All posts by laura

28 Jun 2016

Meet the Maker – Cog & Axle: Simple Machines. Made Simple

Cog & Axle – Simple Machines. Made Simple

Did you ever spend an age looking for a resource to teach a particular area of the curriculum and not find what you were looking for? I did.

I couldn’t find a suitable, practical resource to teach about simple machines with my class of 30 pupils. As is often the case in these situations, I decided to design my own.

There are, of course, large scale, commercially available products, which contain hundreds, if not thousands of small, easily lost pieces that are a nightmare to manage in a classroom situation. These sets are also very expensive. The other difficulty with these sets is linking with the curriculum.  Using the brightly coloured bricks and plastic pulleys jarred with the image of the Egyptians hauling 30 ton blocks to build their pyramids.

I wanted a resource that was designed with you, the teacher and your class of 30 pupils in mind. This meant that the resource had to be intuitive, easily stored, robust, suitable for group work and adapted to a real classroom and school furniture. A bonus would be if it could be used across the curriculum (mathematics, science, literacy).

After numerous attempts and spectacular failures, I came up with The Lévó and Henry’s Piano: a tool and a story book to introduce pupils to the maths and science of Simple Machines.

The Lévó is a wooden contraption that uses levers, pulleys and inclined planes to help lift Henry’s Piano. As the children read the storybook about the trials and tribulations of transporting Henry’s Piano across town and up and through the window of his sixth floor apartment, they investigate the simple machines used to facilitate the task.

At each stage of the piano’s journey across town, the children perform hands-on investigations using mathematics and science, and also literacy exercises to help Rosie and Rodney “work it out”.

24 Jul 2015

Meet the Maker – RoboSlam


dublin-maker-2014RoboSlam is a robot-building workshop for beginners, which we have been running in a variety of settings for the last two or three years. Our workshops are staffed entirely by volunteers, mostly staff and students from the Dublin Institute of Technology, and our aim is to introduce people to programming, electronics and robotics by guiding them through the construction and programming of an autonomous robot in just a few hours. Getting started in robotics can be costly, so one of the most important principles of RoboSlam is to keep our robot recipe ultra low-cost. Our target cost is €10 per robot for materials. This means that many participants get to take part in our workshops (and take home a working programmable robot) either for very low cost or even free of charge whenever a sponsor agrees to cover the cost of the materials.

This is our second year at Dublin Maker. We had an unforgettable experience last year, meeting all the other makers and the crowds of visitors who were interested in seeing our robots. Because our normal RoboSlam workshop lasts several hours, we couldn’t do that at Dublin Maker where large numbers of visitors would be coming and going, so instead we focused on exhibiting some of our robots are telling people about our project. However, to make things more interactive this year we’ve designed a very stripped back version of the robot which we hope will take under an hour to construct, so we’re hoping to get a few dozen passers-by to sit down and build a robot. We’re calling it RoboSlam Cafe – if there’s a table free, why not drop in and order a robot kit from one of our servers? You’ll need to bring your own coffee though!


23 Jul 2015

Meet the Maker – Light2015

International Year of Light 2015, Ireland

ChaptersThe UN has declared 2015 the International Year of Light to highlight the central role of light has in the modern world from science and technology to nature and culture. Year of Light makers come from the SPIE and OSA Student Chapters of both UCD and NUIG to demonstrate how light is used in our everyday lives though lots of hands on experiments and demonstrations including;

  • Medical imaging, surgical procedures, and even diagnoses rely upon the use of light. An example is Tissue Viability (TiVi) imaging, which is method of determining blood concentration in tissue using a standard digital camera and a laptop. This is a nice example of a very simple medical imaging system, using easy to understand image processing and components that many people have available at home.
  • Light based smartphone apps using the camera of smartphones to capture meaningful changes in the light, such as the redness in the skin or even the heart rate.
  • Interference with light (laser and white light) using a Michelson Interferometer.
  • Making UV bracelets and LED badges.
  • There will also be some optical illusions to show the different ways in which light works.
  • Laser graffiti


SPIE NUIG Student Chapter

tomi_group_2014We are a group of Ph.D. students from the Physics department of NUI Galway and we research on a branch of science called ‘Biophotonics’, which is basically all about using light to see and understand the inner workings of living things (like cells and tissues!) Medical imaging (like X-rays), microscopes and laser eye surgery are just some examples of the impact light has on biology and healthcare.

