Its really been a great year for us. This time last year the maker and hacker community from the Louth, Meath and North County Dublin areas were yet to come together and put the gears in motion to start a space here in Drogheda. The first meeting was held at the D Hotel in the town in early February 2012 where initial discussion was started about how feasible it would be to start a space in the area. The meetings were held every two weeks where a few of us would continue to plan what would be required in order for it to be successful. Soon talk began about holding some workshops that would help spread the word and to start bringing people together. Early in May of this year Millmount RDC provided us with a room to hold a number of these workshop sessions ranging from introduction to python programming to arduino programming to retro computing events. Events and meetups to date have been mostly quite small but focussed gatherings which have proven to be a great way to transfer knowledge and to generally have some fun learning something new. As the community started to grow during the year (with help from the workshops, the larger irish hackerpsace community and through this website) we began to look for a permanent space to call home. Thankfully we didnt have to look too far as the managers of Millmount RDC gave us the opportunity to use the two rooms for continued use and to store our equipment. This support both locally and further afield will hopefully continue well into the new year and with some formalities now almost in place including an elected board, the constitution and club bank account and now a very reasonable rent to pay we have high hopes for the space in 2013. We are also in the position to begin sharing equipment and to hold classes for anyone interested in getting more involved in the space.
So in light of all of this next Saturday (15/12/12 from 11-4) will be the last real chance to get yourself down to Lightbox Lab before we switch of the light and close the old shutters on the window looking up at Millmount tower for the last time this year. However rest assured we will be back in January with regular weekly meetups on Saturday and on selected weekdays. Also next Saturday we are planning on going for a few drinks (possibly W.M Cairnes) afterwards to celebrate a great year for the hacking and making community in the area. Please join us at Millmount for some festive hacking and making or afterwards at the bar to help us celebrate!
3D Printer Project.
After taking a course in 3D design and printing given by MakeShop last week, I finally took the plunge and started to invest in a 3d printer. I just thought it'd be a cool project to start and since I could start printing other 3D printers it would be a good way to spread the idea of small-scale home prototyping and design.
Unfortunately my bank balance isn't too healthy at the moment so I've taken on the added challenge of making it for as cheap as possible. Prusa Mendels are about $550 accordng to 3ders, so the plan is to aim for under 300 euro.
So, I did some research into the many varities of 3D printers (there's about 100 now. List here: http://www.3ders.org/pricecompare/3dprinters/) and I settled on the Prusa Mendel iteration 2 as shown here: http://reprap.org/wiki/Prusa_Mendel_(iteration_2).
I chose this design as it has the most standardised parts, most printed parts and judging by a youtube series on Mendel assembly a fairly easy and quick printer to build. I'm only starting so I didn't want to get into difficulty too quickly.
Regarding sourcing the parts for the printer, one advantage of this Mendel is that it's a European design. Many of the US designs assume that you have access to speciality websites and Radioshack and that you can easily obtain parts that are much harder to come by in Ireland. Also US designs go by imperial measurements and it can be hard to convert this to metric, especially when the printed parts require specific sizes.
So to start off I took the BOM and divided it into 3 sections: 1) Printed parts, 2) Mechanical parts, 3) Electronics.
Firstly, to get the printed parts I asked one of the guys giving the course in MakeShop, 3D Dave, if he'd be interested in printing off a Mendel. He emailed me back a few days ago saying that he would, when he has time in the next few weeks, so hopefully that aspect is sorted.
Second, to get the mechanical parts I wrote out a list of all the nuts, bolts, washers and bars and gave it to my dad, so hopefully he can pick some of this stuff up at work. Told you this is being done on the cheap. There's no great hurry on getting anything as I'm going to wait till I have all the parts before I start building.
Now the expensive bit. I wrote out the list of electronics and it's fairly substantial. There's no real way of getting this stuff for a discount or even getting it second hand, so I did have to pay for most of it.
Here's what I have ordered so far:
From Ebay: Arduino Mega : €25
LM8UU bearings x10 : €29
608ZZ bearings x8 : €9.20
Nema 17 Steppers x5: €45.00
From RepRap World:
RAMPS Arduino Shield: €62
Pulleys x2 : €9.10
I also got an 300W ATX power supply from an old computer so that's gonna power the printer.
Total cost so far is about €190, but that's most of the expensive stuff out of the way. Hopefully the printed parts won't set me back too much. The mechanical parts shold be free, though there might be some problems getting the M3 parts, they're not too common outside of electronics and can be fairly expensive to order if Dad can't get hold of some.
The only part I have so far are the 608 bearings which arrived in the post yesterday. The plan is to get started on this during reading week at the end of the month, though it's doubtful I'll have everything assembled by then. I still haven't decided on which hot end to use, though I'll probably go for whichever is cheapest and then upgrade in the future. One of the advantages of the Prusa Mendel it seems is the ability to upgrade everything on it at some point so i'd say it's going to be a conitinual work in progress.
