Building a community space for Art, Tech, and Crafting in DE

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It’s been a while since we last talked about our 3D printer.  When we first built it, we were super excited about all the possibilities.  As it sat in my office, I started to print as may things that I could.  Unfortunately, each print seemed to increase my frustrations.  The more I printed, the worse they got.  I was being to get frustrated.  Things were not looking good.  I worked hard to try to get everything calibrated, but each fix brought on more problems. For a while, I didn’t give up.  I wanted better prints.  I wanted the investment of Barrel of Makers to mean something. 

Eventually, the frustration got to be a too much. I gave up on the printer.  It just sat in my office, mocking me.  After a few months of having an expensive paperweight in my room, I was given a challenge.  I was told, not asked, to bring the printer to a Make Along in December.  I was told to have it up and running and that I would be printing out ornaments for everyone who came.  After a full weekend of work, I finally got it printing.  It was happiest day of my life.  I had successfully printed several snowflake ornaments and everything was running smoothly.  Then, I brought it with me.  After setting everything up, the first prints were a disaster.  I spent the entire two and a half hour Make Along trying to figure out why, again, it wasn’t printing correctly.  It was embarrassing and the end of my journey with the 3D printer.  I had had enough.  It was time for someone else give it a try.

I reached out to another member of Barrel of Makers, Greg Cheng.  I told him about my struggles with the 3D printer and he agreed to help.  It was in his hands now.  I could breathe freely now that every time I walked into my office it was no longer mocking me.  Shortly after giving the printer to him, I started receiving text messages about what he had done with the printer.  It was almost embarrassing all of things that he had to fix or align during his calibration.

Have a look at what Greg has done:

  • Replaced power supply
  • Tightened all bolts
  • Lined up 3 endstops
  • Printed New Endstop to replace broken ones
  • Realigned y axis belt
  • Realigned Z-axis on both sides
  • Changed Baud rate to 115200 in configure.h and reflashed firmware
  • Changed Slic3r option to have 0.1 mm layers and reprinted endstops (better result)
  • Tighten y Axis Belt
  • Tighten x Axis Belt
  • Printed Spool Holder

I can’t even tell you what I did, but it wasn’t all that (obviously). While it was a little embarrassing, my frustration did not fully manifest itself because I was just happy that someone was able to get the infernal machine to work.  Things are far from being perfect (we are still having problems printing with abs plastic), but right now we are moving in the right direction.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at the differences in our prints:

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As you can tell we have come a long way, or at least Greg has.

I will try my best to keep everyone up to date on the progress with the printer, but finally things seem to be coming along quite nicely.

-Brad J. Glassco

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Barrel of Makers has been wanting to do a soldering workshop for a long time.  We received a microgrant from the fabulous Wilmington STIR dinner to put toward the materials, but it just wasn’t enough.

After over a year of running various Make-Alongs, on January 12th, we held an Intro to Soldering Make-Along!  Brian Givens taught the class with help from Greg Cheng, and I was….there.  ; )

It was so great!  Everyone created a Trippy RGB waves kit.  By the time they’d soldered it, they were ready to take on any kit out there!  Some of the soldering was super difficult–very close through holes which needed to be soldered so that none of the solder would touch!  Only 2 out of the 7 attendees has ever soldered, and everyone accomplished it.  All the kits lit up right away, and no one burned themselves!  Amazing, since my boyfriend still burns himself every time he solders.

At first, all the kits, are running through their own cycle of colors, but when you wave your hand over them, their light sensors cause them to all reset in unison:

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We learned a few things from teaching the class: 

1. despite having “third hands” to hold the circuit boards, it’s also good to have some play dough to stick them in and hold them steady.

2. Metal sponges are way better than wet ones.  So, we’ve got to order some.

These are mportant discoveries because we will soon be teaching this class again to 50 kids through the FAME program!  We’re ready!

We’ll also be teaching a second session to the kids at FAME.  If you’d like to be a guinea pig for that 2nd class, join us at the Creative Vision Factory on March 9th.  We’ll be doing a run through with 10 of you.  If you’ve soldered before, this is the class where you take your skills to the next level!  Find out more on Meetup.

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Last night we held our monthly Critique Night.  Steph and Jeff brought business cards back with lots of improvements that were suggested by the group at last month’s gathering.  Look at how much they improved:

These are going to be Barrel of Makers, Inc’s new business cards. They are a little craft project as well!

We also talked about how to take the books we made at October’s Make A-long, to the next level.  Here they are so far:

It was a fun night.  Thanks for bringing cookies Bailey, and thank you to everyone for sharing your works in progress.  See you next time!

