Hackaday Visits Toronto, Canada

Canada! Just in time for Spring to hit. I went to Toronto to speak at FITC, an arts and technology conference, co-host a Hackaday meetup with HackLab TO, visit the DigiPlaySpace at TIFF, and to check out Globacore’s new digs.

FITC is a conference which celebrates the creativity in technology. Pictured above is Diorama Rama designed by [Christopher Lewis] and [Creative Technologists of Toronto] and built over 4 days by participants at FITC. The buildings are laser cut paper, and participants create a simple circuit using an ATtiny. A message is coded into the chip in ASCII and the buildings blink an individual message back in Morse code, each building blinking a different message. It’s pretty interesting to use a Morse –> ASCII phone app (Morse Tools) to read the messages.

Looking at Diorama Rama with Morse Tools

Hackaday Prize judge [Micah Elizabeth Scott] gave a talk about her work. [Jessica Rosenkrantz] of Nervous System spoke about her company’s process when designing mathematically based objects. She spoke about her 3D printed dress pictured below and how it was made. Amazing! I also got to show off my newly minted Breathe project at FITC.

Kinematics by Nervous System
Kinematics by Nervous System

After FITC ended, HackLab co-hosted a meetup with us. A team from HackLab was a 2014 Hackaday Prize Semifinalist and won $1000 in components with their Retro Populator, a Pick and Place machine retrofit onto a 3D printer. We had beer as well as almond-cream flavored non-alcoholic drinks from the Luma Droid, a drink mixing robot. HackLab is a good-sized hackerspace, with a huge room for a meetup, a full kitchen and vegan dinner served frequently, plus a shop tools room all by itself.

Among the lightning talks, [Pearl Chen] brought her Intel Edison-powered alarm clock that has but one function — to tell her when she is running late. [Johannes van der Horst] brought a USB current monitor that had many of us fascinated for about an hour at the end of the evening, plugging in a phone or a battery just to see the numbers climb. [Eric Boyd] talked about the DIY Bio projects that are going on at HackLab. They are testing meat using PCR to see if it is indeed, beef. Ew.

[Andrew Kilpatrick] of Kilpatrick Audio showed us an older version of his synthesizer before showing us his newest revision, Phenol, which looks pretty slick.

[Hugh Elliot] spoke about a light-photography project. [Leif Bloomquist] spoke about a gaming glove project that Hackaday had previously covered. Leif had a Commodore 64 with him and all the games on it fit into 1 GB! [Nadine Lessio] discussed how many programs claim that you can become an expert in a few hours, but in fact, things are not easy. [Jay Vaidya] showed us an IFTTT hack which controls heaters and AC. [Andy Forest] showed us an impressive interactive model of Ontario’s power system that kids at Steam Labs created.

That was a super fun meetup! Thanks HackLab for hosting. We’ve got a bunch of upcoming meetups and larger events in LA, NYC, Bangalore, San Francisco and Shenzhen. Check our events page for what, where, and when, We’d love to see you.

I stopped by TIFF’s Bell Lightbox to see the DigiPlaySpace exhibit. [Micah Scott] did a collaboration with Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media which welcomes you as you walk in. Note: all photos are lifted directly from TIFF.net’s website.

My final stop on this tour was to visit Globacore’s new offices. We spent a day or so hacking on a VR controller for their newest game called Power Cube. Power Cube is an Oculus Rift experience with a custom game controller holding an accelerometer, a gyroscope and magnetometer that links into the game directly.

See ya Toronto, I can’t wait to come back!

14 thoughts on “Hackaday Visits Toronto, Canada

    1. Oh, yeah… I want to go to Australia too!

      Sophi and I keep joking that we’re going to announce the 2015 Hackaday Prize winners from an exclusive location in Tahiti but we’re not getting very far on the budget for that one ;-P

  1. A shame you guys didn’t get a chance to visit Toronto’s better hackerspace, “Site3 CoLab”. IIRC, HackLab was so anti-maker hacker-only that even it’s own founder gave up on it and left to start Site3 instead. A visceral example of the Hacker vs. Maker that goes on in some creative spaces culture.

    1. Hi Matt,

      HackLab were gracious hosts for this event and I’m thankful for that. I think each hackerspace and makerspace has some growing pains to get through which it sounds like you are describing. But I’m sure there’s plenty of room for both in Toronto, no need to break these guys down.

      1. I didn’t say they were gracious hosts. I just said it’s too bad you didn’t get to tour Site3, which is bigger and has a way better shop. In terms of touring, it’s generally neater to see the bigger and rarer things than the smaller and commoner things.

    2. They’re all a great bunch. I think that the downtown folks (HackLab) are just space constrained given that it’s right in Kensington where the rent is very expensive — so much so that their laser cutter was inside the bath tub the last time I was there! And tools for making take up a great deal of space.

      1. Most hackerspaces follow a common theme. First, you’re broke. So you can’t afford space or tools. What can you do without space or tools? Programming and electronics. But you can’t do much with those electronics, so you add 3d printers and lasercutters when you can afford to. Later you want to make bigger things, so a woodshop and metal shop are added, but that requires moving to a new location and almost certainly not being downtown by all the apartment dwellers. Greater Toronto’s big enough (both population and geography) that it could support a second hackerspace. One without much of a shop downtown, another with more tools elsewhere. Actually, there’s like, a half dozen hackerspaces in the GTA… lucky you.

    3. Maker/Hacker space nomad here. Hacklab moved from Kensington in October 2014. It is actually in a space 5 times bigger then it’s prior space, and frequently hosts nomadic hacker and geek meetup groups in the class room space.
      With that said as a nomad who travels around the Maker/Hacker/Tinker/Jobber/Mad-Scientest/Burners…. I have learned allot about the community and the adjacent counter culture community’s. Each space in Toronto is different, I have found no one space able to hold all the creativity and awesome that is the community. No space is better or worse, each is provides shelter to those in the community and allow the spaces to grow and cross connect. I help out on the flame effect builds at Site3, and I am a member of the Hacker community, as well as Hacklab Toronto.
      For those who are curious of all the the spaces in the city;
      Site3, Hacklab Toronto, Icewire, Interaccsess, Maker Kids, Toronto Tool Library. Not to mention the innovation zones in 2 of the public library’s, Make Lab, The Ultimate workshop, and more.

  2. Hi Matt. Just to correct your statement. It wasn’t THE founder of Hacklab that left, but rather one of the founders. And the reason for leaving was one of personal conflict that extended beyond a disagreement over the direction the lab should take. An unfortunate reality in a growing community, personalities will conflict. I like Site3, but to call it “the better hackerspace” is mater of personal opinion, and calling it “commoner” is an unnecessary put-down here, and somewhat elitist. Both spaces are great, and both are different, catering to different needs. [Oh and I’m not sure Site3 is bigger than Hacklab anymore, the new space is huge @2700sq ft – but yes Site3 does have a bigger dedicated shop space. Instead Hacklab offers a number of dedicated spaces for shop, photography, diy bio, food hacking, crafts, electronics, as well as a large common area]

    @peter: Hacklab has moved. It is now located at 1266 Queen West [Queen and Dufferin], in a much bigger space. Come check us out, open house is still every Tuesday, and occasionally on Saturdays.

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