Meetup for new Hacker/Makerspace

GumboLabs has been pretty dormant since moving out, but there are a bunch of new faces that still want a hackerspace to happen! We’ll be holding a meetup Thursday (the 28th) to decide figure out what everybody’s into and where we’d like to take things.

Z’otZ on Oak St. Back patio

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Big Changes for GumboLabs

It’s been a rollercoaster year for Gumbolabs, though this website may not show it. Let’s break this down with the good news, the bad, and what’s changing

Despite many problems, this was the year when we really acted like a hackerspace. And enumerating the things we’ve done will probably surprise even us. We attempted an entry to the 555 contest by crafting a mardi gras bead with a built-in breathalyzer. We had a magnet-based project that we ultimately scrapped, an installation at the Ogden involving tons of speakers and feathers, open houses with bristlebots, contact microphones with CMKT4 (and followup concert), OpenWRT hacking, a Space Balloon that was put on hold, and Drawdios, plus Mark and I just wrapped up a few classes teaching Kinetic Scuplture to Warren Easton students at the Ogden alongside Automata.  We even got together and watched Tron before checking out the new one.

This is an improvement over past years, when we were a little too busy forming a hackerspace to do any hacking. It’s been a real learning process, and we lost a lot of members in our first year during that process. This year we saw that our bank account was quickly shrinking as a result of those members leaving, not to mention the bad luck of having a lot of our most dedicated members leave the city. We decided that the best option, the only option really, was to do stuff and hope that drawing attention to activity would attract new members. We had built up a few months rent and had time to do really push. I think we gave it a good shot and met some small success doing it, but the truth is our numbers were so few (just a handful at this point) that we didn’t have the critical mass to really push forward and make things happen as much as we wanted. Now we’re unsustainable enough that we have to do something about our situation and we have to do it quick

Here’s the thing: we still believe in the idea. Our facebook page has been steadily growing despite near-hibernation, and local tech culture grows but still lacks a good focal point. Most importantly, people still want to learn about this stuff (ourselves included!) and meet others interested in it. We think a hackerspace can work in New Orleans, but not this one as it is nowSo we’re going homeless: GumboLabs’ space didn’t provide any huge benefits to us without industrial machinery and a consistent group of people present. Even our open houses could have been held elsewhere. So that’s what we’re doing. When somebody wants to explore something tech-oriented, GumboLabs will use our mailing list, facebook, twitter, forums, and whatnot to help it happen. Want to try to circuit-bend some toys? Tell us “I want to circuit bend some toys. Let’s do my garage/z’otz/help me find a place on February 31st. Help me spread the word!” and it shall be done.

We’re hoping that this move will be more freeform, open to everybody, and more social. As more events happen and more paid membership grows, perhaps a space will be in order. But we’ll move in that direction as necessity dictates. Also, Marshall has been brewing up a maker/createspace (and will expand into GumboLabs’ vacant space). Those goings-ons will likely make their way to the GumboLabs listserv/fb/twitter/etc as well.

And about that paid membership, we’ll still be paying dues, as a little slush fund here and there can’t hurt, but it’s been reduced to $10 per month as we no longer need to meet rent. Those of you who joined at that level, congrats! You’ve been upgraded to full membership! Want to become a member? Hit the recurring $10 per month button on Paypal! That’s it! And please, introduce yourselves.


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Drawdio Night!

Wednesday September 21st, 7pm at GumboLabs!

We’re puttin’ together some Drawdios. The video above shows it off pretty well, it’s essentially a pencil with a 555 timer that makes wee-ooo noises based on the resistance across the graphite (and yourself) (or whatever).

Don’t know what all that means? Don’t know how to solder? That’s OK! This is a great entry-level project, We’ll teach ya. Know what all that means and know how to solder very well? It’s also a very versatile project, you can hack it to be a little different.

We provide parts, you could optionally provide:
a soldering iron
a jazzy pencil
$10 to cover our parts costs. (or you could sign up for our $10 per month supporter fee as we are brooooooooke)

We have a few LadyAda boards lyring around, but we’ll mostly be doing it like this guy’s instructable video

here’s a facebook event. Tell your friends!

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‘Sirens’ Art Installation, part of the Technological Terrarium Exhibit

The ‘Sirens’ Art Installation opens tonight, August 6th from 6pm to 9pm at the Ogden and will be on view through September 12, 2011.  Free for the White Linen event.  The Sirens piece is apart of the Technological Terrarium Exhibit that is curated by Myrtle Von Damitz.  You can find the art installation in the tunnel gallery, at the far end by the stairway leading to the library.

Sirens – Prototype I: August 2011
Mixed Media- CD, thread, foil, feather, electrons

GUMBO LABS Est. 2009 Louisiana
Mark Anderson *
Brian Blackburn
Marshall Brown
Leisa Fearing *
Hunter King
Fran Ledger
Michael Perry

(*) Principal contacts for this work. Special Thanks to Simon Dorfman.
The voice channel used in Sirens is the live recording “The 4 Ways Sound Affects Us” by Julian Treasure, © 2010 TED Conferences LLC, used under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.

