Blog Archive

Yet another SBHX board meeting to further hash out our name situation among other things. The meeting is schudled for Saturday Oct. 5th at 5pm at the Santa Barbara Hackerspace in goleta. Other topics include grant ideas, creating a mission statement, and whatever else comes up. The meeting is open to everyone so come by  and see the mighty wig. This Post will be updated with the meeting minutes after we have finished.

The Santa Barbara Hackerspace will be hosting a cyanotype class on Sunday December 10th. If you have never heard of cyanotype wikipedia has an excellent entry on it here. It is a very early form of photography that is very simple and requires minimal chemicals and preperation. The class will be 4 hours long with a brief description of the history of cyanotypes, the theory of operation, and making a couple of prints. You can bring alonf most any mostly flat object to make a print of or bring a photo file to make into a cyanotype.

The class will be led by Kayla Pence, a local photographer and graduate of the Brooks Institute school of photography in Santa Barbara. CHeck out her website and work at The class is open to all ages and the materials are safe to handle. The class size is limited to 15 people and if we have enough participants we will do 2 classes on the 10th. The classes will be held at the Santa Barbara Hackerspace in goleta. The fee for the class is $25 and includes paper, chemicals, printing, etc for 2 cyanotype prints.

A sign up sheet will be posted shortly. After submitting the signup sheet you will receive a confirmation email with payment details.

Sign up page is now live! TO sign up go to and purchase your seat in the class.

The Santa Barbara Hackerspace  will both be hosting sumo bot classes in November. The class will be three 2 hour sessions and will cover constructing the sumo bot, programming an arduino to control it, and a competition to pit your bots against each other. Classes will be held on Thursday evenings from 6pm to 8pm at the Hackerspace. The sumo bots are very simple with only a handul of parts and just a handful of code to get them moving.

The real challenge of the class will be the software. The bots for the class will all have the exact same hardware, so its up to you to find the best way to navigate the arena and push your opponent out without going outside the arena or being pushed out by your adversary. The bots use a pair of continuous rotation servos for locomotion and a 6 volt battery pack for power. The only sensors are a pair of hall effect sensors under the bots scoop to detedt a magnetic ring under the arena to keep your bots in the circle.

Class size will be limited and a sign up sheet will be posted shortly, so sign up soon and get your spot in the class. Once the form is posted we will have 10 slots available for students. After filling out the form if you’re in the first 10 you will receive an email link to paypal / google wallet. The class will cost $50 dollars and includes an arduino compatible development board, 2 continuous rotation servos, 2 hall effect sensors, 1 3d printed pla chassis, 2 3d printed pla wheels, and a battery pack with 4 AA batteries. Sign up here <will add link soon>

The classes will cover a bit of electronic theory, schematics, programming in arduino (a C++ like language), using 123d.circuits,io to test electronics assembly and programming before  getting to the hardware, and a sumo competition. After the class the Hackerspace will host regular sumo competitions so you can modify your sumo bot and learn more about robotics and programming.

If you are attending the class please bring a laptop wit you, we have only a couple of machines available for use so please bring your own if you can. It can be linux, windows, or mac, just so long as it can run the arduino IDE. We will also be offering the class for $15 for those who do not want to purchase the hardware kit with the class.

Photos of the prototype sumo bot, a bill of materials, and code will all be posted shortly.
Here are some photos of my working prototype of the Sumo-Bot, video will be posted saturday as well as code.






Yet Another Update:
Had our first sumo bot class at the library and I think it went fairly well. Learned a few things about doing class type presentations and found some wrinkles which we have since ironed out. Looking forward to our thursday class at the space, though the class is currently looking a little thin.

