Classes And Workshops

Recap: School for Poetic Computation
Tuesday June 16, 7 pm FREE
Hear from Georgia Guthrie, Executive Director of The Hacktory on her recent experience in the 10-week School for Poetic Computation.

Founded in 2013, “The school for poetic computation is organized around exploring the creative and expressive nature of computational approaches to art and design. The school approaches writing code like creative writing — focusing on the mechanics of programming, the demystification of tools, and hacking the conventions of art-making with computation.” Hear from Georgia about what it was like in this experimental school, about the other students, and about the landscape of poetic computation. Also, applications are open for the fall session (deadline 6/15!) if you’re interested in attending SFPC yourself.


Math Kung Fu
Wednesday June 24, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, FREE (suggested donation $5)
New Offering(!) This is an informal session for ad-hoc mathematical modeling, with the goal of solving practical problems as they arise, using math, logic, computation, and intuition to build up understanding of unknown systems. Emphasis on creative, easy to explain, and ruthlessly practical solutions.

Topics include: getting limber with algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; physics; turning real situations into mathematical models; tools for simplifying calculations, approximations, simulations, and wolfram alpha; how to organize efforts and results to avoid confusion; how to effectively communicate and work collaboratively.

Examples from: rock climbing, hacking garage door openers, gambling, dynamics of motorcycles and sailboats, energy efficiency of buildings, internet meme propagation. Format: Participants are encouraged to bring difficult or unintuitive problems, objects, or systems, and work together to analyze the problem to come to an increased understanding.

Participants from all backgrounds and interests are welcome. Some familiarity with mathematical language is essential. This familiarity should provide the basis for participants to learn as they go and teach what they know, so that everyone does a roughly equal amount of each. Presentations follow the “wikipedia rule”: an unfamiliar concept that comes up should either be explained, or should be something easy to understand from wikipedia. Problem solving is an art. There is no textbook.

Balloon Mapping
Saturday July 18, 10 am – 1 pm, $20 ($15 for previous participants)
There are some amazing tools out there for visualizing our communities and hyper local geography. This is following up on a workshop we held in the fall to learn how to use Public Lab’s Balloon Mapping kit.

Now at long last we will put the kit to work! With a weather balloon and a Raspberry Pi camera, we will take photos of our neighborhood, and then stitch them together with software.

Balloon Mapping

  • $0.00
  • American Express

DIY Bike Lights
Tuesday July 21, 6-8 pm, (LEDs) $30
Tuesday July 28, 6-8 pm, (Battery pouch) $30 ($50 for both)

Bright lights on your bike are essential for night time riding. Make sure you are seen by everyone by adding bright LEDs to your handlebars. In the first session of this class you will solder your own battery pack to your light strip, and attach them to your handlebars. In the second session we will sew a waterproof pouch for your battery pack and you’ll be good to go!

DIY Bike Lights

  • $0.00
  • American Express

Build A Bike Bag
Tara Webb, Unknown Territory Artist-In-Resident
Dec 9, 7-9pm
Supported by a grant from ArtPlace America
This workshop is only $5!
Taught by Artist-In-Resident Tara Webb and supported by an ArtPlace America Grant. Admission is only $5! Limited to 8 students. In this class we’ll sew a bicycle hip pack to store your lock and other gear. Learn how to cut, sew and follow a pattern to make your own unique gear. Makes a great gift for you or someone else. We’ll be using sewing machines supplied in the class. Some prior experience sewing is useful though not required.

Build A DIY Arcade
Babycastles NYC
Dec 14, 12 – 4pm (public reception/arcade at 6pm)
Supported by a grant from ArtPlace America
This workshop is only $5!
Supported by an ArtPlace America Grant so admission is only $5! Limited to 12 students. The most famous of all of Babycastles workshops! How To Babycastles is an introductory level workshop focused on the curation, installation, design and maintenance of a DIY arcade in the form of “cyborg” stuffed animals. Students will be introduced to contemporary independent games from which they will select a curation of 3-5 works. Each game will be assigned a large stuffed animal and through the use of accessible components and materials such as duct tape, netbooks, and computer mice will be turned into functioning arcade cabinets. Participants will learn basic programming with AutoHotKey as well as soldering techniques and hardware hacking skills to install games on computers provided. Finishing touches such as wiring and sewing lights on to the stuffed animals and placement of the arcade will round out the aesthetics portion of the workshop. Note: Workshop runs 12 – 4 pm and we’ll hold a special presentation of the arcade in the evening, 6pm, for the entire Hacktory community. Invite your friends!

