Category Archives: Community

A new fritzing discussion forum

The good old forum that has lasted us since 2009 has finally been replaced by a shiny new one. Please head over to http://forum.fritzing.org and help make it such a friendly and lively place as with the old one.

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We have selected the fantastic Discourse as the new forum’s engine, that we found to do a great job at nurturing a community in places like OpenFrameworks or Particle. It’s interesting to see how something as simple as a discussion board has evolved since back in 2009. Tools like phpBB provided a ton of features, but it totally overloaded the user interface. Discourse also provides a lot of functionality, but it’s all focused on keeping your participation in discussions simple and easy. Plus it helps with community building by letting you build up your reputation.

You can use your existing fritzing.org login, but your profile will start blank–we didn’t find a good way to migrate the old forum content, because the systems are too different. You can find the old forum’s archive here, and it will remain a valuable resource.

Hackers, win a trip to SPACE!

Hey hackers, engineers and designers! Your chance to WIN A TRIP TO SPACE!

The DIY page Hackaday.io offers a maker competition where you can actually win a trip to space (or take the cash option of nearly $200,000 instead)! Even if you don’t win the Grand Prize, to be left with a milling machine, 3D printer, a flight to Japan or or or is not too bad either.

But what do you actually have to do? The hackaday guys wondered about that too: „We’ve been vague up to this point on purpose, because spouting specific categorization stifles creativity. We want you to Build the Future — not fit inside of a tiny box made of disqualifying restraints.“ So your official task is to build the next evolution of hardware.

Heat up your soldering iron and start hacking!

Auf die Plätze, fertig, loooooos!

 

We wish you all the best!

Daniel and Amin Daniel and Amin at the Makerfaire Hannover

These days feel strange here in the Fritzing land. On the one hand, there is so much positive feedback about our project, services and products, on the other hand, Daniel and Amin left the Fritzing team.

Daniel, who was working several month very hard to clean up our Django web landscape, left in autumn to join another project. By this time he was almost done and it created the base for our new and improved website – yes, the front end is still work in progress, but the backend is now nice and shiny.

With Amin I worked together a lot. We had much fun, drank, cooked and traveled. (EDIT: Sorry for the funny misspelling 😀 )

He was my most important sparring partner in creating the Fritzing Creator Kit. It was a very good time and I already miss him. He is now up to work again in this former area, the solar technology.

We wish you guys all the best on your way and are looking forward to see you again, soon.

How can your kids learn with Arduino?

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve done some pretty difficult things, like military service.” – Stefan, Fritzing Coordinator, on working with kids.

When you are little, you don’t want to wait. You want to cut up some paper and glue it to the moon. You want to get your hands *dirty*. You want to (with a little assistance, maybe) make a light blink, attach it to a CO2 sensor, put it inside a balloon full of helium, and send it into the sky. That way you can figure out how much CO2 those big cars are coughing out.

I had the chance to do some heavy learning over the weekend as a mentor for children’s workshops, so I saw kids’ impatience firsthand. Hackidemia organized the workshops during the Singularity University EU Summit in Budapest, with the goal of bringing the possibilities of complex technology to children. The Creator Kit has a similar goal, to bring Arduino and electronics to children. The topics are tough, though!

My main takeaway was that teaching kids can be more complex than the technology. Here I outline some of my issues and provide some tips that you can use while using the Creator Kit with your family.

Using the Creator Kit with Your Kids

During the Air Pollution Workshop, I saw that one of the main barriers to teaching youth was keeping their attention. If you asked me to explain something, chances were that I’d quickly slip into my natural tendency toward dry, theoretical, and factual information (in lots of detail). Long story short: that didn’t work so well with 10 year olds. I got this look:

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And I noticed over at the next table the mentor Clément got these looks:

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What was he doing differently? What can you do differently when you play with children and the Creator Kit?

2 things mainly: metaphors and questions.

Explain via Metaphors

So you want to get the idea of an Arduino across. Ok, how about forgetting about the pins for the time being, and instead making a diagram like this. Extra kudos if you make the diagram on the spot and say a couple of words about each piece along the way.

ear

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nose

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Engage via Questions

Imagine you are at a cocktail party. To learn about another guest, you probably wouldn’t say, “Tell me everything about you, ordered by year, and please do not stop talking for at least 45 minutes. I do not want the chance to add anything, discuss anything, or ask you any questions.” Nope – instead you would probably ask a series of questions, which lead you to an enjoyable exchange where the person felt like they could express themselves.

Let’s apply this to children. Put the tools in their hands and ask them questions about it. Let them ask you questions. When they answer your questions about the Creator Kit, they are learning by doing and answering.

Do you think there is more CO2 in the air at street level or at the top of a building?

If you make it to Mars, what will you have to take with you from Earth?

Oh, so you say you want to be a lawyer when you grow up? Well, ever consider being a lawyer for robots?

With the Creator Kit, you might use it with your children. You should use it with your children. Use these tips! Engage them in the kit, play with the content, and get creative. The Creator Kit is a perfect jumping off point, so now it’s your turn to take it to the next level and keep them engaged.