code below, heavily borrowed from

#include <Servo.h> 
#define LEFTBUTTON 12    // The left bumper
#define RIGHTBUTTON 13  // The right bumper
Servo servor;
Servo servol;

int rval = 0;        // val will be used to store the state of the input pin
int rold_val = 0;    // The previous value of val
int rstate= 0;      // Store the state of our circuit. 0 = off 1 = on
int lval = 0;        // val will be used to store the state of the input pin
int lold_val = 0;    // The previous value of val
int lstate= 0;      // Store the state of our circuit. 0 = off 1 = on
boolean debug=false;
int pos = 0;
int pos1 = 0;

void setup() {
    delay(1000); // Wait one second just in case I've screwed something up
    pinMode(LEFTBUTTON, INPUT);  // Pin 7 will be input
    pinMode(RIGHTBUTTON, INPUT);  // Pin 7 will be input
    if (debug == true) {   

void loop() {
  lval = digitalRead(LEFTBUTTON); // SRead input value and store it
  rval = digitalRead(RIGHTBUTTON); // SRead input value and store it
  // Check whether the left input Has transitioned
  if ((lval == HIGH) && (lold_val == LOW)) {
    lstate = 1 - lstate;
  // Check whether the right input Has transitioned
  if ((rval == HIGH) && (rold_val == LOW)) {
    rstate = 1 - rstate;
  lold_val = lval; // val is now old so let's store it
  rold_val = rval; // val is now old so let's store it
    if (lstate == 1) {
    if (debug == true) {
      Serial.println("Left bumper triggered");
      Serial.print("values are lval ");
      Serial.print(" rval ");
      Serial.print(" lstate ");
      Serial.print(" rstate ");
    //lstate = 0;
  if (rstate == 1) {
    if (debug == true) {
      Serial.println("Right bumper triggered");
      Serial.print("values are lval ");
      Serial.print(" rval ");
      Serial.print(" lstate ");
      Serial.print(" rstate ");
    //rstate = 0; // zero rstate
  int pos = (255);
    int pos1 = (0);
  // If nothing has changed both motors are on and we should be going straight. ish
      lstate = 0; // zero rstate
      rstate = 0; // zero rstate

void rightbumper() {
    // Turn left
    if (debug == true) {
      Serial.println("Turning left");
    int pos = (255);
    int pos1 = (127.50);

void leftbumper() {
    // Turn right
    if (debug == true) {
      Serial.println("Turning right");
    int pos = (50);
    int pos1 = (50);  

Class Sign Up Form:

Sumo-Bot Class Sign Up Sheet

Sign up sheet for the Santa Barbara Hackerspace Arduino powered Sumo-Bot class. The class has a $50 fee which includes a sumo-bot kit and 3 classes to assemble and program the sumo-bot. Suggested age range is 8 and up, and all children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The Sumo-Bots have a 3D printed chassis and wheels, an arduino uno microcontroller, 2 continuous rotation servos, and 2 hall effect sensors. The kits will require some minor assembly with a screwdriver, some tape, and a hot glue gun. The bots are extremely simple but have a lot of room for customization and upgrades. After the class the Hackerspace will be hosting regular Sumo-Bot competitions open to everyone.
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As promised here are some further details about the upcoming Santa Barbara Hackerspace 3D printing class. First let me clarify that this is a rough outline and there are very likely to be some changes. The class will last for 4-6 weeks metting one a week for 4-6 hours at the Hackerspace in Goleta. We are shooting for a class size of 10-20 people and the class will cost $600-$800. The fees include a complete 3D printer kit (based on a reprap variant), assembly of the printer, calibration, and printing basics using open source software (sketchup, blender, and others), as well as some plastic to print with. The class will be taught by Mike K. and Nick W. who have both assembled their own printers and racked up a lot of time running their own printers’, the hackerspace’s, and the Santa Barbara Public Library’s. The goal of the class is to get 3D printers into as many hands as possible, as well as teaching the community the skills neccessary to operate their printers. All procedes will go towards purchasing a laser cutter for the Hackerspace to help round out our compliment of tools. We will be posting a sign-up sheet on this page as things are firmed up and we are ready to accept deposits. There will also be a number of updates to this post as things come together.

UPDATE 8/31/13:
I told you there would be some updates. Firstly here are some images of our test build and printer that will be printing the parts for the class.
2013-08-31 19.10.31

2013-08-28 18.27.36

2013-08-28 18.27.29

2013-08-28 18.27.22

2013-08-28 18.27.20

This is a MDF based Mendel 90 RepRap, one of the candidates for the class build. After assembling it we determined that it would likely be too difficult to assemble in a class environment. Next we’ll try a Mendel Prusa i3, which should be assembled in the coming weeks. I will be posting a class signup sheet by the time assembly is complete.

