April 01, 2014

Intro to Arduino is back!

If you've been waiting and wondering when we're going to hold another Intro to Arduino workshop again, today is your lucky day! We are holding it again on Tuesday, April 1 at 7:00 pm, and there are still spaces available. 

Whether you've had a project in mind for a while or are looking for something new to try, we will help you get your feet wet with the Arduino platform. We will cover basic Arduino programming and both digital and analog input and output. Through a series of hand-on exercises, you will learn basic Arduino programming and how to interface with LEDs, switches, and potentiometers. We will be using the Sparkfun's Arduino compatible RedBoard for this class.

The $60 workshop rate covers all the materials and two and a half hours of instruction. To sign up, give us a call (206 357 9406) or come down to our space on Broadway.  A laptop is required.

March 16, 2014

SF & Uber

I don't post much personal stuff on this blog, but I probably should have mentioned that I moved to San Francisco back in December to join the mobile team at Uber! Superpumped to be here. (p.s., we're hiring!)

Back in my hometown, the Seattle City Council is talking about effectively shutting down uberX and other rideshare services. Below is the letter I sent Councilmember Mike O'Brien describing both why I think Uber is important for Seattle, and why I decided to relocate to join the company.

Mike - I'm disappointed by your decision to limit the number of available rideshare drivers. I've been a long time supporter of providing ways for people to get around the city without needing their own car, including my direct involvement with the ST2 campaign and the Broadway streetcar/bike path project.

Rideshare provides important complementary service to mass transit. Many Seattle commuters who take transit to work still own cars that they used for all non-commute trips, but that was starting to change. I personally know many people who sold their cars because they knew they could count on services like Uber for on-demand rides. This is a big deal, leading to more support for mass transit, less demand for parking that drives up the cost of housing, and less opposition to street improvement projects that also benefit cyclists and pedestrians.

Many friends and I have found ourselves going out more, spending more money at local businesses, and exploring more of the city because we know we can get home safely.

I left Seattle to join Uber because I saw it was having such a positive impact on cities around the world and wanted to be part of it. The decision to limit available drivers takes Seattle backwards with all stated goals around climate change, alternative transportation, affordable housing, job growth, and public safety.

There are over 10,000 signatures from people who want to see Uber stay as an effective way to get around Seattle. action.uber.org/seattle Your decision does not represent the city that elected you.

I did not receive a response.

March 12, 2014

We're the BLE of the Ball!

Oh man. Support for our Indiegogo campaign to run intensive Bluetooth Low Energy workshops has been completely overwhelming. During the campaign itself, we blew past our goal, thanks in part to being tweeted by BoingBoing and BluetoothSIG.

We've continued to get emails since the campaign closed, from people who missed it but want to register, and from companies who want to support us.

We're thrilled to announce that Bluegiga will be providing the bluetooth modules themselves. We looked at a lot of modules before Bluegiga reached out to us, and they're really set apart by their ease of use and the phenomenal support material available on their website. We pride ourselves in being the most accessible, open-source makerspace around, so that feels like a great fit.

What you're seeing in this photo is the Bluegiga module on our BLE breakout board. That board is the secret sauce for your Bluetooth project-- the part that actually talks to your Android device. Right now, it's just letting you blink that LED with your phone. The part where it does something fancy? That's where you come in.

Also, did we mention we made it with lasers?

The official workshop dates are:

  • March 22 [SOLD OUT!]
  • April 5
  • April 19

We're still chasing down a couple of our Indiegogo backers, so we don't have exact numbers on how many spaces are available in each workshop, but we do know that they're all almost completely full. We will open the remaining spaces to the public on March 22 at $300 a seat. You'll want to move fast, because these spaces will go very quickly. If there's enough interest, we'll happily schedule a fourth date.

Excited? Got questions? Want to get on our radar as interested in those extra workshop spots? You can call the shop at (206) 357-9406, or contact workshop instructor Morgan Redfield at morgan@metrix.net. 

March 06, 2014

Getty Embed


Whee, Getty (where I work) now allows embedding images!

February 14, 2014

Email to Sawant Kshama Sawant

During the 2013 campaign, I asked "Socialist Alternative" Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant for a clarification of her position regarding "corporate welfare" via Twitter, and ended up sparking a contentious debate. I sent her the following email in followup. I did not receive a response. She later won the election against 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin.

Since being elected, she has suggested Boeing workers "take over" the factories, opposed a proposal to save Metro bus service, and argued against rideshare companies like Uber (where I've since started working) because she doesn't like that the list of investors includes Goldman Sachs and Jeff Bezos. After hearing about all this, I thought I'd post my letter.

Subject: Following up on Transit & Affordable Housing

Date: 10/11/13

To Kshama Sawant,

A few weeks ago a tweet from me sparked a contentious debate about your position on transportation issues. I wanted to follow up because I don't feel that everyone was able to correctly express their opinions 140 characters at a time, and it seems the conversation ended with a lot of confusion and incorrect conclusions. I also hope to clarify my understanding of your position on these important topics. Please note I will likely publish this letter and your reply.

I'd first like to explain why I consider your comment calling the First Hill Streetcar project a product of the "political establishment" and "not real transit" to be incorrect, starting with some history:

In 2007, a group representing what I consider the "political establishment" created a proposition known as "Roads and Transit". This was basically huge highway expansions coupled with some transit projects. We were told it was the last opportunity to expand the subway system anytime soon, and many pro-transit and environmental organizations supported it.