Good morning Seoul!

Hello friends of Fritzing in Seoul! Guess who’s in town?

Reto

It’s Fritzing co-founder and godfather Reto 🙂 He is visiting Seoul from today till Friday 6th of December and  he will be more that happy to meet you and chat with you about Fritzing, what projects you use it for, how you use it, your feedback, suggestions to improve our products and services offering, and if you are nice (which you definitely are) he might even offer you a goodie.

For those who don’t know Reto, he is someone who’s incredibly passionate and smart about everything he does (especially Fritzing), but here is a short summary of what he does:
Reto is the founder and design director of IxDS, responsible for the overall design strategy. He is a Professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, where he teaches “Physical Interaction Design” and researches innovative, bodily-focused approaches to Human-computer interaction. Reto has previously worked as an Associate Professor with the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, and as a designer/researcher with Sony in Tokyo and Ideo in San Francisco. He studied Industrial Design at UdK Berlin and Mechanical Engineering at TU Berlin. Prior to his studies, Reto had an apprenticeship as a stonemason in Southern Germany.

Drop us a comment and we’ll get you in touch with him 😉

Fritzing at the MakeTechX

Fritzing at the MakeTechX conference 2013 – for the first time Fritzing had a booth at the „conference of tech things that matter, where those who make a difference meet, think & create.“ What a nice slogan, and nice it was indeed.  makeTechX1
For me it was the first conference I could attend with Fritzing and so I was superexcited and curious what would await us there. We met in the morning at our „headquarters“ to pack some last things and finally hailed a taxi at 9 a.m. to drive to the Platoon Kunsthalle in Berlin Mitte where the conference would take place. This was already a great start to the day, our taxi driver seemed to like entertaining his passengers and gave us a lot of secret insights into the Berlin taxi business and we will definitely follow his advice to not only try Red Bull with vodka but also with cherry brandy.

The Platoon Kunsthalle is a very interesting building – actually it is more like a huge and fancy cargo container, created as an experimental space for artists and therefore perfectly fitting the location just next to the White Trash.
The interior felt surprisingly comfortable, the front part consisted of the – definitely necessary to mention – gorgeous café-restaurant-sort of thing with a nice sitting area and the larger back served as presentation and workshop area. There were several booths, and we had one of them! Besides us there was also the Open Tech School, Bitcoin, the Fab Lab, who brought us there initially by ordering some very special Fritzing Kits in a metal case to do an Arduino workshop, and many more, including and not forgetting a whole lot of 3D printers and a transformable mountain/racing/citybike! Awesome!

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So, as you can guess, maker mood was in the air! Stefan and I prepared the booth with six Fritzing kits as we had prepared a little workshop to make the visitors familiar with Arduino and Fritzing. Soon after the first conference attendees arrived and the speakers started their talks – we then asked ourselves how we should do a workshop while being placed almost on the stage ourselves? Luckily the organisers Lizzy and René Herzer had thought of everything and used a concept I hadn’t experienced before – they handed out headphones to the audience and so everybody could listen undisturbed and to their own volume. Though I couldn’t listen to the talks anymore at least we now had some peace and quiet to do the workshops (besides that it is really awesome to go to the toilet and still being able to listen to the speaker on the stage…).
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At first I was a bit nervous in assisting in the workshops without being a real Fritzing crack yet, but in the end it wasn’t necessary at all. Stefan took over the harder-to-explain bits wonderfully and I learned a lot myself by explaining how it all works. We had a very interesting mixture of workshop participants – some knew the Kits very well already and, after solving our tasks in a mere minute, grabbed our Fritzing book eagerly and started contentedly getting lost in the more complex exercises. What made me very happy was that there were also a lot of people who never came in contact with an Arduino before and discovered how easy and fun it actually can be while saying before „No, no, this is really not my strength, I could never do it in physics lessons.“
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So we left in the afternoon to go back to work, armed with tasty bread rolls and a very good mood, with the feeling of not only us but many more people having had a very interesting and enjoyable Fritzing day.

X-Make Munich

André explaining the old story

André explaining the old story

Our friends form Make-Munich are inviting to a christmas maker event. It will take place December 1st [1. Advent] and combine a Creativity-festival, a X-Mass-Market, fancy Maker Exhibitions [e.g. Chocolateprinters or 3D Printed cookie forms], Art, Music and Creative Workshops for everybody to join.

Link: X-Make.

Grüezi mitenand!

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Wir freuen uns heute ganz außerordentlich, bekannt geben zu können, dass wir unsere ersten Reseller in der Schweiz gefunden haben und das Fritzing Creator Kit ab sofort auch im Land des Käses, der Schokolade und Taschenmesser direkt zu haben ist.

Das Fritzing Creator Kit kann in den Shops

Wir wünschen Euch viel Spaß mit dem Kit und liebe Grüße in die Schweiz!

PS: Vielen Dank an Patzi und Alekos für die Unterstützung!

