Soldering/KS Work Party + Soft Circuits, Saturday the 11th

LED displaying blue inside a 3 inch cardboard box

Join us next Saturday, January 11, when we’ll be packing T-shirts and Raspberry Pi cases to send to donors from our recent Kickstarter campaign. We’ll also be assembling the electronics for our LED lightbox starting around 1pm. If you are comfortable soldering, we can put you straight to work; if you want to learn to solder, now’s a great time!

Over the summer, we had an idea to build an LED lightbox for our Market St. display window. We built a 4′ wide plywood case with a 16×10 grid of “pixels”, and we have 160 addressable RGB LEDs to light up each cell of the grid. We’ve also started writing code to drive the display with image files; the first images on display will be chosen by several of our Kickstarter backers. Now we need to solder all those LEDs together and attach them to the case, and we want your help!

The 11th is also Soft Circuit Saturday. We’ll be hosting a contingent from the Fashion|Tech PHL Meetup, who held a cool roundtable on wearables here in December. We will also be featuring a demo using Bare Conductive Paint and a few other projects. Whether you’re just picking up a needle for the first time or you have a great project idea using the newest Adafruit toy, join us from 1-4pm for our monthly craft afternoon.

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“Ingenious” talk still on for today

We’re still planning on hosting Jason Fagone and Kevin Smith today to talk about building a 200-mpg car by hand, and the spirit of American invention. Jason and Kevin are coming from another event in NJ and may be a bit delayed, but we’ll still be there at 3 to welcome you in from the snow. Hope you can make it!

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“How Things Work” After School Program at the Lea School


One of the benefits of being part of the Department of Making + Doing is that we’ve had access to more resources, such as a grant we won from the Cognizant Foundation, which is doing a lot to support the creation of maker programs around the country. One of the first things we decided to do with those resources was to create an after school program. We’ve had some experience working with the Fleisher Art Memorial, to help create a class called “Gadgets and Sculpture that Moves!” so we wanted to build on that experience. We were fortunate to be able to use some connections through volunteers to set up our program with students at the Lea School, at 48th and Locust. The Lea School is part of Philly’s public school system, which pretty much everyone knows is operating in spite of a really  bad situation. We’re very happy to be putting our skills to use there, and the students in our program are also warming up to our activities, and have already started coming up with great modifications to the projects we’ve built. The theme for the program is “How Things Work” so we’re covering simple machines, basic circuits, and some concepts of optical illusions. So far, we’ve made a tower-building challenge with bendy straws, mousetrap cars, and this past Tuesday we built tabletop catapults.


Check out this set of photos of the projects (we’re still getting permission to use photos of the kids so there aren’t so many pics right now). Our program is scheduled to run through December 19, and possibly into next year. Though we have some great teachers running the program, we could use a few extra sets of hands to help out in the classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 4:30. If you’re free and interested please email georgia[at]thehacktory[dot]org. (Any volunteers will need to complete a background check and child abuse clearance, but we can help with that.) In the future, this exactly the class we’d like the artists in our T.E.R.A. Incognita project to help out with. We’re running a kickstarter to help fund that right now, so please back it today!

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Talk with “Ingenious” Author Jason Fagone Dec. 8

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We’re pleased to announce a new event coming up Dec. 8th with local author Jason Fagone about his recently released book “Ingenious.” Join us at 3 pm on the 8th for the kick-off event of a Northeast tour for Jason and Kevin Smith, one of the book’s characters, who built a 207-MPGe electric car by hand out of junkyard parts in an Illinois cornfield. That means that car will be here at our space for you to check out! We’re very happy to be hosting Jason, who also tells the story of the West Philly Hybrid X team in the book, which you can read an excerpt of here, and purchase in lots of places, including Amazon.

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Gatsby Party = Kickstarter Launch Party!


We  just got confirmation that our kickstarter campaign for our artist residency program is now live! That means our Galactic Gatsby Masquerade/Fundraiser tomorrow is our official launch! Tickets are going fast so be sure to get yours soon!



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Bus to DC Protest on Saturday


We had a great discussion last night after our screening of the documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply. This is the first of several events we plan to hold about online surveillance and how you can protect your privacy, next one is coming up Nov. 6.

Most people at the screening expressed how they already knew much of their activity was being tracked, but were surprised by the extent of the tracking, and that it’s already been used to stop nonviolent protests before they even happen.

If you’re interested in taking action to preserve your 4th amendment rights, here’s some info about what you can do this Saturday:

On Saturday, October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act —  thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to proclaim: Stop watching us. Read More »
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Program a Blink-tastic Costume, Saturday!

