Tag Archives: Chicago

Meet Chicago’s Hackerspace All-Stars: PS:One, SSH:C, W88

This year, Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is excited to present the three largest hackerspaces in the Chicago area! We sat down with them to learn more.

Workshop 88Workshop 88Workshop 88 is a hackerspace and makerspace located in Glen Ellyn that provides a space for people to come together as a community and work on amazing projects. They offer a variety of tools for its members to use such as 3D printers, a CNC machine, a lathe, and more. They are even thinking of opening an amateur radio station in the space. But Workshop 88 is more than just the tools at its disposal. Jim Williams, a member of Workshop 88, says that it’s all about the community of people with similar interests who have a variety of knowledge coming together to share. It’s the people who are willing to help each other out, learn, and create delightful things.

One big yearly project is badge building. For the past 3 years, Workshop 88 makes Arduino-based LED badges that make the conference space into a game. Throughout the conference space, there are beacons that can transmit to the badge that lights up the LED and generates points. It’s a great way to get folks to explore the entire conference. Workshop 88 works together to design, build, and test these badges. In addition to their own projects, Workshop 88 hosts workshops and classes for libraries and classrooms. It provides them an opportunity to share their knowledge with people to get them excited about making. The goal is to have kids make things that get them interested in electronics and technology.

For Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they are going to demonstrate some of their members’ current projects. A hacked Roomba vacuum cleaner. A radio receiver built from scratch. An RGB LED wall display that is controlled by a joystick—uniting art and technology will hopefully foster conversation and ideas!

Southside Hackerspace: ChicagoSSHC photoSouthside Hackerspace: Chicago (SSH:C) is a hackerspace located in Pilsen committed to educational outreach, and strives to become a community resource for people to learn and exchange ideas. This hackerspace just turned three–Happy Birthday! They’ve hosted a variety of classes and workshops from basic soldering to Raspberry Pi within their space and out. Recently, participants got to check out an electron scanning microscope at the event as well. SSH:C attended events all around Chicago including libraries, schools, and other maker spaces to establish relationships. They plan on expanding their soldering tutorial into additional classes to teach programming. They also have been communicating with teachers all around Chicago and its suburbs about starting their own spaces for their students.

In addition to outreach, SSH:C has been hosting a variety of educational and social events for its membership. In the past year, SSH:C has partnered with Pumping Station 1 on a Cryptography event on a monthly basis. It’s intended for people who are interested in cryptography and privacy online. The class moves back and forth between the two spaces, further encouraging collaboration between members of both hackerspaces. SSH:C and PS1 also held a nine week Business Planning workshop “Creative Entrepreneurship” led by Lisa Sonora Beam that focused on how to take an idea into a marketable idea.

In addition to the educational programming, SSH:C has introduced monthly movie and gaming nights. In January, they held a fantastic holiday party that allowed members and friends to showcase their work including laser-cut origami, a tri-copter and much more. But SSHC also have 3D printers, a new vinyl cutter, and many more tools to help people build amazing things!

For CNS Maker Faire, their members will showcase their work including a kinetic sculpture. They plant to have a hands-on activity for the kids and parents alike. SSH:C is growing and want to engage with people and other organizations about their work. Want to know more? Attend a weekly meeting Wednesday nights at 7:30.

Pumping Station: One

PS1 Photo Credit Everett Wilson

Pumping Station:One (PS:1) located in the Northside of Chicago brings together people with a variety of skills to develop a thriving and sharing community. Chicago’s first hackerspace, PS:1 has been around for six years. The space has a variety of tools including bandsaws, a CNC router, and many more.

However, it’s more than just a place to work on your projects. Members hold a variety of classes based on their interests. It’s a fairly independent process; someone decides there is a need so they make a class. There are classes centered around robots, beer making, wine tasting, leather working, and coding. As noted before, they also have been collaborating with SSH on the Cryptography class each month.

At the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they are going to teach people how to make a Noise-o-Tron. They debuted this last year at the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. The Noise-o-Tron is an optical theremin that does not require soldering. People build it by pushing leads through the board and twisting them. It only takes a few minutes to put it together. They have also created a “Color-O-Tron” version where people can make a game that simulates the old Simon game. These projects are both a fun way to talk about electronics while people can make something simple and fun. We can’t wait to make music with our optical Theremins!

