Nova Labs Maker Market and Artisan Fair, Dec. 2

Join us at Nova Labs for a special showcase of our Artisans just in time for the holidays!

Mark your calendars for a beautiful day at the Nova Labs Maker Market and Artisan Fair on Saturday, Dec 2nd. The fair goes from 10am to 4pm. Get there early because many of the items are one of a kind. If you are a holiday shopper looking for that special handcrafted gift. The fair is FREE and open to the public.

More information:









Browse, meet, and be inspired by our talented artisans and entrepreneurs. Crafting at Nova Labs includes 3d printed designs, metalworking, woodworking, jewelry, handmade wool items, scarves, painted glassware, stained glass, canvas paintings, cards, personalized items, key chains, and much more!

Bring your family and friends. Meet our robots, see our drones, and play in our new augmented reality sandbox. Buy products or order a custom design.


Saturday, December 2, 2017. 10am to 4pm. See you at Nova Labs!

An open letter to the TechShop community

An Open Letter to TechShop Members and TechShop-powered businesses

As makers, we are deeply saddened to hear that TechShop closed its doors this week; we believe in the Maker Movement and want to do everything we can to help makers in our community. The Nova Labs makerspace in Reston, VA would like to welcome TechShop members and TechShop-powered businesses.

Nova Labs projects

 Here are a few practical ways to get involved:

  • Let us help you finish your projects. Our volunteers will help you get access to the tools and resources you are familiar with at TechShop. Please fill out this form to help us understand how we can help.
  • We can support your maker business. We will assign a dedicated liaison to help you find the resources you need including desk space, training, and tool re-certification. Please fill out this form to help us understand how we can help.
  • Consider becoming a member. All new members start by signing up on our website, and taking the GO (Green Orientation) class. You can be part of a strong, sustainable, volunteer-driven community with a multitude of interests: woodworking, metalworking, blacksmithing, electronics, arts & crafts, 3D printing, laser cutting and engraving, CNC, and more. You can even start your own interest group!
  • Come to our membership party. You are welcome to join in our upcoming member meeting/meet and greet. RSVP is appreciated.

Some Background on Nova Labs.

We are a 10,000 square foot facility with 50% workshop and 50% office and classroom space. We have many of the same tools and equipment found at TechShop locations including two large scale, high power laser cutters, nine 3D printers, full electronics workbench, full woodworking and metalworking shops, 4×4 foot CNC router, and 4 axis Matsuura CNC machine.

The focus at Nova Labs is on community. We are member-driven and volunteer based. Everyone at Nova Labs supports the cause through teaching, maintenance, and development. We love networking, so be prepared to meet your fellow makers and make some new friends.

We look forward to meeting you,

Nova Labs Board of Directors:

  • Marybeth Haneline, President
  • Brian Jacoby, Vice President, Founder, Past President Jim Sweeney, Treasurer
  • Lieselot Whitbeck, Secretary
  • Jim Girardi
  • Tom Welsh
  • Sam Aparicio
  • Margaret Kositch



Following is a link to an open letter for Tech Shop members from:
Dan Shapiro, CEO, Glowforge
Zach Kaplan, CEO, Inventables
Ayah Bdeir, CEO, littleBits Electronics
Max Lobovsky, CEO, Formlabs


Nova Labs "Orange Bay"

The Nova Labs “Orange Bay” is hopping during an event, with many makers showing off their projects and answering questions.

Mentors at Nova Labs

Nova Labs member Jeff C. helping a maker during an event.

Small Batch Assembly

Nova Labs’ first incubator space occupant (and still going strong), Small Batch Assembly, explains the pick-and-place machine for building complete PCB boards.


July 2017 Newsletter


“Here is the original 3D printed prosthetic hand.” 3D Printer build group lead Paul Chase demonstrated the working prosthetic as we prepared for the FIRST Global Innovation Awards. Next Paul pulled out a newer model hand with missing components that didn’t work. “Why would I want to bring that?” I asked. Paul answered my question with a question “Is there value to iteration?” So I packed the hand to showcase the progressive nature of innovation the next day with young entrepreneurs (John Link pictured leading the demo). All of the participating teams presented innovative ideas that won a spot in the final rounds of the international pitch contest. I asked if anything had changed since the regional competition that led up to this event; Every team had improved on their design.

