Plant Sonification Workshop Sunday with Data Garden

datagarden-199x300Our friends at Data Garden are holding a workshop this Sunday to teach you how to get sounds from plants. “During this workshop facilitated by Data Garden, participants will gain an understanding of how to graph real-time data streams from the metabolic processes of plants for use in creating generative electronic music. Individuals with basic experience in electronics, visual programming languages like Pure Data and Max MSP as well as digital audio workstations like Ableton Live will get the most from this workshop though all are welcome. Efforts will be made to pair up participants who have complementary skill sets.” It’s from 11 to 1:30 pm this Sunday at Bartram’s Garden, and FREE, though limited to 25 participants. Read more here or RSVP to Leslie Gale,, 215-729-5281, ext. 110.

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Hacking the Final Frontier

NASA Intl Space Apps ChallengeHacking electronics and everyday items sure is a lot of fun, but the idea of hacking Earth and space on a larger scale brings forth a different level of excitement entirely. On April 20-21, 80 cities in 44 countries will provide a location to participate in such an opportunity – the International Space Apps Challenge, organized by NASA.  Equally thrilling is the fact that our city’s location, the new ExCITe Center at Drexel University, will be the global main stage for this event!

NASA is inviting people of all professional backgrounds and a wide range of skillsets to participate in this free two-day global hackathon. The projects and resources, which vary for each location, are already provided on the event site to help you decide on a focus area ahead of time. There will be an Opening Reception on April 19 at First Round Capital from 6-8 pm, with a special opening by Derrick Pitts, NASA Solar System Ambassador and Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director for the Franklin Institute. Prizes will be awarded by Derrick and other select judges at the end of the hackathon.

Sarah Guck, organizer for the Hacktory, participated in the planning phase and contributed to the list of project ideas. The available projects for Philadelphia are as follows:

  1. We Love Data
  2. Spot the Station
  3. Solar Flare
  4. Seeing Water from Space
  5. SciStarter Citizen Science
  6. Renewable Energy Explorer
  7. NASA Wind Tunnel Visualization
  8. “No Delays” Air Traffic Management
  9. Listening to the Stars

As of this post, registration is still open. Now, head to the About page and click to view the source code to lift your excitement off the ground that much more! If you’re attending, let us know what you’re interested in working on in the comments section.

Register here for the Philadelphia location.

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Tech Week Event: Balloon Mapping Workshop

Join us for a balloon mapping workshop during Philly Tech Week! Balloon mapping is a low-cost, easy, and safe way to make maps and aerial images. This grassroots technique has been used by journalists and community groups all over the world. One of the most interesting balloon mapping projects involved capturing images of the damage caused by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

You’ll be making maps and launching balloons along with members of Hacks Hackers Philly, The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, and The Hacktory. The event is on Wednesday April 24 from 9:30a-3:30p. Location TBD.

Read more about balloon mapping and example uses on The Public Laboratory’s website. And check out recent balloon launches by Hacks Hackers members Sean McGinnis (video and maps) and Dana Bauer (images/video and maps).

This workshop will be a full-day event, with a morning session focused on building the rig and flying the balloon, and an afternoon session focused on using open source software to stitch the images together to make a map. The morning session will be outdoors in the city, so please dress accordingly. Lunch and the afternoon session will be indoors at a location TBD. It is possible for participants to attend either the morning session or the afternoon session or both.

We’re charging $10 to cover the cost of supplies and lunch. Please bring cash to the event. Sign up here.

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Tech Week Event: Hardware Freedom Day, April 20

As part of the Science Festival, The Hacktory is hosting Hardware Freedom Day (HFD) events on Saturday April 20th at 3711 Market St to help Philadelphians celebrate Open Source Hardware (OSHW), learn about Open Source, and get hands-on with a variety of projects. There are several free public events scheduled at The Hacktory for HFD.

11AM to 12Noon: “Why Open Source Hardware?”

Come by for our “Why Open Source Hardware?” talk. Far McKon will cover the basics of what is and is not Open Hardware. The talk will cover how to find and buy Open Source Hardware, and some of the reasons that OSHW is important.

12Noon to 1PM: Lunch Discussion

Lunch break! Meet at The Hacktory by 12 to join a lunch conversation about OSHW at one of the nearby restaurants. Bring along Open Hardware projects you have, or just your curiosity.

1PM to 3PM: Open Source Hardware Hackathon

In the afternoon, join our Open Source Hardware Hackathon. Bring your own Open Source Hardware projects, or pick up a DIY Open Source project ($15 – $35) at the event! For beginners, this is your chance to grab a soldering iron and build your first Open Hardware project. For experts, this is a chance to bring and show your projects, and maybe even find some helpers.

RSVPS are appreciated but not required; this event is free and open to the public.

