Tag Archives: Makerspace

1:1 interview with Tristan Bel of NYDesigns

“There’s no better place for hardware prototyping and building in New York City.” 

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Executive Director Tristan Bel from Long Island-based NYDesigns to discuss how his company is helping Makers get from the MakerSpace to MarketPlace. In our 1:1 conversation, we also addressed how NYDesigns and Atmel can jointly help do-it-yourselfers get from the lab to the fab. You can find our entire interview below!


Atmel: Tristan, can you tell us what NYDesigns does and how it fits into the MakerSpace to MarketPlace theme that we’ve been promoting for the last year?

Tristan Bel: NYDesigns is dedicated to the success of design and hardware tech startups in NYC. Companies in our incubator get three years of private studio space and access to a network of mentors and advisers. Makers can prototype their design ideas in our safe, secure 5,000-sq-ft fabrication lab. We also produce events and programs for a thriving community of creators and innovators.

Our purpose is help entrepreneurs turn an idea into a product and coach them through every growth stage; that clearly resonates with the MakerSpace to MarketPlace initiative. One never knows where the next good idea will come from, and more importantly, who will have the skills and stamina to lead it through to a viable company.

Atmel: What was the model behind opening NYDesigns in the middle of one of the most expensive areas in America?

TB: We opened in 2006 as an initiative of LaGuardia Community College to promote NYC’s economic development after 9/11, so we existed before incubators were cool and numerous. NYC is teaming up with people with ideas. The density of the city naturally favors connections and exchanges. It is also the home of many headquarters of large corporations that can become clients or partners. In my opinion, that mix is one of the main reasons why tech entrepreneurship here is catching up with Silicon Valley.

Software startups tend to congregate around Union Square. Hardware startups need more space, and still benefit significantly from our proximity to Manhattan — that’s why our large studios, which are located in Long Island City just 15 minutes away from Midtown and are more affordable than other spaces even in the neighborhood, are so attractive to cash-strapped young companies.


Atmel: We understand you attended the World Maker Faire New York back in September? Are there any key findings you can share with us?

TB: It’s inspiring to see hobbyists of all ages gathered around making. I was impressed by the amount of resources available to anyone with an idea, and how inexpensive these are becoming. Prototypes that required a team a highly skilled engineers and specialized equipment can now be made by a couple of passionate techies on their time off. That opens up so many possibilities!

Atmel: With so many Makerspaces popping up around the United States, let alone the world, why would a Maker go to NYDesigns versus a local Makerspace?

TB: If you want to start a company in the design or hardware tech industry, it’ll be hard to find a beautiful space with amenities, close to Manhattan, and open 24/7 (the lab is open during regular business hours) as affordable as NYDesigns. You’ll have the 5,000-square-foot fabrication lab in the same building, and be part of a community that will help you grow and overcome the obstacles you’ll inevitably be encountering.

If you are a tinkerer or simply need good fabrication resources, the NYDesigns FabLab is equipped with an array of tools both analog and digital, including traditional hand and power tools, a vacuum former, an FDM rapid prototyper, and a large format industrial laser cutter.

Atmel: How can Atmel partner with NYDesigns to help Makers get from the lab to the fab?

TB: Actually, this is great timing! We are about to start a series of workshops around Arduino for tinkerers; we’d love for you to spread the word. Also, we are expanding our development tools for AVR and ARM development. For example, resident companies Vengo, which designs and manages high-tech vending machines, BotFactory, which makes a desktop electronics-circuit printer with conducting ink, and Boston Biomotion, which is developing an intelligent rehab and sports performance device straight out of the MIT lab, would all greatly benefit from such a partnership.

Lastly, we have large spaces within our walls in Long Island City in which we regularly host events related to entrepreneurship, hardware technology, and design. We’re happy to hold joint events or make that space available to the MakerSpace community.

Atmel: Is there anything else our Maker audience should know about NYDesigns?

TB: There’s no better place for hardware prototyping and building in NYC. Email info@nydesigns.org or call us at 718.663.8404 — we’d love to meet you and show you our space. Come build your side project or your company!

