Feed on



So, you want to learn to solder?  Purchase a seat for our Soldering workshop.  Our brother makerspace at the Public Library has been generous enough to provide space for this workshop that Chatt*Lab will be teaching.  Many thanks to Nate and Meg for providing a location.  We hope to do future workshops at our space once the dust settles.

For you Mom’s out there that are looking for a good gift from the kids for their Dad, this is a great gift idea, and it will be ready for Father’s Day (workshop is the Saturday before Father’s Day).

The workshop costs $35 and you get a really cool device that turns off pretty much any TV you can find in the USA.  There’s even a way to make it turn off European and Australian TV’s if you prefer.

If you aren’t familiar with the TV B Gone, check out the Adafruit site: http://www.adafruit.com/products/73

The workshop will be June 15th (Saturday) at 10 am at the Chattanooga Public Library, 4th floor.  We only have 9 seats remaining, so register now to reserve your seat:  http://chattlabtvbgoneworkshop.eventbrite.com/  .

State of the *Lab


Last Meeting Highlight: This small 3D printed vehicle has working wheels and doors!

Glad to report we have a few areas of progress since the last post. Our goal has been to prep the space for membership by June 1, 2013. Some accomplishments include:

  1. The most important: An energetic attendance of a variety of folks from the community!
  2. The space is secured with locks at each entrance/exit.
  3. We are managing our own internet traffic (50mbps).
  4. The leaks in the woodshop room have been fixed (!).
  5. An RFID electric latch has been installed.

We are still tracking toward that goal but a few things have to come into place in order of priority:

  1. Leverage existing wiring to power the RFID access system.

Beyond that there is (always) more work to do to get us set up properly:

  1. A large conduit and wire run to a new panel (think $$$).
  2. Workbenches and chairs.
  3. Pull down projection screen.
  4. Mount our projector (have the mount).

Once these are in place we really have a complete picture. Sure the circuit wiring and machinery need to be wired and placed but that is almost a celebration, not a chore!

We hope to see you Tuesday nights at 7pm for our public meeting.

From having several mentors at different stages in my life, I have noted two parameters that trend with age. This observation may be neither unique nor profound, but as a scientist, observe I must. The first is that as we get older, our bodies fail us. The second is that, as we age, our minds can continue to…


That awkward moment, when you thought you saved a draft instead of publishing it. My bad. I’d finish this train of thought, but well, my project went totally sideways, and took my “deep and meaningful” observation with it. But that’s life. Fortunately, one of those mentors I was talking about recently told me, “If you haven’t failed recently, it probably means you’re not doing what you’re meant to be doing.” So I’ll claim that as a failure, and we can try to learn from it.

As makers, hackers or simply scientist, failure is no stranger to us. In fact, we depend on it. It’s not the destination, but it is certainly part of the journey. Start-up investors want the business to fail quickly, if it’s destined for failure. Artificially propping it up will only increase the amount of resources and time that is wasted. Instead, they often want to let it go, minimize the cost of ultimate failure and quickly take what was learned and apply it to the next venture.

Wildfires are a type of failure. But if the wildfire fighters avoid failure at all cost, the undergrowth has time to build up. When a fire ultimately does break out, the dense underbrush causes the fire to burn hotter and become more devastating than ever. Small, frequent fires, on the other hand, clear out the underbrush, but don’t get hot enough to damage the established trees.

Our failures are similar. Frequent failures can be recorded (a.k.a. SCIENCE!) and used as stepping stones to larger, more epic successes.

I think I speak for all of us when I say Chatt*Lab is a place that we want to be a safety zone for failing freely. We’ll try to steer clear of the epic failures involving injuries and property damage (as much as possible). But your ideas are safe. They may not work the first time, heck, they may not work ever. But you’ll never know–you’ll never achieve that epic success–unless you take a few risks.

Come on out Tuesday at 7:00 to the place in the map…uh…down there somewhere. We’re getting ready to kick things off, and we want you to be there.

