Get your maker on.


Twenty Fifth Meeting - January 24th, 2010




We welcomed Carrie Collins as guest speaker. Carrie is the founder, entrepreneur and creative force behind Fabric Horse, a local company that designs and hand produces bike lock holders from discarded seat belts, stylish bags from recycled materials as well as a slew of other marvelous, environmentally friendly products.


Carrie gave a presentation sharing not only how she designs and manufacturers her products but also how she launched her business and keeps it growing. 


 For this meeting we're going to design and build a wearable product, as inspired by our guest speaker. Carrie is bringing scrap fabrics from her production lines for this challenge.

Twenty Fourth Meeting - November 22nd, 2009


Interactive exhibit design and development for museums



We welcomed back Dana Schloss, past MakePhilly Co-Organizer. Dana is a self described "curious and enthusiastic museum nerd". She has been an exhibit fabricator, prototyper, museum educator, and exhibit designer in many museums in Philadelphia and around the country. She's currently playing and prototyping on the New Science Centre Project 2011 at the Telus World of Science in Calgary. She shared her work and experiences to date in exhibit  design, fabrication and education.

Maker Challenge


Download this meeting's maker challenge here: (to be posted)


Twenty Third Meeting - October 25th,2009



We welcomed Chris Thompson of as our guest speaker. Chris is a digital artist and also a member of MakePhilly. He presented on the various projects he has been working on including: ToynbeeCodes, BanHammer, Meatcards, Etsy, and wholesale. Chris also shared with us how he took his ideas from hobbies to side jobs.

Related links...

Maker Challenge


Download this meeting's maker challenge here: MakePhilly Challenge 23.pdf (53 KB)

Twenty Second Meeting - August 23rd, 2009


Thanks to all who came out to our 3rd annual MakePhilly BBQ!


Twenty First Meeting - February, 22nd 2009


Continuing with our BIG BUILD challenge from the previous meeting, we continued work on bringing our pinball machine to life!



See more pics: 

Special thanks to the surplus pinball parts generously donated by TNT Amusements:  These guys are the ultimate pinball wizards. Check out their website...  You can even throw your next bash there -- they host parties and allow guests to tour their pinball machine workshop. Our tremendous thanks to them for their rockin donations.

Twentieth Meeting - January 25th, 2009 


The first meeting of 2009 was unlike any other to date.  We devoted the entire meeting to a "BIG BUILD" maker challenge dividing into groups that each worked on a sub-part of the project. We'll assemble it all together at the February meeting. Download challenge overview here: Maker Challenge Jan 2009.pdf (358 KB)





Nineteenth Meeting - November 23rd, 2008 


Non-reversing mirrors!




We welcomed Professor Andy Hicks of Drexel University who spoke about his work in mirror design, that originated in vision based control of robots. One application is a driver-side mirror with no distortion and no blind-spot. Andy shared several real prototypes, including

  • A mirror that does not reverse.
  • A panoramic mirror.
  • A curved mirror in which things don't look curved.


Download the maker challenge here: (to be posted)

Eighteenth Meeting, September 14th, 2008



"Kick it, smash it, or drop it from on high — professor Mark Yim's modular ckBot can take a licking and reassemble itself afterward. Scattered about, its modules can detect one another using infrared, smart cameras, and radio beacons, then slink across the floor and magnetically reconnect to form a bipedal bot capable of walking on flat surfaces. Break the ckBot as often as you like; this great-grandfather of Terminator 2 is designed to withstand the everyday accidents that would doom a lesser robot to the scrap heap." (Source:


Guest Speaker


MakePhilly was thrilled to welcome internationally renowned robotics Professor, Dr. Mark Yim, to our September 14th meeting. Currently, a professor at Penn and formerly Stanford, Dr. Yim's academic research focuses on: Modular reconfigurable robots and locomotion ("PolyBots"), MEMS and batch fabrication techniques, and brute force digital time optimal control. Dr. Yim earned his PhD & MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.


Dr. Yim presented on his famous 'reconfigurable robots' which can reassemble themselves after being literally kicked apart.Learn more about Dr. Yim's work here:


Maker Challenge


Download this meeting's Maker Challenge here: MakePhilly Challenge - Meeting 18.pdf (90 KB)

Seventeeth Meeting - Our 2nd Annual BBQ (Aug 2008)



Our 2nd annual MakePhillly BBQ was another fun time! We cooked up some good stuffs and shot off water rockets... thanks to all who came out!

Sixteenth Meeting - July 13th, 2008






Guest Speaker


MakePhilly welcomed the renowned Brad Litwin who we’ve taken to calling the “Leonardo da Vinci da Philly”.  Brad is an extraordinarily accomplished painter, illustrator, sculptor, graphic designer, animator, photographer, woodworker, metal smith, musician, engineer...the list just goes on… and on….


