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.

Detroit # 1

I arrived yesterday and went to see the Mt. Elliott Makerspace at 10 this morning. The space is located in the basement of the Church of the Messiah close to downtown Detroit.

The space is closed to the public right ow to prepare for after-school-classes so there wasn’t much going on today. I had a very interesting interview with Ted, who is one of the guys running the space.

The classes in Mt: Elliott focus on making and repairing stuff with children, not necessarily digitally. For example there is a bike workshop where every Kid can build it’s own bicycle from donated used parts.

I also found a wind turbine that one can buy as a kit.

I will use tomorrow to catch up with my documentation and work on the next version of my windmill. I’ll be back a Mt Elliot Makerspace on Thursday.


Last Day in Champaign Urbana

After going shopping (and getting wet) in a big thunderstorm I went to the open session in the CUC Fab Lab for a last time. I covered the wings of the turbine skeleton with thin polystyrene sheets, build a larger support and, due to lack of real wind that evening, switched on the Fan…

And it works! Despite the blades being very far from a real profile (I lasercut a NACA 0015) the turbine spins in pretty light winds.

Putting the styrene on the outside of the lasercut profile pretty much destroys the shape of the profile and creates a horrible leading edge but it was the quickest way to get things going.

To make it work more effectively I have to change the construction of the wings to actually match the original profile shape.

Tonight I am going to Chicago for the weekend and a concert, next week I’ll be in Detroit to work on the next version…


CUC Fab Lab August 15 and 16 – It’s spinning!

I had two really interesting Days at the Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab. There is an open Session every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6 – 9PM where veryone can come to the Lab and work on their project.

I Didn’t get much work done on Tuesday due to al lack of the right material for my turbine (1/8 inch plywood) so I spend the Evening talking to people, looking at other projects and watching how the Lab operates during the open sessions. Everyone working at CUC Fab Lab is a volunteer and there is a very nice, very busy cooperative spirit during these sessions.

I spend wednesday morning to gather the material I needed so I could work on my second prototype all afternoon. It’s turning nicely but I have to figure out a way to vover the twisted wings with a surface which turned out to be not as easy as I imagined :p

Make sure you check out the Wind Turbine Page.

I will seek advice at the local RC shop today.

1st Day at Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab

I had a pretty short ‘Working Day’ at the Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab today. Mercedes, who is one of the persons who run the lab showed me around and we had a brief Discussion about the Lab and my research.

The lab is open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays so i hope I can get to know some more Details tomorrow and also work on my project.

Pumping Station One / Second Day at MSI

On Tuesday evening I left the museum around 7 pm and Dan took me to a Hackerspace named Pumping Station One. They just moved into a bigger space and getting organized there. A hackerspace has about the same tools as a Fab Lab but it’s more community-driven / self organized.

Second Day at MSI

I had a quite productive day At the Fab Lab Yesterday. I participated in a workshop for museum guests and made a Keychain.

The workshop was very well planned, It took about 45 minutes for 10 People to design and produce their individual Keychains.

I kept my design quite close to the original Logo of a major German car brand…

After the workshop I had a very interesting Discussion about developing workshops for Fab Labs with Matt, who is the Fab Lab’s program coordinator. He also made sure I was 3D-scanned.

Instead of having me 3D-printed I printed a small model of a Vertical-Axis-Wind-Turbine that I found on Thingyverse.

I spend the rest od the afternoon building a bigger, laser-cut-model from plywood parts. The next step will be to add an axis and cover the wings to actually make it spin :)

Finally I spend a fun evening with my Couchsurfing Host Mark and his friends in the Wicker Park Neighbourhood.



First Day at MSI (Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago)

This morning I drove into Chicago to start with my research at the Museum of Science and Industry.

I was welcomed by Dan Meyer, the Fab Lab Fab Lab Manager at MSI. He gave me a short tour of the museum and we had a very interesting talk about how the Fab Lab in the museum runs.

I also started to work on my Wind Turbine Project, hopefully I will be able to build the first Prototype tomorrow.

Now we are going to continue to the Hackerspace Pumping Station: One, I’ll be back at the Fab Lab tomorrow.

The Arrival

I arrived last Sunday at Chicago O’Hare and am staying with my Cousin Doug and his family in Niles, Michigan. Tomorrow I will have my first visit at an actual Fab lab in the Wanger Family Fab Lab in the The Museum Of Science and Industry, Chicago.

Oliver is a dog.

This is Doug’s Dog oliver.

I’ll write more tomorrow.