Free Virtual Machines from Windows

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At PaxSpace, we tend to use free and open-source software(OSS) for mostly everything we do. Most of our computers are setup with Linux. Most of our classes, workshops and workflows utilize OSS so that the everyday maker can use everything we use at the space at home.

You will notice that I’m adding a ‘most’ qualifier to the above statements because


it isn’t always possible to stick to a completely open-source tool-chain. Some utilities are Windows only products and they shouldn’t be discounted simply because they are not available on Linux. Most of these products can run reliably under Wine but alas, some do not.

One prime example that is close to PaxSpace is our 2015 Christmas Ornaments!

The ornaments use a PSoC microprocessor that is programmed using the PSoC Creator IDE. This is a great software product that is made freely available from Cypress but is only supported on Windows. People have tried to make it work under Wine but without much success. Luckily it turns out people have had success running it in a Windows Virtual Machine(VM)!

Typically Windows virtual machines aren’t easy to come by. A valid license key is still needed to keep one around and not be in disagreement with Microsoft’s End User License Agreement(EULA). This, fortunately, isn’t the case anymore. Microsoft is now providing virtual machine instances for developer testing. They provide Virtual Box instances, which are easy to use and manage, that will give you a 90-day trial period for the Operating System.

Now… 90-days doesn’t seem a very useful amount of time for an OS. What if I only need this software every 4 months? Interestingly enough VMs allow you to create what is called a snapshot. You can think of a snapshot as a picture of your system at a specific moment in time. You can startup a VM from any snapshot and have it think running back at day 1 of the 90 day trial period. Microsoft even recommends that you do this in their license terms documentation!

It is also highly recommended that you implement a rollback strategy for any virtual machines that you download. This could be as simple as holding onto the original archive that you downloaded, or you could take advantage of our virtualization platform’s snapshotting capability so that you can start over with a fresh VM at any time and not have to worry about the guest operating system running out of trial time.

This opens up many possibilities to run Windows only software in an open-source environment. You no longer need to own a copy of Windows nor have a dedicated machine somewhere for windows only development/workflows.

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Another round of Blender Classes

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Hopefully everyone is having some fun with their current CAD projects.
These type of projects usually will lead to 3D printing or CNC Routing projects.

If I’m speaking greek to you (CAD, 3D Printing, CNC) or you’re just not having fun with CAD…continue reading!
Exciting things (besides our Catapult Competition) are happening at PaxSpace!


Computer Aided Design (CAD) can be a frustrating experience when you are just learning it.
To further make things difficult, some of the ‘better’ tools out there are prohibitively expensive.
Even then, the training for those tools can be frustratingly expensive as well.

This can lead to a perceived notion that CAD is out of reach to most.
But I say its not true 🙂 Blender is a real alternative !!!
And PaxSpace is offering another round of beginner classes and workshops (new!).
They will be held on June 17th and 18th. Be sure to checkout our events list!

With these courses, you’ll get a chance to have hands on training with Blender.
There is a small nominal fee ($10, but free to members). No experience necessary!
You will also have the chance to bring in your models to have help troubleshooting during the workshop!

Seating is limited (due to the number of computers available in the Classroom).
Please let us know if you are bringing your own computer to the training.
We will help you install everything that you will need for Blender and get you setup.
This will allow us to open up a few more seats for those who will not be bringing their computer.

For this round of training, we’re also offering a special deal for non-members of PaxSpace.
If you take the Beginner’s course, you will be allowed to take the following workshop for free!
So one small fee gets you into both the course and the workshop (be sure to register ASAP).

So stop on by, contact us(me) and ask some questions!
We look forward to seeing you!

Catapult Competition

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catapult

We like to build things.
We like to build things that throw things.
We like to build things that throw things farther than someone else’s thing.

This your chance to show us what you can build as well as win some prizes
if your thing throws farther than anyone else’s thing!

Here are the rules:

  • Design must be mechanical in nature
  • Catapult must fit inside a 2′ x 2′ x 3′ box
    • Will be measured in an “un-primed” state
    • Any priming accessories must be included in this measuring
  • Scoring is by distance
    • First hit counts
    • Will have 3 attempts
  • Tennis balls will be used as ammunition
    • To be provided by PaxSpace
  • Teams must be no larger than 2 people
    • Competition is open to non-members!!!
    • At least one member of a team must be a PaxSpace Member
      if the Space’s facilities are to be used in the construction of the catapult
      (Great chance to get to know how to use our new CNC Router)

Teams must register to enter.
The competition will be held on July 13th during our Summer Open House.
Registration will open up May 13th and close June 13th.
Check out our blog at that time for how to register.

There will be prizes for the top 2 teams.
First place will win either a $30 amazon gift card or a free one month’s membership.
Second place will win a $15 amazon gift card.
All teams will be presented with a token of participation!

If you have any questions about this competition, feel free to ask them in the comments section below OR on our forums.

