June 26th, 7pm – Annual Members Meeting!

June 15th, 2013 by videoman

Hey folks! Just wanted to give an update to the community about our annual meeting on June 26th!  FYI- the picture below is hundreds of people watching Riley Harrison launch balloons at Northern Spark!  What a great turnout!


Acting President (David Bryan) here giving you an update!  We are having our annual member meeting on June 26th 2013!  If you are paid up on your dues, you are eligible to vote!  If you want to come in a see how this runs, this meeting is open to anyone, but topics for the meeting can only be brought forward and voted on by current members.

This year there are two board positions that are up for election.  The way our board and governance works, is that the members elect the board members, and the board elects the officers (Pres, VP, Etc).  This year our current president and secretary board seats are up for election.

Bob Poate, who is acting sectary, his board seat is up for election.  Unfortunately, he will not be running for a board seat this year, but he has been an asset for the organization and the board.  You don’t realize how important this position is, as often times it’s taken for granted and can be overlooked.  This is how we communicate with our members about goings on in our board meetings.  I personally want to thank Bob for all the hours of meetings, and times that he has spent helping us by gathering and publishing our meeting minutes and notes!  A big Thank You to Bob!

David Bryan’s board seat is up for election, and he will be re-running for a board seat.  Whether or not the board re-elects him as president is another story, however I would urge you to let a board member know your opinion, and vote in the election how you see fit.

Scott Hill will be posting a compete listing of candidates, and a Bio/Descriptions/Qualifications shortly to the TC Maker Wiki.


Hack Factory at Northern Spark 2013, June 8th 8:58 PM

June 5th, 2013 by videoman

The Hack Factory is going to be at Northern Spark this year!  We have some amazing Artists creating some super cool projects!  We also ran a fund raiser for the Hack Factory on Indiegogo to support these projects.  That ended last week, but you can still put in an order for T-Shirts or LED throwies here.  Make sure to watch WCCO Friday morning @5:10&6:10am, as they Interviewed us at the Hack Factory talking about our Northern Spark projects.

HF-NS-trebuchet-final-tshirtNorthern Spark is an over night art festival from dusk to dawn on June 8th 2013.  It’s free and open to the public, and is a completely walkable festival this year in the Lowertown part of Downtown Saint Paul.

Riley Harrison is bringing his Foshaybuchet project, and will be hurling illuminated projectiles down range, at large wall of steel!  We did a test launch of these this week, and they look like glowing fireworks!


David Bryan, Cali Mastny, and Aaron Prust are doing Steel, Exquisite Corpse of.  This will be a steel sculpture created by three artist over the course of the night, where each artist does not know what the section before or after looks like until the entire sculpture is brought together towards the wee morning hours.  Below is a sample we created to test out the process.


David Bryan is also bringing Strange Attractor to the festival, a wall of glowing lights that will mimic the phase synchronization of fireflies in nature.


Origami chair redesign: fixing FLW’s problem?

May 28th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Thanks for checking out my blog post!  As I promised in last week’s entry, this week I will reveal whether or not I solved Frank Lloyd Wright’s design problem.  The Origami Chair famously has a tendency to tip forward; especially as the sitter scoots forward in preparation for standing up.  Wright’s solution was to add anti-tipping feet; he added metal caps to make the extra pieces look more intentional.

This photo provides a good view of FLW's anti-tipping feet.  They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

This photo provides a good view of FLW’s anti-tipping feet. They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

My thought was to make the front feet larger, providing a greater surface area and, therefore, a lesser proportion of the sitter’s weight on the front corner of the feet.  Good idea??  I originally made the feet about 4″ long (a 25% increase from the FLW model) and then sliced off a couple of inches from the bottom of each side of the chair, doubling the length of the feet.  Result??

I still had a tipping problem.  The seated person wasn’t in any danger but the experience of getting up from the chair could still be a bit startling–not a desirable quality for a chair!

I considered tossing the chair out and moving on to another project until a fellow member of Twin Cities Maker mentioned that a chair with a tipping problem might make a great rocker.  Thus began a new design!

So, next I carved a model rocker out of polystyrene foam.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached. The paint chip that I have taped to the side is a color I considered for the chair.

Determining the arc of the rockers turned out to be quite a research project.  Eventually, I found a simple formula for finding the length of the radius of the circle from which the arc should be drawn.  That is seat height x pi.  I brought my model and 2 tubes to a steel-bending expert.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

Next, I made several steel plates to screw to the feet and tail of the chair so that I could connect the chair to the rockers.

