Viewing entries by
Lauren Banka

Workshops Now Up Through December

We've got a whole spate of workshops up for the fall and early winter, plus plans for some mega-workshops after Christmas. (Don't worry-- we'll have them up in time to give them as gifts!)

The workshops basically fall into a couple of "tracks": A super comprehensive electronics track, which will actually take you from zero to making a custom robot in just a few months, a fabrics track that includes designing, repairing AND electrifying your clothes, a software track, and a couple of very exciting craft-oriented workshops.

The electronics track starts with Intro to Electronics (10/7), Intro to Arduino (10/14), and a new Mobile Sensors mega-workshop (10/18 and 10/19). Those three workshops are so complimentary, we're also offering them as a combo pack, which is $30 off registering for them individually. After that, the track continues with Intro to Soldering (10/21) and Connected Arduino: Bluetooth & Wifi (11/8 and 11/9), which sets you up to confidently assemble your prototype circuit, and let it work without being tethered to a USB cable. 

The fabrics track starts with Basic Clothing Repair (10/1) and continues with E-Textiles (11/12) and Custom-Fit Patternmaking (12/3). Basic Clothing repair is perfect if you always wear through your clothes in the same place or want to get basic sewing skills. E-Textiles will guide you through adding accelerometer-triggered LED pixels to a garment you bring, letting you twinkle when you move. The Custom-Fit Patternmaking class lets you walk out with bodice and sleeve pattern pieces that fit your body perfectly, meaning a whole world of perfectly fitting shirts and jackets awaits. (Keep your eyes open for a Custom Corset-Making workshop in the new year!)

Under the software umbrella is an intro to an intuitive, visual drag-and-drop program for App Design for Android (10/25), and Intro to Inkscape (11/19), which will let you design for the lasercutter.

And finally, we have a more experimental-crafts workshop in Spooky Sounds: Make Your Own Optical Theremin (10/26). In this workshop, you'll build a simpler version of a "true" theremin, then experiment with noises you can coax from it. This is a great one to take if you're less technical or with kids, but you still want to dip a toe into the world of hacking.

As always, call, email, or come in to learn more about these workshops. Happy fall!

Holy Workshops, Batman!

Holy Workshops, Batman!

Hey! Did you notice we just put up a bunch of new workshops? You'll find Metrix classics like electronics and soldering, plus new workshops in old capabilities, like a new textiles class focused on clothing repair. 

The joy of Intro to Electronics

The joy of Intro to Electronics

First up is Intro to Electronics with member/engineer/sailor Pierce Nichols. He'll guide you through building your first basic circuits, and send you home with an electronics starter kit. Total beginners totally welcome. For more information on that or our other offerings, hop over to the calendar page, give us a call at (206) 357-9406, or stop by!

#BTBootcamp: Optimize your World with Bluetooth Low Energy

Our redesigned two-day Bluetooth Low Energy workshop was incredibly successful, leaving enough space in the curriculum for a robust question-and-answer, plus independent work time with access to our facilitating EE, Morgan Redfield. We had participants coming from as far as Spokane to be a part of our unique mix of intensive technical education, banter with our Capitol Hill walk-in public, and free-flowing Cafe Vita dark roast. 

August 2 and 3, we are building on that success with another Bluetooth Low Energy weekend intensive. In this workshop, you'll build on any existing app design and electronics knowledge to learn how Bluetooth Low Energy works, what makes it different from Bluetooth Original, and everything you need to design, assemble, and test a custom circuit board/custom app pair.

You could build a phone-controlled cat toy. Or you could equip your house to only heat whatever room you (and your phone) are in. You could have your oven remind you to turn it off before you leave the house. Dream big! 

In order to get the most out of this workshop, you will need some base knowledge in electronics and/or app design plus an idea of what you'd like to accomplish. However, people of all experience levels and even a particularly brilliant teenager have participated and made huge progress.

Your $400 registration gets you eight hours of active instruction from Morgan Redfield, who specializes in Bluetooth Low Energy and wearable electronics, plus a custom prototype circuit board with same-day turnaround ($100-180 value). To sign up, stop by the shop, call us at (206) 357-9406, or register online.

Made at Metrix: BLE Temperature Sensor

Tom Lanhaus, a participant in one of our Bluetooth Low Energy mega-workshops, put up a great YouTube video showing off his finished project. Tom came into the workshop with almost no hardware or Android experience, and designed a working temperature sensor that communicates wirelessly with his phone.

Check it out, and stay tuned for the next session of the Bluetooth Low Energy mega-workshop, planned for late summer.