~Jessi

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Barrel of Makers’ volunteers had an awesome time this past weekend, at the Brandywine Festival of the Arts!  
We learned so much from the individuals and families who tried out our drawbots.  They helped us figure out how we can improve them, and how we could use them in the future.

We spent a lot of the day adjusting the way the marker fit into the old clock face we used as a weight for our “person operated drawing machine”:

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One of our volunteers, Stephanie, taught us something we were missing at our last public event:  If you hand the pulleys to a child and say, in a calm voice, that they should “pull gently,” they won’t pull on the machine all super-hard and flip the clock face!  

Jason, Karen, and Jessi took the show on the road with the sandwich board version:

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And under the tent, our drawbots burned through lots of batteries, but not very much paper:

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We learned that pushing the red button “just once” to lower the marker to the paper isn’t going to cut it, because you just keep wanting to press it!  We also learned the drawbots have a tough time on that flimsy a surface, and we’ll be trying out our newly constructed “dry erase arena” at the Taste of the Riverfront Event this Saturday, Sept 14th.

Here’s a few action shots– I especially love the look on the little boy’s face in the bottom right (Philly’s shirt):

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Lots of people who work with kids who have some disability told us that all of these bots would be really fun for kids who can’t draw in traditional ways.  We built these bots because it was fun, and we wanted to learn by doing.  If they can end up helping people, we are super excited about that!

Most importantly, we learned that we have awesome volunteers. : )  We gave out 70 of our 75 brochures on Saturday, and I was all tuckered out.  I figured one day was good enough, but a lot of them wanted to come back.  Wow.  You just couldn’t stop these guys.  Not only were they there to help, they were creating the whole time.  For example: It was Candice’s idea to try out dry erase boards for all this stuff.  Later on, she noticed we were piling up a lot of empty water bottles, so she started figuring out what she could make with them!  Meanwhile, Steph was working on a design for our future business cards.

  Thank you all so much.  It was a great time.  Tom, Karen, Greg, Candice, Jason, Steph, Jeff, and Evan, you guys are awesome!

~Jessi

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It was hot!

I thought so many things would go wrong. "what if it’s terrible?" "what if we came all the way here and nothing works?" "what if they hate us?"

I started to feel better when I saw the library in a mall complex and tents were set up…plus breakfast was ready for us.

The day got progressively better from that point on.

Between our two drawing apparatuses and our winning personalities, Jessi and I said NAY to the heat and our doubts! Everyone was more than willing to participate, help, share ideas and collaborate.

The kids had a ball drawing in a way that challenged their skills and abilities.

her face paint was amazing!! Good job guys, really!

…although, some of them “cheated”

but all of them were happy to take home what they had made that day!

They were proud to overcome a somewhat daunting challenge and even more proud to ask their parents to hang it on the frige.

The “grown-ups” were a little harder to convince, but the brave ones got pretty into it.

This guy showed up too!

However it wasn’t all about us. There were plenty of other things for people to explore:

natch…

robot wars, awesome!

and what would a makerfaire be without a 3D printer?

So all and all, the day was great. A little sweaty, but great. We empowered our youth and even a few of our more adventurous adults. If we have learned anything from the Huxtables it’s that the more of us there are and the more positive we can be, the greater our chances are for success.

these are not the Huxtables, but you get it.

I leave you with this, happy making:

blog by Brian Scatasti

Co-President/barrelofmakers.

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Jessi Taylor and I have been hard at work this month participating in the Delaware Fun-A-Day project.  If you don’t know what that is, or even if you do, it is a really fun and exciting project where everyday, through the month of April, we made something.  Not only us, but a lot of other talented artists of all ages from the area.

It is a collaborative project where makers of all ages and skill sets come together to create something every day for a month.  We have all been hard at work and are now ready to present our art to the general public.  Come out to 605 North Market Street to from 6pm-10pm tomorrow May 3rd to see a great free show that showcases 60+ talented artists from the area, included us and our own Ann Yoncha

-Brad J. Glassco

P.S. Here are a bunch a cool shots from the set up:

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Strap yourselves in, cause I have some news for you!!

Barrel of Makers has never been more popular; it’s true! Ask Bert, he will tell you ALL about it! Seriously. I couldn’t pay for this kind of publicity, LITERALLY! We have very little money…

…but all that is going to change ;)

I (Brian Scatasti) was invited by the WRC to attend two, THAT’S RIGHT TWO events to bring together like minds to rejuvenate Wilmington Delaware. 

