Hackerspace Tour: IXR in Wall, NJ

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Hackaday took a little trip out to Wall, NJ last weekend for the Vintage Computer Festival 9.1 East. The event was held at Camp Evans, a former US military installation that can only be described as, ‘The DARPA of a century ago”. This is the site of a Marconi transmitter and the place where [Edwin Armstrong] developed the regenerative receiver a little more than 100 years ago.

There’s a lot more to Camp Evans than a vintage computer festival once a year – it’s also home to MARCH, the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists, InfoAge, a retro technology museum, and IXR, the Institute for eXploratory Research, a hackerspace located in the old telecom building at Camp Evans.

In our video tour, [Joe Wilkes] takes us around the shop, showing off their equipment and tools. Unlike most of our hackerspace tours, we couldn’t find a Makerbot sitting disused on a bookshelf anywhere, but the space did have a Solidoodle 3D printer, a Shapeoko 2 CNC machine under construction, and enough hand tools to bring any project to fruition.

There were a few oddities in IXR compared to the other hackerspaces we’ve been to. First is an inordinate amount of synths, keyboards, and other MIDI gear. [Joe] didn’t know what these were for, so we’ll leave that explanation for an IXR member in the comments of this post. There was also a small supply of random components for sale (and on display). Most of the merch was from Adafruit, and it seems like a great way to have that one part I need to finish this build for members while providing a little bit of beer money for the space.

Pics and video below.

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Hackerspace Tour: Xerocraft In Tucson, Arizona

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While we try to get out to as many hackerspaces as possible, we can’t be everywhere. Not wanting to wait for a Hackaday compatriot to roll through their dusty town, the folks over at Xerocraft in Tucson, Arizona sent in their own video tour of their space.

We’ve seen the Xerocraft space before when [Caleb] rolled through town on his south-west tour a few years ago. Since then, a lot has changed; they have a new, larger, and cleaner space a few miles north of the old one. There’s also a huge increase in the number of tools. While the old space had all the usual metalworking tools, the new space has a much improved wood shop and more 3D printers than anyone can shake a stick at.

From the video, it looks like a great space, and from their blog it looks like they’ve got some really cool projects under their belt. If you’re a member of a hackerspace, we’re always looking for some tour videos. Be sure to send them in so you can share your space with the rest of the Hackaday readership.

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Hackaday Visits NOVA Labs And Small Batch Assembly

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A few days ago Hackaday visited NOVA Labs, one of the premier hackerspaces around Washington, DC. In our video tour, co-founder [Justin Leto] shows off the space, going through all the awesome tools, workspaces, and projects his space has put together over the years.

One of the most impressive parts of NOVA Labs is the incredible amount of woodworking equipment. Everything from a Blacktoe CNC router, table and bandsaws, jointers, planers, real woodworking benches, and enough clamps to hold anything together are from a NOVA member that is co-locating his equipment for the rest of the hackerspace to share.

Apart from the woodworking tools, NOVA also has a few laser cutters and enough 3D printers for all the octopodes and Yoda heads you could ever imagine. A few of the members put together 3D build classes, and the machines being constructed are very, very cool. They’re using a Raspi with OctoPrint in their latest builds, attaching a camera to the frame and using a tablet for the interface. It’s just about the smoothest and cleanest 3D printer interface possible without using a computer.

There’s a lot of cool stuff happening at NOVA; the DC Area Drone User Group is the area’s largest group of unmanned aerial vehicles not housed in a five-sided building, and have done some aerial mapping for the metro station that will soon displace the hackerspace. NOVA also hosted a mini maker faire last weekend with over four thousand attendees. Impressive, to say the least.

Also at NOVA Labs is a small business the guys are incubating headed up by [Bob Coggeshall], also known as one of the guys who wrote sudo. It’s Small Batch Assembly, a very cool service that takes panelized PCBs and reels of components and assembles them. While we were there, [Bob] was assembling a few dozen boards stuffed with WS2812 LEDs for the R2D2 Builders Club.

