the Raspberry Pi, Arduino Boards, Lego Mindstorms, and an interesting electronics kit.  Oh, and I found out that you can hack Roombas, but that will have to come later. They’re expensive.

Anyway, suddenly it seemed like I couldn’t turn around without running across some new topic relating back to electronics, robotics, computers, or a combination of the three.   Luckily for me, my Husband is likewise interested in these topics. So, in short order, we got a Raspberry Pi for the house network, an Arduino Board for me, and an electronics kit that isn’t so very much in English.

I’m basically starting from scratch, so Dr. Geek asked me to do a build diary as I try to figure out what I’m doing.  This way other beginners can join me on my journey.  I mean, I have to keep going or I’ll never get to hack a Roomba, right?  Right.

I decided to start with this kit:

Wish me luck!