Tag Archives: engineering

Meet the Maker Sponsor: Chicago Electronics Distributor

Want to configure your own Raspberry Pi? Want to make your own electronic dice kit?


Check out Chicago Electronic Distributors, a proud sponsor of Mini Maker Faire Chicago. We so pleased to have them back to the Faire. Chicago Electronics Distributors offers a variety of electronics for purchase from Arduino kits to Useless Machines and all sorts of amazing projects. Started in 2013 by Craig LeMoyne, the company has grown in its three years and has had over 15,000 orders from 40 countries. He explains that the mission of Chicago Electronics Distributors is “to provide consumers with the best in maker electronics.” He wants people to know that electronics are easy to make. He explains: “Don’t be scared to play with electronics. There is lots of help online, great tutorials, just dive right in!” One suggestion for beginners is to start with an Arduino and make a light blink.

In addition to new Raspberry Pi units, they have exciting new products from SeeedStudio and the “Useless Machine” from SpikenzieLabs. They also are the exclusive North American distributor of Cyntech Products. That’s really exciting!

For the Faire, Chicago Electronics Distributors is super excited to meet new and pre-existing customers. They love showing off their products. The Maker Movement is exciting and they are pleased to get people excited about engineering. CED is planning on bringing a variety of kits to showcase some products including the Useless Machine, Grove Indoor Environmental Kit for Intel ® Edison from Seeed Studio, and much more. They also plan to have a Raspberry Pi demonstration so watch out for that. And they’ll definitely have various kits for purchase.

We look forward to seeing The Chicago Electronic Distributors there!

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: 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!

Open Call for Makers 2015!


WE’RE BACK! (Admit it, you missed us)

Schurz 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 2, 2015.  We will be accepting applications until April 6.  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

A (Belated) Summary of Inventables’ Launch of “Carvey”

October 20, 2014

We went to a launch party: Chicago’s hardware store for designers, Inventables, presented their cool new 3D tabletop carving machine, aptly named “Carvey.”  The next day, they launched their Kickstarter campaign with a funding goal of $50,000, which they reached in about 1 hour. How ’bout them apples, eh?

It was shockingly quiet, waaaay faster than 3D printing, and on Kickstarter for another 30 hours if you want first dibs.


Just open it up.


Clamp down your material of choice–wood, acrylic, soft metals.


…and we got this in minutes!

We hope some of our makers are putting 3D carving to good use by the time the fourth annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire comes around in May!

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!

Meet the Maker: Cyclic Harmonograph

2014HarmonographYou have to check out the wondrous machine called the Cyclic Harmonograph. Built by Peter Dalton, this hand-powered wooden machine uses a pulley system to create incredible circular interloping designs on paper. The Cyclic Harmonograph is a bit like a spirograph but it’s much larger and it uses pulleys instead of gears. The designs can be changed by five principle variables, such as changing the ratios between drawing arm and the paper, the rate of the movement of the drawing arm, and more. You can also change the paper and the pens to get different effects. But it’s not all about the pretty pictures.  The machine is a wonder of mechanics.  You can learn a lot about how rotary motion converts into lateral motion and much more.

The first Cyclic Harmonograph came about several years ago when Peter decided to try to put it together as a proof of concept. And it worked! Last year, his neighbor Katherine Edwards remembered the device as a kid and asked him to make one for a Tedx conference at University of Michigan. They collaborated and he built a larger Cyclic Harmonograph. It was a hit! Peter also showcases the machine on special days at the school where he works as a substitute teacher.

When I asked Peter what he wanted people to get out of his Cyclic Harmonograph, he told me that he wants you to know that you can take an idea, put it down on paper as a rough sketch, and figure a way to actually make it. It’s important to continue that process of discovery. Peter also advises that kids watch their family and friends to learn new things, like woodworking and sewing. So come on by to see the marriage of art and mechanics in the Cyclic Harmonograph and get your own design made before your very eyes!

Meet the Maker: Daley College Manufacturing Technology


Daley College’s Manufacturing Technology department is coming to Mini Maker Faire Northside Chicago! If you ever considered a career in robotics, computer integrated manufacturing, or factory automation or just think creating objects is neat, you should definitely check them out!

When we asked Ray Prendergast, Dean of College to Careers at Chicago City Colleges and former Director of Manufacturing Technology programs, about his hopes for Mini Maker Faire, he said that he wants people to be excited and manufacturing objects. Daley College is looking for people who are interested in creating and problem solving in the field of manufacturing. There are exciting possibilities in a career in manufacturing technology! Dean Prendergast stressed that all students learn both computer skills, like how to use a computerized lathe and a 3D printer, and traditional manufacturing skills, like welding and milling. In addition, students will learn quality assurance and business skills like lean manufacturing. Students also learn about green technology since that is essential in today’s business world. In a 2013 Chicago Tribune profile, Dean Prendergast said, “Companies want people with a technical background, but also with a good sense of business and organizational skills.”

For Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside, Daley College will bring a computerized lathe and more. A lathe is a machine that works materials by rotating them; it can cut, sand, drill, etc.  Participants will have the opportunity to design a part and watch the lathe make it before their eyes! Attendees can also learn more about the educational offerings of Daley College.

Meet the Maker: ChiBots


Chibots is coming to Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside! Based in Schaumburg, IL, Chibots has been committed to making robotics accessible to everyone for about fourteen years. Back in 2000, many people thought that robotics was too complex to anyone to get involved in. Thankfully, some forward-thinking individuals thought otherwise and founded Chibots to make robotics accessible to everyone. And there is nothing like working on your robot and then getting see the immediate results when it starts working (or not working). The excitement is tangible.

Chibots continues fulfilling its mission today through a variety of venues: monthly meetings, an online forum/group, and various events in the Chicago region. Chibots showcases its robots at libraries and Science Nights at middle and high schools. In addition to these events, they hold their own competitions. Previously, they’ve held events like Mini-Sumo, a form of sumo style fighting, and Line Maze, where robots try to complete mazes. Recently, they’ve been hosting a larger competition called SRS RoboMagellan. SRS RoboMagellan is a competition where robots have to navigate to three traffic cones, avoiding obstacles. People can use GPS, sensors and much more to try to accomplish the task. The contestants are graded on speed and accuracy. Chibots’ next SRS RoboMagellan is coming up soon so you should definitely check it out. Or better yet, you should build a robot to compete!

For Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside, Chibots will be showing off a selection their robots in action. They’ll also bring some video of old competitions, like Mini-Sumo! ChiBots wants you to get excited about learning more about robotics and wants to help kids to get more involved in STEM related activities.  ChiBots want you to know: “We are here. We are willing. We are able. All we need is your interest in robotics!”