I took the subway out from midtown Manhattan where I was staying and arrived about a half hour early. NYCResistor is located a short walk from the subway station in a non-descript brick building on a not too busy/not too quiet street. The doorway is barely marked and might be easily missed. Visitors may need to call to get the front door unlocked. Once inside there is a cool LED light directing you up four flights of well worn wooden stairs to the space. The space itself is has nice high ceilings and is HUGE. I briefly visited their previous digs back in December and this new space is much bigger. They have a big open room up front for classes, a couple side offices (one is home to their Epilog laser cutter), and another even bigger room back through the arches that houses ongoing projects. There were a few folks working on projects in the back room when I arrived, and some others puttering about, doing improvements on the space, etc. The coolest project in this back room at the time I visited was a pair of Makerbot Plastruder Mark 5 prototypes undergoing stress tests. Zach et al had set up a pair of laser cut acrylic boxes into which the plastuders were oozing out a steady stream of black ABS plastic. I got to meet Zach briefly – quite a pleasure for me, he (like the rest of the folks there) was friendly and fun to chat with. He said the plastruders had been running continuously for 24-48+hours! That beats the heck out of the 20 min or so I get out of the Mark 4 on Goldbot (my Makerbot Cupcake). They still have some issues to work out but I am excited to see this development.
I was at NYCResistor to take Shelby Arnold’s class in Paper Engineering. Basically this is paper folding to make popup cards and books. Shelby passed around a nice tutorial book – Elements of Pop up: A Pop Up Book For Aspiring Paper Engineers. It is loaded with how-tos and examples. I ordered myself a copy from amazon after the class. Shelby then showed us how to make a number of basic popups for simple cards. I made a half dozen or so in the hour+ of the class. Mine were plain white with no decorations – simple engineering prototypes. Others in the class (about 14 total) were much more artistic – tacking on decorative flourishes. One person even made a pair of popup cards showing robots walking in a city – second card showed the flaming aftermath. It was a fun introduction to the craft. I wish there was time to go deeper and try out their CraftRobo machine, but alas there wasnt time. (also the machine was not set up.) I’ll just have to wait till I have some time to experiment on my own.
After the Paper Engineering class, Raphael Abrams was teaching a Soft Circuit class. It was listed as sold out so I had not pre-registered. It was also scheduled to end about 5:30 which I initially thought would be too late for me to make it back to Manhattan for the party my wife was expecting me to attend. However, Raphael said he would gladly let me take the class for cash payment and since subway travel was quick, I dropped $30. It was quite fun although it ran long and I had to bug out well before the end. Raphael had us make a simple LED circuit with a battery pouch. The conductive thread is really hard to work with. You need to cut it with a sharp knife to avoid any dangling bits that could cause shorts, etc. It is fat and not easy to thread into a needle (dang these aging eyes!), and then easily slips out. It also tangles and knots itself quite easily so hand sewing is tricky. I did manage to get a pair of white LEDs wired up properly (in parallel). Raphael had some conductive tape which I put down over a coil of thread on one end of the circuit. The other end was attached to half of a metal snap that I sewed onto a small piece of felt that was then attached over the tape creating a pocket. Inserting the battery into the pocket in the correct orientation closed the circuit and lights up the LEDs. Raphael had some more advanced projects planned, but by the time I got mine working, it was 5:45 and I had to bug out for the train. I wish I had stayed longer – the party was delayed an hour! I am looking forward to working with more soft circuits in the future. There is talk CrashSpace might host a class, which would be great… if I’m still here on mainland. Otherwise, we will have to do ourselves in Maui!