IMG_20130514_192346Big thanks to everyone who came out for our weekly meeting last night.

Jesse Guardiani from CreateThis.com gave an introduction to some basic hand tools with demos. I especially appreciate the sharpening demo as it made installing the electronic latch for the front door much easier to finish!

Duane Rousseau from the Creative Discovery Museum was kind enough to outright give us a really sweet Delta drill press (15″ freestanding!). A huge addition to our stationary tool landscape.

I also promised a link to the layout Sketchup I had thrown together to get the conversation going for what goes where. See:

IMG_20130515_103535Overall updates:

  • Security: Entire compound is secure with razor wire around the majority of the perimeter; RFID system bench tested and latch installed. Need to wire it up! Commercial lockset ordered to replace the wimpy residential hardware in place now.
  • Leak: Requested gravel be removed by maintenance from roof so I can push the roof into place and seal.
  • Network: Located our spare router, cat6 is already in place for the run to the comcast box. Will work fine for a while. EPB later.
  • Tools: Lathe granted to us just need to coordinate a date for heading down to get the beast. Ditto on Bridgeport.
  • Benches: Talked about layout a bit (see above) and have a general plan. Casters are a requirement so we can flex the space not only during our learning phase with the new digs but as a means of agility.

I’m sure I left out a few items so please remind me if I missed something major.

Otherwise, thanks again and I can’t wait to see everyone again next week!

Thanks to everyone who came out for our first of a series of launch meetings. We had about a dozen total and we talked through a number of topics (see slides here).

The new space was toured by a number of attendees who gave it a nod of approval. Currently we are negotiating the rent with the owner of the property. We hope to have an announcement by Tuesday, April 30th 7pm at our first public site meeting.

Hope to see you there.

View Larger Map

japan-h-2a-rocket-launchIt is time. We are hosting a planning meeting for the launch of our makerspace. The goal will be to gather any and all who are interested in joining together to pick up the conversation that began almost a year ago.

Who: Chatt*lab Makerspace
What: Call for Makers planning meeting (click to RSVP)
When: Saturday April 20th @ 11am
Where: Downtown Chattanooga Public Library, 4th Floor

Chatt*lab has been a makerspace in progress for almost a year now. The idea being to provide a place for collaboration and expertise, and some awesome tools, for makers in the Chattanooga area. We have been private and in stealth mode but influential to the blossoming maker scene in Chattanooga.

We are ready to plan our launch and to do this we are hosting a meeting (one of many to come) to discuss the details and get input from the makers here in our fair city. Won’t you join us? There is an FAQ here to get the juices flowing.

Ps. The Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival is happening after our meeting so make a day of it. Most of us plan on bee-lining it down there post meeting. Someone please take notes…

8563632110_b616099a24The not so recent Maker Day at the 4th Floor was a huge success. If you attended you were among over 1100 who attended that day all to celebrate, discuss, and learn about 3D printing and scanning technologies.

Jason Brown and myself put in a dizzying day of conversations and questions from the folks. The only word that came to mind to describe the interest afterwards was rabid. The event, if you didn’t attend, was from 11-4 but it consisted of a massive blur from about 10:30 to well after 5pm. A smashing success by any measure. I had people from 80 years old to my own 4 year olds asking questions and exploring the concept of ‘what can I create?’

The other amazing thing about the event was the fact that it was a launch party for the 4th Floor as Chattanooga’s first public makerspace. While Chatt*lab has been private for almost a year, we helped get this off the ground in a big way through planning and collaboration with the Library, naturally, but also Co.lab, engage3D, and the Sim Center just to mention a few. We had more and more groups coming out of the woodwork and pitching in to attend and spread the word. It was a frenzy up to the day of the event.

MAKER DAY06Makerspaces happen when the community comes together around a specific catalyst. Often times this is 3D printing, or quadcopters, or some sort of thing that everyone has enough interest in to want to know more. It is evident 3D printing is that catalyst for Chattanooga based on the attendance.