MakerCamp builds weeklong Makerspace at Maker Faire Shenzhen

30 Makers will create a Makerspace inside a freight container.

When it comes to Makerspaces, one thing we’ve learned in recent years is that these can range from abandoned 80,000-square-foot warehouses to mobile pop-up shops in the back of a van. Typically speaking, launching such a place requires the rallying of Makers, strategically determining a location, acquiring a variety of tools like 3D printers and basic electronics, and of course, time. However, one group is looking to accelerate this process by cramming it all into one week with limited resources.


Beginning on June 12th, Makers from across the world will take part in building an actual Makerspace in Shenzhen out of a freight container, as well as populating the teched-out trailer with exciting educational workshops — in just seven days. Dubbed MakerCamp Shenzhen, the project is a collaboration between Berlin-based HacKIDemia and the Chaihuo Makerspace.

The container itself will sit on the site of the upcoming Maker Faire Shenzhen, the heart of China’s burgeoning Maker Movement. This weeklong summer camp will provide 30 participants with unparalleled access to experienced mentors, various materials and Shenzhen’s most established DIYers to take their projects and skills to the next level. In addition to simply constructing the space, there will be a couple days worth of workshops alongside some of the world’s leading Makers, including Autodesk’s Dawn Danby, Quirky’s Jordan Husney, Maker Faire’s Kevin Lau and Tinkerspace’s Lynn Liu.


“Makerspaces are ideal places for Makers to not only get access to tools, but also to meet like-minded people and further their DIY education. However, many communities particularly in China, are still lacking Makerspace, and often times the startup cost is prohibitive,” explains Stefania Druga, founder of HacKIDemia. “MakerCamp, on the other hand, shows communities like Shenzhen that it is possible to build a Makerspace, and a successful curriculum around it with limited resources.”

In just its second MakerCamp, HacKIDemia has already begun to attract attention from the DIY community on a global scale. Last summer, the team put on a monthlong camp in Berlin which attracted over 15 participants spanning across several countries.

Copy of late coding

“After working with makers in the most remote parts of the world as part of HacKIDemia and Afrimakers, a community for makers in Africa,  I realized that local communities would like to create affordable makerspaces and they don’t know how to get started. This is how we got the idea to use shipping containers which can be sourced everywhere and design, build and document the most affordable makerspace where makers from all over the world can create a space that inspires them to tinker,” Druga adds.

The weeklong event (June 12-18th) will take place in the week leading up to Maker Faire Shenzhen. Interested? You can head over to MakerCamp’s page here.

Atmel visits Beijing Makerspace… again

Beijing Makerspace is bringing tinkerers together to help make their IoT dreams a reality. 

Sander Arts, Atmel VP of Corporate Marketing, recently paid a special visit to the Beijing Makerspace on Tuesday, January 21, 2015.

Beijing Makers

There, not only did he explore the latest and greatest DIY creations, Arts participated in a well-attended press event with a number of journalists, tinkerers and entrepreneurs to discuss Atmel’s place at the heart of the rapidly growing global Maker Movement, and of course, the Internet of Things.



Located on the fourth floor of the International Digital Design Center in Zhongguancun, which has been dubbed China’s Silicon Valley, Beijing Makerspace is a community that gathers China’s Makers. The approximately 10,700-square-foot facility converges several open-source pieces of hardware such as the highly-popular AVR MCU, electronic platforms like Arduino and high-tech devices including 3D printers and robots — all the tools necessary to create next-gen IoT projects.


As we learned last year, Beijing Makerspace’s co-founder Justin Wang Shenglin believes that the community workshop can perhaps best be defined as a social enterprise. The establishing of the DIY hub for Wang wasn’t like starting a normal business. In fact, he tells the Chinese newspaper Global Times that it was more about finding a place where people with a common interest could come play, make and collaborate together. These people come from all walks of life — ranging from IT engineers and programmers, to designers and artists, to students and academics — and shared a common bond: making cool things!

