Hack-a-Thing, the week after
From 3rd June – 7th October 2012, Design Hub Limburg presents “THE MACHINE – Designing A New Industrial Revolution”. This interactive exhibition, is accompanied by an extensive program for a diverse audience, including: a fashion workshop by DSGNRMRKT, a broad introduction into 3-D printing and a networking event. The concept of “THE MACHINE” shows how new machines influence our society.
In this context, FabLab Genk organises a series of workshops on the hacking of everyday appliances and electronics.
The first workshop series, which took place on 7th and 8th July 2012, was organised in close cooperation with the youth of Genk. It was an introduction to electronics and technologies like Arduino, lasercutting, etc. The aim of this workshop was to hack everyday objects, things and appliances and – in the setting of FabLab Genk – give them a new use. And last weekend, approximately 20 youngsters, electronic-fans, code doctors and hack-fanatics came together at FabLab Genk (INTERREG-IV) to hack a thing!
During a short welcome, it became quickly clear that the participants brought bags and boxes of old printers, vacuum cleaners, water boilers and even lamps. The mood was set! After a short information session, the workshop started with a short introduction into Arduino and the machines in FabLab Genk. After that, the participants formed groups and – guided by a team of programmers, code doctors and hackers – brainstormed on what they could make themselves (in a limited time, during one weekend).
For two days, the participants worked on their concepts and hacked away!
The results were quite surprising: one group of participants hacked a printer and used open hardware (Arduino and a motorshield) to work out their concept of an ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ drawing robot. They also turned an old lie detector (by – again – using Arduino) into a controller to control the robot. By doing so, they created a robot that holds a pen and draws figures on the ground as it is driven across the room.
Another group of participants used an old “Roomba” (an automatic vacuum cleaner) to make a “Persistence of vision robot”: a robot that ‘writes’ text in the air. The old vacuum cleaner had a vertical row of twelve LED-lights mounted on it and was able to ‘write’ a text, line by line, which is only visible when a long exposure photograph is taken. You can check out this photograph and see for yourself how the robot ‘wrote’ the text “Fablab”.
The concept of the third group of participants involved a self-playing gaming object in which a little toy car automatically ‘drives’ on a road drawn on paper. Another old printer was hacked by them and was turned into a racing game (again, by using Arduino and a motorshield) and a racing track was made out of wood and paper.
The last group of participants worked around “Dj Toastie”: an oven that makes music. Their concept included a musical instrument that automatically appears out of the oven when it is turned on. The youngsters connected an old oven and a control panel of a used household appliance to an Arduino, changing the analogue signals into digital ones.
As you can read, the weekend was successful. On Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th of September, the follow-up workshop will take place. This workshop works with an ‘open call for participation’. Hacking experts continue working with local youngsters on the hacked objects from the first phase. So, we hope to see you then! And in the meantime, be sure to check out FabLab Genk’s Facebook page and Twitter and stay updated on “Hack-a-Thing”!