Touring Crashspace, the LA Hackerspace

Starsong

In case you’re not up to speed with the most recent happenings at Hackaday, we’re partying in LA tomorrow. This means visiting all the local hackerspaces and begging for a tour. First up is Crash Space, an awesome hackerspace that uses Starsong, the soldering iron alicorn shown above as a mascot.

Inside Crash Space are the usual Hackerspace compliment of tables, projectors, whiteboards, and more recycled computers than you can shake several IDE cables at. When we rolled up to Crash Space, they were just finishing up their weekly 3D printing workshop, replete with a Mendel Max, The Printer Which Shall Not Be Named, and a pair of printers from Deezmaker, a company started by one of Crash Space’s members.

For anyone wanting to roll their sleeves up and get dirty, all the action starts in the back of the building. There, they have a laser cutter, an ancient lathe and mill, drill press, and even a project that will become a vacuum former.

The folks at Crash Space were kind enough to show off their workshop for a video, viewable below along with a few pics of the space buzzing with activity.

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Dallas Makerspace Tour

dallasMakerspace

[Paul] sent us this video tour of the Dallas Makerspace made by member [Andrew Floyd], who walks us around and provides narration for a very impressive space. Once inside the 6000 sq ft facility, he takes us past the entrance lounge and into the electronics room, which has more electronics component storage than visible wall space, and down the hall to show off some laser-cut and 3d-printed creations.

Every makerspace has its specialties, and the Dallas gang shows off their awesome darkroom (complete with creepy, lurking Nic Cage) and blacksmith/forge work areas. They even have bi-weekly blacksmithing classes from a local master blacksmith. The space has since expanded, conquering their next-door-neighbors to expand project storage, add a biolab, a second classroom, a conference room, and more.

Enjoy the video after the break, and then head over to their website for more info: dallasmakerspace.org.

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Fire At The Geek Group

Geek Group

The Geek Group, an absurdly large and well stocked hackerspace in Grand Rapids, Michigan caught fire yesterday.

You may recall The Geek Group from their many over-the-top projects that include a quarter shinker, a 200,000 Watt Tesla coil, enough capacitors to kill a demi-god, and a giant robot that crushes TVs. From what TGG has shown on their website and their YouTube, they have an amazing space that could still be the home of quite a few amazing builds.

According to Geek Group head honcho [Chris], the fire was caused by an overheated electric motor. No one was at the space at the time, but the fire was hot enough to crack the exterior brick and melt porcelain insulators in their high voltage lab. To add insult to injury, this was only TGG’s second day of being open to the public.

The folks at The Geek Group are looking for volunteers for their cleanup, so if you’re around the Grand Rapids area and would like to pitch in, head on over around noon today.

The Geek Group Installs Robot, Destroys CRT Monitor

GEEKSMASH

The Geek Group recently documented the process of overhauling part of their workspace to accommodate Project Jeff, a massive KUKA KR-350/1 industrial robot.

We don’t see many behind the scenes industrial-scale projects here at Hackaday, but we’re definitely impressed with the clever techniques employed to pull off this precision install. At around 5 inches deep, the original floor was far too thin to handle the weight and tortional loads imposed by Project Jeff, so The Geek Group carved out a 15′ square space of old concrete and dumped it piece by piece in the rubbish. They then dug a new hole to a depth of 2.5′ and filled it with a fresh pour that amounted to 67,500 pounds of concrete. Sheesh.

That concrete will inevitably expand and move around, which meant installing a pool-noodle-looking slip cover to protect a buried conduit from damage, as well as placing some gaskets around the edges to prevent cracking while maintaining a seal. Around 10 minutes into the video, they tackle the challenge of embedding bolts that connect to the robot’s base; it takes some patience and creative ladder positioning to fit the template in the correct position.

As an added treat, The Geek Group smashed a CRT monitor in our honor, and while they claim software limitations and a steel frame prevented Project Jeff from completely annihilating the monitor, we like to think the skull and cross-wrenches just refused to be destroyed. Because, you know, science. Videos after the break.

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Battlebots in the Sky

quacc-battlebots-in-the-sky

Here’s one of those ideas that makes us wonder: “Why didn’t we come up with that?” The LVL1 in Louisville, Kentucky is hosting an event they call the Quadcopter Ultimate Aerial Combat Competition (QUACC). Kudos to them on coming up with a very professional name for the event. At risk of drawing cease-and-desist orders from the defunct TV program, we’ll always think of this as Battlebots in the Sky. (Lawyers: please don’t make us take that down… it’s an homage to the awesomeness that was at least the first few seasons of the show).

So why are we publicizing local events on Hackaday? It’s not the event, but the idea that’s spectacularly worth sharing! You’ve got to check out their contest rules as well as the Q&A list. Registration is closed, but the lucky ones who claimed a spot for the low price of $40 will be issued a regulation quadcopter today. They have a week to play around with it, testing out different ideas for disabling their enemy. A match ends when either one competitor defeats the other, or when a competitor’s battery runs dry. A new battery is the issued to the winner for use in the next round.

We’d love to hear your ideas for weaponizing (or adding countermeasures to) these delicate, lightweight aircraft. Aerosol accelerant and a BBQ igniter? How about shielding and a type of EMP, or some other system that will disrupt controller commands of your opponent? Obviously if you launch a similar competition at your hackerspace we want to hear about it!

[Thanks Gerrit]

Open your Hackerspace Door with a Phone Call

elabHackerspaceDoor

[Mário] sent us a tip detailing the access control system he and his friends built for the eLab Hackerspace in Faro, Portugal. The space is located in the University of Algarve’s Institute of Engineering, which meant the group couldn’t exactly bore some holes through campus property and needed a clever solution to provide 24/7 access to members.

[Mário] quickly ruled out more advanced Bluetooth or NFC options, because he didn’t want to leave out members who did not have a smartphone. Instead, after rummaging around in some junk boxes, the gang settled on hacking an old Siemens C55 phone to serve as a GSM modem and to receive calls from members. The incoming numbers are then compared against a list on the EEPROM of an attached PIC16F88 microcontroller, which directs a motor salvaged from a tobacco vending machine to open the push bar on the front door. They had to set up the motor to move an arm in a motion similar to that of a piston, thus providing the right leverage to both unlock and reset the bar’s position.

Check out [Mário's] blog for more details and information on how they upload a log of callers to Google spreadsheets, and stick around for a quick video demonstration below. If you’d prefer a more step by step guide to the build, head over to the accompanying Instructables page. Just be careful if you try to reproduce this hack with the Arduino GSM shield.

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RFID Door Access Robot

RFID Door orbot

We love hackerspaces. Some of the most innovative solutions come from them thanks to having like-minded people all hanging out in the same place. Just take a look at this awesome RFID door system from the Lansing Makers Network that doesn’t require any modification of the door.

The majority of the mechanism was previously a model draw bridge that the space purchased from a surplus store — it just needed a bit of hacking. Almost all members of the space had some part in the project, whenever the build hit a snag, another member always had the right solution. It works by using a windshield motor that tightens a seatbelt around the push-bar latch of the door — the beauty of the system is it is completely non-damaging to the door, and the door works exactly the same as before. The whole system is controlled by RFID tags, which the members have as keys to the space.

It’s an awesome project and [Brian] has written a really great write-up on it, which also happens to segue nicely into the topic of hackerspaces. He describes hackerspaces as

the Wikipedia of real life, and everything else here [tools, equipment, resources] is just the lure that pulls us all together.

Stick around after the break to see the mechanism in action!

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