April is turning out to be quite a busy month for Open Design Engine. So far we have found a new software development contractor to help us with the heavy lifting required for some of our new features, submitted a grant application to cover the next version of Open Design Engine, and prepared materials for the upcoming Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam. By next week, we should have all sorts of feedback on what the Open Source Hardware community is looking for in project hosting.
For those who don’t know, Open Design Engine is Mach 30′s free project hosting site for open source hardware projects. We use it to host all of our publicly available projects (aka those not covered by export controls) such as the Shepard Test Stand and GS-001 (our new ground station project). It is also home to a number of very cool projects from other users, including Andrew Starr’s Scanning Tunnelling Microscope.
Over the last couple of months, volunteers at Mach 30 have been planning the next major release of Open Design Engine as part of the work to apply for the SpaceGAMBIT Call for Projects. As this plan came together, the volunteer team leading this effort realized Mach 30 would continue to need external software development support. Unfortunately for us (but very fortunately for them), Littlelines, our developer for the current version of Open Design Engine, has plenty of work lined up at the moment and is unavailable for our next round of work. All is not lost, however. After reaching out through the volunteer team’s professional network, Mach 30 has been introduced to Mutually Human Software. I am very happy to report Mutually Human will be a great addition to the Open Design Engine team. Not only are they a skilled Ruby on Rails shop (Rails is the toolchain which Open Design Engine is built on), but they also “get” open source hardware and the maker community. So much so that they are sponsoring a local startup makerspace, GR Makers.
April also saw the completion of Mach 30′s application for funding from SpaceGAMBIT’s Call for Projects to support Open Design Engine development. Our application includes work to completely overhall the user interface, improve the infrastructure to support git repositories (among other things), implement one or more revenue generation streams so Open Design Engine can become self-sufficient, and marketing Open Design Engine to grow its user base. I encourage you to take a look at the application. The team did a great job in planning this new version, and in preparing the document.
Finally, I have been getting ready for the Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam. This three day long conference/hack-a-thon is all about what the Open Source Hardware community needs to easily publish, share, and reuse documentation for open source hardware projects. I am very excited to be included in this event for Mach 30′s work on Open Design Engine, and I am looking forward to sharing what we have learned and where we are headed, as well as finding out what the community needs from sites like Open Design Engine. Stay tuned for updates from the Documentation Jam, and for a follow up On-Air Hangout covering the lessons learned and the community’s path forward after the event.
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It’s been fifty-two years. No, not of Mach 30 (well, not yet anyway)… It’s been fifty-two years since the first human spaceflight. And for the last twelve years people around the world have celebrated the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first flight (and the first US Space Shuttle flight) with Yuri’s Night parties.
Starting last year, with a great deal of encouragement and support from our volunteers, Mach 30 celebrated Yuri’s Night with an online party. Each year, we choose a theme and hold a space trivia contest, complete with prizes for our guests out in cyberspace. As a distributed organization we find the online format gives our volunteers, partners, board members, and fans a chance to celebrate human spaceflight together without the need for a transporter.
We just held our 2013 party this weekend. Check it out in the video above. The theme was Rocket Science: Live! During the party we demonstrated two of our open source spaceflight projects (the Shepard Test Stand and our first ground station prototype). Both were a big hit with our guests including makers from Bucketworks and Club Cyberia, and students from John Mall High School.
From all of us at Mach 30, I want to thank our volunteers, guests, and partners who helped make this year’s party a huge success. We had a blast! And we can’t wait to celebrate fifty-three years!
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A question that’s been coming up a lot is this – “Do I have to be an engineer or rocket scientist to be a part of Mach 30?” The answer is no! And by “no” I mean it’s critical that we have the help of non-engineers. And by “critical” I mean that it will literally take the combination of all kinds of skills to accomplish Mach 30′s mission. Don’t let the rocket science facade fool you, we’re an organization that thrives on the talents of graphic designers, organizers, non-profit specialists, authors, teachers, artists, makers, and anyone else who wants to see space become a regular part of our daily lives. Below is a partial list of some things that we need help with that don’t require a PhD in Space Systems Engineering.
