Adventures In Hackerspacing: An Interview with Chris Boden of The Geek Group

advInHSLayout00

There are some big hackerspaces out there.
And then there’s The Geek Group.
It takes a certain chutzpah to convert a 43,000 foot former YMCA into a hackerspace. And an epic hackerspace it is, complete with 5 axis CNC machines, 3d printers, and of course, giant robots romping through a forest of Tesla coils.  The Geek Group has performed live demos in front of thousands of people over the years, and inspired tens of thousands more via the internet. You don’t work this big without having some big adventures, and The Geek Group is no exception. They’ve been through roof leaks, gas pipe breaks, surprise tax bills and angry neighbors. They’ve also been dealing with their current adventure, fire.

Unless you’ve been under a rock the last few weeks, you’ve probably read about the recent fire, and ensuing cleanup at The Geek Group labs. We’ve covered the fire and its cause here on Hackaday, with no small amount of drama in our comments section. There is a small but vocal minority who don’t have many good things to say. Accusations of cults, safety violations, and tax evasion often fly. While some groups would take this lying down, the geek group put on their flame proof suits and wade through the comments. None more vocally than [Chris Boden], the president, CEO and founder.

DISCLAIMER: The interview contains questionable content and some profanity (which we’ve altered as grawlix). We have posted the transcript as it was captured, which includes some spelling and grammar issues. Please consider these things before clicking through to the interview itself.

Continue reading “Adventures In Hackerspacing: An Interview with Chris Boden of The Geek Group”

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.

Continue reading “Touring Crashspace, the LA Hackerspace”

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.

Continue reading “Dallas Makerspace Tour”

Build and Control Your Own Robot Army

deltas

[Sarah Petkus] has a simple dream. She wants to build and command her own delta robot army. It all began with an illustration she drew of a woman hovering over a field of flowers. The flowers in this case had incandescent light bulbs as blooms. [Sarah] decided to create her image in the real world as an interactive art installation. Her first attempts at moving light flowers were based on a pulley system, which was unreliable and not exactly the graceful movement she imagined. Eventually [Sarah] discovered inverted delta robots. She changed her flower design to a delta, and began building her own delta robots out of parts she had around the house.

A chance meeting with the folks at SYN Shop hackerspace in Las Vegas, NV kicked the project into high gear. [Sarah] switched from using R/C ball links as joints to a simple ball bearing joint. She created her entire design in CAD software and printed it on the hackerspace’s 3d printer. She now has six working prototypes. The robots are all controlled via I2C by an Arduino compatible Nymph board. Six robots doesn’t exactly constitute an army, so [Sarah] had to find a new way to fund her project. She’s currently setting up a project for Kickstarter. [Sarah] will be selling kits for her robots, with the proceeds going toward the realization of her dream of a field of robotic light bulb flowers – Assuming the deltas don’t become sentient and try to take over the world first. [Sarah] posts progress updates to her blog, and has a dedicated site (which we featured on Sunday as part of a Links post) for information about her upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

Continue reading “Build and Control Your Own Robot Army”

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!

Continue reading “RFID Door Access Robot”

The Rabbit’s Hole: Creative Reuse and Stop Motion Animation

rabbitshole

The folks down at The Rabbit Hole Hackerspace have been busy lately. They’ve created an amazing stop motion animation short titled “The Rabbit’s Hole”. The three-minute film documents the journey of a white rabbit through several strange lands, including the court of a “hormonally imbalanced queen”, the sewers, a PCB wasteland, and a banana jazz concert. The rest of the video is a behind the scenes view, showing the incredible amount of teamwork that went into the film’s creation.

From set building to final photography, the entire film was shot in one day.  The set was split into 8 pieces. Each piece represented a scene the rabbit would journey through in the final movie. Members of The Rabbit Hole were able to work in parallel, each designing their own section of the set. Once the photography was done, [Whisker] took over for the process of editing and sound design. Just like in Hollywood, post production took much longer than the actual shoot.

The amazing part of the video is that most of the characters and set pieces are created from The Rabbit Hole’s junkbox. Even the star of the show, a 3D printed Rabbit wasn’t immune. Many rabbits were printed for the stop motion animation process. As can be expected, there were a few failed prints. Those prints became Rabbit footed Lamps, Tables, and a rather macabre rabbit’s hand in a tray. Even the camera dolly was welded up from some scrap metal and old roller blade wheels.

We like the way the entire hackerspace was able to come together to create something greater than any one of them could have done alone. This sort of project should be a template for other hackerspaces to follow.

Continue reading “The Rabbit’s Hole: Creative Reuse and Stop Motion Animation”