The new Makerspace in Parksville is gaining steam, and the group is looking to show it at the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Maker Fest on Sept. 23.
Oceanside Community Makerspace (OCM) is one of nine groups expected to take part in the event so far. The Maker Fest aims to bring together various kinds of creators to show the community the interesting and sometimes unexpected things being made in the community, as well as the resources available to would-be makers.
Included on the Maker Fest roster are makerspaces from Nanaimo and Courtenay; the Parksville District and Qualicum Flyers Association whose members build and fix radio-controlled airplanes; Penny Spence, who builds miniature dollhouses; the SD69 STREAM program; and others.
For John Eyre, organizer of OCM, the fest will be an opportunity to show people what can be done with one of the central devices in the maker movement — 3D printers.
“You can print chocolate cake and houses with them,” he said. “It all depends on the scale.”
3D printers are able to print prototypes of digitally-designed objects, from models to joints to tools and other things, in a variety of materials.
They work like an ink printer, with a head that moves back and forth. Except, in the case of 3D printers, what’s being pushed out of the head isn’t ink, but often plastic materials that are heated and then cool and solidify into objects. The printer follows a design made with 3D design software.
The OCM now has three 3D printers of different types, all arriving in kit form and put together by group members.
Now with 28 members but much more space available, the OCM grew out of Oceanside Building Learning Together’s Technology Learning Centre program, said Eyre.
The group attracted mostly retired people with a lot of tech experience and knowledge to share.
Now, at OCM, many of those people are both sharing their experience and learning about new and emerging technologies, such as 3D printers, with younger members of the community.
In addition to the printers, the OCM now has a CNC machine (a sophisticated, automated cutting tool that can cut out or etch precise designs into flat materials), woodworking tools including a bandsaw and drill press, computers and more.
Though much of the work done at the space has been to build tools like the CNC and 3D printers, the purpose of the OCM is to teach people how to use the tools and help them with their own projects.
Some projects either underway or planned by OCM members include an automatic door opener for a member’s dog to let itself in, a motorized lawnmower controller, and an exercise machine for a man’s wife who is undergoing knee surgery, said Eyre.
OCM member Chris Topher is integrating programmable LEDs into a hat which, once finished, will light up to ambient sound such as music.
Eyre said he’s hoping to see an even wider variety of projects and makers at the upcoming Maker Fest.
The event takes place Saturday, Sept. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon at Qualicum Beach Community Hall.
For those interested in getting a booth, they can contact the Qualicum Beach chamber at 250-752-0960 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.