Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stroll on over to the Northside Mini Maker Faire this Saturday

Schurz High School hosts the seventh annual Northside Mini Maker Faire this weekend just up the street from PS:1.

Up to 1,000 people are expected to attend, making this one of the largest such events in Chicago. The PS:1 Power Racing team will host an exhibit.

The event runs from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, May 5 at 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave (at Addison). Stop by to support the local maker community.

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Speaking of VR, there’s a party in this cat’s mouth

The “Make Video Games” group at PS:1 came into existence about 12 months ago with a credo of “half art, half code.” Each session features a unique workshop, with a priority on demos.

Typically newcomer demos are featured first, followed by a code review of something simple, yet spectacular, in Unity 3D.

Workshops also focus on the creative aspects of game-making, including narrative design and game mechanics. Projects have ranged from pencil-and-paper board games to a storyline for a game that hacked a telephone automation system.

The focus for 2018 will be on hands-on workshops in creation of immersive content to be ported to multiple VR and AR (and XR) platforms, including HTC Vive, Oculus, Windows MR, Galaxy Gear and whatever the group can get its hands on.

Over time, the group has attracted the participation of talented professional game makers and video artists. For example, PS:1 member Mark Creasy 3D scanned his head and the PS:1 kitchen to pop out this psychedelic gem:

Here’s a bit of behind-the-scenes on how Mark scanned the room for the video:

For more of this goodness, of course, show up at the next session of “Make Video Games.”

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CNC round-up: new areas hosts (!) and structure

As the old saying goes, it takes a village to replace Ash Jasani, and accordingly the responsibilities in the CNC area have now been distributed across three people. Thank you to three new area hosts for graciously offering their time:

  • Andrew Sowa is host for the 3D printers
  • Zander Bueno is host for the laser cutters (and vinyl cutter)
  • Hank Peterson is host for machining — the ShopBot, Shapeoko, Tormach, and other devices for making chips

This change reflects a longstanding issue: the number of members and pieces of equipment has ballooned over the years, but the number of people filling operational roles has remained nearly constant. These means an ever-increasing workload for the area hosts, which in turn requires them to focus their energy on only the most pressing issues.

Dividing up responsibilities allows the hosts to focus their energy more narrowly and productively. As a case in point, Andrew Sowa has kicked off his tenure by donating a homemade post-cure station to PS:1.

This fancy Easy-Bake oven will make it easier to use our two Form 1 machines. Says Andrew:

UV resin does not come out of the printer fully cured, so further processing is required.  UV light (405nm) and heat are applied to make sure the print is converted to a solid. This process can drastically change the material properties, and it is important that conditions be reasonably well controlled. My little toaster should offer good enough control of heat and light to dial in the best post-cure for different materials.

Also, it looks cool:

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Vote on a VR headset for PS:1 and sending delegates to NOMCON

Update: both votes passed.

We’ve got two votes scheduled for tomorrow, May 1. You can still vote by proxy if you get your vote in today. Otherwise, show up at tomorrow’s member meeting to weigh on these matters of urgent public concern.

First up: vote to authorize $1,528 for the purchase of a Windows Mixed Reality Headset, controllers, and gaming laptop. Details here.

Pumping Station: One originally touted itself as a place for hackers, programmers, woodworkers and game designers. In 2017, a game design group was formed to re-energize this aspect of our charter.

This new equipment will be:

  • The centerpiece of a 3-month workshop series on immersive environment development.
  • Available for a working group specifically formed to create a demo about PS:1.
  • Available at parties and events, along with special events just for members to try the unit.
  • Available to the CNC area and any other areas that do not currently have adequate video cards or processing power to perform needed tasks.
  • Available for checkout by any member.
  • Secured when not in use.

Next up: vote to spend up to $2,000 (more likely $1,200) to defray the cost of attending the first ever Nation of Makers national conference (NOMCON) for up to two delegates from PS:1. Details here.

