All posts by Vicky Twomey-Lee

Coder, Tech Event Organiser, Advocates Diversity in Tech, and now part of the Dublin Maker team as their Maker Advocate.
28 Apr 2020

I MADE a Zine

I’ve been wanting to make a zine for awhile now. Especially when I came across Bubble Sort Zines and Julia Evan‘s Wizard Zines collection ranging from command line, linux, networking, http, bit and latest one is “How containers work”. I missed a zine workshop by Grrrlzine when they visited Dublin last year as part of the Irish Literature Festival.

Ever so eager, I wanted to run a zine-making workshop as part of LoveLaceSpace but timing didn’t work out…. Until a recent email from Science Gallery Dublin and it had a How to Maker a Zine in its newsletter. It was a Friday and I though… “Huh, why not!! 🤔😎💪”

My first attempt

  • A sheet of A4 plain white paper
  • Scissors
  • A HB Pencil
  • Markers

Followed the instructions (click on the pic in the Science Gallery post 👆), that’s where the scissors comes in, just for a quick snip.

Now for the content… what to do!? 🤔

💡 I know, it’ll be a perfect companion for my Maker project, “Print your own adventure game”.

You’ve got 8 pages (teeny ones at that 😆), so this what I decided on:-

  • Front: Title and simple image so people know what this zine is about
  • Page 2 – 3: Requirements for the project (this is high level, I didn’t include wires, power, thermal paper)
  • Page 4 – 5: What I used for coding: Circuit Python, I included Python because it’s good for general references outside of coding the thermal printer and arcade buttons, plus I’m a bit rusty so I was looking up docs a lot. I used Mu Editor because it works and nicer than the other editors on the Raspberry Pi (Modal 3 and 4), and it comes as default on the Raspberry Pi, so no need to install an editor.
  • Page 6 -7: Brief overview of playing the game. 🔘👾🖨
  • Page 8: End of the zine, my personal contact dets.

Initial outline of the zine in pencil followed by inking with black pen

This is after using markers to colour in the content.

Before I coloured it in, I inked it with a black pen (muji oil-based, 0.5mm). I wasn’t very happy with the results. They were cheapo markers from LIDL (I think), and wasn’t very clean, erasing the pencil marks left it really grubby.

Next – let’s digitise it!

🤔 So I thought what if I scanned it in and then re-ink and colour it digitially on my iPad Pro with Procreate. My recent foray back in to drawing and use the iPad with Procreate properly instead of watching videos/movies got my artsy creative brain ticking.

So that’s what I did:-

  • Scanned unfolded zine (I was delighted it was all on one side, that makes life easier)
  • Saved to my Dropbox (shared with iPad handily enough)
  • Opened Procreate on iPad and started a brand new project and imported the scanned images, inked all the outlines, then created the necessary layers for inking and colouring.
  • Exported the digitally inked/coloured copy back to Dropbox in PDF.
  • Back to my laptop and printed it out, and created the zine again.

Now at this point, I thought it’s all done and dusted. First of all, it was not quite centred and it was all a little off after folding the zine, things were not where they seemed or cut off.

  • Tried printing with no margins – erm, that made it worse and not any better
  • Opened up Sketch on my laptop and imported the PDF and centred it and exported the PDF (different name) and printed it out with the printer’s default settings.

Now I was not happy with just the flat colours, why not add a tiny bit more details to bring out the chunky headings on each page.

Finally, let’s add a little more detail digitally

I’m super pleased with the results. I’m still learning to finish details, so it’s not for this zine as I don’t want it to look perfect, I’ll leave that to my next digitial painting project.

Here’s my final demo of the finished zine.

Share your project (or zine)

Anyone who makes zines out there? Do share! You can tweet @DublinMaker with #DublinMaker #ShareYourMakes.

Finally, I hope everyone is safe and well in this extraordinary time, let’s keep making, sharing and connected!

/// Vicky (Maker Advocate)

(Originally posted at

20 Apr 2020

Countdown Timer with Circuit Playground Express and CircuitPython

Everyone has a wee song to sing to while washing your hands for 20 seconds, since I had Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express handy, why not create a visual countdown.

