A Hackspace for the Potteries

May 5, 2010 by

A brief write-up, but it’s getting late 😉
North Staffs’ inaugural GeekUp meeting attracted people from Liverpool, Cheshire & Stoke-on-Trent to discuss setting up local hackspaces. Present were:
Adrian McEwen
Dave Verwer
Tom Bloor
Dan Smith
Alex Beech
Charlie Owen
Dave Roberts
Mark Brereton
Robert Marshall
Kay Foulkes
& Richard Smedley
With apologies from Carl Plant.
Mark Brereton is involved in the Empty Shops initiative in Hanley, as well as various arts projects re-purposing old buildings in Burslem. He put the group onto a couple of good possible venues for Potteries Hackspace, and discussion soon moved to how to finance and expand the space.
Attendees were particularly keen to set up education events to get the young generation hacking – watch this space for more news, or subscribe to the new Google group.

Advertisements

Where Cheshire meets Stafforshire Moorlands…

May 1, 2010 by

Where Cheshire meets Stafforshire Moorlands, close to the borders with Shropshire & Derbyshire, there’s a hackspace meeting at the most southerly part of the North-West: Alsager.

Come along to The Lodge, Alsager 7pm, Weds 5th May, 2010 – a hackspace is not just a building, but a group of interested people, so we need you all 🙂
We have a function room booked, with WiFi & projector.

A hackspace, for new readers, is a building (or room) where people can play creatively with technology: just let your imagination take you where it will. Everything from arduino-powered robots to circuit board jewellery.

This meeting is organised with GeekUp, a social network of Web professionals and technically curious people, but is open to all. Just turn up on the night, we’ll be there until at least 10pm. However, if you want to RSVP, visit: http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/5750401/

For those not familiar with GeekUp, here’s some info:

“What is GeekUp?

“GeekUp is a community of web designers, web developers, and other
tech-minded folk from the UK. It’s a grassroots knowledge sharing and
networking social for folks involved or interested in the web and
technology industry. Monthly events take place in Chester, Leeds,
Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Sheffield.

“Who can attend GeekUp?

“While the focus for GeekUp is predominately web related anybody
involved in the technology industry is more than welcome to attend a
GeekUp. The monthly events are free, we just ask that you buy your
own beer.”

Easy to get to by train from Crewe & Stoke. Hope to see some of you there    🙂

Last Liverpool meeting of the year – 1st December 2009

November 26, 2009 by

Given that the next meeting would fall rather close to Christmas, and the one after would be between Christmas and New Year, this will be the last meeting for 2009.

We’re at Bad Format on Trueman Street again, and will be helping Scott extend the WiFi from the office out into the main bar area. So there might even be power tools involved 😉

Of course, if you just want to have a chat, or work on your own project then that’s cool too.

Full details over on Upcoming.

Next Liverpool meeting – Tuesday 17th November 2009

November 16, 2009 by

A very apologetic Scott assures me that Bad Format will be open on Tuesday, so the meeting is going to be held there. I’ve been playing around with some little op-amp chips to make an annoying high-pitched noise-making circuit, so I’ll be playing with that to see if I can make it sound any nicer. I think Ross Dalziel will be along to tell us about his Nintendo DS and random electronic instrument orchestra event that he’s putting on at FACT.

As usual, full details on the upcoming page.

Next Liverpool Meeting – 3rd November

October 29, 2009 by

UPDATE: We’ve just heard they can’t get anyone to staff the bar for us at the Bad Format Social Club, so we’ll be meeting round the corner at the Ship and Mitre on Dale Street. We might even be able to book the room upstairs, but I’m waiting to hear back from them about that.

A quick heads-up for the next Liverpool meeting. It’s going to be at the Bad Format Social Club next Tuesday, 3rd November 2009 at 7pm.

Full details on the Upcoming page.

Liverpool Meeting – 20th October 2009

October 29, 2009 by

A fairly low turnout at the last meeting, mainly due to it only being announced the day before the event, it clashing with GeekUp Chester, and having to switch venues on the day.

We ended up in the bar upstairs at FACT, looking slightly out-of-place with the ebb and flow of cinema-goers. Still, Dominic managed to find us for his first visit to one of the meetings, and he even lugged this rather impressive battery box from his electric bike project along with him.

He accidentally connected the charging circuit up the wrong way a while back, and fears that he’s released some of the magic smoke that makes it all work. He was hoping that we might be able to shed some light on how to check if the MosFETs are still okay, but all we managed was some commiserating and general poking around at the circuit. One for the future I think…

We have space – 1500sq ft, Manchester

October 24, 2009 by

61448491_43824fc525_mVery quick post, as I’m betwixt #LRL2009 & climbing in the lakes: the Manchester Creative Collective have a great space they want to share with us a few minutes walk south of Piccadilly Station. The space is great; the terms are great; the opportunities for collaboration are fantastic – with all sorts of projects planned out of the factory (they’re even getting a forge!).

