Category Archives: Field Trips

Astronomy Outreach at the Fremont Peak Observatory

Observatory building on top of hill with trees behind

For the last year and a half, we’ve been volunteering with the Fremont Peak Observatory Association (FPOA). It is located in Fremont Peak State Park, just above the mission town of San Juan Bautista, which is where Hitchcock’s Vertigo was filmed.

Lenore with telescope behind

Challenger (behind me in the picture above) is the name of the main telescope at FPOA. It is a 30 inch diameter Newtonian telescope on an equatorial mount, built by telescope maker Kevin Medlock. It is a lot of fun to move a big scope like this around to point it at different things in the sky. It is great for looking at deep sky things like galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters.

The members are incredibly welcoming and dedicated to amateur astronomy and science outreach. The organization has free (except for the state park parking fee) public programs on Saturday nights from March to October when there isn’t a full moon. The schedule for upcoming programs is posted on the website.

telescopes set up on pads

During public programs, we set up some of the smaller telescopes that belong to the observatory, and members sometimes bring their own telescopes to set up. This means there are usually multiple telescopes pointing at different things to see, and even folks who can’t use the ladder for the big Challenger telescope will be able to look to the stars.

Observatory building and sunset

It is a joy to be there the first time someone sees Saturn or Jupiter, or even the moon through a telescope. There is something special about seeing those things with your own eyes. The sky is dark enough—in part due to the ocean fog frequently socking in the towns below—that the viewing can be spectacular, and later in the year the Milky Way streaks across the sky.

Some members bring their gear up to the observatory to do astronomical imaging. We haven’t done any astrophotography other than cellphone photos through the eyepiece that don’t do justice to the view you get. We’ve seen incredible views of the planets, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Hercules Globular Cluster, the Ring Nebula and many other wonders. And perhaps best of all, we’ve had the privilege of sharing those views with visitors.

Plotter People Meetup

There’s a new get-together just for plotter people!

Plotter People is a meetup for creative coders and people interested in collaborating with robots to make art. You’ll get to talk to folks who make generative art in a wide variety of programming languages and software environments, and you’ll get access to pen plotters and the people who make them.

The inaugural Plotter People meetup will be hosted at Github in San Francisco on Monday, January 14 at 6:30 pm. There will be two speakers, including Sher Minn, who will be talking about Recreating Retro Plotter Art, and me, Lenore Edman. I’m excited to have been invited to speak and I’ll be talking about the Plotter Projects of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, from the Analog Plotbot pictured above to the AxiDraw. There will also be time to mingle, talk, eat, and even play with plotters.

The event is free, but please head over to the invite page to RSVP!

Science Hack Day SF

I will be at Science Hack Day SF giving a lightning talk on Creative Off-Label Tool Use featuring some of the cool and unusual ways people are using AxiDraw and other tools we make. I’ll also have an AxiDraw in the hardware hacking area to play with.

Science Hack Day is October 27-28 and is free, so register now!

P.S. If you’re doing something interesting and science or research related with your AxiDraw, please let me know!

Fall Open House

Evil Mad Scientist Sign

You’re invited to our annual open house!

When: Saturday, November 10, 4 pm to 8 pm
Where: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
1285 Forgewood Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94089

You can see the MOnSter 6502 in action, check out an AxiDraw demonstration, maybe meet Zener the cat (she’s not fond of parties), do some shopping if the mood strikes, and share in food and conversation.

Maker Faire New York 2018 Photos

We’re back from Maker Faire New York, where we had an amazing time and took a bunch of pictures. Here are a few highlights:

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A wonderful Audrey II puppet.

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Flexible Arduino compatible “board”.

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The latest in maker materials experimentation.

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Digital apples.

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And musical robots.

There was so much more, and you can explore more pictures are in our flickr album!

Maker Faire NY Panel: Ask a Maker!

Jimmy DiResta, Sophy Wong, Lenore Edman, Matt Stultz

I’m excited to be hosting an “Ask a Maker!” panel at Maker Faire New York. The panel will be on Saturday, September 22 at 3:30 pm on the Make: Frontiers stage. My guests will include Jimmy DiResta, Sophy Wong, and Matt Stultz.

I’ll be accepting audience questions for these amazing makers with a broad range of skills and experiences. If you have questions but aren’t going to be at Maker Faire NY, you can submit them in the comments here, or send them to me by email. Questions about aspects of making including processes, tools, inspiration, sourcing, design, and techniques are all welcome. I’ll accept questions about genres of making including electronics, woodworking, sewing, digital fabrication, papercraft, writing, video making, cooking and more.

The rest of the schedule of performances and talks looks amazing, and there is a great group of makers showing their projects as well. Hope to see you there!

Electronics Flea Market: Now in Sunnyvale

Pile o' instruments

We’ve written about the Silicon Valley Electronics Flea Market many times before. Make that many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many times before. It’s a great source of inspiration, beautiful objects and interesting conversations.

We’re writing about it now because it has moved locations! The April 14th flea market will be at the parking lot of the Sunnyvale Fry’s. We’ll hope to see you all there this weekend!

Presidents Day @ The Tech

On Monday, February 19, we’ll be celebrating Presidents Day at The Tech Museum in San Jose.

Spend your Presidents Day with us! We’re bringing you even more hands-on science fun than usual. You’ll build straw rockets and design colorful climbing robots. We’re also teaming up with Kickstarter to give you a sneak peek at some new tech.

The hours are 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and we’ll be bringing the MOnSter 6502 and demonstrating how microprocessors work with our giant version of the classic MOS 6502.

MOnSter 6502 and Digi-Comp II at Vintage Computer Festival PNW

We’re bringing the MOnSter 6502 and the Digi-Comp II to the Vintage Computer Festival Pacific Northwest February 10-11 at the Living Computers: Museum+Labs in Seattle, Washington.

Living Computers: Museum+Labs is an incredible museum! Bring your camera, bring your children, and enjoy all that LC:ML and VCF have to offer.

Check out the exhibitor list and the speaker lineup for more information.