Monthly Archives: October 2013

makerbot thingomatic build-up

At we got a great present from kd85: a brand new Thing-o-matic Makerbot, complete with heated, automated build platform. As soon as the conference was over, we rushed to our beloved space to start putting it all together.

Here are some pictures taken during the construction. Most of them from unpacking, after that, hands were busier building the machine than taking photos!





checking all material

checking all material

smell of lasercut wood

smell of lasercut wood

get instructions online

getting instructions online

here we go

here we go

looks cool

looks cool

halfway through

halfway through assembling the body

electronics to do

electronics still to do

hardware build finished

hardware build finished

What to say about the buildup? From Kenn’s perspective, putting together the wood structure, it was an absolute joy. Georges had to work a little harder to with the twiddly bits in the extruder, but hackers always love a challenge! And of course no kit is complete unless, well, it’s incomplete: there were magically some nuts missing, but a good hackerspace always has this stuff around. The extruder needed partial disassembling, because the misunderstanding of a couple English words made a basic error possible. Plus, some cables were short and had to get an extension. All in all, the build was done in about 2 days and it looks great. Thanks so much to kd85 for gifting us this wonderful machine.

Now to get the software going and commission our brand new makerbot!

Happy Halloween from Nova Labs!

We love Halloween!  Why?  Well, a number of reasons.  Maybe enough to even make a list out of them:

  • Carving pumpkins is an incredibly artistic/creative expression.  A side effect can mean cooking pumpkins, which results in… Pumpkin pie!
  • Sugar.  Enough said.
  • Huge potential for animatronic yard displays.  See the recent tour Nova Labs went on.
  • Costumes.  LEDs.  An unbeatable combination.
  • And the best?  Those pumpkins are Nova Labs’ orange!
Always use the focus tool for proper results on the laser.

Always use the focus tool for proper results on the laser.

We’ve been thinking hard all year about how to top last year’s awesome matching of laser cutter and pumpkin.  It was actually very involved due to the spherical nature of pumpkins.  We have a rotary attachment for our laser cutter which helps do work on cylindrical objects (tubes, bottles, etc), but the irregular sphere was a challenge.  Bob Coggeshall and Brian Jacoby stepped up to the plate this year with a couple of pumpkin pies.  In the spirit of scientific inquiry, it made sense to get them from two different stores.  Also, you get suspicious looks if you try to hoard pumpkin pies.
Pumpkin pie with lasered engraving of Nova Labs logo

Pumpkin pie with lasered engraving of Nova Labs logo

Usually when we have new machine at Nova Labs, we’re inspired to use it to create a new version of our cool logo.  We think this is the first time we’ve used our laser to work with food, and the first laser-engraved pumpkin pie.  We wondered if the moisture of the pies would vaporize, splatter, or produce some other equally-hard-to-clean-up result, but it turned out to work well.
Second attempt of Nova Labs logo, also without "Rediscover the joy of making things" text.

Second attempt of Nova Labs logo, also without “Rediscover the joy of making things” text.

We believe we may have created a new novelty product for the holidays: The Laser Engraved Pumpkin Pie. We envision that our members will be clamoring to get their pies laser engraved for Thanksgiving dinner. Any sort of image or lettering could be used within the space provided and it would certainly be a conversation starter!

No word yet on how the laser engraving affects the taste, we were preoccupied with making it look cool! We’ll keep you posted.

This is just one example of the things we do at Nova Labs.  Check out our Flickr feed for a glimpse into the mind of creative people as they make the stuff of their dreams.

Coder Nights

Thursday 7th November at 7pm will be Coder Night (and every 2 weeks after)

8395923694_63ddba89f1Photo by iLikeSpoons on Flickr


Starting this Thursday we’re bringing coding nights back to Tog!

For our first night its going to be a casual affair, with no speakers or projects or prescribed idea of what we’re going to do. It will be much like the lock picking and crafting nights, with a meet-up of people interested in programming as a general topic.