Not everyone bought the argument that transit funding had to be coupled with highway expansion. The opposition was lead by the Cascade Bicycle Club and the Sierra Club, where current City Councilmember Mike O'Brien was chair at the time. To much surprise, the measure was defeated.

Despite grim warnings that "There is no Plan B", a grassroots campaign with little funding (that I volunteered on) successfully won a transit-only package just one year later. This major victory challenged all long-established assumptions regarding voters and transit (at least until voters approved the tunnel a few years later).

Part of this package included funding for the First Hill Streetcar, which was created after a subway station on First Hill had to be ruled out due to extremely high construction risks.

In addition to the primary goal of connecting First Hill with the subway system, the streetcar will also serve the Yesler Terrace public housing community, providing a significant transit boost for this lower-income area of the city. The statement you referenced about streetcars serving "only rich parts of town" is incorrect, and also ignores the vision to build a city-wide network. Because the First Hill Streetcar project was funded by Sound Transit after being approved by voters, it is incorrect to assume money was directly repurposed from Metro bus service.

On the topic of affordable housing and density, your opponent Richard Conlin has been supportive of two issues I have personally been involved with: Microhousing and the Capitol Hill subway station development agreement.

Microhousing provides an option for people who don't need a lot of space to live in the city near employment instead of driving in. The cost of these units are significantly less than market rate for an average studio, and are successful without the direct subsidy from a housing authority.

The Capitol Hill subway station development agreement is a groundbreaking achievement that will require over 30% of the units to meet affordability standards and provide a public plaza to be used as permanent home for the Broadway farmers market, among other community benefits.

I would like to know if you disagree with your opponent's position on these issues and what you would have done differently, if anything.

I disagree strongly with your support of rent control. Two recent articles in The New York Times explain the problems rent control systems have caused in both New York City and San Francisco: reducing the supply of housing (driving rents up further), and subsidizing apartments for the wealthy. One alternative option for Seattle is adjusting the income requirements of the existing MFTE program, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Finally, back to my original tweet, you talk on your website about "ending corporate welfare" and "tax freeloading corporations". Could you please provide specific examples of this?

I look forward to hearing from you.

February 04, 2014

November 08, 2013

At last night’s 3D Thursday, Johann brought a Kossel Clear...



At last night’s 3D Thursday, Johann brought a Kossel Clear to assemble.  No instructions needed.

November 04, 2013

Giant Foam MRI at Metrix.

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If you have been to Metrix in the last few months, you have probably noticed the tiny bits of pink foam floating around and clinging to everything. They happened to be the byproduct of the largest fabrication project Metrix has worked on so far. It was a fun and experimental project that led us to get to know our biggest robot, the giant router, very well.

Several months ago, Frederick “Fritz” Reitz wandered down the stairs into Metrix to find out more about all of our fabrication capabilities. He needed a full-scale replica of an MRI machine. We certainly hadn’t done anything of that size but we love a good challenge so we took on the project. 

After much discussion, we chose to work with 2 inch thick, 4 ft by 8 ft sheets of rigid foam insulation. The material is great for shaping with the router because it is light, uniform, and can be easily finished with a bit of sandpaper. It provides a good structure for complex geometries that will need to get epoxied and painted. 

What made this project particularly exciting was that it had a pretty great real-life application.The replica was requested by Tom Grabowski, who is a professor of radiology & neurology at the University of Washington. His plan is to use it to get test subjects used to the machine off-line. Time on the real MRI is very expensive so this allows for refining testing teqniques and getting the subjects more comfortablewith the machine. He went to the Center for Human Development and Disability at the University of Washington for help on this. The Center is funded by a NIH grant to support research in human development and disability in such areas as autism, language acquisition, and cognitive development. The Center has their own Instrument Development Lab, where Fritz works. The Lab was tasked with the actual fabrication of the replica-MRI, which is what brought Fritz to Metrix. 

While his lab has many great tools for production, the scale of this particular project required outside help. Our router has a 4 ft by 8 ft cut bed and the z axis has about 8 inches of variance depending on the cutting bit size. Since the project required a lot of complex geometry shaping we had to really learn the 3D z-cutting capabilities of the router, which was new for us so we looked forward to doing some testing.

Below are the first test of the finished surface quality of the foam pieces. We had to use specialty bits designed for cutting foam and soft plastics. When working with something soft like foam, maintaining a very sharp cutting edge is essential in getting a smooth surface. Otherwise the finished surface ends up looking very rough and dented where larger bits of foam get pulled out. The nice thing about working with these specialty bits is that they are super sharp and come in extra-long options because the chip load with foam is quite low. Having the extra length gives much more flexibility in the z-depth shaping of a piece.

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In order to achieve a high degree of detail, first we ran a rough finishing pass using a 1/2” ball-end bit with a fairly large stepover. Then we used a 1/8” ball-end bit with a smaller stepover to do a finishing pass. The stepover is the amount the bit moves over with each pass and it is determined as a percentage of the bit diameter. The size of the stepover and the length of time it takes to finish a pass are inversely proportional. We went with a 50% stepover for the rought finishing pass and a 25% stepover for the final finishing pass with the small bit. Usually the roughing passes run faster to save time with the knowledge that the finishing pass will smooth everything out. 

The project took many weeks of testing, troubleshooting, buying more foam, calibrating the router, and calibrating the router some more.

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Our amazing new technician/pretengineer Seth Crowell is a master with the router. He has put many hours bringing the robot to the glorious life it was meant to have.

Below is the raw assembled product standing full-height in the Instrument Development Lab.

