Potential new venue

We have some very exciting news. A few of the members have been scoping out new venues, one in particular looks very interesting. The next meeting on Thursday 11th February will be held at this venue.

So please note

The next meeting will not be at the usual venue. We will be meeting at 83 Grimwade Street, Ipswich.

Parking is available in the UCS car park near the Waterfront, free from 6pm. If you are bringing something large or a lot of stuff then post here or on Facebook as you may be able to park by the property briefly and unload.

This meeting will be opening at 6pm to allow for extra setup time and scoping out that may required. This is not confirmed as a new home yet, so keep an eye on Facebook and the website for the locations of future meetings to ensure you turn up at the right door. We shall endevour to give you as much notice as possible.

Grimwade Street is a busy road, so park up in the UCS car park and walk round. You are looking for this building hiding behind the trees.

Last Night of the Nerds

Last night was our final meeting for 2015 and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I’d like to say thanks to some of the stars of the evening. First up, I’d like to say thanks to Sean for bringing in his new gadget; it certainly attracted a great deal of attention and was a lot of fun. Sean, if you have a URL for your gadget, please let me know and I’ll edit it in here, I don’t want to say too much in case I give something away that I shouldn’t.

"My God, it's full of Neopixels!" - 2001 A Space Odyssey

“My God, it’s full of Neopixels!” – 2001 A Space Odyssey

Next I’d like to say thanks to the PiWars team for bringing in TractorBot 20125 and their runner-up trophy. I think some of their swag may have crept into the quiz prizes too; I got a very handy Ryanteck IO expander which was nice. While I’m on the subject of quiz prizes, thanks to Tim for providing a mix of novelty and genuinely useful prizes. Topher seemed pretty pleased with his multi-tool and who wouldn’t love a gold wind-up toy robot? Of course, a big thanks has to go to Jon for organising the Xmas quiz again, it was funny and frustrating. It’s great to hear a room of techie types howling because they can’t remember what some of the acronyms that now run the world, or at least the internet, actually stand for.

And of course we all learned something new in the name-that-tune round, except Phil, who got it in a heartbeat; ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ played on Tesla coils. This has to be seen to be believed, 500,000 volts arcing around making the old school sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  If that’s not enough, how about putting a person in between two coils, you know, to see what happens. Obviously those people know precisely what they’re doing, please don’t bbq yourself or the cat trying it out. What else did we learn? Oh yes, don’t give Vincent wine after dark, Amy knows the moves to the Macarena and I had a misspent youth. It was good to see some people returning after a bit of an absence, Alan, Simon, and Sean. Sean took time-out to get married, go on honeymoon and what not, congratulations Mr and Mrs Billings. Also a couple of new faces Sam and Peter, hope you both had a good time.

At some point I’m afraid I gave out false information regarding the makerspace rules. After removing the ones which directly or indirectly concern member’s behaviour during a Zombie Apocalypse, they are as follows:

  1. Don’t be on fire, (as per Jim’s t-shirt)
  2. Don’t trip over the trailing cables
  3. Don’t stuff Steve with the washing up

Gary did his duty by rule #2 so big thanks to him, to Peter for helping out at his first meeting, and Sara for doing the drying.

I’ll post the next meeting ‘real soon now’, but as a head’s up it’s going to involve some show and tell. Everyone is bound to get some new gadget over Christmas either as a present, when Kickstarter finally coughs out the PiJuice or when temptation gets too great for that thing they’ve been thinking about for the last six months. Bring along all Santa’s swag to the first meeting next year so we can all ooh and ah over it and add yet more critically important stuff to our wish-lists.

A final big thanks to everyone who has come to the meetings this year, they’ve been great fun and that’s all down to you, the members of this great Makerspace of ours. With creative thinking, lots of hard work and some luck, 2016 will be even better. I have to go now, I’m welling up …

Steve Chalkley

Cheap Raspberry Pi Robotics Kit – EduKit 3

If anyone is looking for a cheap way to get into robotics with the Raspberry Pi, you cannot go far wrong with the CamJam EduKit 3 Robotics Kit. It comes with everything you need to create a Raspberry Pi robot, you just need to add your own Raspberry Pi, any model will do, and batteries. Oh, they don’t provide a chassis either, but that can be made from anything like an ice cream tub to a piece of thick cardboard or even the box the kit comes in.

