Starving Hacker Fund

March 24th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Announcing the starving hacker fund, with $75. The kind people who took the arduino/gmail class have donated to the starving hacker fund for Twin Cities Maker.

The idea is to help out with the dues if you aren’t able to make membership for the month, get sponsored and you get your dues covered. The funds are here to be used so if you are in need then follow the link.

The fund will only be available if people donate, so if you would like to contribute to the fund you can as well.

Information and current fund total.


The Great Global Hackerspace Challenge

March 21st, 2011 by uptownmaker

It’s official- Twin Cities Maker has been selected to field an entry into the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge sponsored by Element-14 and curated by Mitch Altman!

In a nutshell-

– Your hackerspace will create a project to help with education, using US$900 (or equivalent) provided by Element14. The project must use a microcontroller and a portable power source.
– You have 6 weeks to complete your project, documenting your project as you go. All spaces that complete their project will receive 10 soldering setups.
– Three hackerspaces’ projects will be chosen as finalists to present at the Grand Finale at the San Francisco Maker Faire. All three of these spaces will receive some really nice electronic test equipment. One person from each space will be flown out to present their project at the San Francisco Maker Faire over the weekend of 21-May & 22-May.

Week 1
– Introduce your team (video would be a great way to do this), explain your hackerspace’s philosophy, and provide a top level summary of your first week
Week 2
– Provide a basic outline of the materials you will be using in your build and any key challenges you anticipate
Week 3
– Provide an update on the status of your build and quick summary of obstacles encountered and how they are being addressed
Week 4
– Is everything going to plan? Perhaps provide footage of a visit to an educational institution you’re working with
Week 5
– In your penultimate week provide a review of the challenge to date. Is the pressure on? What have you learned?
Week 6
– This is the time to really showcase your build, why it works and what features make it stand out.

So, time to kick it in gear. The project that has been selected is the 10x scale breadboard that Jude and I have been talking about. Jude, John B and myself are all excited to be involved with this- anyone else who wants to contribute ideas, time, and anything else is welcome to do so. Because of the short timetable we need to get started post haste and probably have multiple work events per week- with the first meeting being tonight at 8pm.

There’s a post for this in the “Group projects” section of the forum; we’ll talk tonight about how we want to coordinate our efforts (new Google group, new forum category, or something else) for this project.

Let’s show ’em what we can do!

Handmade Music 5

March 15th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak


Sunday, March 27 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm @ The Hack Factory

Handmade Music is an open event series for people who make stuff that makes music, from instruments to electronics to software. Events include workshops, get-togethers, and live music, all are welcome.

Handmade Music: Minneapolis Blog | Facebook Event

Presenting at Hmmm5:

Pi Day 3/14/11, 7 PM

March 13th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak


Pi day at the factory 3.14.11

Help celebrate this last year in pi, one where we learned that two quadrillionth “bit”  of pi is 0.

More on the forum.

Hack Factory Open Hack 3.10.11

A few pictures from 3/10/11’s open hack are up on TC Maker’s Flickr as well.

3/2/2011 Open Hack Night

March 3rd, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

More Pictures at TC Maker’s Flicker Group

Promo Flyers for TCMaker Minne-Faire 2011, April 9

February 27th, 2011 by wammie

Twin Cities Maker is gearing up for its Minne-Faire on April 9 and we’re spreading the word! Here are some flyers which can be printed up and distributed. We have a full sheet version and quarter sheet version, both for 8.5″ x 11.0″ sheets. The quarter sheet versions are great for leaving at coffee shops or other businesses. We suggest printing on red card stock, but whatever you have on hand to print on is fine too!

Click on a thumbnail image below to get the PDF version.

If you’re able to post any flyers, we’d appreciate it! Please remember to gain permission for posting or leaving flyers at business places.

Thumbnail for TCMaker Minne-Fair 2011 flyer, full sheet

2/23/11 Open Hack

February 24th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

“Wednesday nights at the hack factory are more fun than drinking cod liver oil”

@ the Hack Factory

Open Hack Night 2/16/11

February 17th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Some shots from the ongoing Wednesday Open Hack Nights that happen ever so often at the Hack Factory. I got the chance to test out my new toy a Cannon’s s95. There was as always lots of neat stuff going on, The unveiling of  the TCMaker Bat Signal, and the long neglected Hack Factory Sign started to get some color, a new member showed off his lock picks and was given his complimentary plastic coordinated box, plus other stuffs. A few new people checked the place out, it was pretty fun.

