Selkirk College RoboGames: The Best in Youth Innovation Fun!

Selkirk College RoboGames and MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

There was much fun and some serious gladiator-ship to be had this past weekend at the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames on Saturday, April 28 at the Castlegar Campus.

Technology-fueled fun and free-spirited youth innovation was the name of the game.  With a simple robot kit and some big imagination, 55 participants in 39 teams designed and built competitors for events such as Obstacle Course, Robot Soccer and Balloon Popping.  It was a day full of excitement and camaraderie.

Selkirk College GLOWS 2018 Robogames

As the doors opened upon RoboGames 2018, youth from around the region brought their robotics A-game having prepped for weeks, building and training their various creations.

Brian Malito, a Grade 12 student from J L Crowe Secondary School in Trail, has competed in four RoboGames including the first one held in Nelson in 2010.

“I got interested in robotics because of the idea that people could make non-living objects move,” Malito says, looking back to his early days of robotics. “I found it so fascinating and I also had an interest in programming and wanted to know more.”

Selkirk College GLOWS 2018 Robogames with MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

Brad Pommen, MIDAS Fab Lab Director and Nelson Tech Club founder who enthusiastically brought RoboGames to the Kootenay-Boundary region directed events.  As in years past, he offered support and guidance in preparation for the games, providing online sessions kids were able to follow at their own pace.

“RoboGames is designed to promote science and technology learning among our young community members by making science and technology fun, accessible and non-intimidating,” Pommen says. “It’s been incredibly fun for me as well. Seeing youth enthusiasm for robotics, something I’ve been interested in for so long, grow is completely rewarding. I also love seeing new ideas come forward every year.”

RoboGames is designed to promote science and technology learning among youth by making it accessible and fun, using robotics to help to minimize the intimidation factor.

“Technology surrounds us every day, and understanding how it works—that it is not simply magic—can be very empowering and influence everyone, but most especially youth, in amazing ways.” states Pommen.  “When you make technology fun, accessible and non-intimidating, we are enhancing community vitality and sustainability to everyone with a curiosity and presenting it in a way that traditional educational models cannot address. ”

This was the sixth annual event. Learn more at selkirk.ca/robogames

Photos courtesy Selkirk College GLOWS.

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#madeatMIDAS: Nelson’s Chocofellar Chocolate Mould

#madeatMIDAS: Nelson's Chocofellar Chocolate Mould

This month, #madeatMIDAS features Sam Lazenby and Hollie Wheeler, and their business, Nelson’s Chocofellar.  Recently, the chocolatiers, in need of a new mould, unique to their brand looked to the equipment and expertise at MIDAS.   Sam & Hollie and their popular business are a great example of how the MIT-certified MIDAS digital fabrication laboratory, or “Fab Lab” can address a specific need a business might have to give it a unique, custom-made edge.

MIDAS is geared to support all manner of entrepreneur development: collaborating and adopting state-of-the-art technology to create the products needed to evolve and grow a business.

You can do it too! Check out our course calendar HERE!

#madeatMIDAS: Nelson's Chocofellar chocolate mould

Established in April of 1990, Nelson’s Chocofellar emerged from the hopes and dreams of co-founder, Sam, who was looking to create something from his lifelong love and passion for chocolate.  Having recently moved to Nelson, the couple loved the area and were keen to create something that would support themselves and the family they were planning.

28 years, two children, and thousands of kilograms of chocolate later, the pair continues to pursue their dream,  providing the Kootenays with delicious quality handmade chocolates , novelties and chocolate bars.  Their  aim is to create the finest chocolates using the highest quality of  ingredients we can find, some local organic, specialty flavourings from Europe. Modest about their contributions to the industry of chocolate, Nelson’s Chocofellar is proud of their their accomplishments, gracing many a special occasion in the Kootenays and the world over.

Many of the Chocofellar processes have remained unchanged from the traditional European Chocolatier. All the work is hand done, the products hand-wrapped, and every batch is sampled faithfully by the team and any willing volunteer passing by.

Sam and Hollie have worked hard to keep Nelson’s Chocofellar a size that fits their lifestyle in Nelson – sometimes easier said than done!  But, when it comes to chocolate, the Chocofellar team operates under the belief that it is one of the four basic food groups and creates quality product to support that belief, providing their clientele with consistently divine chocolate to tempt any palette.

