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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Vending Machine?

Have you ever worked in a shop in the middle of the night when retail stores are closed? And you broke a drill bit.
We have Shot bot and 7 Axis bits in 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
- Raspberry Pi
Pi not Pie. Perhaps not what you first thought. It is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. you may want to try it.
At AssentWorks. Tuesday Night Open House 6 PM.  125 Adelaide on the 3rd Floor. Exchange District. Winnipeg.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It Happened So Fast!

What can happen when two people with different but complimentary skills meet? In this case, a new business. And that is exactly what happened with AssentWorks members: David Bernhardt and Aaron Guppy.

In less than two months ago, while touring AssentWorks, Aaron Guppy saw David Bernhardt's outstanding work of signage illuminating the front entrance. Key design elements of that sign started Aaron thinking of ways to develop a line of decor products. Two weeks later he joined AssentWorks, and immediately sought out the creator of that sign. When they met, it's no surprise that the two kindred spirits talked for hours, because, what Aaron couldn't have known was that, David had also been quietly working on some very similar product ideas. A week later they formalized a partnership and started designing and making prototypes. They approached a local manufacturer and made an agreement to have their products made here, in Manitoba -  products which they'll sell across the country (and beyond?).

So, at AssentWorks, in a month and a half, two people who hadn't met previously, have turned an idea into a named, registered company with a logo, business model, marketing strategy, and manufacturing capacity for home/office decor products. They'll be premiering real samples of those products at the Home Show this weekend (March 15-17)  in a walled, display booth that they built themselves; at AssentWorks of course.

NEXTSTYLE, the first fully-conceived and gestated offspring of the great dream that the members of AssentWorks and each of our supporters, like you, have been striving to facilitate, will take its initial breath at the Home Show, this weekend.

What's most exciting is that this is just the first of many businesses their chemistry has the potential to produce. How many more businesses are waiting to be developed? I don't know. What I do know is that about 150 prototypes were built at AssentWorks so far. It is possible. It happened with NextStyle Architectural Finishes.

Visit us for a Open House. Every Tuesday night. 6 - 8 PM. 3rd Floor, 125 Adelaide St. Exchange District. Winnipeg. AssentWorks and Ramp-Up Manitoba.

Contributor: Robert Elms, Members Council Chairman, AssentWorks

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Spirit of Passion

 Martin Cash captured the spirit of AssentWorks perfectly in the Winnipeg Free Press on the day before our announcement. "When there is passion involved in any pursuit in life, the meaningfulness of the enterprise is enhanced", Cash said. AssentWorks Directors, Members and Volunteers demonstrate this passion everyday.

Many people came to AssentWorks on March 1st for the first time. They witnessed something very special. Kerry, Mike, David and Chris articulated their passion and vision in a way that only they can. As co-founders, they all have the same vision and that is what helps to make a business successful.

Vic Toews, Federal Minister of Public Safety made his much anticipated announcement in the way of a $467,000 commitment to AssentWorks. Funding that will take our facility from entrepreneurs creating finished prototypes AND facilitating the creation of the actual businesses that surround them, thanks to Ramp Up Manitoba.

A fundraising effort is also underway on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo to help deal with some of the additional costs associated with the additional space. Your sponsorship will help us make cutting edge equipment available to the community, develop training opportunities for specialized skills and reach out to entirely new audiences across the province about entrepreneurship and invention. All donations receive amazing AssentWorks produced products; check out the list of rewards at the campaign site.

Come see the passion for yourself any Tuesday night at our weekly open house. If you can not come visit us, consider sponsoring through our Indiegogo campaign. Or just follow your own passion. Whatever it may be.

3rd Floor, 125 Adelaide St.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Be Part of Something Very Special

Do you want to be part of Manitobans bringing their ideas to life; part of a community support for entrepreneurs; part of something very special...join us on March 1st.

The Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, on behalf of The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, will make a special announcement at AssentWorks on March 1st, 2013. You're invited to hear from the minister and receive a unique tour of AssentWorks, one of Canada's largest and most accessible public fabrication centres.

