Friday, September 23, 2016


We're very excited to announce our latest sub-group.

Hack the Dragon

Hack the Dragon

A thrilling dial-up phone-tree game wrought from the brain of Eli made at HackRVA. Now defunct, but still quietly lurking on a VM in the hackrva skynet, was created in a single night or so on a whim. Phone-tree programming, voice acting, audio recording, game design, and script writing all at once. Maybe some day it will return, or maybe like real dragons it will only live on in our imagination. 

Wall of Monitors - RIP

Ode to Wall of Monitors:
You were super cool, but you didn't work right.
And I could never find the mouse pointer across the vastness of your digital illuminations.
Some childhood dreams based on the movie War Games starring Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, that super smart looking guy and our first AI gone MAD should stay in ones imagination rather than as a pallet of monitors bought on in questionable condition slung on a wall with mostly non-fuctioning connections.
Though, yes, there was that one day when every screen was bright with joy and possibility.
Thank you John, John, Jon, John and Dustin and the gentleman programmer-farmer for your efforts, alas, it wasn't to be,

RIP WOM 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Moon Defender - Robo Clown Washington No!

Play game here:

Moon Defender is one a of a recent series of quick&fun group projects made at hack. First there was "Hack The Dragon", then "Inflatable Tube Sculpture", then the "Ziptie 'Mantrap' Hammock".

After completing the hammock - that night we were all saying, "what's next". Someone spoke up and said, lets make a game-jam style video game. We started jotting down ideas on into the night, getting more ludicrous as we went.

We decided on the idea of aliens stealing the moon and the general population of earth not really caring - Except one man: MOON DEFENDER!

We reconvened the next Saturday with a plan. Eli did a coding-fugue-state move and stamped out the raw guts + inkscape skills - one concept he implemented from the brainstorm session was the gravity effected bullets and enemies. Dustin kicked in at the edges of the code, made the music and sfx, then helped with graphics and story. Aaron (me) did some vector graphics and story boarding based on the the prior weeks brainstorm as well as the basic level designs.

We were moving along nicely, but it was an ugly mess too. Then Matt swooped in and LAID DOWN THE LAW (or at least some structure). He refactored the code, broke everything into workable pieces, made the github, and generally orchestrated its completion by fixing bugs and continuing the brunt of code work. He also created the humorous intro screen which features hackrva quotes harvested from the hackrva slack channel (one of my favorite features - just keep hitting that refresh).

It took another 10 days or so to work out bugs and get some other touches in place,  But - FINISHED.

Let's be honest; the game is basic (though it was straight-up written in js - no wimpy game engine help here). The story is whack. The graphics are whatever. There's plenty of room for improvement.

But, we once again blurred that line between work and play, created another project with friends, and learned some new things. I mean damn, we made a game right?! Check that off the bucket list thing.

This is a making story is so common at hackrva that it's normal to us. Almost non-noteworthy. But I described the process a bit for those that haven't had the experience. This is what we do.

If you do play moon defender: DON'T TRUST ROBO CLOWN WASHINGTON!

The game can be played here:

The game github can be found here:

Enjoy earth humans.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Electric Motorcycle - SVe650

by Aaron

HackRVA'er Neal has been working on an electric motorcycle since the fall. And, he's already up and running. See the video above for the first road test.

More details on the build to come. We'll probably do a "featured project" on the main blog with links to build log and so forth eventually.

Check out Neal's progress!

RVA Create Space - A New Place to Do "STUFF" in Richmond

by Aaron

RVA Create Space is a new venture by HackRVA member Arthur to promote community, making, art, environmentalism, and creativity in Richmond.

So far, another HackRVA member has rented a workshop in the space for his fledgling metal working business, and several others have contributed or been involved in some way. Nice project Arthur!

Check out the links above to learn more.

Build Your Own Vegetable Raised Beds from Upcycled Pallets

Cat + Patio = CATIO

by Aaron

Built with scrap wood from the space, 2x4's, some metal fence-y stuff from lowe's, nail gun, and if not love at least grudging admiration for cat parkuur skillz.

The bottom pic is how we shaped the tunnel. Bought the cat door for about $15 on amazon (overpriced at pet store - per usual).

Also - design flaw/feature. We didn't put anything on the ramp for kitty to grip (like little strips of wood for feet - steps) so no he slides down on his butt. Cat Slide?

