Arduino Classes: Electronics and Computer Programming 101

April 17, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

We’re excited to announce a brand new program that’s definitely going to take things to a whole new level in the Digital Innovation Hub.  If you ever wanted to try your hand at computer programming and electronics, then the new Arduino classes are for you.  


For those of you who have never used or heard of the Arduino, it’s in fact a single-board microcontroller, intended to make the application of interactive objects or environments more accessible.  It’s an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. 

Image courtesy of

Arduino can connect and receive inputs from a variety of sensors and can control lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language (Open Source) and can communicate as a stand-alone device, or connect and run along with a computer or other Arduino boards.

Image courtesy of

The software can be downloaded for free, directly on the Arduino website, as well as interactive scripts to get you started.   Those scripts are meant to be a starting point, a template to push your project off the ground, but also a bunch of intermediate and advanced scripts are available, use them and adapt them as needed.

Some great projects using an Arduino could be LED light displays, garage door opener, home security system, clock, thermostat, and robotics to name a few.  Some amazing project ideas that have been shared online are available in the links below:

10 Amazing Projects
Arduino Playground

Cool video showing a Christmas Lights display using an Arduino.

The hardware consists of an open-source hardware board designed around an 8-bit Atmel AVR microcontroller, or a 32-bit Atmel ARM. Current models feature an USB interface, 6 analog input pins, as well as 14 digital I/O pins which allow to attach various extension boards.

The current prices of Arduino boards run around $30, and are available with a variety of introductory accessories to get you started.  The Arduino boards along with the do-it-yourself kits are a great way to get introduced to this wonderful technology, but are priced a higher.


As with some of the programs available through the  Digital Innovation Hub, we’re offering the Arduno programming classes in two parts and have partnered up with HackLab’s very own Eric Boyd to conduct these workshops.  This program is for those who know nothing about Arduino, micro-controllers and electronics and want to learn. A laptop and Arduino kit is provided for use during this workshop.  Program descriptions are below:

Arduino Part 1: Intro for Total Beginners.  Here is where you’ll learn the basics and how to use an Arduino micro-controller.

Students will learn how to:
* Make an LED blink at various speeds
* Use a button to turn LED on and off
* Use a light sensor to control brightness of an LED
* Construct various small circuits on the breadboard

Students will also learn about:
* The basics of electronics (e.g. voltage, current, resistance, ohms law)
* Basic Arduino functions: digitalWrite, digitalRead, analogWrite, analogRead, delay(),
* Programming structures: variables, functions, for loop, if/else structure

Arduino Part 2: Beginners Projects.  Learn how to use an Arduino micro-controller to create a small interactive Arduino project.

Prerequisite: This workshop is suitable for those who are comfortable with the material covered in our "Arduino Part 1: Intro for Total Beginners" program and for those who have knowledge of basic Arduino breadboarding and the four basic Arduino functions.

Students will:
- Create "rave party" code for LED, which will change color based on pot and button

Students will learn about:
- Serial data transmission
- Advanced breadboarding techniques
- Use of variables
- Map() function
- Millis() timer
- Use of battery, stand-alone operation of Arduino

Click here for a list of the dates and times.

Online registration is required for these workshops. Space is limited. To reserve a ticket, click on the link below. Registration for the May sessions is available starting next Thursday April 24 at 9am.

I had the opportunity a while back to take the class for a staff training exercise and was amazed at how much fun and easy it was.  It’s intimidating to think about the code and all the steps that are needed, but Eric does a great job at easing you in.  They’ll be times when you feel a little lost, but pack your patience and you’ll be fine.  Below is a picture of my little creation at an earlier stage, before I added a sensor, additional lights and other components.


Have fun!!

3D Certification Sessions for May

April 16, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Just wanted to post a quick message to let everyone know that a new batch of the 3D Printer Certification classes just got posted for the Month of May.

Be sure to sign up as soon as possible and we look forward to seeing you there.

Here's a link to get to the page much faster.

Also I wanted to let everyone know that we picked up a new colour of PLA filament just this past week.  Come on down and try it out.  It especially looks great in the dark. 


Let us know what colours you might like to see.


3D Selfies

April 6, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

In the next couple of weeks, the Digital Innovation Hub, along with Derek our Innovator in Residence is taking the term “Selfies” to a whole new level.  Nothing sounds more exciting than coming down to the Toronto Reference Library on one of the three days and getting a 3D “Selfie” made of you and your family.

It’s not an incredibly hard/long process, and what you do with it in the end is up to you.  It’s a fun time and the potential is mind-blowing. 

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Derek will show you how to use a Microsoft Kinect camera (usually used with the Xbox systems) and along with some software, how the computer can reproduce you.  It’s safe and fast, but not always accurate, so a few attempts might be needed.  The hardest part is staying still long enough.

The software program he’ll be using is called Skanect.  It’s not cheap, but a free software download is available on a trial basis with limitations.  Skanect transforms your camera into a low cost 3D scanner that is capable of capturing a full 3D colour model of any object, shape or person.


