New door controller controls all the doors

February 4th, 2015 by danbackslide

doorpadOkay, so it doesn’t look any different from the outside. But trust me, our new door controller is really quite new. The entire system has been overhauled so that it can handle more keys — no more full key tables! It’s also easier to add and remove keys. So make sure to keep your dues up to date, because we’re going to be flushing out keys on a regular basis…

There is one issue we’ve run into. Somewhere along the line we got a batch of keyfobs that don’t read correctly in the new system. That means those keys will no longer work. Unfortunately the only way to tell if your key is bad is to try it out on the door. If your key won’t read any more, shoot an email off to members@tcmaker.org, and we’ll arrange to get you a new key.

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A return to coherence! (i.e. the laser cutter is back!)

January 24th, 2015 by danbackslide

rejoicingMere moments ago, Jude and I replaced the laser cutter’s high voltage supply. I’m pleased to report that it is up and running again, ready for all your laser-based cutting and engraving needs!

Now that it’s back up and running, I’ve scheduled Laser Cutter Basics classes this coming Friday (1/30). There’s one class at 6PM, and another at 8PM. Both are free! Remember, you need to take a class (either Laser Cutter Basics or one of the more advanced classes) before you can use the laser cutter. Also, our classes are always open to the public — but you do need to be a member to actually use our tools beyond class time. So maybe you should come by on a Wednesday night, take a tour, and maybe join…

The laser loses more blue smoke [UPDATED x2]

January 9th, 2015 by danbackslide

dead-parrotSorry to report, but the laser is down for the count once again. This time, the high voltage power supply for the laser tube has rung down the curtain and gone to join the Choir Invisible. I’ll be shipping the remains of the HV supply back to Las Vegas tomorrow morning, and hopefully we’ll have a new one by the end of the week.

I had planned on running laser classes next Friday, but that’s likely too tight a deadline right now. So I’ll be bumping the classes out to Friday, January 23rd.

Keep checking back here for updates!

UPDATE 1/21/2015: A new power supply is on its way to us — Full Spectrum Laser is boxing it up as I type this. I’ll post an expected delivery date as soon as I have the shipping confirmation.

UPDATE 1/22/2015: Expected delivery date is Saturday!

Quarterly Cleanup tomorrow (12/27)

December 26th, 2014 by danbackslide

CleanupHope everyone had a good holiday! But now, it is time once again to clean up the shop. We’ll be doing our winter Quarterly Cleanup tomorrow (Saturday 12/27), from 10AM to 6PM. If you’re available, please stop by for an hour or two, or more, and help get everything nice and shiny again. You’re probably tired of hearing me say it, but more hands really do make for less work. There are also rumors of delicious food, for those who help…

And a reminder: The shop is closed during Quarterly Cleanup. So no project work, just cleaning!

Party time — the laser cutter has returned!

November 7th, 2014 by danbackslide

rejoicingLet the dancing begin, for I am happy to report that the laser cutter is back in service! The flow sensor has been replaced with a brand new unit which doesn’t spray water all over the floor. And as a bonus, the e-stop switch has also been fixed, so feel free to push the Big Red Button (though not too hard, for it is new, and we want it to feel welcome).

Everybody say thanks to Jude when you see him — he was the guy who crawled into the laser cutter cabinet to replace the flow sensor.

The laser is down. Please do not panic. [EVEN MORE UPDATED]

October 25th, 2014 by danbackslide

UPDATE 11/5/2014: Unfortunately the parts were delayed a bit, but I just got a shipping notification. Delivery is scheduled for Friday 11/7. We’ll get everything installed as soon as we can!

UPDATE 10/3system-down1/2014: Full Spectrum Laser has just received a shipment of flow sensors. They will be testing them this afternoon, then they will send out the parts either later today or (more likely) Monday. Shipping is via two-day air, so I’m expecting to get them sometime on Wednesday 11/5.The calendar will be updated to block out the time until then. Thanks for being patient, folks!