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The front round piece is made up of a total of eight sections. Each half is assembled from four layers of various thickness. The back section, which subtly curves in to simulate the funnel of the MRI, is constructed from eight single layers of the foam. While all the pieces went through a rough finishing with the 1/2” bit and a final finishing with the 1/8” bit, the top two layers of the front part also required an additional initial roughing pass. The roughing pass was done with a 3/8” flat-end extra long bit.

This pass is used with thicker pieces of material when the geometry requires deeper cuts. It removes the bulk of the material in order to make room for the rough finishing pass with the ball-end bit. The roughing generally happens in several set-z drops where each pass removes the extra material at a specified level, and the bit drops down another level for the next pass. The stepover for this can be set as high as 100%. The rought pass is generously off-set from the finished surface of the geometry so that any accidental gauging of the final piece can be avoided. The rough finishing pass with the large ball-end bit removes most of this excess material. While the roughing of a piece involves several fast passes, the rough finishing and final finishing are single, slower passes that trace the final surface of the geometry with increasing degrees of precision. 

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Some initial patching with joint compound was necessary in order to smooth out any little dings from the routing and moving processes. The full piece stands 7 feet tall by 7 feet wide and about 3 feet deep.

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Once the pieces were assembled, Fritz embarked on the long and patient process of finishing the final product. First he applied an undiluted coat of drywall mud to fill in the assembly-joint seams and any dings. Then he smoothed out the surface of the pieces with a few coats of diluted finishing mud to get them ready for sanding and coating in plastic.

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The next step of the process was fine-sanding the pieces to give them an extra smooth finish.

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Once sanded, the pieces were ready for their shiny plastic coating. Fritz used a single coat of pour-on ultra-glo plastic for this part.

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As you can see, the pieces are looking more cohesive with each step. In the future of the giant foam MRI you can expect to see painting and perhaps even some sound and lights rigging. One of the great things about this project is that while it was requested by Professor Grabowski, many other researchers at the UW will be able to take advantage of the availablity of this tool. Metrix is very excited to have been part of not just this amazing challenge of lungs and maneuvering skills but also of the advancement of science.

Stay tuned for updates on the finishing progress of the giant foam MRI!

November 03, 2013

Just In: Audio Equipment Needing Love!

Hey audiophiles! Christmas just came in the form of audio equipment. We have:

  • an Ion iMX02 mixer. The crossfade is a little fuzzy, but the panel cover can be unscrewed, and the crossfade can easily be cleaned or replaced.
  • a Gemini PS-700i 4-channel mixer. The balanced output doesn’t work but is probably fixable, and the booth output works fine.
  • a mini-KP Kaoss Pad for special effects processing. The plastic covering on the touchpad is dented, but slap new plastic on it and it should be good as new.
  • a DIY talkbox, looks brand new and never used. I recommend looking carefully at the wiring and the jack— the person who dropped it off had never used it, so we cannot vouch for it.

Stop by the shop any day, noon to midnight, to check out the new toys and make us an offer!

October 29, 2013

New Workshop: Intro to Inkscape!

The lasers are incredibly powerful tools, able to do anything from blast out furniture to etch text on custom business cards. In this workshop, get oriented to making files for the laser using Inkscape, the most common open-source vector imaging software.

We will go over basic concepts (why do we need a vector image?), design and basic tools of Inkscape, and tips and tricks for making an image our lasers will be happy with. 

Bring a laptop with Inkscape already installed and open (boot-up time can be significant). No experience necessary.

Tuesday, November 19, 7-9 PM, $50.

October 20, 2013

Intro to Electronics is back!

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If you have been checking the blog and our calendar for the past few months, wondering when the Intro to Electronics workshop will be offered again, now is your chance to sign up! The workshop will be on Saturday, November 9, from 2 PM until 4:30 PM. 

Weather you’ve had a project in mind for awhile or are looking to learn something new, we’ll help you take those first steps towards making your great ideas work. The workshop is designed for complete beginners but it is also a good refresher for those who haven’t done electronics in awhile. We will go over some fundamental electronics components, such as resistors, diodes, capacitors, switches, potentiometers, and simple integrated circuit chips. Through a series of hands-on circuit building exercises we will cover proper wiring, reading circuit diagrams, voltage, and current. 

The $50 workshop rate covers all the materials and two and a half hours of instruction. To sign up, give us a call (206 357 9406) or come down to our space on Broadway. 

October 15, 2013

Scenes from Circuit Church.   Simply the fastest electronics...





















Scenes from Circuit Church.  

Simply the fastest electronics design to fabrication exercise on the planet.  

From a list of parts to programming in under 6 hours.

  • You get your Bill of Materials at 6pm
  • ~2 hours design time on Upverter's Cloud PCB Design tool 
  • The circuit is cut on our LPKF Protolaser system
  • SMT Assembly, Soldering and Program/Test by midnight.

Every Sunday Night at Metrix Create:Space

October 10, 2013

Four Years on Broadway

Four years ago, we opened our doors, put out the sandwich board and you came in to Make Something Awesome.  

Let’s put down the tools and party.  

This Saturday, October 12, 8 PM 

October 08, 2013

GeekWire Radio: NSA Spying Revelations

I was guest on the October 5th GeekWire Radio show talking about the NSA spying revelations.

This is the second GeekWire show I've participated in along with my friend Dave Peck from Cloak and Christopher Budd from TrendMicro. The previous show was back in April discussing digital security and privacy more generally.

October 04, 2013

Introducing Circuit Church.

We are proud to announce the First Circuit Church is happening this Sunday. 

Circuit Church is both a learning exercise and a skills challenge.  A night of quick turn electronics with a curated Bill of Materials (B.O.M.).   