Sander - Wang

“Having a creative idea about something is far from creating it, since craft is involved in the latter,” Wang told the Global Times in a recent interview. “Many people may start with a splendid idea, but end up finding it too hard to make it into a reality.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Chinese government officials have also taken a keen interest in the Maker Movement in recent months due to its lucrative economic and educational potential.


“There is no other country that can perform better in craft and manufacturing than China,” explained Wang. “With an ever-growing market and firm support from the government, China is gaining its advantage in this new Industrial Revolution.”

China joins other nations, including the United States, in embracing the Maker Movement and its tremendous potential for entrepreneurship, by viewing this grassroots innovation as essential for staying competitive in our modern-day economic climate. As a May 2014 Slate article acknowledged, “The official rhetoric has a sense of urgency: China no longer wants to be seen as the ‘world’s factory,’ manufacturing goods that are designed elsewhere.”


For instance, Shanghai’s municipal government has backed plans to build 100+ Makerspaces throughout the city, with each location is said to be equipped with a 3D printer and will host staff to help visitors with traditional crafts such as woodworking. Meanwhile, last year’s Maker Faire in Shenzhen attracted an estimated 30,000 people.

Wang adds, “China is a Maker’s paradise. All the materials they could want are here and extremely cheap.”

Hackerspaces: A prelude to the Maker Movement and today’s Maker culture

So, what exactly is the Maker Movement? Do you remember that ever so distant yet memorable quote by Michelangelo? “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” 

Now, to further set this, [white fuzz] the channel just switched, we are tuned. Things will change right? They have changed. We have the Internet; we will have one layer more, eventually the arrow of technology will continue. There is one congruent dataset, which manifests all things to a new exponent. It’s the pulses and signals resulting from the exterior world meshed with the existing datasets of infrastructure, enterprise, and the consumer. Let’s speak of this layer. It will be filled with sensors, microcontrollers, and code. Already, we learned this from the app revolution and we are not going to remain in just this stage right? The code will be leaner and smarter. Coupled by the signal readings from millions of device upon device, node to nodes, nodes to node, the true power of distribution and networks will again marry now with other application recorded data in a mosaic of diversified integrations resulting from the intersection of data easily bridged from the cloud apps. Yes, the ones we are already familiar today touching from screen to screen to anticipate the next arriving notification.

The arrival of this integration of data will help filter and augment the world before us. Let’s reset to the modern era, thread modern computing to this notion, [for technology’s sake] we have also seen the Gartner quote by Jim Tully stating, “By 2018, 50% of the Internet of Things solutions will be provided by startups which are less than 3 years old”.


The Digital Renaissance and the Maker Movement

Together with the accessibility and progress of open source and availability of community and embedded development boards [specifically wider use of Arduino Maker class boards], the times have certainly changed. A great deal of the complexities of these development boards are relaxed with onboard abstraction layers to loosen the programmatic rigidness of “hardware,” combined with the collective tuning of the community toward its development software.

Arduino IDE is now quite anchored into well-received feedback/contribution loops supported by the open source model — crowdsource progress and joint development roadmaps. Let’s not forget all the risky and obviously passionate Makers out there doing and bringing ideas to the forefront. The timing is right — found in the appetite to feed the market, the maturing cloud, the developed community, parity in prototyping, and the global production.


Globalization of Hackerspaces and the Maker Movement | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman

As a whole, and to its sum of its parts, all community members are participants in the evolution of the ecosystem and community effort of “Making” with ease. At all aspects of the innovation engine cycle, the open source community couples quite well with hackerspaces, where one can congregate to surface ideas and mature them to fruition.


Open Source Community and Hackerspaces | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman

This is especially true where it applies to the mere process of creating a product. In fact, it’s now true to building things that 10 years ago you needed to be in a big company to make innovating things, but now it truly possible from an individual. Made possible to said horizon, there are the hackerspaces. It’s a place that shows signs of innovation and development, infusing wider spread of technology and community across all economic classes or cultures. In these facilities, these are technical and creative social clubs facilitating activities that include tinkering, machine tooling, 3-D printing, coding, open source, collaboration, and sharing. Some hackerspaces market themselves under the more benign-sounding label of “maker space”. More bluntly, this is really drawing attention as private incubators such as hardware accelerators fueling entrepreneurship and startups [an emulation of an innovation success formula taken from the original hackerspaces.


