Make Lehigh Valley Make Hardware, Make Software, Make Art

27Mar/140

Standing Desk Mod

Standing desks have become pretty huge lately. They are said to be a great way to avoid the long hours of sitting that accompanies many jobs. After using one for a few weeks when I was working in Germany I understood the hype and when I got home I had to have one for myself.

The first thing I thought was that I didn't want to just make a tall desk. That would have made it so I was always stuck with a standing desk. Sometimes you need to just sit down. When I looked for pre-made convertible standing desks I found out that they were ridiculously expensive. I knew I needed to make my own desk or modify the one I had.

I racked my brain for a while thinking what to do. I thought of some ideas that would put a new top on my desk that could be lifted but that seemed like a big task. Then I came across an eBay listing for 18 inch stroke linear actuators that run at 24 volts and could lift 600lbs. They were being sold by surpluscenter.com. Each actuator was about $45.

Using 4 linear actuators, a 24V linear power supply, an arduino, a relay board with 8 relays, and a few other components I created a convertible standing desk.

Check out the video below for a tour of the desk.

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23Mar/140

Should a Maker go to a Hackathon?

We invited Tim Lytle of LV Hack (among other things) to share his argument for why a hardware hacker should join an event that is traditionally for software hackers. They're really interested in having more hardware guys around to bring new ideas and make new things possible. There is some fun to be had! -- Josiah


What's a Hackathon?
First things first: A hackathon is an event - generally a few days on a weekend - that brings people together to build interesting things, all the while learning about new technology and sharing experiences. People may 'hack' on something: take a technology, exsisting product, or open source software, and repurpose it into something else, add features, or explore new uses. Other's may 'hack' something together: take various building blocks, APIs, hardware platforms, and create something completely new and unique.

What's a Hacker, and a Hack?
It's probably safe to say that most makers wouldn't raise an eyebrow at those terms - but in case the definition is a bit fuzzy, a hacker is simply someone really good at solving problems and overcoming limits in ways that may not seem obvious to most. Paul Graham has said that a hacker is "someone who can make a computer do what he wants—whether the computer wants to or not." And a hack is the imaginative, clever, and perhaps crafty output of that hacker. "Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness that went into it" is how the Jargon file distils the meaning.

If you think that sounds a little like the software version of a maker - well, you'd be right.

But hacking is not really limited to software, and making is not really limited to just the things we can physically touch - so I'd venture to say that a hacker and a maker are pretty much the same thing.

But Why a Hackathon?
That's a fair question. Whether you're tinkering on a robot (or laser), working on some software project, or building something with a microcontroller - there's weeknights after work, open hack nights at the makerspace, and every other weekend. What makes a weekend hackathon so different?

It's for all those ideas that you're not working on yet. The ones that would take more than just a few nights to test the potential, or that need another set of eyes, a second pair of hands, or a few more heads to really figure out. And even when it's not your idea, it's a great opportunity to see what's bouncing around in someone else's head, and end up making something that inspires your next idea. 

The people you meet at a hackathon can become lifelong friends, partners on projects, and even at times the team that takes a hack of an idea, and turns it into something much bigger.

And while traditionally people think of hackathons as a place for software developers, that distinction is becoming less and less true. From software to embedded devices to mechanical engineering - we've seen a variety of hacks at our hackathons over the past few years. And we expect even more variety this time around, as our venue is the Wilbur Powerhouse with a assortment of printers and prototyping tools.

So yes, a maker should definitely go to a hackathon - and fortunately for you, there's one going on in just a few weeks. See you there?

 

20Mar/140

Lehigh Valley Science Festival

LV-Sci-Fest-Collage-Feb-2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014 (Rain or Shine) 9:30 am - 5 pm at Coca-Cola park, Allentown, PA

It a free family event for with fun for all ages!  There will be a Text and Drive Simulator by AT&T, Gummy Worms and Fingerprints by the Cedar Crest College Chemistry Department, Hands-on Lego Building and Robotics by Igutech, Robotics, 3D Printers, Music, and More by Da Vinci Science Center's SPOT Program, and SO many more activities!

Event Details | ActivitiesGeneral Description

2Feb/140

Correction: Mini Maker Faire Lehigh Valley – Free for non-commercial exhibitors

Yesterday's blog entry stated that all exhibitors would have a fee. This is not correct. The fee only applies to commercial vendors. Non-commercial vendors will be able to exhibit for free. All you need to do is sign up and get on the list.

