Once every month, Buffalo Lab holds a craft workshop. The goal of these workshops is to learn a new skill or create something interesting with a small commitment of a $5 donation and two hours of time. We welcome all levels of skill. The idea is to get an economy of scale for projects that are often too messy or expensive to do at home, and have fun while we do it! Both members and guests of Buffalo Lab are welcome to participate.
This month, we focused on Steampunk, the art culture that features the Victorian aesthetic combined with modern or futuristic technology. The steampunk community has a long history of creating pieces using found objects. This was an open-ended workshop; participants were encouraged to scrounge through the Buffalo Lab spare parts pile and create something original. We also set out faucet handles, hinges, pipes, and other parts from Buffalo ReUse.
About 15 people participated in the workshop, both hardcore steampunk fans and people new to the genre. We got some beautiful, fun, and creative results: a nautical remote control, futuristic butterfly, office supplies, a remote-controlled helicopter, and several pieces of jewelry.
For more photos of the Steampunk craft workshop, check out the Flickr set.
The craft workshops meet once a month, and feature a different skill each time. If you have any questions about the craft workshops or suggestions for skills you’d like to learn, email us at email@example.com, or drop by during one of our open meetings on Monday nights.
We held a soldering workshop this past Tuesday, July 31st at 6PM. You may have heard about it on the Buffalo Lab Facebook or the Buffalo Lab Meetup or on the Buffalo Lab NextPlex page or Buffalo Tech Events on NextPlex. We were visited by a very special guest, Mitch Altman of NoiseBridge San Francisco. He hosted the soldering event, brought some cool kits to solder, and shared some really cool stories, experiences and advice. I learned the secret to properly swiping the soldering iron on a wet sponge is to just slide it across on opposite sides once each, and that’s all there is to it. No need to spin it around or plunge it into the sponge or anything crazy like that. We built a bunch of different things. There were about 26 people attending in total, including kids, moms, dads, artists and hackers alike. We built persistence of vision LED kits, Arduino kits, TV-B-Gone kits, Trip Glasses, a few Drawdio pencils, a 3D LED Grid, and several more. The first to be finished was a TV-B-Gone, completed by a 10 year old before his father could even get the pieces figured out for his own! Mitch took some great photos of the Buffalo Lab Soldering Workshop, so check them out and get ready for the next Soldering Workshop coming soon. Also, be sure to check out our Basic Electronics & Ardunio meetup on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month.
Synace wanted to make some fantastic rainbow-striped cupcakes he saw on the Internet. Based on that idea, we came up with the theme of a party-in-a-box.
Four Buffalo Lab members attended, plus three significant others, who of whom all helped with the project. We coordinated shortly prior to the project, and pooled our resources in our conference room. We fired up our webcam, an IRC channel, and background music. Our webcam stopped working sporadically - our apologies to other hackerspaces who may have been watching! Throughout the project, we watched other hackerspaces make cupcakes on our projector screen. We started working on our project at about 3:30 pm and ended at 7:30 pm (4 hours).
Since our dishwashing capabilities are limited at our space, one hacker made the batter at home and put it into zipper lock bags. After adding food dye to the bags and kneading it in, we cut a corner off each bag and piped the batter in layers into white cups inserted into the cupcake tin.
We wanted to add Nerds candy to the cupcakes, but were not sure what the effect would be. In our test batch, we put Nerds between each layer, and several Nerds on top. Unfortunately, the melted sugar compromised the integrity of the cupcake. It fell apart. Furthermore, sticky sugar melted all over the outside of the cupcake paper. Consumption of the tragic cupcakes revealed the Nerds in the middle made them fruity and crunchy. We liked the flavor, so on the next batch we added just a few to the middle layer and on top.
When we completed the cupcakes, we allowed them to cool. We iced the cupcakes with vanilla icing, colored sugar, Pop Rocks candy, and a carved fondant logo of Buffalo Hackerspace. Time will tell if the sugary toppings hold up.
We crafted our logo topping using fondant, a 3D printed plastic stencil of our logo, and a sharp knife.
Baking the cupcakes
Unlike some hackerspaces, we do not have a traditional oven. We do have a very old toaster oven. Despite the temperature control knob, it has only two settings: “Off”, and “Fires of Mount Doom”. This presented a problem.
