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

Update Jan 30 2016: a photo album has just been posted on facebook, and snapd Markham posted about us here.Our Technology Enablers night was a huge success with almost 80 people in attendance. We went all corporate, and there were enough suits and well-dressed people to make it… well, kinda weird for a ylab event.  
Yes, we really did take over Lenovo's space.

Yes, we really did take over Lenovo’s space.

Nevertheless, it went off without a hitch – if you don’t consider way more registrations than expected and scrambling for more chairs and food a” hitch”. Why so many attendess? #FREEPARKING seemed to be our meme for the night. Our panelists – Mehdi Sharifi from Lumicision, Brett Hagman from Arduino and Rogue Robotics, John Frangella  from Proto3000 and Peter Koster from Qualcomm were phenomenal. We’ve got to know some of them because they’re good friends of ylab, and it was even better to hear their stories and thoughts on so many topics. It was all expertly handled by our panel moderator Karen Mortfield from the DDO. Her experience in crisis communications clearly qualifies her for hosting a ylab event.
Panelists Mehdi, Brett, John and Peter, and moderator Karen

Panelists Mehdi, Brett, John and Peter, and moderator Karen

Big thanks to
  • Lenovo Canada for hosting the event and  letting ylab run amock in their amazing new space. Nothing was too much trouble for  Stefan, Kathleen, Kevin and David.
  • The growing cast of ylab members – Brooke on sound, Pek as announcer, Richard, Lucian, Ross and so many others for setup/teardown, Ruby for the food; and other volunteers like Murray and Andrea for registration duties.
  • Startup York, Coffee and Code and others for helping get the word out.
  • Our good friends at North of 41 for inspiring us and helping us in so many ways to get it organised.
And, most of all, we appreciate everyone who attended. We’re overwhelmed by  the community support.
North of 41's Jeff, some guy who keeps showing up in our pictures, Karen, and Lenovo's Stefan Bockhop.

North of 41’s Jeff Musson, some guy who keeps showing up in our pictures, Karen, and Lenovo’s Stefan Bockhop.

Second Update Jan 30 2016:Thank you attendees for all the positive feedback. The less-technically inclined business people who attended said it was a lot of fun, but some stuff was over their head. So it was perfect! Pictures above in the original post from ylab’s Pek. Pictures below from the facebook album courtesy of photographer Ara Mahda.IMG_4369 (1024x635) IMG_4365 (1024x642)
We kicked off 2016 with our first member-only nights, and the place has been buzzing.  If yesterday evening (Monday Jan 18) is any indication of things to come, it’s going to be an amazing year. The activities going on in all corners of the space were like a microcosm of the events we ran last year. What were we up to?
  •  DDO’s Mike helped sort out some hand-held ham radio configuration
  • Lucian helped reload a home router with open source Gargoyle software to torture kids with parental controls, get free DNS, and and set up remote VPN acces.
  • 3D design course materials being developed by Richard and were tested on human guinea pig and new member Brooke… with a focus on the new light sabre design.
  • Ross worked and demo’d his latest remote-control robot software… now featuring Python code.
  •  Pek and Jay worked the  second 3D printer and its controller PC to augment the persnickety rep-rap printer.
So busy, in fact, that nobody got around to taking pictures. For those who have not been there for a while… the place keeps getting better. Fridge… hand tools… soldering equipment… storage… big workbench you can hammer on… and we’ve ordered a laser cutter!Stay tuned for more details… and come out and join the fun.
Before. Yuck.

Before. Yuck.

Monday December 14 was our first members’ only night. Since ylab is an all-volunteer effort, that of course means we got down to some hard work cleaning up the space.
Thank you for your membership payment. Now get to work.

Thank you for your membership payment. Now get to work.

Our call for equipment donations produced some very timely results. Big thanks to Eric for the compressor and ShopVac. There’s more stuff coming in, so cleaning up and painting the floor became the top priority.
This ShopVac gained 12 pounds over the evening.

This ShopVac gained 12 pounds over the evening.

  With all the care due to the historic facility, we cleared the room and scraped, sanded, swept, vacuumed and painted.
The artists get to do the fine trim work.

The artists get to do the fine trim work.

Some serious anti-gravity physics were deployed to move the behemoths – those two big metal folding machines that were living in the space before we took it over (ylab regulars know what I’m talking about).
The Behemoth. Because the DDO can no longer call it the Immoveable Object.

The Behemoth. Because the DDO can no longer call it the Immoveable Object.

Remind me... who let these wingnuts in here?

Remind me… who let these wingnuts in here?

The gloriously warm December weather allowed us to open the windows to clear the dust and keep our cool.
It’s OK. She signed the liability waiver.

