Category Archives: Announcements

TON Talk: March 1st with Erin Kennedy aka Robot Grrl

Join us this coming Tuesday, March 1st for a special presentation! Starts at 8 pm.


Erin “Robot Grrl” Kennedy is currently a Studio[Y] fellow at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. She is an avid robot maker. Her current project is Robot Missions, which aims to enable makers and humanitarians to collaborate on improving the environment with the use of a robot platform. She participated in Fab Academy 2015 where she prototyped unfolding CubeSat robots. She launched a kit named RoboBrrd for people to learn how to build a robot character. Erin is the host of the Robot Party, a Google+ Hangout where robot builders join internationally and show the robots they are working on. She was recognized as an Intel Emerging Young Entrepreneur and won a gold medal in the RoboGames, the robot olympics.
RoboBrrd didn’t start out as the chirpy character it is today. Almost like nature, it evolved through iterations and iterations. I’ll give a history of how RoboBrrd began as a popsicle stick robot, to what it became with a lot of help from the maker community. This involved learning circuit layout, having boards made, learning CAD and laser cutting designs.

Fast forward a bit, and I’ll share the robot creatures that followed (like BotBait), the adventures had through Fab Academy  and now what I’m currently working on as a part of Robot Missions while at Studio[Y] and MaRS.If you’re a maker working on a hobby project, but can’t really envision how it could become replicated for 100 other people, this talk will be helpful to you. If you enjoy robotic creatures and seeing ways that digital fabrication can be used, this talk will be enjoyable for you.


Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Are you a maker?

If you don’t know, would you call yourself a tinkerer, hobbyist, entrepreneur?  Or even artist, sculptor, crafter?  Did you get one of those Arduinos or Raspberry PI‘s over the holidays and have no idea what to do with it?

The Nova Mini Maker Faire is approaching fast, and we would like you to be involved.

Projects range from the very old to cutting-edge new, and if you’re not actually done with something, bring it anyway!  You may find people willing to help or start up an interest group.  Some makers treat this as a way to get a project completed, because there is an actual scheduled date to get ready.

Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Bob (2nd left) with 1950-60’s era Teletype upgraded with Raspberry Pi interface, and Brian (far right) learning about bamboo and carbon fiber composites at a Maker Faire.

If you dream of Rube Goldberg, this is the place to show off what you’ve been working on.  Just go to to register (direct link is here).  We can’t wait to see the great projects that you are working on.

Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Fred (left) and Mike (right) with their flying wing.

Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Craig’s epic marble machine

Google’s Vint Cerf visits Nova Labs

Brian Jacoby, Vint Cerf, Fred Briggs IV, Marybeth Haneline, Fred Briggs III, December 7th, 2015

Thanks to a very generous donation from Google in 2014, Nova Labs was able to secure our new 10,500 sq. ft. facility and begin build out. Now that build out is winding down and most of our equipment is online, Google wanted to see what our community has accomplished.

On December 7th, Internet legend Vint Cerf stopped by Nova Labs to see the updated space! As Vint stepped inside, he swept off his fedora, spread out his arms, and took in the view. The Orange Bay was filled with his larger-than-life presence as he exclaimed “Wow!!!”.

Nova Labs members in attendance were proud to show what can be achieved by a dedicated group of volunteers.

Vint admired a flight controller that teen Bryce Peterson developed out of a tele-course led by a partnership of Nova Labs and James Madison University. He was impressed by a flying wing, built by ten-year old Laura in a RhinoHawk Meetup, and remarked that he’ll have to change his story of what 13 year-olds can do. Vint’s eyes lit up like the LEDs on the wearable bracelet developed for summer workshops by Angela DeHart.

Google’s Vint Cerf visits Nova Labs

Brian Jacoby with 3D printed prosthetic hand, Fred Briggs IV


Kids outgrow prosthetics like they outgrow clothes. Vint was intrigued by 3D printed prosthetics hands for kids developed by Open Source Prosthetics Meetup, led by Jim Sheedfar and Steve Bloom, to work on this problem.

