Getting Started With 3D Printing


With the excuse of getting it to kickstart the Makerspace equipment inventory, I went and bought an Ultimaker 2 3D printer a couple of weeks ago. Having looked around at the various purchasing options, I settled on buying the printer from PrintME 3D in the UK.  Living on Guernsey there are a couple of things we consider when shopping online:

  • Does the seller take off VAT?
  • What is the extra shipping cost to Guernsey?

PrintME 3D were great on both these fronts.  They took off the VAT automatically on the website and the shipping to Guernsey was only £20, which is incredible considering the size and weight of the printer.  Not only that but I placed the order on Sunday 26th April, PrintMe 3D dispatched it the next day and TNT delivered it to me two days later, on the Wednesday.  That’s pretty good turn around for a big parcel in my books.

Continue reading Getting Started With 3D Printing

Community plays LEGO to share their wishes for Guernsey Makerspace

On the 20th March we held an open meeting for anyone that has an interest in the development of a makerspace in Guernsey. 20 people signed up to the event and 13 people attended the meeting along with myself , Sasha Kazantseva and Marcel Lenormand.

The mission of the meeting was to engage the local community into building the local Makerspace and Maker Movement.

True to Maker principles we decided to conduct the brainstorm through LEGO Play. We previously had a very successful Lego Play Lunch and thought it would be perfect to replicate this amazing visual facilitation tool.

It was fascinating to watch the faces of the people arriving and walking into a room with a large table in the middle covered in LEGO!

Holding the meeting at lunch time meant we only had about an hour, so we had a lot to cram into that time. We kicked off the meeting with me giving a brief summary of my travels across North America last year and how I came back with a vision for setting up a Makerspace in Guernsey after visiting such places in the USA. Next, Marcel gave an introduction to the ‘LEGO play creative planning concept’ that we were going to be using in the meeting and finally Sasha posed the question that we wanted the attendees to answer for us with LEGO

“What excites you about a makerspace in Guernsey?”

What happened next was was really quite interesting. With LEGO Play there a no firms rules on how you should work, only that we gave them 12 minutes to come up with something that would represent their answer to our question.

Some people immediately got stuck in and started building, whilst other instead started talking with those sat next to them for a few minutes before even touching the LEGO. Most people worked on their own models but a few people worked together on a shared model.

Once the build time was over, each person presented their model and explained their answer to the questions and how the model represented that. In keeping with the no fixed rules for the LEGO Play, there was no fixed order for presenting which led to a natural progression of ideas where the previous person had an idea that related to their own.

Here is a snippet of quotes from the day to the question “What Excited you about a Makerspace in Guernsey”

“Learn how to make ideas happen”

“Space to meet people”

“Space to accumulate and store stuff”

“Teaching kids how things work, take things apart, spark curiosity”

“Have a proper work bench”

“Get inspiration from others”

“Have opportunity to do woodwork”

“Have an opportunity to connect to the physical making world outside of the day-today digital work”

“Power of combined ideas”

“Libraries can help provide space and traditional resources to help Maker Movement”

“Access to cheap affordable tools and resources”

“To pick people’s brains, collaborate”

“Get help from others as with physical objects unlike software you typically need all sorts of diverse skills”

“Share knowledge”

“Build on Arduino and work on smart home ideas”

“Keep working on Arduino and embedded electronics ideas”

Maker movement can help solve world problems through big challenges – like Apollo Mission


It soon became apparent that there were two main themes in the responses. Firstly, the majority of people wanted a physical space that they could go to that had tools and equipment that they could use to create things and store projects in progress. This isn’t really a surprise as this has been the intended goal for the makerspace from day 1. However, the second theme, that seemed to come across more strongly than the need for a space, was a need to facilitate connections between makers on Guernsey.


From talking to lots of people about the makerspace, I know that the island is crammed with creative people. The trouble is that many of them are being creative at home, in their own sheds, garages and spare rooms. There is a wealth of knowledge out there and many want to share that knowledge but don’t know how to let people know, or those that want to access the knowledge don’t know how to find the help they’re looking for.

This second aspect of a makerspace, connecting people, is something that we can do now without having a physical location for the makerspace. Creating connections can be done online, through our website and so that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing. Join our mailing list to be kept informed of upcoming gatherings etc.

A subsequent announcement has also been made that the two groups; Beer Code Design and Nerd Nights plan to merge — bringing together two wonderfully diverse creative crowds that will form the nascent makerspace community.

Designing MakerSpace with LEGO Play

Do a few things well to encourage evangelism

The idea for a maker-space in Guernsey has been building for some time.

Inspired by five months of travels around North America on his motorbike, Adrian Ritchie came back to Guernsey with the idea of setting up a community space for makers, bike enthusiasts and creative people.  Person by person he has been inspiring and getting others involved.

