|Fundraising for Hackermoms with the FabTile||| Print ||
|Written by Akiba|
|Thursday, 01 November 2012|
Almost one year ago, I helped raise funds for a new hackerspace called Mothership Hackermoms . Itís an extremely unique hackerspace dedicated to mothers and the challenges they face in terms of schedule, tools, childcare, and of course safety. Itís still difficult to believe that only one year ago, it was largely a glimmer in the eye of a handful of moms. In that year, they were able to successfully acquire a space, spoke at the huge Bay Area Maker Faire, became a pillar in the local maker community, hosted many extremely unique events, and became a refuge, oasis, and an inspiration to many frazzled mothers.
I had the pleasure of spending a few days with hackermoms last time I was in Oakland visiting my sister (Sho Sho Smith), one of the founders of hackermoms. It was easy to fall in love with the space, people, and of course the children there and I found myself spending quite a bit of time in the playroom with the kids. The things I remember the most are hearing the members talk about how hackermoms changed their life, seeing a huge increase in confidence in my sister, and the fearless approach my 4 year old niece exhibited towards making things (as well as asking me to buy supplies to make those things).
Captions: [left] Mothership Hackermoms in their space in Berkeley [middle] Me and my two nieces, Scarlett and Magenta. They're regulars at Hackermoms [right] A FabTile workshop at FabCafe
I wonít pretend that I understand the intricacies of what it takes to be a mother. As a guy, Iím relatively confident that itís unfathomable to me. I do believe that Mothership Hackermoms is a step in the right direction though. Recently thereís been a lot of interest in the concept of Makerspaces as an educational facility for children. Hackermoms takes that one step further. As I get older, I realize that a large part of me is a reflection of my parents. I unconsciously copied them in mannerisms, thinking, decision making, and of course, habits. So it makes sense to me that if we really want to provide a bright future for our children, we should also focus on the most important role models that children will inevitably imitate. A mother that creates produces children that create. A mother that learns has children that learn. It was hammered into me by my parents that I had to give up my dreams in order to have a future. Hackermoms is proof that what I was taught was not true. You need to dream in order to have a future worth living. I wonder how different my childhood would have been if something like hackermoms had been around then.
Currently, Mothership Hackermoms is at the awkward stage where theyíve passed the startup phase, firmly established their existence, and need funds to equip up. As a founder of Tokyo Hackerspace, I know that stage and that feeling extremely well. It can last a long time and makes all the difference between a lively hackerspace and Ďa building with people in ití. Theyíve launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them reach the point of financial sustainability and I want to help them as much as possible.
In Tokyo, I teach a workshop on Arduino programming that I think is interesting. It doesnít use a standard Arduino board. Instead, it uses a board I made specifically for that workshop. Itís an interactive LED tile based on the OctoLively design by Evil Mad Scientist Labs. They get all the credit for the excellent design and concept, and when I first saw it on the Adafruit Ask an Engineer show, I immediately thought it'd make a great workshop to introduce people to the Arduino platform. The concept is simple, there's a clear goal of achieving the desired visual effect, and it requires handling sensor inputs, outputs, and processing data, all major parts of embedded design. The draw is that it's not a trivial design to teach a basic principle, but a full application that combines all the skills needed to deploy an art installation. My main contribution was to port the hardware to the Arduino platform and adding a library to make it compatible with the Arduino environment. I needed it to be Arduino compatible so I could build a workshop around it for people unfamiliar with embedded programming. It makes an excellent introductory workshop to Arduino programming and has the added benefit that the participants get their hands dirty soldering it together. By the end of the workshop, itís a design that attendees can really take ownership of since they assemble, solder, and then write the software for it.
The board produces an interesting effect where it tracks objects passing over it and fades LEDs on and off based on those objects. It also has a fascinating feature where you can plug the boards into each other and form a large interactive surface. At the end of the workshop, I have attendees plug all their boards together and the response is usually amazement. I need to allocate quite a bit of time for everyone to finish taking pictures. The most important thing though is that people taking the workshop usually go in with little or no experience in soldering and programming. By the time they come out of it, theyíve fully populated their own board, wrote the software, and took part in creating an art installation.
I wasnít planning on selling the kit outside of the workshop since I wanted to keep it as an exclusive to FabCafe and Tokyo Hackerspace. But in this case, Iíd like to offer the kit for sale during the Mothership Hackermoms Kickstarter campaign, with all proceeds going to their Kickstarter. Once the campaign is over, I'll only be offering this kit through the workshops that I teach. Iíve packaged up the assembly/soldering instructions, Arduino programming lesson manual, Arduino library, sketches, and hardware design documents into a single downloadable package. I think itís a great way to learn how to solder, write software for an Arduino, and youíll be helping an amazing group of women and their efforts to bring moms into the hackerspace fold. And if you're not that interested in the FabTile but want to support Hackermoms, please contribute to their Kickstarter campaign .
Here's a link to the FabTile in the FreakLabs shop . The supporting files can also be found there. All proceeds go to Mothership Hackermoms.
Here's a link to preview the pics for soldering and assembly of the FabTile. The pics are also included in the FabTile package.
I'm also bringing back the Fundraising Fredboard and providing a discount on it for the duration of the Kickstarter. I really like this board and it's definitely the board that I use most out of all the boards I have in my lab.
Here's the Mothership Hackermoms Kickstarter video:
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