2015 has been declared ‘The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies’ by the United Nations. This has inspired us to get out and show everybody how everyday items like smartphones and camera’s can be turned into light-based technologies that can be used in healthcare. For example did you know that a smartphone can be used to measure your heart rate? Or that a everyday digital camera can show the concentration of red blood cells in your arm? At Dublin Maker we will be there to show you how this can be done, and we will have some other fascinating demonstrations about the science of light for you to try out!

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SPIE / OSA UCD Student Chapter

_DSC8718The SPIE / OSA Student Chapter was established over 10 years ago to help promote optics and photonics through outreach and public engagement. We are based in the College of Engineering in UCD. We will be collaborating with our colleagues in the NUI Galway SPIE and OSA Student Chapter at Dublin Maker to promote the International Year of Light. We have already taken part in UCD Light and Shadow and InspireFest Fringe as part of the International Year of Light outreach activities. Our stand will consist of hands on activities including making UV bracelets and LED badges. We will have a number of optical illusions and diffraction (rainbow) glasses to help explain the properties of light.


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NUIG OSA Student Chapter

Image2The aim of the NUI Galway OSA Student Chapter is to bring together people with common interests in the fields of optics and related disciplines. We organise events and activities that promote optics in the university and the wider community. Our members are part of the Physics Department at NUI Galway and the majority of us carry out research in the field of applied optics. At Dublin Maker we will be demonstrating our new laser graffiti setup and we are looking forward to working with the other chapters!


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22 Jul 2015

Meet the Maker – SunRisa

SunRisa – The Sun-like Alarm Clock

Prof. Steve M. Potter: Hacking and studying brains with light and electronics


SteveholdingMEADr. Potter is on a “maker immersion” sabbatical, touring all the maker spaces in Ireland this summer. He is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. His lab makes open-source tools for interfacing brains to computers and robots and he will be presenting some of that work at his booth (#7) at Dublin Maker, along with his Maker project, SunRisa. This is a very bright, sunny LED, controlled by a smartphone to come on gradually like the sun rising. It can be used to wake up more naturally, especially on gloomy or dark mornings. SunRisa can help with jet lag, seasonal affective disorder, night shift work, and daytime sleepiness. It is controlled by an Arduino DUE with a bluetooth shield.


Dr. Potter’s lab recently published their latest open-source tool for brain interfacing, called the “Optoclamp” in the journal eLife. This involves altering the genes in brain cells to make them excited by light from blue LEDs and inhibited by light from yellow LEDs, so their activity level can be fine-tuned. They built a closed-loop system to study how neural circuits respond to certain neuroactive drugs or other perturbations, such as seizures. By developing tools for modulating brain activity with electricity and light, and by sharing these tools with other researchers, Dr. Potter’s research is helping other labs solve diseases where the brain’s homeostasis has gone awry, such as epilepsy, chronic pain, tinnitus, and depression. He can be reached by email: steve.potter AT


sunrisa enclosure  Sunrisa lamp on tripod
20 Jul 2015

Meet the Maker – Hardie Kids

Hardie Kids – Mint Tek Circuits

18865988728_65e5858196_zOver the past couple of months we have been asked about our workshop and what it has to do with printed circuit boards (PCB) well we’re here to tell you. Both In the UK and Ireland we have attended events and ran workshops where people can manufacture a small PCB badge with our help. These PCB boards are generally green but can be changed for different events e.g our PCB printed circuit boards used for the badges during InspireFest was purple.