Original post:

Sadly, it is my duty to report that the laser cutter is down until further notice. The coolant flow sensor is leaking from its body. We will be contacting the manufacturer on Monday morning to get a new flow sensor (good thing we paid for the extended warranty). This post will be updated as soon as we have an ETA on the repair parts.

Project updates, macro and micro

August 2nd, 2014 by danbackslide

Time for a couple of updates:

The lobby is closed for now

The floor in the lobby was painted and sealed on Friday. The sealer will need at least the weekend to cure, and possibly longer than that. So, until further notice, the front door is locked and the lobby is off limits. Don’t even think about trying to go in there! You can get into the shop through the yellow metal shop door, or the dock door if it’s open.

To stave off your curiosity, here are a couple of teaser pics (taken before the floor was painted):

Scanning Electron Awesomescope!

This morning I met up with the SEM’s former caretaker, and he fixed a couple of mistakes we made while setting it up. Then he showed me how it works. So we now have a functioning scanning electron microscope!

That said, please don’t try to run the SEM without first being shown how it works. It’s a complex scientific instrument, easy to break if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ll will be working out the training details, and there may be a SEM party somewhere in the near future.

Here are a few photos for you to drool over in the meantime:

Science! Is Afoot

July 16th, 2014 by danbackslide

A while back I was contacted by Bede Willenbring, a research chemist at H.B. Fuller. He was getting some new equipment for their lab, and wondered if we were interested in getting a scanning electron microscope.

A Scanning. Electron. Microscope!
Stereoscan_260_panel
Obviously the correct answer in this situation is “Yes sir, please, sir!” Arrangements were made, and just a few hours ago we rolled a Cambridge Stereoscan 260 into its new home.

stereoscan_260_overview

As I write this, McSteve is working on getting it hooked up to the 20-amp circuit in the classroom. We’re hoping that by later this evening we can get Cammie (for that is her name) powered up. After that? No idea, really. If you know how a SEM works, why not swing by? (Mr Willenbring has offered to give us a hand with it once we have power, but more brains are always better!)

I want to extend a huge thank you to Mr Willenbring and H.B. Fuller for making this possible. For great science!

Shapeoko: It’s alive!

June 27th, 2014 by danbackslide

Thanks to the folks who helped put our Shapeoko CNC together. Last Saturday evening, Mark and Pete helped me assemble the hardware. Then on Wednesday, Bill put the belts on, and Jim and Adam ran the wiring and hooked up the electronics. We ran the “Hello World” test with a pencil jury-rigged in place of the rotary tool. Success!

Now it’s time to dial it in and start getting some experience on it. CNC people, let me know if you want to play with it. Not a CNC person? Hang tight while the Shapeoko gets calibrated, then we’ll start turning other loose on it.

Time to make a Shapeoko!

June 20th, 2014 by danbackslide

shapeoko-kitIf you haven’t heard yet, the kind folks at Inventables have donated a Shapeoko desktop CNC kit to Twin Cities Maker. The kit arrived Thursday afternoon — time to put it together!

We’ll be starting out at 5pm tomorrow, Saturday 6/21. If you’re interested in helping out, please come on by. There will be something for everyone to do. Of course if you just want to hang out, that’s cool too. The more the merrier!

The Hackmobile is coming to Minne-Faire

May 28th, 2014 by danbackslide

hackmobile

If you’ll remember, back in November and December we were bugging you all to vote for TCMaker’s entry in the Ford/Make: Ultimate Maker Vehicle Challenge. You might also remember that we won. (If you don’t remember — WE WON!)

What you might not know is that Ford has actually built out a Transit Connect based on our design. And now some exciting news: We found out yesterday that, barring any last-minute issues, the Hackmobile is coming to Minne-Faire.

So there’s one more reason to come see us this weekend. As if you needed another reason, what with all the awesome we have lined up. The fun starts at 11AM on Saturday and Sunday — we hope to see you!

You can see some more photos of the Hackmobile on Ford’s Media Center website, and on Make’s blog.

