Hackers – 3D Modelling with SketchUp


At this week’s session, Kevin introduced everybody to SketchUp, a free 3D modelling program. Models built with SketchUp can be exported to a format suitable for input into Repetier Host, to prepare them for 3D printing.

Incidentally, other options for 3D modelling include Blender (which some may have used previously for modelling) and TinkerCAD (which is web-based so does not require installation).

Here are some notes on getting started with SketchUp – they are taken from an NUI Galway summer camp I was involved in organising a couple of years ago: sketchupnotes

By the way, the picture above is a SketchUp model I built previously of a room.

Important: to export SketchUp models to Repetier, you first need to install the SketchUp STL Extension. Instructions:

  • n the SketchUp main menu, select Window – Extension Warehouse.
  • Search for SketchUp STL (see below), then go through the steps of downloading and installing.
  • Note that you may need to create a Trimble account (Trimble is the company that develops SketchUp).
  • You may see a warning that it is not marked as compatible with your version of SketchUp, but just press OK.
  • After installing the SketchUp STL extension, you will have a new menu item: File – Export STL.


Hackers – Getting started with 3D printers


At the Hackers group, we started learning how to use 3D printers this week. 3D printers are a fantastic technology for turning 3D computer models into physical objects. They are also impressively inexpensive. For example, one of the printers we are using, the Arduino-based Materia 101 printer, costs about €600.

Thanks to Kevin’s employer, Boston Scientific, who have loaned two 3D printers to us and are also covering the cost of the plastic “ink” used in them.

Here are Kevin’s notes on how to set up a 3D printer: 3d-printer-setup (PDF)

Here are the configuration files needed for the Materia 101: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6otj5ok7i00ikds/Slic3r-Materia101-Settings.zip?dl=0

We have another model of 3D printer, the Prusa i3 MK2 in the group as well. We will post notes about using it at a later date.

And here also is a diagram Kevin prepared, showing the 3D printing workflow:


At our next session, we will look at how to do some 3D modelling to create objects we can print. Should be fun!

CoderDojo Athenry Information Session, Sept 2017


Thanks to everybody who came along for our information session on Saturday 16 September 2017. You can find the overview presentation here: 1-CoderDojoAthenry-InfoSession-2017-Sept (PDF).

This year, we have 5 different rooms with different topics in them, for different levels of experience and age, as shown in the diagram below.

You can find out more, including the schedule of Saturdays that our dojo will run, on the About page of this website: https://coderdojoathenry.org/about/

We look forward to you joining us!



Congratulations to all our ninjas who received belts in Summer 2017!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On 27 May 2017, at our final CoderDojo Athenry session of the 2016-17 year, we awarded a total of 93 belts to our ninjas for their great individual achievements in acquiring and demonstrating coding and computing skills. And then we had a party with pizza!

Here is a link to our presentation from the day: CoderDojo Athenry Belts Day 2017

We are very grateful to Clarin College Athenry and the principal, Ciaran Folan, for their enabling CoderDojo Athenry by making the school and its wifi available to us.

We are also very grateful for the sponsorship and support we have received this year:

  • Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board, who provide us with an annual Youth Club Grant
  • Medtronic, employer of our mentor Declan Fox, who provide us with a grant to match Declan’s excellent volunteering
  • HP Enterprise, employer of our mentor Mark Davis, who provide loaner laptops that we make great use of
  • Boston Scientific, employer of our mentor Kevin Madden, who provided us with a set of 3D printers this year, which allowed a great new learning experience

Because of these supports, no child or parent/guardian ever has to pay to participate in CoderDojo Athenry.

This year also, mentor Martha Fahy introduced a new idea, “Java Dojo”, where parents can buy a cup of tea/coffee, providing additional funds. With these, we have been able to buy a speaker system, electronics needed by some of our groups, and our own 3D printer! Thank you, our CoderDojo ninja sidekicks!

And of course we must thank our mentors, who volunteer their time and expertise entirely without charge week after week, to make CoderDojo Athenry the success that it is.

Here is the full list of belts we awarded:

  • Explorers:    44     (39 Yellow & 5 White)
  • Advancers:  18
  • Bodgers:     17
  • Hackers:      8
  • Creators:     5
  • Black Belt:   1

Special mention must go to Eoin Clarke, who received our first ever black belt award. Eoin has been in CoderDojo Athenry for several years, working his way up through the groups, and this year took on the role of Mentor. Well done, Eoin!

Above are some photos of the belts awarded. You can find more on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CoderDojoAthenry/posts/1465673366786859

CoderDojo Athenry is now closed for the summer. See you all in September!

The GEEC at CoderDojo Athenry

We were fortunate to be visited on 8 April 2017 by Ciara and Connor, two engineering students from NUI Galway who are part of the Geec team, building the Galway Energy Efficient Car – this is an electric car that a group of students have built from scratch, that is capable driving very long distances. For example, they estimate that it could cover the distance from Galway to Dublin for 14 cents worth of electricity!

Ciara and Connor both explained their roles in the project and answered many questions from enthusiastic members of CoderDojo Athenry. The CoderDOjo members found the Geec and its underlying technologies very interesting. It was fascinating to see that skills that many of them are learning (such as Arduino programming, soldering, and App Inventor) can be put to such great use.