Building hardware is hard, and like most hard things, only experience eases the pain.  Circuit Church is designed to skill us all up on making electronics from scratch, fast.  

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At the beginning of the summer, Metrix Create:Space added a LPKF Protolaser S to the robot roster and we built out our Advanced Circuit Lab as an adjunct to the Open Hardware Lab.   For those of you that don’t know, this machine allows us to create circuit boards more accurately and on more materials than chemical processing with no hazardous materials impact.   It’s more reliable than milling, and it is faster than anything else out there, including the fastest quick turn pcb houses.  It allows us to go from design to physical board in minutes rather than hours, days, or weeks.    

Just like 3D Printing’s rapid results change the way we think about physical fabrication, this tool changes the way we think about electronics projects, the speed in which we implement, the materials we pick, and the chances we can take when we’re not waiting weeks for an iteration.   

We know that having a tool like this is a game changer.

Additionally, we’ve been lucky enough to find Upverter, a cloud-based PCB design tool that gives us the ability to share designs quickly. It runs on limited resource computers, yet is powerful enough to do very complex boards and its free to use for Open Source / Open Hardware projects.  We’ve found that its easy to learn even if you only have a basic knowledge of electronics, and we’ll be learning more and more about this tool as we go down our path.

Circuit Church is a program that we believe will get us all up and running towards and making the future we want.   

Circuit Church is Sunday nights and costs $30.  
Space is limited, so call or come by to sign up.

Here’s the basic agenda:

  • We drop the BOM at 6pm
  • Participants design boards in upverter until 8pm(ish)
  • Designs get sent to CAM and are processed by 9pm.  
  • PCB/Parts are distributed
  • Assembly/Test/Showing off on the white tables until closing time 

All participants will bring a computer for designing their board in upverter.  

All participants get a chance at each step.  If you don’t finish a design, one will be provided for you for the assembly process.   Help will be provided, but this is not a workshop environment with step by step instructions.  This is an exercise to help you learn and advance your SMT skills in a fun and collaborative environment. 

September 19, 2013

Circuit Board Design with KiCAD

Kicad is an open source software suite for electronic design automation (EDA). This allows you to design schematics of electronic circuits and printed circuit boards (PCB). This workshop will cover the user interface, schematic layout, footprint selection, PCB layout, and Gerber file export. You will also learn how to make your own components and footprints. When we are done you should have the knowledge to design your own PCBs and prepare them for production.

What to bring: Laptop with the current version of Kicad installled. (available here: http://kicad.sourceforge.net/wiki/Downloads) Mouse with scroll wheel (optional) - a scroll wheel makes zooming easier but it is not required

Target audience: Beginners with basic electronics experience. You should know what a resistor, capacitor, and diode are and what a schematic looks like.

To sign up, call us at 206-357-9406, or drop by the shop! 623A Broadway E, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

September 10, 2013

Shiny New Rate Sheet

Have y’all seen the newly redesigned rate sheet, complete with new textiles membership options? Feast your eyeballs on this!

August 21, 2013

August 11, 2013

The Secret Life of SIM Cards

Last year I worked with a group of people to set up a GSM cell network at the second Toorcamp, a hacker camping conference on the Washington coast. My responsibilty was to procure SIM cards that would allow phones to connect with our network.

While researching SIM cards, I learned that small apps ("applets") can be loaded onto the cards and executed separately from the phone's processor and OS. Recently at DEF CON 21 I gave a presentation with Karl Koscher about our experience working with the SIM cards, detailing how to write, build, load, and use these applets.

Lots more information at simhacks.github.io.

August 08, 2013

New Toy Alert: Laser Etch Drinking Glasses!

Good news, everyone!

We recently got the rotary attachment on our laser up and running, meaning we can now laser etch wine glasses, pint glasses, and anything else round and non-toxic you may have lying around. 

Questions? Concerns? Chomping at the bit? Email, drop by, or call us at (206) 357-9406.

July 29, 2013

July 25, 2013

Hacker Scouts: Soft Circuits

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Sunday, July 28, 1pm-2pm

Calling all 8-14 year olds interested in electronics, sewing, or making sweet light-up projects! Come by Metrix this Sunday, hang out, and make something awesome with us.

For more information, visit http://hacker-scouts.org/openlab.

July 24, 2013

3D Design with Google SketchUp

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Saturday, July 27, 2-4 pm.

Want to watch something 3D print, but tired of printing other people’s designs? Like 3D modeling, but hankering after something free and intuitively designed? Wondering what all the fuss is about SketchUp?

Come in and get oriented on the basic tools and interface of the program. Designed for beginners. Please bring a laptop with SketchUp already installed. 

$50. Come in or call (206) 357-9406.

July 22, 2013

July 13, 2013

The Coolest Thing You'll See This Weekend

Check out friends of the shop Mark Ganter and the UW WOOF 3D Printing Club racing in a 3D printed boat tomorrow, Saturday 7/13 at the world infamous Seafair Milk Carton Derby!

July 02, 2013

Android Libraries with Gradle and Android Studio

The new Gradle-based build system for Android apps is a huge improvement over older eclipse, ant, and maven-based approaches. It has a simple declarative syntax and makes building different variants of your app (e.g. staging vs. production) very easy. Gradle is also the default build system for the new Android Studio IDE, so there are lots of good reasons to migrate your apps over.

The new system also finally provides an official way to package up Android library dependencies, however I've seen a lot of confusion on IRC and G+ about how this works, so here's a quick guide.

