Happy Birthday FCW

GEDC0620-1024x768GEDC0618-1024x768The 23rd of August marked the 4th anniversary of the formation of FCW.   Starting with four members and a sad looking area in an old cotton mill without power or lights due to vandals, FCW has grown to 26 members, 5000+ square feet  and numerous areas, including:

  • An electronics shop
  • A ham radio station (K4FCW)
  • A machine shop with a large mill (converted to CNC) and large lathe.
  • A woodworking shop with traditional machines and CNC routers
  • A mini-kitchen
  • An HO scale model railroad
  • A classroom capable of 16 students
  • A fabrication lab with laser cutter, 3d printer and welder
  • A science lab
  • A stagecraft shop complete with industrial sewing machine
  • A vintage computer museum

FCW has conducted workshops in electronics, 3d graphics, programming, robotics, machining, soldering and ham radio; has designed and built three large props for local plays; assisted CCC&TI with a science olympiad; conducted workshops for the public schools and CCC&TI; designed and built two robot/CNC projects; attended several makerfaires and conferences; and hosted two haunted house events and eight open house events.

For a detailed history check out FCW History

FCW gets Grant for Classroom

FCW is pleased to be one of the recipients of a grant from the Google Data Centers Grants Fund of Tides Foundation.  This grant will be used to enhance our classroom with more modern computers.  These will be able to run Windows and Linux and set up to allow FCW to more efficiently conduct workshops and training in programming languages, operating systems, computer applications, CAD, engineering software, networking, robotics, and embedded controllers.

FCW is working with the local pubic schools, CCC&TI, the Catawba Valley Science center and other organizations to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) to residents of Caldwell, Catawba, Burke, and Alexander counties.  We hope this will be only the first of several grants to aid this mission.

Ham Radio License Class / Exams

FD-2012-croppedFoothills Community Workshop will be offering an Amateur Radio Technician level license class consisting of  three sessions on  consecutive Saturdays, August 8, 15, and 22 from noon until 2pm.  With some additional on-line exercises, this class is intended to help prepare for the entry level Technician  Amateur Radio Exam.  Topics include:

  • Rules and regulations
  • Station setup and operation
  • Operating procedures
  • Basic electronic  terms, components and calculations
  • Electromagnetic waves, bands, and modes
  • Propagation and antennas
  • Safety

This class is free and open to the public.

FCW will also be  hosting  exams for all levels of Amateur radio licenses.  The testing will tentatively  be on Saturday, August 29 at noon and is available to anyone wishing to obtain or upgrade an Amateur Radio license.  The testing fee is $10.

Intro to Home Computer Networking – July 11

FCW will be offering an Introduction to Home Computer Networks class on Saturday, July 11 from 12noon until 3PM.  The class is intended for home computer users who wish to understand enough to setup and do basic troubleshooting on their network.  Derek N. will be instructing the class and topics include:

  • the basics of how networks operate
  • identification and purpose of network equipment
  • wireless setup
  • utilities useful in troubleshooting the network
  • connecting a device to the network.

This class is free and open to the public.

Ham Radio Field Day 2015

FD-2012-croppedOnce again, FCW via Amateur Radio station K4FCW will participate in Field Day from Saturday,  June 27 at 2 PM thru Sunday, June 28 at 2 PM.  Field Day was created by the ARRL and encourages Hams in North America to:

  • Set up under emergency conditions
  • Test equipment
  • Promote Amateur Radio
  • Socialize
  • Practice contest techniques

Even though FCW is not a “portable” setup, it is not a normal station location.  For 24 hours, participants will be contacting hams across North America (and a few other countries) to accumulate points in the contest.

If you are a ham, interested in ham radio, or just curious, this is a good opportunity to get on the air and see why many people still enjoy ham radio as a hobby or a public service.

The event starts at 2PM on Saturday.  Drop by for a while and check out the activity.  This event is free and open to the public.

FCW sponsors Google Event

Foothills Community Workshop sponsoring a Google I/O extended event at Howard Brewery, in Lenoir, on May 28th. Google I/O, it’s Google’s annual software development conference held in Mountain View, CA, and live streamed across the globe. Google will be streaming the event in Lenoir  for those who are interested in watching and participating. The event is free and open to the public.

When: May 28, 2015

Where:  Upstairs at Howard Brewery, Downtown Lenoir


Google, CCC&TI, ASU, Lenoir-Rhyne,  Foothills Community Workshop

What is Google I/O?

Google I/O is for developers—the creative coders who are building what’s next. Together we’ll explore the latest in tech, mobile & beyond. https://events.google.com/io2015/

I/O is two days of hands-on interaction with the latest technologies, inspirational talks and a few surprises in between.

What is Google I/O Extended?

I/O Extended events may include live streamed sessions, local developer demos, hackathons and more. https://events.google.com/io2015/offsite

FCW Open House – May 22, 23



FCW will have an Open House on Friday, May 22, 5-9PM and Saturday, May 23, 10AM-6PM.

Even though visitors are welcome any time, at the Open Houses, every effort is made to ensure that all the interest areas are active and can be demonstrated.  Featured at this Open House are:

  • Food
  • The railroad will be operational
  • The Ham station will be operating with digital modes
  • Demos of the CNC routers, 3d printer and laser cutter
  • The Model-2 robot, designed and built for education
  • Games and activities
  • Special offers on membership

Also being shown are the start of our two latest areas: The Science Lab, and the Prop/Costume shop.

This event is free and open to the public.  Check the website for directions or call 828-351-HACK.

Industrial Sewing Machine Donated

GE DIGITAL CAMERAFCW is pleased to announce the acquisition of an industrial quality sewing machine.  Donated by Bassett Furniture, the Brother LS-2B891 Stitcher is capable of sewing leather, canvas, upholstery and other heavy materials.  Along with a latex curing oven currently being built, the sewing machine will be a valuable addition to the Prop/Costume shop being set up in a portion of the latest space expansion.

FCW has a history with theater, having previously built a full size Cinderella carriage for the play at SCHS, a boat for Willy Wonka and Cart of the Dead for Spamalot for a community theater.  Prop-master Ross also makes masks and costumes.

The area is currently being wired and hopefully be active within a few weeks.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Robot Build Sessions

With the Model-2 robot trainer ready, it was time to work with the public schools.  On two Fridays, February 6 and 13, students from Mr. Seldomridge’s class at Granite Falls Middle School came to FCW for a robot build session.

With assistance from Rich, Michelle, Bruce, and Gene, each student assembled a Model-2 robot, which they could then keep.  There were a total of 24 students in the two classes  of two hours, and all were successful builds.  Starting with the “fun” of snapping the servos into the side panels, the students added the tail skid and internal braces, then bolted the chassis together.  They then added the circuit board and assembled the wheel “sandwiches”.  With the addition of the battery pack, they were ready to go.  Many of the students took the robots to the common area for them to roam.  It looked like giant roaches running around as up to ten robots roamed around the room, avoiding obstacles and dancing in sync.  With terms like “awesome” students had a great time with the hands-on experience and left with smiles on their faces.

On Thurdsay, February 12, twelve students from Mr. Bingham’s class at South Caldwell High School also had a robot build session.   The older students needed less assistance, but still had a great time   Mr. Bingham joined his students in building a robot and obtained  additional units for use in class.  These students were given the assignment to develop additional programs for the robot during the remainder of the school session.

FCW is pleased to be able to help the schools with STEM projects and plans additional sessions and projects for the future.  Similar sessions are available to homeschool groups, scout troops, etc. as well.  If you have a group that would be interested in the robots or STEM in general, contact FCW for details.

A Hackerspace/Makerspace for the NC Foothills