If you are knowledgable in a particular framework or language, it’d be great if you could come along and lend a hand if somebody has any questions.

There is no language favouritism, there’ll be people attending with Python, Objective-C, Java, Javascript, C#, C++, UnityScript (Unity3D), and many other tools and languages.

I will personally be working on a mobile app for Tog for both iOS (Objective-C) and Android (Java), but you can come along with whatever project you have in mind, or none at all.

We’ll be using the first few nights to figure out how people want these nights to be, whether they should be project based, or remain very much a casual affair. So please come along if you have some ideas, or just to chill out with fellow would-be and expert coders.

Raspberry Pi Kick-Start Work Shop @ THS #2

11/30/2013 13:00
11/30/2013 18:00
11/30/2013 13:00
11/30/2013 18:00
Event Type: 

11月30日(土)の13時より、モノヅクリのコミュニティであるトーキョーハッカースペース(THS)にて、Raspberry PiのKickStartワークショップの第2回を開催します。


# 内容は第1回とほぼ同じですが、若干キット構成その他で変更点が有ります。



Japanese Raspberry Pi Users Group著の「Raspberry Pi[実用]入門(技術評論社)」をテキストに、初期設定から始めて喋る温度計やLCD表示温度計の作成までを約半日間で実施します。



Board Games Day – 2 November, 12pm

The Board Games Club will be holding an all day board gaming event in the Labs on 2 November, starting at noon. Everyone is invited, from newbies to experienced players. Attendance is €2 for all players, with all money going to support the Board Games Club and the Labs. Attendees are welcome to bring their […]

Science Week

Final colur 2013 logo with themeTOG will be hosting a night of inspiring talks, on diverse subjects from dolphins to space and everything in between for Science Week. Short snappy talks will cover much science and leave you with plenty to think about the world around us. Each talk will be no longer than fifteen minutes with a break after three talks.

Date: Thursday 14th November

Time: Door’s from 6.30pm, start at 7pm

Tickets: No booking required, free entry.





Title: Parasite Planet


DescriptionAll around us is a hidden world of manipulators, ecosystem engineers and immense species diversity. This is the world of the parasites. Parasites are a portion of our planet’s biodiversity that is often unconsidered, but these tiny creatures punch well above their weight. Parasites not only shape the evolution of their hosts, but through their effects on their hosts, can shape the world around us. In this talk I hope to convince you to peek behind the curtain at the real rulers of our planet.

Speaker: Karen Loxton


Title: AQUAlab: Aquaponics & STEM Education


DescriptionAquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil less cultivation of plants in water) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in, creating a natural balanced cycle. The third participants are the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) and composting red worms that thrive in the growing media. They do the job of converting the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates and the solids into vermicompost that that are food for the plants. But this is only the surface of a bigger and highly valuable system.

Urban Farm’s aquaponic systems raise Tilapia & Rainbow Trout as a food source while helping to grow beds of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, hot chilli peppers, leafy greens, edible flowers, delicious micro-greens & fragrant herbs all totally organic & fresh.  Utilising Renewable energies, LED efficient lighting, re-circulating hydroponics, STEM principals & open source micro processing.
STEM Disciplines taught though aquaponics: Biology, ecology, zoology, botany, chemistry, development, engineering, agriculture technology, physics, mathematics, meteorology, agriculture, business, sustainability, nutrition and more.

Speaker: Andrew Douglas,  AQUAlab


Title: Epigenetics


DescriptionThe idea that humans evolved from “lesser” animals was around long before Charles Darwin. In the early 1800s, French naturalist Jean-Baptist Lamarck proposed that the inheritance of acquired characteristics was the driving force of evolution. He argued that modern giraffes gained their long necks from their ancestors, who spent all day stretching them upwards to reach leaves from high trees. According to this model of inheritance, the muscle-mass put on by a human body-builder in training could also be passed down to his children. Today, with our understanding of molecular genetics and Mendelian inheritance, Lamarck’s theories are ridiculed for their naive absurdity.However, in an emerging field of biology known as Epigenetics, we are beginning to understand that Lamarck’s ideas may be worth re-examining. We are beginning to learn that the human genome is not as static as we once thought, and is capable of rearranging and regulating itself through an elegant, elusive molecular system. There is still lots to learn about the Epigenome, however. With a potential to shift the current paradigm of human genetics and cancer research, Epigenetics is regarded as the new frontier of Molecular Biology.

