Hackerspace Happenings: Milkymist Workshop & Mothership HackerMoms

Are you a hackerspace member with an event you’d like to publicize? Send it to or tweet me at @johnbaichtal and I’ll post it. Also feel free to subscribe to my hackerspaces Twitter list. Hackerspace Happenings run weekly(ish) Tuesdays, and the next one will come out September 13th.

Interactive Visuals Workshop with Milkymist One and Arduino

Sebastien Bourdeauducq of Parisian hackerspace /tmp/lab and Fabienne “fbz” Serriere are holding a workshop in Berlin showing how to integrate an Arduino with a Milkymist VJ console:

Join us in Berlin to enjoy the best of these two worlds. Bring your Arduino (and its shields), laptop (for programming the Arduino) and Milkymist One video synthesizer, and we will teach you how you can make the Milkymist One and the Arduino talk together to create interactive video installations. If you do not have those items, there will be a limited quantity available for lending at the workshop.

Date: October 1st, 2011
Time: to be announced, check
Price: free, just drop in
Duration: 4 hours (but feel free to come and go)

Location: betahaus, Prinzessinnenstraße 19-20, 10969 Berlin.

Mothership HackerMoms, a Mom-Centered Hackerspace in Oakland

Moms, It’s time to take your projects and dreams off hold. Mothership HackerMoms* invites you to our first meeting — with babysitters hired for the occasion — because you are a sharp, fascinating and delightful woman with mad skills. Be ready to talk about your projects and interests. It’ll be half intro, half mom’s group. We’ll start with wine and a craft-peritif to get our hands moving.

Mothership HackerMoms is the first women’s hackerspace. It’s dedicated to giving mothers the time and space to explore DIY craft and design, hacker/maker culture, entrepreneurship, and all manner of creative expression. Because our kids learn from us, we will provide stimulating, on-site childcare whenever we are open. We share tools, space and expertise through peer-learning workshops and classes. We’ll begin with a weekly open meeting Thursday evenings and Sunday workshop and open work day (11am-5pm), all with childcare. As we expand, we hope to provide an equipped workshop, kitchen, art studio and workspace where our members can collaborate and create.

When: This Thursday, Sept. 8 from 7-9 pm, and every Thursday night going forward. We’ll start on time to be out by bedtime.

Email shosho at shoshosmith dot com if you’re a Bay Area hacker mom and want to attend.

Mod Your Plush Makeshop at Metrix Create:Space

Come to our October Makeshop on stuffed animal surgery! We will provide you with the raw materials to create a complex recreated animal with lights and noise, and you will go home with an awesome modded plush!

Mod Your Plush Makeshop
Thursday October 6th 7pm to 9pm
Metrix 623A Broadway East Seattle WA 98102
$25 with all materials, guidance, and inspiration included!

Oscilloscope and Function Generator Workshop

ShackSpace in Stuttgart, Germany, is offering a workshop (German!) on using these two pieces of electronics test equipment.

Monthly Monday Microcontroller Madness @ Philly’s Hive76

Starting at 7 PM on Monday, September 12, Hive76 will be starting a new ongoing monthly workshop focusing solely on the wonderful world of microcontrollers.


Farewell MAKE Intern Nick Raymond!

Today we bid farewell to intern/hacker/friend Nick Raymond. Nick has been an intern at MAKE as long as the sands of time, curating such projects as the Wooden Table, or contributing to projects like the PS/2/You LED Sign or Bill Gurstelle’s Flame Tube. He is headed off to UC Davis to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. We think he will do great, and we wish him the best.

One of his favorite projects was building the Fool’s Stool that was in Volume 26. To give the wood to look 5000 years old, it was put in a bag full of cow muck that he dug up with his own hands. (Covered in gloves… We hope!)

You can see Nick’s full profile here on Make Projects. Get in touch with him on Facebook — this guy is amazing at getting projects together and we hope that he doesn’t stay too far away from the Make: Labs.

Photo by Gregory Hayes. For who’s who in the photo above, check out our Facebook page. (Nick is the green plaid shirt.)


Now-A-Saurus: Chris Merrick (video)

The Now-A-Saurus was created by Chris Merrick and is a time machine with dragonfly wings that transports its riders to the present while spitting fire from its top. At Maker Faire Bay Area 2011 this art car whose wheels and curves are pulled from sacred geometry. It roamed the ground of Maker Faire Bay Area and elicited positive reactions from onlookers.

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube and Vimeo.

Check out more videos from Maker Faire Bay Area 2011.



Zero to Make: Crash Course in Welding

Over the next month-plus, David Lang, something of a reluctant maker, is immersing himself in maker culture and learning as many DIY skills as he can, through a generous arrangement with our pals at TechShop. He’ll be regularly chronicling his efforts in this column — what he’s learning, who he’s meeting, and what hurdles he’s clearing (um… or not). –Gareth

I was at a wedding last weekend, sitting at a table with old friends, people I knew well, but hadn’t seen in a while. We were discussing our most recent happenings. The update-a-thon got around to me and I told them that I was getting back to making things with my hands. When I brought up learning to weld, one of my friends’ eyes lit up. He had been thinking about learning to weld for a few years, in order to build a grill he’d been dreaming about for his bonfire pit. His girlfriend, and everyone else around the table, chimed in that he could just get one at IKEA or Costco or Amazon. They didn’t see the point in making it himself, but I knew exactly what he was talking about. A few months prior, I would have agreed with his girlfriend about advice for finding the lowest-cost solution. Now, however, I asked him about his welding plans, and surprisingly, was able to offer him a little advice.