The first: Alfred Lance, Maiza Hixson, Julie Van Blarcom, Diana Milburn, Jessica Jenkins, Ellen Priest, Michael Kalmbach, myself & the wonderful, the great Umberto Crenca of AS220 …

(just to name a few, and if I missed you, I really missed you)

came together last night at the Chris White Gallery to discuss our future plans. 

Honestly, you probably could not have asked for a better, more intimate gathering of movers & shakers in Wilmington.

Ms. Van Blarcom could not have been a more pleasant person to talk to, and talk more we shall about having more of a makerspace presence in that playground they call a museum. (I’m all for the playground btw!)

Today: The Annual Big Thinkers Meeting hosted by the WRC and sponsored by MANY others, had me almost in tears on the ride home. No kidding. To know that what we are doing is the most right thing possible, for so many reasons and people, is a BEAUTIFUL thing.

They had food, coffee and juice. Talks by the Mayor, Carrie Grey of the WRC, (who I will also be meeting with) a VERY inspirational talk again by Bert, and a slew of people who all wanted to work with us.

IT WAS LIKE THE HIGHEST SCORE IN BARREL OF MAKERS WACH-A-MOLE!!!

Folks, big things are happenning. I would love to go into extraordinary detail, but you have emails to check, and birds to keep angry.

STAY TUNED…

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Another exciting adventure in the world of networking your very own non-profit makerspace. While Barrel of Makers was not picked to present for University of Delaware’s Hen Hatch for future entrepreneurs, we were blessed with a table to lay out AAAALLLLLL our eclectic trinkets and makings. 

Josh and I had everything from John Abellas 3D printings, to Josh Martins turned wood crafts, to our pop-up paper crafts from our Make-Alongs. Everyone who walked though Clayton Hall had an ear-full from one of us, talking about how enthused we were about putting empowerment back into the hands of our community. Everyone there had something they were passionate about doing and willing to take it to the next level.

While I don’t have all the names in front of me at the time, I invite you all to go to our facebook page to check out who will be mentioned. 

Side note: every time I talk about this space my group and I are trying to make, I am always infused with new vigor, an excitement I can carry with me and a new way to describe what we do to the general public.

I would highly recommend speaking and networking as much as possible, especially if you don’t find yourself doing it all that much. It allows you to be open to new ideas and solutions to problems you may have thought impossible left to your own thoughts.

GO out there!

BE passionate!

MAKE yourself sane.

thank you,

Brian Scatasti

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First things first:

Hello all makers and FutureMakers. With the help of Sarena Fletcher;  the Dover Library welcomed it’s attendees with open arms and huge hopes for a collaborative relationship between themselves and makerspaces like Barrel of Makers. 

This relationship is a no-brainer and a wonderful idea to give our community the boost it needs to make motivation palpable.

I was thrilled to share the floor with such great, enthusiastic people like Matt Barinholtz and Michael Smith-Welch from FutureMakers. Aside from having a logo that was exactly what I was trying to come up with for our makerspace, they were an absolute pleasure to be around and a huge conduit for generating excitement!

Our own John Abella was featured showing off his 3D printers…naturally. Jessi and I had so much fun talking with everyone there and spreading the notion of DIY and abolishing the fear that comes along with learning something new that may shake up life with good intentions and the people willing to follow it through.

We are talking right now with directors and the movers & shakers in the DE library system (thank you already Amy Abella) to have maker programs and classes instituted throughout our community. 

WE’RE DOING IT!!!!!

Thank you to everyone that made that Dover gathering possible and to the ones who were brave enough to try something new there and excited enough to want to coordinate a program with crazy people like us.

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—WOW!!!—


Everyone who came out to the Foam Weapons Make-Along should be proud of themselves!!

Even being the Co-President-Helper for this make along was a great, fun experience. I helped so many people learn and practice a skill that was new to even me.

You were all responsible, productive members of your community. Feel proud to know that you have hand-crafted your neighbor’s demise…BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Eat Foam Xavier!!!!

Not only have you invested in learned a skill, you have shared a bond with friends [some of which you never knew had existed until the event]. All the end products couldn’t have looked better. All of the weapons (thanks to Dan Spinosa and Josh Martin) will hold up for years to come, no matter how many foes you vanquish!!

Kudos to you fine, fine individuals for being extra responsible ADULTS and participating in a GREAT community building experience!!!

If you liked our Foam Weapons Make-Along or if you would like to participate in ROUND 2 of our Foam Weapons Make-Along, stay tuned. We will be hosting it in the very near future.

…aaaaawwwww ;)