One member remembered our Makerbot “Cupcake CNC” 3D printer contains a thermometer to check the temperature of extruded materials. The temperature is displayed on the 3D printer laptop. After some jerry-rigging, we put the thermal detector into the toaster oven just under the cupcake tin, set the toaster oven’s surge protector within reachable access, and took turns regulating the temperature of the oven by toggling it on or off when it exceeded or dropped below an acceptable range.
Given our time restraints and the fact that we made just three batches of cupcakes, we did not automate the process of temperature regulation, but we talked about it.
Failed Nerd recipe aside, all the cupcakes baked perfectly.
Containing the cupcake
We used a set of nested, red, heavy boxes with lift-off lids.
The cupcake itself rested inside the disposable container for the cupcake wrappers; a cylindrical, clear plastic container. We surrounded the cupcake with wooden coffee stirrers, which acted as shims to hold the cupcake in place and added stability to the overall structure. We topped the container with a dome from a leftover wedding favor, and taped the whole thing closed.
Then we attached the cupcake holder to a soft plastic sandwich-style box via a screw and bolt through the floor of both containers, and surrounded the cupcake container with assorted candies to absorb impact and as a gift for the receiving hackerspace. We placed one of our silicone bracelets around the container to add stability to the coffee stirrer shims, and as another gift.
We placed the sandwich box into the smallest red cardboard box. To our dismay, we discovered the plastic box was too large for the red box. We cut the corner folds of the red cardboard box so it would expand to fit the plastic box. This had the interesting effect of embedding the plastic box in the lid of the red cardboard box, which meant when you lifted the lid of the small red box, it looked like there was nothing inside (because the cupcake was hanging from the lid). We briefly considered putting a jaunty note in the bottom of the box as a joke (“The cupcake is a lie!”) but decided against it, since it was obvious from the weight of the lid that something was attached to it.
The small red box went inside the medium red box, surrounded by shipping foam. We distributed colored wire with stars in the foam as a decoration. We hung shreds of rainbow tissue paper from the wires on the lid of the box for a confetti-like effect when opened.
The medium red box went inside the large red box, with more shipping foam to stabilize it. We cut the audio device out of a greeting card, taped it inside the large box, and attached a string to the device and lid so that it will play a song when opened.
We attached a friendly note to one lid of the box for the receiving Hackerspace.
Finally, we closed the lid of the large red box.
Weighing the box
Our box was to be a maximum of 4 pounds. We discovered we did not have access to a scale upon completion of the project, so we made a scale. We selected an identical box to our exterior box. We found several small weights that added up to nearly four pounds (or so we thought) and placed the box with weights on a lever made of a plank of wood centered on a fulcrum. Our completed box weighed less than our control, so we taped it shut.
When we shipped the box, we discovered it weighed over 5 pounds! So either our scale wasn’t centered, or our weights were off.
We’ll post the YouTube video when Makers Local 256 receives the box.
We learned that we should get a new toaster oven.
We learned that next year, someone should bring a scale.
Take a look at the before and after walk-through. It’s pretty great what can be accomplished in only a day’s work with a little teamwork, a few resources and a shared goal. Checkout the vids (sorry, no fun audio), and be amazed :) Don’t forget to re-activate your paypal subscription on the membership page. The dues are $50/mo, but you can choose the 30/mo option if you’re planning on contributing 4 hours or more doing something that benefits the space in some way; e.g. build a project for the space, run a meeting or event, create marketing materials and recruit new members, etc..
Get in touch with synace (Mike) to get your key. You can email info at buffalolab, or join the meetup group and contact the organizer. Or, come down to any event (all events are open to the public for the near future) and we’ll get you setup!
If you’re interested in using our space for Co-working, please feel free to join. The space has wired, and wireless internet, a bathroom, a few hot plates, a fridge, a microwave, toaster oven, lots of desk space, a couple couches, a decent stereo and there aren’t usually events during the day (9-5). So, it’s be a great place to get your work done. We’re steps away from the train line, a block from the mall’s food court, and there’s a bunch of great delis and restaurants nearby. Check out the parking map to figure out where to leave your car when you get here. ( http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=201565042276316894704.0004b6fab72ae99d379a4 )
Also, don’t forget: Our member meeting is this Tuesday night at 7pm. Be there if you’re curious about what hackerspace is, what our goals are, and tell us what you’d like to do and seee it become. We need you! Without you, we’re just an empty space with a bunch of unused stuff.