[Bob] is using a very cool and very expensive Manncorp pick and place machine for placing all the components, squeegeeing the solder paste through Kapton film he laser cut on the NOVA Labs machines. It’s only a small-scale operation, but when it comes to placing thousands of SMD components for a few dozen boards, there probably isn’t a better way.

You can check out the video of NOVA, Small Batch Assembly, and a whole bunch of pics below.

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Automatically Accept Membership Fees or Donations

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Whether you run a club or a hackerspace, collecting membership fees and accepting donations can be a pain. [MRE] from TokyoHackerspace has the solution, an automated machine that can accept cash from anyone who is walking by.

Members can choose to either donate or pay their membership fee even when the hackerspace administrator is not around.  The interface consists of two buttons, an LCD display, a place to put your cash, and a thermal printer that prints out two receipts (one for you, one which goes right back into the box). One of the coolest parts of this build is the banknote validator, which can work with over 100 currencies (in this case, it is programmed to accept Japanese bills). Despite the simple interface, a lot of thought went into this build. There are backup batteries for the real time clock, an EEPROM to keep track of all the accounting, and an Arduino as the brains of the operation. If you take a look at the project page, there is a lot of information on the Arduino code, the PCB layout, how to interface with the banknote validator, and more! Check out the machine in action after the break.

We would love to see the banknote validator used in other projects. Have you used one before or built something similar?

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Hackaday Gathering: Shanghai

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Does Hackaday have any readers living in Shanghai? You bet! We’re going to be in Shanghai next week so we decided to invite the Hackaday community to a Shanghai Gathering!

We booked a venue and want to pack the place with at least 150 people on Thursday, March 20th. We’re picking up the bar tab and bringing along a few cases of T-shirts. At some point we’ll make some formal remarks about the path on which Hackaday is traveling, and where we hope to go. Get your tickets now, and start the perplexing process of deciding which piece of portable hacked hardware you want to bring along with you to show off to all of the other Hackaday aficionados.

Still not convinced? Check out the follow-up post from our Los Angeles Gathering back in January to see how much fun it is to get together with other readers. The Xin Che Jian hackerspace in Shanghai is helping us get this organized; we saw a hackerspace intro from them a couple of years back. Thank you so much to [David] and [Paul] for their help with this! If you haven’t checked out the hackerspace, this gathering is a great way to meet some of the members.

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The LATHON Dual Nozzle 3D Printer

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Our friends at Freeside Atlanta have been keeping busy despite the city-stopping snowstorms they’ve been suffering recently. This time it’s a 3D printer with dual extrusion: the LATHON printer. [Nohtal] bought his first 3D printer only two years ago, but his experiences led him to build his own to overcome some of the issues he encountered with standard printers.

The LATHON keeps the bed stable and instead moves only the nozzles, using Bowden extrusion to reduce the weight on the moving parts. A key feature is the addition of a second nozzle, which usually limits the print area. The LATHON, however, maintains a 12″x9″x8″ build volume thanks to the Bowden extruders. [Nohtal] documents the majority of his build process on Freeside’s blog, including using a plastic from GE called Ultem 2300 for the print bed, and running the printer through its paces with a slew of materials: ABS, PLA, HIPS, Nylon, TPE, Wood, and Carbon Fiber. You can find more information on the Kickstarter page or at lathon.net

Check out some videos below!

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Mobile Hackerspace Status Indicator

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Cruising around town, not sure what to do — oh hey look, someone is at the hackerspace! Introducing the Mobile Spacestate Indicator!

During our Hackerspacing in Europe tour, we had the pleasure of visiting ACKspace in Heerlen, the Netherlands. And like many hackerspaces, they have an online status indicator letting members and non-members alike know if the space is open. [Vicarious], the gentleman who kindly picked us up from the train station, has just finished off an awesome modification to his car. Using an Arduino Uno and a Raspberry Pi, he has created a mobile indicator of his hackerspace’s status.

The Raspberry Pi automatically tethers to his phone and checks the status of the hackerspace online. It then sends the data to the Arduino Uno which controls a small strip of RGB LEDs. He’s cleverly hidden all of this inside his center console, and it looks awesome!

To see more of ACKspace’s cool projects, check out their wiki!

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