All posts by matt

About matt

Matthew Venn is a director of Bristol Hackspace, a freelance engineer and computer science teacher.

Heatpress & vinyl cutter skillshare


Tuesday 8th December. Doors will open from 6.30pm for a 7pm start. 10 tickets available.

This event is the second Tuesday of December!

Learn how to use the vinyl cutter and heatpress to decorate a canvas bag. Vinyl and bags will be provided, one per person.

Please bring a ​laptop and download some software called “silhouette studio” (mac/windows). Software can be downloaded from the bottom of this page


Eventbrite - Make a bag with a vinyl cutter and heat press

ESP8266 Skillshare


Tuesday 3rd November. Doors will open from 6.30pm for a 7pm start. 12 tickets available.

Connect your microcontroller project to the internet with the ESP8266!

In this workshop you will learn what the ESP8266 is, what you can use it for, how to connect it and how to program it. The workshop is suitable for Arduino beginners, with more advanced content for the more experienced.

You will have the opportunity to learn:

  • control the ESP via AT style commands
  • programming with the Arduino IDE
  • blink an LED
  • control LED via WIFI
  • log data to a website
  • experiment with power saving deep sleep mode.

Participants will work in teams of 2, each sharing 1 ESP development board.

You will need to bring a laptop installed with Arduino IDE 1.6.5 and the ESP core. Please install both before coming because the internet connection at the hackspace is slow and unreliable.

Eventbrite - IOT with the ESP8266

Mead skillshare


Tuesday 6th October. Doors will open from 6.30pm for a 7pm start. 12 tickets available.

With Russell Couper.
In this skillshare you will learn the basics on how to make mead (honey wine). You will learn in the best way, by doing!

Because the equipment and honey is relatively expensive (and large), we ask you to team up with someone to make and then share the mead when its ready.

There will be 12 tickets, but only 6 sets of equipment which you will then jointly own with your partner, along with 4.5L of mead!

You will also need to bring 1kg of honey (ie. 2kg per pair). Don’t leave it until the day, because our local supermarket will definitely not have 12kg of honey on the shelves!

Eventbrite - make 4.5L of mead!

Introduction to analogue electronics


Tuesday 1st September. Doors will open from 6.30pm for a 7pm start. 10 tickets available.

With local guru John Honniball!
Topics covered will include:

  • the difference between analog and digital
  • brief history of analog electronics and analog computers
  • analog components (transistors, op-amps, resistors, capacitors)
  • some analog building blocks (amplifiers, oscillators)
  • digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversion
  • building a small analog circuit on solderless breadboard

Ticket price includes the cost of components that you’ll be able to take with you.
Feel free to bring examples of analog circuits that you’d like to build.

Eventbrite - Introduction to analogue electronics

Upcoming skill shares

Here’s our menu for forthcoming skillshare workshops. As usual, we’ll post & tweet the booking link when tickets go live…

04/08/2015 Build your own drawing robot – the Shonkbot!
01/09/2015 Analogue electronics for beginners
06/10/2015 Learn how to make mead
03/11/2015 Connect your electronics projects to the internet with the ESP8266
01/12/2015 Make a bag for Christmas with a vinyl cutter and a heatpress

The Hackspace Hat

Libby and Barney have a plan to create a telepresence hat which will allow remote visitors to have a first-person tour of the space, by the magic of webRTC and modern autonomic millinery.

Watch this space for future news (and to book a tour)! In the meantime, here’s a picture to whet your appetite:


We’re going to try it first with the Cheltenham Hackspace. We’re not quite there – WebRTC is turning out to be a bit more complicated than we’d hoped on the Pi2, but we’re hopeful it’ll work.

Here’s some more technical information, and more pictures here & here.


The Converging World build a solar phone charger at the hackspace

Over the last few days there’s been loads of activity at the hackspace, today we’ve had mosfet power controllers, Bristol Braille, bike automatons, CNC spoon milling, PCB design & fab, cardboard surfboards, set design and solar phone chargers! It’s fantastic to see so many varied activities all going on in the space.

I spoke to the guys from The Converging World about their solar phone charger and persuaded them to pose for a photo.


They’re using an old farm’s 120W solar panel to charge a 12V battery (inside the drawers). Then using the classic trick of car mobile phone chargers (the circles in the top drawer) to step down the battery suitable for mobile phone charging. It’s all come together over the last 2 days and they just left the space on their way to the festival. Good luck!

robot skillshare with the Shonkbot!

IMG_7133 Tuesday 4th August. Doors will open from 6.30pm for a 7pm start. 10 tickets available.

Build your own drawing robot! This robot was developed by a team at Bristol Hackspace to teach beginners that it’s not so hard to make a robot.
We ran 2 young people’s workshops for the most recent digimakers, and now we’re doing it again for the general public.
The £10 robot can be built by a beginner in an hour, and forms a platform for further robotic experimentation. After you’ve built the robot, you’ll have a chance to program it to draw something different. The robot will be yours to take away.
Please bring a laptop with the Arduino IDE installed.

Eventbrite - Shonkbot - build your own drawing robot!