Here’s a story from Leslie Birch, designer of the award-winning FLORAbrella and electronic designer extraordinaire! She’s teaching our upcoming workshop, Program a Blink-tastic Costume: Intro to Lilypad, this Saturday, October 26, 10am-4pm. There’s a few spots still open, reserve yours today!

florabrellaI don’t think I will ever forget the first time I lit up LED’s. In fact, it was at one of The Hacktory’s first classes on simple circuits and we made little spiders that were so adorable. Now I’m lighting up 5 meters of LED strips and loving it! My recent project was part of the Adafruit/Element 14 Get Closer Challenge. The idea was to create something that would bring people together using the FLORA microcontroller. So, I decided to make an umbrella that would use LED strips and a color sensor, so that it could either match your clothing, or do fun patterns like a changing rainbow or random rain. I did a lot of research and planning, and I even learned how to do Fritzing — a drag-and-drop program that allows you to make circuit diagrams. In the end, the project really surprised me, and I still find myself laughing at how amazing it looks.

So, I feel like everyone needs to connect with their inner maker, and I want to help them do it. My “Program a Blink-tastic Costume” workshop offered the end of this month will teach people the basics of a circuit, give them creative freedom with LED colors and placement, and allow for awesome programming. It is so cool to make lights do what you command them to do, especially when it is on your own outfit! I can tell you just from walking around with my umbrella, that people are truly amazed by the magic of lights. So, expect an entourage with your blinking costume. The best part is that you can tell others the story of how you created it and spread the word about DIY electronics. Be emPowered!

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8static Festival – October 17, 18, 19


8static is celebrating 5 years of amazing live chip music shows and, having outgrown their most recent venue at PhilaMoca, they are moving on to bigger and better things, including their own label. Their upcoming festival, which showcases around 30 artists over three days, is the perfect way to celebrate!

It all starts on Thursday, October 17th at 6:00 pm at the First Unitarian Church. You can view the incredible lineup and schedule here. Tickets

Keep track of updates on their site, where you can subscribe to their newsletter. Find them on Facebook and Twitter. And check out the latest release on their new label by Corset Lore, who is also performing on Thursday.

See you at the festival!

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Thank you, Adafruit!


We’re excited to announce that Adafruit Industries has donated some excellent wearable electronics prizes for the raffle at our annual Masquerade Party on November 2! Tickets here.

Adafruit has tons of DIY electronics kits and components for sale, as well as a dedicated learning hub where you can find tutorials on everything from the Firewalker LED Sneakers you see here, to a DeLorean Time Circuit!
Subscribe to their YouTube channel and keep up-to-date on new products and projects.

Don’t forget about our wearable electronics workshop series leading up to the party. Not only will you learn a great deal, but you’ll also have the coolest Halloween costume ever. Search for ideas on Adafruit’s Electronic Halloween blog and we’ll help you make it happen!

October 6:  LED Masks, 1:00–4:00 pm
October 12:  Basic EL Wire costuming, 1:00–4:00 pm
October 22:  Crafting in the 21st Century: Lasercut Fabric, 6:00–8:00 pm
October 26:  Program a Blink-tastic Costume, 10:00 am–4:00 pm

We hope to see you there. Thanks again, Adafruit!


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Sewing With Circuits, Sunday!

Abby and I wanted to take a moment to write about our plan for next Sunday’s Sewing with Circuits workshop, which kicks off October’s series of costuming events here at The Hacktory! Here’s our plan to help folks get fabulous for our Galactic Gatsby Masquerade:

purpleLight-up fashion has been spreading over the past several years, working its way up from the hobbyist world to the runway, and now disseminating back into the community. Our class is designed to give beginners a crash course in circuits and sewing and a practical guide to working with e-textiles, including the LilyTiny, a pre-programmed sewable microcontroller. We’ll provide materials for attendees to make an LED mask or fascinator, or you can bring your own fabric and work on your own project. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the world of soft circuits, or ready to add a professional polish to your skills, we hope you’ll join us for an afternoon of creativity and design!

About the Instructors

Abigail Seligsohn has 13 years of design experience in the graphic and fashion fields. Her jewelry company AbiGrl has had international press recognition (Elle, British Elle, Teen Vogue, Nylon, and more) and celebrities such as Brandy and Jessica Alba have worn her work. Since finishing a program researching e-crafting at Penn, she’s been teaching workshops at The Hacktory and 3rd Ward, and currently does graphic design for Back on My Feet. She’s excited to teach people how to conceptualize their aesthetic and use technology to create it.

Christalee Bieber has been teaching electronics in various form factors (squishy, sewable, sensing) since joining The Hacktory last spring. She currently runs the fabrication shop and afterschool activities at the Workshop School in West Philadelphia. She’s looking forward to finally learning enough to make the fiber-optic RGB fascinator of her dreams.

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