What does the fox say?


Yup it’s printing! ūüôāIMG_20140603_221140 IMG_20140603_221135More updates soon!



The Hunt Is On

Following our Annual General Meeting and all the associated bureaucracy the hunt is on to find a new space.

We’ve been grateful for the space at the former Randles Garage in Newcastle-under-Lyme, but as we expected, due to redevelopment of the site, that option¬†is now coming to an end.

We’re currently in talks with local authorities and large businesses in the area to explore more options.

We’ve got a few ideas¬†of options being thrown around, including a space at a large business or space for a portacabin or container.

We will continue to meet on Tuesdays, working on our projects (such as the 3D printer), hacking apart unwanted donated hardware for recycling and general hackspace hackery.

More updates to follow…

Raspberry Pi Competition – The Results

Last night at Potteries Hackspace was the Raspberry Pi Competition.

The judges were:

  • Carl Plant (bITjAM)
  • Richard Smedley (Founder & Programme Manager at Cuprium c.i.c.)
  • Paul Simmons (Curriculum Leader for Level 1 and 2 Vocational Computing at Newcastle-under-Lyme College)

The scoring system was (similar to Robot Wars):

  • INNOVATION. (Weight of 4) 1-5 points x 4 = Score for Innovation.
  • FUN. (Weight of 2) 1-5 points x 2 = Score for Fun.
  • PRACTICALITY. (Weight of 2) 1-5 points x 2 = Score for Practicality.
  • STYLE. (Weight of 1) 1-5 points x 1 = Score for Style.

The deadline was:

  • Tuesday 29th October
  • 9PM

All entries will be displayed and demonstrated at the Newcastle-under-Lyme Raspberry Jam event on November 7th. (PS. If you’ve not already signed up, sign up now).

We all had Pizza and soft drinks.

Thanks for everyone who attended and made it a fantastic evening!

The Projects

In 4th place, we had Dave’s greenhouse system. Dave wasn’t able to attend and we struggled to get it working initially.

The idea was to automate a greenhouse, turning on or off various switches for water, light, opening vents and such depending on the input of temperature and water saturation sensors.

Unfortunately the screen wouldn’t turn on and we struggled to get the relay to switch on or off until after the demo.


In third place was the “MusicBox”. A system that booted up to load the Music Player Daemon (MPD), stream the playlist over Icecast and download new tracks released under the Creative Commons License, for commercial use from ccmixter using a scraper written in Python. The MPD allows you to remotely control it from your mobile phone or PC too.

The idea of the project is to circumvent license fees charged by companies such as PRS or PPL, which could potentially save a business thousands of pounds each year.

Given more time the project would have a voting system allowing you to easily drop the tracks you don’t like and replay the tracks you do more often. Giving you more control over what is played.


In second place, John had decommissioned his ferret web server to replace it with something a little more entertaining.

A Raspberry Pi based Arcade machine, running MAME and a Wii arcade controller with a USB converter.

It was hooked up over HDMI to a neat little display he’d managed to acquire for next to nothing which displayed the games beautifully.

All in all, it was lots of fun and probably because it was overclocked slightly more than is recommended, it ran the games very smoothly.



In first place was “The Beast”.

As it’s almost Halloween, this was definitely the most seasonal of the projects.

It comprises of a coffin, a former robot project, a Raspberry Pi and a speaker.

Once booted, you can SSH into the Raspberry Pi to control direction using the “old skool” W,A,S,D configuration and for the¬†piece de la resistance, certain digits will play our various Halloween related sounds or tracks.

For effort alone, this thing wins hands down, but the fun factor really gave it the edge.

Well done guys!


Thanks again!

Thanks again to everyone that came down, especially the judges who took the time out of their business schedules and called in favours to make it down to our first ever competition.


Before the evening was over, we even managed to get Dave’s relay system up and running.


Next time: Robots


Oh and don’t forget we’ll be displaying and demonstrating all of these projects at the¬†Newcastle-under-Lyme Raspberry Jam event on November 7th, so get signed up!