So, what else are you waiting for? Sign-up!

1Feb/140

Mini Maker Faire Lehigh Valley Town Hall Report

We were at the Town Hall today about the Mini Maker Faire Lehigh Valley happening April 26th. It sounds like it will be amazing and is positioning quickly to be an incredible celebration of making and makers in the Lehigh Valley. There are opportunities for just about anyone in the Lehigh Valley to get involved. The enthusiasm for this event is amazing and it's going to be a lot of fun to be involved in any capacity.

Mini Maker Faire Lehigh Valley

Who is a Maker?
Check out the variety of makers mentioned at the town hall!

  • knitters
  • gardeners
  • quilters
  • cooks
  • paper-craft enthusiasts
  • engineers
  • woodworkers
  • musicians
  • 3D printers
  • beer brewers
  • much more

Everyone is welcome to come share what they enjoy making with the community. There are opportunities to have a table, give a performance or give talks.

Sign-up To Show What You Make

Exhibiting
Top priority at this point is to figure out how much interest there is in exhibiting. If you have any interest in exhibiting, you'll want to sign up for the "Call to Makers". This will give the organizers an idea of what you'd like to share and how to keep you informed as things develop. We're expecting something between 50 to 300 makers and we'd be glad to have you be one of them. (If you're a Make Lehigh Valley fellow, note that when filling out the form so you can be around the rest of us.) We may end up with a whole section to ourselves. There will be an exhibitor fee Non-commercial vendors will be free! Exhibitors who are selling items will have a modest fee, but what that will be has not been determined yet. Don't let that stop you from signing up to exhibit.

Find out more about exhibiting by signing-up.

Free Admission
Admission to the event will be free to the entire community. Feel free to start getting the word out there to friends, family and co-workers about the event. We heard of a paper rocket booth already being worked on to allow kids to build and launch some really amazing paper rockets. This has been a huge hit among kids (and adults) at other Maker Faires so it'll be great to bring this to the valley. Other child focused events will also be around. Make Lehigh Valley will likely be teaching soldering again. 3D printers are almost certainly going to be spread around to enjoy.

Sponsors & Partners
There has already been a significant interest in sponsoring this event.  It will be held at ArtsQuest. That will be a beneficial partnership. Lehigh University's Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation is also closely connected to helping make this happen. PBS39 is also very interested in both fiscal and other assistance. Lehigh Valley Tech and Make Lehigh Valley are, of course, closely connected with helping organize this whole event. We hear others are lining up to be a part also.

Find out more about sponsorship.

Volunteers
There are opportunities for people interested in volunteering for this event also. If you are passionate about supporting making in the valley, then perhaps this is the spot for you. You can start right away be telling everyone, inviting people you know who have cool things to show. Tell friends, family and co-workers.

Find out more about volunteering.

EDIT on 2 Feb. 2014:

  1. Good news, fees for exhibitors are only for commercial makers. Non-commercial is free.
  2. Corrected the name of Lehigh University's Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.
10Jan/140

Recent Activity – A Pictoral Tour

If you haven't been around recently, here are a few things you would have seen.

14Oct/130

Community Scrap Day Sat 10/26!

On Saturday October 26th beginning at 10AM Make Lehigh Valley will be hosting a special event during which we finally eliminate the scrap, abandoned projects and computer piles.  Members and the public alike are invited to come participate in helping us disassemble, salvage and scrap all the stuff in the piles.  While we’re at it, the Make Lehigh Valley members can provide a wealth of knowledge about whats inside and how things work.  MakeLV keeps and sorts certain useful parts we find, and has scrap outlets for all metals, batteries, and PCBs.  We’ll need some help keeping all that sorted as well, along with taking out the trash!  This is a great chance to check out Make Lehigh Valley and see what we’re all about too.

Please note that this does NOT mean you should bring things you want to scrap as we’re trying to clear out our space.

Pizza and drinks provided courtesy of MakeLV!  Although we do have tools and safety gear, it may be advisable to bring along your toolbox – useful items might be gloves, safety glasses, a screw gun, both regular & precision screwdrivers, pliers and cutters.  Tools should be marked or otherwise easily identifiable.