More details to follow, and more info when it’s discussed at the meeting in Stockport on Wednesday. Come along if you can – if not watch for announcements here, or on Twitter.

Next Liverpool Meeting – 20th October 2009

October 19, 2009 by

STOP PRESS — change of venue —

FACT bar, Wood Street, 7pm – then down to Pier Head to see off the Queen Mary.

That’s right, the next Liverpool hackspace meeting is tomorrow night. We’ll be at the Bad Format Social Club on Trueman street from 7pm till around 9pm. I’ll be bringing one of the Oomlout beginner’s Arduino kits to have a play with shift registers, and in case anyone wants to have a look at what you get with it.

More details over on the Upcoming event page.

Liverpool Meeting – 6th October 2009

October 19, 2009 by

Liverpool Hackspace meeting at the Bad Format Social Club
These fortnights seem much shorter than I ever expect. And once again the next meeting is looming and I still haven’t written up the report from the last one. So this report will serve more to confirm that we did actually meet up, and there was some hacking done and things discussed.

We had a couple of new attendees along, which is always good to see. I think we were pretty easy to find as we had the venue to ourselves, and as you can see in the photo, there was also a table full of electronics if further evidence were required.

Ross Jones and I showed off the Auduino and IR guitar, respectively, that we’d built at/for Interface Amnesty, and Scott, who runs the bar, showed us the blank area of wall on the way into the venue that he wants to populate with spinning fans and other techno-junk. And that led to a variety of ideas and discussions about how you’d connect them up to spin based on how many people were inside, or using something like the spoke-POV to make things more colourful, and wondering if we should have a hackday down in the club sometime to get something up and running.

Interface Amnesty at Static

September 27, 2009 by

Yesterday a few of us from the Liverpool Hackspace group went down to Static for a day of playing around with electronics to make music noises. It was an event called Interface Amnesty, organised by Sound Network as a fringe event for the Abandon Normal Devices Festival. Is that enough links?

The day was split into two parts. First off was a Maker Faire-style show-and-tell where people were demonstrating what they’d made, and then in the evening the space was cleared of trestle tables and a few of the artists present gave performances of their work.

The Hackday

Most of the rest of the people with stalls at the event were just showing off what they’d already made. We were embracing the hackspace mentality, and were building stuff as well as showing things that were finished.

It took us about three-quarters of an hour to get an Auduino up and running, which was pretty good given that it was my mate Andrew doing the building, and he hadn’t even touched an Arduino before yesterday morning. So that build time includes him downloading the Arduino IDE and getting it installed on his laptop.

Here’s a short video of it just after we got it working

I hadn’t heard the Audino before, but was impressed with how good it sounds, and it’s just five potentiometers and an Arduino. You could build one for much less than £30. Plenty of the other musicians there were really impressed with what a lovely noise it makes.

Our “already made” contribution came from Ross. At the past couple of hackspace meetings he’s been playing around with infra-red distance sensors, an Arduino and some python MIDI code and had got his IR Guitar ready just in time for the event.

And here’s a video of Ross demonstrating it.

I think the next step is getting the distance from the sensor to control something, such as different notes or different volume, but waving your hands about in mid-air is a fun way to play an instrument.

I had hoped to build some of the Chiptune Orchestra instruments too, but although I’d made sure I’d bought all the parts I needed from their partslist, I didn’t spot that there isn’t a circuit diagram available yet. We did start playing around building an oscillator circuit with the chips I’d bought, but there was too much going on to really get stuck into it. Maybe at the next hackspace meeting…

The Gigs

The music in the evening was a great way to round off a fun day. If I remember correctly, the line up was…

PixelH8, playing songs on his Nintendo DS synth.

Then Mike Blow played a couple of pieces, including this atmospheric one built up from a field recording in a tunnel under the river Elbe. I’m still not quite sure how he managed to get the cathedral bells outside to start up at such a perfect time in the dying moments of the work.

Stretta was up next. I can’t find anything that shows what his stuff was like to experience live, but this video and about 3 minutes into this video give you an idea of the sorts of thing he was playing with and using to create his music. The Monone interfaces he was using are beautifully designed and made.

And the night finished with The Amazing Rolo playing stuff through his Wiimote software and his musical jam jars. You can get an idea of what it was like by watching this, but there’s more music on his website.