PS1 has an open house on Tuesday nights at 8pm.

Meet the Maker: YOUmedia

Make a circuit with dough! Make music with circuits and magnets! Join YOUmedia at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire and learn how!


YOUmedia, a program run through the Chicago Public Library since 2009, has now expanded to 11 libraries throughout the city. YOUmedia provides spaces for teens and tweens to drop by and learn in an out-of-school context, connecting them with technology and resources to further their personal and even professional interests. Recently YOUmedia and Chicago Public Library Teen Services started First Saturdays Careers in Focus to allow teenagers, ages 14-18, to learn about careers in a variety of fields from engineering to music. This summer, they are planning to kick off a new teen summer challenge that will involve discovery and creation. Stay tuned for more information!

For Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, YOUmedia has two amazing activities planned. Julie Koslowsky, YOUmedia Outreach Coordinator, wants people to try something new and get excited about circuits and technology. These projects show that electronics does not have to be an expensive or even high tech activity. (1) “Littlebits,” a project for all ages, are simple circuits that connect via magnets, a power source, and other parts. You can make music, attach a fan, and more! (2) “Squishy Circuits” are conductive play-dough! With a few simple ingredients­—water, flour, salt and lemon juice—in the right order, the dough can become conductive or insulated. Plug in a power source and put strategic LED lights to create fantastic pieces!

We can’t wait to see YOUmedia at CNS Maker Faire!

Meet the Maker: Trossen Robotics

hros1chassiBigDid you ever want to walk a robot on a leash? Or learn how to make a robotic arm to do your bidding? Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is excited to welcome back Trossen Robotics, a company committed to helping people learn about robotics and electronics, for a third year!

Trossen Robotics started in the late 2000s selling robot parts, but they’ve grown into designing and even manufacturing their own open source robotic kits, such as crawlers and humanoids. Grounded in a belief that community is critical–people can always use help when building things, experimenting, and sharing their experiences–Trossen wants to foster a community of builders through forums, blogs, and other support networks. And they want people to realize that anyone can learn how to make robots!

You do not have to be an engineer or have millions of dollars to build a robot. The field of robotics has something for everyone–from those interested in electronics and engineering to non-STEM fields like aesthetics and design–and Trossen is committed to helping everyone from the casual hobbyist to the university student working on a robot for their thesis.DFmkRFIAt this year’s Faire, Trossen will be showing off some of their amazing robots. People will have the opportunity to play with a variety of different robots, and even have fun walking a crawler robot on a leash. They will also be displaying their “voodoo robot,” with a large robotic arm and a smaller one that works like a controller, as well as some autonomous robots that use sensors to navigate the world.

Kyle Granat at Trossen Robotics told us that they are really excited about Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire this year and explained that people often leave the Faire in awe: not the kind of awe you would see at a car show or technology show, but the feeling of awe upon realizing that they can do some of the amazing things that see for  themselves. We look forward to seeing them there!

Even More Maker Faires! Hooray!


Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire producer Christina Pei teaches lockpicking with TOOOL

The Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire team visited the incredible Henry Ford Museum this weekend, site of the 5th annual Maker Faire Detroit.  We played with, among other things, old school tractor engines, Power Wheels, hacked bikes, soldering, lockpicking, 3D printing, oh my!  Over 400 makers turned out for this featured Faire.  Here’s a little taste of what we saw:

A simple game of Flaming Skeeball

Mouse Trap

Life Size Mouse Trap always draws the crowds!

Old Tyme Bikes

Celebrations of past tech: manually-powered motors, retro bikes, and this couple dressed for the olden tymes.


We milled a bottle opener with this Shapeoko 2 from Inventables.

The Manulith

We visited our friends from the Manulith, the 3D printing experts.

If you missed Maker Faire Detroit, have no fear!  It will return in July 2015.

And…you can join us locally this Saturday, August 2nd, for Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire!  Located at the Ford City Mall, it is the second Mini Maker Faire in Chicago:

Saturday, August 2nd
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Ford City Mall
7601 South Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60652

Register HERE for free tickets!

Thanks for Coming!