David (right) with TechShop instructor Gregg Gemin. Photo: Andrew Taylor, TechShop

There’s something about the process of joining two pieces of metal together that captures people’s excitement and curiosity. Outside of a romantic idea of welding masks, torches, and flying sparks, I had no idea what I was getting into. Now that I’ve taken a few classes, I’ve learned enough to distinguish the different types of welds, their uses, and the fact that I have a lot of practice in store before my welds are worth anything. As Gregg Gemin, one of the welding instructors at TechShop, told me: it takes about a mile of welding before your welds are any good. That means I have well over 5,275 feet of welding to get out of the way – better to start early. Being able to describe the different types of welds was enough to help my friend get started. Here’s what I’ve learned:

MIG Welding
My first experience with welding was taking an MIG welding class at TechShop. At this point, I knew there were different types of welds, but I couldn’t tell which was which, and what they were used for. MIG welding uses a continuous wire feed (which serves as a filler to adhere the two pieces) as an electrode and an inert gas mixture (Argon and Carbon Dioxide) to protect the weld from contamination. From what I was able to take away, MIG welding is fast and, because of the automatic wire feed, is somewhat easier to learn.

Gregg spent a lot of time on safety and preparation, which are both important aspects of welding. There were a few other students in the course, each with a slightly different grasp of what they were getting themselves into. After Greg set up the table, each of us got a chance to handle the arc. Admittedly, my first welds were not very good. I was zigging and zagging all over the sheet metal, nowhere near the joint I was trying to weld. It took me a while before I was used to the darkness of the helmet and the feel of the torch through the gloves.

TIG Welding
Because MIG welding had an automatic wire feed, it was easy to focus on my welds (even though they weren’t very good) and the speed and angle that produced the different results. TIG welding was a slightly different process: I had to feed the filler metal into the weld manually while simultaneously controlling the arc (the part of the metal I was heating) created by the tungsten electrode. Even though this was a slightly more complex process, my welds were dramatically better – an improvement I credit to the MIG welding experience, even if it was just because I was used to seeing through the welding mask at this point. Based on my conversations with Gregg, the TIG weld can be more precise, but can take a lot longer and cost more than MIG welding

Gas Welding
After the original Zero to Maker post, one of the commenters, MauiJim, suggested I check out TM Technologies and their metalworking courses. I followed the suggestion and discovered that they ran weekend workshops on metalworking fundamentals and 4-day metalworking intensives out of Kent “The Tin Man” White’s workshop in Nevada City, about three hours northeast of San Francisco. Lucky for me, I was headed to Nevada City a few weeks later for a weekend trip to visit my girlfriend’s parents. Unlucky for me, however, there wasn’t a workshop running that weekend. I decided to reach out to the Tin Man anyway and see if he could manage a tour of his workshop. I sent him an email explaining who I was, my goal of going from Zero to Maker, and that I’d love to interview him for MAKE. A few days later I got this response:

Come on up. I’ll feed the bears first if you call ahead.

Understandably, I was a little nervous as I drove to the shop on Sunday morning. As it turned out, making that trip and spending that morning with Kent was one of the most enlightening experiences of my journey so far. Not only did Kent give me a lesson in Gas Welding (a.k.a. oxyacetylene welding), but he offered his point of view on the Zero to Maker concept – a situation he knew all too well. He’s watched the generational drop-off in metalworkers with growing concern. He’s become one of the world experts in gas welding instruction, not because he’s exceptionally great (which he is), but by default – he’s one of the few who still teach it. He also had great advice for me as a beginning metalworker:

My advice for someone getting started is to read some and watch some. Ask questions. Then decide what you want to do. Start simply. Learn to sketch, measure, mark, cut and file and sand. Learn also to drill, debur, fold and bend. Learn to rivet, bolt, and screw. Learn the metals and their applications. Then learn the hot stuff, after your shop skills are developed. Nothing worse than jumping in prematurely and setting your hair alight.

I asked him why he preferred gas welding to some of the more common methods I’d seen, to which he responded:

Gas welding is simple and portable and needs no electricity. Perfect cleanliness and breeze-free conditions are not required, as they are with MIG and TIG. Persons nearby do not necessarily need to be shielded from it, as they must be from arc rays. It is effective on several types of thin sheet and tubing, such as steel, aluminum, stainless, copper etc – and the same equipment is also appropriate for soldering, brazing, annealing, hot working, coloring, and in some cases, cutting – which the marvelous electric machines simply cannot accomplish.