Our prototype for the class has been assembled and it prints! We are doing a little streamlining and finalizing our BOM but expect some more photos and updates soon. We are also nearly done with the class sign up page so watch for that, we will tweet / email the google group when we post it so keep an eye out.
2013-10-19 12.45.27
here’s our first official class printer being assembled!

Update 11/8/13:

Our sign up page for the 3D printing class is live at sign up and get yourself a printer! Here are some shots of the completed prototype all set up and ready to print. Watch it in action here:

IMG_2277 IMG_2278 IMG_2279 IMG_2276 IMG_2275 IMG_2273 IMG_2270 IMG_2271 IMG_2272 IMG_2269 IMG_2268 IMG_2267 IMG_2266

The Santa Barbara Hackerspace Board Meeting will be held Saturday June 22nd, starting at 6pm. It will be held at the Santa Barbara Hackerspace located at 158 Aero Camino Ste. D in Goleta. Topics will include rebranding, further expanision, budget, membership benefits, projects, events, classes, and such. The board meeting is open to both members and the public so feel free to stop in and join us.

The agenda is as follows (subject to change, these times are estimates):
6:00 – call to order and roll call
6:10 – Nominations and vote for new / replacement board members
6:20 – Discuss financial and membership statement and review
6:30 – Discuss rebranding, possible expansion, classes, changes to membership benefits, events, partnerships, etc
7:15 – Open forum for members to raise issues or concerns
7:30 – Close meeting

EDIT: below are the Santa Barbara Hackerspace board meetings notes, as recorded by the board secretary Garret.

Roll Call
Mike “Swiss” Bales (CEO)
Steve Phillips (CFO)
Garrett Holmstrom (secretary)
Rod Fritz
Mike Kapuscik
Dan Miller-Smith

Board membership changes
Christopher Teague resigned as secretary
AGREED: Garrett Holmstrom chosen as new secretary (+4)
Eric Terry, treasurer, stopped attending
Treasurer role encompasses outreach, collection or dues, and finance.
AGREED: Outreach and new member introductions are the responsibility
of everyone. No officer role is required to do this. (+5)
Swiss does Hackerspace transactions using the dedicated card
AGREED: Treasurer role not yet defined well enough; tabled until next
meeting (+5)

Space expansion
The building owner can gift space to the Hackerspace and get tax
benefits once non-profit registration is done, making rent
substantially lower. The Hackerspace can use some of that space for
heavy machinery and lease some of it to startups to help cover the
AGREED: Dan Miller-Smith will oversee this effort
AGREED: Dan is granted a seat on the board to help with that (+5)

Grant writing
Mary Bahnken (AJ’s mom) offered to help with grant proposal writing
Grant proposals require finished non-profit status and excellent bookkeeping.
IDEA: Have a CPA evaluate the books periodically
Communication about accounting must be very good, whether whoever
keeps the books is on the board or not.
ACTION: Steve and Dan to work on a writeup for financial roles and
such for next meeting

Around 40 members in the database, 22 or 23 paying
How many members do we need to support the space financially?
Rod: membership dues alone can be limiting when we can get support from

Rent: $1000/mo ($1650 total, Syndicate Pro pays $650)
Utilities: ~$110/mo ($225 total, Syndicate Pro pays half)
Insurance: ~$200/mo ($2300/yr)

Dues: ~$800/mo (Mike Bales has details)

Net loss: ~$510/mo (covered by Mike Bales)

Membership tiers
We should distinguish between different tiers of membership
Current levels: 0, 10, 35, 100
Free members have still filled out the paperwork
Insurance covers all on the grounds, not just members
Some regulars can’t afford dues, but may still donate things