I recently went through the process and I am happy to share some of photos of the process.  In the end, I also printed a copy of myself just as a test print and I am very pleased with the results.  I hope you give it a try.


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The dates to come on down and get a 3D scan of yourself are below.  No registration required. But 3D body scans are done on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tuesday April 8, 2014 – 6:30 – 8:30
Sunday April 13, 2014 – 2:00 – 4:30
Sunday April 27, 2014 – 2:00 – 4:30

We look forward to seeing you there.

Have fun!!

Drone Mount 3D Replacement

April 3, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

I just wanted to showcase exactly why a 3D Printer is great to have around and/or have access to.  From time to time, you might say to yourself, I wish I can replace this or that around the house.

Finished Project

Well that’s exactly what we used it for this past week.  We have a drone that we’re using for some staff projects and in the process of learning how to fly it, we accidentally clipped a piece and broke it off. 

Broken Piece

Instead of ordering a part that would cost hundreds of dollars, James along with Derek, our Innovator in Residence started to reconstruct the object using OpenSCAD.

Screen capture of OpenSCAD during the rebuild.

Some failed attempts, close but not quite right.

After a few attempts and some trial and error with the numbers, James was able to get an exact replica of what we needed, and one that appears to be a lot stronger than the original.

Finished item getting mounted.

Back to 100%.

Start to experiment or come in to some of Derek’s remaining drop-in’s and get that project you want finished off the ground.

Have fun!!

Toronto 3D Printers MeetUp - Recap

April 3, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Just a quick note about the event that happened this past Monday evening.  As part of the Innovator in Residence programs, the library was host to the very cool “Toronto 3D Printers MeetUp”.  It was an amazing opportunity to see some of the coolest 3D printers in the city. 

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A handful of 3D printers we’re on display at the Toronto Reference Library for all to see.  3D printer enthusiasts, father and son teams and more all had and their creations on display for us to see.  The cool thing about the evening was seeing how all these printers were customized to print faster, larger, have a heated bed for peeling off easier and print in more than one colour. 


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The general sense from the community is that anyone with a 3D printer can easily get bored, so customizing the printer to fit a specific need is almost a rite of passage.  It really makes you understand the technology and bit better and allows the printer to be the exact fit for you.

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It was a fun time to be had and a great way to ask questions, especially if you’re thinking of building your own or customizing an already existing one that you might have.  All sorts of people came down, from 3D printer rookies to some who might have dabbled a few times and had a question or two for experts.

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Derek Quenneville, Toronto Public Library’s Innovator in Residence organizes the event once a month, and if you missed out, remember to come back on April 28th from 6:30 – 8:30.  Next month’s MeetUp will be back at the Toronto Reference Library in the browsery section on the main floor.

The event is always different, but you should always expect to see a few new 3D printers and some unique prints and it’s always scheduled for the last Monday of the month. 

For more information, including dates and how to get involved please go to:

Thanks, and hope to see you at the next one.



DJing in the Hub

March 13, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

If you ever wanted to try your hand at DJing, then feel free to come on down to the Digital Innovation Hub and use some of the tools to get started.

The Digital Innovation Hub just conducted our first DJ-ing class for Teens this morning as part of this weeks March Break programs.

Hub staff member James DJing for Teens.

As part of the long list of equipment and tools available in the space, we also have an amazing DJing kit that you might want to come down and try. 


iDJ Pro from Numark is a professional DJ controller that really expands on the Algoriddim's djay app.  Built in turntables, controller buttons and other amazing tools that allow you to easily transform your music.  The app is also available for download separately, and with it on the iPad, you can still play with the turntables by swiping on the screen, use easy function buttons like auto-sync and more.


iDJ Pro comes ready to play, very user friendly and a great way to take your iTunes library of music and create mixes for parties, videos and more.  The device comes with what a lot of professional DJing equipment would, but a more simplified process to learn.  This won't be what the professionals are using, but a great way to learn about mixing music, beats per minute and other concepts in this genre.  Come down and try it out and make some noise.

iDJ Pro from Numark is a professional DJ controller that expands your iPad’s touch interface, seamlessly integrating with Algoriddim's djay app for iPad (sold separately) to form a completely new DJ experience. - See more at:
iDJ Pro from Numark is a professional DJ controller that expands your iPad’s touch interface, seamlessly integrating with Algoriddim's djay app for iPad (sold separately) to form a completely new DJ experience. - See more at:

If you want to experiment with DJ-ing at home, there are a lot of great software applications built around this art form.  Try using VirtualDJ Home as it is now available and completely FREE for non-commercial use.  Designed for home DJs, VirtualDJ Home includes nearly all the features of VirtualDJ Pro, with only a few limitations. With only using the application like this, you might not get a real sense of the turntables and the controllers, but the functions are all there.


If you don't own or don't plan to use any additional DJ hardware (mixer, turntable, DJ controller or video projector), then VirtualDJ Home will meet all your requirements.


Have fun!!