This is a great way to help us out, especially if you don’t have lots of free time to give. Whether it’s one dollar or a thousand, everything counts and it encourages us to know that we’re not alone in the mission to secure our spacefaring future. Donate now and you can become a member of the 2013 Catalyst Club! Joining the Catalyst Club makes you eligible for some special perks that are our way of saying “Thank You”.
We need people to spread the word about our mission, and about the fact that space is worth striving for. We’ve even made business cards for you to make it easy to share Mach 30 with everyone.
Follow, Like, Add, Friend, +1, Circle, and Subscribe
Mach 30 is on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Twitter. Join us there! To get updates on our recent activities, subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter called The Launchpad. Here is the archive of past issues. If you trust us with your email, it will never be given to anyone else without your permission, ever. Period.
We love to do events like Yuri’s Night and the impromptu Curiosity landing party, and we’d love to do even more. We’ve even talked about holding some type of open source spaceflight conference. To make these events happen we need event planners and coordinators.
It’s hard to keep up on project documentation, and we could always use more help on this. Documentation is not just about CAD drafts and engineering analyses. There’s a lot of documentation to be done, and things like operating manuals can be even better when they’re written by a non-engineer.
We’re in a critical time right now where we have to navigate the deep waters of export controls. We need legal counsel to help us through this, and even beyond export controls there’s the day-to-day legal issues that an organization like Mach 30 encounters.
Not every Mach 30 project has to be technical in nature. For example, we’ve recently launched the Mach 30 Book Club which is designed to allow everyone to participate. Have a look at our Mach 30 Drawing Board to see if there are any projects which you’d be interested in starting and managing. If there aren’t any, why not propose your own?
If you can market Mach 30 to a broader audience, we want your help too. The more people that know about us and support us, the larger our impact will be. Remember, the goal here is to move humankind to become a spacefaring civilization. We want everyone around the world to know about and support our mission.
Mach 30 is focused on education and outreach as part of our mission. We love the idea of helping to train and inspire the next generation of explorers. If you’re a teacher who wants to introduce your students to rocket science in a safe and fun way, an educator who wants to develop school room curriculum for our hardware projects, or just someone who wants to help us reach students from age 5 to 105, we’re looking for you too.
This is an area that our current Board of Directors has found challenging. Not only can we not develop the cool spaceflight projects we want without money, we also can’t do things like travel to meet interesting people like you. Every dollar that you can help us raise allows us to build the relationships and infrastructure needed to complete our mission.
Testing and Feedback
Almost every project has users, but most of them never report anything back to the project managers. Are you an Open Design Engine user who’s noticed a bug? Did you build a Shepard Test Stand and notice a mistake in one of the drawings? Were you browsing the Mach 30 website and noticed a mispelling? It would be great to have your feedback.
The Board of Directors is lucky to have it’s very own mercinary art ninja, Bekah McGrady, but she’s always on the lookout for help from other graphic designers. We like our projects to look as good as they work, and you can be a part of that. Can you help us design mission patches for each of our projects? How about helping us to create merit or skill badges for people to earn as they learn new skills? These are just a couple of the ideas that are being talked about that would need graphic design.
Mach 30 wants to work with other organizations all around the world to create a skills advancement system that would allow people to be rewarded for the hands-on skills they learn. If you want to be part of this educational frontier and help us train the innovators of the future, we have a spot for you.
Insert Your Interest Here
Did I miss what you’re interested in? No problem, there’s a really good chance that you’ll fit right in somewhere at Mach 30. We’re looking for all skill levels and interests to help us accomplish our mission. Contact Us to let us know how you want to get involved.
So, still think that Mach 30 is just for engineers and rocket scientists? I’m an engineer by profession, and some would say by personality as well, and I can say that in my experience Mach 30 has a place for everyone who loves space and wants to go there someday. Come, join us and help shape the future.