20140503_115024May 3rd, 2014 marked the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, and the largest Chicago Maker Faire yet! 80 exhibiting makers, many of them young makers, and 2,000 attendees made this an amazing event. Thanks to everyone who made this happen!

20140503_140409For those of you who joined the fun, here’s a recap of some of our favorites.  And for those of you couldn’t make it this year, here’s a taste of what you missed. Our veteran makers returned with some of the exhibits you’ve come to expect from Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire – lockpicking with TOOOL, soldering with Build-A-Blinkie, tinkering with hackerspaces, DIY projects from Chicago Children’s Museum, Build Your Own Chicago, FIRST Robotics presented by local high schools (Schurz, Lane Tech, Whitney Young), Blast the Nerds from the Schurz National Honors Society, and many more!20140503_134647

When you first entered Maker Faire, did you notice the aerial drones from Mad Lab Industries flying overhead? 14 - 7 20140503_120922-MOTION

Did you hitch a ride in a muffin baked by Oak Park Muffineering? 20140503_115440 20140503_115551-MOTION

Did you learn to use a drill from the Chicago Tinkering School and Chicago Children’s Museum?20140503_115749

Did you blast a nerd or explode some Coke with Mentos?20140503_115814

20140503_150926We grew so much this year that we needed to expand. For the first time, the stunning domed library was open for Maker Faire, housing a planetarium brought by the Adler Planetarium, all three major Chicagoland hackerspaces (Pumping Station: One, Southside Hackerspace, and Workshop 88), the Chicago Public Library, ChiBots, and Schurz’s own Anime Club.20140503_145836

The hallways were packed with student art, 3D printed designs, a Rube Goldberg device in action, a DIY photobooth, and a taste of the neat offerings of Chicago Electronic Distributors.

Of course, the cafeteria was a center of activity. We hope you also checked out the Electric Garden and Colossal Squid just across the hall, all the robots from the FIRST Robotics teams who presented in the Gym, and Schurz Digital Media making images and beats in the surrounding hall.2014Garden

Did you make a bouncy ball and learn more about supporting Comer’s Children Hospital from the Schurz IB students?20140503_144229Or were you too distracted by the adorable bunnies?20140503_142814Or maybe it was this guy?20140503_134952

Did you learn how to make a cool coin purse from a recycled chip bag?20140503_134709

Did you play a round of Giant Jenga?20140503_140644

Did you check out the Shapeoko 2 from Inventables?2014Inventables

Did you see the bionic hand made by UIC New Media Arts?2014Bionic

Did you make a giant mold, learn to solder, use a cyclic harmonograph, make pictures with fire, craft your own spa products, build your own Chicago, inflate a moon ball, fold some origami, etch an eraser stamp, needle felt a design, construct a hexbug, or build a kit from Brown Dog Gadgets?  Whew! We were overwhelmed, too!20140503_135155

Don’t worry, we’re coming back in May, 2015 – more makers, more attendees, more stuff to DIY. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to always be in the know. That’s all folks! Keep on making, and come back for more!

Countdown to Maker Faire: 2 Days!

Partly CloudyWeather Update:

Rainclouds part in honor of Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire!  Expect partly cloudy skies, and a high in the mid-60s.  It’s still chilly, so bring a jacket.  You know Chicago weather!

Construction Update:

There is major construction all along Milwaukee Avenue.  As a result, parking will be more difficult this year.  Remember that you can bike, or take public transportation.  Check out the details on our ATTEND page.


Meet the Maker: South Side Hackerspace Chicago

2014SSHThis week, Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside took a field trip to South Side Hackerspace (SSH) at their headquarter in Bridgeport. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a hackerspace is a collective space where people interested in computers, electronics, and more can experiment and learn with other like-minded individuals. The hackerspace may also have equipment like saws, 3D printers, drills, and soldering guns, available for people to use on their projects. Classes are also held at SSH to teach various skills, like soldering.

South Side Hackerspace is a pretty happening place. Members join at various levels and have access to the space and its tools (with appropriate training and approval of board members). There is not one but two 3D printers in addition to lots of other machine tools for your projects. It’s an open learning environment. Right now, there is a weekly Machine learning meet up. But it’s not all about work; it’s a social space too. They just had their 2 year anniversary party!

