Colour-Code Your Way To Timber Satisfaction

As Hackaday writers we see the insides of as many hackerspaces as we can, and some of us make it our business to be members of more than one within reach of our homes. Thus it was that a simple but extremely elegant hackerspace lifehack came our way, courtesy of our friends at Milton Keynes Makerspace.

MK Makerspace have found a home within another group, the local MK Men In Sheds is a charitable organisation providing workshop and social space for hackers of an older generation. Together the two combine to offer both a huge range of experience and a comprehensive array of tools and machinery.

Order imposed upon the chaos of the MK Men In Sheds woodstore.
Order imposed upon the chaos of the MK Men In Sheds woodstore.

Woodwork is a strong component in the life of any Shed, and at Milton Keynes the Shed has been particularly successful in attracting donations of surplus timber. The stock of freely available mixed pieces of wood has almost everything you could wish for when working on casual projects, but despite continual sorting efforts had become an unmanageable pile among which it was often difficult to find the piece required.

Step forward MK Men In Sheds member [Ricky] whose solution was nothing short of inspired in its combination of simplicity and effectiveness. A large rack has compartments, each one of which has a coloured label. Along the front of the rack is a simple ruler calibrated in coloured blocks, and it is the work of a moment to offer a new piece of timber up to the ruler and place it in the compartment with the appropriate colour. Now any member with a need for a piece of wood  can easily select an appropriate one, and return any usable offcut for easy selection by the next.

This may be a simple piece of work, but its value as a lifehack in a communal workshop is immense. It brings to mind a piece we published a couple of years ago, about how a vibrant hackerspace follows a good wood shop. Never a truer word was spoken for people of all ages.

A Tale Of Two Raft Races

It’s the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and hackers and makers everywhere are letting their hair down and enjoying the hot weather on the water. By coincidence last weekend there were two very different raft races in the European hackspace community, at the SHACamp2017 gathering in the Netherlands the villages competed in a cardboard raft race, while on the other side of the English Channel the various hackspaces in and around London came together in a raft race using more conventional materials.

Some of the SHA entries needed a little help.
Some of the SHA entries needed a little help.

The SHA race came about through the happy confluence of a surplus of disposable cardboard tents, a sunny afternoon, and the inviting waters of the Nuldemauw. The aim of the contest was for hacker camp villages to make it from the bank to the end of the boat dock, a distance of about 100m, in a boat made from cardboard there and then at the camp. Meanwhile the London spaces met at City Road Basin in London with their more robust watercraft for a series of races, the aim of which seems to have been to be the first to get their crew disembarked at the other end of the course. and sitting in a chair on the bank.

Full steam ahead for South London Makerspace. Toby *Spark (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Full steam ahead for South London Makerspace. Toby *Spark (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In both races the inventiveness of the entrants showed itself in a wide range of boat designs. As you might expect those craft with a wider beam fared better than the far less stable narrower ones, with capsizes a feature at each location. Clear winners in the Netherlands were a pair of German teenagers in a very stable wide raft, while in London it was South London Makerspace’s catamaran that scooped the crown. There is a video of the London race which we’ve placed below the break.

The hackspace and makerspace spirit is at its strongest when bonds are forged between members of different spaces. Skills and capabilities are shared, collaboration opportunities abound. The sight of a bunch of European makers getting wet might serve more as entertainment than edification, but behind it lies an important facet of hackspace culture. If you’ve not yet been the spaces closest to yours, do so. You never know, one day you might end up on a capsizing raft because of it.

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Make Munich was Awesome

It was a good weekend to be geeky in Bavaria. In addition to our own Hackaday Prize Bring-a-Hack party, there was the reason that we scheduled it in the first place, Munich’s independent DIY expo, Make Munich.

If you’re a loyal Hackaday reader, many of the projects would seem uncannily familiar. I walked in and was greeted by some beautiful word clocks in both German and English, for instance. Still, seeing the Open Theremin being sold with an “as seen on Hackaday” sticker made us smile. And then we had a great conversation about [Urs Gaudenz]’s other project: DIY biological apparatus, also seen on Hackaday.

There were robots galore. Someone (from Gmünd?) was driving around a graffiti-bot and spraying the floor with water instead of paint or chalk to very nice effect. The full evolution of the Zoobotics robot family was on display. Even the Calliope (a German version of the micro:bit) booth had this cute Bluetooth vibrobot. Join me after the break as I dive into all of the great stuff on display over the weekend.

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