Nova Labs has provided the facilities and its members the support and encouragement to help bring innovative ideas to fruition. A driving program that teaches young drivers how to cope with skidding cars was developed by Chris Ihara at Nova Labs. Vint said these type of great stories need to get out. He said he appreciated the personal tour.

Google’s Vint Cerf visits Nova Labs

Google cookies by Amy Shaw

To help expand on the great work that we have been doing, Vint committed Google’s continued support.

Fred Briggs IV remarked it was a great morning – “I always love hearing his stories and he is hands down the most interesting person I have ever met.”

Google’s Vint Cerf visits Nova Labs

Vint Cerf about to head out with a goodie bag of Google-stamped cookies.

Learn Arduino at Makers Local 256 Public Night!

This coming Tuesday (Nov 3) at 7:00 PM, we have some amazing people from coming by Makers Local 256 to give a presentation/demo/Q&A on Arduino microcontrollers and embedded electronics in general. They’re touring around the Southeast and ML256 is one of the many places they chose to stop by!

Their main objective is to talk to people about Arduino and what you can do with it. They’ll have some kits and parts available during and after the presentation, so if you don’t have an Arduino (or two) already, you can pick one up then. They’ll be showing off a neat display of a few different Arduino projects and circuits, so it should be interesting and fun!

They’ll be going through the entire process of designing, connecting, and coding up a simple Arduino project from start to finish. If you have any questions about your own project, they would love to discuss ideas and give help where they can.

There’s no cost to attend the presentation, but they will have parts available for sale if you need them. Anyone is welcome to attend!

Fall Artist in Residence: Nik Harron

Photo by: Melissa Krone

Originally born in Belfast, Ireland, Nik Harron immigrated to Canada in 1981, and currently makes his home in Kitchener, Ontario.

His creative work spans several disciplines, but has focused in recent years on Canadian landscapes. His heavily textural approach to painting bridges the gap between traditional painting and sculpture.

Thematically, for nearly twenty years, his exhibited art has explored the surface of the world as a way of connecting to nature through quiet contemplation of the landscape.

“To contemplate  a landscape is to feel a deeply spiritual sense of connection to one’s surroundings, and can lead to deeply personal, self-reflexive experiences that reinforce the complexity of our experience and our inescapable bond with our environment.  When external appearances obscure the inner facts of our lives, it is only through a careful examination of our place in nature that we can peel away the layers to reveal something more deeply reflective of ourselves.”

Nik will be our Artist in Residence for the months of October – December 2015. We are looking forward to his upcoming artist talk during a TON soon (details to come), and a hands-on painting workshop towards the end of his residency.

Fall Artist in Residence: Nik Harron

“That dam river, Rockwood.” Acrylic on panel, 36×36 in. 2012

For more visuals, check out his online fine art portfolio, as well as his professional design work.

You’ve probably already seen or interacted with some of Nik’s work in the community, during events like NIGHTSHIFT and most recently at Maker Expo this past September. Nik had his Giant Pong (picture below) and Infiniscope on display for attendees to play with in the Dark Room.

Fall Artist in Residence: Nik Harron

Photo: Michael L. Davenport

Nik has a few goals in mind for his time at the lab:

  1. Create at least one new visual input module for my over-sized Kaleidoscope. I would like to learn how to use the laser cutter and work with acrylic to create a traditional liquid-filled, spinnable end-piece containing coloured elements.
  2. I want to explore photographic techniques for extracting depth-maps from textured surfaces, and attempt to create 3D printed, textured images from that exploration.
  3. I’d like to paint in the space, and use that time to help any interested members of the lab, or the public, learn more about painting using texture. I intend to organize a workshop on the techniques I use in my studio practice for at least one of the open-house nights.
  4. If anyone would like to learn more about how to use Illustrator or Photoshop, I’m happy to act as a mentor and share what I’ve learned.