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Open House: Bristlebot Night – July 13th

For our monthly open house we’re building the tiniest and simplest electronic robot… the Bristlebot. All it takes is a toothbrush head, a pager motor and a battery which we will have for you. The rest is up to your imagination! Bring some extra parts to embellish your Bot or dive into our Bristlebot parts box. At the end of the night we’ll race our Bots!


It’s free, it’s open to anybody, tech background or none!

Bristlebot night is this Wednesday, July 13th at 7pm!

Facebook Event Page

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Open House: Space Balloon in June!

For our monthly open house this month we’re having an organizational meeting to put together a DIY near-space balloon equipped with cameras to film the journey. We’re hardly the first to do it, but a couple of other groups have made DIY photos of the curvature of the earth for miniscule budgets (less than $200). Since I really want to go to space, I figure sending a camera up in my stead is pretty close.

A video from another successful project:


This is an organizational meeting, so we’ll discuss exactly what we want to do (perhaps make it waterproof? allow altitude control? 3d photography?), how we want to do it, and when we’ll meet to keep working on it.

Naturally, this is open to anybody. GumboLabs is still trying to figure out how to pay rent, so the cost of this project will have to be split among the team, but that gets easier with more contributors.

This is June 8th at 7pm! And we’ll bring SNAX

Here’s a facebook event

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Become a Supporter Level Member of GumboLabs for $10/mo

GumboLabs needs new members in order to grow, survive and ultimately be awesome. A lot of our charter members have left town and we’ve found that the $50 a month dues are hard to jump into, so we’re trying something new in order to keep sustainable and fresh:

For a recurring fee of $10 a month you can become a GumboLabs supporting member. This is a great way to test the waters or even just support the existence of a hackerspace in New Orleans.

In doing so you’re part of the group, and get benefits such as
- Access to GumboLabs tools while in the space
- Ability to use the space for hacker meetups of whatever nature you choose!
- Discounts on group builds and programs
- Access to SNACKS
- Access to GumboLabs bric-a-brac — we’ve got a lot of assorted junk begging to be hacked. While everything isn’t up for grabs, a lot of it is if you check with a full

And of course, the best part: you can do it in 5 minutes and for less than a Netflix account!

Which begs the question: why are the rest of you paying $50 a month? Well, the primary reason is that we need it in order to meet rent, and hopefully those that believe in this space are willing to meet that need. But what remains exclusive to the $50 Full membership level is
- key to the building for 24-hr access to the space (Supporter members will need to grab a regular member for that)
- storage at the space
- chance to be a board member
- greater say in budget expenditure and overall future of the group

Want to hop on? Just head to the Membership page and hit subscribe for the $10 level. Then you can drop into the e-mail list and introduce yourself!

Naturally, our open houses, build nights, meetings, etc are open to everyone to attend, but this is a chance to get involved, make something, and meet others just as curious about hacking

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OpenWRT Hack Night! Wednesday at 7pm

For May’s GumboLabs Open House we’re talkin’ custom router firmware for your router. Want to set up a repeater? Use it as a small webserver? There are tons of things you can accomplish, exactly what is what we hope to find out.

Mark’s hosting and bringing a bunch of WGT634U routers to demo with. Hunter has a few WRT54Gs. Naturally, this is about getting in a room with a bunch of others hoping to learn a lot more about wireless routers, so bring whatever curiosities you have!

If you’ve never been, GumboLabs is at 4820 Banks st, down a dark and creepy alley. If you’re locked out, note the number on the door.

Facebook event:!/event.php?eid=218754478151541

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Circuit-bending rock band CMKT4 teaches contact microphone building workshop

How would you like to learn how to build your own bottle-cap contact microphone, and be entertained by circuit-bending rock band CMKT4? I thought so. Come on down to Gumbo Labs tonight at 7pm. Here are the details from CMKT4:

Join the members of the circuit-bent rock band CMKT4 for a workshop on building your very own EconoMIC Bottle Cap Contact Microphone (from Creme DeMentia). CMKT4 will show you how to solder up a piezo-electric pickup and house it sturdily in a recycled bottle-cap housing of their own design! Stick around for music from the band as the tool-handle dip on your freshly built contact microphone dries. Additional take-home kits and other surprises will be available. Bring your own instruments and objects to amplify!

The workshop is $15, additional kits will be on sale for $10, and we’ll have fully assembled mics in several varieties for sale as well. We’ll have some other fun goodies also. Interested onlookers are encouraged to donate if they don’t want to build a kit.

Date: Tuesday, April 12th
Time: 7pm
Location: Gumbo Labs, 4820 Banks St., upstairs, end of the hall, Studio #5
Cost: $15 (pay CMKT4 at the class, please bring exact change)
Facebook Event

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Play With Magnets

Now that the Mardi Gras has passed over us and we’re still all dreamy-eyed, let’s play with magnets. :)

Tonight (March 9th), from 7pm-8:30pm is our second-Wednesday-of-the-month get together. I was supposed to organize something for this month which has been a challenge with all the Mardi Gras madness. Excuses, excuses…I know.

My last minute idea, is to work on a project for Automata using magnets. I recorded a one and a half minute video, showing the start of an idea, here.

I plan to elaborate on that idea tonight and get y’all playing with magnets. So come on down. 4820 Banks St in Mid-City.

Attempting embedded video here:

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