Cognizant awards a Making the Future grant to support Workshop 88 outreach to girls

We are thrilled to announce that Workshop 88 has been awarded a “Making the Future” grant from Cognizant, a technology services company based in New Jersey.  The grant will allow us to offer a Maker summer camp geared specifically toward 10-12 year old girls.  The summer program will be led by Workshop 88 member Rachel Hellenga, who has over 20 years experience planning educational exhibits and programs for museums and libraries.

This pilot program will celebrate girls’ ingenuity and involve them in making flexible circuits by combining LEDs and paper-thin batteries with everything from Legos to paper crafts. Girls will use a circuit printer to produce circuits with conductive ink and work with other flexible materials such as conductive tape and conductive Velcro.

Cognizant’s Making the Future education initiative was created to unleash the passion of young learners—particularly girls and underrepresented minorities—in STEM disciplines by providing fun, hands-on learning opportunities. Two years ago Workshop 88 members teamed up with the DuPage Children’s Museum to lead Sewing Goes High Tech  with support from Cognizant, and Rachel invented the name Teknistas to describe the tech-savvy, style-savvy girls in the summer camp. You can see their projects at www.teknistas.com along with updates showing young makers at Workshop 88’s Duct Tape Bling booth (winner of an Editor’s Choice Award 2013 New York Maker Faire!) and Rachel’s Fashion Technology from Chicago showcase at the inaugural Rome Maker Faire. We are involving some of our current Teknistas in planning our next activities and hope to inspire more young makers this summer! If you’d like updates on the upcoming summer camp, drop us a line at info@workshop88.com with the subject line “Making the Future” and you’ll be the first to know when we finalize the dates and program description.

Book #2

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I couldn’t find an empty notebook this morning, so I made threw one together from printer paper and the remnants of the box my Amazon Echo came in.

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This one is a quarto with two quires, simply sewn together with waxed linen thread and no glue.

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The top stitch on the cover is a bit strange, but topology wouldn’t allow the initial pattern I was planning on. I might use a small ring or a bar to secure the top stitch the next time I try this format so I can avoid the strange fifth hole in the spine.

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It fits nicely in a pocket, and the cover feels pretty sturdy. I could probably have creased the spine a bit more heavily to make it close better, but I’m okay with that.

First Try at Bookbinding

I’ve always been interested in bookbinding, but haven’t given it a shot until now. I followed these excellent tutorials by Sea Lemon on YouTube, and I think my book came out okay.

I made the case using black Tyvek for the cover, and 1/4″ masonite for the spine and front and back boards. I think it worked pretty well, and I like the way it looks.

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I sewed the signatures together using upholstery thread, and the book opens up really well.

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This is the view of the cover with the book open on the table. I cut the board for the spine about twice as wide as I should have, and I’m not entirely happy with that. I got a bit impatient once the text block was done, and just charged ahead…

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Another issue with rushing ahead was that I used a bit too much glue on the endpapers, and they wrinkled a bit as they dried.

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All things considered, I’m very happy with the way the book turned out, and I’ve got some different techniques to try next time.

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Shapeoko 2 progress

JustBecauseSign4988The Workshop 88 Shapeoko 2 is coming along nicely.  It recently cut this 18″ foam sign, taking advantage of the SO2’s “frontless” design that allows working on arbitrarily long pieces, even though its active work area is only about 10″x10″.  Some details are here.

The Z axis auto touch-off switch, inspired by the Carvey “Smart Clamp” is now working as well.  There’s a little clip of it here.

While it’s machined handles for some of its clamp bolt and even machined the scales for a knife handle replacement, its most ambitious project to date is full 3D machining of the body of a pinewood derby car.  That’s still work in progress.  Stay tuned!

What have we been up to this summer?

It’s been a bit quiet around on the blog this summer, but that’s mostly because we’ve been pretty busy.  I thought I’d put up an update on what’s been going on around the space.

Thursdays!