ActionBarSherlock already has gradle build scripts, but the archive is not yet published on Maven Central so you'll have to build from source:

$ git clone -b dev https://github.com/JakeWharton/ActionBarSherlock.git
$ cd ActionBarSherlock/actionbarsherlock
$ gradle assemble

This will create an archive at build/libs/actionbarsherlock-4.3.2-SNAPSHOT.aar.

Ideally we could just copy this into our app's libs/ directory and add a File dependency, but unfortunately this currently only works for jar files.

Instead, we'll "install" the archive into a local maven repository inside our app:

$ mvn install:install-file \
    -DgroupId=com.actionbarsherlock \
    -DartifactId=actionbarsherlock \
    -Dversion=4.3.2-SNAPSHOT \
    -DgeneratePom=true \
    -Dpackaging=aar \
    -Dfile=build/libs/actionbarsherlock-4.3.2-SNAPSHOT.aar \
    -DlocalRepositoryPath=/path/to/myapp/libs

(Set localRepositoryPath to the full path of your app's libs directory.)

Now in your app's build.gradle simply add libs as a maven repo and add the dependency:

repositories {
    mavenCentral()
    maven { url 'libs' }
}

dependencies {
    compile 'com.actionbarsherlock:actionbarsherlock:4.3.2-SNAPSHOT'
}

That's it! Be sure to commit the entire libs directory to source control so other developers (and your CI server) can easily build your project. You can also choose to host dependencies in your own remote maven repository, but that's overly complex for most projects.

ActionBarSherlock is a good example of how to add Gradle support to a library that primarily uses a dfferent build system and that does not yet have a published aar. I've done the same thing for the Facebook SDK here. Between those examples and the official docs, you should have no trouble creating aar archives for any other project you need.

Hope this helps someone!

Lily Pad Arduino Workshop

Monday July 29th 7 to 9:30 PM:


This workshop is designed for people new to microcontrollers and interested in e-textiles. The LilyPad Arduino has been developed for sewable microprocessor applications. We will use the LilyPad to learn how to program a microcontroller and interface it with electronic components. No prior knowledge of electronics or programming required. Please bring a laptop with the latest Arduino IDE and drivers installed (http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/ArduinoLilyPad). All materials are included in the $60 workshop fee. Call (206-357-9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.

June 16, 2013

Machine Sewing 101: Copy Your Favorite Tee-Shirt

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Have a tee-shirt that fits like no other, and want more?

Come to the Machine Sewing workshop on Tuesday, July 2 from 7 PM to 9 PM.

Bring your favorite shirt and a larger shirt to re-fashion, or contact us about getting appropriate material to start from scratch. Leave with a custom pattern for your favorite shirt, a good start at making your second copy, and a coupon for an hour of serger time to finish your project ($10 value!)

To register ($50) give us a call at 206.357.9406 or come down to our shop on Broadway. Space is limited. 

June 08, 2013

Busdrone

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In the late 90s researchers at the University of Washington created Busview, a Java applet that displayed Seattle bus locations on a map in real-time. It was ahead of its time and unfortunately was largely forgotten without ever seeing mainstream use. This changed in 2008 when Brian Ferris, another UW researcher, created OneBusAway. Brian used the data BusView had been silently aggregating for nearly a decade and built a simple mobile app that displays realtime arrival information for any bus stop. OneBusAway quickly became the ubiquitous Seattle transit app with over 100,000 monthly users.

Realtime arrival information is great, but I always missed the live birds-eye view of the city's transit that BusView provided and thought it would be fun to build a modern interface ontop of it.

Inspired by similar projects from San Francisco and Portland I recently convinced my friend Andrew Filer to do exactly that, and he build Busdrone.

busdrone logo

Busdrone mashes data from BusView, OneBusAway, NextBus, and WSDOT VesselWatch into a single realtime map of all the city's public transit options. It's a lot of fun to watch.

We also hope to eventually add private transit (car2go, Zipcar, Uber, Lyft, Sidecar) and any other location-based realtime data about the city such as 911 Fire responses and traffic collisions.

Last Saturday was the National Day of Civic Hacking, a nation-wide hackathon to build apps around public data. The Seattle event was hosted at our beautiful City Hall where I spent the day building a native Android Busdrone app while Andy continued to improve the API and web interface.

busdrone logo

Both the Busdrone server and Android app are open source, so please grab the code and help build a platform for realtime information about cities across the world.

Android app on Google Play

May 28, 2013

Hand Knitting 101: Learn to Knit a Flying Spaghetti Monster

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Always wanted to learn to knit, but not interested in making an ugly scarf? Just want to make a cuddly Flying Spaghetti Monster? Either way this workshop is for you! Come on Tuesday, June 25 from 7 PM to 10 PM.

Toys are fun projects for novice knitters because they are small, and introduce techniques needed for more complex projects. Workshop fee ($60) includes knitting pattern and all materials. 

To register, give us a call at 206 357 9406 or come down to our shop. Space is limited.

Instructor: Jennifer Leigh

Machine Knitting 101: Get to Know the Machines

The answer is always laser

Do you think knitting machines are just about the coolest thing ever? Want to make a really nice sweater faster than you can watch the new season of Arrested Development? 

So do we, which is why we are offering an introductory workshop on Machine Knitting on Tuesday, June 18, from 7 PM until 10 PM.

At the end of this workshop you will be confident you can start and end a knitted piece, know how to use the main bed and the ribber, and be able to identify and use all the tools. This workshop is required before you can buy time on the knitting machines. The workshop fee ($50) includes a booklet with descriptions of all the tools and instructions for the basic operations you need to use the machines. 