Nation of Makers is a national collective of makerspaces “dedicated to helping support America’s maker organizations through advocacy, resource sharing, and the building of community within the maker movement and beyond.” They are holding their first annual conference this year from June 9-10 in Santa Fe, NM. The theme is “intentional inclusion.”

The agenda for the conference covers a lot of topics of relevance to PS:1, and also affords us a great opportunity to forge ties with other mission-aligned organizations.

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Project spotlight: Shou Sugi Ban, or the Japanese art of weatherproofing wood with fire

PS1 member Jonathan Howlette recently completed a project in which he experimented with Shou Sugi Ban (Japanese wood charring) to create some decorative elements for a home office.

Shou Sugi Ban is an eighteenth century technique for preserving wood by burning its exterior, cleaning it, and then finishing it with oil. The process offers several practical benefits-the finished process resists rot, fire, and insects–but the recent popularity of the technique has more to do with the aesthetic qualities of final product. Shou sugi ban is used these days both on exterior finishes and on interior furniture and artwork.

Traditionally cedar was used, but the process works with a variety of woods. Jonathan used 1′ x 12′ pine boards. Here is a before and after:

And here is a close-up of the final product, which shows the textural details revealed by the charring process:

Here are the boards being prepped for installation as wall paneling:

And the final result:

For this project, Jonathan purchased a propane torch, which he donated back to the space so that others can experiment with the technique.

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What’s cooking in: CNC–plus new area host needed!

PS1 is looking for a new host for the CNC area. Becoming an area host is a great way to deepen your expertise and help determine the direction of the organization. In the words of outgoing host Ash Anjani:

Being area host is a very rewarding experience. Not only do you get to be at the forefront of helping members with new technologies that they aren’t familiar with, but you get build on your own knowledge of understanding how the equipment operates and best practices. The best student is a teacher, and I am walking away from area host a much better individual and a more adept maker.

The specific responsibilities of area host include:

  • Maintaining and organizing the area
  • Overseeing training and authorization
  • Working with the Board of Directors to address the long-term needs of the area
  • Acting as an ambassador for the area, and promoting its use and projects.

Applications are due this Sunday, April 15. If you are interested, please send a note to vicepresident@pumpingstationone.org describing why you are a good fit for the position and outlining your plans for the area.

CNC is one of the most dynamic areas at PS1. Here’s a round-up of recent happenings and equipment updates.

Epson 9800 wide-format printer

This is not quite ready for general use. We still need to set up restrictions so that only authorized users can make prints. The machine also needs a fitted cover.

FormLabs Form 1+ SLA 3D Printer

This printer requires a proprietary resin, and although it is more difficult to use than other 3D printers, it can also generate prints with potentially desirable features, such as translucency, high resolution, smooth surfaces, and suitability for us in metal casting.

We ordered three liters of resin (castable, ceramic, and clear), which should arrive in May. Here is the Kickstarter campaign where you can buy your own resin, if interested (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1181157044/functional-resins-for-sla-dlp-3d-printing).

Update: the Kickstarter failed. So we ordered 4 250-ml bottles of monoprice resin for testing. Apparently cheaper resins (like those described in the Kickstarter campaign, are becoming available from Chinese manufacturers.

We also ordered four Z-Vat glass trays (http://www.zvatindustries.com/) that last considerably longer and have much less distortion than the FormLabs trays.

Update: These were briefly out of stock, but are now available. Next week we should be getting three trays and two slip covers.

FDM Printers

Thanks to Zack Sasnow for helping to finish the plywood enclosure for the printers. We still need to buy a vinyl curtain to cover the front and provide insulation. Other needs include a replace SD card and an extension cord for the fancy lights.

Epilog Mini Laser

We will soon be ordering a replacement motherboard so that we can get this machine back in service. We still need an airline hook-up.

ShopBot CNC router

We recently took the ShopBot down for a day to perform a tune-up. Some more involved fixes in the works include:

  • New pinion gears. Some ShopBot owners have upgraded their motors to 7.2:1 for more torque and higher resolution. This requires a controller upgrade, though. We are getting pricing information.
  • New motor driver. Currently we are using the fourth axis driver, so the fourth axis is out of commission.

