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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Announcing the Pumping Station: One newsletter

As part of a series of efforts to improve communications both within PS:1 and with the wider community, we are launching an email newsletter.

The content and format of the newsletter will undoubtedly evolve over time. The newsletter will of course publicize upcoming events and important news or announcements. It will also spotlight the innumerable people and projects that make PS:1 such a vibrant community.

Why is this happening?
Perhaps the most basic reason is to reach a bigger cross-section of the membership. The Google Group is a valuable resource, but participation is fairly low, not just in terms of the number of people who post, but also in terms of the number of people subscribed at all.

Beyond that, there’s a lot of stuff happening on a daily basis at PS:1 that simply isn’t publicized in any venue at all right now. If you’ve ever attended a member meeting, you know that individuals and groups are constantly up to amazing things in the space. Find out what your fellow makers are doing!

Finally, PS:1 very badly needs a way to engage the wider community, including mission-aligned organizations in the Chicago area; individuals who have found our website or come on a tour but aren’t yet ready to join; or really anyone who participates in or supports the maker community.

How will it work?
We expect to send out 1 or 2 newsletters per month. The hope is that as we get into a groove, we can hit a more regular cadence. Newsletter content will also be posted online so that non-subscribers can access it.

Needless to say, we will follow normal email best practices: we aren’t going to share your contact info with anyone, and anyone can unsubscribe at any time.

What will happen next?
If you are a current PS:1 member, you will receive the first newsletter soon, which will include instructions for managing your subscription. Anyone can sign up on the PS:1 website, and we will be posting reminders on the Google Group.

Can you contribute?
Would I have asked this leading question if the answer was no? We love, love, love submissions or even just content ideas from members. Please send your thoughts to press@pumpingstationone.org.

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Pumping Station: One building up for sale

When PS:One expanded in 2017, we negotiated a five-year lease with an option to renew for another five years.

At the time, the building was owned by the Khouri brothers, Tony and Dan. Recently the brothers divided their ownership. Tony moved his business closer to his home, and Dan took sole ownership of the building.

A few days ago, the brothers let us know that Dan would like to sell the building and is making preparations to do so. Any new owner would be obligated to honor the lease, including the renewal clause. Even in the event of a sale, PS:One retains the right to stay in its current location for up to eight more years.

Or possibly longer. Another option that has been long discussed is PS:One buying the building ourselves. Alternatively, a trust could by the building on our behalf. Similar arrangements have been made by the Milwaukee makerspace and others.

A third option is to remain a tenant under new owners. And, of course, a final possibility is to move to a new location. Moving is logistically complicated, but it also offers an opportunity to consider the long-term needs of a growing membership.

No changes are imminent, but we do need to begin the hard work of educating ourselves and laying the groundwork for an eventual decision. Likely steps include:

  • Understanding our legal rights as tenants
  • Talking to lenders about the financing options available to us
  • Establishing a capital fund
  • Setting fundraising goals and soliciting donors
  • Appraising the building and surveying the local real estate market

But the most important next step is tapping the expertise and seeking the input of our membership base. We plan to hold an ongoing series of conversations, both in-person and online, to ensure that members have full insight into the process as it unfolds. As always, we will be reliant on dedicated volunteers to ensure that PS:One continues to fulfill its mission and thrive.

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Power Racing Series 2017 Season

Have you heard about the Power Racing Series? It began in 2009, right here at PS1! This year, I joined the team and we went racing around the country. It was road trip season.

We made it to these cities and raced other teams at Maker Faires:

  • Kansas City, MO
  • Detroit, MI
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Nashville, TN

The first race was in Kansas City, MO. We picked up some PVC pipes for drift wheels and this awfully nice random person offered us wires to secure them to the trailer.

You can see all the go-carts zoom by in this unrealistic timelapse video at the Kansas City Maker Faire.

This walkthrough video of the pits at the Detroit Maker Faire showcases a bunch of the other teams from all over the country. There is an important reminder about sunscreen at the end.

In the Milwaukee Maker Faire, we had a night race and it was pretty cool.

