The Best of Boston Hackers at Artisan’s Asylum

We were in Boston last week and Artistan’s Asylum welcomed us in to host a Hackaday Meetup. We usually pack the place when the Hackaday community turns out, but this was exceptional. This hackerspace has a sizeable open area that I’m told fits triple-digits and we were using all of it. In addition to food and beverage (courtesy of our parent company Supplyframe who also make trips like this one a possibility), we had lighting talks for people to show off their projects. One of the hits was a functional hoverboard shown above, but there were dozens of others.

Here is the quick gallery of images (from our Hackaday.io event page) to give you an overview. After the break you’ll find dozens more highlighting the builds which were being shown off.

The Show and Tell of the Night

[Peter Walsh] brought along a magnetic PCB clamp. This is similar to the StickVise but uses a metal plate with magnets in the clamping bars. It is a bit hard to do fine adjustments — I suggested a spring-loaded side like [Alex Rich] built in his original.

The [engunneer] was showing off his MakerMod system. The idea is to use the PMOD interface standard along with adapter boards for every type of dev board you can imagine (id: Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.). He has also extended the standard for passing analog signals as well. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of his BADGEr from Open Source Hardware Summit 2013. [Anool Mahidharia], who joined the Hackaday Crew this year, has been writing a ton of great content and running these types of meetups in India, worked on the design of this badge.

[Matthew] has a company called D’asaro Designs that makes drivers for legacy hardware. He brought along a machine that punches paper tape. His custom PIC-based driver module allows you to interface a modern computer with the ancient (but awesome) hardware. It’s satisfying to punch letters in tape in real time.

This light-saber build will soon be open-sourced, something rare in the ecosphere of prop replica. He also built the spacecraft models from duct tape seen at the top of this post.

I knew I was getting close to finding Artisan’s Asylum when I was passed by someone on a tall bike. Turns out they make a lot of really cool bikes in the space.

The Butterfly sculpture seen above has delicate wings made with the 3Doodler. There is a metal mechanism supporting it that flaps the wings when you turn the crank.

I met [Dan] at Harvard earlier in the day and he brought along these spring-and-3D-printed-sphere cubes. They represent a simple cube crystal structure. He wants to make a huge network of them, but each row added really ups the number of spheres he has to print. If you’re interested in helping, check out the model and get in touch with him.

The last image in this group is the solenoid-outfitted typewriter that plays [Leroy Anderson’s] The Typewriter Symphony. Yes, it is super-awesome in person and a hit of the night, to be sure.

During the lighting talks I spotted [Shen] because I immediately recognized the most beautiful custom-rolled display in the world which was peeking out of the bag he was holding. In addition to showing off that handiwork he was trying out this new directional-microphone he made. The array has four MEMS microphones on it, with signal processing done on the board. It was cool to “tune out” the people to either side of you in exchange for whomever you pointed the thing at.

I’m still looking for video footage of this hoverboard. It’s made with super-dangerous magnets that run about $400 bucks each. I believe the story told was that this was built for the [Jimmy Kimmel] show but I can’t find the segment online. It’s tethered to the base plate make sure it doesn’t violently flip over and slam into it. It’ll support a tall and lanky geeky guy (read: me) no problem.

The hoverboard isn’t the only way to get around this hackerspace. You can walk around in this human-sized-hamster-wheel but you’ll need a spotter so you don’t crush the bystanders.

We previously featured [Alan] in a Fail of the Week where he had a few electrical issues with a powered kick scooter conversion. But his engineering is strong as proven by this amazing art piece. He and a few buddies got a hold of hundreds of stepper motors for a song. They built this array of colored plastic tubing that is pleasing to the eye and includes many interesting animation patterns. He’s also working on building some logic from discrete SMD parts. He needs 40 of them to make a clock and it currently takes about 40 minutes to solder each… ugh.

Next door to Artisan’s Asylum is a climbing gym. This hacker is working on his lead-climber certification. He believes he’ll be the third paraplegic lead climber in the world. To assist, he’s come up with some custom equipment. He has a reaching pole for setting anchors above him. He pulls himself up with the help of a pulley system, and ties off the advances with a special cleat he’s built into the bottom pulley.

[Sam Feller] was showing off the production version of his Analog Voltmeter Clock. He’s in the process of fulfilling a successful Kickstarter. There are two meters which show hour and minute. He has a rotary encoder and potentiometer for settings, and the entire thing can run off of one AA (although there are two slots if you want to change batteries less often.

There was an inMoov robot on display. I was also interested to see the human skeleton robot which was “printed” using the 3Doodler. It’s incredible what you can do freehand, on the couch, while the TV is playing.

What a wonderful night. Thanks again to everyone who came out, and our hosts at the hackerspace. Boston has a great hacking scene!

3 thoughts on “The Best of Boston Hackers at Artisan’s Asylum

  1. Nice article, really showcases a nice cross-section of the diversity of the projects going on at the Artisan’s Asylum. My name is Doug Ruuska and the human-sized hamster wheel is the first stage in my project that will eventually become a fully-programmable music box. Hope to see you folks back at the Asylum again sometime!

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