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

Everything went so well at our Enabling Hardware Technology event that something had to balance it off. Mayhem struck the Robotycs group on Wednesday night. The first arrivals faced the elements and a locked door at the DDO. There were less people waiting outside than expected – a few of those registered had to bow out due to last minute work problems. And that included Ramy Ghattas our speaker for the evening!
Relieved Robot Ross Restarts Robotycs

Relieved Robot Ross Restarts Robotycs

But things always seem to work out nicely for ylab . The right person with the key arrived to let us in. And Ramy gets our Standup Guy of the Month Award (we just made that up) for sending us a replacement in the form of a large and well-qualified Paul Giampuzzi.
Paul's the tall one. Nice line-up picture that could get published in snapd.

Paul’s the tall one. Nice line-up picture that could get published in snapd.

Paul is  New Products and Innovation Director at Logics Academy, and co-founded the University of Toronto Robotics Association (UTRA) with Ramy. Paul vividly described their experiences with several Gold and Silver prize winning entries in the Robogames international robot competition held in San Mateo, California. They designed, built,  repaired and drove their robot named TSA Inspected, shown here demolishing a competitor.
Paul and Ramy's TSA INSPECTED lays some hurt on the competition.

Paul and Ramy’s TSA INSPECTED lays some hurt on the competition.

It was a great evening for all who attended, and we thank Paul and Ramy for their continued help and support for ylab.
Audience hears tales of destruction

Audience hears tales of destruction

We’ll be posting more detail on the Robotycs page shortly.  
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)
BATTLEBOTS! Ylab’s monthly Robotycs evening is back with a vengeance on Wednesday January 27. This month’s Robot Talk features battlebot veteran Ramy Gattas. Ramy hosted our first Robotycs events at Logics Academy last year. It’s a privilege to have join us at the DDO for the evening.YLab Robotics LogoRamy will be sharing his adventures in building and participating on the University of Toronto Team entry in the Robogames competitions in great places like San Mateo, California.
Not a robot. But he broke some.

Not a robot. Breaks other people’s robots.

You can check out some of the mayhem his team wreaked on their opponents here and here. As always, bring your own robotic creation for Show and Tell time, continue work on your toy hack, get some help and help some others. Ross has been advancing his own creations with a Raspberry Pi board and Python code, and is eager to share what he’s learned.
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.
Did ylab sell out to corporate interests? No, we’re just trying to bring together interesting corporate technology people and companies to join in the ylab community. North of 41 has been hosting  informative, entertaining and always relevant  Chat with the CEO events for several years now… but always downtown. Their speakers include tech founders and entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley luminaries, investors and other fascinating people. We often meet other York Region people at those talks.Ylab has partnered with  North of 41 to bring it north of Steeles Blvd.We’re  bringing together a great panel of tech entrepreneurs  from Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Toronto on Monday, January 25, 2016 at 6 PM. And Lenovo Canada is hosting us for the evening in their impressive new  facility in Markham.ylab-event-poster-north41-v3All the details about the event and the speakers can be found on the registration site.No boring powerpoints. This will be an interactive discussion panel. We’ve had the opportunity to sit a couple of these guys down together. The ideas flowing back and forth should have required a confidentiality agreement for anyone listening in. This one’s not to be missed. These speakers have impressive backgrounds and some great tales to tell.y_over_to 

 Just another way ylab is building real technical community north of Toronto.

Monday January 4 was our first member-only night of 2016. We formally welcomed as new members ylab regulars Brooke and Jay . That’s a polite way of saying that they each gave us a cheque. We need to work out some kind of formal ceremony. Maybe something with a light sabre. Any volunteers to dress up as Princess Leia with the cinnamon bun hair-do? We took delivery of a big workbench, some cabinets, and a refreshment fridge. Jay made great progress with the Rep-Rap 3D printer, and light-saber engineering continued. It was all made easier and more pleasant by the work some volunteers did over the holidays. More  clean-up. The second metal press has been removed. And a computer rack has appeared. More tools and equipment are trickling in. Soldering irons ordered and arriving Any Day Now. Internet connection is running reliably. The technical crew has been reviewing laser cutter specs and haggling with suppliers. We’re down to the final candidates. Everything was slowed down by the vendors being AWOL over the holidays.Mondays member-only nights and Wednesday Open House nights are now scheduled on the ylab site, and be sure to check out the  great new banner picture from Avery. We’ll be adding the Open House nights to EventBrite. We’re working on how to get the meetup calendar up on the ylab web page. Lots more in the works. Stay tuned…  
Not a creature was stirring.

Not a creature was stirring.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the DDOme, Not a creature was stirring in the maker’s new home; The basement room floor has been painted with care, In hopes that equipment soon would be there;

The paperwork done, agreements written and read, As plans for new robots danced in their heads;Maker nights on break, ’til the old year is done, But working new projects, new ideas, new fun.

Just in case you were not able to make it through that horrible verse…

We’re taking a break from maker nights for the rest of the year, and we’ll be off and running in 2016 starting on Monday January 4  with member-only nights (Mondays, and another weeknight TBD), and weekly open house for visitors on Wednesdays.

Until then, there’s lots happening behind the scenes. Now that so much of the administrative stuff for getting the space started is done, we’re putting some effort back into planning new events and projects.

Some of the things in the works:

  •  A ham radio class, to be run jointly with the DDO and the York Region Amateur Radio Club.
  • Light sabre making project and classes. Our first 3D printing class will include the option of designing your own light sabre hilt.
  • Our first ylab corporate event, featuring some great tech company leaders from the area. Hint: keep your calendar free for the evening of Monday, January 25.
  • Our Robotycs team is looking for a group project.
  • Getting a team together to work with the DDO on more cool stuff for their 2016 Halloween Haunted House. Hear that, Robotycs people?

Lots more possibilities, so please give us your feedback… and preferably by joining the discussion on our group.

On that note… and to all a good night.