Bike Parade Tonight

We have our last event for our Light Up the Crescent series tonight. In case you haven’t heard, all through September we’ve been working with Second Muse and the Schuylkill River Development Corporation to create a series to promote the Gray’s Ferry Crescent Park. Tonight is our last Bike Parade, leaving the SW corner of Rittenhouse around 7 pm, and heading to the Crescent to check out our swarm of robotic fireflies there. We’ve posted a map of the route before, but here’s a little more detail if you want to come, or know how to get to the crescent in the future. There are several entrances to the park, but we like the one off of Wharton street. Wharton becomes two-way west of 33rdd street (indicated with the arrow on this map), so we will take that route to the park. You can also turn onto Wharton from 34th street as well. Hope you can make it tonight!

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Project Night Recaps, August 22 & 29

We’ve fallen a bit behind on reporting on Project Night! Here’s a couple of notes from last month, from Kim B.

August 22, Technically Philly Meetup AND Project Night

Panel discussion: State of Collaborative Spaces in Philly
There are a lot of collaborative spaces in Philly, how do we get them to be more merged but still distinct?  How do we make the public aware of these spaces?
Georgia Guthrie, director of The Hacktory
Alex Hillman, co-founder of Indy Hall
Nic Esposito, founder of The Head & Head Press 

Panel coordinator:
Chris Wink, co-founder and editor of
The discussion centered around the collaborative/experimental spaces in our fair city of Philadelphia.  The turnout was great, about 50 people, and so was the beer, which had coffee in it! There definitely seems to be a strong case for Philadelphia existing as an up-and-coming (and in many ways, already there) metropolis for co-working, entrepreneurship, and start-ups. There were various interesting business models discussed, and on the whole the panel had a lot to share, as well as the people who attended. Read More »

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Firefly Swarm Postponed to Tonight

We had a great day assembling more fireflies and holding our workshop as part of Camp Crescent yesterday at the Grays Ferry Crescent. Unfortunately the weather shifted later in the evening and was no longer friendly for the fireflies. We’ve rescheduled our swarm for tonight at 7 pm though, so be sure to come out and see them. This gives you one more chance before our last swarm this coming Friday after our bike parade.

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Firefly Prototyping

Firefly Prototyping from The Hacktory on Vimeo.

We did a whole lot of soldering this past weekend, in preparation for our series of events where we will Light Up the Grays Ferry Crescent. There’s quite a bit more to do, but we’re pretty excited about our fireflies. We put together this quick video to show how our electronic fireflies are built and how they look right now. There’s only 5 finished ones at the end – but we have many, many more, and will have a more complete housing for them as well. Hope you can make it out to see them!
Thanks to all of our awesome volunteers who came out to help solder!

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Seeking Contributors: Hacking the Gender Gap

A few weeks ago, Daniel and I were fortunate enough to attend the 3rd annual Philly Geek Awards. Last year, Geekadelphia named Hacktory director Georgia Guthrie Hacker of the Year; this year, the online visualization of our workshop Hacking the Gender Gap was nominated for Web Project of the Year. The award ended up going to AxisPhilly – congratulations to them!

We’re looking for people to help expand and improve the Timeline. We need volunteers to:

  • transcribe & tag stories from our workshops, currently in our Flickr stream
  • design & implement a responsive, attractive story visualization1
  • create a database and webform for people to add their own stories2
  • compile a guide for facilitators based on our notes, so people can Hack the Gender Gap on their own!

We’re also looking for partner organizations to adapt the workshop for other underrepresented groups in STEM. If you’d like to join us, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Amy Guthrie or comment on this post!