The last race we went to in Nashville had the nicest paved track ever and we made a bunch of skid marks.

We also had some really good spicy margaritas.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the rest due to distance or scheduling conflicts but races also happened in these cities:

  • San Mateo, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Orlando, FL

The Bluesmobile and the Kart of 1000 Faces were driven between Aaron F, Andrew C, Ash J, Carlos G, Jennie P, and myself. We also had other PS1 members, Casey and Aushra, show up at some of the cities and they drove for parts of the 75 minute endurance races.

It was a lot of fun hacking away at the frames, electronics, and bodies of the go-carts. Between fixing the two carts and racing, we have also been working on new things for next season.

There is a new Catbus body being made by Aaron.

Another new Jackson Storm body being made by Jackson.

Some serious wheels are being fitted onto a new frame by Carlos.

There is a new frame being built by Andrew, which is top secret, so no photos.

There is also a new body being built by Jennie, also top secret, hence photos.

I’m putting together a motor controller.

Last but not least, there is a new drivetrain with Leaf batteries and converted alternators being built by Andrew. He was ecstatic when he got the batteries in Milwaukee.

Come check us out on Monday nights. All of these are group projects. Anybody can work on the go-carts and race them. This was my first year at Pumping Station One and my first racing season of the Power Racing Series.

I can’t wait for next year!

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PS:1 friendship fuels a Kickstarter

Deanna and I have a Kickstarter.

If you are interested in finding out about our Kickstarter (Fingerstender) check us out.
I invented the Fingerstender in 2008 and Deanna and I made improvements to it. The current Fingerstender is better.

We are halfway to our goal and we have 10 days left, so if you are interested, back our Kickstarter.

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Free Class: Leatherworking with Common Household Objects

In this free one hour make & take, you’ll explore ways to add texture and shape to vegetable tanned leather using common household objects! The class will be Thursday, November 9, 2017 upstairs in the Arts & Crafts Area at 7:00 – 8:00 PM.

The instructor, Tamara Clammer, is a Seattle based leatherworker and the Maker Advocate at Brown Paper Tickets.

If you can’t attend this class, you can also join her at Maker Fest at the Niles-Maine District Library from 12:00 – 3:30 pm on November 11th.

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Block Rockin’ Knits

The arts and crafts area has a sewing table with a pinable canvas surface for pattern design, and this is also great for blocking hand knitted items. 

Blocking means stretching the knitted item and steaming it to get a better shape. Acrylic, wool, alpaca and pretty much any fiber used to make a knitted item tends to roll at the edges and be floppy until it is blocked. Factory knitwear is blocked as well as hand knits.

I discovered a new tool called blocking wires which I used on this large lace shawl I recently completed. The wires can be run through the edges and pinned. Using the wires allowed for needing less pins and getting tension faster for the rectangular shape. I steamed the whole piece with a sewing iron and could see it adjust, tightening and relaxing, along the pattern.

Many people wash an item and block it into shape to dry, then steam it. A hat can be blocked on a large party balloon or a Styrofoam head form like the kind sold in beauty supply shops. Steam alone does a good job of getting a crisp shape for your knitted item. Just be careful to hover a steam iron a few inches above the item to not scorch or melt the fibers.

 

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“In Between” by CODYRYANDESIGN

Hey All,

Just wanted to share a labor of love I’ve been working on for the past month or so. It’s a night light/table center-piece/ whatever you want it to be LED illuminaire.

Acrylic rods over an individually addressable LED matrix (WS2812b) encased in a single solid piece of acrylic and driven by an Arduino Nano. I shaved down the acrylic over each LED to just a few millimeters to create a natural diffusing lens over each LED.

It also reacts to external lights sources (and sometimes its own…still working on that). When there is a lot of light it gets brighter and vice versa. The patterns and colors are completely random and the Arduino script is based off DedeHai’s original linked here. More of my work can be found at www.codyryandesign.com. You can also Instagram follow me @codyryandesign. Thank you for letting me share!

Huge thanks to my brilliant girlfriend Jessica for standing in for a few shots!

         

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