Tag Archives: Maker Nights at The Public

Maker Nights still running!

After the official maker nights completed their run, several attendees decided to continue meeting at The Public and have successfully negotiated further meeting dates until the venue doors finally close.

Home automation in development - here we have simple temperature and humidity logging.

Home automation in development – here we have simple temperature and humidity logging.

The next meetings are Tuesday 15th October 2013, and Tuesday 29th October 2013. Please come along and visit.

The sessions are self-led and will vary according to who gets involved, so as usual the only requirement is that you’re someone who’d like to get involved! Skills are for sharing – those attending can probably guide you with learning a new skill, or suggesting how to get started on your own project.

Drop-in for whatever time works for you; you don’t have to be there for the whole of the session. Doors open 5pm – 9:30pm, it’s free, and we’re usually up on the 3rd floor in the Long Room (ask at reception if you can’t find us).

A part of the discussion will be whether the group can continue after the venue closes, and where we could meet in the future. If you are interested in keeping something like this going in Sandwell then please come along.

Maker Night #4

A quiet night last night – I think we were all feeling the effects of the muggy weather!

Maker Night 3

A mix of returners and new faces, but all aware that there are only 2 Maker Nights remaining as part of this series at The Public, talk turned again to what made the sessions valuable and what should happen after Many & Varied depart.

We covered a lot of other subjects too including: LibraryBoxes, being able to see Saturn (or not), Iridium flares, harmonographs and giving the rugby-types at school electric shocks.

A nice phrase that came up a few times was “being a bit crap”: the importance of having a space in which you can make the mistakes you learn from; a place where you don’t have to be perfect.

Pi-Lite shield for the Raspberry Pi

A Furby shell awaiting a new face.

For the next session (6th of August) there is talk of Big Red Buttons.

There’s also a general call out for people who may have experience of working with touchscreens – do you know how to programme them? We also have someone who’s interested in using either ethernet or wi-fi connected Arduino for home automation – if you have any experience with either of these and can feed into his thinking that would be great.

Maker Night #3

For the third Maker Night at The Public we had a nice mix of returners and new faces.

I remember looking up from the middle of a stint at trying to figure out some code and being very impressed at the range of activities going on around the table: drawing, mask-making, traffic control (a nice Arduino model of some traffic lights with a pedestrian crossing), illustration, morse code and aspirations for tai-chi tracking kinect sensors!

traffic control

20130709_195201

We’re starting to get some nice link-ups between people’s projects too: with inspiration and know-how flowing in different directions. Another recurring theme is how Maker Nights are proving to be a really nice ring-fenced space that people are using to get on with the creative activities that they normally don’t get around to.

We’re halfway through our run of Maker Nights as part of our stint at The Public. The next one is on Tuesday the 23rd of July, drop-in and join us any time between 5 and 9:30pm.

Maker Night #2

Coming in the same week as The Great Big Skills Jamboree, the write-up’s been a little slow, however here are a few photos from our 2nd Maker Night at The Public…

The first wave of Makers get started:
Makers

After a quick lesson in how to solder, one chap (sorry, I can’t remember everyone’s names!) embarked on this project – a shield for a Raspberry Pi computer:
soldering project

Antonio’s on a mission to learn how to glitch visuals through sound input. Here are a few of his early experiments using live images from a webcam and tone generated through PureData:

glitch patches

Many & Varied Maker Night

Many & Varied Maker Night

The second wave of Makers wanted to do some drawing. So they did!

drawing

This is, I think, the key thing about Maker Nights – they are what you want them to be. Bring whatever you’re interested in along on Tuesday the 9th of July and join us for the next one!

Our first Maker Night

We’ve just got back home after our first Maker Night at The Public: a night that involved story-telling catalysts, learning to solder, spaceblanket interfaces for jumping monkeys, “ooh! Do you remember when we did that!” devices, a TOP SECRET project, and, importantly, not letting the mains get into your cup of tea. That last one’s important – never let mains electricity get into your cup of tea.

Here are a few images from the evening – more can be found in this Flickr set.

The early-birds settle in for a night of making.

The early-birds settle in for a night of making.

A short time later the thinking faces and solder-sucker come out...