Brad gave a talk on his mesmerizing kinetic sculptures which have been featured in museums around the world.  See video of them here:


Learn more about Brad and his work on his website:


Maker Challenge


The maker challenge was to build a kinetic marble sculpture, as inspired by our guest speaker!

Fifteenth Meeting - April 20th, 2008




Guest Speaker


MakePhilly welcomed Pete Tridish, a founder of the Prometheus Radio Project, to MakePhilly. The Prometheus Radio Project teaches community groups how to build their own radio stations so that they can independently and locally air their own broadcasts. To date the Prometheus Radio Project has not only helped to build over a dozen radio stations across the United States but they have also been part of building stations in Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, and Tanzania. Along the way they have fought to change FCC laws so that more groups can have access to the airwaves.


Pete shared how he demystifies technology for folks lacking any prior technical training so that they can build fully operational radio stations over a three day weekend – called “radio barnraisings”. Most participants in these events have never touched a soldering iron before in their lives.  Yet, by the end of the end of the third day, participants are ready to flip the switch and throw their first broadcast party!


Prior to co-founding the Prometheus Radio Project, Pete was an organizer back in 1997 for Radio Mutiny's demonstrations at Benjamin Franklin's Printing Press -- the station broadcast in open defiance of the FCCs' unfair rules that prohibit low power community broadcasting. He actively participated in the rulemaking that led to the adoption of Low Power FM. He was also instrumental in the Prometheus vs. the FCC lawsuit, which was successful in holding back a major round of media ownership consolidation in the United States. Pete holds a BA in Appropriate Technology from Antioch College and he is an SBE certified Broadcast Radio Engineer. Over the years he has been a carpenter, an environmental educator, a solar energy system installer, a squatter, a homeless shelter volunteer and an activist in many social movements since the age of 16.


For more information:


Maker Challenge


Download the maker challenge for this meeting here: (to be posted)

Fourteenth Meeting - March 30th, 2008




Guest Speaker


The 14th meeting of MakePhilly was held on Sunday, March 30th. We were extremely excited to welcome one of our own to the guest speaker mic.  MakePhilly charter member, Chris Vecchio, presented a fascinating overview of his work over the past few years including his Meterbox series - an investigation into the narrative potential of electronic circuitry, Evidence of Toolmaking - a series of hand-held sculptures integrating electronics and bone, and concluding with a demonstration of CUBE - an interactive sound installation and study in the design of ambiguous but suggestive user interfaces.


Chris is an electrical engineer who began creating sculptural electronic devices and interactive installations to help him better understand the relationship between man and technology. Chris holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University and is the Chairman of the Board at Nexus Foundation for today’s Art, Philadelphia. He also holds several patents for his work in the field of ultrasonic measurement.


For more information:


Maker Challenge


The Maker Challenge for this meeting was entitled "Personal Prosthetic!"

Thirteenth Meeting - February 17th, 2008




Guest Speaker


The February meeting of MakePhilly featured guest speaker Evan Malone who presented on a cutting edge branch of Rapid Prototyping he is involved with developing that holds the promise of allowing us all to fabricate anything we design right in our very own homes.


For the past twenty years, Rapid Prototyping has advanced as a technology that allows for transforming any 3D design in software, for example a CAD model of a mechanical part, into an identical physical model of it in the real world.


Now in 2008, at the Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory where he is pursuing his PhD, Evan is blazing the path to develop the next generation of Rapid Prototyping machines - highly compact ones called "fabbers". These small machines can fabricate almost any kind of object – not merely passive mechanical parts, but complete and fully functional electronic devices, ready to use right out of the machine!


To accelerate the transfer of this technology from the research world into the personal realm, he launched the Fab@Home project which he will speak about in his presentation as well. The Fab@Home project includes a user-editable "wiki" website which provides open-source, free software, parts lists, designs, and assembly & operational instructions for making a simple desktop fabber which anyone with basic hobbyist tools and skills can build for themselves. (More info:


Evan Malone is a Doctoral Candidate in Mechanical Engineering in the Computational Synthesis Laboratory at Cornell University. He earned a BA degree in physics from the U. Penn and a Masters of Engineering degree from Cornell in mechanical engineering and systems engineering for work on Cornell's World Champion RoboCup autonomous robotic soccer project. His doctoral research involves developing systems, materials, and methods for all-additive fabrication (a.k.a. Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) or Rapid Prototyping (RP)) of complete electromechanical devices. Evan and colleagues Dan Periard and Professor Hod Lipson collaborated on the creation the Fab@Home Project.


