Intro to Arduino class, July 16 2011

Maui Makers is proud to announce our first Arduino Class and our first Visiting Instructor!
David Stillman, of Spark Fun Electronics, is going to be on island for most of the month of July. He has offered to teach a class using the Spark Fun Inventors Kit (SIK), a nicely packaged Arduino kit. Maui Makers has secured 15 of these kits. We are offering 10 for sale with the class, and will be holding 5 in reserve for teaching the intro to people who cant afford to buy their own kits at present.

For those who don’t know, the Arduino is “an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.” (from website)

The SIK packages an Arduino Uno, solderless breadboard, 36 page instructional booklet, 12 circuit overlays, LEDs, a servo, a motor, buttons, switches, sensors, buzzer, etc. The class will get you started using the Arduino, working us through a couple experiments. No soldering or programming experience is required. You will need to bring your own laptop (windows, mac or linux) to work through the exercises.

We will be having follow-up meetings for attendees with various levels of experience.

For details and signup, see the class web page.

Workbenches from Scrap Wood (mostly)

After last week’s scrap bin project we turned our attention back to outfitting the space. We needed workbenches – and our friend Mike Drescher, who works for a company of professional steel building erectors, had kindly brought in a whole bunch of 2x6s he had saved from a deconstructed deck. We decided to start building at our regular Thursday meeting on June 16.

Brian I, Brian T and Adam R building Bench #1

Brian T, Brian I, Adam Rosen and I got there well before dark and started selecting the wood. Most of the pieces were 8-12ft and had either nails or various decay. We found most of it was pretty usable, especially for legs and bracing. Brian T took the lead on the build using plans in his head, and a selection of nice battery powered DeWalt tools he brought. Working with a team vs alone was a bit of a change for all of us, but it worked out well. We got four slabs selected and cut for the top, and four legs and cross pieces selected and cut for the legs.

Makers at Meeting June 16 2011

Just before dark, about 6:30 or 7, several more people showed up – Tommy R, with daughter Betty and Cousin-in-Law Eric M; Ben W with wife Hiro and sons Shion and Hugh. With all the people hanging round, we switched from Building Stuff to Sharing (i.e. talking), even though the generator made talking a bit hard. Eric M. had brought a neat arduino controller setup he built for taking panoramic photos. It looked like a decent setup, packaged in a tupperware type container, except the exposed wire connections seemed to have shorted out the battery. Bummer. Heat shrink is your friend… and can be cheap (note: add a good selection of various sizes to our list of supplies!)

The crowd left to get kids home, and then Brian T remembered he had a date, so we pretty much shut down around 8pm. Adam, Brian I and I (JerryI) hung out for a bit but the lighting was pretty bad and we kept making mistakes. We packed the parts up into the container and headed for home, planning to return in the morning.

It was a bit later than we expected when we got back Friday. BrianI and I went to Home Depot and picked up some extra supplies, including a couple 2×4′ sheets of MDF to use as bench tops. We also brought down some 2x6s and 2×4 scrap left over from our barn and fence building. We managed to get Bench #1 complete and a start on Bench #2 before 1pm. Then our build got cut short by a call from the alarm company about our Haiku House. We had to rush back and check things out – cats had knocked stuff over in garage, setting off motion detectors.

Returning Saturday morning, we finished off Bench #2 with MDF top and shelf. The shelf is set at a height to allow plastic tubs below and on shelf. It needs a front support to avoid sagging. Getting on a good roll, we quickly built Bench #3 – another MDF topped bench, but with out a shelf. We were able to get both benches complete and all parts put away by 2pm – in time to get home, shower and head back to the Maui Film Festival at MACC.

So we now have a total of four good workbenches at the space – one metal framed MDF top with drawers from Cole S, and the three we built this weekend. Cole brought in and hung another florescent fixture on Sunday, which gives us pretty decent lighting throughout the container. Cole also brought another shelf unit and a cabinet. Now we gotta organize a bit, and then get power hookup/distribution setup. We also need some good bench stools.

Here’s the Flickr set for the weekend build out:
[slickr-flickr tag=”makerbenches” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” use_key=”y” ]

U. Hawaii Makery and Makery Cloud

Dr Neil Scott of UH Curriculum Research & Development Group


Dr Neil Scott of Univ Hawai’, Manoa College of Education is bringing “making” back to middle schools.  His project, called The Makery, puts a small work center in selected Hawaiian Charter Schools and provides teachers with training and curriculum in the use of electronics, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Manufacture (CAM) and machining (CNC) to foster student interest in STEM.   A key component of the project is integration of culture and arts. The apex project for students is the creation of a Hawaiian Steel Guitar, which they also learn to play.Dr. Scott’s vision extends beyond these islands of innovation to the Makery Cloud – an association of classroom Makery equipped schools, a Central Makery and external partnerships. This vision may provide a terrific opportunity for Makerspaces to partner with schools.

The Makery Project has its roots in Stanford U’s Archimedes Project studying barriers to student learning and use of technology. The project moved to U.Hawai’i in 2003 with Dr Scott with a focus on providing universal access to computer tech. A grant from NSF in 2006 spun up “The Invention Factory” to create a program in hands-on, project based instruction to stimulate interest in STEM careers in underrepresented population. They ran three years of workshops with middle and high school kids. They found kids start off with no idea of what STEM is and why it is important to learn, expected instant gratification, had poor reading/writing skills, very little practical skills or knowlege but they were not stupid – just bored. The kids could learn and make cool stuff if they got the chance.

Dr. Neil Scott and guitar blank

Lessons from these workshops were incorporated into the 2008 rollout of the Makery project at a charter school on the Big Island. Dr Scott and his team setup a 3 year curriculum, tightly coupling theory and practice. (Dr Scott references this pedagogical technique to US Navy Electronics courses created by Van Valkenberg, et al. where hands on lab exercises immediately follow class elements.) The first year taught basics of electronics and magnetism. The second introduced electronics, sensors and microprocessors. The third year introduced CAD/CAM design and fabrication using modern desktop systems. The culmination is the crafting of a Hawaiian Steel Guitar – along with instruction in playing it! Ahh – STEM meets the Arts => STEAM.

Finished Steel Guitar

The latest evolution of The Makery includes the provision of a work center. This nicely designed table includes workstations for electronics, as well as small benchtop power tools, and a small CNC Mill. Storage for tools and supplies is provided under the divided work top. (insert pictures)
[slickr-flickr tag=”makerykiosk” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” type=”gallery”]

Proxxon Chop and Mitre Saw

The power tools from Proxxon may look like toys, but they are actually well crafted professional model making tools, quite well suited to a small workshop. The CNC Micro Mill is a custom system design by the UH Manoa team. They have several different configurations depending on the intended work pieces. The basic desktop system has a fairly small work area (roughly 12″), while a long version can be used for making the guitar bodies.

The latest incarnation of The Makery is the 2011 installation at Kihei Charter School on Maui. Kihei Charter also has a Makerbot Thing-o-Matic. I’m hoping to establish a good working relationship between Kihei Charter and Maui Makers. I think there is great potential for collaboration.

I visited Dr. Scott at his Makery Central at U.H Manoa back on Jan 25th, 2011. He has an impressive lab setup with several larger CNC mills, a laser cutter, etc. Dr Scott was at the 2011 3rd Annual Henry Kalialoha Allen Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival, doing a workshop with the kids and staff from (Big Island charter school). There were about 6-10 students building guitars over the 3 days. Pictures from both the UH Manoa visit and the Guitar workshop are in my Flicker Set:

[slickr-flickr tag=”UHMakery” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” use_key=”y” ]