Laser Maze A Big Hit At East Bay Mini Maker Faire

Benicia Makerspace brought our laser maze exhibit to Oakland on Sunday for the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. This event draws thousands of attendees from across the Bay area to discover and learn about the joys of making and our laser maze was one of the stars of the show. The line of people wating to try out the exhibit was at least 30 people deep for the entire length of the event, and everyone left with a big smile on their face.

The maze is setup like a timed obstical course where players need to work their way through criss crossing laser beams as quickly as possible while trying to reach a glowing red button that will stop the timer and end their run. The player’s time is displayed at the start of the maze and every time they touch a laser beam they add 5 seconds to their total time. Both children and adults had fun trying to get the fastest time or the fewest faults as they worked quickly and tried to figure out the best strategy for completing the maze.

The exhibit is more than just a fun game. It was built at Benicia Makerspace, by Jim Kennon and Aaron Newcomb, and has gone through several iterations over the past few years. The maze is built entirely with off-the-shelf components and hardware which demonstrate what you can achieve these days making use of inexpinsive electronics and a lot of inginuity. The maze uses several popular development boards including Raspberry Pi for the game logic and display, Arduino for laser modulation and ESP8266 for frequency detection. The lasers are common green laser pointers that you can find online, and the detectors are simple solar cells taken from cheap landscaping lights that can be found at dollar stores. Conduit, pop-up tents and tarps make up the enclosure.

This was the second year we brought this exhibit to EBMMF, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of some great volunteers. Huge thanks to Jim Kennon, Frank Harvey, Dave Frohwein, Sarah Swafford and Michael Johnson for showing up early, staying late, setting things up, tearing it all down and helping run the exhibit during the event.

Member Highlight . . . Don Shields!

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Don Shields, a frequent visitor the the MakerSpace shop has been working on his latest creation “Abandoned Spaceship” for many months now. You will normally see Don using the metal shear, drilling assembly holes or TIG welding, all new skills he has learned at the Benicia Maker Space.

Don and his lovely wife Michele Rowe-Shields retired to Benicia 3 years ago, maybe with the idea of just kicking back and taking life easy. But one look at Don and you can see that here is a man with a mind that does not shut off. He was born to create. Don didn’t always create fantasy sculpture like the “Abandoned Spaceship” but was an accomplished artist with a gallery in New York city in the 80s and 90s. After seeing the magic and power of digital art Don went on to develop new skills in 3D animation and video game development. He and his team won the Murphy award in 1995 for best digital explosions in their “Blown Away” project for Imagination Pilot beating out Lucas Arts. Later, after moving to San Jose, California, Don taught 3D animation and Video Game development at Mission College. Michele most recently led the Outdoor Sculpture Program at Montalvo in Saratoga and had a stellar career as curator and director of many art centers and museums across the US.

Here are some images of Don’s latest creation the “Abandoned Spaceship” 

 

    

We are so happy to have talent like Don using the Maker Space and encourage many more to come create! There are many members willing to share their talent and collaborate on any project. If you would like to become a member and use the Benicia Maker Space shop, sign up here

 

3D Printing Class Now Open To The Public

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If you are interested in learning about 3D printing we have great news for you. We have decided to open up our monthly 3D printing class to anyone who is interested in the topic! You must RSVP in advance for the class and cancel promptly if you can’t make it for some reason. Classes will be cancelled if they have less than 3 people signed up. The next class is on Wednesday, June 7th and you can register for the class right on our Meetup.com site where we list all of our upcoming classes for members and the general public. Hope to see you on the 7th!

Benicia Makerspace Is Expanding!


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We are very excited to be able to share the news that Benicia Makerspace is expanding our space! We will be adding 1300 square feet of “FlexSpace” for kids classes, co-working and electronics/3D printing. We have been growing fast and accumulating a lot of new equipment and supplies for our members to use. Unfortunately, our shop is getting very cramped and we didn’t really have a great space to hold classes for kids and adults. With this expansion we are planning on introducing new after school programs for kids, as well as offering a comfortable drop in space for adults to work in during the day. Look for updates from us as we plan and build out this new space over the next few months.