3D Printer Certification Classes for April

March 13, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Just wanted to send out a quick note that we've released more dates for the 3D Printer Certification Classes for the month of April. 

Click here to get to them easily.

Hope to see you there.


Work for Yourself, Not by Yourself

March 10, 2014 | Dawn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Whether you are a freelancer, a startup, or even a small business, consider breaking away from your home office and all the distractions of home. Grab your laptop, leave the cafe, and head for a creative, community, coworking space designed for productivity and networking.

What is coworking?  Coworking is a global movement to move beyond traditional work environments and create, instead, community workspaces which foster and support collaboration and innovation.



AshleyProctor1Want to learn more?   Join Ashley Proctor, founder of The Foundery and Creative Blueprint and she examines the growing trend of coworking spaces.

Where: Toronto Reference Library, Atrium
When: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 7 pm



The Foundery is a newly renovated, open concept, downtown coworking environment equipped with high-speed wireless internet, printing and fax capabilities, a full kitchen and access to a private conference room. It's a home to a diverse community of artists, entrepreneurs, innovators & independents.

Ms. Proctor's appeareance is part of the Part of the "Monthly MeetUp" series hosted by the Toronto Reference Library's Digital Innovation Hub.

Innovator in Residence

March 8, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

The Toronto Public Library and the Digital Innovation Hub are happy to announce the very first Innovator in Residence.  For six weeks starting March 24th, Derek Quenneville will be conducting classes, workshops, writing on this blog and making himself available to everyone as part of his residency. 

Derek Quenneville is a 3D printing expert and digital fabrication artist. He manages production at 3DPhacktory, runs the Toronto 3D Printer meetups and is a former director of Site 3 coLaboratory. Since 2009, Derek has demoed 3D printing to thousands of people at local events. Check out his 3D designs on Thingiverse.

A unique opportunity during his stint with us is his availability.  Come down and meet Derek and ask him any question you may have about 3D design, 3D scanning and 3D printing.  Check the website for dates and times for the Innovator in Residence: Drop-In AppointmentsNo registration required. Appointments with Derek are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Another great way in meeting Derek and other 3D print enthusiasts is by coming down to the Toronto 3D Printers MeetUp.  You’ll be sure to see some unique designs and customized printers.  It’s truly a great way to explore this technology, and get inspired.  All are welcome. 

RepRap Mendel w/custom build platform - Rob Antonishen

Derek will continue to offer the Intro to 3D Design class; in fact we plan on having him teach a few more to help with the demand.  But Derek plans on introducing a bunch of new programs that will allow you to explore more possibilities with 3D printers.  A new program that will sure to be just as popular is the 3D Remixing and MashUps.  Take 3D design to a crazy new level. Learn how to use MeshMixer to create 3D remixes and mashups.

Image courtesy of & Autodesk MeshMixer

A good chunk of the new programs will involve you.  Snap a cool picture of yourself using a green screen and produce with it produce a 3D Lithopane Art piece that you can print next time you’re in the hub.  This really demonstrates the great use of 3D printers for art.

Image courtesy of

The program I’m most excited about is 3D Scan of Yourself, basically “3D selfies”.  On these days come down and meet Derek, and while using a Microsoft Kinect camera, learn how to capture a full body scan of yourself and friends for print.

Image courtesy of Derek Quenneville

Be sure to follow the links above.  Note: some programs are drop-in and will be first come first serve.  Others will require you to book a ticket online to get in.  Hurry up and register.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Have fun!!

Innovation Programs for Teens during March Break

February 28, 2014 | Greg Astill | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

This upcoming March Break, the Digital Innovation Hub is proud to offer three new sessions for teens.  Come down and learn more about Video Production and Editing, along with 3D Design and Printing and Audio mixing and DJing.

All programs are for Teens aged 13 to 19. This event is free, but space is limited. Online registration is required (see individual links below for more information and to order your tickets).

March Break: Video 101 for Teens
Tuesday, March 11th
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Digital Innovation Hub staff show teens how to use a video camera and green screen to create video footage of themselves at fun and far out places, like a warm tropical beach or outer space. Teens also learn the basics of video editing.


March Break: 3D Printing 101 for Teens
Wednesday, March 12th
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Digital Innovation Hub staff give teens an overview of different 3D design software and about Thingiverse, a website where they can download already-designed 3D objects to print.


Teens also learn how to use the Hub's 3D printer- including:
* How to prepare a 3D design file for print
* How to use the equipment properly and safely
* Reviewing the rules and guidelines to using the 3D printer

March Break: DJ-ing 101 for Teens
Thursday, March 13th
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Digital Innovation Hub staff show teens the basics of DJ-ing. Teens also get to try mixing beats using the iDJ Pro mixing console.


For more information, please call 416-393-7007.

See you then,

Welcome to the Digital Design & Technology Blog. Our bloggers post about topics like digital photography, audio and video creation, scanning, graphic and 3D design and printing as well as other emerging digital tech trends. We also take you behind the scenes of science, technology and “maker” programs offered at the library.

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