It’s OK. She signed the liability waiver.

Big thanks to Avery, Lucian, Pek, Richard and Ross for all the hard work and to the DDO for providing us the odd painting thing we forgot .
Stand over there to watch paint dry.

After. Stand over there to watch paint dry.

 
We held our second Robotycs hands-on night on Nov 11 to continue the toy hacks. It’s great to see new faces coming out to every event, and to see others become regulars.
DC power supply. Works much better than batteries for testing.

DC power supply. Works much better than batteries for testing.

Volunteers brought in a variety of equipment to help things along, and Robot Ross gave a quick presentation on taking the Arduino controls up another notch for remote communication.
If you don't bring enough batteries, you might have to push.

If you don’t bring enough batteries, you might have to push.

Some of the participants found out the hard way that as you add more capabilities, you need more power. Some developments were postponed to the next get-together for lack of batteries.
Always count your fingers to make sure you didn't leave any behind.

Always count your fingers to make sure you didn’t leave any behind.

The next Robotycs night will be on Nov 25. Next week, we’ll see what mischief the local ham radio people get into.
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.
 
October 2015 YLab Group Shot

October YLab Meeting Group Shot.

October was a crazy month. YLab is all about tech community, so it’s more than just the events we put on. YLab regulars, volunteers and friends have been all over the place, including:
  • YLab’s Python Constricted class, hosted by the Markham Public Library, where a dozen people were introducted to the Python programming language, and helped along by ylab volunteers.
  • Our second monthly Robotycs meeting, hosted once again by Logics Academy, covered an intro to Arduino and Raspberry Pi. We’re looking for a serious competition project!
  • We have a small offshoot of beginners from Robotycs who are eager to learn and will start some hands-on weekly training by hacking remote control cars. Experienced volunteers will be showing up to help them with soldering irons, oscilloscopes and Arduino gear.
Robot Ross Giving a Presentation and Halloween at the DDO

Robot Ross Giving a Presentation and Halloween at the DDO.

We were busy with our friends at the Markham Public Library, where:
  • YLab’s Robot Ross and Jedi Jay displayed their wares that the Mini Maker Faire.
  • A few ylab regulars’ faces were in the audience for their evening with Cory Doctorow.
  • Their Nov 13 TEDx put out a call for speakers. We introduced a couple of ylab friends from The David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) and Site 3 Maker Space  who have been selected. Our proposal for a  Site 3 flaming demo in the parking lot… well, that  went down in flames. Tickets are going fast!
Halloween at the DDO!

Halloween at the DDO!

Speaking of the DDO… We wrapped up the month with a Halloween eve visit to their Haunted House in full geek-out costume, complete with pocket protectors, taped eyeglasses and white socks. That was after a visit to TAVES Consumer Electronics Show held at the Sheraton at Hwy 7 and Leslie. Big thanks to the TAVES organisers for the free weekend passes. The must see item: the Richmond Hill AMD team’s virtual reality demo.
YLab Visiting TAVES to get an AMD VR Demo

YLab Visiting TAVES and Getting an AMD VR Demo

The DDO’s Haunted House was augmented this year by contributions from YLab friends and robotics experts Eric and Brett Hagman. The sound-activated, full-size crawling skeletons were a nice touch.   Stay tuned for more November announcements!
A dozen programmers came in to learn the language.

A dozen programmers came out to learn the language.

Programmers came out on October 7 2015 for ylab’s Python Constricted – a crash course in the Python Language for people who already know how to program.YLab Code PythonAttendees arrived ready to go with Python already loaded on their laptops. They worked their way through the hands-on overview of the general structure and features of the language. Then they got down to some serious coding with the help of ylab’s Pythonista volunteers.
When we say challenge, we mean challenge.

When we say challenge, we mean challenge.

The  participants got over the biggest hurdles, figuring out how to load additional libraries and get all the necessary pieces together. In the three hours available,  they got the hang of it, and many  were up to the challenges of retrieving data from web sites and reading and writing database records. There was a lot of surprise that in Python, these tasks are as easy – if not easier! – that writing to files in other languages.
Sometimes, even the volunteer is puzzled.

Sometimes, even the volunteer is puzzled.

Big thanks to ylab volunteers Arjun, Craig, Michael and Pek for mentoring, setting up the servers for the class, and preparing the challenges; and to Simon’s Coffee and Code York Region Meetup Group for helping to get the word out. An extra special thanks to Markham Public Library for hosting the event and going the extra mile in allowing us to stay for a hour after closing.
Caution. Heavy thinking in progress.

Caution. Heavy thinking in progress.