The First Maker Space and Tech Community For Markham, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, & Vaughan.

Wed Nov 4, 2015. It was like a whole bunch of ylab events, shaken up, mixed together and served up with everyone wondering how on earth the unholy mess would taste. Our friends at the David Dunlap Observatory somehow agreed to let us in to the darkest recesses of their basement for what was supposed to be a barely-announced Robotycs hands-on night. As if that wasn’t scary enough, the place was still littered with skeletons, corpses and other horrors from the DDO Haunted House . As a test event, we limited the announcement to the fortunate people who attended our two first Robotycs meetings and our Arduino class.
The no-longer secret anti-static handshake.

The no-longer secret anti-static handshake.

The theme of the evening: Arduino Robotic Car Hacks. No, not the kind of cars from our August Car Hacks/OBD-2 Event.
Victims of the evening's activities.

Victims of the evening’s activities.

    Instead of using robotic kits, we asked everyone to bring whatever old wired or R/C cars they had lying around their basements to modify for Arduino control.
There's an oscilloscope. This must be science.

There’s an oscilloscope. This must be science.

Ylab volunteers brought in oscilloscope, voltmeter, tools, soldering irons and other implements of toy destruction. Robot Ross gave the introductory lesson on how to work to work the motors with Arduino. Then the mayhem started.
Higher voltage makes it spin faster.

Higher voltage makes it spin faster.

Looks complicated... and they haven't done the software yet.

Looks complicated… and they haven’t done the software yet.

Arduino hardware transplant successful.

Arduino hardware transplant successful.

Formerly-abandoned toys started coming to life. What were previously single-speed cars were now controllable to run at different speeds.
Isn't this how Frankenstein was brought to life?

Isn’t this how Frankenstein was brought to life?

Some achieved  variable steering  instead of full-right or full-left. Humming, un-moving motors were explained (more power!). Beginners learned a heck of a lot. Our DDO friends looked on in… let’s say puzzled amazement and leave it at that. Big thanks to the regular ylab volunteers (Richard, Ross, Jay, Pek), to Canada Robotix for the discount on the Arduino boards, to the DDO for hosting, and, above all, to all the attendees who came out and made the event a success.BREAKING NEWS: MORE OF THE SAME NEXT WEEK! Look for the booking announcement in the next couple of days on this page (Over there! On the right side!) or by searching on Eventbrite. Same time – 7 PM Wednesday – and same place, which we’ve officially nicknamed the ylab DDOngeon.
YLab Robotics LogoAccompanied by their builders and a bunch of  budding and accomplished roboticists, a menagerie of robots  crowded into Logics Academy for ylab’s inaugural Robotycs meeting.  The all-too-human Robot Ross gave an intro to the group’ and some potential direrobotycs2ction. A big part of it will be participants bringing in their creations (or is that the other way around?). Goals are to  meet other robotics fans, share expertise and help set direction for the meetings. Ross provided some perspective on and why “robotics technology today” and what we thought comprised a “Robot”, and finally some examples of movie robot mayhem.robotycs1Show-and-Tell was a highlight of the evening. One creative builder demonstrated the motivator part of his underwater robot. Unfortunately, Ramy’s shop doesn’t feature a swimming pool, so the key feature was not demonstrated (note to Ramy: can you add one for a future meeting?).  Jack showed his smart phone controlled 4-wheeled floor bot, and Rami showed an example of a Logics Academy educational device -a tone activated drawing pencil suitable for younger roboticists. After a  vigorous open discussion, we agreed that for the next meeting,  everyone should bring back suggestions on specific topics activities they’d like to see in subsequent meetings. A popular point was for the group to show the specific steps to build a working robot from scratch, i.e. where to start, how to set behavior and functional objectives, what choices of hardware, and what software to select. A group build project might serve us well. Jack and Paul concluded the meeting with a demonstration of How to build a Robot in 10 Minutes, using a precut laser cut base, 2 motors and an Arduino controller equipped with a Carobotx motor shield. Slowed down by lots of descriptions and explanations,  it took them  22 minutes until the “It’s alive!” moment when it was able to explore the floor on its own. Big thanks to Rami and Logics Academy for once again hosting a ylab event, Jack and Paul for all their help, and Robot Ross for initiating the whole thing. And, of course, to all the new people who came out for their first ylab event.Robotycs meetings are being scheduled for the 4th Wednesday of every month. The next one is on Wednesday, October 28,  once again at Logics Academy. Stay tuned for registration information.
It’s no joke. Attendees for YLab’s first formal training class ranged from beginners to experienced hardware hackers with enough experience to teach the class themselves. And how did it all work out? Unbelievably well. Attendees helped each other out, and everyone got their circuits and programs working.
Arduino Lightup

Its Alive! The first project was to make the LED light blink.

The class was generously hosted by Logics Academy . Ramy and his team did an amazing job setting up the class, projector, wifi and anything else we could think of. They let everyone hang out until I-can’t-remember-how-late to talk shop and compare notes.
Arduino Class Overview

After everyone got their bugs sorted out, the challenges began.