Bicycle-Based Power Generation
Jacob Rivkin, Unknown Territory Artist-In-Resident
Dec 16, 7 – 9pm
Supported by an ArtPlace America Grant.
Admission is only $5!
Come learn how to build your own bicycle-based power generator. We’ll work in teams to build several bicycle power generating stations. Purchase your own parts to build one for yourself, or take home instructions and know-how so that you can build your own in the future. Open to all skill levels from beginner to advanced. No electrical experience required. Limited to 12 students.

Intro To GitHub
Sarah Johnson
Sep 17, 7 – 9 PM
Ever make changes that broke your code and forgot how your code worked before? Want to work with someone on a code project, but aren’t sure who has the latest version of a particular file? Interested in open source software, yet not sure how to contribute? Learn how to use Git and Github to solve these problems and more!

Intro To Data Mapping With CartoDB
John Branigan
Sep 23, 7 – 10 PM
All data have a spatial component, even more so with the new prevalence of location-based applications. By asking questions of this data, we can gain insight into our social and environmental context, and tell powerful, analytical stories through visualizations. This class will start by covering the basics of geospatial data: what it is, how it’s organized, and a description of common formats. There are many repositories of open data, so our next step will be to identify a few sources and gather some datasets local to Philadelphia. We will be using the open-source CartoDB to load, visualize, analyze, and share our results. Sign up for a free CartoDB account before the class, and come equipped with a laptop or tablet to follow along in the class. No programming or GIS experience is required.

Build A Retro Game Console With Raspberry Pi
Lee Tusman
Oct 7, 7 – 10 PM
Since its release, the $35 Raspberry Pi mini-computer has been hailed as the perfect all-in-one computer. In this hands-on workshop you’ll build your own retro game console. We’ll build our pi computer, install a new system and emulator, load roms from our computers, and get peripherals such as game controllers working. By the end of class you’ll have your own MAME machine capable of playing games for Atari, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Commodore64, NeoGeo and more.

IMPORTANT: You must bring your own computer (to configure the sd card) and monitor (TV or HDMI). You can bring or bulk order with us a raspberry pi, sd card, and game controller(s).

NOTE ON SUPPLIES:You can use any Raspberry Pi model. Please bring your own Mac (preferred) or PC or Linux to copy files from the computer onto your SD card. We will need an external keyboard (we will have a few provided in class but recommend bringing your own if you have extra so you don’t have to wait!) during install. In addition to the raspberry pi computer, you will need a 4GB SD card. USB game controllers are highly recommended. You can use any TV as long as it takes an S-Video input, or any HDMI monitor. Do not forget that you must supply your own monitor! The SNES Retro controller we will order is sold singly. If you want two, order two.

Please place your order for parts/raspberry pi/controllers by Sep 30 as we will be ordering all parts October 1 and can’t guarantee we’ll have additional supplies.

DrawBot Workshop
In conjunction with Design Philadelphia
Ashley Pigford
Oct 14, 6:30 – 9PM
For those of you who believe design is about MAKING THINGS: In this hands-on workshop, you will construct and program autonomous robots that can draw. Design your own robot-drawn typeface or make original artwork from a kit of parts provided. No prior experience or knowledge about robotics or programming is needed. You only need a desire to play and enthusiasm to learn something new. Participants will come away with drawings their robots have created. To purchase the parts to make your own drawbot, see the related ticket. Sponsored by AIGA of Philadelphia.

Note: You can build a drawBot with our parts, or you can order your own drawBot parts to build and take home your own for an extra fee.

Balloon Mapping with Raspberry Pi
Sean McGinnis
Oct 18, 1 – 4 PM
Balloons, kites and poles are low cost, easy to use and safe methods for collecting aerial images and making maps. Aerial images are usually collected using satellites and airplanes, but these ground-based approaches provide an on-demand alternative to collect information when events or environmental conditions are occurring. This workshop will discuss grassroots mapping, lessons learned from the larger balloon mapping community, the components of a mapping kit and how you can get started.

Intro To 21st Century Fabrication
Eric Manganaro

Taught by The Hacktory’s expert Eric Manganaro, this dual session class is an introductory workshop overview of how to go from idea to digital design to digitally fabricating a physical object prototype. We’ll review a complete digital workflow and provide an overview of tools and the process to creating your work. We’ll start with an introduction to tools like Google Sketchup, Adobe Illustrator, Autodesk123d, and sourcing from Thingaverse and Google3D. We’ll review fabrication techniques including the VersaCamm Vinyl Cutter, the CNControlled Laser Cutter (and engraver) as well as 3D printing. We last offered this class in Spring 2014 and in the sold-out session people wanted more time with our equipment, which is why we’re offering a 2-sesion class this time.