The event takes place at 10AM on the morning of March 1st, 2013 at AssentWorks, 3rd floor, 125 Adelaide Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The event will also include brief announcements from AssentWorks regarding our 2013 Phase 2 development activities that include a new home for RampUp Manitoba.

Registration is open to the public.

Event Details:
10:00 AM - Noon
3rd Floor, 125 Adelaide St.

Register for the event here

For additional information, please contact:
Kerry Stevenson
Director, AssentWorks

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crowd-sourced Renovations – Now That’s Innovation!

 By: Chris Johnson
Day 1 of the massive ‘Renovation for Innovation’ at @RampUpManitoba and @AssentWorks presented itself with a unique challenge (something our membership love to overcome on a daily basis).  We had a trailer full of 600 10’ 2x4’s, with an elevator that decided to throw a hissy-fit (you would too if you were 100 years old!).  Well, it took approximately 60 seconds to make a human train consisting of 9 people to hike them up the fire escape to the third floor.  Isn’t that something?  9 people on site on a cold winter Saturday at 8AM who were willing to toss 2x4’s up a fire escape.  I was impressed, but that kind of excitement can’t keep up right?  These people are volunteers!

60 days after the outset of this project I am pleased to report that the crowd-sourced volunteers of Ramp Up Manitoba and AssentWorks, with a little help from some of our founding sponsors, have delivered an exceptional effort building our shiny new #StartupSpace!

It’s very exciting for Winnipeg that we have enough volunteers to take on a project of this size (almost 10,000 sq ft space) in such a short period of time. Quite frankly, it makes it all worthwhile!  It was the norm to show up to the space and meet totally new people who just pitched in with whatever skills they had to contribute, and even learned a few new skills along the way.

We had teachers turned framers, developers turned nail-pullers, engineers moonlighting as drywall installers and more.  Did you know your city was full of such giving, energetic, and passionate people?  We are so lucky to have a membership willing to give up their Christmas holidays, New Year’s, and countless evenings and weekends away from their families just trying to leave Winnipeg a better place than they found it.  This is the spirit that drives Ramp Up Manitoba and AssentWorks.  We owe a huge thank you to our dedicated members, and a number of private sector supporters including HIGH SPEED CROW (dozens of man hours donated), Moskal Electric (data cabling donated), Benjamin Moore (primer/paint donated), Best Price Painting (paint application donated), and more.

So, with space renovations coming to a close, it’s now time to turn our attentions to finishing touches inside the space.  Shuffling of equipment and tools on the AssentWorks side, and startups moving in to their new offices on the Ramp Up Manitoba side.  It’s time to get back to the business of innovating, prototyping, and commercializing.  And not a moment too soon, Winnipeg is bursting at the seams with great ideas that need to be built.

We undertook this project to expand our prototyping capabilities at AssentWorks while adding co-working space for innovative Ramp Up Manitoba startup companies to thrive together.  We have a lot more to announce in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Lastly, if you read this and said to yourself even once, ‘Hey, this sounds great – I would love to be involved in something like that’…  we’d love to meet you!  Visit us at the below sites to learn more, or pop in any Tuesday evening  for our Community Night where you can get a site tour and meet some of our members.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yes we do have 3D Printers in Winnipeg!

Actually we have 2 and soon we will have 3. They are all very capable depending on the needs of the user. Here is a summary of each:

The BFB 3000 is a very capable low-end extrusion-based 3D printer. It can accept two types of 3mm filament plastic, ABS plastic and PLA plastic in 1Kg spools. Small objects of arbitrary shapes can be printed in plastic, up to 20cm (PLA) or 10cm (ABS) from 3D models you supply in STL format.

The uPrint Plus is a very capable medium-end commercial extrusion-based 3D printer. Prints 1.75mm ABS filament plastic in one pound 30 cubic inch cartridges. Small objects of arbitrary shapes can be printed in plastic, up to 10cm on a side from 3D models you supply in STL format. Parts printed on the uPrint could be strong enough to use in your machine prototypes.

Now imagine scanning and printing in color!

