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

Exactly one year ago today, on July 25, 2016, we held our kick-off maker event at Canada Robotix… and what a year it’s been! Our goal from the start has been to build tech community in York Region, and the community has welcomed us with open arms. Companies large and small have helped us out with loans of equipment, hosting of our events and outright donations. In no particular order, we can mention Canada Robotix, Logics Academy, Maxxian, Proto3000, Lenovo Canada, Qualcomm, and Keating, and we’re probably missing some. Community and municipal groups helped us get the word out, hosted our  events, and volunteered in so many different ways – Markham Library, Startup York, PechaKucha and TEDx Markham, York Region Amateur Radio Club, and so many others. And finally, our friends from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada at the David Dunlap Observatory, who now host our maker space and whom we share so many cool projects with – including our upcoming Maker Day on September 10 (exhibitor/presenter info session this Wednesday, July 27 at 7:30 PM), and our big Halloween project. Thank you to all the ylab volunteers – many of whom are now members – who’ve worked for us and for the community in so many way. We could go on and on… but you can go through our blog posts from the last year right here. We’re got more plans and more events coming up, and we’re looking forward to an even better second year.    
We’re open for members only this Wednesday July 20 as we’re a little short of people due to summer vacations, and those who are here are planning our Halloween project with the DDO. Next Wednesday, July 27, will be a little different – no general open house, but an information night for makers and hobbyists interested in showing off theirs skills and creations at our September 10 maker day. If you’re interested, there’s more info and registration information here, and Avery’s created this great announcement poster for the event.ylab-makerday-poster-v2-web
The Toronto Maker Extravaganza at the Toronto Reference Library this weekend was another big success – and ylab was there.
Nobody told us we couldn't put up our banner. Until they did.

Nobody told us we couldn’t put up our banner. Until they did.

Our contingent and display were organised by Ross and Pek, and staffed over the weekend by Ross, Jay, Brooke and Richard, with Pek volunteering with the event organisers. We saw other  ylab members visiting the show (slackers!). Our laser cut windmill/generator made it down to the sailboat races.
Fans strong enough to turn windmill, but not enough to blow his hat off.

Fans strong enough to turn windmill, but not enough to blow his hat off.

Could that actually be... finally... the new ylab circuit board for...

Could that actually be… finally… the new ylab circuit board for… something that’s not a light thingy?

Displays were most impressive,  but the best part was getting to see friends and makers who’ve helped us out  and inspired us to make ylab happen. Hats off as always to Site3 and, among others.
Everyone one loves those things that are not light sabres. Everyone.

Everyone one loves those things that are not light sabres. Everyone.

Newmarket’s NewMakeIt had a huge modified geodesic dome  out on the street. There’s a group coming together in the Oshawa/Durham area. Like our friends at YRARC,  does interesting things with wireless mesh networks. One guy came by, saw our display on the RASC/DDO, and introduced us to a great radio astronomy web site. Repair Café Toronto introduced us to their fun and helpful events.Operation Gorilla Phoenix is trying to bring back the Active Surplus stores. If you don’t know what Active Surplus was, or, more importantly, what a gorilla has to do with it… ask an old geek or maker. We had some special things of our own at the festival:
  • For members, we announced the kick-off meeting at 7:30 this Wednesday, July 13 at the DDO for this year’s Halloween project (ylab and DDO members only).
  • We had the first display of our new not-a-light-sabre project, with Richard’s next-generation circuit boards fresh in from manufacturing, and the latest multi-colour LED strips.
  • We announced a joint DDO/ylab maker day for Saturday, September 10th at the DDO.
We’ll have a posting about that last one up soon, and we’re already inviting some great hobby/maker groups  to join us.
The Toronto Maker Festival’s Extravaganza is this weekend at the Toronto Reference Library – and ylab will be there!extravaganza-2016-landscape1We’ll be in the maker spaces’ area. Come out and say hi. See what we’re up to with our other York Region friends at the David Dunlap Observatory and other groups. We’ll have some of our members’ creations on display, including our latest prototype of a thing-that’s-not-called-a-light-sabre-so-Disney-doesn’t-get-mad-at-us. Those things seem to attract a lot of trouble, so maybe we’ll just call it a lightning rod, since Ben Franklin didn’t patent it.If we can just get a little more organised, we might be announcing some other cool things. Admission is free, but you need to register here.
Ten minutes ago, these were potatoes.

Ten minutes ago, these were potatoes.

Ylab held its first member’s Annual General Meeting on June 20 at the DDO. How do you get a bunch of makers to actually show up for a boring meeting? Hold a BBQ!
Can we be any clearer that it's a ylab BBQ event?

Can we be any clearer that it’s a ylab BBQ event?

July 25 is the anniversary of our first event, so it’s not quite a full year. Fiscal year end is March 31 because our volunteering accounting people have the time now to do all the book closing and reporting stuff  Big thanks to Jenn, Murray, Joel and Wendy for all their work that nobody else wants to do.
Shady characters did the cooking.

Shady characters did the cooking.

Being makers, frozen patties would just not do. Nothing but fresh ground beef. A charcoal kettle. A big vat of boiling oil and fresh cut fries. Bitten tongue was on the menu for those who thought  we would put breadcrumbs or milk-based substances in our burger patties (you know who you are). The nerve.
Boiling oil. Don't piss us off, or we're taking it to the roof.

Boiling oil. Don’t tick us off, or we’re taking it to the roof.

The BBQ was a most pleasant and relaxed event – a warm summer solstice evening, a perfect venue at the DDO, a good breeze to keep carnivorous bugs away from the carnivorous makers, and good company from the invited RASC-DDO members who open the doors for us on our maker nights and do an all-around amazing job.
Turning away from the camera because they ate TWO burgers.

Turning away from the camera because they ate TWO burgers.

The AGM part was mercifully short. A member vote brought in new board members Pek and Richard. Our eternal gratitude to departing board members Peter and Gary for all their work helping ylab get off the ground. At the end  of the evening, the usually-dark parking lot was lit by a squadron of fireflies. And that’s how ylab does an annual meeting.
Ylab members volunteered themselves to test out and be tested themselves in our first two formal classes since moving into the DDO – our Intro to 2D CAD, followed by our Ylab Laser Cutter Certification.
No actual rats harmed by this laser

No actual rats harmed by this laser cutting.

Since we want a solid foundation to build-on, we used the free version of DraftSight, a CAD program with great 2D and 3D capabilities, and a user interface that’s compatible pro-grade tools like AutoCAD. Participants suffered through some trial and error. We allocated some extra time.  And some more extra time. But by the end of the class, participants had etched their own dog tags and cut out their graduation certificates.
2D CAD layout. Your name could be here!

2D CAD layout. Your name could be here!

We now have great intro material and better structure for the next set of classes, which we’ll be announcing soon.BONUS FEATURE: Thanks to the people at TechSoup who do so many things for non-profits, we’ve acquired a full license for AutoCAD for the maker space at a very, very significant discount. Now to find and adequate PC to put it on…