SparkCC Saturdays

It's been a long time coming but we're pleased to announce that starting Saturday April 9th SparkCC will be open for making on the 2nd Saturday of every month!

This is the perfect chance for all of you Central Coast makers who are busy on Tuesday evenings to come check out the space, meet the Sparkers and work on some exciting projects!

Hope to see you there. Stay tuned for more details...

SparkCC at the CC Amateur Radio Club Field Day

Last weekend SparkCC were very pleased to exhibit at the Central Coast Amateur Radio Club's annual Field Day.

Our shiny new Flashforge 3d printers were on display and generated a lot of interest. For some this was the first time they'd seen 3d printing in action. Others were printer owners interested in discussing materials and tweaks to achieve better print quality.

We had quite a few enquiries about SparkCC performing print runs for small projects or prototypes. This is something we'd love to help out with - either contact us via the usual channels or drop in to one of our regular meetups to meet the Sparkers and run some prints!

We were even able to print some hard-to-find radio parts to order as well as a few widgets that went home with lucky punters:

Sparker Jo demonstrated the ease with which the ESP8266 microcontroller may be controlled via wifi. His forthcoming workshop on the subject proved of great interest - so much so that we ran out of flyers! We'll be presenting the first of these workshops in April so contact us via email or follow us on Facebook/Twitter to be first to hear when tickets are available.

Sparkers Ben and Matthew used Ben's projector + Kinect rig to demonstrate 3d modelling using a sand box:

As visitors re-shaped the sand a 3d model of their creation appeared on-screen in real-time!

We'll be using similar techniques at our forthcoming 3d printing workshops to scan and print our workshop participants! Once again if you're interested in attending, get in touch.

A big thankyou to CCARC for putting on this fantastic event and for inviting SparkCC along. We had a great time meeting lots of new people and spreading the word about SparkCC!


Col from CCARC presents Software Defined Radio

Last week Col from the Central Coast Amateur Radio Club visited SparkCC's regular Tuesday night meetup to present to us a demonstration of Software Defined Radio.

An impressively-proportioned temporary antenna set up in the SparkCC driveway (sadly only captured in a photograph after the presentation when the light was poor) would allow us to communicate on the 40-meter band favoured by amateur radio enthusiasts worldwide.

Of course plenty of Sparkers have built projects incorporating radio in the form of 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wifi. But most had little exposure to "pure" radio so Col started out with some basic theory and a discussion of how the various components traditionally used for amateur radio had developed over time.

Then we saw how several of these components may now be replicated by software thanks to recent advances in digital electronics - what we refer to as Software Defined Radio. Col passed around his own kit-built SDR before plugging it in and firing it up!

The number of functions available, ability to visualise signal and the precision tuning affored by SDR certainly represent a huge leap forward! And with Col's antenna we were able to pick up transmissions from various remote sources, though alas there were no Mandarin speakers present to translate...

A thoroughly interesting and educational evening - many thanks Col! We're always interested in learning about interesting maker-related topics so if you're not a Sparker but you'd be interested in giving a presentation on any topic please get in touch. We'd love to meet you!

Also SparkCC will be hosting a stand at CCARC's Annual Field Day on Sunday Feb 28th. We'll be demonstrating 3d modelling + printing as well as a few other projects that we've been working on. So come along, meet some Sparkers and see what's happening in the world of Amateur Radio.

New to SparkCC: Hannes' FlashForge Creator Pro

SparkCC VP Hannes recently acquired a shiny new FlashForge Creator Pro 3D printer which he has kindly co-located in the 'space for use by Sparkers.

A fully-enclosed printer with dual extruders, the FlashForge is capable of very complex prints:

Hannes and fellow Sparkers have been hard at work learning the printer's idiosyncrasies and have been producing some truly spectacular results:

Yet another powerful tool available to help makers make awesome stuff at SparkCC! 

SparkCC: Now easier to find!

Nestled away in a row of factory bays as it is, SparkCC can be a little hard to find for newcomers and workshop attendees.

Ever-resourceful Sparker Hannes resolved to find a solution and took to a sheet of stainless steel with his plasma cutter and the SparkCC logo blown up onto tracing paper. A splash of colour was added by way of some yellow and white vinyl:

Et voilà! Now when you come to visit SparkCC for the first time we'll be much easier to find!

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