Posts filed under: Building

         Foundery team members Corey Fleischer and Jess Goldfinger have made a real live Mario Kart controlled wirelessly by a wii remote. See a video of it in action here!


          The idea for the vehicle came from a casual watercooler conversation at Corey’s former workplace. He and a few coworkers saw a beer-tossing mini fridge on TV and thought it was very lame. They knew they could one-up it, so they started to brainstorm a better product. Their ideas started with a beverage-delivering cooler on wheels and ended on a go-kart that could be controlled by itself wirelessly. They set out to build the latter.

          The cart’s control system is connected by a wii remote, which talks to an Arduino through bluetooth. The Arduino knows which direction the remote is pointing and can move the wheels to match it. The cart itself is made from miscellaneous parts of electric scooters, wheels of a hand truck, and the seat of a lawn tractor. Fellow Foundery instructor Jess Goldfinger programmed the software for the controls and wired it up!

          Corey actually used this cart as part of his audition for the show Big Brain Theory. He subsequently was accepted for the show and won. See his application video in which he puts a lightbulb in the microwave here.

          Come by the Foundery to make a go-kart of your own, or just take a spin on ours!


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Hey everyone!

Wow, we have been seriously slacking on the blog front. That’s okay because on every other front we have been kicking ass! We are just about halfway through construction on the space, so I thought I would update everyone on our progress thus far.

Part of our goal with the new space is making it open to allow for ideas and concepts to flow between members and work areas. We don’t want to divide people up and section them off, we want woodworkers to see what’s happening with metalworkers and think “hey, I can add some metal in this project” or vise versa. So, our main shop area is pretty open to facilitate that crossover.

That means that wall building is pretty minimal, but there are still plenty of things to construct. First off, bathrooms! I don’t think I need to explain why bathrooms are important. Needless to say, I can’t wait to have bathrooms in the space, peeing outside during the winter is getting pretty old (I’m kidding). We have a lot of the plumbing in – we just need to add walls and fixtures! It might seem like not much right now, but believe me, this is after a LOT of work, including digging up the concrete floor and then re-pouring it.

Moving right along we have our entrance area. This is going to be the first place you see when you come in the front door. If you are a member (which we hope you are) you will check in here. If you want to become a member, you will sign up here! This area also has space for some retail. We will be providing a lot of necessities for building right in house so that you don’t have to run to a store to grab wood glue, filler rod, nails, arduinos…the list goes on!

We are calling our multipurpose room “The Garage,” where we will have a kitchenette area, along the front wall pictured above with all the receptacles on it. The kitchenette will have a fridge, dishwasher, coffee station, and a HOT DOG MACHINE! That’s right, our members will get free hot dogs. All day. Everyday. The rest of the space in The Garage will be lounge area and modular classroom/computer desk space. We envision this area being used to CAD a file, then you can come out onto the shop floor and load the file you just made up on the waterjet, router, or plasma and cut it out!

We are also installing an awesome interactive, modular barn door. I’m not gonna go into more detail about it, but stay tuned for another blog post from Corey that does!

So there you have it! Those are the spaces we are working on right now. Hopefully construction is done in about a month (please, cross your fingers for us). After that comes inspections and the real crunch time when we will hash out class syllabuses, place our tools, and put finishing touches on it all!

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We moved into our new space. We knew there were some projects to knock out, and we figured it would only take a few days to do them. Little did we know we were about to embark on an eight-day-long, five-person project. Thats a lot of resources! Luckily for us, this project coincided with winter break…so we had some college student help! This may have been the dirtiest, heaviest job we’ve done to date.

In the space is a 100 foot drain, covered in 44 cast iron grates. These grates were caked with years of who knows what….

Jason had the grate idea (pun definitely intended) to make the drainage ditch light up! Corey did a practice run in his garage and declared it would only take two people about 3 days to complete. Seemed reasonable until we got going.

Not only were the grates caked in crud, but the drainage ditch below it had about an inch of accumulated debris as well. Our first task was to clean, clean, clean the grates. We had the college students practice their dental skills and use hand-held wire brushes to clean out all the slots in the grates.