How The Internet Works
Joe Kovach
Oct 28, 7 – 9PM
Pay What You Wish
So you’ve been using the Internet for 15+ years and you still don’t know how it fundamentally works?! Remain ignorant no longer! Using very basic office supplies we’ll play a game to understand the underlying framework of the internet. This talk is especially for those who think they shouldn’t come. Fear no acronym. After this talk you will be able to speak with confidence about: networks, routers, servers, domain names, .com, .org, .gov, .edu (and who controls them), IP addresses, ethernet, wifi, MAC addresses, DHCP, ISPs, DNS, HTTP and much more.

Advanced Circuits
Doug Poole
Nov 8, 1 – 4 PM
Have you been tantalized by cool costumes & projects using LEDs, Arduinos, or EL-wire? Ever wondered what’s going on inside your computer, television, or vacuum cleaner?
Electricity permeates our modern existence, and learning your way around circuits is an important step in demystifying it. In this class, we’ll go into more detail on soldering, components, and more advanced circuit-building skills. We’ll review circuit components, use multimeters and breadboards, read schematics and datasheets, and tackle some advanced electronic projects.

Intro To Arduino
Tim Bieniosek
Nov 11, 18, 25
$40 each or all 3 sessions for $90
In this class you can expect a fun crash course on everything you will need to get busy creating with your Arduino. We’ll cover all the key concepts, from learning the fundamental aspects of programming with the Arduino language, to the different types of materials you can use in your projects and prototypes. Our aim for this course is to send you home with a cool project to show your friends, a whole bunch of new ideas and the knowledge and resources to produce some Arduino magic! All participants must have a laptop to bring to each session to work with the Arduino code.

General tickets are $90. The ticket covers all three sessions, all on Tuesdays: August 5, 12, and 19 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. If you have some knowledge of microprocessors, basic circuitry and/or programming, you may come to individual sessions that work best for you. Individual sessions are $40 each if purchased separately,

The cost of the class does not include materials. We will have a kit with an Arduino Uno and an assortment of sensors, buzzers, and more for you to experiment with in class. This kit is an additional $45, which you can pay for online or with cash in person. After the class is over if you don’t think you’ll use them anymore, you may return the kit with all the parts intact for a full refund of $45.

Intro To openFrameworks
Wil Lindsay
Nov 15, 1 PM – 5 PM
openFrameworks is an open source toolkit designed for “creative coding”. It is written in C++ and runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android. This is a beginner level class, although a little bit of experience in Python, Processing, Arduino, Basic (or any programming language) will be useful. openFrameworks’ emphasis on “creative” uses draws parallels to Processing as both projects present a simplified interface to powerful libraries for media, hardware and communication. openFrameworks’s main difference from Processing is that it is written in C++, instead of Java. openFrameworks is free and open source and used in hundreds of powerful installations and artist-designed projects. In this intro participants will play with code, experiment, and start building their own systems that go beyond the screen and work in physical space.

Fun With Soft Circuits
Christalee Bieber
Date TBD
Adding some well-chosen sparkle to your look is always the right choice. With sewable electronics, though, you can move beyond sequins and rhinestones into the fabulous world of programmable lights and sensors. This class is designed to give beginners a crash course in circuits and sewing and an introduction to pre-programmed sewable microcontrollers. We’ll provide materials for attendees to sew with blinking lights, perfect for keeping away things that go bump in the night! Or, bring your own materials and project idea and we’ll help you translate your concept into reality. If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of e-textiles, we hope you’ll join us for an afternoon of creativity and learning! No previous experience is required. Prior programming knowledge is not required.

DIY Traffic & Bike Counting
As part of the Department of Making + Doing, we want to get to know the comings and goings of people in and around our space. We’re going to take an urban planning lens to this activity, and we’ve gotten our hands on a few Waycount traffic and a Hi-Viz bike counter. Come out with us this Saturday to learn how to use these tools and help measure the traffic. We’ll have some of the people who created these tools, and are part of Planning Corps in NYC. Afterwards we’ll take our counts back to The Hacktory/DM+D and explore how to visualize them and what further questions we want to ask.
All participants will then be able to deploy the traffic counters to take measurements in other locations throughout the city over the next few weeks. We’ll then meet up for a data jam later this summer to compile our data and make sense of it together.
This event is funded by a grant from Art Place America, so tickets are fee, but please register to help us get a head count beforehand.

