Log of AMP activities

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#spacecrafting

The AMP makers collective has run over 35 workshops to date around the theme of transforming the Agbogbloshie scrap and recycling ecosystem into a network for distributed manufacturing and digital fabrication.

Here is a list of the main events held as part of the AMP series of informal maker workshops to build the future of Agbogbloshie:

Ashesi University MasterCard Foundation Scholars visit Agbogbloshie

 

#ampqamp15

#ampqamp 2015—building on student work around storyboarding in the latest M&D cycle—centered on codesign of the AMP app through a participatory design process involving Agbogbloshie scrap dealers, #STEAM students and recent graduates from Ghana, Senegal/Mali, Estonia, Russia, France and USA through collaboration between AMP, Bazaar Strategies and The Cobalt Partners with support from the Fetzer Institute.

Register for #ampqamp 2015

The latest edition of #ampqamp (“AMP camp”) is an intensive design and maker workshop that runs from July 12 to August 1st. The call for AMP Internships applies especially to computer science and design students and recent graduates (please state your level of programming experience), who shall focus teamwork on design for trust-building around the AMP digital platform; requires a 2 month (minimum) commitment between June and August. Pending schedule, there may be design practicums offered as Limited Workshops in addition to the regular #ampqamp 2015 programming.

If you are interested in participating in #ampqamp 2015, please fill out the online REGISTRATION FORM by June 5th. Let us know via qampnet@gmail.com if you have any questions or ideas.

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AMP Spacecraft

For many designers across the globe, language (words) form the bedrock of design thinking: “Words are tools for architectural design; for the development of design intent or strategy, as well as construct the ideas that drive its creation” (Eckler, 2012) [1].

The Agbogbloshie makerspace, is essentially, a community “toolbox” for Agbogbloshie. It was conceived as a spacecraft. This choice of a word served both as a starting point and driver for the design. With AMP co-pi DK Osseo-Asare as the lead on the design team, the AMP spacecraft was designed with mobility in mind, as are other crafts like an air craft, or even space faring vehicles (spacecrafts). As a community kiosk with hand tools, the idea of crafting (making with ones hands) was pivotal in addition to the fact that, these tools enable the spacecraft to replicate itself. Hence it can be read as a place where space is crafted.

Beyond these, the influence of space travel is relevant to the Agbogbloshie makerspace. Here, the toxic electronic landscape which is unfavourable for human habitation is likened to an extra-terrestrial planetary body. Hence, the arrival of a spacecraft could imply the commencement of a process of terraforming–the hypothetical notion that, in order to be habitable and/or conducive for human habitation, atmospheres and ecology of other planets can be modified. From this point of view, the arrival of the AMP spacecraft in Agbogbloshie is the commencement of a process of spatial change or transformation, a notion which is itself deeply related to crafts (vehicles).

In summary, the spacecraft is:

  • Mobile and is like other crafts
  • A place for making (crafting)
  • A workshop for crafting space due to its self replicating ability
  • And a first step towards the spatial transformation of the Agbogbloshie landscape

In terms of the structure, the AMP spacecraft is modular and has a frame consisting of 12 octet trusses per module. (See video here). Each octet truss is made up of steel angle bars, flat plates and rods, which form a series of half octahedra all welded together into a singular structural unit. The intention is to fill in the structural frame with materials sourced from within the Agbogbloshie landscape such as old refrigerator doors, which will constitute composite “precast” insulated panels.

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Spacecraft brainstorming session at Hub Accra during AMPQAMP

For the past three weeks week as part of AMPQAMP, the process of crafting the first module of the spacecraft continued starting in Hub Accra with theorizing and brainstorming about the spacecrafts systems and components, and ending in Kokrobite with the fabriacation of the first full scale octet truss, after several prototypes and mockups. It was a long tedious and yet highly exciting process where our desire for high level of precision and accuracy meant cutting and re-cutting, measuring and re-measuring, until we arrived at fairly satisfactory results.

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Welding of octet truss at Kokrobite Institute.

Thanks to master welder Badu and his assistant, we had a fruitful learning experience. Their process was particularly interesting to us because, they used a grinder that was itself “e-waste” sourced from Agbogbloshie. As a space of convergence, the spacecraft which is a place for interaction and sharing (and will exist both as a tangible place, and a fully functional virtual platform) will soon land in Agbogbloshie. Stay tuned!!!

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Octet truss welded during AMPQAMP

1. Eckler, F.J 2012, “Language of Space and Form: Generative Terms for Architecture”, John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey, page 1.

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See also:

WEEE basic understanding AMP Manuals

One of AMP’s core objectives is the compilation and design of a “waste” electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) manual. The main purpose of this is the provision of vital information for the AMP maker collective comprising of STEAM students/graduates (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) and Agbogbloshie e-waste workers.