I also want to publicly thank everyone who’s contributed to our project. Read More »

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Light Up the Crescent this September


Have you been to Grays Ferry Crescent yet? The Crescent is one of Schuylkill River Development Corporation’s most recent projects to extend Schuylkill Banks to as many Philadelphia neighborhoods as possible. Many Philadelphians have yet to discover this public beauty, which is nestled along the river in the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood, on the east side of the Schuylkill between 34th and Wharton Streets, near Grays Ferry Avenue. To promote this wonderful asset, SRDC, in partnership with SecondMusePublic Workshop, and The Hacktory, is inviting you to get to know the Grays Ferry Crescent throughout the month of September.

Read More »

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Cider Press Workshop – September 17 (6pm to 9pm)

Four people around cider press during pressing Join us at The Hacktory to help press apples into sweet cider on our home-made cider press. Christalee and I will be on hand to discuss how they designed & built the press, and some of the priorities and tradeoffs involved.

A few years back, we visited a friend who has a 100-year old cider press. We bought a few bushels of apples, spent the afternoon grinding and pressing them, and came home with 5 gallons of cider. It tasted good enough that we decided to do it again the next year, but with a press of our own.

Unlike our friend, we didn’t have a barn to keep the press in when not in use. So we read some blog posts, and set out to design a cider press which could be built at our local hackerspace, be moved by one person, and (mostly) fold flat when not in use. Every year since, we’ve pressed more cider and refined the initial design.

$5 suggested donation; no RSVP required.

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Project Night Recap – August 15

Cardboard enclosure with blue LED and no diffuserCardboard enclosure with purple LED and paper diffuser
The Hacktory window will soon be illuminated! Daniel, Christalee, and Sharp are constructing a 30″ x 48″ LED grid. The board will use a series of individual color-changing LEDs, a microcontroller, and some Python. The Hacktory will display the names of those who contribute to its upcoming Kickstarter campaign – illuminating your support for the mission of art and technology in Philadelphia.

At this week’s Project Night, Christalee and Daniel tested out various grid depths, using handmade cardboard walls to determine how to make the most of each individual light. Understanding the beam angle was key to creating the correct shape. They also tested some diffusion materials. Come learn, share, and see more of this and other exciting projects at next week’s Project Night, Thursday, August 22 @ 7pm! (We’re also hosting Technically Philly’s roundtable on the State of Collaborative Spaces that night from 630-8pm, it should be a full house!)

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Project Night Recap – August 8

Touchless 3D Interface by Make Magazine

3D Touchless Tracking Interface w/ Arduino from Make Magazine:

Last week, we had some folks in from the FIRST Robotics team at the Science Leadership Academy working on getting a couple of students up and running with Arduino. Bergey was working on laser cutting Raspberry Pi enclosure prototypes for our Kickstarter campaign rewards. If you haven’t seen it already, here is the teaser video for our Kickstarter campaign (an interview with Uri Pierre-Noel, Director of Arts Tech Meetup Philly) and more information about the Knight Arts Challenge matching grant that we received last summer. We’ll be launching that Kickstarter soon, so stay tuned for more details.

Early on in the evening, Georgia, Tim, Molly, Christalee, Bergey and Amy held a brainstorming session to discuss a new project opportunity funded through the Schuylkill River Banks Development Corp and Second Muse. The project would be part of a series of events throughout September and October to draw people to the Grays Ferry Crescent Trail Park, which will eventually be connected to the rest of the Schuylkill River Trail. Georgia, Tim and Amy took a short trip to the park to scope out the site and brainstorm possible installations and events for the project. We will have more details to share as the project is developed. Read More »

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Intro to Circuits, Sept. 15, 1-4pm

Photo by lungstruck.

To kick off our Fall series of costume hacking workshops (details coming soon), we’re reprising our Intro to Circuits class on Sunday, September 15 from 1-4pm! If you’ve been curious about what makes LEDs, Arduinos, and household appliances go, take the first step to demystify electricity & circuits. In this class, we’ll start with the very basics, teaching you how to identify common circuit components, use tools like multimeters and breadboards, read schematics and datasheets, and describe what’s going on with a few equations. You’ll build some simple circuits and go home with a mini-breadboard so you can tackle your own projects!

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