Experimenting with Drawdio

Recently we were asked to come participate in an art show at a local school. It started with the desire to have our MakerBot on site and showcasing what it can do. After a couple of discussions it became a much cooler display. In addition to the MakerBot we are bring our version of the Drawdio.

Drawdio is an open-source project that caught our attention when it turned pencils into not just a visual tool but also an audio tool. Adam and I quickly began playing with them and bread boarded on Hacknight. The kids in the space loved it and solidified taking a handful of them to the event.

Running out of time to have them professionally printed we are trying our hand at etch our own boards this week based on the bread board layout below. Once those are finished I will be sure to post our thoughts on the process and the end result.

drawdio pcb v1 bb 300x218 Experimenting with Drawdio

In the meantime checkout the Drawdio video.

Legos, Guitars and Handlebars

legos 15 300x223 Legos, Guitars and HandlebarsCome join us this weekend at Mesa Arts Center’s Guitars and Handlebars Season Kickoff Festival. Along with all of the great activities and live music, Gangplank Jr and Building Bonanza will be there hosting Lego events from 10am-4pm on Saturday and 10am-2pm on Sunday.

If you are already a part of the Gangplank Jr First Lego League, we will be unveiling this season’s mat and challenges.  From 10am-12pm on Saturday, we will assemble the boards for this year and discuss the various tactics we can use to achieve the missions. There will also be a Sumo bot challenge (2-4pm), a large master building session with Building Bonanza and a free robotics build to handle various challenges (12-2pm).

Sunday will start off with First Lego League information for this year’s challenges and a chasis build competition, followed by another master build session from the guys at Building Bonanza.

As if all of that wasn’t enough to excite you, a full size replica of a Harley Davidson will be built from Legos by certified Lego artist Nathan Sawaya over the course of the two days.  Don’t miss out on the family fun at this great event.

lego motorcycles Legos, Guitars and Handlebars

Arduino Night

logo blog arduino Arduino NightCome join us at Gangplank Chandler the third Wednesday of every month. Arduino Night is an evening to share your project and work with others on completing Arduino based projects. It is held in conjunction with Hacknight, so there will be plenty going on and lots of great people to interact with.  Oh yeah…and pizza.

IMAG0108 300x179 Arduino Night

Arduino Prototype Board

Some of the current projects include a bathroom monitoring system, a Jeopardy style buzzer system, RFID to web service, Ghost Hunting device and even a cloud computing management tool. We also have a Epilog Laser Engraver/Cutter on site to create custom cases and mounts for your prototypes and plenty of helpful people. If you have ever thought about getting into the embedded device arena, this is your opportunity.

Don’t have an Arduino? No sweat come on down and borrow one of ours. Don’t have a project? Come join in with one already in progress. Don’t have any more excuses? Great! We’ll see you there.

Back to School Fun

With school starting back up, Adam Mokan used the Epilog Laser Engraver to make a few backpack trinkets for the kids.

A quick search on the web for a few of the requested figures and he was off and engraving.  While the kids loved the final product, they were really enthralled with the actual engraving by the laser.  Can you blame them? It is a FREAKIN LASER BEAM.

Here are a few samples of the items:

Welcome to Gangplank Labs

gangplanklabs Welcome to Gangplank Labs

Gangplank Labs

Many of you may be aware the hackerspace group Heatsync Labs, operating out of Gangplank Chandler over the past year, outgrew the space we had available and moved their operations to Mesa.  While happy to see them grow, moving on to bigger and better things, this left a hole in the Gangplank space for many of us.

To help fix this problem, we have gotten together to create Gangplank Labs.  Gangplank Labs is a place for those working on low voltage projects to collaborate, solve problems, teach, learn and just have a good time.  Some examples of current projects are a Jeopardy style game (Lou Prado), a Shitter Awareness System (Mike Benner, Derek Neighbors and Jade Meskill) and a simple standardized prototyping kit (Mike Benner and Adam Mokan).
Many of the projects are built around the Arduino microcontroller, which has a group that meets on the second Wednesday night of every month. Additionally, there is a Mindstorms Sumo Bot Challenge that is held on the 3rd Wednesday night of the month. We also work with the Gangplank Jr program in running the First Lego League teams and special programming events (a Mod Kit course is in the works).
All of our projects will be posted here, along with tutorials and special events.  We welcome you to come in, check out the space and get involved.

Great Book For Anyone Involved in First Lego League

I just finished reading Winning Design Lego Mindstorms NXT Design Patterns for Fun and Competition.  I know quite a mouthful for a book on Legos, but I must say for anyone looking to get involved or already involved with Lego Mindstorms or First Lego League this book is gold.

We run several teams at Gangplank and are in our second year.  The author’s experiences and tips are wonderful.  Even some of the simpler things that would seem obvious are mistakes we have made in our first year and when I read them I thought, “Well, duh, why didn’t I think of that?”.  The reason is simple inexperience.  As basic as Legos are, the First Lego League can really make you have to do some complex things with those Legos and that can lead to missing many of the items pointed out in the book.  Also, the time to really get your bot and presentation goes by extremely fast.  I am looking forward to implementing some of the techniques in this book this year to help optimize that short time we have to get ready.

At our next meeting in June, I am going to recommend to all of our parents and kids that they pick up a copy of the book and read it and for our mentor’s this will become required reading.

 

10044030 Great Book For Anyone Involved in First Lego LeagueWinning Design LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Design Patterns for Fun and Competition by James Jeffrey Trobaugh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Making Your Art Permanent

Come join us for the most “dangerous” art session around.

photo e1301638002424 225x300 Making Your Art PermanentApril 17th from 2-4pm at Gangplank we will be hosting a learn to tattoo event for kids 8 and older.  Artists Nate “Nasty Nate” Houtz, Adam “A-Bomb” Molina and Johnny “Jevvy Jev”  from Tabü Tattoos will be on hand to go over the equipment, keeping things sterile, stenciling and much more.

This is a hands on event.  The kids will be tattooing grapefruit, oranges and any other citrus we can get our hands on with REAL tattoo machines, ink and needles.  For those that want to take it to the next level several Gangplank Jr supporters have even offered up their skin for actual tattoos from the new apprentices.

You must RSVP for this event as space and machines will be limited.  Please leave a comment below if you plan on attending.

AVNet Tech Games at UAT

Gangplank Jr will be on hand at the AVNet Tech Games at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) on April 9th.

The Avnet Tech Games (ATG) is an annual college technology competition that provides students with an opportunity to apply what they learn in school to real-world scenarios and compete for scholarships.

We will be there to demonstrate that you don’t need to wait until college to get involved with technology and robots.  First Lego League Alumni will be on hand to demonstrate their bots, build new ones and share why they enjoy Gangplank Jr events.  Gangplankers will also get to see first hand some of the competitions they will be able to compete in as they move past the First Lego League.

Come by and say hi and build a bot.

P.S. we still have room for more Gangplank Jr kids to spend time at the booth exploring the Mindstorms kit.  This would be a great opportunity to get back into the swing of things after the break from FLL.