Results from PS1’s first-ever member survey

In August, PS1 conducted its first-ever member survey to better find out who we are, how we use the space, and what improvements we would most like to see. 190 people responded. The results are available here.

Some highlights:

  • Although member satisfaction is generally high, by far the largest complaint members have about the space centers on issues of cleanliness, organization, and tool maintenance. Concerns like these are sometimes dismissed as unsolvable given PS1’s loose, volunteer-run structure. But the frustration members feel about their inability to get work done in the space cuts straight to PS1’s mission of enabling people to create, and survey respondents had lots of viable suggestions for improving cleanliness, tool uptime, and the layout of the space.
  • The main reasons that people join PS1 are, unsurprisingly, access to tools and to workspace. But the next most common reason is access to community, and many members seem to be hungering for more opportunities to meet, share projects, learn new skills, and interact face-to-face. PS1 should consider ways to foster collaboration.
  • PS1 is not very diverse. 82% of members are white and 82% are male. In fact, PS1 seems to be growing less diverse over time: the group of members who joined in the past year are more homogenous than previous cohorts, although it’s impossible to tell from the survey what might be driving this trend (or if it even is a trend). Nevertheless, the survey does show that members of PS1 who are not white males cite social and cultural issues as needing improvement at a much higher rate than white males.

The full report contains a detailed breakdown of all the survey data, complete with pretty charts and fancy tables. Please read and discuss.

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NERP: CircuitPython Workshop 12-17-18 with Kattni Rembor!

NERP (Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi) is PS1’s embedded programming interest group. At a special NERP on December 17, Kattni Rembor will be giving a workshop on Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express board running CircuitPython. This is a paid event.

That’s right — the next NERP is not free and open to the public! There’s a first time for everything! Registration details here.

Kattni Rembor is an embedded software developer, technical writer, and community leader with Adafruit Industries. She joined Adafruit as a member of the CircuitPython team, and has written the definitive Getting Started guide, the library designed to make CircuitPython simple to use on Adafruit’s premier learning board, as well as many project guides and tutorials. She has helped build the amazing, supportive online community around CircuitPython and a wide variety of other open source topics.

Find Kattni on Twitter or Discord.

Workshop description

CircuitPython is Python that runs on microcontrollers. It is designed for learning and if you are new to programming or electronics, CircuitPython can help you get started with both. All you need to do is plug in a microcontroller board and start writing code.

Participants will be given a Circuit Playground Express microcontroller board to use. This beginner-friendly workshop will introduce CircuitPython and cover the basics. Then we will get into working with code. There will be a series of examples that use the various sensors, lights and switches built into the Circuit Playground Express board. We will start simply, and we will build on the concepts learned, combining them as we go to eventually build a light-up, capacitive touch tone piano.

Doors open at 6:30pm. NERP is usually free and open to the public, although this event is paid and requires registration.

For those who are interested, there will be the opportunity to stay after the break for further exploration.

Requirements

We will be using Mu as our code editor. Mu is an editor that has the serial REPL and a plotter built in, and makes getting started with CircuitPython particularly easy.

Participants must bring a laptop (ideally running Windows 10, Mac OSX, or a recent version of x86 Linux) and a compatible USB Micro cable (e.g., USB-C to USB Micro if you have a newer Mac). Be sure that your USB Micro cable includes data transfer capabilities, and is not charge-only as it will not work if it is charge only.

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Board elections! Run for the board! Board elections!

PS1 will be holding annual board elections on January 15, 2019. Board elections affect everyone in the organization, whether you are a voting member or not, and you can participate in all sorts of ways: running for a seat, voting in the election, or simply asking candidates questions about the issues you care about.

If you are interested in shaping the future of the organization, please do consider running for a board seat. The only requirement is that you have to be a member in good standing for the six months leading up to the election. New members are absolutely eligible for the board and encouraged to run.

You might be used to thinking of board members as remote god-like beings who bestride the earth like a colossus. And that’s because we absolutely are. The point is that you too can be one of those god-like beings, doing all that bestriding.

If you are interested in learning more about what the board does, please attend a board meeting. We have board meetings on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 7pm, and they are always open to the public. Or reach out to a board member directly.

The board (presently) has eight positions:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Treasurer
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Public relations director
  • Secretary
  • 2 Directors at large

You can learn more about what each position entails, and who the present board members are, here.

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Needed: mentors for the Schurz robotics team

Schurz High School, located just down the street from us on Addison & Milwaukee, is hoping to boost involvement in their FIRST Robotics Team (FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). And they need your help!

WHO? Experts who want to mentor amazing teens in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, coding, robotics

WHAT? FIRST was founded over 25 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen. First teaches skills to kids from age 6 to 18. Learn more here.

WHEN? Tuesdays from  3 – 6 pm (or any amount of time during that block you can commit).

WHY? Because children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside. But really because you get to help design and keep a rad robot-bulldog t-shirt. Plus, robots.

Schurz is a neighborhood school with no entry requirements whose student body is 95% low-income youth. It is the site of Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, where PS1 has a regular presence.

Interested? Contact Christina at CNSmakerfaire@gmail.com.

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Wondering how to get authorized on the Tormach? Here’s how

When PS1 got the Tormach 1100, our single biggest investment in a tool, we were determined to do it right. Not just the installation, but also creating an educational path that went far beyond a standard authorization.

