Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bloatr - inflate your social media presence

Congratulations to Nick Danzinger and Christ Tweten for their 2nd place overall finish at Ramp Up Weekend 4. Their business idea: Bloatr became a viable product in 55 hours. Both Chris and Nick are members of Ramp Up Manitoba.

Their business:
You want more followers and friends and likes right?  Bloatr automates the process of liking and following targeted search terms on your behalf with the intent of return likes and followers to increase your following in social media.

Visit us on a Tuesday night open house. 6 PM. AssentWorks, 3rd Flr, 125 Adelaide Street.
AssentWorks Blog Post

Friday, August 23, 2013

OpenDesk, is about local making.

For our CNC users: OpenDesk is the new open source furniture design resource from the team behind FabHub that aims to explore new models for open and collaborative design of digitally fabricated free modern furniture designs that can be made on a CNC machine. And the open source furniture designs are free to download.

“OpenDesk is about local making. What’s available to you — what you can make and what you can have made — depends on where you are and how much you want to get involved in the making process.”


AssentWorks has a CNC Machine. Visit us on a Tuesday night open house. 6 PM. AssentWorks, 3rd Flr, 125 Adelaide Street.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Innovation: The impossible is now the possible.

Michael Legary, Chairman AssentWorks: An Interview on CJOB with Richard Cloutier.
Building the Hyperloop: What can an Open Source approach bring to innovation?
See for yourself. Visit us on a Tuesday night open house. 6 PM. AssentWorks, 3rd Flr, 125 Adelaide Street.
AssentWorks Blog Post
all 4

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Two years of Skullspace & Assentworks

tl;dr: Good job everyone, I didn't think we could go this far, keep working hard.

A little over two years ago a group of 20 Winnipeggers had their first meeting on the third floor of 125 Adelaide, having just rented the extremely dumpy, dirty space at a pittance, with the goal of turning it into Winnipeg's first hacker & makerspaces.

I was there, but thought this was too incredible to really work. About a year before, I was looking to borrow/use a flash chip programmer to recover from a bad BIOS update and was disappointed to find Winnipeg very lacking in hobbyist technical groups/organizations. There were a few niche groups (amateur radio, MUUG, WPCUG, MWCS) but nothing like the hacker / makerspaces of legend in bigger cities, where 24/7 projects, constant innovation and access to great tools and community technical advice was the norm. In April 2011 some Googling turned up mention of hackerspace plans for Winnipeg; I found myself at a King's Head meeting and thought it was a dream.

It took a huge amount of demolishing, cleaning, building, planning, more cleaning, wiring, organizing, discussing, innovating, advertising, etc., but the results speak for themselves. Two years later, Winnipeg now has Canada's largest makerspace (in sq ft and value of gear; pretty high up in member numbers too) with a very quickly advancing startup incubator, and one of the biggest hackerspaces (in sq ft and member numbers) at a new location that better fits its needs. The rate of progress, efforts put in, and resulting
community are phenomenal; a testament to both individuals' strengh and dedication and the caliber of people that live in this city and their desire to make it a better place.

There's still much work to be done - both spaces need a few more members to be sustainable, and especially more classes/events so as to teach and involve not only our own members but the public at large as well - but generally we're in great shape and the future looks bright for our groups and all the innovation, support, creativity and business we can bring to our community.

Thanks to all members and contributors, past and present, for the whirlwind of the last two years. Give yourselves a bit of congratulations for having done what you could to contribute to these great efforts, thank the others for what they've also put in, and keep up the good work. Filling a need is good; turning the process into a resource that keeps giving is phenomenal.

Colin Stanners
An AW & Sksp member

Friday, May 3, 2013

It’s crowded in here at the Raspberry Pi party!

Kerry Stevenson, founder of AssentWorks said it well "Tons of interested folks at every level of experience". Some folks talked about using a Raspberry Pi for bitcoin mining, running a home iPBX and a car platform based on the Pi and Arduino+Pi. New AssentWorks member, William Franzin explained the set-up. "The setup is using the Arduino as a low-level controller to control the power to the Pi, connected via GPIO and TTL serial, also USB. This allows both boards to share control, and even can have the Pi reflash the low-level controller (Arduino) with software updates". Others brought their children. I think they learned something new. The event was initiated by William Franzin and hosted by Robert Elms.

AssentWorks had over 30 Pis, 6 starter kits, a few dev shields, LCDs, power supplies as well as Arduino boards available for purchase at cost at the party.

That was a unique Pi-zza Party. I am not sure if the pizza was satisfying but I would suspect the Pi was.
If you want to see one for yourself, visit us on a Tuesday night open house. 6 PM. AssentWorks, 3rd Flr, 125 Adelaide Street.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Q. Do I need to register for an Open House Tour or can I just show up?
A. You can absolutely just show up! We encourage you though to join our Meet-up group. It is free! That way you are notified of any special events. Also we know ahead of time how many people to expect on a tour. Please join us and RSVP. http://www.meetup.com/assentworks/

Q. Where are you located?
A. 3rd Floor, 125 Adelaine St. Exchange District. Winnipeg.

Q. What should I do if the door is locked? 
A. Ring the doorbell and wait for someone to open the door.

Q. How can I contact someone with additional questions?
A. Email us at info@assentworks.ca

Q. I would like a tour but I can not make it out on a Tuesday night.
A. Contact us at info@assentworks.ca for special arrangements.