The PCB layout can also be changed from a circular disk like shape to a more relevant PCB, we get our PCB manufacture to supply our printed circuit boards after we give them the PCB design. We buy in the components and all the necessary materials to make the flashing led circuit board badges.

The materials needed are:
Reflowster Machine (which you can find in our PCB shop)
Printed circuit boards
Soldering paste
Soldering iron
PCB stencil

In order to make our badge we place a stencil on our printed circuit board and line the empty spaces up to where the components will be positioned then we spread the soldering paste across this stencil in order to have the paste on the area where the components will be held, this is to ensure the components will stay on the PCB board and to provide connectivity and conductivity to the components later on in this cycle.


Next we use the tweezers to pick up the components and place on the board as is needed. Then we stick the badge/ pcb into the reflowster oven making sure to set temperature as is needed and wait for the reflow to do its work. Then we take it out of the oven ensuring the soldering paste has now turned silver which shows its conductivity and then we test it using a battery.


If it’s a success we then solder the back on to hold the battery in place and insert a pin to make it a badge.


The reason we do this is to show people our printed circuit boards and that they too could make a pcb prototype in the future if so, we do hope they avail of our PCB services. Mint Tek Circuits are a proud source of Printed Circuit Boards Ireland And Printed Circuit Boards UK.

Check out the video with Siobhán Ní Chofaigh, CEO of Mint Tek Circuits demonstrating the badges

and the badge up close flashing


Mint Tek Circuits

Mint Tek Circuits seeks to be recognised as the go-to website for hardware developers to source their printed circuit boards and create their prototypes. Our niche market is hardware developers who want to source prototype volumes to demonstrate their idea in advance of manufacture. Mint Tek was founded by Georgina Kearney and Siobhán ní Chofaigh.

19 Jul 2015

Meet the Maker – Core Rope Memory

Margaret Synnott – Core Rope Memory

MagsI’ll be presenting a demonstration of an old type of computer memory, called Core Rope Memory. It was used in the spacecraft that brought men to the moon. I began this project with zero electronics skills; in fact in the beginning I just wanted to make jewellery. It started with an article about Margaret Hamilton, the first software engineer (she invented the term “software engineering” to describe her work on the Apollo program).

This is her with a printout of the source code she wrote for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

When I saw this photo,I thought “I’d love to have some of that to wear”. This is Core Rope Memory, which was the read-only memory inside the Apollo spacecraft. Since memory encodes information, I knew I could make jewellery that contains a message inspired by Core Rope Memory.
I made a few prototypes of what that jewellery might look like.
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And then I started to think — wouldn’t it be cool if you could somehow plug a piece of this jewellery in, and read the contents of the memory?
That jewellery is still in development, but In my quest to create a readable piece of Core Rope Memory (which is now working, come and see it at my Dublin Maker Stall!) I’ve learned how to solder, how to program an Arduino, some things about integrated circuits, and so much more. You can see some of the development process on my blog:
The people at the Dublin Hackerspace TOG have been a huge help (especially Becky and Gary). If you have an idea of something to make and you’d like help, equipment, or just the company of other makers, I highly recommend checking out TOG.
On Saturday I’ll have a working demo of some Core Rope Memory, and some examples of the (non-readable) jewellery. I’ll be happy to explain the technology, and the process of developing the demo. Hope to see you there!
Here’s what the main demo for Dublin Maker looks like:
14 Jul 2015

Meet the Maker – Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy – Woodturning

budvaseI work with wood primaraily. I turn it on a lathe and carve it with a tools called gouges. But to this I add resin, electronics and paint/dye to varying degrees as my design calls for them. Or sometimes none of them.

Wood is a phenomenal material to work with. Its light, durable, colourful, cheap and plentiful. It literally grows on trees after all! Woodworking dates back to as long as we have records but the modern era has brought leaps of technology in the way of electric lathes, improved materials for tools, modern synthetic materials like resin and a global community sharing tips and techniques such that the old craft of turning wood is changing into something nearly unrecognisable at an astonishing rate.

