Good Bye USA, Hello Berlin

This is the last post on my travels, I am writing it from my office in Berlin.

The journey is over, I had a wonderful 3 months in the United States that allowed me to get to know many parts of this great country and very many wonderful people.

The last Fab Labs I saw were the Maker Place in San Diego and the Transformative Learning Technologies Laboratory in Stanford.

The Maker Place is a commercial workshop with a great selection of tools. I just took a short Tour of the space on my way back to San Francisco.

A remarkable detail that I hadn’t seen before is a very well equipped sewing and embroidery studio with a variety of stitching machines (also computer controlled ones!)

There also are two heavy duty CNC mills for cutting metal and a full-blown metal workshop:

Some nice stuff that was made there:

A model submarine door.

A wooden motor bike.


From their website:

“The Transformative Learning Technologies Laboratory is a multi-disciplinary group designing and researching new technologies for education. We understand new technologies not only as a way to optimize the existing educational system, but as a transformative force that can generate radically new ways of knowing and learning.”

I was not allowed to take pictures in there but it’s pretty much a Fab Lab like the others I had been to. The unique feature is that they are focused on researching the impact of Fab Labs on the education of school children.


Now I will go through all the material I gathered and start looking for partners and funding in Berlin!

Thanks for reading and see you soon:


Last post from the East Coast

I have to catch up a little with last week’s events. I was very busy building a new turbine in Lorain and then I had to travel across the country to Seattle from where I am writing this article.

The Lorain County Community Fab Lab is one of the oldest Fab Labs in the United States, it was the second one to be open to the public after the original one at MIT.

It was very interesting to see all the solutions to everyday problems in a fab lab that can make life a lot easier when running a fab lab and add up to a great experience while working there.

As this was the last Fab Lab I was going to see before getting to San Diego I tried to get done as much work as possible on my turbine. I started with a almost complete redesign which included getting rid of the twisted blades (too hard to make for a one-off prototype), a new foot, approximately doubling the wind-swept area of the turbine, using a different profile for the wings (NACA 0018) and introducing a folding mechanism for an easier transport to the west coast because I was going to travel by plane from now on.

To let the cat out of the bag this is what it looks like now:

The new blades were cnc-machined from plywood on the fab lab’s shop bot which gave me a really hard time because it is an old and stubborn machine that does not like to machine 3-dimensional shapes at all.

In theory the nice thing about digital fabrication is that the machines do the work for you once you’re done designing the part with a computer. In this case I had to babysit the machine for about two days, stopping it about every half-hour to restart the program in order to prevent it from destroying the work it had done earlier.

A very handy tool in this process was the camera that monitors the Shop Bot and that can be pulled up on the big screen in the Lab so I didn’t have to sit in the very noisy machine room all the time.


The area around Cleveland has a lot of fab labs and I was able to do a small excursion to the Ehove Technical High School Fab Lab.

I took part in a digital design and laser cutting class and had the opportunity to talk to students and teachers about Fab Labs at a High Schools.


Upon leaving Lorain got a great surprise present of LCCC Items and a flash drive with all the documents one needs to start a Fab Lab!

I was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people at LCCC, especially my hosts Kayleen and Angelo. Thank you very much! I hope I’ll see you again soon. The sweater is very useful over here at the West Coast!


Lorain Wind Turbine Climb

Today I lost my “Tower Virginity”. That is a term used by wind turbine workers for the first climb on a big wind turbine tower.

The Lorain County Community College has a 2-year Associates degree in Alternate Energy with a major in wind turbines. I was lucky enough to be invited to listen to a class and join them to climb a medium-sized turbine in Cleveland!

The climb itself doesn’t take a lot of time but there can only be three persons at a time on the tower so we had to wait for some hours. But it was absolutely worth it!

Tomorrow will be my first day in the fab lab and I am looking forward to getting some work done myself!

Pyramid Art Center, Baltimore Fab Lab, MICA, Sparktruck

Yesteday I managed to squeeze 4 visits into one Day. I started in Silver Spring at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, which is not really a Fab lab related place but has very nice Art Studios, a gallery and a great print shop.

The Baltimore Fab Lab (& Facebook Page here) is in located on the Campus of The Community College of Baltimore County.

As I had many meetings scheduled I didn’t even try to work on my Wind Turbine but I had a very good Interview with the Lab Manager.

…and on I went to Downtown Baltimore to see MICA’s prototyping workshop. (Maryland Institute College of Art)

A very lucky coincidence had it that the mobile Fab Lab “Spark Truck” of Stanford’s D-School was there to visit and had just pulled up as I arrived.

A very heavy shower of rain gave me the opportunity to get to speak to the guys who drive it for a few minutes (it was very busy when there was no rain and the truck is rather small.)

They managed to squeeze in an almost complete Lab including two Makerbots and a Laser cutter.

Check out their Map and compare it to my Itinerary! almost the same Route reversed and one of us is traveling without a Fab Lab in the trunk :)

Tomorrow I’ll Drive to Lorain, Ohio. I am very excited because the have a wind turbine Lab next to the Fab Lab(!)

Washington DC – McKinley Tech High School, HacDC Hackerspace

I had a nice research Day in Washington DC today. I spend some hours at the McKinley Tech High school

where I could see some Engineering and Graphic Design classes.