One of the big focuses of SSH is education, especially for the youth. They want to provide a safe place for younger people to learn about science and technology. They’ve done several workshops partnering with Chicago Public Library (CPL). Right now, you have to be 18+ to become a member of the space (with possible options for 16-18) but they want to continue outreach as a resource for younger people in Chicago. They are currently in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to make their space even cooler.

South Side Hackerspace is very excited to be coming out to Mini-Maker Faire for the third year! They can’t wait to meet people and share with them about SSH. They are going to show off one of their 3D printers. They’ll explain how it works and print out prototypes. So be sure to check them out and learn more!

Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside Returns Saturday, May 3rd

Reserve your spot to the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire! Tickets are FREE to the public, but by reserving early you guarantee your spot. Now you can e-sign the media release on Eventbrite and skip the line! As always, your generous donations allow those who cannot otherwise afford Maker Faire to attend for free. Recommended donations are $10/adult, and $5/child under 12.


Are you or someone you know a maker of awesome things? Apply to be a maker here! There is no fee to set up an educational display to show your stuff! The deadline to apply is April 7th.


Did you miss Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside in 2013? Catch a sneak peek from our blogger Elisa Shoenberger:

Robots, sharks, and circus, oh my! Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside was a blast! The halls and front lawns of Carl Schurz High School were full of laughter and hard work as children and adults, alike, tried to learn wondrous things from our Makers. There was so much to see and so much to do. Human sized bubbles and spider robots greeted visitors outside. IMG_0627

Inside, there was a wonderful hallway of crowd-sourced painting and life sized cardboard people from the project “Make Your Mark.”  Everyone was encouraged to decorate the walls or play available musical instruments. Downstairs was a DIY photo booth by Maker Troy McLucas who originally created the machine for his own wedding. Makers and visitors alike could dress up in tiaras, glasses and funky lips to commemorate this wonderful day.IMG_0562

When you go to the second floor, you couldn’t help noticing the life size Great White Shark from Dee Hotchner’s Discover the Depths, the people behind Artology-the Colossal Squid.  The true to life organs of the Shark were on display, all made from recyclable materials.IMG_0570

 Inside the cafeteria, there was a flurry of activity as people learned lock picking, chainmail jewelry making, and so much more. Bookbinding Words showed people how to make flexagons with wonderful stories and drawings. The Blue Buddha Boutique had a table for people to make chainmail earrings and key chains. Build a Blinkie was immensely popular; the soldering tables were always humming with happy busy activity. Community Glue Workshop mended a variety of items, including the hem of pants and a ceramic doll. Museum of Science and Industry’s Wagner Family Fab Lab let people design stickers or scan themselves in three dimensions.IMG_0659

Visitors also had the opportunity to play. The Reptile Convention brought out various snakes and lizards for people to learn about and even touch! Larger than life Jenga pieces invited people to challenge one another or build up to the ceiling! Goats in the City stopped by with several goats and their kids. It was so delightful watching them munch on the front lawns. In the gymnasium, DIY Circus performed several thrilling acrobatic shows and taught kids how to stage fight and make puppets.

It was an excellent day of mischief, wonder, and learning. Can’t wait for the next Chicago Northside MiniMaker Faire!

Open Call for Makers 2014!

 Welcome back, Chicagoland Makers!

BubblesSchurz High School , the Urban School Foundation, and local maker Christina Pei return with the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, celebrating teaching and learning for all ages of makers, new and old!  For those of you who are new to Maker Faire, it is the largest celebration of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) in the world.  Maker Faire is a venue for inventors, technophiles, artists, crafters, mad scientists, hackers, musicians, and anyone who makes cool things and want to show others how it’s done.  If this describes you:


Reserve your maker table at Schurz High School on Saturday, May 3, 2014.  We will be accepting applications until April 7.  There is no cost to makers to present and it’s FREE for your friends to attend!  Makers will also be featured on our website and advertisements.

Questions? Contact us at ChicagoNorthsideMF@gmail.com

Year-Round Making for All Ages in Chicago

Calling all Chicagoland lovers of making, hacking, and tinkering!

Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire comes around but once a year, but making isn’t just a one-day thing.  Here are some activities for makers of all ages going on in Chicago RIGHT NOW:

Keep up with cool happenings in your city, and keep your imaginations active for Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside 2014!