Positioning the chair, just right, onto the rockers was challenging.  If there is a next time, I will get help holding the chair as I weld it to the rockers.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet.  You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet. You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.


Next week, I will discuss creating the exterior of the chair.

Steel, Exquisite corpse of – Drawings needed!

May 22nd, 2013 by videoman

IMG_3852Hello folks!  We are running the art project Steel, Exquisite corpse of, at Northern Spark this year on June 8th.  When we start out the night, we need one drawing that will help inspire us for the first segment of the art piece.  The first sculpture will have a theme of underground, above ground, and sky.

We want the first segment of the sculpture to be drawn by you!  Submit your photos by tweeting to @HackFactoryMN with the hashtags of #nspk38 and #underground.  First 20 people to tweet us before June 8th with photos of their drawings will receive two LED throwies on the night of the event.  Please help support this project by donating to our Indiegogo campaign or sharing this with your friends!

Cali, Aaron, and I did a small test run of Steel, Exquisite corpse of last night, and it turned out really cool!  IMG_3862

Origami chair redesign: a plywood foundation

May 22nd, 2013 by SLSolarz

Over the next several weeks I will post photos of my rocking-chair project as it progresses.  I welcome your feedback and hope that you will help me find a name for this chair.

My design is inspired by 2 sources: the Frank Lloyd Wright Origami Chair and the Converse All Star sneaker.  I’ve always wanted to re-design the Origami Chair as an updated, cool lounger.  The Converse reference came later, after hours of observation, when it struck me (and my friend Ann who stopped by the Hack Factory for a critique session), that my placement of masking tape around the rockers was reminiscent of a pair of red sneakers (more on this in a future post).

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

A few years ago I made a large, black lacquered version of FLW’s Origami Chair and I kept one for my own home.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

Using the chair at my home, I started my new chair by tracing a pattern onto poster board.  Then, I made another pattern about 2/3 the size of the large one, tweaked the proportions and used that pattern to cut the plywood.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this.  It is a slow process for me.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this. It is a slow process for me.

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded...

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded…

Once I assembled the plywood pieces I carved an ergonomic seat and back out of spray foam.  To create a smooth surface, I covered the carved foam in body filler and then did a lot of sanding.

Next week I will discuss the main design problem with FLW’s Origami Chair and whether or not I solved it.


Arduino 101 is back

May 20th, 2013 by danbackslide

Arduino microcontroller

 Sign up for the class at Eventbrite!

Arduino 101 is back for one one more round, just in time for summer vacation monkeying about. This will more than likely be the last Arduino 101 class until September, so if you’ve been looking for the intro course you’ll want to sign up!

This round runs on Friday nights, 5/31 and 6/7, from 7:00pm – 9:00pm

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!

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.


CNC Projects? Show us yours!

May 16th, 2013 by otto_pjm

Following the most recent CNC Class, which I think was a great success on many levels, I was inspired to make a project that has been on the back burner for awhile. I want to use a CNC to make some furniture. I’ve been inspired by the work of Gregg Fleishman, and as a starting point I cutout a scale model of one of his designs.


Read the rest of this entry »

Strange Attractors Project for Northern Spark 2013

May 16th, 2013 by videoman

David Bryan, Riley Harrison, Cali Mansty, and Aaron Prust are presenting multiple projects for Northern Spark 2013 on June 8th in Downtown Saint Paul! Northern Spark is an overnight interactive festival starting at 8:58pm and ending at sunrise!  We are inviting everyone to come and hang out, and enjoy the festival!  The Hack Factory will have three spaces setup for people to come and interact with the Art.

We are also in the process of fundraising for this project, currently we need about $3,800 to help cover the costs of materials, and $4,200 total to cover rewards. We receive all funds that are pledged.

Go donate now!

So lets talk about one of the projects, Strange Attractors.  You may remember me from such things as the Raspberry Pi powered cat feeder.  While I’m at it again, and making stuff with the Raspberry Pi.  I was asked create a few blog posts for MCM that talked about the Raspberry Pi Camera module that I’m going to use in my next project.