Bluetooth Low Energy Boot Camp is Back

The Bluetooth Low Energy workshops that we offered through IndieGoGo last month were hugely popular, and we've had a lot of requests for another. We went through the feedback from the past set of workshops and totally revamped the curriculum. The workshop will now span two days (May 31 and June 1) to give people a chance to soak up the information at a more reasonable pace.

Day one of the new and improved BLE boot camp will be a grounding in the basics of BLE hardware and firmware with instructor Morgan Redfield. Then we set you loose to design the hardware side of your dream BLE project! After the workshop ends at 5, go out on the town while elves cut your circuit boards in the night-- or, hang out with the elves and watch our laser go. 

On day two of our Bluetooth Low Energy class, Morgan will prepare you to design an Android app to go with that sweet board you designed on day one. After that, the remaining workshop time is devoted to assembly and testing. Support will be available until 5, but feel free to stay later if you're on a roll.

You'll need a Windows laptop and a basic understanding of electronics and programming. Not sure if you're ready? Shoot us an email. The $400 registration fee covers two days of instruction plus board fabrication and all project-standard components. 

Spots in this workshop are expected to go fast, so jump on it. You can call us at 206-357-9406 or come in to sign up. It's designed as a two-day workshop, so you cannot register for one day only.

Intro to Electronics May 7: Prepare for the Robot Revolution

Intro to Electronics May 7: Prepare for the Robot Revolution

Comrades! When the glorious robot dawn arrives, electronics knowledge will be the only way to earn nutrition pellets. Get a head start on the rest of the humans with this tried and true Intro to Electronics class.

Instructor Pierce Nichols (of Logos Electromechanical and Curiosity Hacked) will provide an overview of basic electronics concepts and lead you through simple circuits with basic components like LEDs, resistors, capacitors, and potentiometers. You'll walk out with a starter kit of basic electronics bits to jump-start your next project. 

Intro to Electronics pairs great with Intro to Op Amps (May 28) and Intro to Arduino (June 11).

May 7, 7-9 pm. $50 fee covers all materials-- just show up ready to learn. Kids and absolute beginners welcome. To sign up, drop by the shop or call us at 206-357-9406.

New Workshop: Intro to Digital Electronics

New Workshop: Intro to Digital Electronics

OK, so you know the difference between voltage and amperage, and you've built enough blinking LED circuits to give yourself a headache. But what's the difference between a pull-up and a pull-down resistor? How do you talk to a 3.3V sensor with a 5V microcontroller? Intro to Digital Electronics sets you up to understand the logic behind sophisticated circuits and design your own from scratch. 

This workshop pairs awesomely with Intro to Electronics for a thorough grounding, or with our weekly Circuit Church circuit design exercise, so you can branch out and get really unique boards made. 

You'll bring a laptop and Intro to Electronics-level knowledge; we'll supply an Adafruit Trinket and the expertise.

Topics covered will include basic digital concepts (edges, levels, active low/high, open
collector/drain, pull ups/pull downs), buffers, Schmitt triggers, shift registers, level shifters, and pulse-width modulation.

April 23, 7-9pm, $50, all materials included. Stop by the shop or call us at 206-357-9406 to reserve your seat.

We're the BLE of the Ball!

We're the BLE of the Ball!

Oh man. Support for our Indiegogo campaign to run intensive Bluetooth Low Energy workshops has been completely overwhelming. During the campaign itself, we blew past our goal, thanks in part to being tweeted by BoingBoing and BluetoothSIG.

We've continued to get emails since the campaign closed, from people who missed it but want to register, and from companies who want to support us.

We're thrilled to announce that Bluegiga will be providing the bluetooth modules themselves. We looked at a lot of modules before Bluegiga reached out to us, and they're really set apart by their ease of use and the phenomenal support material available on their website. We pride ourselves in being the most accessible, open-source makerspace around, so that feels like a great fit.

What you're seeing in this photo is the Bluegiga module on our BLE breakout board. That board is the secret sauce for your Bluetooth project-- the part that actually talks to your Android device. Right now, it's just letting you blink that LED with your phone. The part where it does something fancy? That's where you come in.

Also, did we mention we made it with lasers?

The official workshop dates are:

  • March 22 [SOLD OUT!]
  • April 5
  • April 19

We're still chasing down a couple of our Indiegogo backers, so we don't have exact numbers on how many spaces are available in each workshop, but we do know that they're all almost completely full. We will open the remaining spaces to the public on March 22 at $300 a seat. You'll want to move fast, because these spaces will go very quickly. If there's enough interest, we'll happily schedule a fourth date.

Excited? Got questions? Want to get on our radar as interested in those extra workshop spots? You can call the shop at (206) 357-9406, or contact workshop instructor Morgan Redfield at morgan@metrix.net. 