For several months, we worked on the print version of the manual–a series of individual manuals for each electrical and electrical equipment studied–which has undergone several design iterations (see image below). We collected data from a number of articles and our own fieldwork (to learn the value in Ghana Cedis of each item brought to and dismantled in Agbogbloshie). We designed a manual for each piece of equipment studied so it fits a single folded sheet of paper. This makes it simpler and more user friendly. In the coming days, these manuals as they are so far, will be hosted online so makers and people knowledgeable about electrical and electronic equipment could contribute to them.

The manual is organized so as to give information on material composition, parts and components, hazardous materials, urban mining opportunities, tools for dis-assembly, steps for dis-assembly, safety gear, and opportunities and ideas for remaking.

Svet Lightyear visitPicture of the AMP Team showing the manual to Svet from the Lightyear Foundation.

This task is a staggering one because it should cater to the needs of people pertaining to different social categories, each with different understanding and knowledge. On the one hand are the STEAM professionals, educated and used to reading guides and who may even love manuals and on the other hand, the e-waste workers, predominantly uneducated and having a general disinclination towards anything remotely related to guidebooks or for that matter, books. This means they would both relate differently to a typical guidebook. Although this may sound stereotypical, it is a truth with which the AMP team is confronted.

powershift Students at the recently ended PowerShift conference viewing the latest version of the manuals
Students at the recently ended PowerShift conference viewing the latest version of the manuals

To navigate these murky waters, the team decided to go beyond the traditional printed manual in a foreign language and to in addition to this make to video manuals which can be housed on servers and broadcast inside the spacecraft. These will be targeted specifically at the e-waste workers, and put together by some of them, in collaboration with their STEAM counterparts and will be done in Dagbani ( the Lingua franca as it were in Agbogbloshie). In addition to this, makers and/or hackers around the country and the world will have access in open source fashion to all the manuals online, as part of the AMP digital platform.

Image showing the various iterations of the AMP manual and some sources of inspiration
Image showing the various iterations of the AMP manual and some sources of inspiration

In the coming years, AMP hopes to see this manual evolve into a highly informative periodical, providing vital knowledge for a local and international network of young passionate makers and hackers. A thrilling thought indeed!!!

Manual-fridge sample_Page_2Manual-fridge sample_Page_1

A Spacesuit for the Spacecraft

All members of the Woelab (Togo first makerspace) who came to visit us in Kokrobitey were proudly wearing their African print Woelab shirt… It’s because “we are a community!” they proudly said. This is when I realized that the spacesuit that we were designing was more than a utility shirt to carry things around, gas mask, electronic add-ons (such as the speakers that Daniel from the KNUST Creativity Group salvaged from a dead laptop) or tools to disassemble e-waste. Seeing the youth happily wearing early prototypes (version designed by Dk Osseo-Asare for his Low Design Office crew of builders) confirmed the fact that the spacesuit was a tool to bring together people of the AMP maker community.

Spacesuit 1 Emmanuel wearing the first prototype

Kuukuwa and I tweaked the original design, thinking about how to optimize its production process and improve usability. For example we used 1 inch straps in lieu of the hand-made ribbons structure running across. This allowed for the sewing to be faster and more precise. We opened the sides of the utility shirt to ease movement—it now unfolds “like an apron” and eventually could be hanged in the spacecraft and used as soft storage. We also reallocated some of the pockets and minimized cuts in the pattern. Inspired by the way kimonos are cut, we used a folded rectangular piece of fabric to create a back pocket that would nicely fold around the side and close the utility shirt, hence minimizing the number of cuts. We added to a hood to the original design, prospecting for a way to integrate a gas mask eventually developed by the AMP Poly-Science team—the Poly-Science team who also experimented with weather proofing fabric using plastic, which can become handy for the utility wear.

With Emmanuel (AMP maker and model =) and Martine (Woelab), we produced a first prototype using African fabric. While I was getting my head around designing the hood, Kuukuwa drew the overall pattern to pass on to Master Chamil who is the production manager of the Kokrobitey Institute. Million thanks to him and his magic abilities, the second prototype he produced helped further develop the design. A third (final?) prototype is now in the making. We found that collaborating with skilled and open-minded people as Chamil, master maker at heart, was extremely important to advance our own skills as “fashion designer apprentice”. Making is about trans-disciplinary and peer-to-peer learning. It particularly expands your ability as a designer.

Spacesuit 2 Chamil working on the second prototype

There is much more to do for the space suit—a number of electronic add-ons made of e-waste, speakers, solar charging station for mobile phones and finally detailing the cost of the suit, yards of fabric (could this eventually be recycled advertizing material?) needed to finally go into production of a number of them.

spacesuit Martine, Yasmine and Kuukuwa working on the Spacesuit