👉 You will need:

  • 1 x Circuit Playground Express (aka CPX)
  • 1 x MicroUSB to USB cable (so the CPX can talk to your computer)
  • Laptop
  • Editor of choice, I chose Mu Editor as it recognises Adafruit components and quick way to change and upload code as well as debugging, etc.
  • CircuitPython for CPX installed
  • Battery to power the CPX

🧐 Why did I choose Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express?

I had one around and I wanted to put something useful on it, plus I want to play a little more with CircuitPython. The CPX has 10 bright LEDS (Neopixels) so perfect for the 20 second countdown.

It also has a “Microphone Audio Sensor” so it can pick up sounds. And there’s already code handily written on detecting sound via Adafruit’s Sound example.

ℹ️ Check out the guided tour of the CPX here:

All the elements are there, so let’s get started! 💪
🤔 What I wanted to do

  • Clap hands to initiate the countdown
  • Changes colour and flashes a couple of times to let you know it heard your clap, and it gives you time to turn on tap, get soup on your hands
  • Each Neopixel comes on for the 1st 10 seconds going clockwise, as it reaches the end, all Neopixels turns off and each one lights up going counter-clockwise.
  • When 20 seconds are done, it flashes to turn on all Neopixels to green (one colour) to state that you have comepleted the required time to wash your hands.

The Circuit Playground Express (below) and it’s casing (above).

The MicroUSB to USB cable (top left)

The Circuit Playground Express in its casing, all ready to go.

This is what happens when it’s turned on and waiting for the clap (loud sharp noise).

📽  Here’s a video of it working, my hands were sore from clapping while testing so I tapped it loudly on the casing which registers the sound as well. 😊

Finally, here’s the source code on github:

14 Apr 2020

Vicky’s First Maker Project

This week was meant to be my first time attending a Makerfaire, it was going to be in Berlin. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to COVID-19. 😢

I had a small project to demo and it was inspired by The Choosatron at Berlin Game Science Center, I had so much fun visiting it last year.

I had the Adafruit mini thermal receipt printer, a Raspberry Pi, arcade buttons and wanting to play more with CircuitPython to interact with these electronic components. As a newbie and from software background, I was more comfortable with coding, as you can imagine.

Have been working on this on and off since February this year, and I decided to why not get it all working properly even if Makerfaire Berlin is cancelled. 💪

I had a Pi-Top which has the Raspberry Pi 3 in it (thanks to Coding Grace), and used it prototyped the idea on it initially.

Ok, that was cool.

How this will work is, I have 3 buttons, a YELLOW (left option), a BLUE (right option) and a BLACK button (resets the game).

  • When you start the game, it welcomes the player and asks the player to select YELLOW or BLUE button to begin.
  • If a player selects a YELLOW/BLUE button, they are presented with the start of the story, and asks to press YELLOW/BLUE button again to continue with the story, or BLACK button to reset the game.
  • If the player selects the YELLOW/BLUE button again, the next part of the story appears dependant on the button chosen. The player gets asked one more time to choose which button to press.
  • Result of that choice is printed followed by end of the story.

I put in some sample silly dummy stories so I can see how the game runs, it’s pretty short as I don’t want to waste too much paper. 🌲

I moved on to 3D print a stand for the 3 arcade buttons and a case for the thermal printer using the Prusa 3D printer (had fun building this last Christmas with my husband). Plus I decided to try out the Pi-Top which has the Raspberry Pi 4 in it.

So it’s all coming together.

After a bit of code wrangling as I wanted to add stories into a spreadsheet where I can pull the stories from and feed it to the thermal printer, it was all done. Here’s the final demo result. 🙌 😊

If you are curious, I have a longer write-up on the process and issues I came across via

🤔 Anything else I would like to do now that it’s working? Well, what I would like to do is use just a Raspberry Pi (even a zero) and make a nice simple case for it, probably use cardboard or something as 3D printing a whole case uses a lot of material.

🌈 You have a work-in-progress project, or planning one? Please share your #MakerAtHome projects (even ongoing ones) with #DublinMaker via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even on LinkedIn. 🤖🛠✂️🗜🖌

Wishing everyone well and safe. #StayAtHome #WashYourHands

30 Mar 2020

What are you Making at home?

