Makerspace Tours: HexLab in Tarzana, California

This time around, we dive into the world of 3D printing and laser cutting at a local community-driven space near Van Nuys, California. We were invited to visit HexLab Makerspace by [Jonathan] and [Mike] who own and run the company. They showed us the large selection of resources that they have made available to the public. This includes a variety of 3D printers, laser cutters, industrial sewing machines, 3D scanners, computer workstations, wood working tools, manual metal lathes, heaps of testing equipment, a leather embossing/hot stamping machine, and even a plastic injecting machine. And yes, they have a ventilator too.

With all this equipment, HexLab has the ability to prototype practically anything that floats into the mind of someone walking in the door. Specialties include paper craft, costume tailoring, laser etching wood products, manufacturing acrylic glass objects, and much more.

What makes this place different from a lot of other makerspaces is the history of the company. Originally, they started as a Research and Design firm about 14 years ago and have recently opened up the doors to the outside community. Because they began as a business that was previously similar to a hackerspace, they had already acquired the necessary tools for the space. The change makes the tools accessible to entrepreneurs, artists, designers, and musicians alike. This has bred a fantastic teaching environment where the community helps each other through the learning process.

In the future, HexLab plans to continue hosting classes and has even hinted at an up-coming mobile project that is certain to spark a local and portable maker movement. Eventually, they would like to help develop a sustainable model that can be given out to other makerspaces in an effort to assist in the creation of additional places like this. In the meantime though, we look forward to seeing how the community grows through them, and what types of amazing products with be produced out of their space.

[Chris Anderson] Joins The Hackaday Prize as an Orbital Judge

 

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[Chris Anderson] has had many labels in his lifetime: Punk rocker. Technology editor. Best selling author. UAV enthusiast. CEO. He now will also be able to add “Space Enabler” to that list as he joins The Hackaday Prize as an “Orbital Judge”. He will be on the panel choosing the Grand Prize winner (space-goer) from the list of five finalists. He joins the cast of “Launch Judges” who will be narrowing from 50 semifinalists down to 5.

Chances are that you already know [Chris] in one way or another. His book Free: The Future of a Radical New Price was an early analysis of how free and freemium models are changing the way that businesses connect with customers. On the hardware side of things he is the author of The Long Tail and Makers, both of which discuss the specialty hardware market that we so often explore around here. He has been an editor for Nature, Science, and The Economist. He served as the Editor in Chief of Wired for nearly 10 years, and most recently he started DIYdrones, the 50K+ member community that works on open source software and hardware for UAVs and RC controlled flyers. This spawned a company called 3DRobotics, of which he is the co-founder and CEO. 3DR continues to push the frontier of Open Source Hardware for hobbyists and professional drone users.

If you’ve been on the fence until now, this should convince you to take an afternoon to enter your project idea. You have until August 20th to document your concept of an Open, Connected device. Entry is easy and requires only that you outline your idea with a 2-minute video, proposed system diagram, and four project logs which may discuss different aspects of your plan. If you make the first cut of 50 in August, you’ll already be a winner of at the least a $1000 grab-bag of electronics. You’ll also be well on your way having [Chris] study your work as you advance to a functional prototype in November.

Want a step-by-step view of putting together an entry in under 4 minutes?

DEFCON 22: The Badge Designers

If you go to DEFCON next year (and you should), prepare for extreme sleep deprivation. If you’re not sleep deprived you’re doing it wrong. This was the state in which we ran into [LosT] and [J0nnyM@c], the brains behind the DEFCON 22 badge and all of the twisted tricks that torture people trying to solve the badge throughout the weekend. They were popular guys but wait around until late into the night and the throngs of hint-seekers subside just a bit.

Plans, within plans, within plans are included in the “crypto” which [LosT] talks about in the interview above. We were wondering how hard it is to produce a badge that is not only electrically perfect, but follows the planned challenge to a ‘T’. This includes things like holding off soldering mask from some pads, and different ones on a different version of the badge. Turns out that you just do as well as you can and then alter the puzzle to match the hardware.

Speaking of hardware. A late snafu in the production threw the two into a frenzy of redesign. Unable to use the planned chip architecture, [J0nnyM@c] stepped up to transition the badges over to Propeller P8X32a chips, leveraging a relationship with Parallax to ensure they hardware could be manufactured in time for the conference.

If you haven’t put it together yet, this is that same chip that Parallax just made Open Source. The announcement was timed to coincide with DEFCON.