Maker Challenge


Download this meeting's Maker Challenge here: MAKER CHALLENGE 13.pdf (89 KB)

Twelfth Meeting - January 20th, 2008




Guest Speakers


The January meeting of MakePhilly featured guest speaker Don Miller (also known as NO CARRIER) who creates fast paced, colorful visuals for live music events and interactive art installations by hacking 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) consoles with custom programmed cartridges. 


Don shareed his DIY approach to programming the PPU (Picture Processing Unit) of NES consoles. He demonstrated that you that you don't need to know much math or have prior programming experience to explore the graphics of old NES games, hack and edit NES ROM images, and even create simple graphics programs.


Don is an educator, programmer, and live visualist living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He recently performed at Blip Festival 2007, an international gathering of forty musicians and visualists from around the world. In 2007 he designed and programmed the first NES album ever to be released on cartridges, for chiptune musicians Alex Mauer and Phlogiston. In 2008 his work will be displayed at Colgate University for their Creative Solutions for Sustainable Futures exhibition that explores environmental issues and sustainability across natural, built, and digital environments.


Don was supported by Dino Lionetti (aka Cheap Dinosaurs) who is a synthesist living in Philadelphia with an affinity for portable sound gadgets. Dino performed live, composes music using a Nintendo Gameboy and while Don created the visuals.


To view Don's slide presentation and download the software he provided at the meeting:


For more information visit:



Maker Challenge 


This meeting's challenge was to create original graphics on a PC (windows) computer using software that emulates the graphics on a real NES. Participants had the chance to use software to hack an NES ROM to view and alter graphics.


Eleventh Meeting - December 16th, 2007




Guest Speakers


MakePhilly welcomed guest speakers Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain of Monome who design adaptable, minimalist interfaces right here in good ol' Philadelphia. Monome is actually their current project-- various grids of backlit keypads which are used for music performance, simulations, games, and installations.
Brian and Kelli discussed sustainable local manufacturing and the process of evolving a personal project into an international community exploration. They also shared documentation from their mechanical installation work, including an algorithmic networked egg-tapping drum machine.
More information at
Images here:

Maker Challenge


Download this meeting's maker challenge here: MAKER CHallenge 11.pdf (110 KB)

Tenth Meeting - Oct. 28th, 2007


Have you wondered about how GoogleEarth works?  Are you interested in all the new mapping mashups appearing on the web in the past two years?  Do you want to learn more about geospatial software, but don't want to spend too much money?



Guest Presenter


MakePhilly was thrilled to welcome Robert Cheetham, founder and president of Avencia Incorporated, a software design and development firm based in Philadelphia.   Avencia develops geospatial analysis tools and services for government, non-profit, commercial and research organizations.  Robert has more than 10 years of experience developing web-based geospatial software.


Robert presented on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a history of the field and provided an overview of the major open source GIS software projects.

Maker Challenge


Download this meeting's maker challenge here: maker challenge10.pdf (92 KB)

Ninth Meeting - September 9th, 2007 



(source: Inition)


Thanks to all who came out to our 9th meeting! 


Special thanks to Bre Pettis who wrote us an awesome post on his blog...






Guest Presenter


MakePhilly was thrilled and honored to welcome Slavko Milekic, M.D., PhD as our guest speaker for our September meeting. Dr. Slavko presented on future applications of eye tracking technologies as a means of communication with digital devices (computers, cell phones, PDAs and the like).  History and mechanism of eye-tracking devices were also discussed, as well as the direction that this new technology could take.


Dr. Milekic is an associate professor of Cognitive Science & Digital Design at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. He has been involved with eye-tracking research for the past 15 years and has recently filed a patent application that uses gaze direction as an interface mechanism.


Maker Challenge


Download this meeting's maker challenge here: makerchallenge9.pdf (65 KB).



Eighth Meeting - August 5th, 2007


Our First Annual MakePhilly BBQ... We made and shot off  Water Rockets!


"Remember when you were in first grade and your art-teacher gave you a paper plate and some raw pasta and you glued it to the plate to try to make a face? Remember in sixth grade you made like 20 model airplanes because you had nothing better to do and were going through puberty and nobody liked you? Remember in high school when you got your first car and you tried to tweak out the engine with your dad? Remember in college when you joined a rock band and tried to make your own guitar effects pedals to sound all indie and stuff?

"If this sounds familiar you might want to check out Make Philly. Some of us still like to do these kinds of things apparently, only now we’re adults and have much better tactile skills, family and friends, and better ideas for ways to entertain each other while making something slightly nerdy though still cool. One example: shooting off home-made water rockets MacGyvered using 2-liter bottles, some PVC pipe, a bicycle pump and a Direct TV satellite dish for a stand, while eating burgers and drinking beer at the same time...." [more]

(from a post by Martin Brown on


View more pics of the seventh meeting here!





