All posts by Tim Saylor

Carve yourself a Nerd-O-Lantern for Nerd-O-Ween 2.0!

Are you planning to go to the Chicago Nerd Social Club’s Nerd-O-Ween 2.0 party?  Come on over to Pumping Station: One before you get there and carve yourself a Nerd-O-Lantern to get in for free.  We’ll have the pumpkins, knives, lights, and a printer if you want to make a pattern for a precision carved pumpkin.  Or maybe you’ll be a little more ambitious?  Sign up right here and come by on the 29th!

Share this!

BARcamp Chicago is coming up this weekend

Many members of Pumping Station: One will be attending and helping to produce BARcamp Chicago.  Press release follows.

On August 21-22, Chicago will host its 5th annual BARcamp Conference.  Come to BARcamp Chicago 2010 to learn from and mingle with Chicago’s most talented and innovative computer and technology enthusiasts in an impromptu, informal setting.  BARcamp Chicago is an un-conference, meaning event participants are the people who run the event, give the presentations and host the various activities throughout the weekend.
Here is what they have lined up for you:

  • Many talks and demos concerning a wide range of technology topics
  • Socialize with Chicago’s top technology enthusiasts
  • A drunken panel discussion
  • Geeky/technology related movies that run all night
  • Free food and drink
  • BARcompany – Start a business over the weekend
  • Random other activities

Guests from a multitude of backgrounds will be in attendance, including programmers, developers, engineers, tech students, open-source advocates, entrepreneurs and business professionals.  Participants are encouraged to share, learn and break off into smaller focus groups, brainstorm and collaborate on any project or idea.  Professional networking is highly recommended.

Words really cannot describe this event! Take a look at the videos and pictures linked from their website:


Returning to BARcamp this year is BARcompany, which challenges small groups of participants to come up with an idea and create a company around it in about a day’s time. The resulting companies and ideas are presented at the end of the weekend to the conference attendees and to a panel of judges made up of local, influential people in the technology community. The team who organizes the best company has a chance to win prizes which may include server hosting for the developed web application, co-working space and possibly even some start up capital.

More Information

The event is expected to draw several hundred attendees and is free and open to the public.  The majority of talks and activities will be between the hours of 10 AM and 7 PM each day. Complimentary food and beverages will be provided as well as activities on Saturday night through Sunday morning.

Share this!

A Guided Tour To Creating a Commercial Video Game

This month (tonight!) our guided tour speaker is Erin Robinson of Ivy Games.  If you’re a fan of adventure games and the game industry moves away from your favorite genre, what are you to do?  Erin decided to start making her own.  After a making a few award winning games and giving them away for free, she decided to make games her career and create Puzzle Bots, which was recently named one of the Pax 10.   Puzzle bots was produced through a small studio, which means it was made with a lot less money and a lot more hacker ethic.  Erin will be talking about what inspired her to take this difficult path, the process of making her idea into an actual product, and the awesome along the way.

The doors will open at 7pm, the talk will begin at 8pm. I hope to see you all there!

Share this!

A Guided Tour Double Feature: DIY musical instruments and CNC tools

This month we have two Guided Tour talks from a couple of great people doing very interesting things. In the June “It’s so awesome it’s probably illegal” edition of PS:One Guided Tours we’ll have the following talks:

This Friday, June 18th:


A low-cost, open-source desktop CNC mill –

Chris Reilly and Taylor Hokanson will talk about the history and evolution of the DIYLILCNC project, some general bvackground of CNC technology, some of the shortcomings of the present state of CNC and how those are addressed by open-source hardware projects like the DIYLILCNC. We’ll also go over the specs of the DIYLILCNC, giving details about how it is built and its functions.

Chris Reilly is a Chicago-based artist, writer and teacher. He received his BFA with a focus on New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Chris is currently employed as manager of SAIC’s Advanced Outptut Center, and a part-time faculty member teaching between SAIC’s Design and Film/Video/New Media departments. Since 2003, Chris has shown work in several solo and group art exhibitions in the US and Europe; he works with modded video games, virtual/augmented reality, scripting/programming and kinetic sculpture.

Taylor Hokanson is an artist and educator based in Chicago. His studio practice fuses functional design (as exhibited by the DIYLILCNC project) with artworks of a more conceptual nature (such as his Sledgehammer-operated Keyboard). Until recently Taylor taught digital production/fabrication at DePaul University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Tuesday, June 22nd:


Making unusual and fun electronic musical instruments and turning it into a business –

Maker and Circuit-bender Michael Una will give a talk about the steps involved in turning a hobby into a business. Topics will include business plan creation, logistics, and marketing. Michael will discuss the creation of his company Unatronics, demonstrate his products and discuss his development process.

These are some great talks that I’m really looking forward to seeing. The doors will open at 7pm, the talks will begin at 8pm. I hope to see you all there!

Share this!