Hackerspace Tours: Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College is putting together an amazing combination of tools, education techniques, and innovative projects pinning them on the map as one of the best hackerspaces in the Southern California area. Led by [Deborah Bird], the Director of the Design Technology Pathway at PCC, and Sandy Lee the DTP Faculty Chair, this Fab Lab provides students with cutting-edge workshops and internships that will define future jobs.

We were invited to the space by Joan Horvath, the VP of Business Development over at a local 3D printing store called Deezmaker, after meeting her at an Arduino electronics class taught by a young, talented maker named [Quin]. When we arrived, we were greeted by several students who were working on a 3D printed portable map for the blind which was created for an elementary school nearby. The team behind the design attempted to step out of the visual world and into unfamiliar unsighted territory. One of the members gave us a tour of the space showing us the tools and resources they had made available to PCC students. A variety of 3D printers, ventilators, CNC machines, laser cutters, metal lathes, and even a chainsaw were found inside.

[Read more...]

Joe Grand Talks Deconstructing Circuit Boards

With the exception of [Eric Evenchick], the Hackaday crew are safely back from Defcon and not missing in the desert. This means we can really start rolling out all the stuff we saw this weekend, beginning with an interview with [Joe Grand], creator of the JTAGulator, early member of l0pht, and generally awesome dude.

The focus of [Joe]‘s many talks this year was reverse engineering circuit boards. Most of these techniques involved fairly low-tech methods to peel apart circuit boards one layer at a time: sandpaper and milling machines are the simplest techniques, but [Joe] is also using some significantly more uncommon methods. Lapping machines get a mention, as do acoustic microscopy, CAT scans, and x-rays. [Joe]‘s Defcon talk isn’t up on the intertubes yet, but his BSides talk about techniques that didn’t work is available.

In case you forgot, [Joe] is also a judge for a little contest we’re running, and we asked what he’s looking for in a truly spaceworthy entry. [Joe]‘s looking for projects with a lot of effort put into them. Don’t get us wrong, project that require no effort can be extremely popular, but documentation is king. [Joe] thinks well documented projects are evidence project creators are building something because they want to build it, and not because they want to win a prize. That’s intrinsic motivation, kiddies. Learn it.

Poor Audio Quality Made Great: Listen to Vintage Music Using an Antique Radio Without Removing the Insides

Sometimes it is not how good but how bad your equipment reproduces sound. In a previous hackaday post the circuitry of a vintage transistor radio was removed so that a blue tooth audio source could be installed and wired to the speaker. By contrast, this post will show how to use the existing circuitry of a vintage radio for playing your own audio sources while at the same time preserving the radio’s functionality. You will be able to play your music through the radio’s own audio signal chain then toggle back to AM mode and listen to the ball game. Make a statement – adapt and use vintage electronics.

Pre-1950’s recordings sound noisy when played on a high-fidelity system, but not when played through a Pre-War console radio. An old Bing Crosby tune sounds like he is broadcasting directly into your living room with a booming AM voice. You do not hear the higher frequency ‘pops’ and ‘hiss’ that would be reproduced by high-fidelity equipment when playing a vintage recording. This is likely due to the fact that the audio frequency signal chain and speaker of an antique radio are not capable of reproducing higher frequencies. Similarly, Sam Cooke sounds great playing out of an earlier transistor radio. These recordings were meant to be played on radios from the era in which they were recorded.

Choosing an Antique Radio

Vintage radios can be found at garage sales, estate sales, hamfests, antique shops, antique radio swap meets, and Ebay. Millions of radios have been manufactured. People often give them away. For this reason, antique radios are relatively inexpensive and the vast majority are not rare or valuable.

Generally speaking, tube radios must be serviced and may not even work. Transistor radios often work to some level. Try to find a radio that is clean and uses a power supply transformer or batteries.

Click past the break to learn how to restore these radios to working condition

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San Francisco Event: Hardware Developers Didactic Galactic

 

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It’s a mouthful to say, but an evening-ful of fun. San Franciscans who like to talk about all things hardware need to block this one out on their calendars:

Hardware Developers Didactic Galactic
Thursday, August 14th 2014 starting 6pm-9:30pm
500 3rd St., Suite 230 in San Francisco

The night will include a few talks on hardware; So far we know [Matt Berggren] is doing FPGA stuff, [Chris Gammell] will talk about KiCAD, and I’m going to talk about the community adventure that is Mooltipass. We’re also looking for others to make presentations so step up and share your hardware passion!

In addition to the formal talks there’ll be plenty of time for chewing the fat with all the other hardware-awesomes that will be there. See you a week from tomorrow, and don’t be shy about bringing your own hardware to show off!

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