Makerspace visit: DSpace

dspace-outsideI was in Dunedin recently and Ian and Paul from DSpace in Dunedin were kind enough to show me through their space and to talk to me about some of the projects that are happening there.

They share their space with a range of different community groups in the North East Valley in Dunedin, and the first thing that struck me was how BIG their space is: it’s actually an old workshop and has a series of large spaces that are used for different things, but they’re really lucky to have so much space at their disposal!

dspace-electric-carThere’s a full-on hoist for working on cars including the project shown in the photo to the right, which is a conversion to from petrol to electric. The electric tuktuk looks just as interesting.

dspace-bike-workshopIn the same space is a bike workshop where old bikes are fixed up and restored. I’m sure more than one of these discarded bikes were discarded by Otago students leaving at the end of their study. The cool thing about what DSpace is doing is that they’re all now potentially new(-ish) bikes for new Otago students arriving as they begin their studies.

dspace-reworkThere are some pretty amazing electronics projects going on at DSpace with both Paul and Ian talking about the workshops they run to help people design and then have built their own circuit boards. The SMD rework station and surrounding components show that this space is well-used. Paul has been prototyping circuit boards for robots and kits of various sizes to teach people to solder and about electronics, and is planning to return to China soon to oversee the production of some of his projects.

dspace-3d-printers3D printing is also big at DSpace with the team printing a lot of parts for Prusa Repraps, and in the spirit of Repraps, giving them away to people on the condition that they build a printer then print two copies of the plastic pieces and give them away to pay it forward.

Disco bike project

There’s nothing like a bit of James Brown and some neon wire to brighten up your making. We recently ran a couple of sessions building what we call ‘Disco Bike’ (although ‘Funk Bike’ is probably closer to the truth. As you can see in the video below we made a glow-in-the-dark, sound activated bike:


  • Kid’s bike. Kindly donated by Mr 6.
  • Electro-luminescent (EL) wire
  • Sound-activated inverters
  • Bluetooth Speaker

EL wire is pretty cool stuff: when you put alternating current (AC) through it, it lights up like a neon light.

disco-bike-inverters-smallThe trick is that in order to be mobile on the bike, we need to use batteries to power our EL wire (we can’t use mains power!), but batteries provide direct current, not alternating current, so that’s where the inverters come in. Inverters can turn DC into AC, powering the wire. Even cooler, we used inverters that are sound-activated- they light up when there’s a sound and don’t when there’s no sound. Perfect for a disco bike!

To assemble the whole operation, we wirelessly connected the bluetooth speaker to a phone for music, then zip-tied the speaker to the bike. We then mounted the inverters near the speaker and wound the wire all around the bike. When we turned the whole thing on, and played music through the speaker, the bike lit up in time with the music.

Disco bike!


What’s up at TAP:lab? June 2016.

Hi all, Andrew here.

We have been working behind the scenes to make TAP:lab more open and useful. Here is a taste of just some of the recent changes.

  • AIR CON (So we are a great haven from the chilly conditions)
  • There are now soldering stations, with stand alone carbon filter fans to help with electronics.
  • The 3D printer is now securely in place with a cable – so no longer locked in the cage.
  • There is a supply of t-Shirts in different colours and sizes for you to print on.
  • There are some cool cutting edge electronics to use thanks to our ongoing sponsorship from
  • The AV system is taking shape – already the screen has been invaluable in teaching.
  • The Vinyl cutter is to be re-calibrated. Once this has happened look for T-shirt and sign writing sessions

There is still plenty of exciting changes in the pipeline. Drop on by and see how you can participate in shaping our local makerspace.

A Typical Hack & Snack Night

Hack &Snack Night

TAP lab’s Hack & Snack evenings every Wednesday continue to be very popular. This event is for people at all levels of experience:

  • Just getting started in to electronics and would like some guided learning
  • Have a specific project to work on in a supportive environment with some experts around for troubleshooting
  • Experts who want to work on projects and share their knowledge

Here’s summary of the activities at a recent evening:

  • Building an “illuminated cloud” using a huge string of addressable RGB LEDs (father and son)
  • Learning the best way to prepare and print 3D models on our printer
  • Reading and datalogging from three temperature sensors using the 1-wire protocol
  • Installing the latest Arduino IDE on a linux laptop to program the ESP8266 WiFi chip
  • Learning the basics of blinking LEDs and sensor readings using Arduino
  • Designing 3d objects (father and daughter)
  • Programming a chaser light using an LED strip
  • Programming for an Arduino-based beat box

The lab is also open on Tuesdays for people to work on their projects, help get TAP lab set up a bit more and meet like-minded people. The main differences from Wednesday’s Hack & Snack are: no food and no-one is specifically there as a tutor. You’re welcome to bring your own food and people do help other, of course.