In an ideal world, shop space, tools, and components would be free. But until we get to that Star Trek utopia, hackerspaces will have to rely on donations from the community to help stay afloat. While asking for money, at least you can have some fun with it if you design and build an Internet-connected donation box.
Or at least that’s how [Goran Mahovlic] handled it for the Radiona hackerspace in Zagreb, Croatia. Not content with just cutting a slit in the top of a shoe box, he came up with a physical donation system that’s not only more informative for those donating, but more organized for those collecting the funds.
The key is a arcade-style programmable coin acceptor from SparkFun. When connected to a microcontroller, this allows the box to keep a running tally on how much money has been inserted. With the use of a RFM96 LoRa module, it can even report on the current haul while remaining mobile; perfect for when the hackerspace has events outside of their home base.
But counting quarters is hardly a task befitting a powerful microcontroller like the ESP32. So [Goran] gave the chip something to do in its spare time by adding a couple of buttons and an LCD. This allows the user to scroll through a list of various projects that are looking for donations, and decide which one they want to financially support. When the donation box counts how much money has been inserted, it records which project its been earmarked for.
More than one member of the Hackaday team has significant involvement in a hackspace, as member, director, or even founder. We talk about hackspaces quite rarely on these pages though, not because we don’t have anything to say on the matter but because even when we write in general terms our fellow members invariably think it’s all about them rather than the hackspace world at large.
For once I’m going to break the silence, and not only talk about hackspaces, but talk about my own hackspace in specific terms. Because, fellow Oxford Hackspace members, this isn’t about you personally though I’m using our home to illustrate a point. The topic is a thorny issue that must affect all spaces, that of donations of physical items. People want to help their hackspace, they have a pile of what they consider to be good stuff, and when they’re having a clear-out they make a donation. But, as we all know, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and vice-versa. Continue reading “The Complex Issue Of Hackspace Donations”→
If you’re going to pass the hat for donations to your hackerspace, you might as well add to the value proposition and give potential donors a little something for their generosity. And what better way to cash in than to channel the inner Brony in your donors with a My Little Pony themed dollar-bill vortex box?
Sick of the boring cheezy-poof jug her hackerspace was using as a donation jar, not-a-Brony [Michelle] was inspired by the CRASH Space mascot Sparkles, pictured left, to build a new box that will maximize donations by providing donors with a multimedia extravaganza. The Plexiglas box, resplendent with laser-cut acrylic hearts and spangled with My Little Pony stickers, is fitted with a sensor so that donations trigger an MP3 of the MLP theme song. A scrolling LED marquee flashes a gracious message of thanks, and to complete the experience, a pair of fans creates a tornado of the fat stacks of cash in the bin.
Putting a little [Twilight Sparkle] into your donation box makes good financial sense, as does providing incentive to deposit bills rather than coins. This project reminds us of our recent post about a custom claw machine which could be leveraged as a value-added donation box – just add a coin slot. And rainbows.
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?
It is my pleasure to welcome two new members of the Hackaday team. [Kevin Darrah] and [Kristina Panos] both have electronics backgrounds, and following in the tradition of the entire team they are long-time readers of Hackaday. Both are already hard at work. You can learn a bit more about them on the Staff Page.
While I have your attention the writers, editors and I would like to thank our parent company. We frequently refer to them as the “Evil Overlords” (actually, they started it!) but it’s turning out to be a really great relationship. I asked them to make a donation to Wikipedia in Hackaday’s name and they were happy to do so. Not only do we often link to Wikipedia in our articles, our writers use it constantly when researching for posts. Thanks SupplyFrame!
This kiosk was conceived as an interactive poster to help raise donations for a German relief organization. Instead of just providing a coin jar, the piece puts on a little show of transporting a two-Euro coin from the slot at the top to the repository in the base. Along the way many of the parts move, telling a story in that Rube Goldberg sort of way.
What is surprising to us is how much this looks like one of our own projects — at least up to the point that the display is painted. The link above shows off some pictures from the development stages. The prototype shapes up on an oddly shaped scrap of plywood with the coin’s path plotted out. After the particulars of a trip from point A to point B were established the empty spaces were filled in to add visual interest. If you take a gander at the back of the plywood you get an eyeful of protoboard and draped wires. A camera, Mac Mini, and Dropbox were included in the mix to share an image of the donor on the group’s Facebook page (with the donor’s consent of course).
The piece had a month-long home in the Hamburg airport earlier this year. See what that looked like in the video clip after the break.
If you feel the same way that we do about robotics, you probably wish that you had more experience with them when you were a kid. [Don] felt that way too, and he decided to do something about it. So [Don] and his partner started the Chicago based organization Bots 4 Tots, with the mission of introducing inner city kids to robotics. [Don] told us that his organization plans on starting the kids with snap together projects like OWI’s Jungle Robot. After a few snap together projects, they plan to introduce the kids to soldering and hope to eventually move on to a larger collaborative project that all the kids can work on. Of course, doing all of these things requires money. Thats where we, as the DIY community, come in. So feel free to hit up the Bots 4 Tots site and make a donation to support their worthwhile cause, we know we will.