HeatSync Labs: Hacking Arizona since 2009 - KMSP-TV

HeatSync Labs: Hacking Arizona since 2009

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MESA, Ariz. -

With all the high tech gadgets for sale this time of year, most shoppers don't realize the brain power it takes to come up with all that stuff.

First, someone has an idea, then designs and builds a prototype.  The kind of work that's going on right now at a place in Mesa called HeatSync Labs.

"If we come together, there are a lot of good things that happen."

And coming together is what they do at HeatSync Labs and like it says on their web site, "Hacking Arizona since 2009."

"To us, hacker means more.. somebody who comes up with a creative solution to a problem," said Ryan McDermott, a member of HeatSync Labs.

They're all members here, paying a monthly fee as little as $25, which gives them access to all kinds of things, including the parts library.

"You can tell the arduino to fire a flame thrower or move an arm up and down like that," he said.

Members take what they need and return it later -- including speakers, switches, cables and transformers.

"If you come in and take all the one ohm resistors, you will get some one ohm resistors and put them back," said Ryan.

They also have access to machines most could never afford, like a 3-D laser printer.

"It sort of moves back and forth and up and down and spits out little tiny, tiny thin strips or thin beads, I guess you could say of plastic," said Ryan.

And a laser cutter.

"There's a gantry and a laser and it cuts things," he said.

But not everything they do here is high tech.

"This is a really old, really heavy industrial sewing machine that will sew through anything from little fabric we show, it will sew through wood, so don't get your hand stuck in there," said Ryan.

"Just like a piano, you push a key and a tone comes out," said Chad Sterns, who used his membership to build an audio synthesizer.

"I kinda did my own scale, each of these is an octave and 16 keys for an octave," he said.  "It took me about a year."

"Is a console that I've made all from scratch," said Arizona State University student Moheeb Zara, who is using HeatSync Labs to build an on-stage visual display.

"It has a bunch of triangles creating like a broken half dome.. the installation is called fractured future," he said.

His wireless control panel is science-fiction inspired.

"It's an idiot proof VJ DJ system that has an alien Stargate inspired interface," he said.

"They are leaving this here so the next person to do a pumpkin can see the results they got with a laser printer," said Ryan.

But it's not just tools and parts for everyone who joins HeatSync Labs.

"I could not personally afford to have a laser cutter and a mill and a lathe.. all these different things in my house," said Ryan.

It's also shared brainpower that makes this hacker space an asset for everyone.

"We get to teach each other things, then we get to reach out into the community and bring those things everything else," said Ryan.

McDermott as well as others who work out of HeatSync Labs take part in a program at the Phoenix Burton Barr Library.  Among other things, the program called Hacker Haven teaches children how to use a computer to fly drones.

Online: www.heatsynclabs.org


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