In addition to Nova Labs encouraging young entrepreneurs at the FIRST Global Innovation Awards, Nova Labs hosted Launch100 — our inaugural pitch event to foster entrepreneurship in the broader community served by Nova Labs. Launch100 is featured in this issue with the focus on the entrepreneurship called out in our mission.

The value placed on iteration is serving Nova Labs well as we continue with the initiative to roll out policy in an iterative fashion, learning and listening as we go. A Safety Policy and Code of Conduct have been approved. The shop is reorganized to better serve our growing needs — a huge effort that affirms the wonderful commitment of the volunteer membership to keeping our space beautiful and functional.


The Board is pleased to welcome Jim Girardi to the Board of Directors following a search to fill the vacancy from the previous treasurer’s resignation. Jim, an enthusiastic maker and member of Nova Labs, brings financial skills and a love of entrepreneurship. Jim Sweeney and Jim Girardi will work on transitioning the treasurer role over the coming months. Please join us in welcoming Jim Girardi to this leadership role.





Continue reading

T-9 days to Launch100!

In just over a week, on June 15th, 2017, Nova Labs and Red Blue Collective will host the Launch100 pitch event. Join entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors for a night of ideas. We will have dinner catered by a local food startup. Ticket proceeds and event sponsorships form a donation to Nova Labs. Attend and help promote entrepreneurship at Nova Labs.

Launch 100

June 15th 2017

5:00PM — Food and Networking
6:00PM — Pitches

Nova Labs


 Call to participate

If you have an idea, a prototype, or business and would like to get feedback, please apply to pitch. Launch100 has great judges. The winner will receive a $3000.00 cash prize in addition to a design, manufacturing, and legal services package. All participants will receive pitch coaching from a mentor.


We would like to thank our sponsors for supporting this inaugural event. Sponsorship contributes to our vision of developing an ecosystem for physical product innovation in the Washington D.C. area.

>>> provided by Callye Keen, Red Blue Collective.

Launch100 – Coming June 15, 2017

Pitch event coming soon to Nova Labs!

Launch100Coming this summer 2017, Nova Labs will host a pitch event: Launch100 – showcasing physical product entrepreneurs and connecting innovation with talent and investment.

Join entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors Thursday, June 15th at 5:00PM at Nova Labs for a night of pitches. Launch100 will showcase 10 entrepreneurs creating innovation with physical technology. We are drawing startups, inventors, and business involved in robotics, drones, connected devices, and other emerging technology areas.

Tickets are limited for this special event. Please reserve tickets early.

RSVP at Eventbrite

If you are interested in pitching, sponsoring, or volunteering, visit the event website: or contact Callye Keen:

Start to Kickstarter in 20 Days – Product Development Series

TL;DR – Visit Nova Labs on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 7pm, for the next Product Development Series talk: Learn how to go from Start to Kickstarter in 20 days.

Sketches and computer modelsOver the past several months, experienced designer and maker (and Nova Labs member) Callye Keen has been leading a series of product development talks for entrepreneurs. Through Callye’s new start-up, Red Blue Collective, he’s helped provide solutions as entrepreneurs develop great hardware products from concept to market.

Product sketchesAnother member at Nova Labs, Mike Hogarty, has attended many of Callye’s talks; Intrigued by the process, Mike teamed up with Callye to test it out in the real world. Taking advantage of the collaborative environment at Nova Labs, along with the access to rapid prototyping tools and other excellent production equipment, Callye and Mike decided they could demonstrate how to go from an idea to launching a Kickstarter campaign, and in only 20 days!

Join them Wednesday, September 14 from 7-9pm at Nova Labs as they talk about how the first 2 weeks of their sprint has gone, and what lies ahead in the final week to launching their campaign.

One of their goals is to show how a community makerspace like Nova Labs can allow anyone to create things. Talk to people, ask questions, learn, work together – maybe three weeks is ambitious to bring a product to market, but it doesn’t have to take forever.

