Mini Quadcopter fun at AMT

Cross-posted from Al's blog at

Tim O'Brien's mini-quadcopter

Last night, we had our new semi-regular small open house at Ace Monster Toys. One of our members, Mark, had recently met another fellow, Tim O'Brien, and invited him to come by. While playing with a tiny toy (indoor) quadcopter that I picked up this week, Tim showed his scratch built mini-quadcopter. I gather from what he said (and what I see on his site), that he's been building and creating quads for couple of years now. Most of the ones that you see are much larger, roughly 18 inches or so across and actually kind of awe inspiring if you turn them on in an enclosed space (which I don't recommend). Some of us have been interested in mini or micro-quads because we'd like to be able to play with them inside of places like AMT or our homes and not just take our big flying lawnmowers to the park to fly. The fact that Tim had hacked a relatively nice one together of just that size made it rather fun to see and it was a nice coincidence that he showed up and brought it. Tim has a post on what I assume is a previous iteration of the same design where he built his own platform for it for a class he was in.


I took a brief phone video of him flying his in the space (pardon my shaking cam hands) that gives a sense of the size of it:

Since AMT has one member who regularly flies quads and something like four or five of us that have been building them but never really flown them, having someone with a few years of experience, including building from scratch, would be nice. (My big quad is fully built but completely uncalibrated for flight, for example, and Tim offered to help me calibrate it quickly.) I've asked Tim to come do a short presentation or introduction to quadcopters for some evening. We're going to figure out schedules so he can come to AMT for an hour or so some evening and talk about his work.

Hacker Scouts: Biospheres!

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Yesterday marked the inaugural Open Lab for our new adventure: Hacker Scouts. We had an amazing turnout with about 40 enthusiastic kids and their supportive parents! Our featured project was Biospheres , which half the kids decided to work on, while the other half chose activities from our menu, including:

  • Learn to Solder
  • Drawdio!
  • Plushy Sewing Project
  • Using the Laser Cutter to produce original designs
  • Laser Cut Dino Puzzles
  • Kinetic Mobile Art.

There was also a fantastic Hex Bug village built. We had several mentors on hand from AMT and many parents who joined in to assist the kids with building their skills. The format we designed worked well, with the featured project and kit instructions providing enough structure, but leaving the choice of what to work on, which skills to build, and the possibilities of their imagination firmly in the hands of the kids. There was a beautiful community spirit present, which is a key point to this whole program. Making as a part of our everyday life and relationships rather than relegating it to simply a hobby. Feedback highlights from yesterday’s open lab:

“Thank you for a fun afternoon. We are totally enjoying the biosphere. We are all so grateful for what you and Chris have put together.”

“I am inspired by your efforts.”

“Awesome day today, thanks again for putting it together.”

“This is exactly what we needed!”

“I don’t know how you managed to keep 20 kids captivated about Biospheres, but you did! Amazing workshop!”

“We can’t wait to come back in two weeks!”

“We get to take this home?!!!”

To see photos from this weeks Open Lab, go to Ace Monster Toy’s photo stream.

Hacker Scouts: Open Lab

Ace Monster Toys presents

Hacker Scouts

Got a Maker kind of kid?

Traditional kind of scouting not a good fit?

Want to Build community with other maker families?


Hacker Scouts is a new program designed to acquire new skills, reinforce knowledge, provide mentoring, and build community.

Join us for Open Lab and bring your own project, or work on one provided by AMT! Earn badges and skill build through specific mentor-led workshops! Workshops planned include:soldering, sewing, circuits, programming, engineering and building, leds, dumpster diving and found art, printmaking, and more!

We know age is just a number, but AMT will be targeting projects in the 8-14 year old range.

This is not a drop-off program. Parents must stay and are welcome to participate. This is a free program, though some workshops require a materials fee, and donations to the space are always welcome. RSVP’s are helpful, though not required.


Hacker Scouts Open Lab

1st and 3rd Sundays of the month


@ Ace Monster Toys

6050 Lowell Street, Suite 214 in Oakland, California 


For more information and questions:

CNC'ing some gridbeam

Gridbeam is a life-size contrusction kit. Here's a pic of one of our members creating some new beams from some 2x2's, using our large CNC to automate the work of drilling all the holes:

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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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