Regular weekly meeting

January 11th, 2010 by uptownmaker

Twin Cities Maker will be having its usual weekly meet and greet at the Hack Factory this Wednesday, Jan 13, at 7 pm.  This event is open to the public as well as members.

For those new to the organization, our weekly meetings are usually geek fests where you can meet up with and talk to people about whatever catches your fancy.  Ask for help, share thoughts, inspire and be inspired.

We’ll also start planning for the future of the Hack Factory.  We would like to start planning a kickoff event for the near future, and we’ll need a small committee of enthusiastic makers to help pull that off.  If you’re interested, come to the meeting and we’ll get you in the loop on that.

Of course, anyone wanting to pay dues or bring in tools (or anything else they want to contribute to the stocking of the space) is welcome to do so.

We’ll see you there!

Hack Factory

3119 E 26th St

Minneapolis, MN 55406

Use the side door, it’s yellow and just around the corner from the garage door.

View Larger Map


Help keep the Hack Factory in TCMaker’s hands!

January 3rd, 2010 by uptownmaker

tc maker space

As a part of the lease agreement for Hack Factory of Minnesota, TCMaker was offered the option to rent space in a tiered fashion: more space for more money.  Initially we elected to take the smallest section, with the understanding that, if another tenant wanted the whole space, the landlord could rent it to them instead of us, but only after offering us first right of refusal on the entire space.

Another tenant has approached the landlord, indicating an interest in acquiring the entire space.  TCMaker has until this Thursday- January 7- to decide what to do.

Here’s what we need from you: we need 31 more of you to pay your $50 in dues for the month of January by this Wednesday.  Pretty simple, right?  Some of you have paid your dues already, and for that we thank you.  Others of you intended to pay at our meeting last week, but were stymied by a technical fault, and for that we apologize.  But, the long and short of it is we need to KNOW how many people we can expect to pay dues this month, and next month, and the month after that.

Donations are, of course, still welcome; we’ll need more than this if we hope to buy cool toys to stock the space with.  And if you really can’t afford $50 a month, please contact me directly and we’ll try to work something out that will keep you involved and get you access to the space.

If we can’t get this member support now, this venture stands a good chance of failing.  If you want to see a hackerspace open in the Twin Cities, now is the time to step up and make it happen.  We need YOU.  Dues can be paid (cash or check, receipts will be issued) at this Wednesday’s meeting at the Minnesota Hack Factory, by PayPal to twincitiesmaker at gmail, or by mail.  The mailing address is available upon request- do not send checks to the Hack Factory address.

Mike Hord
Twin Cities Maker

PS- If you haven’t seen the Hack Factory space, this Wednesday we’ll be having a meeting at 7pm there.  As an added bonus, some members have volunteered to bring in electronics for salvage and sharing- you’re welcome to bring your own scrap to share if you like, or tools to aid in the destruction!  We’ve done this before and it’s always a blast!  You’ll find the Hack Factory at 3119 E 26th St; see the the TCMaker blog post for more details, note it is still a good idea to bring a chair with you if you plan on coming.

* 12/4/09 6:00 update we have already raised over half of the needed amount to secure the space for next month. We all are very hopeful and with everybody’s help we can make this happen. Again TC maker is also accepting donations above and beyond the $50 dollar mark, if you want to see this hacker space take off like many of the others around the country have it time to help out.

Also to be clear we are asking for more money because we are getting a bigger space, the whole thing and it’s pretty significant and still a bargain for what is included.

If you have any other ideas that might benefit the group please leave a comment or contact Mike Hord you can private message him on the forum his handle is uptownmaker.

Rapid Prototyper (aka Flutterwumper) Build Session (Sat. 11/7 2pm)

November 5th, 2009 by uptownmaker


There’s been a lull (partly due to my becoming a parent, partly due to summertime/school opening blues) in work on the rapid prototyping system. It turns out that this was a blessing in disguise because I recently got my hands on something that will make this project a significantly different scope.

My company threw out an old solder paste inspection machine. It WAS a machine intended for use inspect printed circuit boards after they’ve had the solder paste applied to them but before they’ve had components placed. As far as I know, it is in full working order.

Before. After. The first accessory.

In short, this is a working X-Y gantry with sub-millimeter accuracy. It does have SOME Z motion, too, but not much- I’d guess in the end we can adjust the limits and get something along the order of one inch in Z.

For a platform to build a prototyper, you can’t get much better than this. And it’s in my garage.

See the forum thread for further details or schedule changes.

TCMaker Halloween Contests!

