Category “Uncategorized”

IRL2 Building Up, pt. 2

This is a continuation of my blog post from a few weeks ago about the original planning that went into the IRL 2 development. Plans change, and so after the original planning for IRL 2 went out, we set out to iterate. Major changes included wall moves, furniture changes (as a result of wall moves), electrical considerations, and more. At each step in the process, these changes were precipitated by factors outside of our control (building codes, etc), but important factors to discuss nonetheless.

For instance, Chicago has some very tight restrictions when it comes to the use of extension cables (not allowed) and power strips (also not allowed). This limitation forced us to add additional quad outlets, and to think about where those outlets were located in relation to where power would be used. Imagine having to determine, then, where students are going to linger in a space that doesn’t even exist yet. Where will they want to plug in their laptops? Phones? Etc.

Even further, imagine having to map out where every machine in a dynamic space will go and then determining electrical load based on the sum total of machines plugged into an outlet. How those machines would then facilitate traffic flow in a space. Would they be noisy? Dirty? Would students want some to be adjacent to others for ease of between-use?

That’s something I did!

Additionally, we had to worry about things like emergency exits, noise (there are classrooms adjacent to the space, lighting (the area is quite dark, so we built in some lighter furniture/flooring options to adjust), breakout space flexibility, and more.

I think the reason why I enjoy these projects so much is that they are an extreme challenge in systems thinking. Holistically anticipating how an environment and the objects within it will interact with each other is a test on one’s forethought. The constraints, whether they be building code, electrical, community, or otherwise all interact and contribute to some end product. In part, you can’t anticipate what that will be.

But you can try.

Updated and revised plans for the IIRL:

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

TSW 16 – Christina Pei

I really enjoyed this interview with Christina and hope you do, too!

Christina is the creator behind Chicago North Side Mini Maker Faire and researches making by working with teachers to design curricula, and with students to design equitable spaces for making. We talk about the philosophy behind making, and what drives Christina to do all of the awesome things that she’s responsible for. Check it out!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus


I understand now that each human has a ruling passion, one that serves as the fountainhead from which flow all semblances of happiness, sadness, anger, and joy.

Ventus, Karl Schroeder

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

An Xiao Mina and Jan Chipchase for the MIT Technology Review:

“For now, what makes Shenzhen unique as a manufacturing hub is its ability to accommodate everything from the serious to the silly, from the experimental to the sustainable, from devices that alleviate poverty to gadgets that grab headlines.”

As part of developing the Industrial Design program at DePaul, I’ve been collaborating on a study abroad trip to Shenzhen. This, and many other reasons laid out in the article, are exactly why.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

I had the pleasure of working with Neal back in the day when we were helping run the Chicago chapter of the International Game Developers Association. Recently, Neal took on the undertaking of running for Chicago mayor, and has been speaking on this really excellent podcast about his campaign. If you want to get an inside look in a campaign, check it out!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

FIRST Robotics at the IRL

Some video of the FIRST FTC Meet at the Idea Realization Lab that was organized by Jackie Moore of the Chicago Knights last weekend. Loved having this at our space, and look forward to helping host many many more!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

TSW* Session 12 – Drew Fustini, the Open Hardware Summit Badge, and Why Make?

I talk with Drew Fustini, open source hardware designer at OSH Park and co-developer of the badge for the Open Hardware Summit this year. Drew is, as I say in the podcast, the glue that holds many maker communities together, and I’m really excited to have him on and talk about the things that he makes, and his ethos behind making and tinkering.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Moving Spacelab

We are exploring the move of Spacelab, NFP to a new, bigger location. This is a call for potential members. Want to join a group that supports local south suburban businesses, runs a Maker Faire, teaches community classes, and more? Email me. I’d love to hear from you.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

This Should Work on Twitter

Just a quick note: This Should Work* now has a Twitter account that you can follow for all podcast interview updates, notes, and behind-the-scenes tweets. You can find it here.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Alternative Computer Club

I’ve been building alternative controllers and game consoles for about the past five or six years. Project Libity, Big Data Outbreak, Thotcon 0x8, and Thotcon 0x9 are just some of the projects that I’ve worked on, often with my creative partner Rudy Ristich. My fascination with this has always centered around the idea that, if we could somehow break out of the three console paradigm, or change the way that we traditionally interface with games, we can begin to explore experiences otherwise unimaginable due to the inherent limitations of consoles and interfaces that are built for the mass market (and thus inherently built to be generic).

In the last couple years I’ve noticed a growing interest in this once-solitary fascination, which got me thinking: why not get some folks together who are making cool stuff to talk about our creative and design processes and why we do the things we do?

Thus, we have the Alternative Computing Club: Meeting 1 on November 16, from 7-10pm at DePaul University’s Idea Realization Lab (sign up here). During our first meeting, we’ll be talking about GDC alt.ctrl, the OSHW Summit, & Thotcon Badges.

Here’s a description:

Chicago game developers and hackers! Come on out to our first meeting at the DePaul University Idea Realization Lab. We’ll have a few short presentations from local developers on the platforms and controllers they’ve developed, followed by an open show-and-tell and gathering for people to talk about current, past, and future projects.

Short Presentations for our first meeting:
* Rob Lockhart – Hi-5 Heroes, featured in GDC’s alt.ctrl (
* Drew Fustini – Open Source Hardware Summit badge development (
* Rudy Ristich and Jay Margalus – Thotcon 0x8 and 0x9 games and conference badges (

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus