Classes and Workshops
Rockford MakerSpace offers a number of classes and workshops in various topics. See our website for more details.
3D Printer Build – Learn how to build a 3D printer — completely from scratch! Building it ourselves, we learn how to improve it, customize it and maintain it. This is a multi-session event, with each session typically lasting two to three hours.
Basic Glass Etching – Learn to use etching cream to apply simple designs to glass. We will be using a vinyl cutter to create stencils, then using glass etching cream to etch the glass. Attendees will take home the etched glass item they create. All materials will be provided. This utilizes a relatively simple technique that you can do at home — at low cost and with minimal equipment — and is suitable for younger makers. See also our Etching with a Blast Cabinet, below, for a different, more complex but more powerful technique.
Circuit Board Design I - Learn to convert a breadboard design to a printable circuit board. More details coming soon . . .
CNC Router Basics - A CNC router is a great way to take a design from the computer to a physical object in wood, plastic, foam and many other materials. Topics covered include basic operation, workpiece holding techniques, types of cutters to use and software use. The goal of this workshop is for you to walk away "knowing what you don't know" so that you can have a good starting place for further exploration on your own.
D-I-Y Home Automation using Arduino & Raspberry Pi – Details coming soon . . .
Etching with a Blast Cabinet - Learn to use blasting media (commonly referred to as “sand blasting,” but the medium is not always sand) to apply potentially more complex designs to glass, ceramic, stone, metal and other materials. We will be using our vinyl cutter to create stencils, then using a blasting cabinet to etch glass and/or other materials. Attendees will take home the etched item they create. All materials will be provided. See also our Basic Glass Etching, above, for a different, simpler technique that you can do at home — at low cost and with minimal equipment — and may be more suitable for younger makers.
Forging a Knife – Have you ever seen “Forged in Fire”? Well, don’t just watch it — why not DO it? Attendees will make their very own knife, harden and temper it. These workshops are presented by the experienced and talented Dennis Neubauer, who is widely known for his forging workshops.
Internet of Things: Arduino and Raspberry Pi - Have you heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), Arduinos and Raspberry Pis and want to know what all the excitement is about? Did you receive an Arduino or Raspberry Pi as a gift and want to actually do something with it? In this presentation, you will be introduced to the Arduino open-source electronic prototyping platform, the Raspberry Pi single-board computer hardware and software and other IoT hardware and software. You will learn what they have in common, how they differ, and some of the common uses of each. Future sessions in this series include hands-on activities where you will learn how to install software, connect input/output devices and program the systems to do some useful, fun and amazing things! Additional information: Internet of Things class
Introduction to Arduino – Have you heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), Arduinos and similar systems, and want to know what all the excitement is about? Did you receive an Arduino as a gift and want to actually do something with it? Want to learn how to read sensors, drive motors, and blink LEDs? Never programmed before but you’re interested in learning? Want to find out what the fuss over the Arduino microcontroller ecosystem is all about? This class is perfect for you! We will journey, step-by-step, through the basics of electronics through hands-on labs where you, the student, build breadboard circuits and program the embedded software to bring them to life! Note: This is similar to our Introduction to Electronics class, but with less emphasis on electronics theory and more Arduino hands-on. Additional information: Internet of Things class
Introduction to Astronomy I - Learn the basics of astronomy and build a basic Quadrant for measuring the stars. More details coming soon . . .
Introduction to Electronics – Want to learn how to read sensors, drive motors, and blink LEDs? Never programmed before but interested in learning? Want to find out what the fuss over the Arduino microcontroller ecosystem is all about? This class is perfect for you! We will journey, step-by-step, through the basics of electronics through hands-on labs where you, the student, build breadboard circuits and program the embedded software to bring them alive. Note: This is similar to our Introduction to Arduino class, but with a somewhat greater emphasis on electronics theory. Additional information: Introduction to Electronics class
Introduction to Fusion 360 – This workshop will be a brief introduction to Fusion 360 CAD/CAM software. From the Fusion 360 website: “Fusion 360 is a 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE tool that connects your entire product development process in a single cloud-based platform that works on both Mac and PC.” Fusion 360 is available free to students, educators and makers, and a free trial is available from the company’s website.
Introduction to Inkscape – This presentation will be a brief introduction to using the free, open-source 2D design/editing software Inkscape, which can be used to create or modify designs for use on our laser cutter/engraver (see the related classes, elsewhere on this page).
Introduction to Laser Cutting and Engraving – This presentation will be a brief introduction to using the 150-watt laser cutter/engraver at Rockford MakerSpace, and will include a very brief overview of vector-based drawing programs and the laser hardware itself. Each attendee will take home a laser-cut/engraved souvenir.
Introduction to Linux / Advanced Linux – Learn to install Linux and use the graphical user interface (GUI) and many of the standard programs and features of the operating system. In Advanced Linux, learn how to use the command line for system administration, scripting and more complex functions. This is parts 2 and 3 of our multi-session Raspberry Pi course, but most of what you learn will apply to other Linux systems.
Introduction to OpenSCAD – This workshop is a comprehensive introduction to OpenSCAD, free solid-modelling software available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux/Unix systems. OpenSCAD is something like a 3D-compiler that reads in a human-readable script file that specifies geometric primitives (such as spheres, boxes, cylinders, etc.) and defines how they are modified and combined to render a 3D model. This gives you full control over the modelling process, and enables you to easily change any step in the process or make designs that are defined by configurable parameters. Participants in this workshop will learn how to install and use OpenSCAD to create solid models, exportable in STL format for 3D printing. Additional information: Intro to OpenSCAD class
Introduction to Python Programming – Learn to use the Python programming language. This is part of our multi-session Raspberry Pi course, and while emphasis is placed on controlling Raspberry Pi input/output devices, the language skills you will learn can be used on any computer platform running Python.