Strategic CATIO construction project phase 1 of 5 now complete.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Makerchests Bookbinding Workshop

In an ideal world, all schools, libraries, and museums would be equipped with tons of makery tools, tech, and toys.  Sometimes a lack of money, time, and not knowing exactly where to start can hinder the making of awesome things.

Beth, Catherine, and Melanie came up with the idea for Makerchests, kits that can be checked out by teachers for use in their classrooms.  The first makerchest consists of 16 mini-bookbinding kits.

Beth, Catherine, and Melanie hosted a bookbinding workshop where participants made single sheet zines, phamplets, and accordion books. 

Not only did workshop participants leave with one-of-a-kind handmade books, but they served as invaluable Makerchest guinea pigs by providing feedback and suggestions for making bookbinding instructions easy to understand and follow.

Varina High School's maker club, which is hosted by Varina High's librarians, will be the first Richmond-area students to try out the bookbinding Makerchest. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Two-by-Four Block Table with Hairpin Legs

by Aaron

Finally finished the butcher block style table made from 2x4's and glue. I jointed and planned a pile of 2x4's together at hack.rva, then glued them using every clamp I could find in the workshop.

Tried making my own hairpin legs with rebar, but didn't have much luck. So Matt ended up making me some. The extra table on top was a result of making the original too long, so I loped off the end and made a second smaller table.

The cat feels that he helped, so now lives on top of this. Not sure I'll ever actually get to use it.

Bandsaw thy Box

by Aaron

We have a box problem - we can't seem to stop making them. Michael has taught many others to make these sweet boxes using the bandsaw (thus the name "Bandsaw Box" (google it - they're everywhere). Here's a link to the full project. Let's not even get started on "flocking the box".

Printer Stand from Scratch

by Aaron

This was a pile of wood. Now it's a custom-built printer stand and printer accessories wonder furniture. Being able to build things exactly the size and way you want them is a common reason for being a maker. Epitome of thus. Go here for complete build explanation.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Scanning with 3D Systems

by Aaron

Neal and I were visited by teacher and STEAM advocate Jeff to show us a some 3D scanning technology from 3D systems. We scanned the frame Neal's electric motorcycle project and the head of the good looking chap above as well as various items and people within reach.

With the motorcycle frame, the digital model is being used to create mounting plates with proper offsets for the motor. There's just not enough clearance with the shaft length to get the sprocket inline, so an intermediate gear will be used to transition between the motor and the wheel. Getting all the correct measurements within the irregular shape of the frame can be a challenge using traditional measuring, thus the scan.

Jeff also talked about how they use the 3D Systems "Sense" scanner to teach in classrooms. Metrology, or the science of measurement, is a common method.  Students take models and measure them - then extrapolate that information to fractions and other fundamental math concept goodies. He also touched on the 3D Systems modeling tools they use such as Geomagic Freeform and Cubify Invent. As a side note, he also showed us Microsoft's Kodu (which I seem to be the last person in the world to know about), a very clickable game making software for youth that was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Making Babies...Laser Babies

by Aaron

Check out this cool Christmas tree ornament cut out with the laser cutter. It started as an actual picture of a relative, was traced in software, then cutout on the laser.

DIY Cat Scratch Post

by Aaron

Plywood, carpet square, PVC closet bracket, 4" pvc, sisal rope, and HOT GLUE!

More pics here. Also, we have now joined the true ranks of the internet with a cat picture. You're welcome world.

High Energy!

by Aaron

Max manipulates electricity in the tech lab!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gomboc 3D Prints

by Aaron

We enjoy 3D printing a nice gomboc. What's a gomboc, well, go here. There a little bit like turtle shells.

Here's 3D print files to make your own.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Catapolt Cornhole for the Holidays

by Aaron

Can you get bean bag in the board with a catapult? Saw it happen one time all night. Built the catapult same day too.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tap Handles

by Aaron

Built some fun tap handles on a lazy satruday evening. Used the CNC Router for the 'F' and the laser cutter for the detail markings. Started with chair leg type parts for the round parts. See more build pics here.

Game of Groans - Shuffle Board Table Build

by Aaron

A shuffle table was made! Dustin and Co built this in a single day at hackrva. It now lives in his brothers house for many nights of metal puck sliding fun(?).
I was skeptical of the whole concept of shuffle board until I saw this video of majestic sport feat. Also, that guy's nickname is "roadhouse". I'm just not living.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DIY Vacuum Table

by Aaron

Danny built this DIY Vacuum Table for casting plastic parts with power of suck!

Drilled out MDF, some valve fittings, a shop-vac and away you go.

A few more pics here.