The Geec

A team, a project and a car. The Galway energy-efficient car (better known as the Geec) is an eco-car designed and built by engineering students from NUI Galway. In May 2015, we competed with 196 other teams at Shell Eco-marathon Europe, where every car was challenged to drive 16 km on a closed street circuit in Rotterdam using the least amount of fuel or energy. The Geec represented Ireland’s first ever attempt in this definitive global ultra-efficiency event. We finished in the top half of the leaderboard in prototype battery-electric class, with a score of 287 km/kWh – roughly equivalent to 8,000 miles per gallon for a petrol or diesel car.

The talk covered the basics of how the car has been designed, built and tested, with the main focus on the electronics and software involved in the car.

Ciara Finan

Ciara is a final year Electronic and Computing Engineering student in NUIG. Her role on the Geec team is to implement the Data Acquisition and Display system. The system collects data from sensors on the car and then has to accurately display them in real-time to the driver. All the data is used to write out driving strategies for the marathon. It entails designing, testing and building a circuit with various sensors, an Android app to display the data to the driver and a logging system to save the data for further analysis.

Connor Duignan

Connor is a final year student studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering in NUIG. His role on the GEEC team is designing the power electronics system, which delivers power from the battery to the motor. This involves both software and hardware, with an Arduino being used as the interface between the electrical and virtual sides of the system.

Congratulations to Alaidh Fox and Roy Flaherty on their BT Young Scientist Projects!

Huge congratulations to members of CoderDojo Athenry who participated in the BT Young Scientists Exhibition 2017 recently!

Alaidh Fox, a junior mentor at CoderDojo Athenry, and her friend Deirdre Hughes entered The Hox Project – Using RFID technology to advance medicine, which supports elderly and visually impaired people to take medication safely, with an audio device that can read labels and a separate wristband containing a patient’s entire medical history.

Roy Flaherty from CoderDojo Athenry, with his friend Gavin McGinley, entered the Arcade Cabinet project that brings new life to classic video games through the use of the Raspberry Pi and an Arduino-driven joystick.

If anybody else was also there, please let us know and send me a photo so we can post it.

These two teams did exceptionally well:

  • Roy and Gavin won First Place in the Junior Technology category
  • Alaidh and Deirdre won First Place place Intermediate Technology category and also won of the HPRA (Health Products Regulatory Authority) Award

Well done! We are all very proud of you at CoderDojo Athenry!

Dick Baldwin’s Little Sailboats


We had a great presentation by 3 people last Saturday in our first-ever transatlantic link-up, with 140 people in attendance at CoderDojo Athenry:

  • Dick Baldwin, live via Skype from Maine USA, telling us about his Little Sailboats project, Educational Passages, in which they have released about 70 5-foot-long sailboats onto the open seas, to get picked up across the world
  • Meabh who found one of the boats in Connemara, with her mom Neasa
  • Margaret Rae from the Marine Institute in Galway, who will be helping to re-launch the boat in the Spring.

Here are some more links that you might find interesting:

Thanks to Margaret from the Marine Institute and Ariadne from Educational Passages for the links!

CoderDojo Athenry at Minevention


Well done to everybody at CoderDojo Athenry who participated in Minevention 2016 in the Radisson Hotel Galway on 26 and 27 November.

Our stand looked great, with the Pi-based games console, a TV showing the Athenry Castle Minecraft model, the Oculus Rift demoing a Unity game, one of the Bodger’s robots, members with their laptops demoing Scratch programs and Minecraft modding, and a 3D printer on the first day.

We were very proud of our ninjas who are fantastic ambassadors for CoderDojo! Thank you for all of your great work!

In addition, thanks very much to Lisa O’Brien and the Minevention team for allowing us to participate, and for inviting me to give a presentation about CoderDojo.

Special Event on 3 December: Dick Baldwin’s Little Sailboats

We will have what should be a very interesting set of speakers at CoderDojo Athenry on 3 December for the second half of the session (starting around 1pm).

Dick Baldwin, a sailor based in Maine, USA, sends 5 foot long unmanned, GPS monitored sailboats out into the sea. Recently, one of the little sail boats, Lancer, arrived in Ireland and was picked up by 8 year old primary schoolgirl Méabh in Leitir Móir, Connemara. Her school hopes to relaunch it next year, with the help of The Marine Institute.

We will have interactive presentations via Skype from Dick Baldwin and Ariadne Dimoulas of the Educational Passages project, and Méabh will come along in person to tell us about finding the boat. In addition, Dr Margaret Rae of the Marine Institute (who is a CoderDojo Athenry mom!) will be on hand to explain more about the project and maybe answer your questions about what the Marine Institute does and how important technology is for its research.

Below is a summary of the presentation. It should be really interesting! Thanks a million to Margaret and the Marine Institute for setting this up.

One never knows what’s going to happen when a small boat goes to sea. This presentation is about sending 5foot unmanned, GPS monitored sailboats out into the sea where every voyage is different and the learning opportunities are great. These little sailboats follow the winds and currents and will sail for months & months often crossing oceans and reporting its position and scientific data along the way. 

A group like yours could equip a boat with an array of scientific sensors to monitor atmospheric and ocean data. You could also include a solar panel and maybe a camera or possibly even add steering capabilities to your boat. Think of the data you could collect and what it would be like when your boat comes ashore in far- away lands. Will you be able to communicate with them and what would you ask them to do with our boat?  Let’s explore the possibilities.