Pumping Station:One, Power Wheels Featured in Time Out Chicago

PPPRS LogoLots of stuff going on with PowerWheels again this year. This time with a bit more press. Features on Make Blog and Time Out Chicago are out and about and let’s hope that keeps coming! It’s really exciting right now about all that is going on at PS:One. It’s pretty nifty and I have to say there’s a lot of people I’m thankful for that have helped make this happen. Before I rant on further about Powerwheels I’d like to spend time thanking them first. Here’s the short list:

  • Shawn for making the powerwheel work before Notacon
  • Hank for making that solid drive train
  • Ryan for wiring, website work and being our Official Field-Trip Party Wagon
  • Jordan for PR, emailing and working on the PW late into the night
  • Nicky for proofreading almost anything I throw at her
  • Jessica for buying the PW and working on that fancy packet
  • Josh for welding things to other things
  • Eric for pimping PPPRS to whomever is willing to hear about it
  • Jeff for making sure we don’t stick our fingers in electrical sockets
  • Sacha for ensuring we don’t Failboat so hard PS:one spins out of orbit
  • Everyone at i3 for working with us and Maker Faire
  • everyone else that have donated time and money that  I couldn’t remember off the top of my head

Let’s put this simple: This might be an event that I started, but this is event that everyone at the space is responsible for. You guys make this happen. Without your neighborly hacker help, this would never ever get off the ground. So I will continue thanking each and every one of you who have done your part. There’s just over three months to go before Maker Faire Detroit and if we keep this momentum, it’ll be great. Just wanted everyone to know that I’m proud of this space and all of its members.

Also, check out the PowerWheel trailer I finished last night to promote the event. I was sick when I did it so this is the result of Nyquil and Ibuprofen.

See you in Detroit!

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Sanctioning Body

Share this!

PS:One Presents – A Guided Tour to Copyright Law

copyleft logoFor this month’s Guided Tour, Daliah Saper will give a lecture on alternative content licensing to members of Pumping Staion: One, answering questions about open source software, creative commons, and the differences between “copyleft” v “copyright” agreements. Her discussion will include an overview of basic copyright law as well as recent copyright cases involving alternative licensing disputes.

This will take place on Tuesday, April 27th at 3354 N Elston.  The doors will open at 7pm.  If you want to learn how to protect your ideas while sharing them with the world, come ready to learn!

About Daliah

Daliah Saper is the Principal Attorney at Saper Law and serves as counsel to creative entrepreneurs and innovative business organizations. She is a member of the Illinois Bar and both the General Bar and Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. As a litigator she handles cases involving trademark and copyright infringement, computer fraud and abuse, trade secret misappropriation, online defamation, and commercial disputes. As a transactional lawyer she helps clients choose the right business entity, drafts corporate bylaws and LLC operating agreements, negotiates contracts and software licenses, and provides comprehensive trademark and copyright counseling.

Share this!

PS:One Presents – A Guided Tour to Twisted Python

Twisted Logo

It’s time for another Pumping Station: One Guided Tour.  This time, Dustin J. Mitchell, the maintainer of Buildbot is giving an introductory level tutorial on Twisted Python, a popular asynchronous programming library.  Afterward, he will lead a sprint on Buildbot to add some tests and squash some bugs that will give you some practical experience using your new Twisted skills.  The sprint will start on Tuesday night and reconvene during PS:One’s Quiet Riot Hackathon the following Saturday.  The tutorial will be recorded and once the video is complete it will be added to this post.

The tutorial will begin at 8pm on Tuesday, March 23rd.  The doors will be open at 7pm at 3354 N Elston.  Please bring your computer if you plan on participating in the programming.

Share this!

Aluminum: Now in Convenient Liquid Form

Flames shooting out the top

Years ago, I found this website describing the author’s discovery melting aluminum by throwing a soda can in a campfire. He went on to describe the tools he used later on to melt the metal to produce model rocket nozzles. The tools were primitive, but still surprisingly effective. Ever since I read that page I’ve wanted to do it myself, but living in Chicago apartments, I didn’t have much opportunity to build a furnace and run it.  Since I’ve joined Pumping Station: One I finally have the opportunity I need to build an aluminum foundry and begin casting metal parts and art pieces.

I read about the topic a bit more online and decided to build Lionel Oliver’s Flowerpot Foundry. It was a pretty simple design that I thought I could make pretty cheaply (so if it didn’t work it wasn’t much of a waste). After two weekends constructing the furnace and a few attempted melts and some advice from some Navy nuclear technicians, it worked like a charm.

The basic construction of the foundry is a metal popcorn bucket with a flowerpot surrounded by concrete in it. The heat is generated from ordinary charcoal burning in the flowerpot. Ventilation holes at on top of the lid and at the bottom of the flowerpot help the fire to burn hotter & faster while letting smoke escape. I won’t go in to too much detail on the construction since Lionel is trying to sell a book on the topic, but my photographs of the process are on my flickr.

It was very exciting to see soda can after soda can go into the crucible and turn into a pool of shiny metal, then pour it in a muffin tin and get a solid ingot of aluminum. It felt like quite an achievement to turn such simple things into a furnace capable of getting that hot! But this is just the beginning. We’ve melted the metal successfully; now we have to make something useful from it. Lost foam seems to be the easiest process to get started with, so that’s what I’ll be pursuing next.

Share this!