Next weekend (5/16-18) in Dayton Ohio will be the annual Dayton Hamvention. With about 25,000 people attending that are interested in building ‘stuff’ and over 2000 outside flea market spaces (never mind all the indoor commercial vendors there) it is truly an amazing event for makers. This year’s theme even reflects that – “Makers… the future of Ham Radio.”
Many people when they hear about Amateur Radio (or Ham Radio) Operator imagine an elderly guy with a green visor hunched over a telegraph key. Matter of fact several years ago Jay Leno pitted teenagers using a cellphone against some amateur radio operators using morse code to see who was fastest at sending a message (the ham radio operators won).
Amateur radio these days is far from that doing everything from building and launching satellites, providing emergency communications during catastrophic and public events, bouncing signals off the moon to talk with other ham radio operators and much, much more. Many of our astronauts are ham operators and use the amateur radio station in the International Space Station to talk to classrooms. There was a group when I was in Terre Haute that was trying to put together a classroom broadcast to the space station -I’ve often thought that it would be a good educational experience for kids in Putnam county to talk live to an astronaut in space.
If you’re interested in finding out more about amateur radio in Putnam County, George Edenfield (KB9RZK) would be a good person to contact. He’s the IT person at Putnam County Public Library & you can reach him at 765.653.5327. I’m not longer ‘radio-active’ but still have my license and use the skills in electronics/home-brew projects/fabricating things that I learned as an amateur radio operator. Or head over to Dayton next weekend and gawk to learn more. If you’ve never been you’ll definitely be impressed. – Chris (N9VFD)
The majority of people, especially in the Midwest, don’t know what a Makerspace is. A Makerspace may be referred to as a Fab Lab or a Hackerspace (no not a place where people break into online accounts), although most consider them slightly different.
So what is a Makerspace? My definition: A community-operated workspace where people with common interests meet, socialize and collaborate. The focus is on making (design) with lots of hands-on learning, creation, & innovation through participation.
Makers are a community of people that make things. A Makerspace is simply the place and resources that they use to do it. Wikipedia can give you a longer, more in-depth definition and some differences between a Makerspace, Fab Lab, and Hackerspaces.
I personally believe in the group/community portion and the hands-on learning that making something offers. The art of creating physical things sometimes gets lost in today’s online world.
So we’re putting together a community group to do just that – make things. And putting together a list of tools to help people do it. Things like 3D printers and fabrication tools, but those aren’t the centerpiece of what we’re going to create. The centerpiece is the people and the process of making things.
Interested in what we’re doing? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org & we’ll put you on our email list. Tell us how you’d like to help. We’re still organizing, so if you have a passion – express it now & you can help us with the group. You can even suggest some tools you’d like to see in the makerspace.
We’re working on a more public meeting for a youth oriented maker group in late April or early May. Watch for the date and location here.
Don’t forget that this Saturday, April 5th, from 10am to 1 pm in the Community Room there will be a robotics competition exhibition at the Area 30 Career Center in Greencastle. A flyer for the event describes a little more on it and the public is welcome!
Club Cyberia, a Makerspace in Indianapolis, is having an open project day this Saturday from 1-6 pm. I’m heading over to visit & to learn more about how their model works – update later!
There’s an incredible aviation exhibit about 3 hour drive from Greencastle – the National Museum of the US Air Force. Well worth the drive, it’s just slightly east of Dayton and south of I-70. It’s been decades since I was last there & full of technology and just general “Wow’s”.
They have over 350 actual planes organized by era in 3 gigantic hangers with some smaller building additions for more displays. One of the ‘smaller’ building displays, the space exhibit, holds several Titan missiles along with a Mercury and Gemini capsule plus cool spacecraft ‘accessories’ on the way to that building. I didn’t realize they had a space shuttle there, check out the viewing port if there with the onboard toilet (some view!). There’s also a smaller outside display of aircraft and a WWII control tower.
Insider tip – the presidential gallery tour (located on the base not at the museum) fills up early. You have to register for this & we missed it, takes a shuttle bus to get there. One highlight is the John F. Kennedy Air Force One plane in use when he was assassinated.
Admission is free, except for a charge for the IMAX theater movies if you do that but it does go to the museum. There are kid friendly things to do (try the scavenger hunt & walk inside the space shuttle), they also have bigger STEM / kid oriented events on certain weekends. An upcoming one that looks promising is the annual Spacefest 2014 on May 16-17.
And while you’re in the area if you’re interested in surplus/source materials to build things I went in one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been for that – Mendelson’s Liquidation Outlet in downtown Dayton. Heard about it many years ago at one of the ARRL/Dayton Hamvention events but never had been there. I’m still speechless about the ‘stuff’ in that place (and yes the picture is correct that’s a 6 story building – another one seems to be across the street too not in that picture).
One of the goals of this blog is to help let folks in the Putnam County Indiana area find out about STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) experiences and learning opportunities in the area – for both young and old. You may have missed the Rube Goldberg competition at Purdue less than an hour north of Greencastle a few weeks ago – it wasn’t publicized very well but fun to watch for those that made it.
There’s another upcoming opportunity on April 12 & 13 at Purdue, their annual Spring Fest. If you’re into insects, I’ve heard it’s not to be missed but it’s much more than that. Free and targeted at families & children of all ages, it’s has lots of hands-on learning from many of the different science and engineering colleges at Purdue. Their flyer perhaps describes it best.
One special event this year not mentioned in the flyer will be a reunion Saturday night of NASA astronauts that graduated from Purdue at 7pm Saturday night. Eight astronauts are listed for the event currently! Many years ago while at the Osh Gosh airshow I walked into a session where they had an astronaut from each Apollo mission telling stories about their trip – one of the most amazing lectures I’ve ever heard. If it’s anything like that you won’t want to miss it!!
BTW, in case you’re into Rube Goldberg contraptions there’s some info on the Rube Goldber website about the competitions, turns out they have high school teams competitions besides the collegiate level events.
Connecting together people in the Putnam County and surrounding area so they can share their idea, their experiences, and help each other to build. And maybe learn something new in the process. Encouraging Innovation in our area.
But more on that later, in the meantime please start checking this blog if you’re interested in Innovation, local STEM events, and our developing Makerspace organization.