Our 3d Printer Prototype Build

The Build as of Jun 15th

By Chadwick Wingrave, Maker in Residence


Wilhem, Andrew and I cracked open the box looking for a fun couple of hours of build time with the Printrbot “Play Kit” 3D printer. We had our tools in hand, a nice wide desk and a GoPro ready to document our afternoon conquest in preparation for the Walnut St. Labs 3D Printer Bootcamp. Well, it eventually took us two and a half days to get it all working. We lost Andrew after day one and Wilhem succumbed to dysentery over the weekend (I’m kidding, I have no idea what happened to him. But, he was sick, didn’t say why and I have this image of us as trail blazers on the Oregon Trail so dysentery seemed the likely culprit).


The Printrbot “Play Kit” is a great starter kit for 3D printer beginners. While it has a small print area, it was recommended to us for its construction, ease of assembly and quality components; all great things for building a 3D printer community. We found the online instructions overall quite good, with but a few deficiencies. We noted these in anticipation of the Bootcamp and, to the credit of Printrbot, directly commented on the online directions themselves. Way to go social media.


The printer parts were quality but we did have an issue with the Z Axis Rod end being too shallow and it broke through when inserting the rod. As well, we found our fan motor connector had it’s wires swapped. We asked for a clarification from Printrbot and received clarification in a few hours. Pretty speedy communication for a company that doesn’t even post a sales phone number.


We still haven’t printed yet. I’m waiting for Wilhem to recover before firing up Repetier to do our first test print. For the Bootcamp, we’re going to preassemble the un-exciting base, so we can spend less time assembling and more teaching; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 3D Printer.

As we continue towards Bootcamp preparation, we will keep you posted.

#ProtoComp2015: It’s a Wrap!

So, we did it! We planned, promoted and executed the first 5-week prototyping competition of its kind. Unlike traditional hackathons, #ProtoComp2015 was geared toward providing access to creative technical projects. We didn’t just build a design event for UI and UX designers, but for any aspiring designers, creative thinkers and people looking to expand the extent of their technical understanding.

In-line with pioneering new crowdsourcing opportunities, #ProtoComp2015 itself was very much a learning process. We’ve never done anything like this before, and we’re super grateful that so many different groups journeyed with us to learn, grow, collaborate and innovate with us!

The competition was launched in a fun and social atmosphere. STEALTH‘s potentially constraining technical jargon was boiled down to a conversational level as to broaden the span and scope of creative responses.

All the promotional work paid off, and the vast majorityof those who attended the launch party signed up to compete, leaving us with 18 teams! Needless to say, the turnout and signup far exceeded the schematics of our initial goals. We had so many people sign up that it became a somewhat cumbersome task to even judge all the teams in the end.

We embedded crash courses throughout the competition to serve as an aid from both technical and conceptual perspectives of design, and appointed advisors to further clarify any ambiguities that arose during the prototyping sessions.

Invision allowed our teams to utilize their amazingly simple and fun design tool. It makes the process of building a wireframe so easy that virtually anyone can do it. Invision’s participation was a vital component to the success of our event.

We chose to give each team a private judging session in order to lessen the amount of pressure that each team would feel by presenting to the entire group. The judging panel was comprised of two judges represented by Walnut St. Labs and three from Unisys.

DJ-Jam was able to meet and exceed all of the judging requirements set forth by the competition challenge. They delivered their demo clearly and accurately in the 5 minute limit with time remaining. DJ-Jam’s prototype demonstrated some very insightful and novel concepts relating to STEALTH’s technology, while maintaining a simple and intuitive prototype.

Every group put a lot of effort into their prototypes and produced some really awesome ideas and valuable concepts. Both Walnut St. Labs and Unisys were impressed by each and every participant and team!

You all should be extremely proud of your hard work and effort you’ve put in, and we look forward to doing something like this in the future.


Andrew Ervin Reads Excerpts of Burning Down George Orwell’s House

We like to thank Andrew Ervin for sharing passages of his new book, BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL’S HOUSE with us, and once more for putting up with our choice to simultaneously host a prototyping competition! You can pick up Andrew’s debut book at either a hip indie book store, such as Powell’s City of Books and IndieBound, or via Amazon  and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks to Christopher Merkner for his facilitation, as well as his general enthusiasm for herding a bunch of college students anywhere specifically:

“Burning Down George Orwell’s House is really most enjoyable, a witty, original turn on the life and memory of the Sage of Jura, taking place on the island where he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. Eric Blair serves as the McGuffin in this story, which is one part black comedy and one part a meditation on modern life. It is well-written and truly original.”
— Robert Stone


“[A]n evocative novel of place that makes pointed commentaries about the ‘wired world’ of the 21st century that 1984 intuited.  As all good comedies do, Ervin’s novel contains a sober question at its core.” Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s “Fresh Air”


