Arduino 101: February edition

February 6th, 2013 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

 Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Ever wanted to make something blink or buzz, but don’t know where to start?  This is the class that will teach you the basics of what an Arduino can do, and how microcontrollers are awesome!

The February class is on Friday nights, Feb. 22 and March 1, from 7-9pm.

Cost is $50, which includes a parts kit we’ll be using in class (it’s yours to keep!). Students will need to supply their own Arduino board and laptop. 

  • The class focuses on the Arduino Uno model, but everything works with the Arduino Mega as well. The Arduino Leonardo is new and I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but I expect it’ll play nicely.
  • Arduino-compatible boards/Arduino clones might cause some issues — pin layouts may be different, and in some cases they’re not 100% code-compatible. If you already have one, feel free to bring it in, but if you’re just getting started I recommend buying an official Arduino board.
  • If you don’t have an Arduino, they’re available at most local Radio Shack stores, and also at Micro Center in St. Louis Park. Or you can check the Vend-A-Kit machine at the Hack Factory! (And of course you can mail-order one, but where’s the instant gratification in that?)
  • If you haven’t got a laptop, please get in touch. We can possibly work something out.

 

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Arduino 101: January Hack Day edition

December 23rd, 2012 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

 Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Ever wanted to make something blink or buzz, but don’t know where to start?  This is the class that will teach you the basics of what an Arduino can do, and how microcontrollers are awesome!

The January class is on Saturday, January 5, from 10:00am to 3:00pm.

The January class is our first Saturday Arduino class. We’ll be running both sessions in one day, with a lunch break. After class, feel free to stick around for Open Hack!

Cost is $50, which includes a parts kit we’ll be using in class (it’s yours to keep!). Students will need to supply their own Arduino board and laptop. 

  • The class focuses on the Arduino Uno model, but everything works with the Arduino Mega as well. The Arduino Leonardo is new and I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but I expect it’ll play nicely.
  • Arduino-compatible boards/Arduino clones might cause some issues — pin layouts may be different, and in some cases they’re not 100% code-compatible. If you already have one, feel free to bring it in, but if you’re just getting started I recommend buying an official Arduino board.
  • If you don’t have an Arduino, they’re available at most local Radio Shack stores, and also at Micro Center in St. Louis Park. Or you can check the Vend-A-Kit machine at the Hack Factory! (And of course you can mail-order one, but where’s the instant gratification in that?)
  • If you haven’t got a laptop, please get in touch. We can possibly work something out.

 

Arduino 101: November Edition

October 19th, 2012 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

 Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Ever wanted to make something blink or buzz, but don’t know where to start?  This is the class that will teach you the basics of what an Arduino can do, and how microcontrollers are awesome!

The November class runs on Thursdays, 11/8 and 11/15, from 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Cost is $50, which includes a parts kit we’ll be using in class (it’s yours to keep!). Students will need to supply their own Arduino board and laptop. 

  • The class focuses on the Arduino Uno model, but everything works with the Arduino Mega as well. The Arduino Leonardo is new and I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but I expect it’ll play nicely.
  • Arduino-compatible boards/Arduino clones might cause some issues — pin layouts may be different, and in some cases they’re not 100% code-compatible. If you already have one, feel free to bring it in, but if you’re just getting started I recommend buying an official Arduino board.
  • If you don’t have an Arduino, they’re available at most local Radio Shack stores, and also at Micro Center in St. Louis Park. Or you can check the Vend-A-Kit machine at the Hack Factory! (And of course you can mail-order one, but where’s the instant gratification in that?)
  • If you haven’t got a laptop, please get in touch. We can possibly work something out.

 

Welding classes

September 15th, 2012 by danbackslide

New classes posted!  Fun with metal Check out: http://tcmaker.eventbrite.com/ to register for the classes.

Fun with Metal – October 2012 Welding class

This is the beginning welding class.  If you don’t have experience, this the class to take.
October class: October 16th & 23rd, 6:30-9:30pm
November class: November 10th & 17th, 10am-2:30pm

OpenSlide Open House: Friday 9/21

September 14th, 2012 by danbackslide

This Friday from 6pm to 10pm, stop by the Hack Factory and meet Terence Tam, creator of the OpenBeam construction system. Terence is bringing along some OpenBeam pieces for people to play with and hack on. And if cool aluminum extrusion systems aren’t enough for you, there will also be pizza…

OpenBeam is an aluminum rail system designed to use standard M3 nuts and screws, instead of pricey T-nuts or specialized connectors. The slots are also designed to hang onto 1/8″ thick materials — a common size for laser-cut plywood or acrylic.

This looks like a really cool (and reasonably priced) building system. Come by on Friday and try it out for yourself!