Not only is the price of £17 brilliant, the CamJam team have also provided a series of worksheets which take you from Introduction, through building the robot and then onto using the sensors and creating a line following and other robot operations. This is a great educational tool and would make a great Christmas present for kids or adults alike.

The kit consits of the following:

  • A custom-designed, pre-soldered motor controller board (with screw terminals)
  • Two DC motors (with wires pre-soldered)
  • Two custom red wheels (which go extra fast… because they’re red!)
  • A ball castor (used as the ‘third wheel’ to your robot)
  • A small breadboard (to create your circuits)
  • Two pieces of strong 3M padded double-sided tape
  • A battery box for 4 AA batteries (batteries not included)
  • An ultrasonic distance sensor (for detecting objects in front of your robot)
  • A line follower sensor (for detecting and following black lines)
  • Resistors and jumper cables with which to complete your circuits
  • A strong cardboard box to keep it all in… or to cut into to make your chassis!

This kit is highly recommended and as a bonus, soldering is not required, it’s all plug, code, play.

If robotics seems a bit complicated for now, the CamJam team also offer two other great EduKits with sensors and more work sheets.

Here is a video from Alex Eames demonstrating the kit.

Waldringfield Demonstration Evening

On Thursday 5th November Ipswich Makerspace hosted a demonstration evening at Waldringfield VIllage Hall as part of their Winter Talks. The event was enabled by Waldringfield resident and Makerspace member Tim, apart from the Raspberry Jam earlier in the year this was the first real event to be put on entirely by Ipswich Makerspace.

A call was put out to members to talk, run demonstrations and just generally be around to help field questions. We had a very good turnout with the show piece being a display from Simon, more on this later.

Photo-2015-11-05-19-37-19_3053The event was opened with a talk both by Tim and then our Leader Steve, who had so much knowledge to impart his talk was cut down by about 80% by Tim just minutes before the speech, to allow time for the residents to actually see our wares. The talking went well and eager to learn more the residents streamed into the main hall and the Makerspace members did their work.

We had

  • Phil and Jon with quad-copters
  • Jon also brought along his 3D printer and Neopixel display with Snake running complete with home made score and leader board.
  • Phil bought along a couple of robots, a 3D printed one and the TractorBot 2015 prototype as well as a 3D printer and a PiTop laptop running last years Ipswich Makerspace PiWars video
  • Keith Ellis brought along last years PiWars champion TractorBot and also this years prototype Tractorbot 2015, both of which made their way out to the live arena for the kids to play with.
  • The real crowd puller though was Simon with his mind controlled racing cars
  • Plenty of other members were also present including Vince, Dan, Frank, Gary, Ben and I’m sure there are others I’ve missed. So thank you all for really making this event what it was, it was you who made it so successful and engaging.

    The event was very busy and the residents certainly seemed very interested.

    Soldering tutorial

    We had a great soldering tutorial at last weeks meeting, which was taken by Keith.

    It consisted of a short presentation and then hands on with some Raspberry Pi kits to get some practice. It was enjoyed by all and most learnt something new and now have the confidence to get out the soldering irons and get soldering.

    If you wanted to attend but could not, or even if you did attend and want a recap, the presentation is on the Makerspace wiki. Visit the wiki here:

    Soldering - resized page02

    Getting started with the Raspberry Pi

    Originally posted by Kieth Ellis from Ipswich Makerspace.

    “Ok, so I was going to write a guide to getting started with the Raspberry Pi. However Michael Horne the organiser of the Cambridge CamJam has already written an excellent article.

    So take a look at this post and definitely look at the Raspberry Pi foundation website, they have a great resource page with lots of guides and ideas for things to do with your Pi.



    Once again, if you have any questions, just ask.”

    Keith is one of the builders of our 2014 PiWars entry (which won its category) and was at the Ipswich Jam on Saturday demonstrating the robots.

    TractorBot open source update

    This week the TractorBot open source project took a step forward, Phil has been busy sorting out the code, it is now available on the Makerspace GitHub complete with install instructions.

    Mean while Keith has been working on documenting the hardware, this is well underway but there is still a bit of work to be done.  The current work-in-progress can be seen on a branch of the GitHub repository here.