Then, we used an angle grinder to wire brush the remainder of the surface. We went through about 15 wire brush attachments. It was a dirty job. After the grates were clean, we flipped them upside down and started filling the slots with resin. This was not an easy task because each of the grates weighed about 100 lbs. Check out our set-up:

The grates are on top of camping mats to act as a gasket….which you can see wasn’t totally fool-proof. The camping mats are covered in saran-wrap, which made the grates come up easily after the resin had cured. Once we figured a system out, and cleaned all the grates off, we maxed out at being able to pour 14 grates a day. The resin needed 24 hours to cure, and we kept the space at a sweltering 70 degrees for about a week straight. Jason was thrilled.

After the resin was poured and cured in the slots, we poured another thin layer on top of and rolled it out with a paint roller. Then we let that sit and cure for another 24 hours.

With the resin tops curing, we cleaned out the drainage ditch and decided we should paint it white so that we could get the most reflection for the lights we planned on putting in. We placed all the grates and plugged the lights in. Totally rewarding.  The extension cord is a temporary solution for power – its placed right about where our reception desk will be, and a more permanent power method will be employed once we have the lobby area ready.

Repurposing these grates was the best solution for the space. If we hadn’t made these grates safety compliant, they would have ended up in a landfill. ):

Now we have a grate one-of-a-kind feature in our space that will outlive us all!

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One of my earliest memories as a young child is standing in front of our B&W TV trying to guess which grainy pixel would morph into the USS Enterprise.

One of my earliest memories as a young child is standing in front of our B&W TV trying to guess which grainy pixel would morph into the USS Enterprise.











We get lots of questions about whether members will be able to rent space in the new digs so I thought I’d try to address our current thought process in this post. On one hand, it would be a major pain to have to schlep materials and supplies back and forth every time you want to work on a project.  On the other hand, every square foot of space dedicated to storage is one less foot to put a tool, bench, or other shared resource. Every Makerspace wrestles with this, and there’s no magic formula to determine what the right mix is.  Although Corey’s and my natural tendency is to maximize the T/F ratio*, we do want provide members with access to several options to store personal belongings, tools, and materials, as well as temporary project storage.  There are 3 types of storage planned right now:

Lockers – lockable, rentable by the month, big enough to store items like safety shoes and coveralls, personal tools, electronic components, etc.

Racks – Shelves and floor storage, rentable by the month or longer, shelf space in increments of 2′ wide by 2′ deep by 18″ high, big enough for large plastic bins.  Floor level will be pallet sized spaces, approximately 44″ by 44″ by 36″ high.

Project tables – Rentable by the week, work surfaces 48″ by 48″, approximately 16″ off the floor. Dedicated spaces for member projects-in-progress.  Located near shop floors.


Our footprint simply isn’t big enough to allow rental of studio spaces, but if you can wait till next fall, our friends at Open Works will be open and you can grab a space there.

Please let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.  We’d love to hear what you think about our plans.

*T/F is a technical term (that I just made up) to describe the ratio of Tools to available Floor space.  In other words, how many toys can we stuff in the toybox and still close the lid?

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If there’s one thing that The Foundery will continue to be accused of, it’s going all-in at every possible decision we make.  One thing we know we’ll need in our lounge is coffee.  I could just go out a buy a Mr. Coffee maker at the nearest thrift store, cross it off our list and get back to buying really awesome tools.  Nope.  Couldn’t do it.  If Jason’s going to be walking around with his unicorn coffee mug, he’d better have some high end java in there to compensate.


Lucky for The Foundery, my wife is a coffee snob connoisseur.  So for the better part of 6 months, I’ve been scouring the web for the best possible coffee recipes, to help reduce our Starbucks spending.

So  I’m going to pull a Quentin Tarantino and tell you the ending first.  then go back and explain it all.

The final Solution:  Nitrogen infused cold brewed coffee served from a tap…like beer.

It turns out the best coffee’s are the ones that require the least amount of sugar and cream to compensate for the natural bitterness of coffee.   That bitterness is caused from acids and oils that naturally occur within roasted coffee beans.  After coffee beans are roasted and ground, the oils and acids become increasingly soluble in water with higher temperatures.

Bottom Line:  The hotter the water, the more acid, the more bitter the taste.

So by brewing the coffee in room temperature water, (Cold Brewing) you can extract the coffee flavor and caffeine with only 1/3rd the acid.  This makes a coffee concentrate that produces a naturally sweet coffee flavor with out all the crap you have to mask with sugar and cream.   I believe it was a young King Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys who once said “I like my sugar with coffee and cream”.

Below is a picture of the cold brew process.  It’s really not that scientific,  you just let coffee grinds soak in room temperature water for 12-24 hours…pretty simple.