I’m a journeyman turner, still very much learning the ropes. My interest is in the cross over points between this ancient craft and the new opportunities for design that modern inventions make possible, perhaps for the first time.

Things sometimes go wrong. Sometimes they go wrong at very high speeds. But what fires me is trying something new in search of a visual effect that is perhaps as much luck as design

I use computer controlled lasers to carve stencils and burn patterns into wood turning, modern resin and high tech powders to give depth and colour but at the centre of it all is a piece of simple wood, a motor to turn it and sharp tool to cut it. With those you can make almost anything … which leads to the most difficult question of all.

What is it you want to make?

celtricdragon   CAkAp4wWQAATQ2g   drwho4

   his mountains her sky small   20150407_154746

03 Jul 2015

Meet the Maker – Intel

INTEL @ Dublin Maker

intel2This year Intel Ireland will again be the MEGA sponsor of the Dublin Maker event on the grounds of Trinity College Dublin.

Intel supports Dublin Maker to encourage innovation to introduce young makers to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in revolutionary and innovative ways beyond the traditional classroom setting.  At Dublin Maker Intel will present a show and tell area where between 10 & 16 makers from all over Ireland will showcase their creations and innovations. An interactive showcase highlights Intel Corporation technology innovations that are in some stage of active research or development and have the potential to change how we live, work and play.

In addition Intel will be providing a Maker area containing Galileo boards, Grove kits, laptops etc. where members of the public can sit in and have a go at making something so Makers, Inventors, and Dreamers we are looking forward to meeting you at Dublin Maker.  The boundaries between technology ad people are blurring why not come along to the Intel tent, make something cool and enjoy the experience.

We love to see is from 8 to 80 getting stuck in at Dublin Maker. What will you Make?



Intel will be demonstrating the versatility of the Galileo board and showcasing the Internet of Things (IoT) through their wide range of partners and educational groups;

  • Smart Dolls House
    Transform an ordinary doll house into a smart IoT house. Through both twitter and sensors all smart enhancements will be triggered. Ideals for enhancements included lights turn on when a doll enters the house, to alarm goes off is some one opens through a window. Each of these actions will then interact on twitter to notify the user. Another cool opportunity of the our cool doll house will be enable anyone in the world interact with it on the day and trigger actions in the house using twitter. This is an excellent introduction to IoT especially for girls, where they will get a hands on opportunity to fully setup and create the smart components for the house.
  • Ted the Robot
    TED is the CoderDojo IoT robot and mascot. We will demonstrate TED including how he was developed and powered by Intel Technologies. Attendees will then be challenged and timed to drive and park TED into a designated area. In through CoderDojo style TED’s favourite language is code and you must drive him by writing some simple code instructions.
  • 1980’s Robot
    The 1980’s were so cool, but sometimes it is hard to see what parts of that decade fit into the modern era. This demo will give the attendees a hands on opportunity to transform a 1980’s robot with IoT technologies. Utilising the latest technologies our aim is for this robot to move and dance like the 80’s.
  • Tip Tap Tap Interactive School Desk
    Tip Tap Tap enables students to play, to experiment, to learn actively through gesture and touch interaction, leverage their kinaesthetic intelligence to improve understanding and encourage deep engaged learning.
    Existing school desks quickly become a touch-sensing interface (at very low cost), prioritising active whole-brain learning through physical interaction.