We have cataloged what we can out of the abandoned projects pile and contacted the owners.  Those without a known owner (but we know it was a project) are listed below.  If you do not lay claim to these projects and either a) make your plan for timely completion known, b) store it in your locker if you have one, or c) pick it up and take it with you by Sat 10/26, your project will be up for grabs and scrapped for it’s useful components if not claimed.  We are certainly not pressuring anyone with an active project, these have been dormant 6 months or more and are consuming a considerable amount of space.

Record Player w/Orange Tape
PA Amplifier
Allen Bradley PLC
Modular PC
Grain Mill/Arm
PlayStation Mod? (was in box wired to Basic Stamp)
DIY LCD Projector
White box CPU with “Project Do Not Scrap” on top

If you have any questions or ideas, feel free to contact me.  Spread the word!  Thanks in advance for your help everyone!

26Jul/131

3D printer mini-festival

We had a mini 3D printer fest at Make Lehigh Valley last night along with our postponed Build Night with Sugru. (Sugru update to come, I'm gathering pictures.) The Ord Bot received some sugru to the handle to make it more comfy to lug.

My real joy was sharing the epic fail of printing a twisted ball cage. I made it as far in the print as I have yet. I still can't get the top to print because of the flex of the arms. All the interaction from crowd of makers was great. Jared got his RepRap printing a much improved cube and Jeff made some progress on the space's RepRap 3D printer. He's been polishing the smooth rods that the carriage for the heated build platform rides on for awhile to make sure it runs smoothly.

Space RepRap 3D printer

After much polishing, Jeff has installed the rods that the heated build platform will ride on

Our impromptu mini 3D printer festival

Our impromptu mini 3D print festival, note the blue sugru on the handle of the OrdBot.

17Jul/130

Build Night with Sugru: Postponed to Next Week

Unfortunately, we will be needing to postpone the Sugru Build Night. Our Sugru supply has been through a series of unfortunate events which will, if we see no further events, result in its arrival on Friday. Actually, this is the second attempt to ship to us...

You are all more than welcome to come by for the Open Hack this Thurs. evening just to visit and see what may be happening. I'll probably take my 3D printer out and I'm sure some other things will be going on.

We'll have the Sugru by next Thursday. The build night will happen next Thursday. If you RSVPd and can't make it out next week, I'll be glad to reserve some of the Sugru for you. If you RSVPd, you should already have an email.

If you have any questions, please direct them to me.

Once this stuff arrives, we're looking to put together a few instructables to say thanks to Instructables.com for providing the material. If you have some ideas that would be conducive to that, please let us know. Also, check out the cool app for smartphones that Instructables created to make it really easy to make Instructables. Find it in the Android or iOS app stores.

13Jul/130

World Maker Faire NYC 2013 with Make Lehigh Valley

We have a luxury bus for the 2nd annual Make Lehigh Valley trip to the World Maker Faire NYC on September 21st!

Part science fair part county fair...

...last year they had workshops, dozens of 3D printers of all shapes and sizes, concerts with theremins, presentations, quad-copters, sales on all sorts of electronics kits, organic crafts, light shows, flying objects, giant 20' butterflies you could ride around in, the New York Hall of Science is included, and so much more.  Good luck seeing it all!

Get a ride with us and get in on a 25% group discount for entry tickets!
Additionally, if the bus fills up we will be able to do a rebate for the bus ride up to $10 per passenger.

Taking a bus is a great way to meet and hang out with a bunch of other makers and a real easy trip into New York City.  The bus will drop us off and pick us up right at the front gate of the faire.

We're leaving at 9am from the Da Vinci Science Center parking lot in Allentown.  Directions to the Science Center can be found on their website.

Get an entry ticket and a seat on the bus from our WePay page.  If you've already purchased a ticket, you can still ride with us, just be sure to select the appropriate ride ticket.  You can also pay by cash or check at the Space, but email us to let us know as it is first come first serve.

Maker Faire is primarily designed to be forward-looking, showcasing makers who are exploring new forms and new technologies. But it’s not just for the novel in technical fields; Maker Faire features innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance and craft.

Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. It’s a venue for makers to show examples of their work and interact with others about it. Many makers say they have no other place to share what they do. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) is often invisible in our communities, taking place in shops, garages and on kitchen tables. It’s typically out of the spotlight of traditional art or science or craft events. Maker Faire makes visible these projects and ideas that we don’t encounter every day.