“Big Brother might not be watching [Ray Welter] but the island’s eccentric locals sure are and also, possibly, a werewolf. High comedy ensues as Welter tries to find himself, Orwell and the savage beast.”
— Billy Heller, New York Post


“Ervin’s debut novel follows in the tradition of classic comedies where a supposedly cosmopolitan outsider tests his welcome in an insular old-world village. Both come in for some good-natured satire.”
— Newsday


“Wry and engaging… Nineteen Eighty-Four casts a long shadow over countless books—but not this one… Ervin has achieved something uniquely refreshing: a book that shows the taste and restraint to pay knowing, affectionate and humorous tribute to George Orwell without trying to prove him right—or to create some redundant simulacrum of his work.”
— Steve Nathans-Kelly, Paste Magazine


“Burning Down will appeal to those who have wondered what ditching our smart phones and laptops would do to make our lives less complicated. What geographically remote island could we retreat to for some peace of mind and, obviously, some world-class scotch?”
— Melanie J. Cordova, The Santa Fe Writer’s Project Quarterly


“Captures the stark and chill atmosphere of the small island, on which strangers are unwelcome and apparently very good whiskey is consumed in copious quantities.”


Pick up BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL’S HOUSE at Powell’s City of BooksIndieBoundAmazon or Barnes&Noble.

Winners of #protocomp2015


We are kinda speechless right now. We have to gather our thoughts and take a deep breath. Right now we want to share some photos though 🙂





Week Three #ProtoComp2015 Putting on the Finishing Touches

This whole #ProtoComp2015 experience with Unisys has been such an enlightening journey, on so many different levels. It’s opened many doors in our community and we’re grateful to serve as a change agent not only for Unisys and the contestant, but also for local educational bodies who are itching for future innovative and collaborative efforts. We can’t even fully comprehend the extent of value added or the fact that Phase One is coming to a close next week, but we’ll get there.

Our Founder, Chris Dima, had the vision, and more crucially—the courage—to create a hub that both idiosyncrasy and synchronicity can aggregate in the suburbs, where supposedly nothing “cool” ever happens.

Jeff Waring and Alicia Zeoli of Westtown School led a crash course on Design Thinking. Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a process which includes the “building up” of ideas, with few, or no, limits on breadth during a “brainstorming” phase.

Design thinking helps reduce fear of failure in the participant(s) and encourages input and participation from a wide variety of sources in the ideation phases. The phrase “thinking outside the box” has been coined to describe one goal of the brainstorming phase and is encouraged, since this can aid in the discovery of hidden elements and ambiguities in the situation and discovering potentially faulty assumptions.

Unisys Consulting Engineer and Security Architect, Mike Kain, led the second Crash Course on Thinking Security. Many computer applications are bound to a particular point in time; more precisely, to a given set of technologies and costs. The same is true of computer security.

“The advent of mobile computing will also stress traditional security architectures… It will be more important in the future.”
— Firewalls and Internet Security, Cheswick and Bellovin (1994)

Unfortunately, once something becomes regularly practiced or commonplace consumption, people become wedded to it, and rarely look back at the environment and assumptions that made it possible or even necessary. This is especially serious for security, since it causes us to endure the costs and annoyances of marginally useful (or even harmful) mechanisms while blinding us to newer threats. Security methodologies must therefore account for the dynamic spectrum that new technologies thrive in.

In the process of offering a neutral space to host creatively innovative projects, we never could have imagined how many ground breaking connections would manifest. One such connection was solidified this week between STEM Hacks Leader Buck Jones and The Westtown Innovation Team.

Both organizations are leading the way in their prospective spaces to offer their students access to nuanced curriculums and utilities that harness the makings of the next generation’s technological breakthroughs. Walnut St. Labs and Unisys’ #ProtoComp2015 was a creative and exciting environment for these two parties to exchange ideas.

STEMHacks is one of the very first high-school hackathons in Pennsylvania whose mission it is to inspire the youth to code. In 24 hours 200+ students from the tri-state area will create a project from scratch that will be judged from some of the leaders in the tech industry for a chance to win amazing prizes. With unlimited food, drink, interesting demos and workshops, and of absolutely no cost.

In response to the growing interest of Westtown students, the burgeoning of STEAM careers and commitment to innovation, they have undertaken renovation and construction of a new $13 million new Science Center – which opened in January, 2014. The new Science Center houses the Westtown Science Institute.

Westtown has increased its academic offerings and adopted new curricula in STEAM subjects from Primary Circle through 12th grade. From new courses in engineering, robotics, digital arts, to linear algebra and independent study in math, they prepare their students for an ever-evolving world.