We’re always out at the space on Thursday nights for our public meeting, so drop on by! We had a lot of fun last week playing with some Tormach stepper drivers that Tom M. brought in, but every week brings something new and exciting.

Libraries!

We’ve been doing a lot with libraries all over the burbs.  You might remember this thing that we built for Glen Ellyn Public Library back in May.  In addition to that, we also do a lot of classes and DIY fairs.

This summer, we ran events at Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn, Indian Trails, Winfield, Lisle, Addison, and at Lake Park High School.  We’ve got even more events coming up in the next few months, at the libraries I mentioned before as well as Roselle and St. Charles.

Improving the space!

We’re currently updating the back room, with the front room next on the list.  There’s been a lot of great discussion about what to do with the front room, and we’ve got a team working on getting it all done.

Paul R. did a bunch of work to rehab Prof. Braino’s Enco mill, and it is now up and running.  We’re going to be offering a class to members this summer to get them up to speed on how to use the mill.

Classes!

We’ve been a bit lax in getting classes scheduled, and we’re trying to address that.  We have a bunch of classes scheduled this summer, so check back for scheduling details once they’re announced.  Next up on the list are Electronics 101 and Basic Networking, both this July.

We’ve got a bunch of other topics coming up, here’s a condensed list:

  • Electronics
  • 3D Printing
  • CNC Machining with Shapeoko
  • Networking Basics
  • Running the Lathe
  • Linux Basics
  • Cloud Computing
  • HAMP (see this for more info)
  • Intro to Hadoop
  • Running the Mill
  • Using the RPi GPIOs
  • Arduino 101
  • Arduino Music

Let us know (info@workshop88.com) if you’ve got requests for other classes, we’ll see what we can do about getting them scheduled!

 

Another makerspace serving the Chicago suburbs!

Our friends over at SpaceLab are running a KickStarter this month to raise funds to move into a more functional location.

SpaceLab started out as a co-working space, but they realize their members and the the south suburban community will benefit by adding the resources of a makerspace to their offerings.

Workshop 88 is thrilled to support SpaceLab’s kickstarter! We were an early backer:


At Workshop 88 we believe that makerspaces and hackerspaces grow smartly by working with other like-minded people in our area. Please consider supporting SpaceLab and sharing their campaign with anyone you know! They are about 2/3 of the way to their goal as of this post. Help them get all the way there!

Audible Donation Box

Our local library recently asked us to help them out with their summer reading program, which is raising funds to support the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

Here’s what I came up with:Glen Ellyn Public Library Token Box

 

When a patron turns in a book they’ve read for the summer reading program, they get a token to drop into the box.  Since the Willowbrook Wildlife Center rehabilitates native animals that have been injured, I thought that playing local native animal sounds would help create a connection between the program and the organization it is supporting.

Here’s what the box looks like inside.

Glen Ellyn Public Library Token Box Electrionics

 

The speakers are driven by an Adafruit Music Maker Shield run off of an Arduino Uno, using the Adafruit VS1053 library.  The token detection mechanism uses a high-intensity LED and a voltage divider, consisting of an 180 ohm resistor and a CdS photocell, to create an optical detector.  The voltage across the small resistor is checked with an analogRead() in a tight loop to detect a token falling through the slot.  Volume control is done through software on the VS1053, so I just hooked the sweeper on a 10K linear potentiometer up to a second analog input.  When a token is detected, I play a random sound from the SD card in the background while continuing to check the volume control.

Here’s the schematic and a breadboard layout.  I’ve just shown the control circuitry, as the Music Maker shield should be pretty easy to hook up.Coindrop SchematicCoindrop_Breadboard

All of the code, these schematics, and a Fritzing file are available on Github. Pay particular attention to the pin assignments at the top of the sketch if you’re using the Adafruit Music Maker board.  They are hard-wired on the shield, but Adafruit’s tutorial is based on their breakout board, which you have to wire to an Arduino yourself.