The library partnership and simultaneous introduction of the name
“Santa Barbara Makerspace” have caused confusion.
“Santa Barbara Hackerspace” and “Santa Barbara Makerspace” are
relatively generic, and consequently more difficult to develop a brand
around. Consider Nullspace and Noisebridge.
Grant proposals should not contain “Hackerspace.”
Final review for non-profit paperwork usually takes two to three
months, followed by around six weeks before receiving the paperwork.
Proposal: Keep the corporation’s name and create a DBA for the ‘space
under its new name.
ACTION: Preston will research how viable it is to change the
corporation’s name.
AGREED: The library partnership did not create a separate
organization. It should not have a separate name. (+6)
AGREED: We will change the business name of Santa Barbara
Hackerspace, Inc. if it is practical to do so. (+6)
ACTION: Steve to create a google form to gather name ideas from everyone
ACTION: Steve will send a draft of an announcement around
IDEA: We should have a media release of some sort immediately after
the name changes.
AGREED: Name suggestions will close two weeks after Steve sends the
survey announcement to the google group. (+5)

New space
ACTION: Dan and Steve will gather info about finances.
ACTION: Swiss will create CAD drawings for electricity, room layouts, etc.
AGREED: Discussion on the space next door are postponed until next
week, when we have more info.

More on membership tiers
Discounts starting at $10
IDEA: Build up trust for things like 24/7 access by requiring tenure
or sponsorship from existing members
IDEA: Tiers should be rewarding, not punitive. Access should be
based on trust, not payment.
There may be legal/insurance rules that we need to follow for people under 18.
ACTION: Mike and Swiss to work on a proposal for membership tiers,
forms, introduction process, etc.

Question: How should we manage classes?
IDEA: session-by-session fees for general classes
Grants and payments for classes may not go well together.
IDEA: Use unit B if we need a separate space for distraction-less classes
We need to require training classes for hazardous equipment.
IDEA: Use key cards to regulate access to equipment.
We need teachers!

Open floor
Bob: doesn’t work.
ACTION: Swiss will work on
Rod: We could put on a Mini-Makerfaire for younger audiences.
Preston and Dr. John have looked into this before.
We may need to get endorsement before we can use that name.
We should also find a sponsor.
HELP: Prospective renters for the space next door needed

Next meeting
Discussion, decision about new space next door

Next board meeting: 29 Jun 2013

As part of our new space we have ceiling mounted a projector with only one composite and VGA connector. To remedy this and enable us to plug in our SNES, PS3, N64, and computers in we purchased an inexpensive video switcher from monoprice.
2013-06-01 16.40.00 The video switcher uses an IR remote to switch between signals, but that was way too easy. To fix that we decided it should be arduino controlled. Rather than wiring the muxes to the Arduino directly (way too easy) we decide to use an IR laser fiber optic transceiver and a length of fiber optic cable. The fiber optic cable is mostly used to keep the 100mw IR lasers from blinding everyone in its path, and since we had it laying around we might as well put it to use.

To pull this off we hooked up an IR receiver to the arduino and captured the IR signal output by the video switchers remote. We then put together a quick arduino sketch to send the IR signal over a PWM pin to the IR transceiver to send the signal. Once we were able to send the signal from the arduino a small mod to the video switcher attached the fiber optic cable right in front of the IR receiver and we were off.2013-06-01 16.44.44

Disassembling the Video switcher is rather easy. It is held together with four screws, three under the rubber feet and the fourth under the sticker on the bottom. Once removed some gentle prying pulls the unit apart exposing the rather bare interior.2013-06-01 16.40.21
2013-06-01 16.41.31

And here is the final product. Code will be posted soon.
2013-06-01 16.45.00

As part of our recent expansion the Santa Barbara Hackerspace has acquired a 3.5 axis mill for all our milling needs. Out of the box it is manual but we will be conerting it to CNC and post the build log in the coming months. This will be replacing / supplementing our current somewhat limited milling abilities. So check back in a few weeks for more information as we tweak and convert our shiny new toy. Once the CNC conversion has been completed we will start a series of classes on how to design things to be milled and how to mill them, so keep an eye out for coming announcements on that.