My experience with the Tin Man and the instructors at TechShop were a fantastic introduction to welding. I still have a long way to go, roughly a mile to be exact, but I do have enough basic information to know where to go next. Enough to be dangerous.

Make: Projects Welding Primer – This is a fantastic tutorial for getting started. Even if you are planning to take a course, reading through this primer will give you a solid base of knowledge and understanding.

MIG Welding and TIG Welding Courses at TechShop – Like all their other classes, TechShop knows how to teach to the beginner. Even if you’ve never held a torch, these 2-hour courses ($60) are a great way to get a feel for the process under the guidance of an experienced instructor.

TM Technology Workshops – I learned a great deal after only spending a Sunday morning with the Tin Man. If I have the resources (time and money), I definitely plan on returning for one of his 4-day Metalworking Intensives.

Do you have other good welding resources? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Follow David’s Zero to Maker journey


Snowflake artist at Maker Faire Detroit

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Edward L. Platt describes himself as a “a web developer, maker, artist, recovering physicist, and neuroscience fanboy.” I met him at Maker Faire Detroit, where he had an exhibition of his geometric snowflake drawings, called “penflakes.” He told me he draws one by hand every day. He uses hex grid paper as a template, laying a piece of plain paper over it.

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I asked him why he does this, and I *think* he told me that once he saw a drawing of an 8-sided snowflake, and decided to draw a 6-sided one as a way to correct the error. He found the activity so rewarding that he has drawn one every day for the last couple of years. I find his drawings beautiful.

Img 0212-1

Edward has created a Web-based application that allows people to draw their own snowflakes. I prefer Edward’s old school pen-and-paper method, but the app is fun to play with! It’s called FlakePad.

Hand-drawn snowflakes by Edward L. Platt


Introducing Plastics Month

“I want to say one word to you, son – just one word…Plastics.” -The Graduate

The very word means capable of being shaped, molded. Plastic is a cheap, durable, plentiful, extremely adaptable, and variable material that can be put to seemingly endless uses, from product packaging, furnishings, building materials, and machine parts, to tools, weapons, vehicles, to now just about anything that can be extruded from a 3D printing head. The downside of its cheapness and ubiquity (not to mention the polluting nature of its manufacture) is that it leads to a profusion of waste material.

Over the next month here on MAKE, we’ll look at all aspects of understanding and working with plastics: what is is, what the different types are, how to cut, mold, fix, cast, and how to best utilize it in your projects. And, we’ll also talk about creative ways of reusing and upcycling plastic waste materials.

As always we’d love to get your input on the subject. What aspects of plastic would you like to see us explore. Please tell us in the comments.


QR Code scavenger hunt at RI Mini Maker Faire this Saturday

The Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire, which is happening on Saturday, September 10, from 2pm-10pm on Steeple Street in downtown Providence, is going to feature a QR Code scavenger hunt:

Thom Nichols is building a mobile QR Code scavenger hunt for the RI Mini Maker Faire based on QuiRk: A Cross-Platform QR Scavenger Hunt Game, which he launched at this year’s Wooly Fair.

We’ll be hiding QR Codes all over the RI Mini Maker Faire. If you find them all, you’ll be entered in a (free) drawing to win one of three awesome prizes, which we’ll be announcing soon.

The 3D-printed QR Codes will link to the start page for the game (it’s web based so it works with any mobile phone that can scan a QR Code), but the QR Codes you’ll be hunting for will be much smaller than this one.

Update #3: Play our QR Code scavenger hunt at the Faire
Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire


ETFLED: Wireless Flexible Wearable Display (video)

Erik Johnson made these flexible, wearable LED panels. The animations are controlled over wifi with a mobile device, and Erik brings light-refracting glasses with him to show off the trippy fireworks-like effects. He fit in perfectly in the dark hall filled with luminescent projects at Maker Faire Bay Area 2011.

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube and Vimeo.

Check out more videos from Maker Faire Bay Area 2011.



Help The Open Source Hardware Summit!

Pt 101559

Folks, the Open Source Hardware Summit still needs some sponsor support. ANY ONE can sponsor the summit and every bit counts. If you enjoy the wonderful world of open source software and hardware PLEASE considering supporting the summit!

The Open Hardware Summit is a venue to discuss and draw attention to the open source hardware movement currently happening. The summit will focus on hardware as a system, thus involving conversations of software, management, and other factors surrounding open source hardware. In order to include as many participants as possible, we need the help of sponsors.

The summit is in its second iteration (the first one was September 2010) in partnership with MAKE and Makerfaire at the New York Hall of Science. Last year, 350 people came together to share knowledge about bringing open hardware to market, solving issues around open design, protocols and licensing, and showing their interesting products. Many more people watched online and got involved in the conversation through the forums and twitter. This year we’re expanding a bit this year to an overflow space in the cafeteria to make 450 seats available. Last year, the audience consisted of makers, students, small and large hardware companies, including industry players just beginning to educate themselves and share thoughts on open source hardware.

By sponsoring the Open Hardware Summit you’ll be helping to foster innovation within the open source hardware community.

What are you waiting for? Sponsor here!


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