Last January one of my friends, Bert Hartmann, approached me saying it was that it was time to finally found a Hackerspace in Hoboken.  He’d already gathered a half dozen people and thought I should be in on it.  Having been a long time admirer of hackerspaces without ever having one close enough to join I was in.

We met through the spring looking for how to do it, what to call it, where to put it, how long to wait,and how to do it legally..  There were a lot of options, the easiest of which would be to become a for profit company, that just doesn’t make any money–that would be really easy.  We are not doing that, instead a year later and with the MakerBar well established we are filing to become a true, legally recognized,  charitable educational organization. This will cost us about a thousand dollars in filing fees, but it’s the right thing to do legally and simplifies our future taxes and donations.  Still this is a thousand dollars we’d rather spend on new kits, power tools, publicity, and other things that support our mission and what’s worse it’s a thousand dollars we need now–before the taxes are due.

So we’re having a fundraiser.  We’ve teamed up with The Melting Pot in Hoboken to have a charity auction and happy hour.  We’ll be selling some projects that we’ve treasured through the year and some that we build specially for this event, sharing our love of hacking with the community, and enjoying a chocolate fondues contributed by the Melting Pot.

More details are on the the MakerBar Blog here and tickets are for sale on our Meetup here.

Next Saturday I’ll be teaching another class at my hackerspace, the MakerBar in Hoboken.  This will be my third Raspberry Python class.  Following up on the initial class, and the train class.  Like the others, this workshop will cover the basic use of a Raspberry Pi, but it’s coming together really well, I’ve got a Pi sitting on my desk chattering inane things from my twitter feed at me and actually, it’s proving more useful than I expected.  Just in developing the project I’m finding more out about my friends than I had before–mostly some corporate feeds to unfriend and some friends to check up on.

The class will run about 2-3 hours so we’ll have time to get our Pis setup, on the latest version of Raspbian, which already includes NTP, and really dive into the programming and improvement.  Since most of our time and effort will be software, the hardware is perhaps not so impressive, no loop of train track here, but this is a picture, of the prototype

If you’re interested in coming, please rsvp at meetup here.  And if you need a Pi or SD card, leave a comment there, a few are on order so we should have some.

The First Clock of February

January 31, 2013


By the end of the week it will be February and my hackerspace, MakerBar, will be on to our February theme, it’s about time. The members are talking about clock and calendar projects and there are two clock classes in the works; Raspberry Python – Talking Clock Feb 9th and ChipKIT for Organic Lifeforms: Clock Edition Feb 23th.

This then is the first clock of February, a ChipKIT Uno32 with a ChipKIT Basic I/O Shield attached. As befits a beginning this is a very simple project.

Step 1 Solder in RTC Crystal (based on instructions here)

Step 2 Attached Basic I/O Shield (got this for contest here)

Step 3 Program (combined OLED example here with RTC example here)

#include <IOShieldOled.h>
#include <RTCC.h>

void setup(){

// Initialize the RTCC module

// Set the time to something sensible

void loop(){
char date[9];
char time[9];

// Format the time and print it.
sprintf(date,”%02d/%02d/%02d”,, RTCC.month(), RTCC.year());
sprintf(time,”%02d:%02d:%02d”, RTCC.hours(), RTCC.minutes(), RTCC.seconds());

//Clear the virtual buffer

//Chosing Fill pattern 0
//Turn automatic updating off
IOShieldOled.setCursor(0, 0);
IOShieldOled.setCursor(0, 1);
IOShieldOled.setCursor(0, 2);
IOShieldOled.putString(“ChipKit Clock”);

This clock will become the basis of the class project for the February 23th class,  ChipKIT for Organic Lifeforms: Clock Edition. The clock in that class will not rely on this shield and will have functionality this clock does not, like setting the time, and time permitting an alarm.

Full, latest code available here.

Friday is Geek Pride Day and I wanted to invite all of you to celebrate with me by taking a class or just geeking out at the MakerBar in Hoboken.

I’ve been working on getting the MakerBar off the ground as a place for experimental and physical projects and would love to invite all of you to come by after work any Friday for our open Craft Night and on May 25th we’ll be offering a Soldering Class and in the future we’ll have classes on microprocessor programming, hobby electronics, and various kinds of geeky skills.

The MakerBar is a non-profit makerspace, sometimes often called a hackerspace.  We exist as a place and community to support DIY projects of all types, such as robotics, model making, intelligent devices, and whatever else you might like to build, but don’t have room, tools, piece and quiet, or skills to do at home.  We have a space in a Hoboken warehouse and are filling it with tools, supplies and projects.