It seems like Christmas hits the stores earlier and earlier every year. And while that makes many of us shake our heads in bewilderment and sadness at the over commercialization of the holiday season, it also provides makers a wonderful opportunity if you are looking to stock up on inexpensive materials for projects and hobbies. As the cost of manufacturing components like LEDs goes down, the amount of interesting and useful items you can find in stores goes up. Need some LEDs or small solar cells? How about a battery holder or a light sensing circuit? Or maybe you could use some 16 gauge stranded wire. In some cases, a trip to your local dollar store could get you one or several of these items just by taking a look in their holiday section. Take a look at the picture above of my recent purchases (less than $10) and see if you can think of a project or two to make with them. Who needs Radio Shack when you have a dollar store and a local makerspace?
There’s more activity at Benicia Makerspace than we can keep up with. Here are a few things that happened in October.
|Finished RFID Access System|
|The RFID access system is finished and working great. This is what allows us to provide 24/7 access to our members without the security challenges associated with handing out duplicated keys. It was built with a Raspberry Pi and uses an Arduino as a backup in case the power goes out.
|We have two new tools in the space. We installed a 1 ton hoist that is handy for lifting large projects onto a pallet or truck bed. We also have a new 80 gallon compressor.
|Member Matt Whitecotton has volunteered to lead two new weekly workshops at Benicia Makerspace. Every Tuesday night anyone is welcome to bring in old or broken items and tear them apart or try and fix them. Screwdrivers and soldering irons are provided. This can be a great way to learn how things work. Every Thursday is Project night where you can get help on a project you are working on. Only members can use our tools, but there might be someone on hand that can help with a quick job. If you have a specific need please let us know ahead of time to see if we have someone with expertise who can be available.
Sign up for either of these night on our meetup.com page.
|Jim Kennon has updated his LED project. By simply wrapping his LED strand around a large wine bottle he has made the project more portable and more visually appealing at the same time. Powered by an Arduino, the lights can be controlled by multiple tuning knobs or with a distance sensor.|
If you haven’t been to Benicia Makerspace is a while there are some new additions around the space.
|We have two new workstations at the space that are loaded with AutoDesk Product Design Suite Ultimate. We are working on getting licenses for Solid Works as well. These workstations are for members to use to design new products/parts that could be fabricated or simpler designs that could be sent to the 3D printer or CNC machines.|
|We now have folding chairs for classroom use or anything else. Please put them away when you are done using them. It might not seem like a big deal, but getting chairs in bulk is expensive. These used chairs were purchased on craigslist at a discounted price.|
|The security cameras are up and running. You will see these Raspberry Pis around the space with red and blue lights. These are our CCTV security cameras and will be running at all times to provide a safe space for all members to work in. If you are curious about how we set these up just ask Aaron at our next open house.|
As the clock marches down to our grand opening on July 11th, we are pleased to announce the the welders are up and running. Doug and Jim did some test welds and everything seems to be working fine. We hope to offer a Welding 101 class ASAP as this is one of the most requested activities. We are also filling out our woodworking section and getting our RFID system ready so that members can enjoy 24/7 access to any of the tools that they have been trained on and feel comfortable using.
For many of us that work with electronics it is sad to see Radio Shack close it’s doors for good in Benicia and around the country. For so many years it was the place to run to in an emergency when you just needed a switch or resistor to finish out that project you were working on. Radio Shack was founded in 1921 in Boston, MA which makes it one of the oldest chain of retail stores and certainly one of the oldest electronics stores.
At Benicia Makerspace we were lucky enough to get some the fixtures from our local store to use in our new space. In addition to the electronics cabinets, we can re-purpose some of the display tables to be used as work benches. The display racks will make good, portable tool storage. If you are ever nostalgic feel free to come by and sign up for a membership!
There is still a lot of work to be done, but we got a couple of big items crossed off the list on Saturday. After enjoying some tasty pancakes, bacon and sausage gravy, Jim, Doug and Doris worked on installing new conduit for the welders and to fix some of the electrical issues in our space. Aaron, Dan and Joyce finished tearing down a wall and putting up a header to maker room for group activities and classes. We also installed the new lock to prepare for our RFID access system for paying members. Thanks to everyone who participated!! We will have more work to do on Monday during our open house.
We are excited to announce that we have obtained a bigger space in the Industrial Park that is more suited towards making things.
The space has an entryway, three small offices — one of which is home to California Ebike, and warehouse space.
Please come check out our new space at the next Open House Monday June 15 from 6-8pm.
There also will be a Volunteer Work Day and Pancake Breakfast to help get the space ready to open on Saturday June 20 at 9am
The Grand Opening is scheduled for Saturday July 11 at 5pm. We hope to see you there.
Benicia Makerspace was once again at the big Maker Faire Bay Area this year. Thanks to Nicci, Doug, Jim, Chris, Aiden, Trish and Frank who helped staff our booth over the 2.5 day event. If you weren’t able to attend, here are a few pictures to show you what you missed and get you in the spirit to help us out next year.
Say Hello to Benicia Makerspace
Update 05-01-2015: This is now our old space 🙂
We finally have a space of our own. Thanks to the generous offer of the Benicia Unified School District we have a small space that we can use for group projects, small meetings and lots of other activities. You can get a better view of the space on Google+ here.While this space is not suited for woodworking or metalworking we plan on adding some computers and some other small equipment like a 3D printer and a small CNC machine. There is also an opportunity to spruce up the dormant gardens in front of the building. Look for Open House nights on our meetup page to come and check it out. Also, join the mailing list to suggest how we should make use of our new home.