On another note there are lots of awesome things going on in the way of classes and talks at the Factory

Woodworking class starting May 21, 2011.
First third Friday electronics night
Intro To Arduino (full)
Roundabout Dog Challengee ending on February 23rd
HandMade Music: Minneapolis 5 on April 20th.
Twin Cities Science Fair (not at the Factory) on February 25th

check the last week or so of blog posts for all the stuff update, you can also check out our somewhat neglected calendar. Plus there are a few class ideas brewing over on the forums.

Woodworking Classes

February 16th, 2011 by jrsphoto


From May  21, 2011 through June 4th, I’ll be hosting 4 session class woodworking basics. The first few weeks I’ll cover the woodworking tools currently at the HackFactory, some hand tools, wood finishing, and general project assembly.

The final two week I’ll plan to leave open for any projects you would like to work on with the group.

The fee for this class is $25 with all proceeds going directly back to the Twin Cities Maker.

Sign-up here

Wednesday Open Hack Night

February 8th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Pictures from Last week’s Wednesday Open House Hack, that happens every week. Lots of stuff going on as usual.

For those of you thinking about coming down and checking out the hack factory you are more than welcome. A good way to go about it is to wander around and ask people what they are up to, we are a friendly bunch. It’s also recommended to bring a laptop along if you want to stay a bit longer, we got the wifi thing happening. People start showing up around 6~6:30 open house starts at 7:00pm, and people start filtering out around 9~11pm. Bring cool projects to show off if you are, indeed working on something or things!

This week we are also trying to do a showing of Make:Live. This is set to happens at 8:00pm

Update: Jwb can’t make it, so if someone is willing to set this up go for it.

Lots of shots of the happenings from February 2nd. There are some pictures of my (Paul) failed attempt at filling a tape cast full of foam to be entered into our Roundabout dog contest.

Also Videoman took a video of the shop showing what it looks like on a Wednesday @ the Hack Factory in the middle of winter in Minneapolis.

Free Geek Minneaoplis

February 1st, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Back when TCmaker was meeting in coffee shops the people that wanted to start this free linux computer thing stopped by and we got to know each other. We were going to try to work together but at the early stages of planning that we both were in it just didn’t seem to work out. On Sunday at Handmade Music: Minneapolis one of the members stopped by, turns out they are doing quite well and are called Free Geek.

What is Free Geek Twin Cities?

Free Geek Twin Cities (FGTC) is dedicated to addressing the following issues though direct, local, community-driven action:

* The Digital Divide
* Electronic Waste (eWaste)

The Digital Divide and Education

There are still many people in our community that do not have access to computers and the Internet, or do not possess the skills to adequately leverage these technologies. There are many reasons for this gap in our population, but one of our main goals is alleviate this problem through work and education. Volunteers work in programs where they gain skills on how to use, build, and understand computers, and in the process earn a free computer.
Electronic Waste and Reuse

With the rapid growth of technology, our community has created large quantities of electronic waste. FGTC accepts this waste and its first goal is to reuse this material and refurbish it into a new computer to give to volunteers or to sell in our thrift store. It is not always possible to reuse all the materials we get, so we are dedicated to recycling those materials in a way that is both environmentally and socially friendly.

From Free Geek

The Machine That Goes PING!

February 1st, 2011 by noise

I never appreciated my internet connection enough when I lived in the city. Now that I’m a country mouse I think it really IS a series of tubes. Reliable it’s not. So I thought it would be fun to use an Arduino, my BlinkM and a bit of python to create a visual network monitor.

Here are the steps:

1. Plug your BlinkM into analog ports 2-5 (the standard way instructed by ThingM).

2. Load the Communicator sketch from ThingM onto your arduino.

3. Run the python script. This must be run as Administrator on windoze and although I haven’t tried it yet I believe it must be run as root on Linux. The code should be safe, but review it anyway for your own piece of mind.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dale Dougherty on Makers

February 1st, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Dale Dougherty here giving an awesome talk on makers and their place in America (Hackerspaces included)

America was built by makers — curious, enthusiastic amateur inventors whose tinkering habit sparked whole new industries. At TED@MotorCity, MAKE magazine publisher Dale Dougherty says we’re all makers at heart, and shows cool new tools to tinker with, like Arduinos, affordable 3D printers, even DIY satellites.

