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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Intro to Soldering, 7 August

Soldering is Easy!

Join us on August 7 and learn the basics of melting metal in this hands-on class. If you still haven’t picked up an iron, now’s the time!

Soldering is a basic way to make durable electrical connections and opens the door to all sorts of electronics kits and projects. These skills can (sort of) be transferred to jewelry making and even plumbing. Really, who wouldn’t want to try their hand at connecting small objects with molten metal?

Each student will assemble and solder a kit. We will have at least the following available:

MiniPOV (blinking LEDs, persistance of vision)
MintyBoost (charge your USB enabled gadgets!)
And for the more advanced:
Microcontroller programmers (program all your AVR family chips!)

The price includes one of the kits above. If you prefer to bring your own kit to assemble, we can refund the $20 kit fee at the door. Ages 13 & up; 10-12 with accompanying adult.

Wednesday, 7 July, 6pm-9pm

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Join us for Mentorhacks July 20th

We’re very excited to be hosting MentorHacks, a one day community codefest and skillshare framed around creating a space for experienced and inexperienced technologists. This event is being organized by the Urban Technology Project which is also the entity behind the Digital Service Fellows. UTP is organizing Mentorhacks because “The learning curve and bar to entry can be high for many people that are interested in learning how to create inelegant solutions to community challenges. MentorHacks aims to be a welcoming and affirming space for people of a variety of backgrounds and experiences to create together.” If you’re new to programming or hackathons, this is the event for you. Anyone from any background or skill level is welcome. They are also still looking for mentors with knowledge of programming and design, so if you’re interested in that, email mentorhacks AT

There’s also a launch event at Barcade on July 18th (21+ only), and you can register for that here.

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New Event: Max Project Session


Have you started messing around with Max (previously known as Max/MSP/Jitter), only to find yourself frustrated and confused? Feel like you’ve exhausted what you can learn from the tutorials, or that you’ve just hit a wall? This class is for those who are familiar with the Max environment, and have a specific project they need help moving forward with. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Max is a graphical programming environment — an application that allows you to create your own software, using a toolkit of user interface objects, (learn more at Through the use of additional hardware, like sensors and actuators, Max can be made to interact with the physical world and create complex, interactive, multimedia experiences.

Our instructor, Ashley John Pigford, is a designer operating at the intersection of technology and typography with some years of experience working with Max/MSP. He teaches in University of Delaware’s Department of Art – a second career after running a design studio in Los Angeles.

Ashley is donating his time for this workshop. We are charging a nominal fee to encourage people to show up on a potentially sunny summer day. When you register, be prepared to share a brief description of your project. This will help Ashley come prepared with resources that will be relevant and helpful. We won’t share your project idea with anyone else, though you will be encouraged to network and share as you feel comfortable with other class participants. We are keeping this class small though, with only 5 slots available to maximize the time Ashley can spend one-on-one with participants. If you don’t have a project right now but would love to take this class, consider looking up an awesome project that you might want to replicate. You’ll definitely learn a lot in the process. Be sure to register soon, slots will fill up fast!

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July Events Preview

School’s out and hot muggy weather stretches endlessly ahead… what better time to join us at the Hacktory for some tinker-time (and central AC)? Here’s a quick rundown of what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks:

  • First: there’s no Project Night on July 4, as it’s Independence Day. But we’ll be back in force on July 11, hosting PhillyPUG Project Night for the second month in a row! Whether you’re just dipping into Python for the first time or an experienced dev, you’ll find congenial & supportive company at Project Night, 7-9pm.
  • Ever wanted to make your own electronica? Our Intro to Audio Synthesis class will give you the tools and the know-how to jump in and make some noise! Join us on Wednesday July 17, 7-9pm.
  • We’ve rescheduled our Meet the Multimeter workshop to Saturday July 13, 1-4pm, so if you’ve been curious about how to start working with electronics, sign up today! The class is $10, or $25 including a multimeter. (New to electronics? Stay tuned for our Intro to Soldering workshop, coming up August 7!)
  • Saturday July 13 is also Soft Circuit Saturday, our monthly gathering for people who craft with circuits. We skipped last month to hang out at Fleischer ARTspiration, so we hope you’ll come by & show us what you’ve been working on!
  • We are rolling out a new event for those interested in creating interactive art. On Saturday July 27, 12 -4 pm we are hosting Max Project Workshop (How Can I Help You?) This event is meant to help anyone work on a project you’ve already started with Max. There’s only 5 slots so you can have lots of one-on-one time with our awesome instructor, and it’s only $5! Check out the details and sign up here.
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