To sign up, give us a call at 206 357 9406 or come down to our shop. Space is limited so register early!

Instructor: Jennifer Leigh

May 27, 2013

Open Beam Build-Off 5/31

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As Einstein said, “Genius is doing a lot with a little.” Take our starter OpenBeam kit and go head to head with the best builders, hackers, and tinkerers in Seattle. The goal? Make something awesome. The prizes? Fame, prestige, and bigger and better OpenBeam kits. As Einstein said. “If only I’d had OpenBeam when I was alive!”

First Place: Deluxe OpenBeam Kit
Second Place: Starter OpenBeam Kit

All entrants get $20 off an OpenBeam Kit, and our favorite entries will be displayed at our Mini Maker Faire booth.

$10 entrance fee.

Free for Members! 

May 26, 2013

Intro to E-textiles 6/17

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Sew a circuit!  In this workshop, you will learn the basics of e-textiles by sewing a plush firefly that lights up in the dark.  Our next workshop is 7 - 9:30 PM on Monday, June 17.

What are e-textiles?  E-textiles, or electronic textiles, are fabrics with electronics integrated in them.  The firefly has a circuit that is sewn together using conductive thread.

No prior knowledge of electronics or sewing required.  All materials included for $50.  Call 206-357-9406 or come down to the shop to sign up.  Space is limited.

Got some extra time? Stay late and Hack Your Clothes!

May 17, 2013

May 12, 2013

Circuit Board Design with KiCAD

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Do you have basic electronics experience and know what a resistor, capacitor, and diode are and what a schematic looks like?

Do you have a project sitting on a breadboard that you want to make more permanent?  Maybe you are ready to turn it into a product to sell.

Then the Circuit Board Design with KiCAD workshop on Sunday, June 23rd (3PM-5PM) is for you!

The tool you need to make your schematic into a PCB is called an electronic design automation (EDA) tool.  While there are many choices out there, one of the best free open source options is Kicad.  This software suite allows you to design schematics for electronic circuits and printed circuit boards (PCB).

This workshop will cover the user interface, schematic layout, footprint selection, PCB layout, and Gerber file export.  You will also learn how to make your own components and footprints. When we are done you should have the knowledge to design your own PCBs and prepare them for production.

The workshop rate ($50) includes 2 hours of instruction.   Call (206-357-9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.  

You should bring a laptop with the current version of Kicad installed (available here: http://kicad-pcb.org)  And a mouse with a scroll wheel if you have one as it makes zooming easier, but it is not required.

May 07, 2013

Intro to Electronics: Tonight!

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It’s not too late to take the Intro to Electronics workshop tonight (May 7) at 7 PM!

Weather you’ve had a project in mind for awhile or are looking to learn something new, we’ll help you take those first steps towards making your great ideas work. The workshop is designed for complete beginners but it is also a good refresher for those who haven’t done electronics in awhile. We will go over some fundamental electronics components, such as resistors, diodes, capacitors, switches, potentiometers, and simple integrated circuit chips. Through a series of hands-on circuit building exercises we will cover proper wiring, reading circuit diagrams, voltage, and current. 

The $50 workshop rate covers all the materials and two and a half hours of instruction. To sign up, give us a call (206 357 9406) or come down to our space on Broadway. 

May 04, 2013

Check out our new weekly event! Learn to with various types of...



Check out our new weekly event! Learn to with various types of fabrics on all kinds of levels!

April 06, 2013

Intro to E-textiles 4/30

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Show someone you care!   Sew magnetic hearts that turn on when they snap together.  Learn the basics of e-textiles and make a gift just in time for Mother’s Day. Join us for our workshop is Tuesday, April 30th at 7 PM.

What are e-textiles?  E-textiles, or electronic textiles, are fabrics with electronics integrated in them.  Each heart has a circuit that is sewn together using conductive thread. 

No prior knowledge of electronics or sewing required.  All materials included for $50.  Call 206-357-9406 or come down to the shop to sign up.  Space is limited.

March 25, 2013

LilyPad Arduino 4/15 7-9:30 PM

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Join us for the first LilyPad Arduino workshop on Monday, April 15th!  This workshop is designed for people new to microcontrollers and interested in e-textiles. The LilyPad Arduino has been developed for sewable microprocessor applications. We will use the LilyPad to learn how to program a microcontroller and interface it with electronic components. No prior knowledge of electronics or programming required, however taking the “Hello World” workshop will give you a good foundation for the programming component. Please bring a laptop with the Arduino IDE and drivers installed (http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/ArduinoLilyPad). All materials are included in the $60 workshop fee. Call (206-357-9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.

Intro to Electronics: Today!

_DSC1660.JPGAre you looking to leap into the world of electronics? Have an awesome project in mind but need to start with the basics?

There are still a few spots left for the Intro to Electronics workshop on tonight (March 26) from 7 PM to 9:30 PM. We’ll help you take those first steps towards making your great ideas work. The workshop is designed for complete beginners but it is also a good refresher for those who haven’t done electronics in awhile. We will go over some fundamental electronics components, such as resistors, diodes, capacitors, switches, potentiometers, and simple integrated circuit chips. Through a series of hands-on circuit building exercises we will cover proper wiring, reading circuit diagrams, voltage, and current. 

The $50 workshop rate covers all the materials and two and a half hours of instruction. To sign up, give us a call (206 357 9406) or come down to our space on Broadway. 

