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.

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









Fun Friday: Remote Controlled Car With Raspberry Pi & Bluetooth

Remote Controlled Car Using-Raspberry-Pi-and-Bluetooth

Credit card sized and jam packed with capabilities, the Raspberry Pi can function as a proper desktop computer, to build smart devices or to just have fun bringing new life to otherwise everyday items or old toys.

The Pi was originally intended to be a microcomputer to teach children coding. Its scope has since expanded as hobbyists and engineers realized how much could be achieved with the small device, making it one of the most popular technology items in the world.

This easy remote controlled car project, takes advantage of the little computer’s seamless wireless capabilities, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing a smart phone remote control of the driving.

The car selected is an RF toy car with moving left-right steering feature. The original RF circuit has been replaced with that of the Raspberry Pi. You can use any toy car that has two DC Motors to rotate the front and rear wheels.

The Pi is used to receive command wirelessly from an android phone with an Android app (BlueTerm) installed along with a Bluetooth serial adaptor for communicating with the Raspberry Pi to control the car.

Read more about how to make your own HERE!

Wondering where the name Raspberry Pi came from?  The name, Raspberry, is an homage to early computer companies being named after fruit, like Apple, Tangerine Computer Systems, Apricot Computers, and Acorn (which inspired the microcomputer’s design). Pi is derived from the original idea to make a small computer to run only the Python programming language.


Raspberry Pi: Super Power in a Tiny Package!

Credit card-sized, and low-cost, this powerful little device is a computer designed initially for education, to improve programming skills and hardware understanding for young people, pre-university.  Due to its size, affordability and versatility, the Raspberry Pi quickly inspired the interest of hobbyists, makers, inventors, and electronics geeks enthusiasts for projects requiring a little more oomph than the basic microcontroller like the Arduino.

While slower than a modern desktop or laptop, the Raspberry Pi is still a complete, yet mini, Linux computer providing physical computing capabilities beyond that of a regular PC allowing you to connect electronic components and program physical devices in the real world.

Here are just  a couple of examples of possible applications of the Raspberry Pi, from the fun to the practical, this tiny computer having the ability to help with environmental study in the field:

Using the Raspberry Pi and open source software, a team of National Geographic Explorers were able to more easily measure water quality, wildlife sightings, and more.  Using the tiny hardware, they created a portal to share data openly, helping to preserve a portion of African wilderness.

According to Shah Selbe, one of the Explorers, they implemented the Raspberry Pi in their conservation work as the brains of a data station custom-built into his mokoro (traditional canoe) as he travelled the entire expanse of the Delta.  You can read the full interview here.

raspberry pi applications

For a little fun, here’s an example of a project combining the fun of a skateboard and some Raspberry Pi ingenuity: an electric skateboard that can zip you around town at up to 30kmph!

The brains is a Raspberry Pi Zero, and the speed is controlled by a Nintendo Wii Remote over Bluetooth.  With a motor from Alien Power Systems attached to the rear axle, a speed controller from the same company, and a battery offering a range of 10km.
The project is the brainchild of the Raspberry Pi Guy, the man behind the popular series of YouTube tutorial videos, and features just 100 lines of code!
Meantime, check it out:






3D Printed Handheld Raspberry Pi Zero Retro Game Console

Raspberry Pi Zero Handheld Retro Game

If you’re looking for a cool new project that combines the magic of your Raspberry Pi and a 3D digital printer – your own, or of course, ours here at MIDAS – check this out!

This Raspberry Pi Zero finds a new home encased in a 3D printed casing making for a retro gaming console designed specifically for smaller printers and only requiring an 80 x 104 mm print bed size.

The files are actually available to download via Thingyverse and follows the Adafruit PiGRRL Pocket One project with a few modifications, according to its creator.

Here’s ANOTHER handheld Raspberry Pi game console! It was designed to use the Pi Zero and fit smaller printers whilst still being simple to put together. The front and back are completely separate until you close the case, so you can work on one half at a time and keep everything neat.

This build pretty much follows the Adafruit PiGRRL Pocket one, but the image doesn’t work on the Pi Zero (for me anyway) so you’ll have to manually set up the screen and buttons after installing a Retropie image for the Pi Zero. This build does not have any audio.