Minne-Faire V: The Poster of Awesomeness

May 3rd, 2014 by danbackslide

minne-faire-v-poster-small

This year’s poster for Minne-Faire is out and available. Look at that thing — ain’t it gorgeous? Chris Odegard really knocked it outta the park with this one. We need you to get it distributed. Drop by the Shop, grab some and put them up in places you frequent — the lunchroom at work, coffeshops, schools, restaurants, bars, and wherever else you think interested people will see it.

Please force us to print another batch. We depend on you to get the word out, and this is an awesome graphic that deserves to be widely distributed. Don’t count on somebody else doing it.

We are filling up fast, but there are still some places to fill if you want to display at this year’s Minne-Faire. Email Fair@TCMaker.org for more information. Remember, it’s free admission, and there’s no charge to display. (Although we’ll happily take donations!)

 

Space: The Ongoing Quest

April 10th, 2014 by danbackslide

As many of you know we recently obtained some additional space. This allowed us to move storage off the main floor and out of the wood shop.

floor.png

With the move everybody gets a bit more elbow room. The major portion of the move happened during quarterly cleanup, but we are not done yet.

The machine shop will be moving into the old member storage area, which will get the precision machines away from the grinding dust and general chaos of the metal area. Coordination with our machinists and area preparation is ongoing but it will be done soon and the move will follow closely thereafter. In the meantime, anything parked in the old member storage area is subject to being moved at any time. If you leave something there make sure it’s mobile, and expect it to move.

Remember to label your things in member storage with your name and contact info. We have to know how to get a hold of you. While neat, clearly marked storage is unlikely to be touched, there are occasions when even those areas need to be shifted to accommodate other members. As we settle into the expanded storage space expect a bit more shifting around then normal.

Minne-Faire V Approaches…

April 4th, 2014 by danbackslide

For those of you looking for Minne Faire this weekend, the dates have moved to May 31st and June 1st. It seems that some people just didn’t trust the weather after last year.

minnefaire_2014_teaser

Wow! Minne-Faire five. Has it been that long? Yes, it has. Plan on helping us celebrate.

This two day event will be returning to its roots. Admission will be free, though we’ll happily accept donations to keep it running next year. We’ll be showing off our expanded space and capabilities and celebrating all things Maker — that is after all what this is all about.

We expect the usual mix of old and new friends, along with our own members contributions. Music, food, fun, and the chance to learn new things will all be available for your enjoyment.

If you’re interested in participating, feel free to email us at fair@tcmaker.org. Slots are filling up, but there’s still time to get one. The coolness factor is as always our major selection criteria, but coolness is a very broad category. We are looking for both people who have stuff to show off and anyone interested in giving talks and presentations. Expect that the foundry will be pouring, blacksmiths will be smithing, lasers lasing, 3d printing discussions and much more. We know that’s not all there is, though, so help us fill in the blanks!

Intro to CNC: Sunday, March 9

March 3rd, 2014 by danbackslide

3D relief carving of the TC Maker logo

Twin Cities Maker has three CNC machines at the Hack Factory. For those who don’t know, a CNC machine is a computer-controlled router which you can use to carve out all sorts of 2D and 3D items. They take a bit of training to be able to use, so Matt is running a class this Sunday!

The  course covers the fundamentals of using the large CNC Router:

  • Safety
  • Materials you can and can’t use.
  • Powering up and shutting down.
  • Basic use of the Vectric’s Cut2D software which makes cut paths.
  • Basic use of Mach3 software which controls the router.
  • Basic uses and advantages of router bits.

To sign up for the class, head over to the registration page at Eventbrite.

Give to the Max Day Update #3

November 14th, 2013 by danbackslide

Unfortunately, GiveMN’s website has been down for most of the afternoon. Please keep checking back, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience…

In other news:

  • The skeeball playfield parts are being cut even as I type. Some problems with the cut files slowed things down for a while.
  • The yurt should be up Real Soon Now.
  • Art cars!
  • Steve’s smelter will be firing up shortly on its inaugural run. Come by and watch us melt stuff!