A short time later the thinking faces and solder-sucker come out…

A story-telling catalyst - his son tells a story and touches the different foil strips to trigger the noises he wants.

A story-telling catalyst – his son tells a story and touches the different foil strips to trigger the noises he wants.

Learning to solder in a totally non-competitive manner.

Learning to solder in a totally non-competitive manner.

Ian thinks he's won with this abstract expressionist sculpture capturing the physical immediacy of metal, plastic and the juxtapositions inherent in contemporary Western society...

Ian thinks he’s won with this abstract expressionist sculpture capturing the physical immediacy of metal, plastic and the juxtapositions inherent in contemporary Western society…

...but then Anne made this really nice butterfly!

…but then Anne made this really nice butterfly!

Taking a break from carpentry.

Taking a break from carpentry.

Trying out the MaKey Makey. First impression: but a keyboard is so much easier! Changing to: this is a lot more fun than a keyboard!

Trying out the MaKey Makey. First impression: but a keyboard is so much easier! Changing to: this is a lot more fun than a keyboard!

Serious discussions about interfaces, play and discovery.

Serious discussions about interfaces, play and discovery.

Seriously! You don't want the mains getting into your cup of tea!

Seriously! You don’t want the mains getting into your cup of tea!

Thanks to everyone who came – we had a great mixture of people learning skills like soldering and basic electronics for the first time as well as more practised folks bringing in their interesting projects. By the end of the evening we had made various sculptures, some code that talks to Flickr and numerous blinky lights.

At least two people are now remembering broken things they have at home and thinking “if I bring that in next time, I can fix that!”. Here at Many & Varied we consider that to be a very big win!

The next Maker Night is on the 25th of June.

What is a Maker Night?

As part of our residency at The Public we’re hosting 6 Maker Nights.

In essence a Maker Night is a bunch of people hanging out together. It doesn’t matter what background, skills or job you have: at Maker Nights all the differences fuel each other and, as people start to dream up amazing things, it’s generally possible to pool all the bits of stuff everyone knows and end up with a collective ability to make the idea a reality.

Giving it a go is the most valuable skill you can come with.

Make Magazine published a blog post yesterday that describes a Dutch novel written during World War II. Here’s part of the story that it quotes:

We have to establish a club for boys with a technical hobby to, like Verburg so strikingly said, get grand results by cooperation. A club with its own clubhouse, where you can experiment, where you can make a mess and loud noise, where you can be your own boss and disturb nobody! A club of merely enthusiasts, of boys, who love technique, one with their hobby! A club for radio, photography, film, chemistry, electricity and more! A club that has never been, but that we will found! Our club…. The Hobby Club!Leonard de Vries, “The Boys of the Hobby Club.”

Nearly seven decades later, we can confidently replace the word ‘boys’ with ‘people’, and point to the growing number of hackspaces, makerspaces, FabLabs and craft nights that are today’s versions of the Hobby Club.

But what about this emphasis on technology?

I really like this short documentary that, amongst other things, talks about the importance of making technology accessible through looking at something, knowing it, understanding it, taking it apart, putting it back together and remaking something new.

We Make Things. from Tunnel Media on Vimeo.

Wikipedia describes Maker Culture as being an extension of “a technology-based extension of DIY culture” [source] Here’s Ken Denmead’s take on it in another recent Makezine post:

The DIY and Maker Movements [..] are filled with people who want to figure out how to make or do stuff on their own, rather than purchasing pre-packaged goods or services. Are the two movements different things? I don’t think so. I think they’re two circles on a Venn diagram that overlap almost completely. Perhaps there’s a bit more art and design in the Maker Movement circle (what we might call the “Burning Man Influence”), and a bit more changing-your-car’s-oil-in-the-driveway in the DIY circle, but otherwise the passions for creating, building, and sharing are the same.Ken Denmead, “Why the Maker Movement is Here to Stay”

For me the Maker Nights are all about the people who come to them and the unpredictable things that bubble up out of conversations. They’re what you make them.

Perhaps this post should have been titled “Why is a Maker Night”. I think the answer to that involves a combination of “because it’s important” and “because we all have an urge to dream and to make things”.

Our first Maker Night is on Tuesday – see you there.