SpeakerAlan Harrison,


Title: The Visual Time Traveller: 500 years of history art and science in 100 unique designs


Description:  In 1687 Isaac Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion using complex mathematics and theoretical arguments. How his book looked (graphically and typographically) was not important – although some deciphering was needed: 50 years later a book was published under the title “Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy Explain’d for the Use of the Ladies”! But when we come to the matter of education and outreach perhaps design could play a much more prominent role than it is traditionally given. Visual communication (story telling in essence) is a powerful way to help people process information.  A key aspect of this wide-ranging project has been to provide a platform for innovative design to drive the narrative of historic facts. Furthermore research and images are posted daily on a facebook page providing a series of vignettes into the past and an alternative way to access history: a pertinent theme at a time when the Junior Certificate curriculum is changing radically.  The Visual Time Traveller is a graphically curated journey through history, art and science since the Renaissance. It will be launched on 6, 7 & 8 December at the RHA Gallery with an exhibition – a visual and intellectual feast. 

Speaker: Alison Hackett,


Title: Creative Space


Description:This not a talk about using space in a creative way. At least not space in terms of three-dimensional locations on Earth. This is about space in terms of the stars and planets, and the importance of being creative to help us understand the cosmos. Throughout history some of the greatest discoveries, and most spectacular failures, in space science have been by the observers that have dared to be creative. Has this pioneering spirit deserted the field of astrophysics or are we about to see a new wave of creativity?
Bio: Dr Joseph Roche has worked at NASA, used the Hubble Space Telescope to help understand dying red giant stars and recently, started putting space research into the hands of  Irish citizens. He is the resident astrophysicist at Science Gallery.

Speaker: Joseph Roche,


Title: Gorillas and/or potatoes?


Description:Though a confusing question, this is a very real concern in certain regions of the world. Northern  Rwanda is one of the few remaining habitats for the Mountain Gorilla (made famous through the film Gorillas in the Mist). However, Rwanda is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world, though the majority of people are subsistence farmers. So, the challenge on the margins of Volcanoes National Park is to develop these marginalised farmers (who mainly grow “Irish” potatoes) while at the same time protecting one of the most endangered and charismatic species on the planet. So, plant potatoes and sell them on, or conserve gorillas and reap the tourism rewards? My research, deliberately taking a social science approach despite my zoological background, has addressed the common denominator to every ‘conservation conflict’ around the globe; the human factor.

SpeakerShane McGuinness,


Title: Daylight Robbery: Plasmonics in Disease Detection


Description:Plasmonics is an area of physics that tends to be fairly unknown. It’s also been around for a long time (stained glass is stained because of plasmonics). Plasmonic metals have a tendency to steal light away if given the right oppurtunity. In the talk I’ll tell you how plasmonics does its thing, and I how my research hopes to repurpose the nanoscale thieves to do something useful, like disease detection.

Speaker: Adam Murphy,



Kwartzlab Radio: SoOnCon and NightShift

This time on Kwartzlab Radio Darcy and I talk with Ben Brown about SoOnCon, the Southern Ontario Makers and Hackerspaces Conference which is being held November 1st and 2nd.  SoOnCon will be followed by NightShift which will be taking place in downtown Kitchener and features a number of art works, music, activities and demonstrations.

For more details go to and

Want to Build a Quadcopter At VHS?

Quadcopter in flight

Give the gift of making this winter and build a Quadcopter at VHS. EIGHTEEN have signed up!