(Foto: Vasile Cotovanu)

Hello [fritzing] world

Hello, Fritzing world. My name is Laura and I’m a creator / programmer and organizer living in Berlin. If I’m not planning a new project or talking with people about a whacky idea, then I’m probably thinking about one. I moved to Berlin about a year ago and got involved in open tech / rails girls / maker things when my friend and I started going to Everything together (yes, Everything). Workshops, meetups, tangentially related conferences, you name it. Johanna and I were there.

Johanna and I at Everything:

soldering mamas with our arduinos
hot mama arduino Saturdays

This Fall we’re testing the new Fritzing Creator Kit. We’ve worked with Arduinos before, but this is our first foray into the Fritzing world. We’re going to try each project, try our own projects and document the process through this blog.

i.e., make things, break things and drink (lots of) coffee.

Since we’ll blog regularly in the next months, I asked Johanna a few questions to help you get to know us better. Follow the entire series, stay tuned on the Fritzing blog and follow us on Twitter: Laura Wadden and Johanna Santos Bassetti.

You have a degree in art, you’re interested in agriculture, you’ve worked in product strategy at various startups, and you even picked strawberries while living on a Danish island. What got you involved in Fritzing?

Ever since I was a little girl I watched my dad solder things. And I knew that by soldering things he was making other things happen. At that point I didn’t really understand what computers were, but I liked the soldering process. And then when I understood what computers were, I got interested in how to make computers do stuff that serves you as a tool. I thought of them as potential translators of the physical world and imagined ways of using computers to measure how plants grow. But I didn’t know about sensors then.

So you thought about programming machines as a little girl? Awesome!

Exactly.

How did you get involved in Fritzing and Arduinos this time around?

I worked with Arduinos back in 2011 doing wearable Arduino work for a friend’s exhibition during Club Transmediale. He had a Lilypad, sensors and speakers that I sewed into a lab coat with metal string. I had to figure out a way to sew it so that none of the connections touched while the participants moved so it wouldn’t short-circuit.

How has the Berlin maker scene – Fritzing, Open Tech School, the workshops we’ve gone to, Hackidemia, the Kids Hackathon, etc. – influenced your involvement in Arduinos & Fritzing?

The project back in 2011 was really on the outskirts, but Arduinos stayed on my mind. Then all of a sudden it was much more accessible through these meetups. People were willing to share their knowledge and teach – that’s the first time I felt it was possible to work on my own projects.

What about those meetups inspired you?

The Open Tech School meetup was inspiring because there were tons of projects happening at the same time and so many different types of learning in self-organized groups. The diversity of approaches was titillating: There was a table of sound tinkerers! There was a wearables table! And a table of complete newbies!

I think seeing how collaborative, open and fluid the community was made me feel safe to try whatever I wanted and feel supported by other people.

And I inspired you too, right?!

Yes! When I started doing these projects with you – that’s when I noticed how well we work together. Our different learning  complement each other. And I realized how much fun it is.

Do you have any goals with our Fritzing project this Fall? What are you trying to get out of it?

I want to test some ideas that I’ve kept locked in my brain vault for the last decade. With Fritzing, they are potentially doable now. I am excited to get to it!

Follow Laura Wadden and Johanna Santos Bassetti on Twitter and keep up with the Fritzing blog to find out what happens next in their learning adventure.

MakerFaire Europe

We waited for this MakerFaire impatiently and finally it is happening!

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More than 250 projects are being presented this weekend by makers and inventors from all over the world, and as usual we met many old friends and users and made new friends.

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It was great to see how many people came to visit the Faire, families, adults, teenagers, children, educators, hobbyists etc…

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The venue was full from the opening hour till the call till sunset. This really shows that the maker movement is a solid and genuine thing. People don’t get excited then go home and forget about it, the projects and products exhibited stimulate the creative and curious part inside us in an irresistible way. Some lives are even shaped by this spark of inspiration  forever.

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Dale had this observation and tweeted it yesterday, we can only agree to it: There is no place in the world that can claim to be THE hub of the movement. This really belongs to us, tinkerers and explorers, any Makerfaire in the world will be full of old and young people with eyes wide open.

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It also was with great pleasure that we discovered PCBs  made with our fab service at the BASTL-INSTRUMENTS stand. The guys use Fritzing to layout the boards and our fab service to prototype their products.

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They now sell their MIDI-synthesizers as a kit or assembled, and we are sure they will have a huge success because everyone at their booth was having a blast making music.

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Our friend and reseller Yuan from EXP-Tech dropped by for a very nice conversation about the german and the chinese maker scenes, and we exchanged a lot of our experiences about managing the bits part of a hardware business.

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It was another great event, we had a lot of fun and we are going home with many great new projects and a lot of feedback, but mainly with so much more excitement and enthusiasm for keeping on doing what we do for the community, and start better products and services to empower inventors and makers everywhere.

BONUS: this is a “behind the scenes” photo of  us setting up the stand and building the Creator Kit examples. The handsome guy on the right is Tommaso our colleague at IXDS and one of the creators of Dandylight. We do look seriously busy 😀

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