Hello, World! 4/8

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Join us on Monday, April 8th at 7 PM for our our beginner programming workshop, “Hello, World!”.  This workshop is designed for absolute beginners and can be used as a stepping stone to the Intro to Arduino workshop. You will learn basics of programming by running Python examples.  Then you will see how these building blocks appear in other languages.  

The workshop rate ($50) includes 2 hours of instruction.  Please bring a laptop.   Call (206 357 9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.  

March 07, 2013

March 04, 2013

Intro to Arduino: Extra!!!

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Do you keep trying to sign up for the Intro to Arduino class but it’s always full? Are you new to microcontrollers and looking for a way to get started?Just looking for a fun new thing to do on a Tuesday night? This month we’ve added an extra Intro to Arduino workshop! The workshop will be this Tuesday, March 5th at 7 PM.

Arduino is an open source microcontroller platform that combines hardware and software into a user-friendly versatile system that can be implemented for a variety of project scales. The Intro to Arduino workshop is designed for true beginners to the platform. Through a series of hands-on exercises we will go over the hardware of an Arduino Uno board, how to talk to it by writing simple programs, and the basics of the digital and analog input/output set-ups. No previous electronics or programming experience is necessary. The $60 workshop rate covers all the materials for the class, including an Arduino Uno board, as well as two and a half hours of instruction. You will need to bring a computer with the Arduino IDE installed (http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Software).

To reserve your spot, give us a call at 206.357.9406 or come down to our shop on Broadway. Space is limited.

March 03, 2013

Intro to E-textiles 3/17

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Sew a circuit!  In this workshop, you will learn the basics of e-textiles by sewing a plush firefly that lights up in the dark.  Our next workshop is 2 - 4:30 PM on Sunday, March 17.

What are e-textiles?  E-textiles, or electronic textiles, are fabrics with electronics integrated in them.  The firefly has a circuit that is sewn together using conductive thread.

No prior knowledge of electronics or sewing required.  All materials included for $50.  Call 206-357-9406 or come down to the shop to sign up.  Space is limited.

February 25, 2013

One day left to sign up for Soldering 101!

Soldering 101, hands on instruction for the Beginner or Novice.

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Making things requires a lot of skills. Soldering is a key element when it comes to anything electronic. Maybe you want to get your projects off your our valuable breadboard and make them into something more permanent. Or simply want to do some circuit bending or be able to repair something that’s broken. In just a few hours you can learn the fundamentals of soldering! Nothing beats being able to look at a schematic and turn it into a functional layout on a circuit board. Take your prototyping to the next level by making a durable device that can be handled and incorporated into an actual project.

     Here at Metrix we have enough silicon and tools to make anything your heart desires. Reserve your seat at our soldering workshop and we can show you how to solder a simple circuit that results in some cool blinking lights. Basic Soldering is a skill that is required if you want to take our upcoming Surface Mount Soldering or Robotics workshops . At only $50 the workshop will fill up quick. Space is limited so be sure to call or give us a visit before the next scheduled class on Tuesday February 26th at 7pm.

     It helps to have a small background knowledge of electronics but its not necessary as we will cover some basic material such as polarity and proper assembly.

    Give us a call at (206)357-9406, or just stop by and check the shop out! 

February 18, 2013

Design For 3D Printing Workshop - 2/24

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Join us on Sunday, February 24th 2013 at 7 PM for the first in a series of workshops on design for 3D Printing!

I will explain principles and considerations for the design of a 3D print.  No previous 3D printing experience is required as we build a foundation of knowledge for designing models with intent of printing them in plastic on a 3D printer.  

3D Printing has made its way to the consumer-level and the significance of this technology is changing the way we think about commerce, consumption, production, hacking, repair and design. 

It’s not just for prototypes anymore!  With 3D printers dropping in price and improving in print quality, countless people are using 3D printing to create everything from works of art to toys and models; robotic linkages and prosthetic limbs to wall hangars and switch covers.  But like all technologies, to get what you want, you need to give the machine what it needs.  

In the case of 3D printing, you need to provide the machine with a clean, feasible model to print.  3D printing has its limitations like all manufacturing processes do and you need to know what those are if you want to have consistently successful 3D prints. 

This first workshop covers a brief history of the technology, the mechanics of a 3D printer and the physical limitations, quirks and (mis)behaviors of 3D printing with plastic.  By the end, 3D printing should be a whole lot less mysterious or intimidating and you can move on to using design software to bring your ideas to life!

The workshop rate ($50) includes 2 hours of instruction.   Call (206-357-9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.  

No supplies are required but taking notes is recommended.  If you have an idea of something you are wanting to print, bring it up and we can break it down to determine the ways to make it printable! 

Feel free to look at some of my designs and the designs of others on the “Thingiverse” website to get a feel for the kinds of ideas and designs people are coming up with! 

http://www.thingiverse.com/ErikJDurwoodII/designs 

See you soon! 

Brent J. Rosenburgh

(a.k.a.  Erik J. Durwood II)

February 16, 2013

Open SCAD workshop tomorrow 2/17!

Ever wanted to design your own 3D objects?  Take our OpenSCAD workshop Sunday 2/17 2-4 PM.

This workshop will teach the basics of OpenSCAD, even if you have little or no CAD or programming experience.  We will cover the user interface, basic shapes, transformations and Boolean operations, and exporting for 3D printing.  When we are done you should have the knowledge to make basic models and be able to understand other peoples files.

What to bring:

Laptop with OpenSCAD installed. (available here: http://www.openscad.org/)

Mouse with scroll wheel (optional) - a scroll wheel makes zooming easier but it is not required

Target audience: Beginners with little or no 3D modeling experience.