Project News

2013-11-13: The time to get in on the group order has now closed. We are placing the order today. We will have more news as soon as we have a tracking number.
2013-11-10: The Neuchatetl, Switzerland Fablab is thinking about making our quadcopters, too.
2013-10-30: Group ordering began
2013-11-13: Group ordering closes
2013-11-22: Online Purchases completed. Off-the-shelf parts are in the mail!
2013-11-26: All packages confirmed in the mail and being tracked to local warehouse.
2013-11-27: How to video filming at the VHS

Please share with your friends!

// <![CDATA[ !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs'); // ]]>

// <![CDATA[ (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); // ]]>

Tell me more About the Quadcopter

Our ‘expert experts’ have designed, built, and tested a beautiful laser-cut quadcopter frame (pictured above). It measures almost half a meter wide, is strong enough to carry a GoPro and it can fly for up to 10 minutes. To make the experience that much better it comes with a second battery, an external charger, a full remote control,  and many extra propellors.  All you need to bring is your enthusiasm and 8 AA batteries. Everything else is covered in the cost of the kit – $250. To register – use the paypal link above. Updates will be sent to the email address you have registered with paypal.

How Hackable/Open is it?

Very! The flight controller - the brain – is Arduino derived and open source. The radio transmitter has open source firmware available. The laser cut frame design we’ve created will be available for your modification. The radio has three extra PWM channels that can be controlled from extra switches and dials on the transmitter.


Where do I get the parts?

Dan is collecting fees for the quadcopter parts group buy. Please click the Paypal button above before November 13th to get in on this action. The vending machine will have extra propellors.

What skills do I need to assemble this beast?

You will have to do some very light soldering in one place and we will help you with it. The rest of the assembly is simple, clean, and fast – you can put together this quadcopter in less than 2 hours. A ten year old can do this.

When are these build events?

Jon & Dan are running two Quadcopter build days this winter. The workshop is free and everyone is welcome – those who aren’t VHS members are asked to make a small donation to the space. The final date for the build event depends on how fast the supplier delivers the parts for the kits. We would like to have one Saturday in early-mid-December if they are fast enough. We will definitely have one Saturday in January, two if the order is late. Stay tuned to this page for further details.

Great! Now how do I fly it?

If the weather is good we will be running flight school outdoors.

What about Safety?

The blades spin quickly and are made of stiff plastic which can cut at high speed. Quadcopters weigh almost a kilo and can climb to great heights. The biggest danger is the weight if it falls out of the sky. Please do not fly the quadcopters indoors at VHS - they’re a bit too big for safe indoor flight. What you do in your own home is your business. We assume no liability etc etc.

Any Questions We Haven’t Answered?

Contact us and let us know.


Quadcopter Quadcopter in flight quad with pilot DSC_1406 DSC_1442 DSC_1447 DSC_1449 DSC_1451

Featured on Hackaday


The fine folks at Hackaday stopped by for a tour recently, and they made this fine video so you to can see the awesome power that is Milwaukee Makerspace all the way across the Internet-Tubes in your own home or workplace.

And if you’re in town for a visit and want to see the place, Tuesday or Thursday night at 7pm is a great time to stop by. (Those are the “open” nights.) Otherwise, hit up the mailing list and find a member who might be available some other time, like the weekend, or Wednesday at 2:45am. Or something like that.

(And yes, we do have a giant robot arm capable of crushing innocent metal chairs.)

How we built the Infinity Portal

Some of you may have seen our most recent monster creation at Alchemy or Atlanta Mini Maker Faire - The Infinity Portal.

The Infinity Portal is a 10 foot tall archway with a 7 x 4 ft infinity mirror inside of it. The mirror is made with two-way acrylic, so you can push on it to warp the effect for people on either side of it. It is lit with addressable LEDs, so there is a counter-rotating rainbow vortex in there too. You may remember seeing our write-up about prototyping the design a few months ago.

Defying all expectations, the thing actually survived both events that we brought it to! So we're really happy with it and will find a place to keep it in the mean time.

We actually (surprisingly) did a pretty good job of documenting this build, so we cut it together into a video to show how we built this huge, epic piece of art. Enjoy!