We’re Officially Opening for Business in Jacksonville!

 

As of tomorrow, Friday May 5th we’re officially opening our doors for the first time! We’re based out of Mixon Studios and have three rooms: a wood shop, an electronics space, and our biology lab.

If you’ve always wanted to make something out of wood, be it a bird house or a cello, then our woodshop is the place for you. We’ve got the tools, materials and expertise to help you with whatever project you’re looking to build. If electronics are more your speed, or you want to add a sensor to your birdhouse to monitor food levels, then our electronics space is just the place. Or maybe you just want to learn about plants or microbes. In that case our biolab will have everything you need to get you started.

 

The day before mothers day, Saturday May 13th, we’ll be hosting our first event at the space. Behind the studio is a gorgeous greenspace where we’ll be building a big vertical farm using only salvaged materials. Plants have been generously donated by The Green Spot and we’ll have everything from delicious edible plants, to fragrant flowers, to potent medicinals. If you’re interested in sustainability, gardening, or just want to hang out and help us build things, then come on down.

Once it’s complete and it’s done growing, everyone who visits will be able to enjoy fresh herbs and vegetables.

Our woodshop is now finished being put together and it looks beautiful. Do you have something you’ve always wanted to make out of wood? Then come on down and we’ll get you set up! The electronics room and bio space are still being set up, so they won’t be available till next week, but you’ll get a taste of what they’ll be like when they’re ready.

 

What kind of things would you like to see at the makerspace? Let us know in the comments.

Building plasma devices (fusion reactors, sputtering systems and more!)

Plasma is by far one of the weirdest states of matter that we regularly interact with. It’s made of a soup of charged particles that behave like a fluid but can be manipulated using both electric and magnetic fields. Under the right conditions it can be used for everything from nuclear fusion to semiconductor manufacturing. What most people don’t realize is that building a system that can use plasma is actually very easy. We strive to demystify the technology behind these processes so that more people can get excited about it, and also to show what’s possible even on a very low budget.

 

Learn microbiology the fun way by learning how to brew

When we learn about biology, it’s often in the abstract. Memorize these pathways, know these structures, etc etc. But biology doesn’t need to be so cut and dry and learning the basics can actually be really fun! Easily the best way to get used to the techniques required to do microbiology is to try brewing wine. To brew properly you must learn most of the same techniques that you’d need to work with almost any other microorganism, but it has the benefit of requiring only cheap starting materials and working with an organism that’s neither picky nor dangerous. Learn how to brew and some simple microbiology here:

 

Collecting wild species for bioremediation in the Brazilian jungle

Something that’s very important to us here at Scihouse is bioremediation. Our planet is in a sorry state thanks to the activities of our species and so we’ve made it one of goals to help in any way we can. One way we’re doing that is through the development of new bioremediation techniques. Some of the most powerful bioremediation tools are the thousands of fungal species that live in the ground. They’re capable of breaking down all sorts of pollutants and can sometimes even be used as food. They also play a vital role in rebuilding soil and helping plants to grow. So where better to find interesting species to experiment with than the Brazilian rain forest! The biodiversity there is immense and almost everywhere we looked there were dozens of plant and fungal species. Here’s a quick look at that trip:

Building a radio telescope

When we think of astronomy, we usually think of telescopes made from lenses and mirrors that are used to focus the visible light emitted or reflected from distance objects. But this is far from the only option for astronomers. Almost any part of the electromagnetic spectrum can be used for astronomy. One part of the spectrum that’s particularly interesting are the radio and microwave frequencies. Thanks to a quirk of quantum mechanics, these frequencies allow astronomers to see where particular elements and molecules are clustered in the sky. However a radio telescope is very different from an ordinary visible light one. Since the wavelength of radio waves is very long, radio telescopes can’t form a picture all at once. Instead their function is more akin to looking at the world through a straw. Only by moving the straw around and recording the details of each “pixel” can you build up a full image. Building a simple radio telescope is actually fairly straightforward though and we build one that could “see” satellites in geosynchronous orbit, over 35,000 km away! Check out our build video to see it in action and how we built it:

 

Recieving images from satellites as they pass overhead

Everyday, thousands of objects pass overhead as they fly through space. Some of these are satellites used to monitor weather patterns around the world. Many of these stallites are set up so that curious amateurs can receive their transmissions and see the images they’re capturing. The 4 most common for this are the US satellites NOAA 15, 18 and 19 and the russian METEOR- M2. The transmissions can be received with some simple and inexpensive hardware that’s very readily available. Check out our video on the process to learn more: