2015 PaxSpace Ornaments

The 2015 PaxSpace Christmas ornaments are here!

We have scheduled several group build sessions to work on assembling and programming your ornaments. See the sign up link below for information on dates and times.

Click here to sign up for a 2015 PaxSpace ornament kit.

2015_Ornament

We hope to see everyone at these build sessions and are looking forward to seeing what kind of cool things people can make their ornaments do.

‘Tis The Season To Hack Blinky Ornaments

We’ve been working on developing a PaxSpace Christmas ornament this year.  A bunch of Christmas ball-shaped PCBs have been designed and are on order from SeeedStudio.com.  The plan is that once the finished boards arrive, we will hold several workshops at PaxSpace to reflow solder the surface mount components, hand solder the through-hole LEDs and any other peripherals that you might want (such as a speaker, microphone, sensors, more LEDs, etc.), and to program the microcontroller on the board to blink the lights and control whatever you attached to it.

We’re planning to keep the cost of the workshop low, probably about $10 for PaxSpace members, and maybe a bit more for non-members.  This should be a good activity for people of any skill level.  You don’t need to be an electronics or software expert and can just do the parts of the build that you choose.  If you are an expert it will be a good challenge to hack the ornament do something cool.

 

 

 

The ornament will have a PSoC 4 microcontroller, 3 RGB LEDs, space for a bunch of extra LEDs, and some pin headers to attach other random peripherals.  There is space on the board to attach batteries, and a hole at the top to hang it from a Christmas tree.

Keep an eye out for updates on the ornament build workshops!

Time to start fixing things again!

Who remembers having a View-Master as a kid? You know…that plastic binoculars-looking toy that used thin cardboard disks containing seven stereoscopic 3D images. Well, somebody gave my kids an electric Star Wars version this year for the holidays. Instead of holding it up to your eyes this new toy projects images onto a wall and comes with 3D glasses for super special viewing.

projector-viewmaster

Needless to say they were excited to have their very own “holoprojector”. We quickly opened the box, put in the batteries (not included), turned off the lights, and hit the power button. Immediately we saw an amazingly clear image showing several Star Wars characters!! But before we could even get our 3D glasses on the image disappeared. I toggled the power switch a couple times and the image came back. Then gone. Then back. This continued for awhile with three very sad little kids. At this point I switched into geek mode and started to troubleshoot the problem. I quickly realized that if I left the projector on the image would come and go at random intervals. It was clear that we had a defective device and unfortunately did not have any receipt. If this would have happened to me 2 years ago I probably would have thrown the toy away and moved on. But since starting PaxSpace my childhood love of tinkering has returned and I was determined to figure out what was wrong.

When we returned home after the holidays I took the toy over to PaxSpace and immediately started to take things apart. If you don’t already know I am a Computer Scientist so my knowledge of electronics is just enough to be dangerous. But I did know that its always smart to start by checking each of the electrical connections. The projector light was obviously getting power but something was causing it to cycle at random. As I worked through the connections I noticed that there was a resistor which appeared to have a very poorly soldered connection.

projector-fixing

Firing up one of our irons I quickly re-soldered this connection as well as all of the others for good measure. Then I put the batteries back in and hit the power button half expecting nothing to work. I was wrong! The projector came right on and more importantly stayed on! I had done it and knew I would be a hero to my three children!

projector-working

It was also a small victory for me too. I did not let this cheap little toy beat me and just end up as trash in some landfill. I took the time to find out what was wrong and was able to fix it in less time than it would have taken for me to buy a new one. That, my friends, is why PaxSpace exists. Tinker on!

Nick, VP

Help us grow!

As we approach the one year anniversary of PaxSpace opening our doors, I’ve begun to reflect on everything we have accomplished. As a business, our biggest accomplishment was becoming a 501c3 nonprofit organization. This was our goal from the start, and goes a long way to fulfilling our mission of providing education and scientific awareness to our Southern Maryland community. Our membership has grown steadily this year, and with it our areas of expertise have expanded, too! We’ve started several new programs to serve our members and greater community including a STEAM-focused scouting program for kids. It has truly been an amazing year, and our leadership team is humbled and excited by all of the support PaxSpace has received.

Looking toward the future, we have no plans to sit idle now. Over the next several months we’re going to be focusing on creating new partnerships, seeking sponsors, and fundraising so we may continue to inspire lifelong learning and innovation in our area. PaxSpace is more than just a workshop–we are uniquely positioned to offer programs and services that make a huge impact on our community. How can you help? Do you own a business that is seeking partnership with a dynamic educational organization, are you interested in sponsoring an event or needed piece of equipment, or are you able to commit to a tax deductible monthly donation to support any number of ongoing programs and projects?