Kerry Stevenson, Director of AssentWorks said why he choose the new Zprinter “Along with the color scanners, members can easily scan full color images and print realistic color models with astonishing results”.

Advanced Color 3D Printer Zprinter 650
Color and resolution! Z Corp states a resolution of 600x540 dpi, saying it's "the highest resolution in a 3D printer."

360 Color Scanners - The Skanect and VIUscan
Can you say “Color?” You'll be able to scan with precision accuracy to 0.1mm and in full color! 

The Skanect system is an easy to use tool that captures casual color scans of medium-sized objects, a person or a room and can create 3D meshes out of real scenes in seconds. Its “rapid” scanning capability lets you quickly move around our 3D camera to capture a full set of viewpoints, and you will get a mesh before you can say "I can't believe it was that easy!"

Our VIUscan handheld scanner is ideal for higher precision scanning of small or large parts that you can use for reverse-engineering with our RapidForm software. If you need high-resolution 3D colour data and shape the VIUscan will capture every detail and deliver hyper-realistic results.

For additional information on 3D printing: visit us on a Tuesday night open house 6 PM - 9 PM, 3rd Floor, 125 Adelaide St. Also Kerry Stevenson, Director AssentWorks tracks developments in Fabbing, 3D Printing and Desktop Manufacturing through his blog read throughout the world, Fabbaloo. http://fabbaloo.com

Sunday, January 27, 2013

We're half way to a brand new AssentWorks!

IT REALLY IS like starting all over again.

Michael Legary, Chairman of AssentWorks said it well:
“As many of you already know, January has been an exciting month at AssentWorks.

“We have expanded from 4400 to 8800 square feet and have laid all the plans to execute Phase 2 of the AssentWorks facility. We're going from the ability to make rough prototypes to a facility that can create complete finished prototypes AND also facilitate the creation of the actual businesses that surround them, thanks to Ramp Up Manitoba (RUM).”

“The capabilities and facility we (you) are building will be a first for a non-profit, community accessible, 100% volunteer ran organization in North America and potentially anywhere in the world.”

“First off, a super big thanks to everyone who has helped out over the past month to get the space to where it is! “

“A huge thank-you to all of our corporate sponsors, with a special thanks to High Speed Crow, Bryan King and his amazing staff who have donated massive amounts of labour to help get the space looking awesome.”

“It has been a pretty tough slug through the holidays, but we're approaching the half way mark for the renos. The first big push of getting the space shaped for new capabilities and equipment has been completed. “

“Over the next two months, we need to prep the space, configure several new large pieces of donated equipment (Including the 7 axis CNC, a new 3D Full Colour printer, 150W laser cutter and much more) and raise additional funds to finalize the complete Phase 2 build.”

“For many of us it feels like starting all over again. In reality IT REALLY IS like starting all over again. Lots to do and lots of great things to come out of it for our busy Manitoban business and inventor community.”

If you want to be part of this community effort we will be coordinated volunteer times on Saturdays 10am - 3pm as well as Tuesday and Thursday nights 6:30-9pm.

If you're available during any time slot,  you can drop by the space and help out with something that fits your skill set. Interested in learning a new skill or being the first to tackle a new machine? Come on down!

3rd Floor, 125 Adelaide Street, Exchange District.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Renovate to Innovate

Suddenly we had 9000 sq ft of space - our original square footage doubled overnight! Last month members quickly came together just as they had when AssentWorks was began in 2011. Many put their existing projects on hold and instead putting their making skill to use renovating the third floor of 125 Adelaide St. Members and others from our community have been framing, insulating, dry walling, relocating equipment to create superb new work areas. Our space has changed but the support from our members and the community hasn't. And we are not done.

One exciting addition is for our Ramp Up Manitoba members. Their new Startup Space will be co-located with the AssentWorks workshop at 125 Adelaide St. More exciting changes are coming, too: larger member storage space, more room for tools, a new kitchen, and much more.

Some pretty spectacular equipment have begun to arrive. Already our new 7 axis robot arm is on the floor. What else? Well, you'll have to come out and see for yourself.