While the processing and presentation of chocolate may have changed over the centuries, the sentiment of the ancient Aztec people carries on: a gift of divine origins.

Creating the chocolate mould

In anticipation of the 30th anniversary of the Capitol Theatre in Nelson, she approached Nelson’s Chocofellar for something special to help celebrate.  She suggested they consider a distinctive chocolate with a mould that would be specific to the theatre.

In previous conversations with MIDAS Lab Director, Brad Pommen, Hollie had discussed what possibilities might be available for creating unique moulds at the Fab Lab.  The anniversary request was the perfect opportunity to revisit the conversation.

Brad was, of course, intrigued and keen on exploring design and manufacturing processes to create a mould that was the right size and could be handled easily while standing up to the rigours of repetitive use. Hollie provided him an outline of things to be considered when working with moulds and chocolate and he took it from there.

Brad created a couple of prototypes and refined the mould until it was just right.  The celebratory anniversary mould for the 30th Anniversary of the Capitol Theatre was complete!

Hollie and Sam enjoyed their experience with this project and MIDAS thoroughly enjoyable and it’s opened up many other possibilities for creating unique moulds, particularly when it comes to custom designs for special occasions, making them just that little bit more special!

You can do it too! All the resources you need to help take your idea, startup, or business to the next level.  Check out our course calendar HERE!

Nelson Chocofeller – Homelinks Nelson from Peter Locke on Vimeo.

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Fun Friday: Highlights From the West Kootenay & Boundary Regional Science Fair 2018

West Kootenay Boundary Regional Science fair recipient accepting MIDAS prize!

It was another great day spent with young innovators this past weekend at the West Kootenay & Boundary Regional Science Fair 2018!  An inspirational day seeing what approximately 200 local students from around the region are showcasing in science experiments, studies, and research & innovation projects.

There is so much to be gained for these young participants through the Science Fair experience:  research skills, problem solving, thinking scientifically, public speaking and connecting with other participants, sharing ideas and process.

We were there in full force to help celebrate the incredible ideas, skill and talent while sharing the innovative possibilities available through the MIDAS Fab Lab.

MIDAS Lab Director was so pleased to present the MIDAS Innovation Award to student Dylan Peil for his fabulous BioMechanical Arm:  4 hours Custom Training at MIDAS at a value of $600.

MIDAS Innovation Award winner for Mechanical Arm


It was a celebration of local innovation and MIDAS & KAST were there to offer plenty of information about what goes on here in the Fab Lab.

And check this out…. in the spirit of all the fun of the Science Fair, a bit of a twist on MONOPOLY:  MIDASOPOLY!  3D printing at it’s most fun!

3D printed MIDASOPOLY

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MIDAS Closure: April 20, 2018

Fun Creative Partnership: Chicks in the Coop!

MIDAS and Chicks in the Coop sign making home decor workshop

We are always thrilled when we get the opportunity to reach further into the Maker community, connecting more creative souls to the possibilities at the MIDAS FabLab!

This month, on May 25th from 6-9 pm (must register by May 18th!), we are proud to be hosted by Chicks in the Coop offering a great opportunity to demonstrate the diverse projects and creative power that can be had at MIDAS with the help of our state-of-the-art equipment.

These will be monthly sign making workshops, featuring the Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter.  

This month, the course will be creating four foot porch signs.  NO previous experience or skills required!  This is a creative, fun and inspiring opportunity to learn something new while going home with a lovely home decor item.

Click below to find out more information and to register.

Interested in what else MIDAS has to offer?  Take a tour:  Weekly tours THURSDAYS from 6-7 PM!

Want to see what else you can learn at MIDAS?  Check out our full calendar of upcoming courses here at the MIT-certified FabLab!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

MIDAS Course: Creaform 700 3D HandySCAN Scanner

MIDAS courses & training: Creaform 700 3D Handyscan Scanner

The Handyscan scanner is AMAZING!  But, don’t take our word for it. Come out and see!