There will be music later, as well as beer. Come on by, we’d love to show you around! The Hack Factory is open until midnight tonight.

gttm_smelter

gttm_yurt

Give to the Max Day Update #2

November 14th, 2013 by danbackslide

Is it noon already? Wow, time flies when you’re sleep-deprived…
Give to the Max Day 2013
Donations are coming in, slowly but surely. If you haven’t already, please click on the lovely green logo and give us a donation. Everything you give through Give.MN today is being matched, so even a small gift grows almost like magic. Or if you prefer, like sufficiently advanced technology.


Fox 9 News did a story about Give to the Max Day, and it features TCMaker. Go take a look! Riley was also interviewed on KSTP’s midday news; we’ll put a link up to that as soon as we can.

Our big project, the skeeball machine, is proceeding along. We’ve got the target area pieces cut, sanded and stained. Electronics are basically working, but will need to be installed so that the IR sensors can be calibrated. The playfield pieces still need to be cut on the CNC machine, and somehow I’ve got to make a gigantic gauge to show your score…
Skeeball backfield pieces after staining
No sleep ’til skeeball!

Give to the Max Day Update #1

November 14th, 2013 by danbackslide

So here’s what’s been happening so far:

  • A yurt collar has been built
  • Lots of skeeball parts have been sanded (and lots of sawdust has taken up residence in my shirt)
  • The back part of the skeeball cabinet is standing
  • Cocoa has been forgotten

Not bad for just under 5 hours’ work. The Give to the Max Micro Minne-Faire continues all day! Feel free to stop by any time. And we’d be thrilled if you were to give us a donation — every donation made today through GiveMN is being matched by a host of fine donors. Click the green logo over there to the right, or donate at our Give to the Max Day page. Remember, your donations are tax deductible, and immensely appreciated.

The wood shop at 5am

The wood shop at 5am

Basic Sewing 101 — new dates!

October 3rd, 2013 by danbackslide

sewing

Sign up for this class on our Eventbrite page!

Always wanted to learn to sew but don’t know where to start?  Have you been sewing on your own but feel you need some guidance?  In this class you’ll learn the basics for sewing of all kinds of objects; useful hand sewing stitches, how to operate a machine sewing, and construction techniques, etc.  In class you will make a simple tote bag.  It will act as a sampler, providing a set of basic construction techniques that should leave you ready to tackle your next project!

  • Owning a sewing machine will be helpful, but not necessary.  If you have one, leave it at home for the first class.  Do bring it for the second class.
  • Be ready to purchase some basic sewing supplies and fabric, if you don’t already own them.  See materials list.
  • This is not an industrial sewing machine class. 
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • When: This is a four class series that will be held on Sundays from 6pm to 8pm, November 3 – 24.
  • Instructor: Lindsey Strange

Clean-up day approaches…

September 18th, 2013 by danbackslide

 

Cleanup

It is that time again. Saturday September 28th is the next quarterly clean up.

The festivities begin at 10 AM.

With the arrival of the Industrial Sewing machines and Sergers, and of course the Laser we will have a lot of outside interest. Lets take the opportunity to really get the place in order so we can covert that interest into members.

With the wood shop and metal shop in fairly good shape we will be concentrating on member storage and up for grabs. Remember our storage is designed for active projects and personal tools. We just do not have the space for long term, someday storage and hoarding. As always we will work out something if we know about it and some longer term out of the way space has opened up. But what we don’t know about may just be gone the next time you come in. Parking Permits need to be updated if you haven’t been in recently. Outdated and undated Permits mean you are letting somebody else determine that it is junk.

Life happens and if you cannot make it to Clean Up please try and drop by in the days leading up to it and do your bit.

The Fall brings more potential membership interest, more use of the space, increased class schedules and more events. With that the staff and board can get a better handle on what we need to do with the facilities.

So let’s get the Hack Factory in shape.

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