October 19th, 2009 by uptownmaker

Halloween pumpkinTwin Cities Maker is having a couple of Halloween Contests,  Saturday October 24th!

See the forum for the official rules, information on prizes and entry fees. Note that all entrants will receive their choice of a Make: t-shirt or one of the latest two copies of Make: magazine!

The event starts at 2:00 pm and ends (about) 6:00.  The location is 15323 Painters Ln N, Stillwater 55082.

Business Meeting, Wed Oct 14, 7pm

October 12th, 2009 by uptownmaker

tcmaker_meetingTwin Cities Maker is having a business meeting, Wednesday Oct 14 at 7pm.  As usual, our meeting will be in the back room at Common Roots Cafe, 26th and Lyndale, Minneapolis. Topics for discussion:

  • Halloween Event
  • Grants
  • Maker Faire
  • Building the prototyper
  • Financial Update
  • Secretary position, still available!
  • Officer reports
  • AOB

Hope to see you there!

Business meeting, Wed Sep 9, 7pm

September 8th, 2009 by uptownmaker

Twin Cities Maker will be holding a business meeting on Wednesday, Sep 9, at 7pm, in the backroom at Common Roots Cafe, 24th and Lyndale, Minneapolis.

Discussion of continued efforts on flutterwumper build
Report on salvage night
Secretary position still open
Further discussion of clothesline races: location confirmation and rules confirmation

Please add items under this thread to the agenda.

Note that I (Mike) will be unable to attend this one, so Wayne will be exercising his VP superpowers to maintain peace and order.

Salvage night at Leonardo’s Basement

August 21st, 2009 by uptownmaker

electronic_scrap_1TCMaker is sponsoring an electronics salvage night. Bring in old electronics and we’ll all pull them apart finding useful and usable parts.

Please bring tools, if you have them! Useful tools for this project are heat guns, butane or propane torches, soldering irons, solder wick, solder, screwdrivers, bit drivers with replaceable bits, extension cords, and side cutters.

Join us at Leonardo’s Basement from 6:30 to 9:00 on Wednesday, Aug 26th!

Building a flutterwumper

August 16th, 2009 by uptownmaker


Twin Cities Maker has decided to build a flutterwumper!

Interested parties may join in by participating in the discussion on the forum, on the Wiki, or by attending our first brainstorming session this Wednesday (Aug 19)  night from 6:30-9 at Mike’s house.

We haven’t yet decided on a plan of attack- there are a number of good things out there on the web (RepRap, MakerBot, Valkyrie).  Come join the fun!

Business Meeting Wed 12 Aug, 7 pm, Common Roots Cafe

August 9th, 2009 by uptownmaker

Our next business meeting will be at 7 pm on Wednesday, Aug 12, in the back room of Common Roots Cafe.

Current agenda items:
Report on potluck
Electronics scavenging night
Maker Faire
Clothesline races- set a date
Building a flutterwumper- set a date for planning, preliminary build
Possibility for a clubhouse space
Secretary position is still open!

If possible, please either post items to be added to the agenda under this thread before next Wednesday afternoon, or PM me with them.  Agenda items posted in the blog comments may be missed.

Social Get-together Tonight!

August 5th, 2009 by uptownmaker


Anyone interested in meeting the Twin Cities Makers should swing by Common Roots tonight at 7 p.m.

It sounds like there will be a pretty lively group, with some new trinkets and gadgets to ooh and ahh over.

Art Car/Bike/Boat Parade this Saturday, Lake Harriet

July 21st, 2009 by uptownmaker

art car logo
This year, the annual circum-lake art car parade is “cancelled” because they were unable to afford a parade permit.

HOWEVER, this Saturday, an art car cruise around Lake Harriet will be taking place, followed by music at the Bandshell.

For more info, visit their website, and if you can make it on Saturday, show up to support some very cool folks who’ve made some very cool things!

Business Meeting Wed 22 July, 7 p.m.

July 20th, 2009 by uptownmaker


This time, at Common Roots in the back room.


  • Meeting frequency
  • Maker Faire progress
  • New Secretary
  • Potluck
  • Clothesline races
  • AOB

Any and all welcome!

18 Essential Skills for Makers

July 13th, 2009 by uptownmaker

The guts!!!

Shamelessly stealing the “Essential Skills List” format from @AntonOlsen at GeekDad, I wrote a post to my blog about essential skills for makers.

His list was a little long (100 items), terse (essentially one line per item, but with links), and slightly biased (heavier on computers than I might have liked, but to be fair, that is the most common geek fetish). I’m going to go for a shorter list, with slightly more verbose entries, and try to cast a wider net. If I get interest from this list, I’ll follow up with an article on each point going into more detail.