Hand-Printed Valentines, Now with Extra Lasers

Hand-Printed Valentines, Now with Extra Lasers

whatisloveprints1ed.jpg

I've been chatting with people for months about how easy it would be to use the lasercutters to make printmaking plates. Last week, I figured I'd put my Europop references where my mouth is. From a printmaking perspective, these are a little rough around the edges, but we're zeroing in on the best practices for making a really reliable plate. (Printmaking 101: Don't assume things that are supposed to be flat are actually flat.)

I forgot to flip the text the first time I made these plates. So much for my fancy printmaking education!

I forgot to flip the text the first time I made these plates. So much for my fancy printmaking education!

A plate like this is super easy to make. You just cut out everything that you want to print, and a back plate to adhere them to. You can etch or mark the back plate to help you align your pieces, or freehand it. Just remember-- if you're printing text, the cut-out pieces need to be reversed for it to print straight. After that, glue them down in a way that keeps them as flat as possible. Hot glue is a hot mess; wood glue takes a while to really dry but is the best long-term plan. 

Interested in learning more? I'm teaching an Inkscape class on 2/4 (7pm, $50) on the basics of preparing a file for the lasers, and I'll be going over how to prepare a plate like this. 

Or if you really just want the hands-on part, I'm teaching a valentines-printing workshop on 2/11 (7pm, $60, all materials included). I'll guide you through designing, assembling, and printing the plate. If you have paper or cards you really want to bring and print on, feel free; otherwise I will supply enough for five of your sweetest sweet-hearts. 

The √144th Man

root144.jpg

Acrylic: $18.50

Electroluminescent wire: $30

Laser time: $15

Repping your home team and basic mathematics at the same time: priceless.

Shock Me! Thrill me! Dot Matrix Me!

The resolution on this is actually higher than the camera could capture.

If you've been in the shop in the last few months, you may have noticed little lasered Tesla photos floating around. We got a bug in our ear about using the lasers as dot matrix printers, and considering the Little Blue Laser is 600 DPI, I couldn't rest until I got a really flawless grayscale effect. 

I know what you're thinking: What is this sorcery, and how do I make it mine?

Blood, sweat, and sacrifices to our robot deities.

The first step is to convert your grayscale image into a dot matrix. Photoshop has a highly customizable tool for this (Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone), or you can just use Rasterbator.

If you use Photoshop (or anything that gives you a raster/bitmap output) the next step is to get an accurate vector tracing of that file without breaking your vector program. If you use Rasterbator (which spits out vector PDFs), you have to fuse any overlapping dots. Why? Because if the laser's engrave setting will assume that the overlapping parts are not to be lasered out-- so you end up with an image full of static.

 

Fritz Rodriguez opted to swear at the file himself. For him, the lasercut was just the first step. He then photographed and printed the burned, woodsy version of this image of flowers, which is a royalty-free patent illustration.

Here's a close-up. Fritz is an art student, but he didn't make this for a class-- just to see if he could.

Here's a close-up. Fritz is an art student, but he didn't make this for a class-- just to see if he could.

I've crashed both Inkscape and Illustrator many times trying to get beautiful, hi-res Teslas. I've uploaded what I thought were perfect files only to find that the laser sees a scribble instead of a dreamy inventor, or inverts the dark information into white. So if you want to laser out a dot matrix image of your very own, bring your computer into the shop and plan to spend a few hours swearing at it, or take advantage of our very reasonable design/labor fees.

 

 

In the spirit of the Hallmark Holiday, I've been cooking up a Tesla doily valentine. Here's the first iteration. I'm thinking about doing a whole set of them-- imagine Hedy Lamarr with "Call me. Text me. Email me. Chat me." around her head.

shockmethrillme.jpg

What do you think? If I make a whole set of Science Dreamboats, who can't you live without?

To find out more about preparing images for the laser, check out the Inkscape class this upcoming Tuesday 1/14/14, from 7pm to 9pm. Call ahead to reserve a space.

Intro to Inkscape

lasr.jpg

Have you always been amazed at the precision of projects coming out of the laser? Interested in making custom boxes, brackets, or paper art projects? Our lasers can cut wood, paper, acrylic, leather, and stamp rubber, and etch all that plus anodized aluminum and wine glasses-- but first we need a file.

This workshop will introduce the bare beginner to Inkscape, the most popular open source vector image program out there. Just a few weeks before Christmas/Solstice/non-denominational winter gift times, this workshop will allow you to make unique gifts with time to spare. 

Come with a laptop with Inkscape already installed and open, and plenty of ideas and dreams. Kids welcome.

December 17, $50. Stop in the shop, or give us a call at 206-357-9406 to reserve your space.