Tormach CNC mill

As mentioned in the last newsletter, Tucker was able to get us ten free training sessions with Tormach, which means that part of the training budget will go to lodging and meals, and most of it will be saved. The first four trainees will hopefully attend classes in April, schedule permitting.

The electrician should be setting up power for the Tormach within the next few weeks.

New authorizers

We now have four CNC volunteer authorizers who have been doing a bang-up job: Joe J., Joe M., Deanna, and Jeff. Many thanks to them for all their help.

Everything else

  • We ordered a shop filter that needs to be mounted the ceiling.
  • We also got a floor mop and Ash spent a few hours mopping. He reports that the floor is now less nasty than before.
  • A 6″ to 4″ splitter and tee were purchased to handle exhaust from the Universal laser. It still needs to be hooked up.
  • And we need to move the 6″ x 6″ x 4″ tee over to the Epilog.
  • And we need to install an air hose with compressed air for clean-up.

 

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We have a photo stream–and you can post to it

We included a poll in the last newsletter to determine which photo sharing sites are most popular among PS1 users. The runaway favorite is Instagram, which is more than three times as popular as the runner-up, Youtube, which also happens to not be a photo-sharing site.

So here’s the deal: if you post photos or videos to your Instagram account and tag it #madeatps1, it will show up on the PS1 website. It will also show up in our Slack workspace. And in the future it might get pushed out to other places as well, like Twitter or Facebook or the Russian dark web.

The most recent handful of images from the Instagram feed shows up on most pages of the PS1 website. And you can browse the entire set of photos here:

#madeatps1

Check it out, here’s Grant Wagner’s custom tabletop arcade console, including authentic buttons and joysticks imported from Japan:

Machining custom copper bolts for a six-way motion sensor:

#madeatps1 machining custom copper bolts

A post shared by Pumping Station: One (@pumpingstationone) on

Stained glass!

Folks, I’m not a huge social media guy, but I’ve been wandering around PS1 snapping and posting pictures of people lately, and I’m here to tell you that this is easy and fun. This Instagram thing might just have a future.

“Look at this thing I made”

Try it out! Of course we love people to write up blog posts that dive into the details of their work, but if you’re pressed for time and just want to show the world this thing you made, take a picture and tag it #madeatps1. There is an astonishing diversity of projects underway at any given time at PS1. Publicizing your work serves as inspiration to others and helps likeminded people connect.

What if I don’t have an Instagram account?

Well, you could always shell out the $0.00 required to set one up and start snapping away. But if you don’t want to do that, we still have you covered. Just email your pictures or video, plus any relevant caption, to pics@pumpingstationone.org. We will take it from there.

Can I geotag/use Flickr/post daguerrotypes instead?

Not at the moment, no. It has been suggested that we expand the feed to include pics that have been geotagged at PS1, or that mention the @pumpingstationone Instagram account, etc. These are all good ideas, but the plugins we are using don’t do this out of the box. (You can however tag your photos with #madeatpsone instead, if you like typing extra letters on your phone.)

What else can I do?

I’m glad I pretended you asked. You can follow the PS1 Instagram account @pumpingstationone.

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We have a Slack

PS1 has had a Slack workspace for a while, and if you’re a member, you should have by now received an invitation to join.* The rest of this post is a brief intro to Slack, broken up into sections for beginners, intermediate level users, and experts. Jump to whichever section grabs your fancy.

For beginners: what is Slack?

Slack is a messaging app that has caught on for a few reasons:

  • Slack is pleasant to look at, fairly easy to use, and sort of breezily fun.
  • It has decent search. (Kind of. Not really. But better than most of the alternatives.)
  • It has excellent synchronization across mobile and desktop clients.
  • Tons and tons of other services have integrated with Slack, which makes it easy to monitor and do stuff from within the tool.