1. Calculate power consumption and estimate battery life- Most electrical projects will involve batteries of some sort. Having an idea of how long your project will run on a battery can save you a lot of trouble later- that wireless garden soil moisture monitor is probably not going to run very long on a 9V battery. Maybe solar is a better idea?

2. Spot valuable salvage- Not only knowing where to get it, but knowing it when you see it. Finding it isn’t too hard- curbs, alleys, and the classic dumpster dive. Deciding whether to keep it is the real trick: can it be broken down? Are there useful things inside (gears, motors, electronics, hardware, salvageable wood, springs, etc.)? Is trying to salvage parts of it a wise thing to do (upholstered items left outside are a great way to get bedbugs into your home)?

3. Spot eminently hackable, cheap Chinese crap- The glut of crap from China occasionally brings some real gems with it. recently sold some rotating LED-based “police lights” for $3, which connect to USB and can be turned on and off by pressing a key on the keyboard.

4. Find “prior art”- In the patent world, “prior art” is anything which suggests that the idea you are trying to patent (or have patented) was developed or described by someone else first. The existence of prior art can break a patent. In the Maker world, prior art is a springboard. Someone, somewhere on the internet did (or tried to do) what you are trying to do. They may even be selling bits of the project which may make showstopping technical challenges mere speedbumps.

5. Stitch a simple and serviceable seam- We’re not talking about making your daughter’s prom dress, here- just being able to neatly and durably reclose the seam on the Furby you just hacked into reciting the Vincent Price speech from “Thriller”.

6. Understand the voltage/current ratings on a power supply- If a battery won’t cut it, you should understand at least the rudiments of power supplies: how to get a cheap wall-wart AC adapter, what voltage you can use, and why it’s okay to use a 500mA supply to replace a 250mA supply.

7. Know which glue to use, when- Elmer’s white, spray mount, Uhu glue sticks, JB Weld, cyanoacrylate, and two-part epoxy all have their uses.

8. Know which tape to use, when- Duct, masking, Scotch, foam-two-sided, and (occasionally) electrical tape all have their uses.

9. Deal with recalcitrant fasteners- Sooner or later, you’ll want to remove a screw or bolt that is stripped, broken, or uses a security bit. Owning a wide variety of driver bits is a start, but knowing how to drill out a fastener or cut a notch for a flat-edge screwdriver should be somewhere in your bag of tricks.

10. Use a Dremel- ’nuff said.

11. Find the parts you can’t salvage- Locally or over the internet. You should know where local shops are that sell things like nuts and bolts by the pound, simple electronics (resistors, soldering tools, protoboard, etc.)(RadioShack is a poor choice for this, if it can be helped), fabric, paper, artist’s supplies, wood, hobbyist tools and toys. You should also be familiar with,,,,,, and, just to name a few.

12. Identify electronics in the zone between too-hot and smoking by smell- When you smell the smoke, it’s too late.

13. Strip, splice, and terminate wire- Trickier than it sounds. You should be able to splice wire using a crimp splice, a wire nut, and heat shrink + solder (note: electrical tape is NOT on that list). You should know how to use a wire stripper to strip stranded wire without cutting more than one or two strands. You should be able to attach a wire to your project in such a way that it will still be attached in two weeks, two months, or two years.

14. Create fairly neat holes of arbitrary size and shape in sheet metal, plastic, and wood- Nibblers, step-bits, tin-snips, chisels, awls, drill bits, and the appropriate Dremel bit all play crucial roles here.

15. Use Ohm’s law- V = I*R. Know it, use it, love it.

16. Tie useful knots- Bowline, taut-line hitch, slip, figure-eight, overhand, square, clove hitch, sheet bend. One or another of these knots will get you through most situations.

17. Solder.

18. Program a micro controller- nothing fancy, just something along the lines of the Arduino. Just enough to make it spin a motor on a trigger or light an LED or sound an alarm.

Original Post here

Mike H.

Business Meeting, 8 July 7 p.m.

July 7th, 2009 by uptownmaker

A brief business meeting will be held at my house tomorrow, Wednesday 8 July, at 7 p.m.  Currently there are no plans for food/beverages, however, anyone is welcome to bring snacks or drinks to have or share as they prefer.  My grill is out of order, however.


  • New Secretary (Theo has had to resign)
  • Dues (first payments)
  • Potluck
  • Clothesline races (committee?)
  • AOB

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