  • Plant Bot
    Sprinkler automated Smart Turn On/Of depending on weather forecast information of a specific location (e.g. allotments). Forecast information will be sourced from the Internet. – Smart Turn On/Off (one basic scenario example) means if the plant needs water and the forecast of the plant location says is it is going to rain then do not water wait for rain.- Sprinkler automated Turn On/Off depending on soil needs/doesn’t need water (e.g. in house plants).- (50% New) Sprinkler Turn On/Of remotely using TeamViewer phone app (e.g. in house plants). – Monitor your plants (on the screen) remotely using TeamViewer phone app (any plants).
  • Intelligent scrum hat
    Intelligent scrum hat’ – demonstrates the capability of making athletic clothing ‘intelligent’. This scrum hat collects information about the athletes experience and can be used to make better informed diagnostics, should the player get injured
  • Pet Proof Alarm
    Pet Proof Alarm‘ – demonstrates an alarm system that allows your pets to roam freely throughout the house, without having to deactivate the sensors of the alarm in particular rooms in your house.
  • Ubiworx IoT Gateway development kit
    The ubiworx IoT Gateway development kit is a multi-function machine to machine automation system that:
    – Measures temperature and humidity in a room
    – Senses ambient light levels in the room
    – Turns the LED on or off based on local rules or commands received from the smart phone
    – Measures and acts on the vibration level of the fan
    – Measures the weight of the objects placed on the scale
    – Reports on the general health of the gateway (WiFi signal strength, memory usage, CPU occupancy)
    – Allows remote control & monitoring via smart phone
    – Acts locally on rules created by the end user, for example if the weight exceeds a threshold the LED turns on
23 Jun 2015

Meet the Maker – Irish Lace, A New Tradition

Fiona Harrington – Irish Lace, A New Tradition

The face of lace,  Fiona Harrington. 19/01/2015 Photograph:©Fran VealeFiona Harrington once again brings her wonderful lacework to Dublin Maker 2015. Handmade Lace has existed in Ireland for almost 200 years, but today only a handful of lacemakers remain. It is a highly skilled and a very rare practice. This year Fiona has been working with a group of scientists trying to find new ways to show how climate change is affecting the world’s marine ecosystems. She is exploring this through a series of petri-dish studies showing how handmade lace can reflect microcosms created in nature. As well as this, Fiona will be bringing samples from a commission piece where she combined traditional lace techniques with CNC engraving and plexi-glass. Come see how this traditional practice has been kept alive and revitalised through her innovative approaches to making.


Fiona Harrington

Fiona Harrington uses Fine Art techniques to depict Irish landscapes through handmade lace.  A fine artist, Fiona has replaced paint with a needle and thread. Inspired by the Irish landscape, she combines traditional Kenmare needlepoint with Carrickmacross Lace creating her own unique style of artwork.  Each piece is meticulously worked by hand with thread as fine as a human hair. This thread is delicately intertwined to create a network of patterns using the single buttonhole stitch.  Through her innovative approach to lace, the heritage and history of lacemaking in Ireland is reinvigorated and preserved.

02 Apr 2015

Open Call 2015

Calling all makers, hackers, crafters, hobbyists, educators and technologists the DublinMaker open call is now live!

smith2The dust has been blown off the Dublin Maker robots and they have already started computing the optimal maker village layout for the 25th of July on grounds of Trinity College, Dublin. As always it will be a free community run event and great opportunity for you get to know other makers from all over Ireland and beyond. Last year we had 50 makers and over 8,000 visitors enjoy this family friendly event. The Dublin Maker monkeys tabulated the data and they think it was the best one yet and once we source enough bananas they will make us a infographic, until then we are just taking their word. Dublin Maker is Ireland’s biggest maker community showcase event and a real opportunity to excite and enthuse the general public about the great making communities and individuals you are.


If you missed last year or just want to be reminder about how much fun it was, check out this video.

Check out our Gallery and 2014 Makers.

For more details about the open call check

The event has grown every year, this will be our 4th outing. We are indebted each year to the makers that give their time to come out and make it happen, without you we would just have a lot of pretty empty tents. We would be delighted to see you this year with your new projects and very appreciative if you could spread the word on the social media tubes so we can have an even bigger more diverse event.

You’ll find us on:

Hope to see you in July,
The Dublin Maker Robot and Monkey organising union of Ireland