One thing I had to consider with this build was power.  I initially powered the box off of 4 AA batteries, and it looked like it worked great.  After a few days of testing, it started to act a bit flaky.  After being on for about 10 minutes, the speakers would just play static.  After some testing, I found that the supply voltage was too low, so I swapped in a USB power supply for the batteries, and it worked much better.  Since this has to run all day long for a couple months, USB is a better solution anyway.

We’re teaching a couple audio classes this summer, make sure to check back for scheduling details if you’re interested in doing something like this project yourself!

 

Revamping Workshop 88

Spring is in the air, flowers are emerging, and Glen Ellyn is slowly climbing out of what has been an incredibly trying winter.

The new season has inspired us to take a new look at Workshop 88 and revamp our main room. While it’s a homey basement that holds many fond memories, members have been encouraging me to come up with some new ways to change the space around to be welcoming to new members. I wanted to post some photos of the current layout so that we can work on rearranging some things.

Workshop 88 members spend so much time working on their projects and discussing new ideas that they don’t pay much attention to the space around them; but space is important. Space communicates what we value, inspires our creativity, and develops our sense of belonging. Therefore, it is really important that we spend time recreating Workshop some in order to make our space more inviting.

What do you think we should do to revamp Workshop 88? Maybe some color? Reorganizing the layout? Please comment with your ideas!

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THOTCON 0x5 Badge Revealed

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THOTCON  is the annual, small venue, hacking conference based in Chicago IL, USA. THOTCON is a non-profit, non-commercial event looking to provide the best conference possible on a very limited budget.

For the past 2 years Workshop 88 has been honored to design and produce the electronic attendee badges for the conference as a service to the local community.  The badge crew this year consisted of: Paul Reich, Bill Paulson, Karl Knutson, Zach Cassity, Russell Lankenau, and Rudy Ristich

This year’s badge was inspired by portable gaming systems from the past and featured  102 x 64 pixel graphic LCD screen and a push button interface. Once again, the badge features an Atmel AVR based microcontroller. The badge used nearly every byte of the 32k available SRAM on its Atmega32u4 chip.  The software consisted of a Break-out style game which participants could play to passtime, a complete schedule of talks and labs for the day long conference,  and the ability to patch into arcade panels hosted in the Hacker Village, and a few surprises for discovering inside.

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Just like the THOTCON 0x4 Badge, the 0x5 Badge is compatible with the Arduino open hardware programming environment and can accept standard Arduino shields. This means the badge can be easily reused and repurposed to power any sort of project. An improvement from last year’s badge is that no additional parts need to be added; conference goers can simply plug the badge into their laptop once burning a bootloader to reprogram it, encouraging easier exploration and badge hacking.

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The badge is designed to be completely open hardware and software.  Workshop 88 would like to thank the open source hardware and software community especially: Arduino, Oliver Kraus and other contributors to the U8glib graphics library, Dean Camera for the LUFA Project, and last, but far from least: Twisted Traces, our local assembly partner in Elk Grove, IL.

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Workshop 88 will be holding a badge hacking contest throughout the month of May.  Judging will consist of a panel from Workshop 88 and the THOTCON crew.  Interested contestants can register on the badge website: http://badge.workshop88.com

Full details on the badge specifications and firmware will be released on May 1st in conjunction with the opening of the badge hacking contest.

3D printing demos with our Cupcake

We’ve been getting more and more requests for 3D printer demos lately.  Inspired by not wanting to disappoint kids who didn’t even have their first iPad back in the days when it W88LogoRWB1348was magic to be able to 3D print anything – like when our Makerbot Cupcake was hot stuff – Jim has been trying to get the old printer working again.  This W88 logo is one of the latest results.  Not bad for an old 1-color printer!  (Thanks to Bill for the color change tips.)

Its output is no match for current “appliance” 3D printers, but it’s still fine to show the basics in a nice noisy demo.  Details of Jim’s adventures with the printer are captured here.