February 14, 2013

FareBot & Transit Card Privacy In The News

I was recently interviewed about my work on FareBot for a couple articles discussing the privacy of transit card systems:

FareBot was originally conceived as a proof-of-concept demonstration of how many existing transit payment systems are compatible with new NFC phones. It was a pleasant surprise to hear from many people, including people outside the tech industry, who use the app to check the balance of their card before heading to the train station or bus stop.

Removing detailed trip information from these cards while keeping the balance readable without authentication is a good compromise that balances privacy with utility.

February 13, 2013

Android Play Store Privacy

News of a "massive" privacy issue with the Google Android Play Store was reported today by several popular news sites and blogs including Reddit, Daring Fireball, ZDNet, and news.com.au.

The controversy is around how Google automatically shares detailed personal information of everyone who purchases a paid app with the app's developer.

I first noticed this back in July 2012:

Other well-known Android developers posted about this in November 2012. A Google employee replied to one of these post explaining the situation:

With apple's app store you buy the apps from apple. With google play you buy the apps from the developer. If you are the merchant of record you need to know the address to correctly compute sales tax.

This is documented on http://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=138000.

Google cannot give tax advice, so we have to give you the data to make the determination yourself.

This makes sense, but is not clearly communicated to users or developers.

When you buy a physical product online you obviously need to share your address with the seller, and the checkout flow makes this very clear. When buying an Android app, there's no indication that any of this information is shared, and the buyer has no opportunity to select which address or phone number to use for the purchase.

Apple set a very high bar for privacy when they launched the App Store: Developers are given zero information about customers. When Google copied it to create the Android Market, expectations had already been set.

The Android Market didn't initially support paid apps, and it always seemed that support for paid apps was hastily bolted on. For example: When someone "returns" your app within the 15 minute window, the developer receives an email reminding them to not "process or ship this order.", which clearly makes no sense.

There's also no email when someone successfully buys your app, which might actually be useful and like Apple, Google offers absolutely no information to developers about who downloaded free apps: there's a huge gap. Because the entire experience of purchasing Android apps is so sloppy, it's not unreasonable to assume that this privacy issue was actually an oversight.

Google's privacy policy says "We do not share personal information with companies, organizations and individuals outside of Google unless one of the following circumstances apply" … and goes on to list scenarios that do not obviously apply to purchasing apps or other content.

Google should follow Apple's lead and offer users and developers better privacy protection.

UPDATE 2013/02/26: This post was picked up by The Guardian, which notes that full address and phone number are not actually available. I am unsure of if this changed since last year or if I made a mistake.

But that does not explain why it passes on buyers' names and email addresses, which together with a postcode could be used to identify a person's location and address.

This is true, it's quite easy to track someone down with even a small amount of information. This is made even easier by what appears to be a bug in the Google Checkout dashboard for app developers: If you search for an address, matching orders will be returned even though this information is not displayed.

It's also worth noting that when you purchase an app, you can definitely see the developer's address and (sometimes) phone number. Not a problem for a company with an office, but possibly unsettling for many hobbyists.

Hello, World!

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Join us on Monday, February 25th at 7 PM for our our beginner programming workshop, “Hello, World!”.  This workshop is designed for absolute beginners and can be used as a stepping stone to the Intro to Arduino workshop. You will learn basics of programming by running Python examples.  Then you will see how these building blocks appear in other languages such as Arduino.  

The workshop rate ($50) includes 2 hours of instruction.  Please bring a laptop.   Call (206-357-9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.  

February 11, 2013

January 28, 2013

Our next Intro to e-textiles class is Monday, February 4th at 7...



Our next Intro to e-textiles class is Monday, February 4th at 7 PM.  This workshop is an introduction to e-textiles and focuses on integrating ordinary electronics into fabric.  We will modify ordinary electronic components and sew them together using conductive thread.  You will take home a plush firefly that lights up in the dark.

No prior knowledge of electronics or sewing required, but experience helps.  All materials included for $50.  Call (206-357-9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.

January 23, 2013

February workshop schedule

imageWe have one workshop left for January! Here it is with most of the February schedule.  To reserve your spot in any of these workshops, call the shop (206-357-9406) or drop by.  Workshops are $50 and include all materials unless noted.  Check out our calendar for more details.

Inkscape for Laser Engraver, Monday, January 28th, 7-9:30 PM. Laptop required with Inkscape installed.

Intro to E-textiles, Monday, February 4th, 7-9:30 PM

Intro to Electronics, Monday, February 11th, 7-9 PM

3D Design with OpenSCAD, Sunday, February 17th, 2-4 PM. Laptop required with OpenSCAD installed.

Intro to Arduino, Monday February 18th,  7-9:30 PM ($60).  Laptop required with Arduino IDE installed.

Inkscape for Laser Engraver, Tuesday, February 19th, 7-9:30 PM

"Hello World": Programming for Beginners, Monday, February 25th, 7-9 PM 
 
Stay tuned for Soldering 101, Circuit Board Design and more!

January 16, 2013

January 10, 2013

Hello, New Year! Hello, World!

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Join us on Monday, January 21st at 7 PM for our our beginner programming workshop, “Hello, World!”.  This workshop is designed for absolute beginners and can be used as a stepping stone to the Intro to Arduino workshop. You will learn basics of programming by running Python examples.  Then you will see how these building blocks appear in other languages.  

The workshop rate ($50) includes 2 hours of instruction.  Please bring a laptop.   Call (206 357 9406) or come down to the shop to sign up. Space is limited.  

January 08, 2013