We thank you for helping to make PaxSpace’s first year stellar. We look forward to spending many more years inspiring people of all ages in Southern Maryland.

Please visit our donations page if you are interested in making a donation to our general fund.

Please email me directly if you are interested in becoming a sponsor or partner organization.

Nick, VP

Curiosity Hacked coming to Southern Maryland

We are excited to announce the first Curiosity Hacked Guild in Southern Maryland!!!

Curiosity Hacked is an inclusive, diverse, co-ed organization designed to support the next generation of makers, explorers, entrepreneurs, and leaders through an innovative program that blends creativity and technical skill through the study of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM).

The Guild welcomes kids ages 4-14. The Guild’s Sparks program is for younger children (4-7) who are ready and interested in basic skill building and concepts. Older Guild members (8+) practice more complex skill building and focus on their individual goals while building relationships within our community.

Curiosity Hacked encourages the relentless pursuit of knowledge through relevant hands-on activities, mentorship, community, and family engagement, and the development of a strong moral character and leadership skills through our core values.

Please join us at one of the following information sessions:
September 17, 6:30-8:30 PM, Calvert Library in Prince Frederick**, Meeting Rm. #3
September 18, 6:30-8:30 PM, PaxSpace (click for directions)

To RSVP, for more information, or to get directions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Nick, VP

**This event is not sponsored by the Calvert Library

We are officially a 501(c)(3) public charity!

Last night at our weekly BOD meeting Dan walked in holding a single piece of paper smiling ear-to-ear. When he said it was from the IRS I just assumed it was the expected “follow-up questionnaire” to our tax exempt application. Nope!

We are pleased to inform you that upon review of your application for tax exempt status we have determined that you are exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The most amazing part is we only submitted the application 3 months ago. I will say that again…THREE MONTHS AGO! From what we had been told we did not expect to hear anything for at least 6 months. And at that point we would need to reach out to one of our local representatives to follow-up on our behalf.

Needless to say we are excited about our ability to now receive tax-exempt donations and cannot wait to see what other doors this opens. Keep an eye out for more information on this as well as our big anniversary open house in November.

Nick, VP

Summer Open House

Now that summer has officially started it is time to start thinking about what you’ll be doing to keep busy!  Why not join PaxSpace?!  If you are still not sure what we are about or just want to see what we’ve been up to please plan on coming to our Summer Open House.

In addition to having the space open for tours we are also hosting a Catapult Competition.  The competition is open to the public so if you are interested in entering we still have room for a few more teams.

Please contact us if you have any questions or need more information!

The What:
PaxSpace Summer Open House

  • Meet our board and other members
  • See one of our 3D printers in action!
  • On-going PaxSpace demonstrations
  • Throw things!

The open house is also a chance to meet some of our instructors and discuss what classes we offer. This is your chance to tell us what you want us to be teaching!

The When:
Sunday, July 13th, 2014 from 11am until 5pm

The Where:
44178 Airport View Dr
Building 2, Bay 13
Hollywood, MD 20636

CNC Router is working!!!!

cnc smile

This is the first real object that has been cut by our CNC Router!

The PaxSpace CNC Router works, but it is not ready for member use yet. The following tasks need to completed:

  • The electrical box layout and wiring still needs to be designed and finished.  Most of the parts are in hand.
  • The control computer/keyboard stand needs to be designed and built.
    Shout-out and Bravo Zulu to Matt Virts for getting the touch screen working.
  • More permanent legs still need to be designed and built.
    Something simple about 32″ high using 2x4s with cross bracing
  • The MDF spoilboard needs to be cut to size and mounted.
  • A work mounting and clamping system needs to be designed and built.

Most Important:  There are many possible work-flows for using the CNC router.  We need to figure out what combination of tools and programs we want to use to later teach to our membership. This is fairly new to just about everybody in the space.

I would like to get more members participation in these final steps. Please come out and support the final build-up.

Lets plan a CNC Router meeting and demo for Thursday at 6PM from 7:30 to 9PM.  Use the CNC Router forum for any questions or comments.

CNC Router Update

The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C

With the help of a generous donation from Sam Baldwin and The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C we were able to purchase the last of our CNC router parts.

We have boxes showing up daily with new pieces and we’re finalizing our build plans.  Last week Jim mounted the CNC Router electronics and ran initial wiring.

Members are invited to come by Thursday evening to take part in the build as we start cutting, bending, and drilling.

The rest of the build will happen Sunday afternoon/evening and we hope to have a working CNC router very shortly after that! Just in time for our Open House!

The old saying is key, “Many hands make light work!”   So come on by to see what all of the fuss is about!

800px-CNC_Router_Electronics