We celebrate the 4th Floor’s launch and share the vision for making in Chattanooga.

IMG_20130308_210718When Nate Hill from the Chattanooga Public Library’s 4th Floor asked if we could cut a giant ‘4’ out on the CNC router vs doing it by hand, it was a no brainer. Jason and I recognized this as another opportunity to take the CNC router to the next level of build and understanding.

We’ve been working on the CNC router at a bit of a snail’s pace so we were glad to get it to the point where it could do something productive. We are quite pleased with the results, a little backlash not withstanding. We’ll keep improving this machine over time. Big thanks to Nate for the challenge, and to Jason for making it happen in every way.

We actually cut a small test about 8 inches high and were going to present that to Nate in a This is Spinal Tap moment, but he caught the pictures through the Internet, so that joke is completely deflated.

Videos of the CNC router in action can be found scattered about the Chatt*lab YouTube Channel.

Recently I read an article titled A Lack of R&D May Kill the 3d Printing Gold Rush by Ashlee Vance on BloombergBusinessWeek (who names these things nowadays?). The article points out that ‘3D printing has no Moore’s law’ and that this will result in less progress, or more shallow, less of a quick buck for investors.

The assumption that faster and more powerful chips and circuits are the only reason personal computing was worth investing in just rings false to me. My company does software for a living and I can tell you that the best programmer can do miraculous things with a meager 386 running Linux in server mode. Mr. Moore need not apply.

This is an antiquated view of computing, isn’t it? Think about it. When I can summon hundreds of thousands of ‘cores’ on Google’s infrastructure to process my problem, do we really think the machine on which we make that request really needs an SSE4 instruction set capability on the chip, or an FPU that is higher than last year’s model? I’m playing with some historical computer trivia here but I think you get my point.

For digitizing the atoms, rather than the bits, as 3D printing does, perhaps we need a new law, or maybe I just don’t know the name of it. This law would describe the behavior of a technology that 1) facilitates creating an object cheaper as it increases in complexity; and 2) permits just in time delivery of personalized products without historical customization costs, and unleashes 3) significant customer satisfaction. Maybe we could call it Bre’s Law? 😉

To me the beauty of the universal logic tool (the personal computer) isn’t Moore’s Law (do we seriously think OS bloat was a good thing?). Instead it is the kids (like me) who got them in their hands at age 12 and put in the thousands of hours learning how to use them to do amazing things. The most amazing thing about the personal computer revolution was that it was something that created a wave of new capability for our species.

I believe 3dp can have a similar impact in human terms. Vance may be lucky enough to be around when this is realized and perhaps write about it then. For now I think there is a point that is missing.

It isn’t about building a holodeck but making the idea of a holodeck real in the minds of millions of 12 year old innovators. They are the ones that will create their own laws that will drive the digital manufacturing revolution to places we have yet to fully imagine.

Chris Anderson at RomeConfluence 2013

This morning Chris Anderson painted the ‘maker vision’ for the revolution in manufacturing that is being fostered by 3d printing technologies. The digital manufacturing revolution was put firmly in context with the industrial and digital revolutions of the past century.

‘We are all designers now, we might as well get good at it.’ is a memorable statement from Chris for us to embrace this latest revolution and get on with mastering the skills needed for this next wave of innovation. Chris brought the attendees to the center of the conversation with calls for this revolution to be echoed right here in the heart of the South. He convinced many attendees that had not heard of, let alone purchased, a home 3D printer to dive in, as evidenced by conversations I had with several attendees.

After the day of presentations, 7hills Makerspace hosted a Maker Bazaar at their opulent space in the heart of Rome. The large space was packed wall to wall with people, projects and lots of energy. I even stepped in to field some 3D printing questions to help handle the interest! A successful event indeed.

Big thanks to Greg Richardson, founder of 7hillsmake.org, and the Rome Chamber of Commerce for producing an outstanding event this year. We look forward to 2014!

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »