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.

Paper circuits: Mother’s day fun

paper circuits

Over two weekends, we ran some workshops for people to build Mother’s Day cards with a bit of a difference- an electronic difference. Paper circuits are made using normal paper and card and conductive copper tape. The tape is adhesive and can be stuck onto the card to form a circuit when used with other components like LEDs and batteries. There were some very creative cards produced and I’m sure a lot of mothers got a few surprises alongside their cups of tea in bed! The best thing to see was all of the problem-solving and trouble-shooting when things didn’t work out as expected.


An easy way to help out TAP:lab Makers

Take this into a West Liquor outlet with proof of address to claim your toolkit.
Take this into a West Liquor outlet with proof of address to claim your toolkit.

TAP:lab is our community makerspace: a joint initiative between the council and the community to foster creativity and develop skills for everyone in Te Atatu. There’s a simple way you can help out our little community of makers, and it won’t cost you a thing. The Trusts are generously offering every household in the area a small toolkit to help with household repairs. It’s a great little kit and would be perfect for the kind of workshops we run at TAP:lab. If you don’t want your toolkit, we’d love to take it off your hands.

Here’s how it works: take your voucher into any West Liquor outlet with proof of address (recent phone or power bill) and you can claim your free toolkit. If you email president@taplab.nz with your address, we’ll come and collect it from your letterbox, or arrange another way to collect it that’s convenient to you.

You’ll be helping out the community by giving people the tools to be able to make and repair things.


Simple Wearables Workshop

We’ve recently been running some very popular simple wearable workshops at TAP:lab. Simply put, wearable technology is any device that can be worn by a person. While people have created incredibly elaborate costumes as forms of art or self-expression, we’ve started small with simple circuits. Over a series of Saturday mornings, people have unleashed their creativity with LEDs and 3v coin cell batteries. The magic ingredient for these is conductive thread: cotton with stainless steel strands woven through it that, when stitched into a garment and knotted around electronic components form circuits: you can literally stitch the circuit right into your clothes.

Makers creating wearables.
Makers creating wearables.

We had a whole lot of creativity in the workshops, from magic wands to hacked cookie monsters to Mario mushrooms. Next step is to begin adding components that interact with the environments: leds that get brighter as the sun goes down or music that plays when your friends get near.

Some of our inspirations:

TinkerCAD 3D Design and Printing Workshop


Andrew held another popular 2 hour workshop for beginners on how to use TinkerCAD. Starting from basic principles of  viewing and manipulating objects in the the design area, the group followed along and designed a pencil stopper. Additive and subtractive combinations of objects were used to create the final object.

Sadly, our 3D printer was returned in what turned out to be a non-working state, so we were unable to print  objects on the day. This didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, reduce questions asked or the the kids desire to design 3D robots.

If you look in the background in the image above you can see a locally made RepRap Prisua i3, which was on display. This is the kind of 3D printer that is made with a lot of parts printed on a 3D printer. Compare that to our Ultimaker below and you get both ends of the hobbyist 3D printer spectrum.


Minecraft LAN Party


Minecraft has landed at the TAP lab. We’ve got five minecraft accounts loaded onto our latops along with a NAS running Minecraft server. Jeremy and I spent a couple of hours on Friday installing Minecraft, connecting an ethernet switch and setting up a server.

On Saturday, six 6 – 9 year olds got together for a somewhat impromptu Minecraft LAN party. In the spirit of seeing how much lava, TNT and mobs they could inflict upon each other, spent 90 loud minutes destroying the virtual landscape and each other.


The afternoon was a chaotic success by any measure.

Lesson learned today: Kids will not stop playing Minecraft until the mice are prised from their over-active hands, so make sure an adult is in control of the the host to kick all the kids off when their time is up.

And wear ear muffs. It gets loud (Sorry, Andrew, who was also in the lab trying to build an AV centre).