One of the most popular 3D scanners used by product development professionals and engineers, the Creaform 700 3D HandySCAN can easily scan any type of physical object and provide the most reliable and precise results.

In this course you will learn the basic function of the Handyscan on a variety of items.  The session will show you how to place tags, perform basic scanning, set up the receiving software and review the captured online files (CAD and others on demand).

Creaform 700 3D HandySCAN Scanner:  Speed and accuracy in production

Upcoming course May 28, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

MIDAS courses & training: Creaform 700 3D Handyscan Scanner

This era of industry and prototyping requires fast production without compromising precision. Thanks to its expertise in metrology and 3D technologies, the Creaform HandySCAN 700 addresses both of these in a tiny, and easy to use, package.

It is used to develop, manufacture and market cutting edge portable 3D measurement and analysis technologies that increase productivity.  It is a state-of-the-art tool capable of assisting in design, development and quality control processes.

This device can be used for critical tasks like quality control, dimensional inspection, etc. Its powerful features, like non-contact metrology and independent assessment, will make inspection in controlled environments easier than before.

The HandySCAN 700 will help you optimize the engineering time for product development by providing digital model of designs, overall dimensions or as-built. The resulting detailed, accurate data acquisition will to reduce production costs dramatically. The HandySCAN 700 comes with the shortest possible delay and minimal intervention time, which is very useful for getting fast outputs.

Ultimaker 2 3D Printer Course at MIDAS

 

This course DOES NOT cover the manipulation of captured images or printing but is intended to allow members to scan and understand the potential of this device. Recommended for engineers, architects, manufacturers, machinists, makers ad hobbyists alike.

Upcoming course May 28, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

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Creating & Nurturing a Maker Culture

Creating & nurturing a maker culture

Can a Maker Culture help bring economic diversity and sustainability rural communities need?

Over the past couple of decades our region, along with so many others in rural British Columbia, has been faced with tremendous challenges seeing traditional industries such as mining and forestry diminishing, taking jobs and people along with them.

As a result, it’s been essential to look to diversifying from that of a resources based economy to one that encompasses other lucrative sources of education, jobs, opportunities, wealth, and ultimately, sustainability.  Communities throughout the province are looking to the New Economy, or the knowledge-based economy, as the answer to closing mills and mines, embracing technology to not only add new economic drivers but revolutionize and revitalize the old.

And while we may look to all the big tech players; Silicon Valley and our British Columbia equivalent, Silcon Valley North – Vancouver – to help inspire the way, providing for the vital foundation of opportunity; the narrative is really taking shape and expanding with boots on the ground in rural communities like Trail, Nelson, Revelstoke and others providing for the essentials to a more Maker Culture approach.

What rural towns and small cities are recognizing is that not only does the talent exist in these places, but they’re eager to create new and vibrant opportunities lending to the long-term sustainability to new industry, but also contributing to the innovative change of those existing.

The key to this forward momentum is not big tech, not at all.  It is the fast-emerging movement of the Maker.  These communities encourage a maker spirit, and ultimately, a Maker Culture, providing for innovation at a very hands-on level, providing the tools, education and support to propel innovation and manufacturing, hand-in-hand with a tech startup, entrepreneurial energy.

Who are these Makers?

A Maker Culture draws innovators from industry, such as engineers and machinists, but also anyone else with an idea or concept interested in seeing it brought to life; the curious, the imaginative; and creating an environment in which they can flourish.  These are the Makers:  an illustrious group of diverse individuals who make up and support the Maker Culture and who share many of the characteristics of those we call innovators.

These folk see failure as part of the innovation journey, understanding that they learn so much from mistakes.   Makers see the possibilities in technology and embrace it.

Makers enjoy the challenge and problem solving of a daunting task and don’t stop when the going gets tough.   Similar to accepting failure, they understand that to get to the top of the proverbial mountain they’ll need to amass knowledge and experience.  They set aside time to learn and fail.   These are the owners of ‘what if, can we make it better, I wonder how we could…’ – curious and innovative thinking!  

Provide the facility to nurture & develop the foundation – the Makers Space!

A space for makers brings the curious, the innovators, the inventors out of their silos and into a place together: growing, mentoring, learning, developing, sharing, fulfilling their curiosity and innovation.  This is where magic happens!