(pictures by Martin Brown, as posted on


Seventh Meeting - June 3rd, 2007


The seventh meeting of MakePhilly opened with an excellent presentation on Nanotechnology by our own Mike Fischbein, a PhD student at Penn who is researching the properties & applications of Quantum Dots. Topics included: 'Nanotechnology explained', 'Current applications', 'Debunking myths & exaggeration' and 'The future of nanotechnology'. After the presentation, we held our Mousebot Showdown (finally!). Our Maker Challenge this time was to used discarded devices, toys and parts to build miniature golf holes. The meeting closed with everyone playing several rounds!



Meeting Highlights

  • Talk & slide show on Nanotechnology by MikeFischbein, PhD
  • Mouse bot showdown!
  • Maker Challenge entitled Miniature Golf (see sidebar)


View more pics of the seventh meeting here!


Check out a video (sidebar)



Sixth Meeting - March 18th, 2007


Judging by the number of thank you emails we received, this might just have been our best meeting to date.  The meeting kicked off with a live brazing seminar by Josh Kopel.  Next we attempted to hold our mousebot showdown but quickly realized that we all needed a bit more time to do some "fine tuning".  There are some killa' mousebots in the works though (click the photo link below) to see images of them. So if you couldn't make the last meeting and have a mousebot, you're in luck.... our mousebot showdown will at last be held at our upcoming May 20th meeting.   The meeting closed with a maker challenge entitled 'Ski Lift' (see side bar), in which a motorized ski lift was build to transport two 'cork heads' up 18", drop them off (more like drop them to their deaths) and then return the empty cart back down to the bottom.


Meeting Highlights

Open Make - working night rider shirt by Ben

Open Make - sewed animals by Andres' daughters

Open Make - plastic body molds by Eric

Presentation on brazing by Josh

Maker Challange entitled Ski Lift (see sidebar)


View more pics of the sixth meeting here!




 View more pics of the sixth meeting here

Fifth Meeting - February 11, 2007



Thanks to everyone who came out to our one year anniversary meeting!  It was our best gathering of creative folks and our largest turn out ever.  Huge, huge thanks to all who have given of their time, energy, enthusiam and $ over this past year. Cheers to year two of MakePhilly!



Meeting Highlights

  • Open Make - animatronics by Eric
  • Open Make - vacuum forming table by Kristen
  • Open Make - glowing orbs by Brian
  • Presentation on next meeting's Mouse 'Bot challenge by Josh
  • First video screening of Art Buggy Derby, Fall '06
  • Maker Challenge entitled Tractor Pull (see sidebar)



View more pics of the fifth meeting here!






View more pics of the fifth meeting here!





Fourth Meeting - November 12th, 2006


 Meeting Highlights


View more pics from our third meeting here!



Video of our BEAM robots....


Third Meeting - September 10th, 2006


Meeting Highlights:


• Open Make - Neodynium Magnets by Ed

• Open Make - Remote installation by Chis [view

• Open Make - Siggraph by Laura

Presentation - Robot Kits, Flash & BlueSense by Rob [view]

Maker Challenge - Boat Stix Races (see side bar).


 View more pics from the third meeting here!






Second Meeting - April 2, 2006


Meeting Highlights:


• MakePhilly website launch!

• Maker Challenge - Rat Trap Races (see side bar). 


View more pics from the second meeting here!


First Meeting - February 19th, 2006


"It was at the Dark Horse Pub just off South Street in Philadelphia - perfect place for a meeting and to grab a beer - we had a private room in the back and it held just the right amount of people who showed up. For a first meeting it had great attendance about 17-18 people in all. (It might have been more, but the meeting had to be postponed a week ago because of the nearly two feet of snow we got hit with last week)..." Read the rest of Robert Hall's blog post.


Our first  Maker Challenge - build a Musical Instrument (see side bar).


View more pics from the first meeting here!


Watch the video of the winning team's musical instrument here!



Winning team for "Acoustically Accurate" and "Creative": Dan Salerno, Ed Cummings, Luke Elrath

About MakePhilly Meetings


Meetings begin with "Open Make" during which several people share a project they've recently made. Next we have a guest presenter speak about a topic ranging from design, to technology, to fabrication or other related DIY interests.


In the second half of each meeting, we divide into teams and hold a 40 minute competition centered around designing and building an original device or contraption. We call this the "Maker Challenge".  The challenge is truly open to folks of all skills sets as you can contribute at any level and learn from others.  Basic tools are provided in addition to several bins of spare wood, plastic, metal and electronics parts.  By the end, each team demonstrates how "it" works.