PS1 has just launched its first two provisional authorization sessions. Students were selected who had already attained the prerequisite authorizations. To get authorized on the Tormach, you first need to get authorized on:

  1. Tier 1 Metals
  2. Bridgeport
  3. ShopBot

You should also be proficient in CAM before getting authorized on the Tormach.

Assuming you have all that stuff on lock, getting authorized on the Tormach is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Take an online course and pass the associated quiz
  2. Attend a Tormach live training (2-3 hours)
  3. Submit a personal project for CAM & G-code review

Events & Resources

In addition to the authorization path, there are lot of ways to get more familiar with the Tormach and its amazing powers.

Meet-ups

Fusion360 Meet-UpsAndrew Camardella hosts biweekly Fusion360 meet-ups to spruce up your CAD & CAM skills. All skill levels welcome. Check the events page.

Tormach user Meet-UpsStarting this winter, will be having public Tormach user group meetings to discuss tooling, projects, machine optimization and other related topics.

Online

Tormach wiki pageStay up to date with Tormach resources at PS1 on our wiki page.

Tormach Slack Group: Join our slack group #Tormach_User_Group at pumpingstationone.slack.org to talk with other PS1 Tormach users about all things Tormach.

Thanks to the team

This educational program was designed by Alisha Ciardi, along with:

The Danger Committee

  • Andrew Camardella
  • Andrew Wingate
  • David Earl
  • Abel Greenwald

Education Team

  • Alex Berkowitz
  • Alisha Ciardi
  • Andrew Wingate
  • David Earl
  • Kathryn Born
  • Nick Prorock
  • Ryan Himmelblau

Current Authorizers

  • Alex Berkowitz
  • David Earl
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Bringing VR/AR tools to PS1

VR Demos at PS1

I’m Mark, the new kitchen area host, and I’m trying to bring all the benefits of VR/AR/MR to disciplines across Pumping Station: One. Below’s an example of how I’m using it for food design.

You are welcome to come talk to me about incorporating experience-creation tools for food purposes during kitchen office hours Saturday 10am to 12pm, but I’m also interested in enabling you to use these for your own projects. Sundays from 12pm – 3pm we’ve been having “Let’s Make VR” upstairs in electronics. The current project is trying to capture our space in a demo that can be shared with the outside world using VR, helping members capture and display their projects in virtual spaces using photogrammetry and 3D scanning, and recording 360 training to be used in the app.

Screens from a new PS1 VR gallery.

If you’re an area host and you’d like some training recorded, reach out to me to schedule a time. If you want to use our tools to recreate and capture experiences, see how your furniture is going to look in your living room before making it- or send it to a friend and let them check it out with AR tools, come to one of the above events and let’s talk about it. More members are getting familiar with the tools & we’ll be posting tutorials to Canvas soon.

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Halloween party this Saturday

Head on over to PS1 this Saturday, October 27, for Halloween good times from 6pm til midnight.

Will there be door prizes? Yes, there will be door prizes!

Will there be adult food and adult beverages? Yes, there will be plenty of both!

Will there be costume contests? Of course there will be costume contests!

Plus music! Games! 300 seconds of spooky!

Don’t have a costume? There will be supplies on hand so you can make your own costume!

Frequently asked questions

Q: Can I bring a guest who is a non-member?

A: Yes! Yes! Yes! All are welcome to PS1’s Halloween spooktacular!

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PS1 T-Shirts, Just $10, Available for a Limited Time.

Long have you wanted to display your PS1 pride and now you can with your very own 100% cotton T-Shirt that features the ‘Fire’ version of the classic ‘Snowflake’ logo.

This durable heat pressed graphic (wash inside out and hang dry) also features an informative and impressive list of PS1 tools.

Available Tuesday nights during open house / member meetings and at certain events. They come in S,M,L,XL,2XL,3XL which run modest so if you are on the edge go up one size.

There may be another run of shirts towards the end of the year. After that there are no assurances, if shirts are available the graphics and colors may change. Next year the price for shirts (if available) goes up to $12.

A perfect gift for all the makers on your holiday list – Thank you.

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Crappy robots battle this Saturday at PS1!

Update — that was pretty epic:


Hebocon is a contest that pits tiny, crappy robots against one another in miniature sumo battles. Whichever crappy robot falls over or exits the ring first, loses. But the important thing is, the robots must be crappy.

PS1 will be hosting its first-ever micro-Hebocon this Saturday, October 20. A micro-Hebocon is like a regular Hebocon, but even crappier: all robots will be powered by a wind-up motor that provides about four seconds of energy.

PS1 is providing the motors free of charge. Also beer, free of charge. Bring whatever other parts you desire, or see what is available in the micro-junkyard of odd robot parts that PS1 will make available at the event.

The micro-junkyard will include an Iron Chef-style surprise ingredient. Probably not octopus, and probably not uranium…but maybe!

Worried you won’t be able to create a functioning robot? No worries, there is also an aesthetics award to be given out to the fanciest robot on the strip.

The event takes place from 7pm to 10pm, this Saturday, October 20. 21 and over only, please. No entrance fee, but please email Kathryn Born if you plan to participate. kathryn.born@pumpingstationone.org

Oh, one other thing: if you do happen to be a skilled roboticist, don’t despair! Just challenge yourself by adding a handicap:

  • Try combinations that you would never do at work, like making a propeller with dried squid rather than plastic or metal;
  • Avoid technology that you’re familiar with. Do not use a soldering iron, or other tools;
  • Make it with your left hand (if you are right-handed);
  • Make it with your feet;
  • Leave the most important part to a 5-year-old child to make it for you.
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