Read More »

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Project Night: soldering, sewing, sysadmining

Project night started off with a visit from a biochemist who works in the Science Center and took a class at the Hacktory. He didn’t have time to stay for the evening, but did offer to help out if anyone is interested in DIY bio. After he left, more people arrived to work on their various projects.

Christalee continued working on the website for Hacking the Gender Gap, mostly the form for online visitors to enter their stories. She also laid out and cut fabric for a pillowcase. My brother practiced his soldering by building a Drawdio. I helped with the soldering, and read about NURBs, towards eventually implementing them as part of the Diagrams library.

Far, with help from Sharp, set up a mail server for himself, as part of a broader plan to be less dependant on Google services. Steph cut fabric for hexaflexagons, and gave me some great advice on where to learn more about patternmaking for sewing.

(Is sysadmining a word? When I spell it like that, it looks like “sysad” is some sort of ore.)

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Tinker, Maker, Hacker…Why? Postponed

TinkerMakerHacker What: A talk with Georgia Guthrie about art, making, and experimentation When: Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 7-9 PM Where: The Hacktory at The Department of Making and Doing, 3711 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

*We’re sorry to say we have to postpone this event because our presenter is sick. We’ll reschedule for Wednesday, April 10th at 7 pm.

There’s a growing movement of tinkerers, self-taught engineers, and artists, experimenting on their own, in groups, and at spaces called maker or hackerspaces. What they’re doing is changing how our country thinks about art, learning, and where innovation comes from.  On Wednesday, March 27, the Director of The Hacktory, Georgia Guthrie (Philadelphia’s 2012 Hacker of the Year) will talk about this movement and more. In 2012 The Hacktory was awarded a Knight Arts Challenge grant to support artists who want to experiment with technology and incorporate it into their creative practice. Learn more about this project that will put Philly at the forefront of this new wave of creativity and innovation, and how you can contribute.

This event will take place in The Hacktory’s new space at 3711 Market Street (you may know it as NextFab’s first location). We’ll also share some details about The Hacktory’s new partnership with Breadboard, Public Workshop, and NextFab to create the Department of Making + Doing. The event will wrap up with some time to play with an interactive installation that uses the kinect to sense body motion. Light refreshments will be served.

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Event Recap: Squishy Circuits at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

When we at The Hacktory were invited to present a hands-on activity for The Davidson Young Scholars’ gathering at the Academy of Natural Sciences, one scientific exercise came immediately to mind:

A fire-breathing dragon made of LEDs and squishy circuits

A ferocious, fire-breathing dragon

Squishy Circuits.

Students of all ages used conductive play dough and electronic components to sculpt a fantastic menagerie of glowing, moving clay creatures. As they exercised their creativity, the students also got to explore the science behind circuits and electricity (a principle which happens to be part of The Hacktory’s core educational values!)
Click through for our experiences making and using conductive dough, and more photos! »

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New Class: Understanding Data


Graphs are essential not only for communicating about data, but for discovering patterns in the first place. Good graphs make both these tasks easier, and making good graphs requires good tools. Python has excellent tools for making graphs and manipulating numerical data. Come learn to use Python to explore large datasets and make beautiful graphs.

RSVP ($60)

Online ticketing with TicketLeap

Background and details:

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New Class: Program Your Hoodie!

hoodieHave you been looking for an opportunity to level up in soft circuits? Program Your Hoodie is a class for people skilled in at least one of: sewing, circuits, or Arduino. By the end of this class, you will be reasonably competent in all of them, and have a sweet light-up hoodie to take home! We’ll have supplies to make a chain-reaction LED hoodie, based on a design by Penn’s eCrafting group, but if you have a project idea of your own, we highly encourage you to bring it. The hoodie uses two conductive patches on the cuffs as a switch for the Lilypad attached to the back, so your design blinks into action when you hold hands with yourself or others. Bring your hoodie to the Franklin Institute’s Astronomy Night, April 26, and join the circle of lights to celebrate the Philadelphia Science Festival!

The class will be two sessions, Wednesday April 10 and 17, from 6-9pm. (Class will include time to work on your project, so if you have to skip out a little early, that’s ok.) Instructors will also be present at Soft Circuit Saturday, April 13, 1-4pm, if you want to get extra help or work on your project with company. Thanks to generous funding from the NSF, this class is free! Students ages 13+ are welcome. Bringing a laptop to install the Arduino compiler is helpful but not required, we’ll have a couple of workstations you can use instead.

RSVP (free)

Online ticketing with TicketLeap
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‘Top Secret Rosies’ Screening 3/20

rosies-420x71A free showing of the documentary Top Secret ‘Rosies’: The Female ‘Computers’ of WWII is scheduled for March 20, 5:30pm at the Comcast Center. This film by LeAnne Erickson delves into the history of the women who programmed and debugged ENIAC and its forerunners at the University of Pennsylvania. Get your ticket today! (Thanks to Far for the tip!)

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