The students specialize in one of the four S.T.E.M. programs. These four are Biotechnology, Information Technology, Mass Media, and Engineering. It’s a public school but the students have to apply and pass tests in order to get in.

The school also works on establishing a cooperation with the local Fab Lab DC that I unfortunately couldn’t visit because it’s closed for while I am here.

After School I walked towards the Capitol and did sightseeing for a few hours. On my way I found this nice-looking animal:

And in front of the Botanical Garden I came across a (by now) very familiar type of wind turbine.

I think it is positioned in a bad spot for producing a lot of current but as the park is frequently visited by passing tourists it’s in a very good spot for promoting wind energy.

I spend two hours in a very comfortable Armchair opposite of the turbine to relax and think about the next version I am going to work on.

After another 3-Mile walk from the White House to the Columbia Heights Area I arrived at my final destination HacDC, where I spend a very nice evening in an extraordinarily friendly athmosphere discussion how to generate power from DC and stepper motors and meeting a ton of nice people.

There were a lot more people present this evening, I just got my camera out way too late.

A very nice 3D Printer, a quite new version of the RepRap Mendel

And a 3D print…

Tomorrow I am headed towards the Baltimore Fab Lab. More to come…

New York Hall of Science and NYC Resistor

I just arrived in Bethesda, Maryland at Kat’s and Mike’s Place.
Yesterdaywas my major research Day in New York. I went to the New York Hall of Science and to the Hackerspace NYC Resistor.
Both places were interesting to see although I didn’t get to talk much to people there because in New York people seem to be very busy all the Time.
The New York Hall of Science is going to host the World Maker Faire in the end of September. Besides their regular Science exhibits they host a Makerspace in their Building that seems to be focused on children’s education.

Unfortunately the person who is in charge of the Maker space was busy while I was there so I didn’t get much more Information than this. I will try to get some more details via email.

The NYC Resistor is a Hackerspace in Brooklyn that is open to the public on Monday and Thursday nights. For the rest of the week it is a members-only Space. It has about 45 members and most of the tools are owned by the space.

Because I was coming from the Hall of Science I didn’t bring my Wind Turbine and thus didn’t have much to Hack at the open Hack night (that’s what Thursdays are called there) So I got a short tour, some pictures and went to sleep after a long day in New York.

Please excuse the picture qualitiy, the battery of my camera died when I took a picture of the entrance to NYC Resistor…


AS 220 Labs Providence

I arrived in the Providence area on Sunday. Because of Labor Day Weekend I went to the AS 220 Labs on Tuesday and today is my second day here.

I tested one of the new wings for the turbine I made in Haystack before I started gluing the other two. Right now I am waiting for the glue to cure which gives me time for a small blog update.

AS 220 is a rather big space for all kinds of arts in Providence with three different buildings in the downtown area. AS 220 Industries is a part of that complex and hosts a Fab Lab, a Printmaking Workshop and a media Lab. AS 220 Labs is the Fab Lab in AS 220 Industries.

There is not too much traffic in the Lab right now so it’s very good working conditions for me as the space is very well prepared to host visiting Makers. I think the glue is dry, I have to get back to work for the next update…

Mt Elliott Makerspace Day two, Tech Shop Detroit and Haystack Fab Lab

I have to catch up with more than a week in this post because I didn’t have access to the internet for a while.

First, because it was asked for, a picture of the car that I am traveling with. :)

Last week on Thursday I visited the Mt. Elliott Makerspace for a second time to meet Jeff, who founded the Space. I was very interesting to hear about the concept, which is different from a Fab Lab in terms of the target audience and the projects that are being worked on there. Instead of high-tech machines the space focuses on teaching people how to build and repair complex systems such as computers, bikes and other electronics. Jeff is the only full-time staff, there are many volunteers from the community who help setting up classes or building up more machines e.g in the wood workshop.

In the afternoon I went to see Detroit’s Tech shop, which belongs to a chain that has the same tools as a fab lab.

The difference here is that it operates like a membership in a gym (100 $ per month) but instead of working out people work on their projects. The place made a very professional impression and the range of tools available exceeds that of a fab lab by far.

I spend four days traveling to my next destination, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. (Two days on the road and two days weekend in Montreal, which is in the middle between Detroit and Haystack)

This is the bridge to Deer Isle, the Island that Haystack is on.


Haystack is a summer school for arts and crafts that added a Fab Lab recently to complement the more traditional crafts- classes. There are two grad students from MIT that work as instructors during the summer sessions. I could spend 3 days in the lab to see how it operates and also work on the next prototype of my wind turbine.

Haystack is located on Deer Isle, which is a pretty remote island of the coast of maine and there was no Internet connection on the whole island for a few days. Together with the rather long drive from Detroit to the east coast this is the reason for this post being so long :)

I used the Shop Bot (a large CNC-Router) to shape a better leading and trailing edge for the wings of the wind turbine.

Then I laser-cut the profile sections to form the rest of the wing.

This construction should help me to use a thin plastic foil for the wing surface instead of the rather heavy and unprecise polystyrene I used earlier.

The status quo looks surprisingly similar to this.