Main Laser Turn On

We have successfully fired the laser! And cut some awesome shapes from cardboard! Anyway, I think some more calibration might be needed, I felt like it took too much power to cut the cardboard. And there's some issues with the z drive skipping, which hopefully will all be fixed just with some application of quality oil. Here's a video clip of a moose being cut out:

Python cancelled tonight! (6/21)

Sorry folks, I'm cancelling tonight because I have to deal with this:

See you next week, when we talk about mysql.

We have laser!

Our Exlas 1280 laser has arrived from China. It came in a very large crate to the Port of Oakland this morning, which was then transported to the space by David, Stefan, and Aaron. Al helped with the unboxing and it was moved into the space.

The laser is currently in the back room of the downstairs shop area. David and others plan to run tests to check all of the wiring and connections before it is powered on at all. At that point, we'll align the beam and do a number of test cuts. People should expect that it will be at least a week before it is available for cutting.

A reminder that there is a wiki page with details on costs, etc. including the laser manuals that people will be expected to read! Prepare yourselves!

We also need suggestions on what to call the laser. "Big Red" is right out.

 - Al

New Ace Monster Toys Board Elected!

On Thursday, June 16, 2011, AMT held its second board of directors election. The first one was done at this time in June, 2010, before AMT had a space, incorporated, or many members. It was just a hope and a dream.
Since then, we rented a 1,600 sq ft space in north Oakland, incorporated as a California nonprofit, gained a bunch of members, and have run many classes and workshops, as well as building out our space.
The new board, as elected by the general membership, is as follows:

  1. Al Billings (member of previous board)
  2. David Rorex
  3. Stefan Hristu
  4. Christian Fernandez (member of previous board)
  5. Cliff Biffle

As you can see, two of the board members were on last year's board and three are members who have joined since that time, which is a pretty good mix of old and new.
All Hail the Board. Bow before them!
 - Al

AMT has Kinect finally

Ace Monster Toys THREE DEE

AMT has finally caught up with all the other kids at the cool hackerspaces and bought a Kinect for hacking upon. The above image was taken by Cliff using his cool "Kinect Viewer" software that he wrote. He has a true 3D version as well for people with funny glasses.

Aaron's RC Plane Talk on June 9, 2011

Aaron shows one of the planes he built

Aaron did a talk on the basics of remote control planes at AMT after the weekly meeting yesterday, June 9. A number of us have been talking about building an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone using some of the materials from DIY Drones for the electronics portion (they use arduino based autopilots). The main barrier is not doing the electronics but actually knowing how to fly an RC plane well. Electronics we are good at! Building a plane with a couple of hundred dollars of electronics plus cameras and parts is no good if you crash it the first time you fly.

Aaron has a lot of experience as a hobbyist doing RC planes and offered to do a talk explaining a bunch of the basics to people. He went over the basic ideas in RC planes, showed how he had built his own planes out of foam, as well as showing one of the ready to fly planes that he had bought and modified.

Following the talk, we got to play with Aaron's RC plane flight simulator and find out just how horrible we all really are at flying anything in real time. After crashing repeatedly, I was convinced that a lot of practice in the simulator will be necessary before much flight.

Aaron coaches Costa on RC flight simulator

- Al

DIY Algaculture Workshop on June 12 at AMT

Grow your own superfoods and biofuels at home...

Sunday, June 12th, 11-5 pm
Ace Monster Toys (maker's co-op), 6050 Lowell St, Oakland CA 94608
Sign up now, space is limited! See below for details.

Grow plentiful food and fuel in a small space.

Algae can make impressive amounts of food or fuel but do not require land, soil, or fresh water. They can be harvested every day, producing many times more output than land crops, and some of them (e.g. Spirulina) have amazing health benefits as food.

You can grow algae too — in your own home — and I would love to show you how.

Come to the Hands-On Home-Grow Algae workshop series. Go home with your own Personal Photo-BioReactor and everything you need to grow your own Spirulina superfood algae in your own home!

One personal algae photo-bioreactor in one sunny window can provide enough spirulina to significantly supplement the diet of one person every day. Larger installations can provide biofuel and organic fertilizer, and perform important services, such as cleaning up water, and eliminating greenhouse gases from exhaust.

In addition to an introduction to an overview of algae farming, and a discussion of the practicalities of setting up your own farm, we will have an extended hands-on section of the workshop where I will show you how to set up and run your personal photo-bioreactor kit — it’s easy!

Special offer: along with the workshop, all participants will be able to take home a one liter bottle of live spirulina culture to start your own tank or pond — this alone is worth far more than the course fee…

Course Fees:

$299 for workshop plus PPBR kit (shown in upper right image), including tank, heater, air pump, air diffuser, air tubing, valves, starter and make-up nutrient powder mix, pH testing, harvesting tube, harvesting cloth, clips, plug timer, and 1 liter live spirulina.  This is a $50 savings from the online kit price!

$99 for workshop only

Send payment via PayPal (, or by mailing a check to:
420 Fairmount Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

DIY Home-Grow Algae for Biofuels and Superfoods

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Ace Monster Toys is a non-profit hackerspace based in Oakland, CA, dedicated towards education, hacking, and maker culture.

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