Intro To Programming For Artists, Musicians and Other Creative People
Programming is a creative process performed by programmers to instruct a computer on how to do a task. If you are an artist or musician, you can make custom instructions or software to create digital visual art and animations, tell a story, manipulate photos, create sound or a whole software instrument, make a game, or build an art installation. Why would you want to do this instead of using Photoshop or a software synthesizer? If you are someone that makes artwork, is interested in aesthetics, or otherwise likes to explore cooking or creating film or design, you will also enjoy being able to build your own custom art tools for the computer.

In this class, we’ll take a playful approach to learning the concepts of programming and then take our first beginner steps. We’ll talk about the connections between writing recipes and writing code and the basic components of every programming language. We’ll cover an introduction to the visual programming language Scratch and then build our own simple instruments, synthesizer, or visual art. When you finish this class, you’ll have created your own first programs, and be ready to jump to the next level and start learning Python, Processing, Java, or other programming languages.

Hacking The Gender Gap
Did you know that computer programming in the 1950s and 1960s was considered administrative work, and therefore best suited for women? Hacking the Gender Gap is an interactive workshop in which we explore the gender ratio in tech fields, unpack the associations our culture has created between gender and technical ability, and share experiences of gender and technology. This workshop has been presented to a number of audiences of different genders and technical ability, and always results in a stimulating and illuminating discussion.

Introduction to Processing
This class is a beginner-friendly guide to Processing, the open-source programming language for visual artists, based on the Java language, and a great first step for artists interested in learning to program and exploring what creative coding can do. No previous programming experience is required. In 3 sessions, we’ll review the basics of creating a program from scratch, do hands-on exercises, and be building our own programs and projects much quicker than you’d think possible.

Projects created with Processing have been featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and many other prominent venues. Processing is used to create projected stage designs for dance and music performances; to generate images for music videos and film; to export images for posters, magazines, and books; and to create interactive installations in galleries, in museums, and on the street. Some prominent projects include the House of Cards video for Radiohead, the MIT Media Lab’s generative logo, and the Chronograph projected software mural for the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center in Miami.

Intro To Circuits
Have you been tantalized by cool costumes & projects using LEDs, Arduinos, or EL-wire? Ever wondered what’s going on inside your computer, television, or vacuum cleaner? Electricity permeates our modern existence, and learning your way around circuits is the first step in demystifying it. In this class, we’ll start with the very basics, exploring the fundamentals of circuits by building a lemon-cell battery. We’ll teach 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! This class is suitable for ages 13+.

Introduction to Max/MSP for music
Learn to write your own digital music making software using Max/MSP! This course covers the basics of digital audio and the Max/MSP/Jitter graphical programming environment. You’ll learn to make your own sample player, synthesizer, and other sound manipulation interfaces. Everything you learn will be directly applicable to the Max For Live add-on to Ableton Live. No prior programming experience is required. The workshop is intended for beginners, so if you already know how to connect a [counter] to a [sel] to make a primitive sequencer, it might be a bit too basic for you. If the end of that sentence made absolutely no sense, then you’ll learn a lot.

Bad Website Jam: How To Make a Vintage 1996-Style Website
In this 1-session workshop and jam we’ll review the early web and the era of geocities homepages before blogs and web 2.0. We’ll share cringe-inducing personal websites that may include clip art, under construction signs, and pleas to “sign my online guestbook.”
If you don’t know how to create a website, you’ll even learn the basics of what goes into creating a simple webpage.

We’ll break down the extreme basics of HTML 2.0and use WYSIWIG web creation software from the 90s as well as today. Participants will create their own mid-90s “dirt-style” website and publish them online. We’ll have prizes for Best In Show, People’s Choice, Most Authentic, Most Mediocre, and Best-Why Does This Exist? Participants should bring their own laptop. This jam is suitable for a range of backgrounds from beginners to experienced.

Intro To Arduino
In this class you can expect a fun crash course on everything you will need to get busy creating with your Arduino. We’ll cover all the key concepts, from learning the fundamental aspects of programming with the Arduino language, to the different types of materials you can use in your projects and prototypes. Our aim for this course is to send you home with a cool project to show your friends, a whole bunch of new ideas and the knowledge and resources to produce some Arduino magic! All participants must have a laptop to bring to each session to work with the Arduino code.


We are a loosely organized group of volunteers, so we want to plan stuff that you’re interested in. Below is a list of classes we have held in the past with success, if you are interested in attending any of them, please leave a comment. Once we reach a critical mass we will make the class happen.


Is there something you want to learn that isn’t listed here? Do you want to teach something that would fit on this list? Contact us and we will try to make that happen too!