Strange Attractor1Image credit: Alex Weber, http://www.flickr.com/people/8123185@N02/

I am creating an art piece, Strange Attractors, for the Northern Spark Art Festival on June 8th.  Read the rest of this entry »

General membership meeting 6/26/2013

May 10th, 2013 by orion

This is a reminder that in order to be a member in good standing and be able to vote you must have your dues paid by 11:59PM 6/1/2013. If you have questions about your dues status please email treasurer at tcmaker.org More info to follow…

Reminder Bump

CNC Checkout and Intro to CAM Class

April 26th, 2013 by otto_pjm

Routing a skateboard mold

Learn how to use a CNC router to cut 2D and 3D objects out of a variety of materials. TC Maker has 3 CNC routers available at the Hack Factory, come and learn how to use them and start making your own awesome stuff!

The class will have two parts (Machine Check-out, and CAM gcode creation) with the machine introduction and check-out scheduled for 1pm – 5pm Saturday and the CAM workshop from 10am – 2pm on Sunday.

Intro to CNC Class Sign up here. It’s $45 for the 2 days of class

Read the rest of this entry »

A weekend full of gardening classes

April 23rd, 2013 by danbackslide

It’s spring! I know, it’s hard to believe what with all the snow we’ve seen over the past two weeks, but it really is time to think about building cool stuff for your garden. Mike Smieja from We Can Grow is running four classes this weekend, just in time for the warm weather to arrive. Hop over to our Eventbrite page and sign up for a class!

Build Your Own Rapotatotowerised Bed Garden

After this class you will go home with raised bed garden built by your very own hands and the knowledge to use it. We use all natural cedar because it has such a resilience to the elements, lasts for years to come, and it smells great. Along with building your garden the instructor will present a basic small space gardening class. This class is for all skill levels.

Build Your Own Potato Tower

Wanna grow your own potatoes for the year, but don’t have a lot of space? This class will provide the simple solution of a potato tower. In a space as small as 3’x3′ you can grow up to 60 pounds of potatoes.

Build Your Own Backyard Compost Bin

Nothing aids in success in your gardening efforts more that great soil. We have a growing need to reduce the waste that is put into our landfills. We all moan and groan about bagging out leaves every fall. We have a solution that addresses all those problems, it’s simple, backyard composting.

Build Your Own Kitchen Window Herb Garden

Nothing is quite as rewarding as growing and using your very own herbs. In this class we use a simple, attractive design that is very low maintenance. We will be using cedar because it is attractive and lasts for a long time.

MinneFaire Post-Wrapup!

April 15th, 2013 by videoman

The MinneFaire was a great success this weekend! 42 exhibitors, 690 attendees, and whole lot of awesome volunteers!  From this we were able to raise over one thousand dollars for The Hack Factory.   We want especially thank all of our awesome Volunteers and Exhibitors for making this event such a big success.


Satruday’s weather was not bad- chilly, but bearable if you were wearing warm clothing.  Sunday we saw that the temperature plummet, and the wind kicked up- so it would have been impossible to keep the tent warm enough for exhibitors.  So we made the executive decision to move all the tables inside, and squished everyone together, and it worked out great!

If you have photos of the event make sure to tag them with MinneFaire.  Thanks to everyone involved!  We hope to do it again sometime!

We also have a few on-line posts from folks:


Members to Exhibit at Minne-Faire

April 2nd, 2013 by skw33k

Dear Members,

Several of you have asked if there will be a table dedicated for our members to exhibit their completed projects/hacked hardware. Yes, there will be!

We still need you to sign up using our exhibitor sign up form — just make a note that you want to display on the TC Maker/Hack Factory table and be sure to include the size of the space it will consume. Space is limited and will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. Please do so by April 7th, as this helps us to plan our space appropriately. By signing up, you also get the advantage of exhibitor pricing ($5 for 2 admissions, which is a steal!).

Please note: you must pre-register or contact us prior to the fair to exhibit.

Go to the Exhibitor page on Minnefaire.org, and click on the signup form under “Open Call” at the bottom.

UPDATE (4/8/2013): We have closed the registration form, but we still have space for member projects. Please email fair at tcmaker dot org to reserve your space.

If you have any problems filling out the form, Laura, Riley or David would be happy to help you!

Thank you,
Minne-Faire Co-Chair

The Mill is Closing…

April 1st, 2013 by videoman

If you haven’t seen the news already, The Mill will be closing it’s doors April, 20, 2013.  We are very sad to hear that this space is closing.  It’s super important to have a space like The Mill in our metro area, as it provides growth to inventors and innovators.