Raspberry Jam Competition

Raspberry Pi Users

Are you ready?

Just a quick update to let you know that the competition is less than 2
weeks away (29th October).

The judges and prizes are now secured so now it’s just down to you.

We’ll be opening up this Saturday (19th) from around 10am until about
1pm which should give some extra time to make headway.

However, don’t worry, your project doesn’t need to be complete, it just
needs to be able to demonstrate how a Raspberry Pi can be used.

The winner will be decided on a points based system by independent

The best projects will be demonstrated at the NULC Raspberry Jam on the
7th November.

Good luck!


Update June Week 1

DSC_1598¬†This is the makerbot 3D printer that we’ve been working on for weeks and it’s now almost ready to rock and roll.

We spent most of last week trying to work out why it was moving 10cm rather than 1cm.

This week was spent reconfiguring the firmware trying to get it to move the correct distance.

DSC_1597¬†We took some shots of the motherboard for our own reference. It’s a MakerBot MotherBoard v2.4. It says Instructions are at wiki.makerbot.com/mb2, however, that page has since been taken down by makerbot as they’ve gone commercial. However, thanks to the wayback machine, the MakerBot Motherboard v2.4 article is reachable.DSC_1594

Much like the motherboard, the stepper motor board has similar scribes on the PCB. It says Stepper Motor Driver v3.3, instructions wiki.makerbot.com/smd3 (Wayback Machine).

DSC_1593Then there’s the extruder board, which says Extruder Controller v3.6, and docs at wiki.makerbot.com/ec3 (Way Back Machine).¬†That’s it.

With all this information we should be configure it correctly and connect everything where it’s meant to go.

DSC_1588Our next job is to get the extruder and hot end correctly connected up.

At present it’s not wired correctly and there’s limited details on how it should be connected, so it may be a case of trial and error to ensure we’ve got the motor connected correctly.

DSC_1587This is the “MakerBot Automated Build Platform v2.0”, this is described as a bigger build area with a¬†conveyor¬† which will clear the build surface area between prints, which is nice.¬†From that I found the original Thing-O-Matic product for sale on there website in 2011 (Wayback Machine).

This lead to the official Thing-o-Matic documentation including the assembly instructions and user manual (Wayback Machine) as well as the MakerBot documentation on their current site. Which is useful.


Si and Kate were toying around on their laptops with SketchUp, producing 3D models, including a tardis (Kate being into Dr. Who is an understatement apparently).

They seemed to get stuck in pretty quickly, which was most impressive. It won’t be long before we’re knocking out Dr Who memorabilia left, right and centre.

DSC_1581Mikey came down again with his robot again, this time it was working, but it needed a tidy up job doing on the circuit, as well as needing to be configured to do a 360 degree turn.

Before we wrapped up, Mikey had almost got it all working. Details to follow.

DSC_1580The beast 3D printer was moving forward as well.

Now we’ve got the aluminium X/Y Carriages done we’ll be able to get it all joined together and ready to start moving the printer head (hot end).

The Raspberry Pi will need to be updated and have printrun installed, and the touch interface configured.

DSC_1579Here’s DanR on the case with the MakerBot 3D printer, trying to get it configured with the correct firmware so it will move the correct distances.

I believe we did get it working in the end through a process of trial and error.

DSC_1578Here’s the full crew getting stuck in with their various projects, or helping with existing ones.

It’s not like there’s nothing to do, we’ve always got projects going on and plenty of bits to play around with.

If you’re not sure about something, you can always ask.

DSC_1577I thought I’d do a quick tour of our storage room this week just to give people an idea of what we’ve got for you to play with.

DSC_1574The rack on the left has various tools, including soldering irons, saws, multimeters, hammers, screwdrivers, paint brushes, glue gun, to name a few. The rack on the right is our disassembly rack. These are components (such as motors) salvaged from various machines (such as printers, scanners).

Our other racks are crammed full of computers, computer components and an array of electronics and electronic devices. Far too much for me to begin to list, so you’ll have to take a look for yourself!

See you next week!