There is something about hackerspaces that brings people together that are made of some pretty awesome stuff. Call it “Voltron” if you will, why not? With drones rising and Maker Faires (or similar) blooming all around us, it all seems like the perfect unison of having people interlock together. As the notion of building robots continued to unwind, one fellow by the name of Chris Anderson saw that it would be much easier to have robots fly first than walk bipedal. More simply, it just felt and saw it to be much easier. Perhaps, something even more achievable and widespread adopted as the next step to bring about the age of drones.


But still, wait, there’s even more to how this started. We also owe the spawning of drones to a unique origin where a group of people, hive together pursuing one ultimate quest.

Call it social science and synergy if you will. Something happens when a group gets “too large” and suddenly it all transforms from a conversation into a cacophony and a team into a mob then something incorporated too soon begins may wield the ugly cues of politics. Yet, going it alone is usually impossible if the task at hand is at all sometimes complicated [maybe the next best thing for technology]. Assembling IKEA furniture is probably best done as an individual, but things like raising a family, having a stand-up meeting, or shipping a meaningful product is definitely a team sport…


For hackerspaces, one of these unique values is in having opportunities to meet different people from all sorts of backgrounds. Combined in a common pursuit of sharing and making, there is a common thread of being willing to be giving their time and talents to others. Note, it was in what’s said as “giving” as the common notion in hackerspaces are the more you give, the more you get back, helping to change the course of things to come [individual pairing of ideas to the intellectual hackerspace benefit of networking ingenuity]. It’s all about the community. This is the hallmark of the Internet. The Internet started as a community in its deeper past with ARPANET. We are all reaping those originally rooted benefits today [first operational packet switching networks implementing TCP/IP] creating layer upon layer new industries, service models, and ecosystems (ie Apps, Cloud, M2M, IoT, etc). Now what we are seeing today sprout from city to city are hackerspaces. In fact, we may begin to see every community in a city drawing upon good reason to incubate and nest new hackerspaces. Perhaps, it’s a progenitor to something more in the next trend of innovation.

The digital life now is a result of the collision of software and hardware. Technology is fashion. Fashion is Technology. Both are now intertwined together in the speed and making of culture. Have you ever tried leaving your home without the mobile touch screen device or everyone has out grown to wearing the old flip analog/cdma phones of the past. Digital influence upon culture and self move along prevalently—the desire for hackerspaces are becoming more acquainted in many metropolitans.

There’s a secret sauce to the structure of the hackerspaces. Unravel this structure. From within, it reveals a true community based packed with peer-to-peer involvements. People with skills converge in distinct trades upon others with other skills. Combined, they make this union, transforming their once ideate policy of making, broadening their abilities coupled by a giving and sharing of others to expand the design envelope of possibilities.

Surely, one may see it as a digital and hardware renaissance, comparatively from the distant spark of the past. The foundries of artistry in Florence and Rome once prevailed, urging communities of artist to congregate and make creative expression toward emulating realism via sculpture, oil and canvas. Well, now it’s about achieving a more meaningful product. The canvas has changed, coalescing digital and hardware. Giving rise to an idea where the ideas mature into a minimal valuable product that is mapped to some form of developed connectivity. This some form of developed connectivity is what we call the Internet of Things or many of the products sprouting from emergent crowdfunding rooted by makerspaces or hackerspaces.


A common construct. Make Ideas, Make Genuis, and Make Things | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman

Now, let us imagine a place where people get together without a common construct or preconceived established code, they then converse, and collaborate. It is filled to the brim with entrepreneurs and inventors of all types working on projects that they hope will change the world or at least convinced to usher an adoption to things making what we usually do more easier or enhanced.

Many of them are on laptops or standalone computers frantically typing business plans or hacking out code; others are making phone calls while trying to set up connections wherever they can.


