For all those that may not be aware, good friends of Midsouth Makers, Makers Local 256, down in Huntsville, AL are having a pig roast and LAN party extravaganza on June 2nd starting at noon. These guys know how to throw down a good party with awesome food and a great selection of games. If you go down for a visit, you wont be disappointed. The LAN party wont happen until later in the evening, but for the early part of the day you’ll get to enjoy the excellent yummies they’ve prepared. In addition to the food, it’s a great opportunity to see what other spaces look like. They put on an excellent open house with the grub. There won’t be any lack of exciting things to see with them showing off projects, tools, shop upgrades, and the vast array of all the cool things the Makers have going on. Any of the Midsouth Makers that are free to go down that weekend should take the opportunity to go hang out with our fellow makers. It will be great motivation for what kind of things we can have going on here at our very own space. The LAN party will undoubtedly be a blast as well. They always put on a great set of tournaments with prizes and amusement all around. There are pretty good chances there will be some interesting Minecrafting going on, as well as all the fun games from Steam that everyone loves such as Team Fortress and Monday Night Combat. The LAN is assured to go on into the early morning so be prepared for lots of fun. If you manage to go, don’t forget to take a few bucks with you as well as your computer. The Pig Roast is 1 for $10 or 2 for $15, and it would be equally kind to make a donation to the Huntsville guys for putting on the LAN party in addition.
What: Food and Games
Where: Makers Local 256
When: June 2nd @ Noon, LAN party starting later that evening
Cost: $10 for 1, $15 for 2, and any other donation
After the initial awe of seeing an actual Delorean parked in his garage, we were treated to Greg setting up and demoing his forge. We were asked to bring small objects that could be pressed into sand molds to make reliefs to pour molten aluminum into to duplicate.
The forge was made using a metal 5 gallon paint/chemical bucket with a special mixture of concrete on the inside for insulation and heat retention. The top was made out of the bottom of another metal bucket with the same concrete mixture, with an ingenious use of rebar as a pivot point to turn the top out of the way to access the crucible.
Soon after inserting his Harbor Freight propane burner into a hole in the side of the bucket, the fire was ignited and things really began to heat up. Greg’s main source of aluminum is, you guessed it, aluminum drink cans. While the crucible was turning red-hot, Greg would add cans in two at a time. The paint on the outside of the cans would flash fire and be burnt off as slag, while the rest of the aluminum would melt in to a puddle of silver liquid reminiscent of mercury in colour and fluidity.
Once the aluminum was fully melted and the scum was pulled from the top, the crucible was carefully extracted and poured into some of the waiting sand molds. While still incredibly hot, the aluminum almost immediately solidified into the desired form. After a few minutes of cooling it was carefully extracted using tongs and left to air cool for several hours.
While the whole process is actually incredibly simple, it is still exciting to watch and even more exciting to think of the endless possibilities of having such a forge at your disposal!
The Makers would like to extend thanks to Greg for allowing us to invade his garage to see this amazing forge in action!
HEY FOLKS! LET’S GO TO HUNTSVILLE!
When this first came up as a discussion I was psyched from the get go.
This past Saturday, June 26th, we made that happen.
Daniel, Jim, Kevin, Brandi, Chris, Drew and I all loaded up and headed East early in the morning. Trailed closely by Ryan Anderson. The trip there was great and the weather was very kind.
Upon our arrival we were afraid no one was there, but soon after hitting the doorbell we were greeted by Justin (Ratmandu). After exchanging pleasantries we were given a thorough tour and explanation of everything in the shop. There were many “ooohs” and “aaahs” followed with several “Oh Neats”. Immediately we were drawn to the numerous projects that were in different stages of completion. Intrigued by all there was to see, we couldn’t help but ask questions over and over again. Justin calmly and patiently answered each and every one.
When lunch time came around we were guided to Bandito Burrito and found it to be very close to authentic and also very good eats. This will be recommended to the future groups visiting there too.
Returning to the space, we found several other “Locals” had arrived as well as Nick, a visitor from Birmingham who contacted us after seeing one of our stickers on a truck while he was in Memphis. We gladly shared information with Nick and we hope that he has success getting a space started in B’ham as well.
There were many handshakes and greetings and story tellings to be heard as well as many heartfelt smiles being shared all over. From here we talked about lots of different things and played with as many gadgets as we could. Everything from the Cupcake bot to the screen printing press. Discussions about Arduinos, software cores, and modding Jeep doors were everywhere. There was no shortage of thought provoking conversation.
One discussion about a place called Mike’s Merchandise caused many of us to visit this wondrous place and see what all the “hub bub” was about. We were anything but disappointed. If there was ever a store designed with “Makers” in mind, this is the place. Alice said “They have a bit of everything”, this my friends was a great understatement. If you find yourself in the Huntsville area, say hi to the “Locals” but by all means, do not miss Mike’s Merchandise. Whether you’re looking for a radiator from a Caterpillar truck or a box of test tubes, this place is likely to have it. With surprisingly small prices too.
The trip home went well but leaving was not exactly desirable. These folks have a great setup and seem to be doing a really good job of keeping people’s interests high. With lots of activities going on and many, many things to work on in the space, this group isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We will also be looking forward to revisiting them in the very near future.
As for more details about the space, we’ll just say that it is unbelievable. If you take a look at what they have now and compare it to what they started with, you almost wouldn’t believe most of it. They had tons of tools everywhere, an impressive server room, and had even just finished their learning lab. They have roughly 2000 square feet of space and have done an excellent job of laying things out. The best thing you can do is just take a look at the Flickr account and see for yourself.
Again I’m not sure exactly how many people have heard, but along with our invitation to Nashville, we’ve also been invited to check out Makers Local 256 in Huntsville, AL. Our current agenda is for us to leave at 7:30 AM on June 26th so that we can meetup with the guys in Huntsville around lunchtime on that Saturday. From there we’ll checkout the shop, stay the night, and come back again on Sunday morning. Since we will be making use of discounted hotel rooms, we will need a head count no less than two weeks in advance to know how many rooms to get. If we do not do it at least two weeks before hand, we may not be able to get the discount. So bottom line, if you haven’t said anything by the meeting on the 11th of June, then you’re not going to be able to join us. That being said, everyone is welcome to come that wants to. You just have to let us know in time. Feel free to send in an e-mail to the mailing list, or send in one to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.