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Fun at our September Open Day

A lot of fun was had once again at the September edition of SparkCC's monthly Open Day!

Our Learning Meister Michael has been working on some upcoming SparkCC workshops and gave a few of our visitors a sneak peak of what's in store.

First up was Sphero, the programmable robotic ball.

Visitors had a go at controlling Sphero via an app running on a tablet. In future they'll be able to write code to make Sphero do all sorts of things!

Michael also showed a preview of tutorials focussed on the Raspberry Pi single-board computer.

When coupled with a camera and various sensors the Pi can do all sorts of things, like power an interactive digital display!

We also had a lot of fun asking questions of the AIY Projects Voice Kit, which used Google's Cloud Speech API to understand what we were asking and give us surprisingly accurate responses!

If you like the sound of some of these projects be sure to follow us on social media to be first to hear when these workshops are scheduled!

Sparker Joel also delighted the crowd with his very slick Mavic Pro drone...

The range and picture quality on this little marvel is really quite impressive!

We'll soon have learn-to-solder kits available for purchase at Open Days so you can come in and learn soldering from the Sparkers. Ethan spent his Open Day honing his skills with some quite intricate work!

Of course the SparkCC Arcade Cabinet drew a crowd as always...

SparkCC Open Day is on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you soon!

Two more TAZ5 3D Printers have arrived!

Earlier this year SparkCC were fortunate enough to take delivery of a LulzBot TAZ5 kindly donated by the good people at Aleph Objects, now servicing their Australian customers from their new warehouse in Sydney.

Well look at what arrived at SparkCC today... two more TAZ5s direct from Aleph Objects!!!

The TAZ5 has become a hot commodity at our makerspace, enabling Sparkers and visitors to print their creations bigger, faster and more accurately. It also features heavily in our Introduction to 3D Printing workshop to demonstrate Open Source hardware concepts and the mechanics of Fused Filament Fabrication.

Having another 2 x TAZ5s in production is going to take 3D Printing at SparkCC to a whole new level. We really can't thank Chelsea and everyone at Aleph Objects enough for the support they continue to show us at SparkCC and for their ongoing commitment to the maker community.

We're going to save the unboxing and setup of at least one of these badboys for our monthly Open Day on November 12th. So if that sort of thing excites you as much as it does us come along and join the fun. See you at the 'space!

Unboxing the Lulzbot TAZ 5

Last week a surprise email landed in the SparkCC inbox. It was from the good people at Aleph Objects, makers of the award-winning LulzBot line of 3D printers. Aleph Objects recently opened a shiny new fulfillment centre in Sydney and were kindly offering to donate a LulzBot TAZ 5 to the 'space to see what wonderful creations the Sparkers might produce with it.

We deliberated long and hard... before replying with a hearty "HELL YES!".

Sure enough a few days later a promisingly-large box arrived on our doorstep:

SparkCC VP Hannes showed enormous restraint in not opening the box and assembling it right there on the spot. Instead we waited until our regular Tuesday evening meetup when the other Sparkers could bask in the glow of the unboxing and assembly.

Upon opening the box we were greeted with a helpful set of instructions. These would walk us through the entire process of unpacking and assembling the TAZ 5, installing CURA and running our very first print.

Gosh this was exciting...

The helpful instruction booklet was just one example of the attention to detail that made the TAZ 5 stand out from the crowd of other printers we've set up in the past.

Also included was a checklist run by Ryan at Lulzbot HQ indicating that the printer had been thoroughly checked, tested and calibrated before shipping (thanks Ryan!). We were also pleasantly surprised by a Lulzbot toolkit containing everything a 3D print engineer could ever need as well as an SD card full of gcode and of course the LulzBot Octopus test print Ryan had run to confirm our TAZ 5 was ready to roll:

One of the most impressive things about the TAZ 5 is the number of 3D printed parts that make up the printer. Aleph Objects are a company with a strong commitment to Open Source Hardware and Software and we were impressed that even fundamental parts such as the extruder were 3D printed to great effect:

Without further ado it was time to clear out the remnants of Ryan's test print and load up the length of yellow test filament that was included in the box:

After levelling the print bed, plugging in the included SD card and locating the LulzBot Octopus file we were ready to go. After an impromptu drum roll and a quick countdown we pulled the trigger and... BAM!

The TAZ 5 printed both quickly and beautifully. The quality of this printer's engineering was clearly evident as we watched it lay down the first few layers of our Octopus. The print head just danced...

Special mention has to go to the TAZ 5 print bed. Not only is it huge with a print volume of 298mm x 275mm x 250mm but it also boasts a PEI print surface that our print stuck to perfectly without painter's tape or a messy layer of glue stick.

The TAZ 5 doesn't just print cleanly, it also prints fast. We didn't have to wait long before our new yellow octopus took shape and was able to join his pale friend. Remember that this was our very first print with absolutely no calibration whatsoever. A refreshing change from our usual experience with new printers...

The TAZ 5 is a hugey welcone addition to the SparkCC print farm that will enable our makers to run bigger, faster and more ambitious prints than ever before.

A huge thanks to Chelsea and all at Aleph Objects for such a generous donation to our makerspace. We look forward to creating and sharing all of the awesome projects the Sparkers produce with this amazing printer!

EL Wire Workshop - April 2016

After the success of our first EL Wire Wearables Workshop we'd been looking for a good opportunity to hold another edition.

The perfect chance came along In April when we held the first of our monthly SparkCC Saturdays.

Once again a group of eager makers joined us at SparkCC with various items ready to be decorated with EL Wire.

Ty took the attendees through the basics of how EL Wire works and provided some design direction to get the ball rolling.

One attendee was kept busy illuminating an umbrella - a very ambitious project indeed!

Others got to work decorating clothing and bike helmets and by the end of the workshop everyone had a wonderful illuminated creation to take home.

This is going to look great on a dull, rainy day. Very Bladerunner-esque!

Thanks again to all of the attendees who came along and to Ty for putting together this fantastic workshop.

If you'd like to come along to the next edition of this or any of our other workshops follow us on Facebook to hear about what's coming up or drop us an email!

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...

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