Hackerspaces have an environmental core that keep ideas flowing | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman

As all the chaos goes about, one can see that in this space is an environmental core that keeps the magic flowing around innovation. It is the center foundation of what the area will turn into. While the outer linings are being fine-tuned and polished, the inner workings remain relatively unchanged. The concrete has been laid; the electrical wires have been strung throughout the wooden frames and the insulation and drywall is mostly there, all while a wireless network is hangs throughout the air. Projects can begin even if the air conditioning isn’t hooked up yet.

As long as there is a good foundation, people can get stuff done. The rest of the work on the outer edges will always be changing. Paint will cover the walls in different shades and dust will always need to be cleaned up. However as time goes on and unless a major change happens, all the people running the space will need to do is adjust the dials of the environment (when needed) and continue progressing the community. Once the foundation is done first, the rest will fall into place.

Next up, read the 1:1 interview with Mitch Altman, co-founder of Noisebridge San Francisco as we dive deeper into hackerspaces, the Maker Movement and more



Greetings from Trondheim (home of AVR)

Trondheim, home of AVR architecture, is checking into the Maker Movement! This summer there is a lot going on; a few Makerspaces are popping up, a new coworking space and in August Trondheim hosts its first Maker Faire. Although Trondheim hosted a mini Maker Faire at the Pstereo festival last year, we are going for the real deal in 2014 with a featured Maker Faire.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Trondheim is now in company with cities like Tokyo, Senzchen, Kansas, Paris and a few other cities around the world. There is one primary difference between Trondheim and most of the other cities – population. With only 180,000 people living in the city, there is no doubt that Trondheim is the smallest city among the featured faires. Although Trondheim is the smallest city, it is home to a compact and vital community of Makers, hackers and techheads. With almost 40,000 students in the city, a significant number of tech businesses, a well-established creative community and a long cultural history, it all adds up to be a great place for innovation and Making.

In fact, as you are reading this article, there is a group of people transforming an old 1500 square feet basement into a Makerspace. Ragnar Ranøyen Homb, one of the initiators behind this Makerspace and Norwegian Creations, a maker community, describes Trondheim the following way:

“Trondheim is a rather small city if we look at population. So when we combine the population with all the Maker Movement initiatives going on, we get a rather high concentration of awesome stuff!

“The resurgence of this new culture is, among other things, an important catalyst for ‘the open source generation.’ One of this generation’s strongest characteristics is the high amount of knowledge originating from looking into the designs of different open source projects. And it’s not only the hardware creators that take part of this. As we can see in Trondheim now, a new breed of entrepreneurs is also emerging.”


Hackheim, an established hacker space, is currently moving from its old location into new and improved facilities this summer. At NTNU university, a group of students are turning a number of current workshops into what they describe as an “open arena for innovation.”

Alf Egil Bogen, co-inventor of the AVR-microcontroller, did see a need for a stronger culture and community working for innovation and entrepreneurship in Trondheim. In September 2013 Trondheim Makers was established. The organization is working with the schools and initiatives that already exist, in addition to their own events and projects; Maker Faire Trondheim is the first big event held by Trondheim Makers.

So there are definitely some things going around in the tech capital of Norway right now. If you are interested in reading more  about the Maker Movement in Trondheim, please check the links listed below. Some of them are currently only in Norwegian, but as projects receive more and more attention outside Norway, new dual language websites are going live at a rapid pace:




Atmel visits Beijing Makerspace

Sander Arts (@Sander1Arts), VP of Corporate Marketing at Atmel, visited the Beijing Makerspace on Monday, March 31, 2014.


After participating in a well-attended press event, Arts met a number of journalists, tinkerers and entrepreneurs to discuss Atmel’s place at the heart of the rapidly growing global Maker Movement.


According to Beijing Makerspace co-founder Justin Wang Shenglin, the community workshop can perhaps best be defined as a social enterprise.


“We organize fun workshops, seminars and other events for people who’d like to turn their ideas into physical prototypes or products,” Shenglin told the South China Morning Post during a recent interview.