Screen shot 2013-04-01 at 9.32.21 AMThe Hack Factory is a space for people to prototype, invent, share, learn, teach, and improve upon our community by empowering people.  Once a prototype has been developed in our space, and a production line is needed, The Mill would be any professional makers next step, and it will leave a void in our community.  However, we will be in talks with Brian to identify what works for our group, and how we can best support the community.

That said, we do welcome anyone to stop by The Hack Factory, and check the space out to see if it’s right for you.  Our Minne Faire is April 13th & 14th, and we have open houses every Wednesday from 7-9pm.

Convergence Costume Countdown Camp

March 30th, 2013 by swinkdaddy

Ok, way too many “C’s” I know. But I am trying to gauge interest in creating a workshop/class that goes over creating “your” costume for this years Convergence convention in July. I know, I like to work with like minded artists while creating costume designs. Thinking this could be an interesting group to put together and at the end show off our collective maker-foo at this years event.

We could go over topics like:
Sewing (yes sewing is fun and guys can be good at it)
Pattern making
Making molds and copies
Fabricating appliances
Latex mask creation
Leather masks
How to not pass out from heat exhaustion.

I’d like to put this together more like a camp. Where there is a topic and it starts with information, but the rest of the day is spent with as much or as little time “making” as you need. A lot of the time a person just needs direction to get from one place to another.

To give an example: You want to make a Mystique from X-Men costume. How would you make her signature skull belt? Well with silicone/latex molding of course. But were do you get molding supplies, and how does it work. Then how do you make copies? These were question I had and I am guessing there are a lot of people interested in coplay but do not know how to get the idea into reality.

Hey, if you are interested, leave a comment. Its never too early to start making a costume, but its often too late…

Shironuri No 96
Image is of the Maker (going by the name of No 96). photo taken by Tokyo Fashion

Raspberry Pi Powered Cat Feeder

March 28th, 2013 by videoman

This project is owned and operated by David Bryan and is not part of TCMaker. This work is licensed by David Bryan under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The documentation and updates have been moved to here: http://drstrangelove.net/2013/12/raspberry-pi-power-cat-feeder-updates/


Raspberrpy Pi 101 Classes Posted!

March 18th, 2013 by videoman

We have two upcoming Raspberry Pi Classes posted!

Classes start April 2nd, and April 20th.

So you want to play with a Raspberry Pi?  But maybe you haven’t been able to get one yet.  Well you’re in luck!  This class includes a Raspberry Pi, Wifi, Power, Cables, LEDs, SD Card!  This is everything you need to get the Pi going.  Don’t know what a Raspberry Pi is? Check out this article from the NYTimes.  The ticket includes $120 worth of hardware for you and the class tutorials.


Class Kit Includes:

Table Saw Etiquette

March 15th, 2013 by danbackslide

table sawTable Saw Etiquette

By Christopher Odegard, Wood Shop Manager

The table saw probably is the most-often used power tool at the Hack Factory, in part because its operation is relatively straightforward. As a result of the heavy use ours sees, the staff has to work diligently to make sure it’s running well and ready to go. There are a number of things that every member can do to help.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fix-It Clinic at the Hack Factory

March 6th, 2013 by danbackslide


This Saturday, Twin Cities Maker is proud to host the Hennpin County Fix-It Clinic!

Remember that broken toaster you’ve had sitting in the basement for a year, waiting for you to figure out how to fix it? Well, now is your chance! Bring your broken household goods and clothing in need of repair to Hennepin County’s Fix-It Clinic.

Fix-It Clinics reduce the amount of stuff that gets thrown in the trash, teach valuable troubleshooting and basic repair skills, and build community connections. These are family-friendly events.

Volunteer fixers are needed to make this initiative a success. Volunteers have skills in soldering, electronics and electrical repair, computer repair, sewing and general tinkering.

Please contact Nancy Lo at nancy.lo@co.hennepin.mn.usor 612-348-9195 with questions or to volunteer, or see more details at hennepin.us/fixitclinic.

Ham Radio Night at the Hack Factory

March 3rd, 2013 by mcsteve


Interested in amateur radio? Whether you’re a licensed ham, or just curious what amateur radio is all about, come on down to the Hack Factory on Monday, March 11th at 7PM. We will be having an open discussion about ham radio, and likely some demonstrations using the amateur radio station set up in the front lounge. This event is free and open to the general public.

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