Update 7/3/2013:

The mill has arrived, and in one piece no less. The mill will need a little attention before its production ready, but we should have that done soon. The mill comes coated in a layer of red grease, after a few hours with a rag and non-flammable solvent we’re ready to grease the moving parts and start tuning it for maximum accuracy and repeatability. Evidence suggests that with some work this mill will reliably cut within .001″. Once we have it dialed in the next step is to purchase or build a cnc conversion kit for the mill. Watch for more updates as we continue to work with the mill.

Some big news coming from the Makerspace this month — we’re growing!

We’ll be moving to a new unit in the building where we’re currently renting (158 Aero Camino in Goleta). We’ll be moving from unit A to unit D, which means a move from 450 sqft to 1600+ sqft. We began the move in project last weekend by patching, sanding, and painting the new unit. There is still a lot of work to be done in the next week. The plan is to be more or less fully moved in around May 15th. Some new features of the new space include… our own restroom, shower, kitchen area, and a dedicated workshop area for large, noisy or dirty machinery.

The new space will be divided into three areas: (1) the electronics area for hardware projects including soldering, 3D printing, embedded programming, debugging, etc; (2) a software area where we will have tables, network connectivity, a number of tables and couches, projector, monitors, etc; and (3) an area for machine tools, PCB making, wood and metal working, and anything generally dirty or noisy.

New project

The new space will make classes, workshops, and meetings much easier as there will be a large dedicated flexible space for people to meet and work. In this vein, if anyone would like to organize a class or Meetup in the new space, please let us know so we can begin scheduling and outreach. We are also going to begin active advertising to try and grow the space and make it the best it can be. As part of our new space we will be adding a large number of wood-working tools which, up to this point, have been in storage.

We also are launching the site, this is intended to be our outreach site our efforts with the Santa Barbara library, and other organisations. This was done as there is unfortunately still a negative connotation to the word hacker. With this in mind we’ve created the site to help organize our volunteers for the library collaboration and other organisations as we grow.

Welcome to everyone visiting our page after meeting us at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. We are in the process of posting the build logs and code for the projects we had displayed and those will be coming shortly. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth and asked questions and enjoyed our projects. The response we received is extremely incouraging and we are already working on projects for our booth next year.

Those of you in the Santa Barbara area feel free to stop by our new location at 158 Aero Camino Ste D Goleta CA 93117. The best time for new hackers is Saturdays after noon. That is when we have our general meetings and the most stuff being done. We also have regular meetings on Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6pm to 10pm. For further information or details please checkout out our IRC at and our google group at

The Hackerspace will also be holding an event at the Santa Barbara public Library Tuesday May 21st at 6pm so please stop by for details on our new partnership and to see some of the other like minded people and programs we have here in Santa Barbara.

I recently purchased a Nexus 4 and the Nexus 4 wireless charger. In typical hacker style I used it for a few days and then decided to make it better. The wireless charger works quite well, though it is a bit slow to charge. My only gripe is that the phone is held on the charger at a 30 or so degree angle with a sticky rubber pad, and that if either are dirty it slowly slips down misaligning the coils and stopping the charge. This being the case I decided to tear the inductive charger apart and put it in my own casing. Looking around for a teardown I was unable to find one so I’ve made my own.
2013-03-21 15.03.34

Examining the unit there are no visible screws or easy pry points. After some poking and prying I found four screws under the rubber pad on the front of the unit. Attempting to unscrew the four screws proved dfruitless and it was much easier to drill them out.
2013-03-21 15.03.49

When drilling out the screws be careful as they are surrounded by a PCB, though it is only a ground plane and hitting it shouldnt do any noticible damage to the charging abilities. After removing the screws you will need a plastic spudger to pry off the front face and expose the coil and PCB.
2013-03-21 15.04.11
Once the pcb is visible gently pull outward and swing it to the right. It is attached by a few wires to the micro-usb port on the back of the unit.
2013-03-21 15.05.07
After moving the front PCB and coil there is a single screw holding the micro-usb port in place, un-screw it and you’re done.
2013-03-21 15.05.31

What is the Hackerspace?

We are a group of makers and developers in the Santa Barbara community who love building things. The Hackerspace has a Makerbot printer, piles of Arduinos, and much, much more. Learn More →
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5782 Thornwood Dr
Goleta CA 93117

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