If you haven’t heard already, Dublin Maker festival 2020 has been postponed to Summer 2021 due to COVID-19 and the Dublin Maker team discussed and made a very hard decision, but the community’s health and safety comes first.

Here’s our announcement . It might be a bit 😢 but you never know… if this COVID-19 virus is under control and things start to go back to normal, maybe we can consider running a smaller Maker-focussed event. 🤞

💡Do check out the newsletter with the announcement,there’s a few ideas on activities and projects to do while you are at home.

For the last two weeks, there’s been a lot of disruptions in varying degrees, and first and foremost, I want to say it’s amazing what the health workers and staff from various sectors who are keeping things ticking and going are. 👏👏👏

It’s an extraordinary period of time we are in right now, and for those who feel they don’t know how to contribute (besides #StayingAtHome), there’s been a hive of activities and call to actions to help support and provide PPE to health workers from sourcing face masks and printing 3D print face shields. Although last update on PPE, it seems that the Aer Lingus plane touched down in Dublin on Sunday afternoon over the weekend. 🙌

We all hear about the shortages of face masks, and I’ve come across HKMask and there’s a great site collating all the info from the Facebook posts. I wanted to make one myself. Anyone can try this, no matter what skill level you are at sewing.

First time making a fabric facemask, to familiarise with what to do, I hand-stitched it.

I’m not great at sewing myself, so I decided to hand stitch my first facemask following the instructions and accompanying youtube video. It took longer than expected but it was straight forward enough. For materials, I used clothes I didn’t want any more from the back of the wardrobe, in this case, an old conference t-shirt for the lining and a shirt for the shell (might as well include spring cleaning). Here’s a pic my first attempt with embarrassingly terrible stitching, see pic on the left.

First time using sewing machine to make my own fabric face mask.

The following afternoon, I decided to approach my new sewing machine which was bought a couple of months ago, I’ve never used one before, hence the reason to hand-stitch initially, so as to understand what I need to do. I used the offcuts from the old conference t-shirt from the day before for the lining and another shirt for the shell. After much stop and starting due to thread entanglement, and pulling apart the bits and pieces to re-thread the bobbin, and thread breakages (I used a cheap thread, note to self, don’t use cheap thread), I made the facemask on a sewing machine for the first time. (See pic on the right)

Showed my mom (over whatsapp) as she use to be a seamstress and said it was a great effort for someone who never used a sewing machine before. 💪 And all I need to do is keep practising sewing straight lines to get use to the machine. Moms are the best. 🥰

With my added knowledge and confidence boosted, I made a bigger version of the mask on the sewing machine the following day. I used another old conference t-shirt as the shell, and still using the other t-shirts offcuts for the lining. I’m getting better, here’s the resultant facemask, see pic on the left.

And I’m planning to make more, and hoping to get faster doing it. I also have plans to make a t-shirt blanket, there’s certainly a lot of straight lines to sew, so I’ll definitely get my practice in as well as freeing up the wardrobe space of old conference t-shirts including ones I haven’t worn in a long time. It’s also a nice way of keeping the ones I like.

I’m a big fan of Animal Crossing New Horizons and folks have been very creative from elaborate decoration of rooms to making incredible costumes to the more fun and sociable “high stakes musical chairs“. If you don’t want to use the in-game custom design app, you can try this free online editor, save and share your designs via QR codes. That in turn can get imported into your own game and others can get it also for theirs. What’s more, I love the in-game items that you come across, especially the electronics, crafting and the pedal kits (as pictured in my room in pic below 😊).

My Animal Crossing New Horizon's home with electronic, crafting, and pedal kits on the table.

🤔 Are you making anything at home, or have an idea in mind?

Or if you are interested in getting involved with the Open Source Ventilator Ireland, or help with 3D printed face shields via 3D Printing Ireland? But please don’t do what this astrophysicist did with magnets! 😱😂

👉 By the way, the folks printing the face shields are looking for clear acetate sheets (binding covers) or clean transparencies. If you can help, they have a slack group you can join and contribute what you can.

🌈 💬 Sharing is Caring!

Please share your #MakerAtHome projects (even ongoing ones) with #DublinMaker via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even on LinkedIn. 🤖🛠✂️🗜🖌

💡Other resources and ideas:

And here’s some words from The Doctor. 😊

StayHome and keep safe & well.