A maker space, a foundational element in the Maker Culture for most communities, fosters curiosity, collaboration, tinkering, and iterative learning, which in turn leads to better thinking through better questioning.  This leads to determination, independent and creative problem solving.

Community is the defining element of the Maker Culture on both a local and international scale.  It embodies the following qualities: co-working, collaboration, teaching, learning and an open sharing of ideas. It also invites cross-generational and life-long learning encouraging individuals with a range of expertise to share their passions.

The greatest assets to any region’s economy are living and working right here.  With innovations and ideas that range from developing a new wobbler conveyor to be used at the Teck smelter in Trail to a local small business owner creating a new business 3D printing beautiful, biodegradable pet urns and so much more, the ability to bring an idea for a new product or service to fruition with the support of the community is huge.

Facilities like ours here at MIDAS, support the expansion and development of local small and medium-sized companies’ strengths as they grow their businesses as well as individuals seeking the education, tools and equipment to explore the potential of their ideas further.

Through collaboration, adopting technology, and creating new and marketable products while promoting skills training opportunities in digital fabrication and metallurgical technology for entrepreneurs, company personnel and students the MIDAS Fab Lab is fully invested in promoting a Maker Culture.

Experience the Maker Culture for yourself – check out our course calendar HERE!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Maker Movement: DIY, Hands-on, Innovation In Action!

maker movement fostered at MIDAS

There is a movement afoot and, with the help of education, tools and equipment (such as welcomes you at MIDAS!) to more easily and cost-efficiently bring ideas to life, it’s gaining tremendous steam!

The Maker Movement – or in more familiar terms, Do-It-Yourself – is growing in participation in schools, communities and industry throughout the province, and, of course, beyond.  What makes this a movement, rather than simply the act of puttering in one’s garage, is the resources, equipment and materials available to support it in ways we’ve never seen before.

This movement is grassroots innovation and it’s being enthusiastically embraced and fostered in more and more communities, nurturing an ever growing number of people, creative and curious.

The digital age has really blown the lid off what was formerly tinkering, or on a larger scale, inventing and innovating with significant effort and resources to bring an idea to prototype, using specific manufacturers located by and large overseas.  Inventing and innovating, as it has previously been known, has required very specialized software and fabrication equipment, not easily accessible either in terms of cost or location and has made it prohibitive for potential innovators to see a project through to completion let alone market.

With technology expanding as it is, so fast and with such scope, the creative process of invention and innovation is being transformed.  The access we have to imaging, scanning, drafting and other specialized software as well as the fabrication equipment to translate plans into tangible, surprisingly high quality, prototypes allows and encourages Maker creativity and invention unlike any time before.

MIDAS, and our MIT certified facilities, is a great example.  As part of this movement gathering momentum, every day we see makers contributing to what is becoming their own market ecosystem, developing incredible new products and services. The combination of ingenious makers and innovative technologies such as the Raspberry Pi mini-computer and Arduino micro-controller along with 3D printing are driving innovation in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology and education.

Makerspaces are cropping up in communities big and small. Offering everything from Repair Cafes – where makers offer up their talents to fix and repurpose everything from computers to mobile phones to toaster ovens – to workshops on soldering and Arduino to imaging software education to actual fabrication and prototyping equipment, as we do here.

Inquiry-based and more hands-on education trends are beginning to trend as well.  Schools, for pre-schoolers through secondary students, are offering more and more resources and opportunities to explore and nurture their curiosity.  Through electronics and technology, young people are challenging their own creativity, innovating unlike ever before through coding, robotics and other fun and hands-on ways of expanding their knowledge and experience in the various facets of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (Design), Mathematics, or STEAM.

While many makers consider themselves simply hobbyists or enthusiasts they are a vibrant and fundamental source of innovation, embracing creativity, developing new products and generating value in the Maker community.  In fact, it’s not unusual for some of these Makers to take the leap as entrepreneurs and start companies.  We see it all the time!

While there are several industry professionals who take advantage of the incredible Maker opportunities at MIDAS, it’s not necessary to be an engineer or techie to enjoy all a space like MIDAS offers.  Check out our #madeatMIDAS features to see the examples of ordinary people making extraordinary things.