 

 


 

2014-05-20  UPDATE:

Registration is now OPEN!.
Registration will be closed one month from now on June 20th!
The competition will still be held at our Open House on July 13th.

Feel free to sign up if you’re interested in participating in this friendly competition!

Be sure to add a team name when you register in the comments section.
We will be having an award for the most ‘interesting’ team name!
So have some fun with it (but please keep it clean 🙂 )!

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Intro to Arduino Part 2

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Since the first Arduino class, we have been asked time and time again to hold a follow up class. Here we go!

This is your chance to stop by PaxSpace and experiment with embedded electronics and gain some real life experiences in a friendly environment.

Anyone and everyone (including those with limited or no electronics experience) is welcome to come and attend.
This class will be open for free to the public.

You’ll get hands on experience with how to program the Arduino Uno as well as some ‘free play’ time to experiment.

So stop on by Monday March 17th at 7:00 pm. We’ll be there no matter how many people show up but be sure to let us know you’re coming by booking a slot! We only have a limited number of physical spots.

If there are no more bookings left, be sure to contact us and fill us in so that we can re-schedule another class sometime in the near term!

Thanks for coming out to the Blender Class

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I would like to extend a big thank you to all who attended this class. It was my first attempt at teaching a technical subject (not a teacher by trade…) and all in all I believe the class turned out to be a good intro to Blender. We had a great turnout for such a short notice and I plan on having this class again in the near term. I will be sending notifications to all members and non-members who have signed up on our website. So If you haven’t already, go and make an account (free accounts get notifications too!) to get the alerts!

Lots of little tips were introduced throughout the class. I’m no expert in Blender but knowing these basics will make further learning and experimentation a much more fun process!

To summarize the important parts of the class:

It was a lot to cover in 2 hours but we finished rather quickly and I’ve received great feedback from students… So be prepared for more of them to show up on the Events List and Calendar!

 

New Class – Intro to Blender!

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Everyone’s heard of using Sketchup, Solidworks or AutoCAD to do some sort of computer aided design. The one that is often left out is Blender, usually because of its unfamiliar and very feature rich (read bad) interface . I hope this class will be a start to rectify that notion.

So what is Blender? As their website states,

… Blender is a free and open source 3D animation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. Advanced users employ Blender’s API for Python scripting to customize the application and write specialized tools; often these are included in Blender’s future releases …

This class will mainly focus on the Modeling aspect of Blender and how it can be used to create objects that can then be 3d printed.

So stop on by your local Makerspace and attend our new class.

Both members and non-members are welcome! Be sure to sign up!

CNC Router Electronics are in!

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We’ve received the electronics for the CNC Router!

We’re trying to get everything up and running before going ahead and purchasing the mechanical pieces.

Be sure to check out our forums to join in on the discussion!

How to integrate PaxSpace’s Event Calendar with Google Calendar

At PaxSpace, we use an event manager that ties in nicely with our website. It allows us to schedule out events and modify each event’s contents without needing to go to another system (keep a watch on our events as we’re going to be adding a multitude of classes starting the first week in December!).

The thing is that its not directly tied into a Google Calendar and I do not know about you but that’s how I keep myself on track as its on my phone which never leaves my side!

Thankfully we have a solution for that!

All you need to do is add our event calendar’s iCal feed (located at  http://staging.paxspace.org/events.ics ) to your google calendar!

This is just as simple as following the screenshot below or following these Google Instructions

 

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You will also notice that we’ve embedded the same google calendar into our website.

Hopefully this will make it easier for some to keep track of whats going on at PaxSpace!

Free Materials are Available

If you haven’t been in the Space in a while, things might look a little different than the last time you were there!

In the past few weeks, we have been helping Smart Co move from their old location to their new one. During this move, they were very generous and allowed the members who helped out to ‘pick’ (American Pickers style) items that PaxSpace would be able to use. During this pick we’ve received LCD monitors, desktop computers and a host of other ‘goodies’ that will and currently are going to be put to great use.

During the ‘pick’ of Smart Co, we also managed to grab a host of electronics that they were going to recycle that we felt would be perfect for our membership. This equipment includes printers, PTZ cameras, and a host of other things. We’re making this equipment available to our members! If you have a project that you need a piece of equipment for, come look through our ‘Free Stash’ and take something out.

Once we start running out of Space for these “Free Items”, we will be recycling the oldest pieces (with some discretion)… so do not wait too long of that piece or equipment that you might have wanted to take/use in a project might just disappear!

We’re an Amazon Affiliate

We are now an Amazon Affiliate! So to help out PaxSpace, please click through the link before purchasing anything on Amazon’s website!

A certain percentage of every purchase that goes through Amazon will be given to PaxSpace! Its a very simple and effective way to help us build revenue to continually improve on our Makerspace!

Feel free to share the above affiliate links with anyone you wish to forward it to. If everyone gets one other person to help us out by going through our link, it will possibly be a large source of additional revenue for PaxSpace!

Link:
http://www.amazon.com/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=ur2&tag=paxinc-20

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