Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Neal Ekengren is a Maker from Longwood, FL.   He works for Thompson Reuters creating Real Estate Valuation software.  He is a recognized Master Gardener, historical miniatures gamer, and world traveller.  But probably his longest running hobby interests have been chemistry and electronics.  The old Radio Shack electronic kits and Chemistry sets from the 1960's were his favorite boyhood "toys".  There were no integrated circuits or microcontrollers.  A single transistor was a big deal.  He survived the perils of these toys to graduate from the University of Kansas with degrees in Biochemistry and Petroleum Engineering.   

Neal, was introduced to the Maker world by a Wired magazine article on the Arduino.  His wife somehow knew he was interested and gave him one for Christmas.  He figured he would play around, learn about these new fancy new microcontrollers, and light up a few LED's.  Then the Maker bug hit.  He envisioned a project combining his Arduino with chemistry, software development, and woodworking.  MEOWSER was born.  He had been viewing all the great online chemistry periodic tables that were showing up.  The great idea was to use a computer mouse to point at the periodic table and  create a cabinet full of mineral samples with LED lighting on each sample.  The whole thing would have a user interface running on the computer that would talk to an Arduino to control the LED's.  
Here are links to the web pages which helped me formed the ideas for MEOWSER:

The Wooden Periodic Table gave me the idea for collecting element and mineral samples.

The Dynamic Periodic Table gave me the idea for the mouser driven software for the mineral cabinet LED's.

The Wired Magazine Article gave me the idea for controlled LED lighting with an Arduino.
Here are the primary links to the web pages which I used for research when building MEOWSER:

A comprehensive list of Minerals for each Element including weight by percentage.

An introduction to the history, sources, uses for each element at Wikipedia and also at

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