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.

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The RC White House Robot

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This remote controlled, Arduino-based robot was created by a young student named [Quin] who likes to teach electronics classes at hackerspaces. It is an adaptation of this awesome, fast, fully autonomous mini Roomba that has since driven its way into the Presidential building during the 1st ever White House Maker Faire.

The quick, little device uses a robot chassis kit with an XBee wireless module so that the controller and the robot can be connected together. An NFC Shield was hacked and split in half so that the wires could be soldered in place.

[Quin]‘s goal was to develop a fun game that records the number of times the robot drives over NFC tags laid across a flat surface. Points are shown in the form of blinking lights that illuminate when the device goes over the sensors, keeping track of the score.

The controller container was made with an open source 3D printer called a Bukobot. The enclosure holds an Arduino and another XBee shield along with a joystick and a neopixel ring, giving it a nice polished look complete with a circle of beautiful, flashing LED’s.

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Touring Deezmaker, The First *Good* 3D Printer Store In The World

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When we visited the Crash Space hackerspace earlier this week, it came to our attention we were staying mere blocks away from Deezmaker, a 3D printer store in beautiful Pasadena that is home base for the Bukobot and Bukito printers, an awful lot of awesome printed plastic things, and [Rich] a.k.a [whosawhatsis], creator of the RepRap Wallace and all this stuff. Obviously a tour was in order.

Inside Deezmaker is a treasure trove of printed baubles and a fishbowl full of a herringbone planetary gear systems free for the taking. They have printers running all the time, a very nice lab for [whosawhatsis], and enough work space to host a few workshops every week.

In the video below, [Diego], the big cheese of Deezmaker takes us around the shop showing off his wares. [whosawhatsis] also makes an appearance showing off his latest invention, the Bukito printer. It’s a very small and incredibly portable printer that can be powered by batteries. They’re using a 3-cell 5000mAh lipo battery when they take the Bukito camping. I didn’t catch how long the battery lasts, but it’s more than enough to squirt out a few of the gear systems they give away.

Video after the break.

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Monetizing a hackerspace with a 3D printer store

Starting a hackerspace is easy, but maintaining it is a pain in the rear. Not only do you need to pay the gas, water, and electric bills, but you’ll also need to have enough members to keep the whole operation afloat. Deezmaker might have a solution to this problem: have a hackerspace double up as a 3D printing store.

Deezmaker is the creator of the Bukobot 3D printer seen at Maker Faire San Francisco and successfully funded on Kickstarter. The new store/hackerspace will sell Bukobot 3D printers (as well as other brands if another company wishes), filaments, Kapton tape, electronic parts, and other random electronic paraphernalia to people on the street.

Alongside the 3D printer store, Deezmaker will also be running a hackerspace for anyone who needs something printed, a work table, or even just the use of a few tools. The grand opening will be this Sunday, Sept 23, in Pasadena, CA.

We’re really liking the idea of a store/hackerspace, if only because Deezmaker’s store will provide a wonderful case study for anyone with a similar business plan. It would be very nice to have a an independent hackerstore in every city, selling everything from 3D printers to batteries and LEDs. Yes, it’s sounds like a throwback to the RadioShack of the 70s, but that doesn’t mean the idea couldn’t succeed today.

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