Monthly Maker Workshop – CAD Dojo

CAD Dojo1

HackRVA trained beginners of AutoCAD in the CAD Dojo.  The CAD Dojo uses repetition and scaffolding in a video-game inspired level system to drill students on common commands for drawing in AutoCAD.

This method forgoes the stickier parts of the UI and broad explanation of the AutoCAD environment, instead focusing on students drawing straightaway. After surviving the grueling trials of the Dojo, they can leverage the power of the internet or youtube tutorials to learn the UI and particular aspects of AutoCAD as needed.

The file linked here is the Dojo training regimen self-contained in a single DXF file. Brave students can download and start the “Trial of Boxes”, then move on to the “10 Student Tribulations”, picking up valuable CAD skills along the way in this “game-a-fied” take on CAD training.

Our goal is to give makers more power to design and eventually create their own things by taking CAD drawings and translating them into G-Code for tools like the HackRVA 3D Printer, Laser Cutter, and CNC Router.

To stay tuned for more workshops in our monthly maker series, join our Meetup page where we announce HackRVA events.

CAD Dojo 2

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Non-Traditional Learning at HackRVA


Let it be known! A serious amount of non-traditional learning has occurred at HackRVA this year and continues to go on!

I’ve most recently been attending Jonathon’s amazing QT C++/Frameworks class. It’s the closest thing that I’ve seen to an actual free college class (not online video, real meatspace instruction!), and yet is much more relaxed and bi-directional than a traditional classroom with the student and teacher (in this case, the teacher being hackrva member and  friend, Jon, who goes beyond the pale to answer questions beginner and advanced… it’s really amazing to see the amount of diversity in conversation to “what is a ‘for loop’ ” to “what is the underlying infrastructure of that function”).

The QT class or meeting group or hangout (depends on what you want to call it) has been going on for over a month with at least 7 members involved. Teacher Jon’s overall goal is to give people the power to code, make apps, and possibly create a community of open source developers than can collaborate on a meaningful project through hackrva.

Though this is the latest and greatest effort at hack to find a way towards non-traditional learning in the community, there have been others. Kramer ran two different open courseware groups over the spring and summer. A CCNA study group produced two qualified persons ready to move up in their profession. And there’s the monthly hackrva workshops that have given introductory skills to many a maker and hacker in the Richmond community.

HackRVA is a member funded and member run organization. Thanks to all those teachers that keep “hacking” toward independent learning and to those that attend to put there best foot forward to learn.

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Expert Makers Forged Legions of New Hackers at RVA Maker Fest


Countless hours of planning, effort, and fretting were poured into the first RVA Maker Fest.  Richmond is a city of festivals, and a city of makers, but there was plenty to do and plenty to worry about in the weeks and days leading up to the event.

We needed to design a board, source the components, find a board house to manufacture them, design and order a banner, plan the physical set up and supplies, and organize our members and volunteers for the day.  After a few close calls, everything was ready and the banner arrived with just two days to spare!

A large portion of the festival was outdoors, and it seemed to be gray and rainy during the entire week.  Soldering can be a challenge at times, but it would be nearly impossible to solder if the irons are all wet!  Luckily, all of the hard work paid off. Nature smiled on us and the clouds parted for an amazing day of sunshine, socializing, showcasing, and soldering!

Our small army had a lot of fun showcasing member projects, chatting about HackRVA’s mission, and teaching the valuable skill of soldering.  The tables were almost perpetually packed once people started filtering out of the science museum into the outdoor area.  We taught over 150 people how to solder, and got to see exuberant pride and excitement as the skill was picked up.

A multitude of other awesome makers came out to share their craft and spread the joy of making.  Indie Lab was busy extracting DNA, CVBG had hammers pounding and forges burning, Maker Guild was creating paper passport booklets.  I met a ton of awesome makers, far more than I could mention here.  You can check them out on the RVA MakerFest site.

What made this great?  It was the people involved – the dedicated volunteers and expert makers!  Thanks to everyone that made this possible.  Volunteer as an expert maker at the next event or come show off your project during Open House on Thursday nights.  Also, check out the blinky badge details on the Maker blog.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t legions of new hackers, but the first RVA Maker Fest was a phenomenal event!

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RVA Makerfest – Teaching Richmond to Solder


We’re teaching Richmond to solder at the upcoming RVA Makerfest!

Pictured above is the custom “blinky badge” designed by HackRVA. We’ll be using it to teach makers of all ages the wonderful art of soldering. And they’ll get a sweet blinking “flair” for their effort.

The RVA Makerfest is at the Richmond Science Museum on Saturday September 27th, and is free to attend. See you at the event!


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Maker Workshop Series – Arduino Bots

An awesome Arduino Workshop happened for July’s HackRVA Workshop Series!

They night started calm enough, learning some basic Arduino skillz.. but then later, as the learning escalated, they ended up battling it out in a demolition event using the Arduino autonomous RC robot cars they made themselves in the workshop.

Click to watch the video.
Here are some more vids and pics of the event.

Kramer and Beth took our DIY educations efforts to the next level on this one, here’s their lesson plan for those interested.

And thanks to all who attended the workshop. We hope you had a great time making!

For the latest updates on events like our Maker Workshop Series, join the HackRVA Meetup.

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Maker Camp!


Maker Camp is underway at HackRVA!

We’ve already made Makey Robots, Heron’s Fountains, jaunty caps, LED throwies, animals with eyes that light up, making our own games, lots of hot glue, paper craft, sculpting, and lots of smiles.

Three events completed and there are still four to go!

Visit the RVA Maker Guild’s Meetup to participate in RVA Maker Camp events. And learn more about Maker Camp at the RVA Maker Guild website.



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RVA Maker Guild – Sew for SOS Workshop


RVA Maker Guild recently hosted this sweet maker event! People hung out at HAckRVA to sew inspirational pillows and were inspired by the two youth leaders that created this concept.

Learn more:

And, more pics at the HackRVA session here.

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Monthly Workshop Series – Electronics 101 Workshop


For June HackRVA held an awesome Electronics 101 Workshop in the Maker Workshop Series.  Our instructor, Eric brought enough demonstrative gear and enthusiasm to keep Richmond lit up for a week!

See more pics here.

And join the HackRVA Meetup for updates, because Eric’s planning on doing more of these!

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CNC Router Crowdfunding Underway


We’re crowdfunding a CNC Router!

Go to the HackRVA IndieGoGo Campaign for all the details.

Thanks everyone, can’t wait to start subtractive manufacturing *things*with our cyberbrains!

sketch chair


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RVAsec Badge Build 2014 WrapUp


The RVAsec Badge 2014 is complete!

RVA Security Conference goers thoroughly enjoyed their badges which you can read about in more technical depth on our wiki here and GitHub here. We made 300 of them over several months of sustained effort.

The “Badge Build” has become the preeminent annual group project at HackRVA offering an array of challenges from circuit board design and manufacture, to coding, to how to work together on a large scale project.

We’re super proud of this creation. We’ve improved on our capabilities each year while simultaneously expanding the scope of the project itself. We’re already looking ahead to next year, so stay tuned for upcoming badge related events.

In the meantime, here’s some photos from our odessey!



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