“Most of our activities are open to the public, while a few are for members only. People who join us come from all walks of life: IT engineers, programmers, designers, artists, students – even psychologists. The thing they have in common is a desire to make cool stuff.”

Shenglin also described China as a “paradise” of sorts for Makers.


“All the materials they could want are here and extremely cheap. At markets like Zhongguancun, you can find almost everything you need,” he explained.


“[Plus], there are more than 20 Maker organizations in China, where the concept has only just started. [Nevertheless], it will take time to get more people involved.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Chinese government officials are also taking a keen interest in the Maker Movement due to its lucrative economic and educational potential.


For example, Shanghai’s municipal government has backed plans to build 100 Maker Spaces throughout the city. Each location is slated to be equipped with a 3D printer and will host staff to help visitors with traditional crafts such as woodworking.

Interested in learning more about China and the Maker Movement? Be sure to check out our Bits & Pieces article archive on the subject here.

Video Diary 2: Atmel @ CES 2014

Atmel-powered products took center stage at CES this year, as conference attendees checked out the latest devices and platforms for MakerSpaces, garages and living rooms.

Atmel also unveiled and showcased a number of new products at CES 2014, including the AvantCar console concept, ARM-based SAM G lineup, the second-gen maXStylus and a low-cost ZigBee Gateway.

As you can see, Atmel’s various technology zones attracted quite a bit of attention, especially the company’s MakerSpace which was well-stocked with Arduino boards, 3D printers and other Atmel-powered devices.

Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi even stopped by for a chat to talk about the Atmel-based boards, while a MakerBot rep discussed the advantages of using Atmel microcontrollers and microprocessors in the company’s 3D printers. 

Watch the videos above and make sure to check out part one of our video diary here, as well as our CES 2014 pictures here and here.

Atmel @ CES 2014

Are you stopping by Atmel’s Technology Zones at CES 2014? This year, we will be showcasing our cutting-edge technology powering the latest devices in your living room, garage and Makerspace.

You can see the hottest smartphones, tablets, Ultrabooks, smart TVs, gaming, lighting, thermostats and more – powered by Atmel’s latest innovations. We’ll also be showcasing the industry’s first futuristic touch-centric curved automotive console powered by Atmel’s XSense and maXTouch.

Atmel Technology Zones


Atmel will be at the ZigBee Alliance Pavilion: Booth #20612.

You can check out our ZigBee Light Link demo controlled via wireless color lamps using Android and a Wi-Fi access point, along with our latest ZigBit modules and Xplained PRO boards.

Atmel Touch Technology

Be sure to visit the Touch Technology Zone to see the latest consumer devices powered by Atmel’s maXTouch.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel clinched a number of maXTouch wins in 2013, such as Xiaomi’s Mi3, Pantech’s VEGA LTE smartphones, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1″ 2014 Edition, LG Electronics G Pad 8.3 tablets and Sony’s new PlayStation Vita. 

2013 Windows 8.1 designs featuring maXTouch include Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 and RT, ASUS’ T100, UX300, X450, X550, and VivoTab TF810, Dell’s XPS12 Convertible and Latitude 7240, Lenovo’s Miix2 and Samsung’s ATIV Tab 3.

We’ll also be showing off XSense, a revolutionary new flexible touch sensor based on metal mesh. With its curved surfaces and edges, XSense opens a new world of possibilities for touch-based products across numerous segments, including consumer, automotive, industrial and medical markets.

Living Room

How many smart devices in your living room are powered by Atmel Wi-Fi, crypto and microcontroller and microprocessor technologies? Ask us, we’ll tell (and show) you!

Pit Stop

Did you know today’s vehicles are typically equipped with 50-100 microcontrollers? Check out Atmel’s innovative technologies powering the latest devices in your garage and car.


Atmel is at the heart of the DIY Maker community.

Powering nearly every desktop 3D printer and Arduino board on the market today, Atmel understands the importance of the rapidly growing Maker Movement. Visit our Maker stop and see the latest DIY creations based on Atmel AVR and ARM-based MCUs.