Arduino 101: September edition

August 27th, 2012 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

 Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Ever wanted to make something blink or buzz, but don’t know where to start?  This is the class that will teach you the basics of what an Arduino can do, and how microcontrollers are awesome!

The September class runs on Thursdays, 9/20 and 9/27, from 6:30pm – 9:00pm

The class cost includes a parts kit, which will be used in class. Students will need to supply their own Arduino board and laptop. 

  • The class focuses on the Arduino Uno model, but everything works with the Arduino Mega as well. The Arduino Leonardo is new and I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but I expect it’ll play nicely.
  • Arduino-compatible boards/Arduino clones might cause some issues — pin layouts may be different, and in some cases they’re not 100% code-compatible. If you already have one, feel free to bring it in, but if you’re just getting started I recommend buying an official Arduino board.
  • If you don’t have an Arduino, they’re available at most local Radio Shack stores, and also at Micro Center in St. Louis Park. Or you can check the Vend-A-Kit machine at the Hack Factory! (And of course you can mail-order one, but where’s the instant gratification in that?)
  • If you haven’t got a laptop, please get in touch. We can possibly work something out.

 

More laser classes!

August 1st, 2012 by danbackslide

Everyone loves lasers. Doug’s been proving that, he’s been filling up the laser cutter classes. So much so that he’s added two more classes, on 8/20 and 9/11.

This class will teach the basics on the laser, safety and all sorts of fun things!  Graduates of this class will be authorized to use the laser cutter at the Hack Factory.  Practice using the laser cutter will be provided.

For more background information on the laser cutter see the information on the TC Maker Wiki’s Laser Engraver page, and the TC Maker Forum laser cutter discussion.

Sign up for one of the classes at Eventbrite!

More bowmaking classes!

August 1st, 2012 by danbackslide

Holy cats, more bowmaking classes! Riley’s set up three more classes, on 8/12, 8/19 and 8/26. These classes have been pretty popular (I know my daughter had a blast!). Sign up soon before the tickets are gone!

The class covers:

  • A brief review of the types of traditional wood bows and focus on the American Flatbow, it’s origin and design (This is the type of bow that participants will be making)
  • An intro on the types of designs and modifications that can improve the look and performance of an american flatbow.
  • Types of wood used for wood bows, and their characteristics
  • The pros and cons of working with red oak wood.
  • Tools used for bowmaking, including hand tools and power tools
  • Each participant will be provided with all the materials and tools needed to make this bow.
  • Class materials will include exactly one red oak board per student, of dimensions 1.5″ by .75″ by 6′, selected by the teacher.

The class will include a brief description of what archery “tackle”, or gear, is needed to actually use a bow, including bow strings, arrows, forearm protection (vambraces), finger protection (archery tabs or shooting gloves), quivers, and bow cases. Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Class: Fire the Laser!

July 19th, 2012 by danbackslide

Get checked out and up to speed to “fire the laser!”  (As Dr. Evil Says)

This class will teach the basics on the laser, safety and all sorts of fun things!  Graduates of this class will be authorized to use the laser cutter at the Hack Factory.  Practice using the laser cutter will be provided.

Two classes are scheduled:

  • Monday, July 23, 6:30PM – 8:30PM
  • Tuesday, August 14, 6:30PM – 8:30PM

For more background information on the laser cutter see the information on the TC Maker Wiki’s Laser Engraver page, and the TC Maker Forum laser cutter discussion.

Sign up for one of the classes at Eventbrite!

Class: Introduction to Bowmaking

July 19th, 2012 by danbackslide

Learn to make a fully functional american flat bow! Two classes are being offered, on 7/22 and 7/29. The class covers:

  • A brief review of the types of traditional wood bows and focus on the American Flatbow, it’s origin and design (This is the type of bow that participants will be making)
  • An intro on the types of designs and modifications that can improve the look and performance of an american flatbow.
  • Types of wood used for wood bows, and their characteristics
  • The pros and cons of working with red oak wood.
  • Tools used for bowmaking, including hand tools and power tools
  • Each participant will be provided with all the materials and tools needed to make this bow.
  • Class materials will include exactly one red oak board per student, of dimensions 1.5″ by .75″ by 6′, selected by the teacher.

The class will include a brief description of what archery “tackle”, or gear, is needed to actually use a bow, including bow strings, arrows, forearm protection (vambraces), finger protection (archery tabs or shooting gloves), quivers, and bow cases. Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Quarterly Clean-Up: This Saturday (6/30/2012)

June 28th, 2012 by danbackslide

It’s time once again to do some concentrated clean-up around the space. We’ll be doing our quarterly cleaning this Saturday, June 30, starting at 10:00 am. This time the focus will be on sweeping up the accumulated cruft behind machines and workbenches, along with the usual straightening up and throwing out. Remember, the more people that show up, the less any one of those people will have to do!