Join Benicia Makerspace Before The End Of July And SAVE $$

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It has been almost a year since we opened our doors in our current space. Our introductory membership rate will expire on July 31, 2016. Anyone who has joined before this date will get and keep the low monthly membership rate of $40/month ($20/month for students) until they decide to cancel. After July 31 our rates will be going up to $50/month ($25/month for students) for new members which is still by far the lowest monthly rate in the Bay Area for any makerspace or hackerspace which offers the type of tools, equipment and training that you find at Benicia Makerspace. If you have been thinking of signing up, but have been putting it off, this is your last chance to join at the reduced rate.

Not sure what Benicia Makerspace is all about??? Come see for yourself! We have two more Open Houses before the end of July where you are welcome to take a look at our space, ask questions, and meet other makers. This Monday we will be trying out some laser cutting equipment.

Volunteer Coordinator, Photographer and Marketing Help Needed for Benicia Mini Maker Faire

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We are looking to fill a few positions on our planning committee for this year’s Benicia Mini Maker Faire.

Volunteer Coordinator: This person will attend regular planning meetings, and work with school and community volunteer organizations to recruit the volunteers we need to help run the event. They will also schedule and coordinate staffing before and during the event itself so we can make sure everyone gets a chance to experience the event as well as helping out.

Photographer: This person will take high quality photos and videos on the day of the event. He/She will need to attend one or two planning meetings.

Marketing: This person will attend regular planning meetings, and will be responsible for coordinating press releases, email campaigns and marketing materials to help spread the word about our event.

If you are interested in volunteering to fill any of these positions please let us know ASAP by contacting aaron@beniciamakerspace.com.

What’s New In The New Year At Benicia Makerspace

New 3D Printers

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We acquired three new Flashforge Creator Pro 3D printers which are setup and running. We also have scheduled a monthly class for those wanting to learn how to operate them correctly and get good quality prints. You need to be a member to use these printers so this class if for paying members only. We will also setup a user group meeting for those with general interest to talk shop about 3D printing.

Shapeoko 2 Now Working

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Thanks to some work by Jim Kennon and other members, we now have the Shapeoko 2 up and running. It is a little finicky, but it works pretty well once you have your gcode ready to run. If you haven’t used it before, ask around for help to get you started. Members can post a request on the mailing list.

SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD

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SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD are now installed on two of the PCs in the classroom area. You can use these tools to design parts for your projects. We are also setting up some training for those who are new to CAD to help get them up and running.

Call For Makers Now Open – Benicia Mini Maker Faire 2016

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The second annual Benicia Mini Maker Faire will be held on Saturday, April 16th at Benicia Middle School from 10am to 5pm.

Makers, performers, crafters, workshop leaders, and food vendors wishing to participate in this year’s faire should fill out our simple online form and apply today! We ask you a few questions about what you’d like to show at the Faire, your production needs, your contact info, etc. Deadline for applications is February 29th so don’t delay.

Calling all Makers, Performers, Crafters!
What are we looking for? Pretty much whatever you make or do that you’re passionate about, as long as it’s something you can share with others. Maker Faire features a huge range of things: robots and electronics projects, homesteading arts, environmental sustainable projects, kooky inventions, poetry writing, screen printing, music making, crafts and hacks of all kind… Anything Do-It-Yourself, and especially anything Do-It-Together.

Your Mini Maker Faire submission can be a display of something you’ve done, an activity or workshop you offer, a performance, or for a space to sell your finished work. If you are a seasoned maker this is a great chance to practice for the big Bay Area Maker Faire in May. Take the leap, set yourself a deadline, and apply today!

Tickle Your HAM Bone

Another One-Day Ham Radio Class is being offered in Benicia by the Benicia Amateur Radio Club (BARC). Earn a Ham Radio license in just a day. This is an accelerated six hour class followed by a FCC exam session. This course has been very well received and the pass rate exceeds 90%. Expand the scope of your Maker’s hobby. Add a Ham License. The $30 class fee includes all study material, facility access, the federal exam fee and refreshments throughout the day. See class accolades on the BARC website and register today.