Jon Kushigian joined the Makerspace last month as a volunteer woodshop setter-upper and operator, and he has been making incredible progress in transforming a basement storage room into a bright and usable workspace. It is amazing to see how much has changed since only a month ago when the room was filled with dirt and junk.
Jon is passionate about sharing his knowledge of woodworking and furniture restoration with others in the community. To give an example of the potential that may lie within a tired, work out piece of furniture, Jon restored a single drawer of a old retail display case found in the basement. Wow!
According to Jon, all it took was some rubbing alcohol to rework the shellac, some steel wool and paint to clean up the hardware, and of course a bit of elbow grease. Truly amazing! We are looking forward to Jon teaching our makers the finer points of woodworking and restoration so that they can restore the entire cabinet themselves. Maybe, they could even make some money for themselves by offering furniture restoration as a service, or restoring and selling their own furniture. Ah, the possibilities…
Given that the last AwesomeShop covered the basics of generators, it was time for some practical application. Using some basic kits purchased from our friends at Kidwind along with some recycled cardboard and hot glue, we built our own mini wind turbines. Because the materials are so simple, cheap, and easy to tear down and rebuild, we were able to quickly experiment with homegrown blade designs and arrangements in order to generate the most wattage possible.
I did my best to provide only barebones instruction. I simply laid out the parts on a table, and asked the makers to go for it based on what they had seen and heard of wind turbines. In this way, the makers learned more by their own trial and error as well as the trial and error of others, and less by dictation of designs and concepts by a “teacher.”
We generated a chart of outputs for each turbine, and used the chart to discussed blade design/arrangement and its associated output. This made things a bit competitive, but in a healthy way. The makers shared designs and ideas, and worked together to help each other understand which designs would work best.
One of my favorite parts of this AwesomeShop was our decision to have the class outside! It was a beautiful day after all, so why not? It is fun to make things together with others, but even more so to do it in the open air on a gorgeous day!
A few members of our partner hackerspace OmniCorpDetroit are participating in the The Great Global Hackerspaces Challenge. Thirty hackerspaces were invited to participate in the Challenge to help the goal of improving education around the world with technology. With less than two months and only $900 in funds the teams rose to the challenge and produced some amazing results. OmniCorp designed a DIY Laser Tag shield for the Arduino microcontroller so that youngsters could build and program their own Laser Tag game. For an afternoon Sprintshop, the OCD folks came over to the Makerspace to show our makers how to solder together a circuit board and test the Laser Tag kit. Fun Stuff! This summer, we will go much deeper into circuits and microcontrollers with the makers so that they might someday be able to create their own interactive devices and games.
Because of last weeks Uber Hack in Eastern Market, the Tron Bikes class was a little behind, so we went full speed into building small OpAmps (audio amplifiers) so that next week we can put them in miniature, on bike, boom boxes.
At the same time, some of the Eastside Riders came to the Makerspace to work on adding switches and battery packs onto some of there bikes… like this crazy one from King Wayne.
Unfolding the mysteries of electromagnetic induction…this could be the most important AwesomeShop yet!
Today, we taught the makers how to produce their own electricity by making an ultra simple generators out of magnets, a bolt, a hand-wound coil of enameled wire, and a drill. This hands-on way of explaining the functionality of a generator with the simplest ingredients possible seemed quite effective.
We also explained the difference between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) by simulating an electronic circuit using people. We all gathered ’round in a Cumbaya circle of sorts, and pretended that we were electrons moving back and forth in the case of AC, and in one direction in the case of DC. I had been attempting to explain AC and DC using whiteboard diagrams, but I think that this proved to be a much better way of doing so. I plan on using the “people as parts” method of explaining electronic concepts in the future.
On Monday 4/23, we traveled out to Cranbrook Academy of Art to teach one of our SprintShops called “Making Noise.” At Making Noise, we introduce the basics of electricity, electronic components and sound through a hands-on DIY synthesizer build. As always, the Making Noise class was filled with…NOISE! After an intro to the photoresistor and how it affects the pitch of the synth via exposure to light, participants started to get creative and use their smart phones to create different tones and squeaks. Lots of smiles and laughs all around! Most importantly, everyone left the workshop with not just their own working synthesizer, but also a better understanding of how electricity is used to generate sound.
This past weekend we cancelled our Tron Bikes workshop in favor of joining with our partner hackerspace OmniCorpDetroit (OCD) so that a handful of our Makers could teach classes during Saturday market day in Eastern Market. Many market-goers stopped by to learn how to solder, make fruit batteries, and create seed bombs. What are seed bombs you say? These are non-violent balls of flower seeds wrapped in clay so that they may be easily lobbed into vacant lots in hopes of taking root.
Later on in the afternoon with help from our OCD friend Kelson, we launched some of the seed bombs into some promising vacant lots nearby.
Many thanks to our friends at OmniCorpDetroit for sharing their space with us in Eastern Market, and thanks to all of the wonderful people that came by to learn! Finally a huge thank you to all of the Makers that joined us for a long day of teaching….Jeremiah, Elishah, Ife, Edmund, and Ethan! Through suggested donations offered for their teaching services, each Maker earned over $20 apiece!