Blog Listings

Mike Glynn’s ‘Living Map of Manchester’, an Arduino-powered Internet of Things Project

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Mike Glynn attended our ‘Building the Internet of Things’ course last year, and has since created an excellent project. Mike works at HERE (a Nokia-owned mapping business) and is responsible for helping customers better understand their map data.

Mike decided to aid visualisation of expected and actual road speeds by using LEDs in a very flashy-looking installation. Read more about it on his blog:

The HERE platform publishes real time average speeds for roads belonging to the TMC (Traffic Messaging Channel) network – when these real time speeds are compared with expected free flow speeds a colour value can be calculated which indicates how freely the traffic is flowing. This technique is used by most mapping sites for displaying traffic conditions (e.g. here.com, google maps, bing maps). Here’s here.com showing traffic on the M60.

M60

M60

My aim was to replicate this in a physical form using LED’s – I chose the M60 because our office is located in Manchester.

Continue reading on Mike’s blog…

We’ll be listing a new Internet of Things course for 2014 soon. Stay tuned for updates!

Celebrate Free Software at MadLab

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Manchester Free Software Festival

Manchester Free Software Festival


We’re very excited that one of our most popular groups – Free Software Foundation Europe – has decided to put on a week of events celebrating all things free software. They’re bringing together members of other groups – including Bitcoin Manchester and Manchester WordPress User Group – and have organised a great line-up of free events:

Get ready to celebrate:
Manchester’s first Free Software festival has arrived!

Free Software is the radical tech movement behind projects like WordPress, Android, Bitcoin, Firefox, GNU/Linux, LibreOffice, and many more. It guarantees you the freedom to use, study, change, and share your computer software and has spawned a generation of creativity by empowering millions. The chances are you have been using Free Software for years – this is a great opportunity to learn more about what that means, how you can get involved and most importantly celebrate this fanatic movement with canapés, cake and company.

Read more and signup…

CRITGroup’s December Meetup

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

We missed posting this at the time, but Annabeth of CRITgroup put together a lovely write-up of their final meeting of 2013. If you’re not familiar with the group, CRIT stands for Creative Reflection and Investigation Talk Group, and is an opportunity for artists and designers to get together, discuss their work, and support each other.

If you’re interested, read Annabeth’s blog post, and attend their next meetup at MadLab on the 29th of January:

Not quite a silent night but certainly a peaceful one; we had a small meeting this evening, three familiar faces and a very welcome new guest! All the more mince pies for us!

Continue reading…

Gravity Assist – a game made at Manchester Game Jam’s Ludum Dare Weekender

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Luke Thompson has written a blog post about a game he made during Manchester Game Jam’s Ludum Dare Weekender. There’s still time to vote for Luke’s game, so give it a try:

Gravity Assist is a game I made for the Ludum Dare 28 competition, my first game jam. If you’re not familiar with LD48 or game jams in general, the idea is to create something in 48 hours. You can play (and vote on!) the game here, in-browser or as a standalone.

gravityassist

Inspired partly by my day job (accelerator physics), you launch a “particle” angry birds style, choosing your power and trajectory to navigate between various force fields and objects. Primarily these fields are gravitational, causing the particle to curve and loop. Getting close to them scores you more points, but instant death on contact. You can instantly retry though with space, and all your previous tracks are shown to help you and make things pretty.

LD48 is a global event; in Manchester an event was hosted at the excellent MadLab in the Northern Quarter. It’s a great hackerspace, with community-organised activities ranging from game development to film-making to taxidermy[3]. It was nice to be in a space around a bunch of other people developing at the same break-neck (some might say reckless) speed. Comparing ideas, testing each others’ games and offering general advice is pretty rewarding in both directions, and it’s a great way to meet more people, and get together with those I already knew.

Read Luke’s full post here.

MadLab festivities in Blackburn!

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

In the run up to Christmas, MadLab is heading over to Blackburn to get involved with ‘Blackburn is Open’, a scheme that sees disused shops being transformed into pop-up-art centres. Wayne Hemingway, the backing behind the scheme, hopes that this will revive Blackburn’s empty streets and inspire a new community of budding entrepreneurs and creatives in the heart of Lancashire.

blackburn is open 5

blackburn is open 3
To kick off the sessions we sent MadLab’s Technical Coordinator and Maker extraordinaire James Medd to teach kids how to make their own flashing Christmas decorations. The Solder-a-star workshop gives children a chance to practice their electronics skills by soldering a simple LED circuit on to a star shaped circuit board resulting in a flashing Xmas star. There were lots of willing enthusiasts at the session and we even overheard one participant telling his Dad- ‘I don’t want Ice Skates for Christmas anymore Dad.. I want a soldering iron!’. N’awww! It warmed our hearts!

Following this brilliant start and in keeping with the DIY-Xmas theme, we had Katie Steckles from Manchester Girl Geeks run a Maths Christmas Tree Decoration workshop. The lovely Katie will also run the next two sessions, the first of which is a Soft Electronics workshop where participants will be given the opportunity to sew their own bright-eyed critters (12 Dec).

Little monsters that Katie will be teaching how to circuit and sew!

Little monsters that Katie will be teaching how to circuit and sew!

 

Following that, Katie will have robotics and arts colliding with the Brushbot session (19 Dec), a workshop that teaches you how to make robotic paintbrushes using paper motors and bristles.

Blackburn is Open is running right up until Christmas and will include a Pop-up arts centre where Artisans can sell their work, Town Hall Square events and two mini festivals with a pop-up cinema. Head over to support the scheme and get involved with some MadLab events!