Good luck, nullspace labs! An open letter to a Los Angeles hackerspace.

(Hi, readers! Time for a first-person interlude.)

Dear Nullspace Labs,

Having gotten the news about your impending move, I just contributed to your Indiegogo campaign. Here’s why, and here’s why I hope my friends will do the same.

We went through the same stuff back when i3Detroit was young! Ours was for a very different reason, but the tasks ahead are the same, and I wish you all success. I bet the next lease will have some strong terms about more advance notice, too. :)

Some background: We actually had good move-out terms in our first lease, but they didn’t apply to what happened. It turns out the landlord had been flying under the radar for decades, and nothing in the space was up to code.  Thus, the building didn’t have a “certificate of occupancy”, and it wasn’t about to qualify for one. We faced stiff fines for continuing to “occupy” the building without it.

However, the city thought we were cool, so we got them to hold off on enforcement, for 30 days. Just long enough to scramble for another space, make sure the new landlord had all the details in order, and shovel everything into a moving truck.

But oh, the expenses! We were “in the black” in that we were making rent, but we didn’t yet have enough in our emergency fund to cover a move. Another down payment and first month’s rent. More insurance. More renovations. (Lots of renovations…) Plus the actual truck rental. Yeah, we needed help!

We threw together a Kickstarter, and our family and friends came through in a big way. The money made a lot of things possible, plus the vote of confidence from so many donors really lifted our spirits through what was already an incredibly stressful mess.

It still wasn’t easy. We didn’t have time to organize much while we packed, and the unpacking was equally chaotic, so it took us *months* to get back on our feet and functional the way we’d been before the move. However, don’t despair! Our continued existence is proof that you can come through this! It’s now 4 years later and we’re bigger and stronger than ever.

I was lucky enough to squeeze in a visit to Nullspace Labs last time I was on the west coast. It felt instantly familiar when I walked through the door — the same kinds of stuff, the same kinds of conversations, and most of all, the same friendly and welcoming vibe that every open-hack-night seems to exude. I had a great time meeting M and Arclight and several others whose names escape me a year later. I learned a fair bit about microscopes and surfacemount, some of the group’s obvious strengths. And I hope to return sometime, although it’ll be to a different address, probably in a different neighborhood. Hopefully one with fewer stairs. ;)

(And hey, depending on how far you folks are willing to move, there’s plenty of cheap warehouse space in Detroit! Just sayin’.)

Best wishes from Michigan,

-Nate B-

Isostick!

Have you ever been looking at a computer, wanting to put software on it from a CD, but the machine has an empty hole where the CD-ROM drive would be?

Sad Fab Lab server, with an empty hole in its heart where the CD-ROM drive should go...

i3Detroit has been privileged to work with [lain], the creator of the isostick, a USB thumb drive designed to act as a bootable USB CD-ROM drive. It takes a microSD card, and offers up on USB both a USB mass storage device for the card’s space, and a USB CD-ROM device containing the mounted image.

Two isosticks, sitting in the e-room

What image, you say? Any ISO (CD/DVD/BD image file) you put on the microSD card. Just put the full path to the ISO into a special configuration file, and the next time the isostick is power-cycled, the image will show up as a disc in the CD-ROM device, available to both your OS and to BIOS as a bootable device.

We have used our two isosticks numerous times over the last month or two, most notably to put all the software for the equipment in the Fab Lab on our new Fab Lab server.

isostick is a cool product, and you should go check it out! From October 1st to October 31st, the discount code BootAllTheThings will get you $25 off at the isostick shop!

i3′s toys at Yelp’s party: Friday!

When you’re Yelp, and you’re throwing a big party at the Fillmore, where do you look for entertainment? A bunch of local outfits, including i3 Detroit, of course! We’re bringing the giant Connect Four and beanbag toss (I refuse to call it that other name), and Robot Fight Club, and the Squiggletrike, and maybe even the dangerously fast Power Wheels car #3.

It’s more than just a party, of course: Yelp is raising funds to support a Detroit charity: “Real Life. My Music. is a nonprofit organization created to provide a musical and artistic outlet to inner city youth in Detroit“. Considering all the education cuts, that sounds like it fills an important gap!

It’s happening this Friday, 9/7. All the details are over at Yelp, and while the shindig is free, you have to RSVP to get in, so just go do that already. Oh, and bring a few bucks for the fundraiser. See you there!

(Can’t make the party but still want to support Real Life. My Music? They’re collecting donations online with Crowdrise, too.)

Open Shop Friday

TGIF! Or more specifically, TGIOSF.

That’s Open Shop Friday, the day each week when Metro Detroit’s oldest hackerspace explicitly invites non-members to come visit. (The rest of the time, it’s implicit, but some folks like a direct invitation. This is that.)  We’re at 1481 Wordsworth, in Ferndale. Ring the doorbell if it’s not already open!

I hear talk of welding, and Power Wheels bodywork, and who knows what else. — there’s always something unexpected! Any time after 6-ish is probably good, or just wait for that box at the upper right to say “the space is open for guests”.

Also, did you see the photo essay over at MetroMode this week? It’s called “Where Metro Detroit Invents”, and features photos and members of OCD, TechShop, and i3 Detroit. A tip of the hat to our colleagues! (Look closely, and you’ll see that the majority of photos in the series were taken at i3.)

Upcoming events at i3 Detroit, including two more classes

Friday, April 6, 5pm-10pm-ish: Open Shop Friday, holiday weekend edition! With so many members off work for the day, there’ll be someone around the shop earlier than normal to open the doors and host guests. This is an ideal time to drop in and see the space, meet the members, and work on a project!

Saturday, April 7 8pm-2am: Twisted Toys and Mad Scientists, Victorian/Steampunk show at District VII. (off-site) Several i3 projects and members will be there.

Thursday, April 12, 7:30pm: Arduino Meetup, newbies welcome. Good platform to get started in microcontrollers.

Friday, April 13, 7pm: Open Shop Friday for those sad souls not in Cleveland at the midwest’s finest tech/art/everything conference.

Thursday April 19, 7pm-???: Tabletop Gaming. Does Dominion ring a bell? How about Settlers of Catan? Guests welcome.

Friday April 20, 7:30pm: Lockpicking for Beginners. Please register for your seat now!

Saturday April 21, 1pm-4pm: Roadside Skills For Non-Greasemonkeys. Registration required. Learn to patch a puncture, install a spare tire, jump-start a dead battery, and more.

Friday April 27 thru Sunday April 29: Penguicon (off-site). Geek-interest conference, expanding to larger digs in Dearborn this year. Several i3 Detroit members are presenting, teaching, and otherwise involved. There may not be an Open Shop this day because most of us will be at the con.

(Also, hello Detroit News visitors! What do you hack? What do you make? Let us know in comments!)