Beckie’s Axman Go Set

February 1st, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

1 Box
1 square heavy mat
180 white beads
181 black (oil colored) beads
2 bags

Make a 19/19 grid on the mat.
Use black paint to paint top of box black.
Use white paint to paint Go and mini Go board on top of box.
Put the beads in the bags.
Put the bags and mat in the box.

To Play:
Take the board out of the box.
Take the bags of beads out of the box.
Take the beads out of the bags.

All items available, at least at one point in time, from Minnesota’s favorite Surplus Store Ax-Man.

Simple Diet Coke and Mentos Nozzles

February 1st, 2011 by noise

There are various plans for nozzles online but I wanted something simple and a bit more elegant (if that’s possible with PVC) than what I was seeing. I also wanted my nozzles to use as few parts as possible.

Here’s what I came up with:


* 1” PVC threaded to smooth adapter
* 3/4” PVC end cap that fits inside the smooth end of the adapter
* 12, 16 or 20 ounce plastic bottle of soda. Some caps work much better than others, look for the ones with numerous thin knurls. Regular Pepsi caps are good for instance.
* PVC cement.
* 5 minute epoxy.
* A nail or non tapered toothpick to use as a trigger. It has to be long enough to go all the way through the 1” adapter and stick out on both sides.
* String to use for the remote trigger.
* Drill.
* Drill bit the same diameter or slightly larger than your trigger.
* 3/16” drill bit.
* Hobby knife or Dremel with a spiral cutting bit.
* 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi.
* Package of mint Mentos

Read the rest of this entry »

LED Signboard on the Wiki

January 31st, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Pete put his code and design for his LED signboard up on TC Makers wiki.

You can find the project here.

Bare Bones Arduino and A set of GE Color Effects lights (36 count)

Right now the code is all in C, and Pete is looking for some help if your interested he brought it to last Wednesday’s Hack night and might bring it this week.

Handmade Music: Minneapolis 4 Roundup

January 31st, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Handmade Music 4 was a success about 30 or so people made their way to the event, that was pretty neat and overall it was a good time.

Pictures and a short review are over at TCMaker’s Handmade Music: Minneapolis Blog.

Hmmm5 is scheduled for sometime in February, a post announcing it will come in the future.

Roundabout Dog Challenge

January 27th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

Roundabout Dog = Homemade Dog Sculpture + Roundabout

Deadline: February 23rd

Prize: A picture of your roundabout dog framed and displayed in the basement of Minneapolis’ Hackerspace the Hack Factory, bragging rights.

How to Enter: Anyone can enter, kudos if your from another Hackerspace. Send a picture of your roundabout dog, the gps coordinates (Lat,Long), your name, and anything else you would like to say to

How to Win: A winner will be chosen on February 23rd based on’s decidedly geeky atmospheric noise random number generator. The more dogs you enter, the better chance you have to win.

For those of you in the Minneapolis area, a few brave souls, myself included will be at TCmaker’s weekly Wednesday hack meting on February 2nd, and we will be putting together some roundabout dogs. The meetings are informal and open to the public and usually start around 7pm or so.

The Hack Factory likes roundabout dogs.

Jan. 26th Wednesday Roundup

January 27th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

A few shots from Jan. 26th’s open meeting at the Hack Factory, lots of interesting things going on, a few things of note.

Two bows (the bow and arrow type) were being built, a successful foray into C turned some addressable Led lights into an array that spoke of “Hey Jude”, a new permutation of the arduino The Arduino Stripper saw the light of day and half a dozen or so were sold for 10 bucks a piece. The makerbot got introduced to Hunter S. Thompson’s double thumb.

The Hack Fac got introduced to Make’s new streaming show, Make: Live. Wayne started to try un-hacking the garage remote control that stopped working after the first attempt. Mike had his gloves on cleaning the gears of a piece of our equipment that has seen better days. Paul lost to Mat several times at Go.

It was a great night, a lot of other stuff was happening that I didn’t get a chance to take photos of. It was great seeing everyone. See you guys at this weekend’s Handmade Music: Minneapolis Hmmm4

Short video of a work in progress at the Hack Factory. These LED are addressable.

The message kind of says “Hello Jude!”

Clothes Line Racing 2010

January 5th, 2011 by Paul Sobczak

2010 Clothes line racing in review, enjoy some of the photos in this flickr slideshow. Photo by tirsek.

TC Maker would also like to extend a big thanks to the wonderful people over at Make: Magazine who donated many gifts for the occasion, and to Bill Gurstelle who sent us an autographed book. Thanks Bill and Make!

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