That’s what’s so great about the Maker Movement: accessibility!  You don’t even need to bring an idea… just your imagination and curiosity.  The ideas will flow soon enough!

What can MIDAS can help you make!  Check out our calendar of courses HERE!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Introduction to MIDAS from MIDAS Fab Lab on Vimeo.

MIDAS Course: Markforged 3D Printer

markforged 3d printer MIDAS course

The printer in action. The larger tube feeds plastic filament while the smaller feeds carbon fibre.

Note:  This is a MIDAS certification course.

Sometimes traditional 3D printing just doesn’t cut it – that’s where the Mark Two from Markforged comes in. The Mark Two is an industrial strength 3D printer here at the MIDAS Lab and using continuous fiber inlays together with high-performance nylons, it creates parts that can compete with metal!  The Markforged Mark Two is simply an incredible piece of engineering.

Markforged Mark Two:  High strength parts printed overnight.

Upcoming course April 9, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

The MarkForged Mark Two course at MIDAS

A beautiful minimalistically designed and user-friendly desktop machine offering a touchscreen display and a print volume of 120 x 132 x 154mm. Pick your reinforcement and plastics, and remove the time, hassle and design iterations so you can put your parts to use right off the printer, engineered with the right material for any job.

The Mark Two prints with two printheads: one builds nylon parts, and the other is a revolutionary, new composite print head to reinforce those parts with continuous fiber.

By reinforcing your parts with composite fiber while 3D printing them, The Mark Two achieves unparalleled strength, stiffness and durability in its printed parts.  The Mark Two prints materials that no other 3D printer can, like Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass and Kevlar.

3D printing with composite fiber is as much about the software as it is about the unique technology of the printers.  This printer comes with MarkForged’s browser-based 3D printing software, Eiger, which is user friendly, and runs on any computer system, making your printed part flexible or strong in a process that is both easy and intuitive.  The Markforged Eiger software is both powerful and easy to use in your browser, importing your drawing and slicing it for high strength printing.

Markforged Mark Two Eiger software

The touchscreen makes it easy to connect to wifi, start prints and manage your printer.  The Mark Two print bed clicks into place with 10 micron accuracy – allowing you to pause a print, remove the bed, add components, click the bed back in and then continue the print in the exact same position.

Upcoming course April 9, 2018.  Register HERE to reserve your seat!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Markforged Mark Two Course at MIDAS

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Fun Friday! Raspberry Pi DIY Laptop With A Little Trotec Laser Cutter!

 

Raspberry Pi Trotec Laser Cutter DIY laptopWhat do you get when you combine the magic of a little Raspberry Pi with a wood casing courtesy a Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter?  One heckuva DIY laptop!

Between the Raspberry Pi, loaded with powerful capabilities in such a tiny little package and the Trotec (upcoming Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter course April 20th!) making short work of model making, industrial design, prototyping and just about any kind of DIY application, this creative idea is a great example of an integration of both.

Trotec Laser Cutter and Raspberry Pi DIY laptopThis project also relies upon a 3D printed component (Ultimaker 3D Printer course, April 13th!in the design for the screen hinge, but the rest of the PlyTop is cut out of a three 2′ x 4′ sheets of 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood.

The Plytop base and top are held together with a fair amounts of translucent wood glue.

This design uses a Peripad II B Touchpad, apparently the only self contained touch pad close to the size of a normal laptop trackpad at a decent price. It sits neatly in the Plytop shell and works just fine out of the box with the Raspberry Pi 3. Plug ’em in and they behave like your typical trackpad.

The Waveshare 10.1 is the best LCD screen on the market that includes a form fitting HDMI interface driver, powered through USB. These screens come attached to a laser cut acrylic base and some cheap HDMI and USB cables.

The monitor is affixed with some very brittle plastic screws and nuts and will require an HDMI cable with a very low connector profile (Monoprice cable) to best fit into the Waveshare’s port once it’s installed in the top shell.

If you’d like to see this project coming together click HERE.

If you’d like to see all the plans and ingredients to make this neat little device click HERE!

 

 

Plytop DIY laptop - Raspberry Pi Trotec laser cutter

 

 

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