Mitch’s Midwest Workshop Tour of Hackerspaces

After being on the road since the beginning of July, 2010, I’m in Toronto, my second stop on my Midwest Tour of Hackerspaces which will last throughout the month of August.  (This trip started with setting up a Hardware Hacking Area at RMLL in Bordeaux, France <>, followed by setting up a Hardware Hacking Area at Ninjacon in Vienna, Austria (formerly Plumbercon) <>.)

My first stop was the Detroit Maker Faire <>, where 22,000 people gathered to check out over 300 exhibits, enthusiastically sharing, learning, and teaching through making cool things. I led a panel on hackerspaces both days of the Faire — both with standing room only. Hackerspaces are really popular now! There are way more hackerspaces in the Midwest alone, than time to visit all of them in a month. This is an exciting time to be a geek!

My main thing at the Detroit Maker Faire was to set up a Hardware Hacking Area, which I did with the help of Jimmie Rodgers <> and Dale Grover, of A2 MechShop <>. Together with 19 other volunteers, we taught 1,500 people to solder! The Makezine blog has a really sweet writeup on it:

From now (4-August) till the end of the month, me and Jimmie and Matt Mets (of Hack PGH <> — who will be joining us for the rest of the tour after Canada) will be giving 14 workshops at that many hackerspaces around the Midwest.

The workshops will give anyone and everyone the opportunity to learn to solder by making any number of kits that me and Jimmie have created to teach people to make cool things with microcontrollers — kits that are designed so that everyone, regardless of age or skill level, can complete successfully and take home with them. It is very similar to what I do when I’m home (and what Miloh does all the other times) at Circuit Hacking Mondays at Noisebridge <>. The workshops also help build publicity for the hackerspaces that host the workshops by attracting people to the space, and showing everyone how cool it is to have a hackerspace in their home town.

I also share any and all experiences with the hackerspaces I visit about how we started and run Noisebridge.

Me and Jimmie and Matt are doing this without charge, and only ask to be reimbursed for any parts used ($10 to $30, depending on the kit).

As we go from city to city, hackers host us, and we meet some of the coolest, intelligent, thoughtful, friendly, creative people in the world — hackerspace people!

While traveling I hope to have time to blog more about our experiences here on this Noisebridge blog. Jimmie will be adding his thoughts to the blog on his website.  And Matt will be blogging about it and posting it to the Makezine website. 

Here is our schedule:

Hacklab.TO Toronto, ON — visit on 3-August
Site3Toronto, ON — workshop on 5-August
Kwartzlab Kitchener, ON — workshop on 6-August
think|haus — Hamilton, ONvisit on 7-August
OCDDetroit, MI — workshop on 8-August
Mt. Elliot Makerspace Detroit, MI — workshop on 9-August
I3Detroit, MI — workshop on 10-August
A2 MechShopAnn Arbor, MI — visit on 11-August
AHAAnn Arbor, MI — workshop on 12-August
LVL1/Actors Theatre — Louisville, KY — demo on 13-August
LVL1Louisville, KY — workshop on 14-August
Hive13Cincinnati, OH — presentation on 17-August
Hive13Cincinnati, OH — workshop on 18-August
BloomingLabsBloomington, IN — workshop on 19-August
Arch ReactorSt. Louis, MO — workshop on 20-August
KC Mini Maker Faire / CCCKCKansas City, MO — Hardware Hacking Area at Faire on 22-August
Quad Cities Co-Lab HackerspaceQuad Cities, IA/IL — workshop on 24-August
PS:1Chicago, IL — workshop on 25-August
Madison BarCampMadison, WI — talk on hackerspaces on 28-August
Sector67 Madison, WI — workshop on 29-August

I wish I had more time, since there are many other hackerspaces that we don’t have time to visit on this trip.

According to google maps, we’ll be driving about 2,400 miles in the car we rented for the month. Road trip!

– Mitch.

Categories: General