Let’s say you want to build a robot and you live in the East Bay. Or you’re designing something that needs a bit more human / computer interaction than you know how to execute. Where do you start?

Tools are expensive. So is a formal engineering education. Thankfully we live in the Bay Area, and there’s a whole community out there of software and hardware people sharing resources who are helping each other figure out how to make stuff.

One such resource is MakeSF. Inspired by Make: magazine, MakeSF was founded here in the Bay Area by NYU’s ITP program alum Andrew Milmoe. MakeSF really is a Bay Area group, meeting regularly both in San Francisco and in Oakland, and their mission is to meet with local people and to discuss and show-and-tell new technology.

MakeSF hosts meetings with speakers/makers like Cool Neon on learning how to light up anything with their EL wire kits, and Because We Can on “Turning Pro: Becoming a Professional Maker.”  (Look for Because We Can at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire!)

Recently the MakeSF group has been meeting in the East Bay at Tech Liminal, which is an emerging space in Oakland that has an open workstation for makers to do little electronics projects but also have good facilities for printing photos, access to the web.  (MakeSF will be hosting a soldering workshop at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.)

Another new and exciting resource is a group called Ace Monster Toys, a recently formed hacker space in North Oakland at 6050 Lowell Street.  They have meetings every Monday at 7:30 p.m., and are also doing regular workdays to finish building out their shop.  Ace will also be at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, demoing 3D plastic fabrication with three or four MakerBot Cupcake CNC machines.  Their MakerBot orchestra will be crooning the audience with MIDI magic, and they say they will have edible 3D frosting sculptures too!

Another EBMMF Maker, The Crucible, has been building up their Kinetics & Electronics offerings, teaching classes like “Electronics for Artists” and “Programming Interactive Art and Games with Processing.”

For other Bay Area hacker groups and spaces, check the excellent resources page at makesf.org.  One thing that is not on their page is the forthcoming San Francisco edition of TechShop, a membership-based facility with everything from large scale machine tools to sand blasting equipment to computers to popcorn.

And don’t miss your chance to get connected and chat up Ace, MakeSF, Because We Can, and the Crucible at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire!


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