But basically Slack is a nicely designed chat app. It is not a replacement for something like the Google Group, but rather a way to have different kinds of conversations, and especially quicker, less formal conversations.

You can log into Slack via your web browser at pumpingstationone.slack.com, but this is probably the least appealing way to use Slack. Consider downloading the desktop or mobile client.

Slack lets you have private 1-on-1 conversations with other users, but most conversations take place in public channels. When you log in for the first time, browse the available channels and join the ones that seem interesting.

For intermediate users: manage multiple workspaces and customize your Slack

If you are an intermediate user, presumably you already have some experience with Slack. Good news: it is very easy to manage multiple Slack workspaces using the desktop and mobile clients. Just log into the PS1 slack by opening up your Slack client, clicking on the workspace name in the upper right, and choosing “Sign in to another workspace…”

Or open up the mobile client, swipe right to access the sidebar, and then swipe right again to switch to the Workspaces sidebar. Then click “Add workspaces”.

Once you are signed into multiple workspaces, you can easily receive notifications from any of them, and jump back and forth quickly between them.

Speaking of notifications: Slack notifications are highly customizable, so consider spending a few minutes to tune them. Ideally you can find the sweet spot that allows you to monitor the conversation without hitting notification overload. You can, for instance:

Finally, explore some of the dumb/fun capabilities of Slack:

For experts: we have a robot

Meet Gort, our very own robot butler. Gort is an incarnation of Hubot, which originally came to life at Github. (Major thank you to Andrew Vaughan for getting Gort up and running.) Gort is scriptable, and comes with loads of built-in features, ranging from useful to kinda funny to extremely annoying.

To see what tricks Gort knows, start a private conversation with him and type “help”.

If you are so inclined, consider extending Gort to perform useful tricks related to PS1.

* If you haven’t received an invitation to join, email me at press@pumpingstationeone.org.

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Put in your order for delivery from Owl Lumber

Owl Lumber is beloved for its selection of hardwood. If you’ve never been to one of their three stores, they’re very much worth a visit. Unfortunately, none of them are especially convenient to get to from PS:1. If you’ve ever wished that they delivered, now’s your chance.

Hopefully this will become a monthly service, but first we’ve got to make sure it works at all–and that there’s sufficient demand. If you want some wood, do this:

  1. Call up Owl and price out an order. Note that many of the prices at Owl vary with the specific piece of wood, so you may need to restrict your purchase to dimensional lumber to get a firm price.
  2. Go to this form and enter the specifics of your order.
  3. Make yourself a michelada and relax while we take care of the rest.

Depending on the size of our group order, Owl will add a delivery fee that is somewhere between $0 and $80. By placing an order through PS:1, you are agreeing to pay somewhere between $0 and $10 (but not more than that) for delivery.

We will take care of payment later, but we plan to take money via the major personal payment platforms: Paypal, Venmo, and ChasePay. Heck, for this first go-round, we’ll take a sock monkey full of dirty nickels if that’s what you’ve got.

Shooting for delivery by the end of month. 🤘

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Tormach trainees announced–and a gift from Tormach in the works

PS:1 recently voted to acquire a Tormach CNC mill, capable of machining metals such as aluminum, brass, and steel. As part of this purchase, the club also allocated funds to send four members for training at the Tormach facility outside Madison, WI.

The four members will form the core of the Danger Committee for the mill, responsible for designing the authorization process and performing authorizations for six months. Eleven members applied for this opportunity, and four winners were recently announced. Congratulations to:

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

A related exciting development is that Tormach has offered to donate spots for 10 trainees to PS:1. A big thanks to member Tucker Tomlinson for arranging this donation.

Full details are still being worked out. As part of the donation, PS:1 will engage in some joint activities with Tormach, including hosting a meet-up for the Chicago-area community interested in CNC milling. All in all, the donation represents both a cost savings to PS:1 and an opportunity to raise the profile of our upcoming acquisition.

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