/// Vicky, Maker Advocate

02 Oct 2019

Dublin Maker 2019 Official Video

Did you miss Dublin Maker this year, or you want to re-live those moments again. Here’s a video highlighting moments from Dublin Maker at Merrion Square this year.

We had over 60 makers showcasing their projects on the day. Check out the full list on our website.

Thanks to all our fantastic makers, volunteers and all our partners who made it such a great day.

Dublin Maker is only possible with the support of:-

If your organisation would like to get involved with Dublin Maker 2020,
you can get in touch us at

See you all in July 2020.

30 Aug 2019

Life as a Maker Advocate – a review of the past few months

It’s been 4 months since I started as Maker Advocate with the Dublin Maker Team on the MADE programme.

What have I’ve been up to since besides settling into my office space courtesy of DCU School of Computing? And yes, I’ve got a great window view.

One of my jobs is being the admin person during working hours. I’ve been learning the ropes of the internal systems handling things like invoicing, expenses and so on, as well as various different paperwork required for Dublin Maker festival. This gives the rest of the team some breathing space to concentrate on community content for Dublin Maker itself. 

Some might think admin is the least fun thing to do but it’s something I know will come in useful. For example, working in an institution handling paperwork, planning with the team and working with a production company running the largest event I ever got involved with. This year’s festival was much bigger than last year’s numbers which were around 10k visitors.

It’s just like when I asked to join the EuroPython Society as one of their board members just so I can see how they run a European conference that was at the time twice the size of our first PyCon Ireland back in 2010. Come to think of it, they are still just over twice the size even though PyCon Ireland has over 500 attendees nowadays. There was a lot of tele/video conferencing, processes to be put in place and agreed with, remote working with lots of other remote workers and we were all volunteers. Same when I joined as member of WITS Ireland and agree to join their executive committee as I want to be part of a team to make major changes and revise the vision and mission of the organisation back then. I learn a lot each time I join a committee whether it’s large or small, remotely or in the same room, to see how things work behind the scenes.

So the long and short of it, I secretly enjoy the admin side of things because I’m learning so much from each experience, and it’s different every time with lots of various challenges and new terminology.

Aside from that, I met lots of people, and as an advocate, it’s part and parcel of my role. It’s an expansion of what I normally do as diversity in tech advocate and tech community organiser anyway. Building on top of pure techie community, I now engage with more Makers from various hackerspaces, makerspaces, FabLabs, educators, creatives, not-for-profits, those involved with social good initiatives, public services and more.

I’ve met/talked/caught up with many people along the way including (not in any particular order, apologies if I missed anyone out):-

  • Angela, Paul, Aoife and rest of the team from DCC Public Libraries
  • Andrew from BRYR
  • Annabelle from Innovate Dublin
  • Thom from
  • John from The Nerve Centre in Derry
  • Gretta from National Print Museum and seeing their PrintLab
  • Sarah from St John of Gods
  • Barbara from National Youth Council Ireland
  • Creative Aging International
  • Miriam from Tech Space
  • Kate from Make, Create, Innovate
  • Ellen from Festival of Curiosity (and Vincent very briefly at Future Island conference)
  • Rodhan from The Digital Hub
  • Gerard from Fablab Limerick
  • David and Fergus from BenchSpace in Cork
  • Liam from DCC (Ballymun)
  • Involve (Navan)
  • Sylvia from I-Form / Women in 3D printing
  • Jake Byrne (TCD and maker educator extraordinaire who ran activities on the Maker Van at Dublin Maker)
  • LEO (DCC)
  • Barbara & Tara from Coder Dojo
  • Orlaith from Explorium
  • Aishling from Fingal County Council, and Helen and Lillian from Blanch Library
  • Tara, Cheryl, Nadja, Maria, Mick and Richie from LoveLaceSpace
  • Mairead from Science Gallery
  • Dominic Campbell from Creative Aging International & Dublin City Council Culture Company
  • Ann O’Dea from Inspirefest/Silicon Republic
  • Stuart Lawn from Manorhamilton

And not forgetting all the various folks who applied to Dublin Maker festival this year, this was their first time encountering me as their contact. And it’s just as electric dealing with them as with all my other voluntary not-for-profit activities.

