GeekSanta writeup

A surprisingly successful set of workshops were run over the last month, on soap-making, useless machines, and knitting decorations for christmas trees from chainmail. The useless machines workshop was run by Martin and was very successful. Those who missed out on buying a kit on the day may buy direct from him on his website.  For those who don’t know what a useless machine is, participant ntoll wrote it up, including a video.

The soap-making workshop started with some serious demonstrations of melt and pour soap and how to add dyes and pigments, but got very rapidly experimental.  Unfortunately there are no picture’s of Mat’s mustard-dyed “soap”, which is probably all for the better.

Pat ran the chainmail workshop, and taught how to make simple European 4-in-1 and European 6-in-1 with coloured rings to make trees.  This went well and the chainmail forest is shown below.

On the success of these workshops, we shall definitely organise more, although not quite so many together.  Any suggestions for workshops to be made via comments, Twitter, Facebook, the mailing list.  And roll on GeekSanta 2013!


Minimus workshop #1

Monday was a good day for hacking; we had an impromptu Minimus workshop.  This was surprisingly successful, attendees were able to get their boards programming in Windows or Linux as to their preference, and then start diving into code.

The devices aren’t as friendly as the Arduino boards, and the example source code will compile but not always run without extensive tweaking, but by the end of the session, in addition to a medley of flashing lights, we also had a one button keyboard and a virtual serial port that reported its button state.

Due to demand we will run another of these in April (2nd or 16th, TBC) and again will have Minimus boards available for use on the day or purchase.  There’s no fixed cost for the workshop, but donations are appreciated.  If you have a Minimus board or are interested in a step on from Arduinos, why not come past?

As a reminder to Northackton members who are also NSME members, their auction is on the 13th of March.

CNC hack evening writeup

Last night we had our first hands-on tutorial in the Yeoman of England.  This one was longer than our lockpicking one done in our very first meet.  Martin kindly brought along his router and a few PCs to control it.  The first was used with his existing setup running Mach3, and the second was used to investigate LinuxCNC/EMC as an alternate controller.

After some false starts we were able to take drawings in CamBam (or imported from Inkscape) and have them converted to gcode and drawn on the plotter onto a notepad.  Less success was had with the EMC software which rejected the PC it was running on as being too slow (100us jitter reported).  Still surprising that we couldn’t get it to turn an axis at all though.  Not that we read the manual much.  To do.

Nicholas kindly took a video explaining the process and has uploaded it:

Hack evening workshop #1 a success

Well we’ve had our first workshop, and the three talks given by Martin, Alan, and Stephen went down very well, and covered a range of topics and abilities.  Martin explained how to design physical 3D objects and manufacture them in the home (or pay someone else to, for the less brave).  Alan taught us that bigger softer running shoes aren’t always the best answer, and Stephen explained the many different ways data can enter a computer.

The slides for these are on the wiki.  The Yeoman of England appears to be a great venue, and so it’s already booked for next month on Monday 6th September 2010.  We also have permission to bring some equipment along, but I don’t think we can devise anything too messy.

Next week we have the traditional pub meet and there we’ll finalise the logistics for the Ballistics Day, and plan the September workshop.  More pictures follow

Events for August 2010

As well as the standard pub meet this month (Tuesday 17th August) NortHACKton is holding TWO other events. The dates for these events are up for selection by doodle poll until the 27th July where I shall pick the highest-voted days out of a hat of some kind, moderated by any mitigating factors that become apparent (site availability etc). Vote now!

Hack Evening Workshop

Our first workshop will be a series of short informal talks. These will not be held in the public area of a pub, but either a back-room or a community centre. Contact the mailing list or me directly if you’d like to give a talk. There will be time for questions and networking after each talk, and a projector for those with slides.

Ballistics Day

The previous rocketry day was a success. So we’re going to repeat it, but with the addition of trebuchets, or other catapults or methods of propulsion. Bring tennis balls, and then show how far you can propel them. Again, there will be a barbecue, and some raw materials for hacking on the day.