Q. I want to bring my group for a tour. What should I do?
A. Contact info@assentworks.ca and propose a date and time. Be sure to specify the size of your group and any special requirements you may have. 

Q. I have been working on a product for a couple years and I have been at a stand still not knowing the road to take to get this off the ground. How should I proceed?
A. Come to one of our Tuesday evening open house to see the facility, ask questions and meet other makers. Any time after 6 any Tuesday. 3rd Floor, 125 Adelaide St.

Q. Do I need to bring all my own material.
A. Yes. We charge a small fee for specialized materials you may not be able to procure yourself (e.g. uPrint 3D printer plastic, etc.) You will receive a monthly invoice if used. We also have a table of general use material that is free to use.

Q. Can I purchase drill bits and other supplies?
A. Yes. We have various commonly used Shopbot bits for sale in one of the vending machine, along with other shop related basic accessories such as:
- Engraving tools;
- Double Edge Lettering Bits;
- Single Edge Upcut Spiral O Flute;
- Double Edge Upcut Bottom Surfacing;
- Sandpaper, tape, gloves, etc.;
- Electronics components;
- Raspberry Pi, etc.

Q. How do I become a member?
A. Register online here:
Then visit us on a Tuesday night to pay, sign waiver and receive your own key fob.

Q. Your monthly membership is $105. It seems expensive.
A. Actually our membership fee is relatively low. For $105 a month you get access to about $1.2M in advanced manufacturing equipment in Canada's largest makerspace (we are currently 4x the size of the next biggest). Membership is actually negligible, as many members make small products on the side to sell for profit. It is trivially easy to make a year's membership in a couple of afternoons if you are creative. We strongly recommend you come by on a Tuesday night open house and you'll see what it's all about and can ask questions.

A. Do you take credit cards?
Q. Yes. We accept VISA or MasterCard, PayPal, cash or cheques.

Q. What benefits do I receive for being a member?
A. You will have access to all members and equipment. Through a discussion board, you can ask for informal training. If you feel stuck on your project, need advice or have expert advice for someone else, reach out to members. Tuesday nights seem to be a night when members come out to socialize. You can also send an email to all members at discuss. When you are a member you will be invited to the discussion board.There is also a Members Only Website. You will have access to the Member's only Wiki. The "FrontPage" will take you to the main page to access information including: equipment use, equipment maintenance reports, safety, task list for volunteering, meeting notes, etc.

Q. I am not sure that I have the necessary skills?
A. No worry. Connect with our members through a Tuesday night and our discussion board. Our members have a varied amount of complimentary skills. We help each other succeed.

Q. How do I get trained on <my favorite machine>?
A. No formal training courses are scheduled; all training is informal. The process involves an interested member requesting help via the email discussion list. Inevitably, someone will answer and suggest you join them operating the equipment and learn how it works. 

Q. I don't know how to operate ANY machines! I can't become a member, can I? 
A. Yes, you can become a member. Most members do not know how to operate a single machine when they join. Over time they learn how to successfully operate machines one by one. Some members learn ALL the machines; others just learn the ones they need for their project. The more machines you learn, the easier it gets. Many machines are no more complicated than a photocopier, even though they look intimidating. 

Q. Can a member be under 18 year old?
A. Our insurance requires members to be 18 years old and over. They can help a parent that is a member with design preparation and assembly. They just can't operate machines.

Q. What software do you recommend for creating designs to print on the BFB 3000 or uPrint?
A. We recommend trying 123D Design (http://123dapp.com/design/), which is easy to use, designed for creating solid, 3D printable models and is also free.

Q. What 3D modeling software should I use? 
A. It depends on your project's needs, your budget and the time you have available to commit to learning a tool. There are dozens of 3D modeling packages, some of which are free and some are $10,000 per license. Some are good for designing mechanical parts (Geomagic, Solidworks, etc.), some are good for more artistic designs (Z-Brush, Maya, etc.), and some are capable of producing mathematically generated 3D models (OpenSCAD, Rhino3D, etc.) We strongly recommend avoiding SketchUp and especially Blender. SketchUp does not produce printable 3D models and is very different from other tools, while Blender is essentially impossible to learn.  

Q. Do you have scanners and software?
A. Yes. We have a high-end scanner and a low-end scanner. The Creaform Handyscan VIUScan is capable of sub-millimeter resolution and comes with Rapidform/XOR reverse-engineering CAD software. The low-end scanner is a Microsoft Kinect with Skanect software, very suitable for scanning people and larger objects.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Awesomeness Necessary?

"I am pretty awesome". "So can I join"? A potential and yes, a qualified potential member asked last night. Last night was a Tuesday night. A night like any other Tuesday night at AssentWorks. A night when we open our doors to the public, to anyone interested in seeing first hand what we have to offer. We have everything you need to make your idea come to life. If you have an idea you’d like to build, but don’t have access to the right tools, skills or space. If you want to be part of a community of people who like to make things. If your business need access to affordable equipment to build rapid prototypes. If you want to expand your knowledge of design, prototyping, and manufacturing. If you want to grow Manitoba innovation and business. If that doesn't convince you, the people will. We are all awesome. And it appears to be a pre-requisite thought by some. Which is just awesome.
AssentWorks Tuesday Night Open House.  6 - 8 PM. 3rd floor, 125 Adelaide St. Exchange District. Winnipeg, Manitoba.