Once the coffee grinds have soaked for 12-24 hours, you pull the cork in the bottom of the white hopper and let the filtered coffee concentrate pour into the glass pitcher.

Now you could stop at this step right here, and you’ll have really good quality, cold brewed coffee that you can serve with ice or heat up in a microwave.  But to take this coffee to 11 (yes Jason, your welcome), lets infuse the coffee with Nitrogen.

By infusing the coffee with Nitrogen, it adds a slight creamy/velvety texture with a foamy head similar to a Guiness or stout beer.  Disclaimer:  I did not come up with the “creamy/velvety” adjectives, those are how it’s described on the web.  I can see my older bother Dan, making fun of me for using those words at Thanksgiving dinner next week.

Infusing with Nitrogen is really simple, you just have to pressurize the brewed coffee in a nitrogen environment.  I did this by converting a kegorator kit sold for serving beer on tap out of a 5 gallon keg and adapting for Nitrogen.  Most beer kegorator kits are designed for carbon-dioxide which would have produced a far too bubbly coffee.  Both are inert gasses so you can guy bottle adapters to hook up a carbon-dioxide regulator which comes with most kegerator kits to a nitrogen bottle that you can get from a welding supply store.

Below is a picture of my cold brewed coffee in a 5 gallon keg, hooked up to a pressurized nitrogen system.  I keep the regulator at 30 psi.


This was my first attempt at creating a nitrogen infused keg of coffee…and it turned out awesome!  I keep this out on my back deck where it’s been pretty cold during the evenings.  It’s pretty nice waking up and being able to pour a cup of cold coffee every day.  Pretty soon I’ll have this hooked up inside a mini-fridge for my own little coffee-erator…or java-erator.   I know, both those sound terrible, I’ll work on something more clever.

Here’s what a glass of coffee looks like poured from this system.


I tried to get a close up so you can see the nitrogen bubbles rising up within the coffee.  This was one of my very few projects that worked out great after the first attempt.  If you’re curious to how nitrogen infused cold brewed coffee tastes, swing by The Foundery when our doors open at City Garage.

— Corey

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We are close to approving plans that will go out for bid and I thought I’d share some of those ideas for the buildout. The overall footprint of our space is a bit under 20,000 square feet, and our goal is to keep walls and partitions to a minimum. We want a space that is wide open, where work areas flow into each other and you get a sense of the entirety of the space anywhere you stand within. This notion presents challenges for dust collection and fume extraction for sure (will cover that in a future post), but we also want some enclosed space for classroom training and presentations. We want members to be able to hang out in this space when they’re heads down on a design, pulling together a brainstorming session, or grabbing a cup of coffee or a snack. That’s why we are designing a single large space called the Multipurpose Room to accommodate all these uses. It will include kitchen facilities as well. Other built spaces include the front reception area where there will be some seating for guests, our front desk/office, and some display/retail. There will be restrooms and a janitor’s closet too, but for the most part, the other 16,000+ square feet are reserved for tools and workspace.


The Foundery’s built spaces

Stay tuned as we detail more parts of the space in future posts!

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For a while now, Jason and I have been going back and forth on buying work-benches or building our own.  Since we’ll need at least 30 work benches to fill our open work area, each option has it’s perks.   In the end, we figured if we’re going to make a maker-space, we may as well make the benches…we have all the tools!

So here’s a glimpse of what we came up with:


Speechless…I know.  Pretty basic, not really worth blogging about, but I’m excited to start knocking these out by the dozens.  I’ll get to the obvious question now, “can you build a go-kart on it?”.  I would assume yes, but since I’m an engineer and love turning things into science projects, I ran the finite element analysis.  Below shows a simulation for 2,000 lbs sitting on top of the work bench, the equivalent of me jumping up and down on top of the table with Jason sitting on my shoulders…or six people river dancing.


So, from the results, the 2″ box tubing can support 2,000 lbs of loading with stresses on the order of 10 ksi.  The A36 structural steel has a yield of 30 ksi so we have plenty of margin for safety.  The displacement model shows a sag of less then 1/8 of an inch.  Nothing but the best for The Foundery!!!

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We’re building a brand new Foundery in nearly 20,000 square feet in Port Covington, and we’re going to use this blog to document the entire process. Be sure to subscribe for updates on construction progress, new tool unboxing, and more!



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