Introduction to Raspberry Pi - This is a multi-session course introducing participants to the Raspberry Pi. Each session is optional; participants may choose whichever meets their needs and their experience level. The first session, Internet of Things: Arduino and Raspberry Pi, provides an overview of the Raspberry Pi, and compares it to the Arduino which, although similar in appearance, is quite a bit different. The second session, Introduction to Linux, covers Raspbian, the default operating system used by the Pi. The third session, Advanced Linux, introduces use of the Linux command line, scripting, and rudimentary control of the Raspberry Pi input/output ports. The fourth session, Introduction to Python Programming, introduces Python, the default programming language used with the Raspberry Pi, and covers rudimentary control of the Raspberry Pi input/output ports. The fifth session, Raspberry Pi Hardware Interfacing, expands on the basic input/output control introduced in the third and fourth sessions and covers even more types of devices and real-world applications.
Introduction to Screen Printing – Learn how to screen print in a 2-session class, with an optional third session on multicolor printing. By the end of the second session, you will bring in a T-shirt and walk away with a custom piece of art — I Made This! Session I covers the various aspects of screen printing. You will learn about the terminology, materials, equipment, etc., in a classroom setting. We will also discuss artwork and preparation of the screen template, which will be created using our vinyl cutter. Session II includes the actual, ”hands-on” screen printing process in which you will print your own T-shirt. Session III takes your screen printing skills to the next level! Learn about multicolor printing, printing on different materials, etc.
Introduction to Soldering Electronic Components – Soldering is an important part of working with electronics, particularly in the area of electronic prototyping. These workshops provide a basic introduction to soldering for those who have never soldered before, or those with some soldering experience who have never worked with surface mount technology. Additional information: Introduction to Soldering class
Introduction to Surface Mount Technology Soldering - Almost all modern electronics make use of Surface Mount components for its benefits in miniaturization and ease of automated assembly. Components such as resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits of all kinds, come in a plethora of physical packages that vary in size as well as number and style of leads. While much of SMT technology is quite difficult to solder by hand, lots of hobby electronics (and repair work!) are still quite possible with the right equipment and expertise. Learn how to hand-solder SMT components by assembling your own Resistor Ladder tool, designed by RMS member Spacetime Productions! The board is designed to be a good reference for evaluating your DMM’s accuracy and precision.
Introduction to Vinyl Cutting – This presentation will be a brief introduction to using the vinyl cutter at Rockford MakerSpace, and will include a very brief overview of vector-based drawing programs and the vinyl cutter hardware itself.
Introduction to Welding - If you’ve never done any welding before but are curious to see what it’s all about, our Introduction to Welding class is for you! This class covers basic principles of welding, overview of common welding processes (MIG, TIG, Stick), safety, setup for various machine types, welding techniques and hands-on experience.
Leatherworking – Details coming soon . . .
Making a Skateboard 101 – In this presentation you will learn how to make a skateboard, including where to source the raw materials, laminating layers of wood, how to properly clamp a board, and how to shape a board with just a few common household woodworking tools. It will also, briefly, show how graphics can be made using spray paint and a few simple stencils. The workshop fee includes attendance to the presentation and information on how to obtain your own materials for making skateboard decks. Due to time constraints in this introductory session, this presentation will not include attendees making their own skateboards. That workshop may be held on a later date. The presentation should last about four hours.
Making Stencil Art! - This is a presentation and workshop to how to make art using homemade multiple-layer stencils. The presentation will include information on easy to find materials to make stencils, the process to make the electronic files of the stencils, cutting out the stencils on the laser cutter, and finally applying the stencils to canvas with spray paint. The workshop fee includes attendance to the presentation, materials to make your own stencil (up to 5 layers), and a canvas to put your design on.
Printmaking Workshop - Print your own holiday (or anytime) cards! Do you like to send cards to friends and family for the New Year, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa? What about birthdays or thank yous? In this workshop you can create your own design and print handmade cards for your loved ones. Learn the basics of linoleum block printmaking, carve your own block, and go home with 10 printed cards of your own design and your print block (with the skills and knowledge to print as many more cards as you wish at home). We encourage parents to participate with youth (no unaccompanied minors). You will be working with sharp tools and permanent ink. Please dress accordingly.
Raspberry Pi Hardware Interfacing – This workshop expands on the basic input/output control introduced in the third and fourth sessions (Advanced Linux, and Introduction to Python Programming, respectively) of our Introduction to Raspberry Pi course, and covers even more types of devices and real-world applications.
Family Maker Day – Kids and families have access to our space, project kits, materials, and hand tools to create, explore, and learn! Kids, tweens, teens, and their parents are welcome to explore our free Family Maker Day. Everyone will participate in a project and learn about being a maker. No tools or special skills are required and the event is free for the entire family.
Discover Engineering – Dozens of engineering professionals set up shop annually in the Discovery Center Museum and invite you to participate in hands-on investigations and brain-bending challenges that relate to the jobs they do right here in the Rockford area. Local high school teams will also be on hand, showing off their romping robots. This event is a perfect conclusion to National Engineers’ Week. We plan to participate regularly in this event.
Maker Faires - Maker Faires are gatherings of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, A Maker Faire is a venue for these “makers” to show hobbies, experiments, projects. We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Glimpse the future and get inspired!