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

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.
Filling the boardroom with makers and networking equipment.

Filling the boardroom with makers and networking equipment.

It was an amazing turnout at our September 16th event centred around securing your home router. After going through some background information on routers and how their firmware is developed, YLab makers eagerly started reflashing their router’s with open source alternatives such as dd-wrt, OpenWRT, and Tomato. And the best part was managing not to brick them! The iconic blue and black Linksys WRT54G routers of course made an appearance as well as many common open-source friendly alternatives.
Flashing a router with DD-WRT.

It’s always nice when everything works perfectly while explaining the process.

We also did some penetration testing with Router Check‘s founder who went through the basic Dos and Don’ts of securing your home network and showed off their Android app (a great way to quickly check if your network is secure). Some basic tips we learned: never use WEP, turn off the easy setup, and check against all the common vulnerabilities (because once a hacker gets access to your router your computers are next)!
Group shots of the makers in attendance .

Group shots of some of the YLab makers in attendance.

We’ve also got two great free events coming up that still have some space for new makers:YLab Robotics LogoThe inaugural YLab Robotics Group monthly meeting is on September 30th. At last count there was only 4 available spaces left. To register click here.

YLab Code Python

Looking to get a basic footing in Python? We’re hosting a crash course for experienced programmers at the Markham Public Library, click here to register.

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.
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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.
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!
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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.
 
We had a great turn-out for ylab’s kick-off event. We’re guessing that between 75 and 100 people came out. The volunteers put a lot of work into it, and we want to thank everyone who attended for making it such a success. We have many new volunteers, and, of course, we’re always looking for more – email us at info(at)ylab(dot)ca.We announced our first five events, and they’ll be showing up soon on the website. We’ll post them in a separate entry. The dates and times we announced are confirmed. We just need to cover the final details.Special mentions go out to:
  • Canada Robotix for hosting the event – and Jack for his drive to make it happen.
  • Proto3000 for loaning us a MakerBot2.
  • Richard for making the first ylab 3D-printed logo and the laser-cut name tags for the volunteers.
  • All the Canada Robotix staff and ylab volunteers who kept things running smoothly.
Best of all, we had a bunch of makers who brought in some of their amazing creations. Check them out below – and thanks to Pek and Chhing for providing the pictures. Our host’s shop. We hope we didn’t scare too many customers.

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Maker Ross shows off his Turtlebot and its old friends:

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Laser-cutter projects galore! Maker Richard brings out several projects he’s completed with a laser cutter:IMG_2783IMG_2782

Richard also enlist comrades to make rope:

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Richard also brought in his own 3D printer:

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To run alongside the MakerBot Replicator 2 generously provided by Proto3000:

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Makers Paul and Sarah showed off their pick-and-placer prototype project completed in one and a half months.  The pick-and-place arm picks up surface-mount components and places them in their spot on the circuit board:

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Maker Jay brings out his light sabers and robotic vehicles and creatures:

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The best kind of networking – meet new friends, learn something new, and play!

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Thank you all for coming out! Until next time…IMG_3031