I’ve still many hats on from my volunteer initiatives like Coding Grace, PyLadies Dublin, GameCraft, Women Who Code Dublin and Women in Technology & Science Ireland. Via various meetings with organisations that want to get involved with these I also talk about my current role as Maker Advocate which inadvertently brings me to new conversations on Maker culture such as the amazing Analog Lab that’s in Facebook Ireland which I had a quick tour of. It’s great to see things moved along since, and I got especially excited seeing their internal events as well as their designer in residence programme. I’m also a member of a women in games group called Strawberry Collective and offered my help as Maker Advocate and see what cool things we can do.

I’m also the Maker Track captain for Startup Week Dublin, a community-driven event, and I hope to bring MADE and our maker community to be part of this week during Oct 21-25. A way to bring two communities that would benefit from each others skill sets, plus with LEO from DCC supporting it, they have many clients that are small indigenous crafting/making businesses themselves. These are but a few things that I’ve been up to since I started in April.

Recently I went to Lough Boora with other creatives from all sectors, it was sort of an unconference, and it was people I knew from my various diversity in tech events and attending conferences like Inspirefest and workshops like PiCademy. The dots are all connecting between my past, present and future. I hope that I can use my existing connections and bring that to the table and link up with new ones, and the end result will hopefully a series of social outreach/impact events as part of MADE in the coming months.

Juggling calls, meetings and some little bit of travelling has been great so far, part of the project brings me and MADE closer to reaching under-represented communities and hard to reach areas with huge thanks to Dublin City Council Public Libraries partnering with Dublin Maker and recently launched a Maker Van at Dublin Maker this year. This was converted from one of their mobile library/learning vans.

Now what are my next steps, you might wonder?

I plan on getting a series of events as part of MADE working with many of the folks I mentioned above. I’m also looking into having a documentary produced about MADE, producing a series of podcasts, find a digital way to easily connect various makers, groups, organisations, institutions, companies, learn more about evaluation, meet all the stakeholders. Plus I will need to look into and researching more about fundraising, and plan on how to realise as many items on the bucket list that went into the application for the Science Foundation Ireland funding from now till 2020. Oh, and I have started thinking about Dublin Maker 2020 which is going to be back next July and hopefully at Merrion Square.

I’m still open for ideas, conversations, and collaborations for MADE, if you have any questions/feedback, you can contact me at

03 May 2019

Dublin Maker’s MADE Programme

Announcing MADE, a two-year Dublin Maker programme funded by Science Foundation Ireland and hosted by Dublin City University which seeks to knit together a currently fragmented regional maker scene through the introduction of a series of initiatives coordinated by our newest member, Vicky Twomey-Lee as the Maker Advocate. These include festivals, public maker space roll out, mobile makerspaces, corporate engagement, training for all and dissemination.

The MADE project has as its objective, the better embedding of maker culture thinking at all levels in Irish society and making it available to all. Starting with the greater Dublin region, building on our successful maker festival, the Maker Advocate will foster and support makers where ever they are and for the benefit of many. We have identified and target a wide range of activities for the life-time of the project which will act as the means for creating the impact we expect to see. The most ambitious of these activities is a partnership with Dublin City Public Libraries to roll out public maker facilities in public libraries. The mobile maker space will be used to facilitate making events with other key target groups including people with disabilities, older people and minority communities – all of which are underpinned by identified and committed community partners.With significant dissemination and campaigning, we envisaged a longer term future sought through better corporate social responsibility engagement with the specific partners.

The Maker Advocate position provides a focus point and year-round voice for the maker community and those seeking to integrate such thinking into their activities from public libraries, through educators, nonprofits and commercial entities.

“I’m excited to be part of the Dublin Maker team and the MADE initiative. Looking forward to connecting the community and bringing Maker culture to all areas of society.” — Vicky Twomey-Lee, Maker Advocate

P.S. Our open call has been extended for Dublin Maker this July. We are looking for educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, science clubs, students, authors and commercial exhibitors of all ages and backgrounds. It’s our mission is to entertain, inform and connect the makers of Ireland, while inspiring the next generation of Ireland’s makers and inventors and we want you to be part of it.

Apply before May 15th.