Ramy and instructor Brett Hagman amazed us with some of the contraptions they’ve built using the Arduino controllers. Logics Academy uses it in their facility for [Shut up! That might be confidential!] and in their robotics and electronics courses.
RJ from YLabs and Remy from Logics Academy

Discussing fun uses for robotics with Remy from Logics Academy.

Big thanks instructor Brett, Logics Academy, the growing cast of YLab volunteers, and most of all to everyone who attended to make it another successful YLab maker evening.
00-onsite

DDO. WOW.

We sold out and filled every seat available for Makers at the David Dunlap Observatory: Old Tech Meets New Tech. Arriving visitors who had never seen the site were slack-jawed at the beautiful telescope and administration building.YLab outside the DDOThe David Dunlap Observatory, sitting right smack in the middle or Richmond Hill, is Canada’s largest optical telescope. It’s operated by an all-volunteer force of members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Toronto Centre.Starting The TourWho knew that the RASC-TC members are uber-makers? The session featured presentations and equipment demos by Jim Chung, author of Astro Imaging Projects for Amateur Astronomers , and Lance Clarke and Allard Schipper of the Southern Ontario Telescope Makers Group. We were astounded at the variety and complexity of amateur-built telescopes. We heard how Allard built much of his equipment using facilities and tools from the Toronto Tool Library. The Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan libraries may be hearing from us.YLab DDO PresentationWe had the special privilege of seeing and hearing how the volunteers maintain the main telescope. Who knew that mirror resurfacing by aluminum vapor deposition in a vacuum chamber could be done on site? Who knew what the preceding sentence meant before their patient explanations? Where else do you get to see huge 110V DC (not AC!) systems?YLab Inspecting The Homemade TelescopesAlong with the telescopes, YLab makers Jack, Jay and Richard brought out a 3D printer, robots, light sabers and other creations. Richard drew up a 3D model of the DDO dome and had it printed out by the end of the evening.Printing the DDOWe’d like to thank:
  • The RASC-TC’s Diane, Karen, Paul, Nicole, Gilles, Eric (those are the names we remember) and other members who so generously took the time to show us this gem of a facility and explain its workings.
  • The DDO’s volunteer high-school students for helping the RASC-TC members
  • YLab’s high school volunteers Katrina and Maxine for handling welcome and registration duties.
  • Pek and Uncle D for taking the awesome photos you see above and on our Facebook page
Last note: we owe someone with initials AB a $5 refund because the registration desk didn’t have enough change. The volunteers did try looking around for you. We have your name but no other info. Contact us through the ylab.ca web site.
Y Lab’s Car Hacks night was a big success, with about 25 people coming out for our talk on how it’s still possible to work on your car yourself, on some of the auto security hacks we’ve been reading about in the news, and finally, by demonstrating several different devices you can use to read and reset a car’s engine readings and diagnostic codes. Emily from autoniche kept us in line with some most appropriate words of caution and advice to keep us from harming ourselves and others.obdAfter the talk, we went out to the parking lot, brought together people’s cars, and tried out the devices. There were some glitches, and everyone chipped in to sort them out. No vehicles were harmed.carhack1 carhack2 carhack3 carhack4We’re thrilled at the turn-out – we originally thought we would have about 10 people, so a big thanks to Markham Public Library for stepping in with a room at Thornhill Public Library to accommodate everyone.MPL logo BWThis was the first event where we had live tweets to @ylab_maker. Tip of the hat to Avery, Jack and Pek for dragging us out of the dark ages and working twitter, our web site and ylab_maker on facebook.  And thanks for all the positive tweets and comments and for helping get the word out. Don’t forget to register for our big night at The David Dunlap Observatory on Wednesday, August 19.
We are happy to announce that our first three events are open for registration. Hurry up and get your tickets. Seats are limited so book soon.  Wed Aug 12, 2015, 7PM-9PMEvent: Car Hack: OBD-II/CAN Readers for diagnostics and fun Where: Markham Public Library’s Thornhill Community Centre Cost: Donation Ticket: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/y-lab-car-hack-night-obd-iican-readers-for-auto-diagnostics-and-fun-tickets-17904881984 Wed Aug 19, 2015, 8PM-11PMEvent: Old Tech Meets New Tech at David Dunlap Observatory Where: The David Dunlap Observatory Cost: $15 ($12 before Aug 10) Ticket: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/ylab-makers-at-the-david-dunlap-observatory-old-tech-meets-new-tech-tickets-17902894038 Wed Aug 26, 2015, 7PM-10PMEvent: Getting Started with Wiring and Arduino (no kids) Where: Logics Academy Cost: $85 with Arduino ($60 bring your own Arduino) Ticket: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/ylab-getting-started-with-wiring-and-arduino-18-event-tickets-17930294995
The Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor opened its doors to host Maker Festival 2015 this past Saturday and Sunday.   Makers invaded the three floors for the GTA’s  biggest maker show yet. Hordes of  kids and adults came out to create and share in the fun!
makerfestival
Maker Jay booked himself a display table to showcase his light sabres and robots, just as he did at our kick-off event on July 25. Jay generously allocated some of his table space for some YLab event announcements and email sign-up.
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And he let Maker Ross join in with his Turtlebot.
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 Jay runs his own website at http://MakerFun.ca where you can check out many of his creations. For those eager to make their own light sabres, Jay has a tutorial on his site.