After cleaning up, the grill will be fired up and the goofing off will commence. See you Saturday!

Arduino 101: Two classes!

March 4th, 2012 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

Lots of people have been asking when we’re doing our next Arduino class. The answer is soon! Arduino 101 is a two-night class in the basics of the Arduino and electronics. It’s designed for people with no background in electronics or programming. This class should get you moving down the road to microcontroller nirvana!

The cost includes a nice little parts kit, some of which we’ll be using in class.

There are two classes scheduled:

  • Session 1: March 15 and March 22, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Session 2: April 19 and April 26, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Both sessions are listed on the registration page, so make sure you only sign up for one. (Unless you really want to take the class twice. We’d be more than happy to see you at both sessions!)

Students will need to provide their own Arduino board, and a laptop for running the software. Details and prices are on the course registration page.

Arduino for English Majors

October 27th, 2011 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

We meet a lot of people who want to play with the Arduino, but they don’t know where to start. Back when I was getting started with the Arduino I was in the same boat. I’m an English major. I had no electronics knowledge to speak of, and nothing like Twin Cities Maker to turn to for help. It would have been so much easier if there had been a friendly makerspace offering a class…

Good news, everyone!

Arduino for English Majors is a two-night class in the basics of the Arduino and electronics. It’s designed for people with no background in electronics or programming. Taught by an actual English major (with help from someone who actually knows electricy stuff), Arduino for English Majors will get you started down the path of microcontroller-y goodness.

Students will need to provide their own Arduino board, and a laptop for running the software. The class is on 11/10 and 11/17 (Thursday nights), from 7.00pm to 9.30pm. Details and prices are on the course registration page.

Twin Cities Regional Science Fair needs you!

February 6th, 2011 by danbackslide

If you have a background in science, math, biology, engineering, or any other technical background, the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair would love to have you as a judge.

Twin Cities Regional Science Fairs

The science fair runs Friday, February 25th and Saturday, February 26th at the University of Minnesota Field House. About 400 students will need to have at least 3 judges evaluate their projects on Friday, between 4.00PM and about 9.30PM. It takes 10 – 15 minutes to judge a project — if you do the math, that means they need lots of judges!

Judges are also needed to evaluate student papers. This is all being done online this year; paper judging is running right now, and will go until Feb. 16th.

TCRSF also needs other volunteers to help with the logistics: Setup and teardown, checking in the kids, scoresheet wrangling, and all sorts of other duties. 400 students, 200 teachers, 1400+ scoring sheets — it all adds up to a huge undertaking.

I know there are plenty of talented technical folks in TCMaker, and I think you’d have a blast doing this. The curiosity and enthusiasm of the kids at TCRSF is amazing, and inspiring. I hope I’ll see some of you there!

New Year, New Wiki

January 2nd, 2011 by danbackslide

The TCMaker Wiki has been overhauled! We’ve moved over to DokuWiki, cleaned out the cruft and laid the groundwork for The Future. Work continues, so expect lots of non-existent pages for a bit. More info after the jump…

New TCMaker Wiki home page.

Read the rest of this entry »

The soul of an old machine

May 12th, 2009 by danbackslide

Atwater-Kent Model 20 chassis

Atwater-Kent Model 20 chassis

This spring I’ve been taking a hands-on class on vintage radio repair at the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting. The first radio I brought in (an RCA 96T1, ca. 1938) I thought would be simple. It turned out to be in pretty bad shape — bad power transformer, bad speaker, almost all the caps need replacing… In short, it’s turned into a major project.

So I switched over to my other radio, a 1925 Atwater-Kent Model 20 “big box.” It’s a lot simpler than the RCA: 5 01A tubes, 3 condensers, a handful of resistors and capacitors. I also thought it’d be simple, and I was again wrong. 3 out of the 5 tubes tested bad. The grid-leak detector had been replaced with a soldered-in fuse in an earlier repair attempt. Thanks to the museum’s massive supply of vintage parts those items were fixed in short order, but when power was applied I found none of it was getting to the RF tubes.

Luckily, this radio was made at a time when manufacturers expected people to repair things. Remove 8 screws from the front plate, and the entire chassis lifts out, revealing all the components. A bit of poking with a multimeter (and a trip to Google for a better schematic) soon revealed a bad solder joint. And a wound wire resistor that’s open, so I have to fix that next. Then I’ll have to build a power supply — did I mention this thing runs off lead-acid batteries?

I keep reminding myself that, with all the troubles I’ve run into, I’m learning a lot….

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