The vision for the maker-space is to create an innovation hub, merging hardware and software to enable the Maker Movement revolution in Guernsey.  The mission is to create a diverse maker community that will help Guernsey become a player in the 3rd Industrial Revolution.

Sounds like a great plan but how do we go about it?

Continue reading Designing MakerSpace with LEGO Play

Homemade Arc Furnace

I was sent the link to this video by Marcel Lenormand, one of the wonder people that’s working on MakerSpace with me.  When I started watching it I thought it was pretty cool but by the end my jaw was on the floor:

It’s incredible what you can do with an AC arc weld, a 6v lantern battery and a fire brick.  This really does raise the roof on the possiblities in MakerSpace (or your own garage)!  Here’s the video on making the AC arc welding rig from an old microwave oven if you want to give it a go at home:

Jonathan Brand: 3D Printed Motorcycle

When you think of home 3D printers what do you imagine being made?  I’m guessing it’s almost certainly a small plastic item which is printed in one go.   I’m also guessing that a life-size model of a motorcycle wouldn’t enter your mind.  But that’s exactly what Jonathon Brand creating with his open-source Unimake 3D Printer.  As an avid motorcyclist I find this absolutely stunning, the level of detail and the translucent appearance.

More pictures can be seen on the Ultimaker website:



Royal Institute Christmas Lectures: How to Hack Your Home

The Royal Institute Christmas Lectures are all about inspiring children, as they are the future scientists, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs.  This year the lectures are titled Sparks Will Fly: How to hack your home. This evening was the first of the 2014 series of lectures.  This one was about lightbulbs and showing how these can be combined to create screens:

Danielle George looks at the light bulb to show how to hack, adapt and transform technologies found in the home to have fun and make a difference to the world.

If you missed tonight’s episode, you can still watch it again on BBC iPlayer:

There are two more episodes in the series:

30/12/2014Danielle George looks at how to hack, adapt and transform using a phone’s technology.

31/12/2014Danielle George attempts to use simple motors to construct the greatest robot orchestra.


Sea Glass Jewelry?

Sea Glass

Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve been thinking about getting outside in the fresh air. However, I’m not normally in the habit of doing something without a good reason to do it.  So I had to come up with a reason for going outside.  With Guernsey being surrounded by the sea I figured I’d head out to the beaches and see what I could find in the way of sea glass.

Sea glass are bottles, jars, etc. that have been discarded into the sea and have been broken and smoothed by the action of waves on stones and sand.  The following pictures show what I was able to find on just two trips:


I’m not really an artistic person, so I’m unlikely to use it myself.  I’ll probably donate it to people that come along to Make Space once it’s set up.  If you want to get your hands on it, sign up to the newsletter.  I would love for an artist to be able to make something beautiful from these items which someone else considered to be junk.

3D Printing Artificial Blood Vessels

Did you think that 3D printing was all about hobbyists sat at home in their garages printing out poor quality models and toys in plastic?  Well think again!

Makers around the world have been taking designs for open source 3D printers and adapting them to print with pretty much any paste substance.  Want to print ceramics? You got it! Icing sugar? Of course you can! What about silicone? Easy peasy!

Of course, being able to print with these substances is only the first step. Once that’s possible is then a case of re-imagining what these can be used for.

Take the example of printing with sugar.  Scientists in the USA dared to think the impossible and tried to have a go at printing artificial blood vessels.  The sugar is printed in a lattice network which is then immersed in a gel enriched with liver cells. Once the gel is set the sugar lattice is washed away with water to produce the vessels through the gel through which oxygen and nutrient enriched fluid is pumped.

Now that’s thinking outside the box!

123D Circuits from Autodesk

I’ve been reading the (audio) book The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch.  This book is pretty much a blueprint for workshop that we’re in the process of setting up in Guernsey.  Many of the case studies are taken from Techshop, a chain of maker workshops across the USA, of which he is CEO. Throughout the book he makes reference to Autodesk software, which is used for designing products to be machined on CNC and laser cutter machines, etc.

My experience of Autodesk is of AutoCAD and, at £1500, isn’t really designed for the hobbyist maker.  However, what I was reading indicated that Autodesk may have a range of software aimed at makers.  That’s exactly what I found in the 123D apps.

This evening I’ve been playing around with 123D Circuits.  This is a web app that allows you to build virtual electronics circuits.  It’s even got support for Arduino boards!  To test this out, I took a simple example project for Arduino, an electronic die, and tried to build it in 123D Circuits.  This is the result:

This is a really great way to get started with Arduino, without having to spend a penny on buying one for yourself.

Rest assured, once Make Space is up and running, we’ll have Arduinos available for playing and prototyping.  So get a head start with testing out your ideas in 123D Circuits now!