New Space Opened

FCW recently acquired some additional space adjacent to the “cave”.    The space consists of two rooms.  One is 20×24 ft and the other 20×20 ft giving a total of 880 sq ft of additional space.  Both rooms are on an outside wall, giving an additional 6 windows for external access.  As seems to be our lot in life, one of the rooms has no power at all and the other has a single circuit that is at least 50 years old.  Also, there is no control over the lights, so one of the first tasks will be to wire the area.

There have been several suggestions as to what to put in the new area including: an extension to the woodshop; the science lab, glass shop and ovens; a prop/costume shop,  a small office; and others.  It will be used for supply and project storage until the wiring and remodeling  occur.

With this space, FCW has averaged an expansion every 13 months, with the initial space Sept. 2011,  storage area Nov. 2012,  Lab Nov 2013, and new space Dec. 2014.  Now it just needs a name.

Open House, Dec 5, 6

Open house dec 2012-1It is time for the semi-annual Open House at FCW. This Christmas, the Open House is on Friday, Dec, 5 from 5-9 PM and Saturday, Dec 6, from 10AM to 6PM.

Though visitors are welcome at FCW any time, at the open houses we make special effort to show off the various areas to visitors.  This year, the railroad will be operating, sample projects will be on display, the electronics and K4FCW ham radio station will have activities, and there will be demos of the CNC routers, 3D printer, and laser cutter.

Highlights:

  • Food
  • Tours
  • Demonstrations
  • Games
  • Activites
  • Check out the additional space recently acquired
  • Active projects

Several items designed and built at FCW will be on sale and there will be special deals for new members.

This event is free and open to the public.  Call (828) 351-HACK for more information.

 Railroad-closeup-1-compIMG_2769-1024x768Openhouse dec 2012 CNC router demo 1

Fright Night is Coming

Fright Night 2012- electric Chair
Electric Chair at Fright Night

It is that time of year again — days are getting shorter, leaves are turning, and Halloween is around the corner.  FCW’s Horror Master, Ross is at it again and has designed a Fright Night event.

This event will be in the building next to FCW and includes a hayride, dark forest, mad scientist lab, electric chair, haunted room, and a live autopsy, along with other “attractions” design to induce bad dreams.

Fright Night is being done in conjunction with South Caldwell High School Drama Boosters, who are using it as a fund raiser.  The details are:

  • Dates: Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 24, 25, 31, and Nov. 1
  • Time: 7PM – 10PM
  • Where: Foothills Community Workshop, 10 Falls Ave, Granite Falls
  • Cost: $3

Check this website or call 828-351-HACK  (4225) for directions

Soldering for CCC&TI

Earlier in the year, FCW was approached by Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) about creating a training workshop for students in their College and Career Readiness (CCR) program.  They had read about the eggbot workshop that FCW created for Granite Falls Middle School and were initially interested in using the eggbots for their needs as well.  After some discussion, it was decided (primarily due to expense) that a better workshop for their needs would be an Introduction to Soldering.  The tentative dates were set for sometime late July or early August.

Soldering irons and simple toolkits were procured from Sparkfun.com and a simple LED blinker was chosen for the project.  On August 4th, 5th, and 6th, a total of 42 students attended the soldering training at FCW.  Rich spent about 40 minutes going over the fundamentals of soldering, the specifics of the board, and component identification.  For the remainder of the two-hour slots, Rich, Michelle, Gene, Colin, and Adam assisted the students in assembling their kits.  Most of the attempts were successful and the students were able to keep their creation.

FCW was happy to work with CCC&TI on this project and is currently designing additional workshops that they may use.  We hope to work with the other local community colleges and public schools to promote interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities.

Ham Radio Class/Exams

FD-2012-croppedFCW will be conducting an entry level (Technician) Ham Radio workshop on three consecutive Fridays, July 18, July 25, and August 1 from 6-8PM. Topics include regulations, station setup, station operation, radio principles, antennas, and basic electronics, to prepare for the VE exams.  Study materials and example tests can be found at http://www.qrz.com/ under the “resources” tab.  This workshop is open to anyone interested in obtaining an Amateur (Ham) radio license, free of charge.  Note that the Technician level question pool changed July 1. The topics and material are unchanged but questions have been changed.

On Friday, August 8 from 6-8PM there will be a question and answer session for anyone wishing to obtain or upgrade an Amateur Radio license.

Also, the VE exams for Ham Radio will be given at FCW on Saturday, August 9 at noon.  All levels will be available and the exams are open to the public.  A photo ID is required. Current exam fee is $10.

Open House – May 30,31

It is time for the semi-annual Open House at FCW. This Spring, the Open House is on Friday, May, 30 from 5-9PM and Saturday, May 31, from 10AM to 6PM.

Though visitors are welcome at FCW any time, at the open houses we make special effort to show off the various areas to visitors.  This year, the railroad will be operating, sample projects will be on display, the electronics and K4FCW ham radio station will have activities, and there will be demos of the CNC routers, 3D printer, and laser cutter.  There will be food, tours, games, and activities for all.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend this event.

Upcoming Classes

FCW has several classes/workshops scheduled for the next few weeks. Unless otherwise specified, all classes/workshops are free and open to the public.

Friday, February 21 5-9PM - Intro. To Electricity: Fundamental Concepts

Summary: Intended for beginners, this session introduces fundamental concepts of electricity and electronics. Included topics: voltage, current, resistance, and power; units; measuring; sources and loads; DC and AC; Series and parallel; Ground; and schematic symbols.