So far I have all the electronics, most of the nuts, washers and threaded bars and the printed parts should be done by the end of the week.
I bought the last few components today. I'm going for Wade's Extruder, since most of that is printed. The hardware for that cost about €14 and I bought an assembled hot end from ebay for about €40. I also have aluminium pulleys on the way and they set me back about €10 and opto-switches for €3.
I think that's everything, so all I need do is wait for it all to be delivered and get assembling over Christmas.
Introduction to Unity 3D - 1st December 2012
On Saturday the 1st December 2012 we will be hosting an introduction to the FREE* Unity 3D engine . Topics will include (in order):
- Intro to Unity - what is it? why use it ? competitors? licensing?
- Unity Editor basics - primitives, lighting, transforms, components, terrain, importing models etc
- Examining the first and third person controllers - prefabricated components you can just drag and drop into a level
- Asset Store - prebuilt models and scripts, GUI toolkits, etc
- Large game development community - Unity Answers and other sites
- LESS OF ME TALKING AND MORE EVERYBODY PLAYING AROUND WITH THE ENGINE AND BUILDING FUN STUFF !!!!!!
Prerequisites (Optional): If you have a Windows or Mac laptop (Intel only), please install a version of Unity 3D 3.4 or newer (we're up to version 4 now). The free version is more than enough to work with and has absolutely everything you would need for an intro to 3D / Game Design. *The Pro version of Unity has advanced extras like Navigation Meshes, advanced shaders, etc, but is not entirely necessary for general game design.
If you don't have a computer with you: That's fine, as you should still learn plenty about the engine.
Location: Lightbox Lab (Drogheda's Makerspace) - Millmount, see our "LOCATION" page above for a map.
Time: 11am - 3pm (we will definitely take breaks)
Price: COMPLETELY FREE!
In the future I plan to do more Unity days / nights, and possibly might delve into the free Unreal Development Kit (UDK)
Unity System Requirements:
Windows: XP SP2 or later; Mac OS X: Intel CPU & "Snow Leopard" 10.6 or later. Note that Unity was not tested on server versions of Windows and OS X.
On the 10th of November we will be hosting a tutorial in Ruby, which is a popular dynamic programming language used by web applications like Scribd, Hulu, and Shopify. Ruby comes pre-installed on most GNU/Linux operating systems, but Windows users can get started quickly with tools like RubyInstaller.
The tutorial will cover all of the basics you need to get up and running writing programs in Ruby, and will be suitable for those with or without any programming experience.
We had a bi-monthly meetup at #lightboxlab on the 17th October. On the agenda was a review and sign off of the Lightboxlab Constitution with many thanks to the guys at Tog.ie and 091labs.com for allowing us use a copy of their one. Also the Lightboxlab committee was elected so this was a momentous occasion in the history of Drogheda's makerspace. Thanks to all for putting their names forward. The new committee is as follows
On the night continued work on our Balloon Project took place. We are currently looking at the power requirements for all the kit and also fine tuning the GPS, SMS and Web cam configurations.
We are also looking for any new software/hardware project submissions and idea's from anyone who would like to run or participate in something new. I've posted a New Project discussion thread on the droghackspace mailing list.
As part of Irish Hackerspace Week Jonathan from #Lightboxlab put together a Security Night showing some prevention/detection and vulnerability discovery techniques. There was a great turnout of white hats on the night. Some VMWare Linux images running a number of vulnerabilities on a isolated network were setup, and we all connected onto the network and used some tools freely available. The tools of choice were part of BackTrack which is a Penetration Testing and Security Auditing Linux Distribution. While I have had some experience of hardening servers with the help of Nessus a vulnerability and configuration assessment tool this was new to me. Looking at the exploits is something I'd never really had a chance to do so the night was a real eye opener. I've a feeling we'll be running another session quite soon judging by the interest on the night.
There was further discussions on the location, running and membership of #Lightboxlab and full details will go on the website soon. Also talk of new events and tutorials were discussed. These will be submitted to the Droghackspace Google Group to get an idea of the level of interest and get an idea of numbers. The next meet up will be mainly centered around the Weather Balloon Project.
As part of Irish Hackerspace Week 2012 (15th-23th September) we will be kicking off a rerun of the python tutorial held during the Summer. "Learning to Program
In Python" course will again take place in Millmount Centre Drogheda. For this course no prior programming experience
will be needed.
Python programming basics will be covered over 4 tutorial sessions. Each
Tutorial 1 (15th September 12pm-4pm in Millmount, Drogheda)
Some programming fundamentals
conditionals and loops
Tutorial 2 (October)
Introduction to Object Orientation
Tutorial 3 (October)
Practical Examples - (TBD) e.g Database Querys, using python geolocation APIs
Tutorial 4 (November)
Practical Example: Working with Python and Arduino