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

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.

Yeah, we know, we’re a little late on this for some people… Chanukah is done for this year… but we all know Santa is for everyone. We also know the type of people we’re dealing with don’t need a holiday as an excuse to pick up some new toys and technology. And some are  on on the naughty list and will have to buy for themselves.

Great memberships!

Top of the list, of course, are memberships in the  Ylab Maker Space or Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Toronto Centre! The two organisations are separate… but there’s lots to do with both groups at the David Dunlap Observatory. We’ve peeked at Santa’s delivery list, so we know that several ylab regulars have both memberships.

Amateur radio stuff

If you enjoyed the Ham Radio night,  our friend John from the York Region Amateur Radio Club gave us this  list of items to get into amateur radio for under $100. All of the links are to suppliers that YRARC members have used in the past and recommend. These are the fun items they talked about and demonstrated in the presentation. The first one is the USB-based software-defined radio receiver. No license required, since it’s not a transmitter. The page is a little tricky, since it doesn’t link directly to the item. Get the full $24.95 set with the two antennas. The rest of the items can transmit, so they require a ham radio license to use. We’ll be announcing a plan to help with that in early 2016. So you will of course need this  Ham radio Basic Qualification Study Guide, which includes unlimited on-line practice tests. Again, the link doesn’t go directly to the item. It’s the first one on the page.This two-way handheld HAM radio is a great deal. And finally, if you want to add radio to a project, this  low-power transceiver project board runs on a 9V battery.

Light saber update: the elves have been slacking

Finally, like any kids who’s passed the age of 12, ask for money. Ylab elves are busy in their workshop designing and building a next-generation light sabre control circuit. Details are still secret, because tests are still ongoing, and we have to get final quotes for production. This is going to be a level or two up in features from Jay’s light sabres that you’ve seen at the ylab events. Start saving those pennies. Stay tuned for announcements in 2016 where we’ll be doing great things with all of this stuff.
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.

Sign here. Press hard. (Photo by stockimages from

Sign here. Press hard.  (Photo by stockimages from

We  announced our membership structure and fees on our maker night at the DDO on Wednesday, December 9 – and we have our first sign-ups!Ylab board member Ruby is the first ylab maker space member.  When ylab was just a notion of a concept,  she volunteered to be on the board –  and immediately asked to buy a membership. She beat everyone else to the punch. Her chequebook has been open and waiting ever since. We’re offering three types of membership:
  • Class A / Full Membership, available on an annual basis
  • Class B/ Associate Membership, available on a 3-month basis
  • A University/College Associate Membership, available on  4-month school term basis
Full details are documented in the Ylab group. You need to join the group to see the files, with the details on each level in the main agreement and pricing in Schedule D. Go the the More tab and select Files to see the agreement. We’ll be putting the documents on github shortly… we think… after some eager volunteer sets it up for us. Wednesday nights will be our open house evenings to visit and find out more if you have any questions. We will be open this Wednesday, December 16, and we’ll determine shortly if we will taking a break for the holidays. Questions or comments? Ask away in our membership discussion forum (join up to access).
"ME 401 QuickJob" by Nina Paley - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“ME 401 QuickJob” by Nina Paley – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. We’re  making progress, but not there yet. The good news is that a lot of the heavy lifting is pretty much done – formal incorporation as a non-profit; liability insurance; formal board (required for non-profits), finding a space and getting that agreement in place.

Membership has its privileges… and problems.

Pre-announcing membership fees and models is just not smart until we have all the details in place. We’re making progress, with mandatory things like codes of conduct and liability waivers  – you know, those things to prevent us from getting sued. We’re fortunate to have other maker spaces leading the way and providing us great examples. Stay tuned. We want to have everything in place by Jan 1 (yes, 2016) – with a deal for people participating during December.
MarkhamMakersBanerJay’s Markham Makers group on has been a big part of ylab from the start. The group was  the initial core, providing a great mailing list for our successful  kick-off event. We’re moving from subtle usurping to all-out takeover. It’s now a formal part of ylab. Some of the recent changes include:
  • Our Robotycs discussion forum
  • It’s where we store our design and tutorial documents
  • Accepting payment for our events, without the service charge you get on Eventbrite.
  • Rebranding to be less Markham-specific. After all, our space at the DDO is in Richmond Hill!
Expect to see more changes soon as we rebrand, re-logo, re-name and generally re-organise it. Some of the work involves changing URLs, so some of the links you use may not work. If you can’t find something, search on for ylab – and please let us know if a link is broken. Another part of the work is better links from the web site, and transitioning the event calendar to link to the events. Our web site wizard Avery is on the case. Be patient with him. In the interim, we will continue to post events on both and Eventbrite. Big thanks to Jay for all his work setting up the group – and all the other things he does for ylab.