Pre-req material: basic math

Instructor(s): Dave Propst

Duration: 4hrs

Saturday, March 1, 12 noon – 3PM, Introduction To Blender 3D

Summary: This is an introduction to Blender 3D, an open source 3D modeling package. Topics include: 3D visualization; Views; Menus and keyboard shortcuts; 3D primatives; Modeling and object creation and editing; Boolean operations; Materials and Textures; Overview of advanced features.

Students need to furnish their own laptop computers with Blender 3D loaded (http://www.blender.org/download/) and an external mouse. Blender is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Pre-req material: None

Instructor(s): Dave Propst

Duration: 3 hrs

Fridays, March 7,14,21  6-8PM, Ham Radio: Technician License Prep

Summary: These sessions provide the material to take the Ham Radio entry level (Technician) license exams. Topics include Rules and Regulations; Station Setup; Basic Electronics; Operation; Radio theory; and safety.

Pre-req material: None

Instructor(s): Michelle Suddreth

Duration: 3 sessions, 2 hrs each

Saturday, March 15, 12 noon-3PM, Intro. To Electricity: Component Identification

Summary: This session includes the construction, purpose, identification, and testing of basic circuit components including: resistors, inductors, capacitors, transformers, switches, lamps/leds, batteries and connectors.

Pre-req material: Fundamental Concepts

Instructor(s): Dave Propst

Duration: 3hrs

Saturday, March 22, 12 noon – 2PM, Ham Radio VE exams

These are the exams to obtain or upgrade an Amateur Radio (Ham) license.  These are given by WCARS VEC and the cost is $10 per attempt.  All levels will be available and you do not have to have taken FCW’s prep class prior to taking the exams. Study materials for all levels may be found at http://qrz.com/hamtest/

Scouts Learn Woodworking

bsa maiden 2014 -1
BSA Troop 303 Maiden – Hawk Patrol

On Saturday, Feb 1, Boy Scouts from Maiden, troop 303, Hawk patrol, came to FCW for instruction in a basic woodworking technique.

Rick, one of FCW’s woodworkers showed four of the scouts how to create overlapping joints in wood strips.  Starting off with safety, instruction followed with the basics of the table saw, then how to create lap joints (without using a dado). The eventual project is to create picture frames.

bse 2014-2
Scout using table saw

The workshop lasted three hours and terminated with pizza and snacks.  Additional instruction will be on Feb. 8, then another group will be later.  This is FCW’s first direct workshop with Scouts.  This troop came by the December Open House and were interested in numerous activities at FCW.  In addition to woodworking, we hope to help Scout troops in the region with Ham Radio, Electronics, Robotics and other activities of interest.

GFMS Students at FCW

gfms 20140117 rich teaching
Rich Teaching

On January 17, 2014, ten 6th graders from Granite Falls Middle School and their teacher were treated to a technical workshop at FCW.  In November 2012, the teacher, Randy, toured FCW and talked to us about classes/workshops that could be used to help stimulate interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) for students in his class.  He was particularly interested in a hands-on project and something that could be taken back to the school.

Several possibilities were discussed and Randy decided on trying to build several of the Eggbots – the open source art robot kit from EvilMadScientist.com.  The kit as available was too expensive so, it was decided to try to re-design it as a less-expensive version.  With Rich taking the lead, the  mechanical portion was re-designed with three goals in mind: 1) make as many parts at FCW as possible, 2) make it easier to assemble, and 3) make it more robust.  By simplifying some of the mechanical portions, all of the mechanical parts could be fabricated at FCW using the laser cutter and the machine shop.  These modifications cut the price nearly in half.  A donation of the stepper motors, cut the price again so that the final version was nearly 1/4 the cost of the original kit.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
Randy assisting a group

GFMS raised the money to build five units with 25 students.  It was decided to split the class into a group of 10 students for the first workshop, building two of the bots, with the remaining 15 students building three units at a later workshop.  The assembly of each unit was organized into separate sections so that each student contributed to the assembly.

The ten students arrived at 8AM on Jan. 17.  Rich, Michelle and Randy assisted the students in the assembly, which took approximately two hours.  The students were then given a quick introduction to Inkscape, an open-sourcce vector drawing package with extensions to drive the bot.  The assembly was optimized for drawing on ping-pong balls using fine point Sharpie markers.  After assembly, the students were given ping-pong balls and assisted in creating examples for testing.  There were a few minor glitches, but each student got experience in creating and drawing text, logos, or smiley faces.  After watching the bot draw, one of the students exclaimed, “Wow! We built that.”

gfms 20140117 group 1
Rich assists a group

Afterward, the students were allowed to watch the laser cutter cut out a set of mechanical parts for one of the bots.  They ate lunch and left by 11:45.  It was a fun day for those of us at FCW and an educational day for the students, since they got an introduction to CNC, fabrication, robotics and embedded control.  All of the students want to come back for another project.  We are looking forward to the second group sometime this Spring.

gfms 20140117 - it works
Wow! We built that!!

 

FCW has worked with schools previously, assisting both the robotics and drama clubs at South Caldwell High School but this has been the first actual class to use the facilities and the youngest group.  We are hoping to work with several schools in Caldwell, Catawba, and Burke counties on projects and events.

This event was covered by both the Granite Falls Journal and the Lenoir News-Topic.

A Hackerspace for the NC Foothills