For full details and to sign up for the session, visit

And if want to sign up for updates on the Kickstarter campaign, visit their website at

Lil Dragon v-tail quadcopter – developed at Nova Labs

Building a 250 quad racer from scratch

With 250 quad racing becoming more and more popular and local racing events starting to pop-up, Nova Labs member Fred Briggs decided to give it a try. Being a Maker, he didn’t want to buy the same ole’ frame that everyone else had so building from scratch seemed like the obvious way to go. Wanting something a little unique, Fred’s main goals were to develop something that looks cool, flies well, and is inexpensive to build. To meet those goals he quickly decided that Mongo, Nova Labs’ 100 watt laser cutter was a good option for cutting the frame. Having also recently finished building a 3D printer in Nova Labs Build Group 8, having some 3D printed parts seemed logical and a good use for the new tool. Fred also reported always loving the look of the V-tail quads so he settled on that design.

The design

250vtail2With that design criteria in mind the next step was CAD. Fred decided to use this project to learn OnShape which is becoming quite popular at Nova Labs. There were some frustrating moments with the CAD but the support of the OnShape User Group at Nova Labs helped through this portion. Once it looked cool in CAD it was time to make something!

20160131_135315Fred was able to get DXF files from OnShape and start to laser cut some wood frames which are simply hot glued together. This went through several iterations and this pic is of an early design. You can see the tabs that allow all the parts to key into place for quick and accurate assembly.

20160226_081607Then the “V” for the rear motors got 3D printed. While initially concerned that it might not be strong enough, some stress testing (i.e. crashing) has proven that the design is plenty strong and Fred hasn’t broken one yet.

Finishing touches

20160206_112645The frame was painted with a rattle can and then put together. To really make it look cool it needed a thermoformed shell and this was probably the trickiest part of the entire build. It required a CNC routed mold which was made from old 2X4’s that were glued together. After a little sanding and then some paint it came out really well.

Painted_shellOn to the thermoformer!!

20160219_11465720160219_115126Here is some video of the actual thermoforming process:

After trimming it fit great! The electronics are a very tight fit but it does fit.

20160219_21495220160219_220932Here is the finished product with a painted shell. Fred is really happy with the results and it meets all of his design criteria. It flies fantastic, it builds very easily and it gets attention every time it comes out at the field.

After looking at it Fred has decided to call it the Lil Dragon, and he hopes to run classes using the design at Nova Labs.

The final specs on it are 1806, 2300kv motors with 5” carbon props, 2200mah 3S battery and Naze32 flight controller. It gets about 12 minutes of hover and it is shockingly stable.

For more information please contact Fred directly at, or be sure to check out the Open Aeris booth at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire, Sunday, March 13, 2016

Nova Labs Alum Launches Kickstarter for “The Decadent Minimalist One” Card Wallet


We already know our business card is CRAP!

And now we can suffer even more humiliation at the hands of Nova Labs alum Erik Moon, creator of the Decadent Minimalist One – Aluminum Wallet (DM1).

Like most things, we need a purist with a vision to help us see the light:

I was not satisfied with other so-called minimalist wallets – the idea of taking a beautifully machined metal wallet and pairing it with elastic straps, velcro or rubber bands was offensive to me.

The only way to get a DM1 right now is through its Kickstarter campaign, which launched September 23rd. The campaign was funded after a day and after a week it has raised over $26K!


The DM1 is milled from a solid billet of 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum. It weighs 0.8 ounces and holds up to 8 ID or credit cards. You’ll feel and hear a “click” when cards are inserted to let you know they are secure.


The DM1 is one piece of machined aluminum. There are no screws, rivets, hinges, magnets or clasps.


Each DM1 comes in your choice of 3 colors (or un-dyed hard-anodized finish) and is laser-engraved with two lines of customer-supplied text.


Tough: Hard Anodized Aluminum Finish

Maker Roots

Erik has the prototypical maker at heart, having been a member of Nova Labs. During his time with us, Erik exhibited superior fabrication skills and a passion for great craftsmanship. This maker is most deserving of our support and we look forward to seeing what’s next!

HARDWARE INNOVATION WEEK: Small Batch Assembly Enables HW Innovation


One of the biggest problems facing makers bringing new hardware products to market is the cost of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) assembly. Due to the set-up costs of the machines needed to place small electronic components on boards, makers have found it difficult to “market test” new products they’ve prototyped.

Among traditional service providers, the result is either that per unit costs are higher than the market will bear, the units are sold at a loss, or significant risks are assumed to achieve scale. This is the central problem Small Batch Assembly has addressed.

Founded by Nova Labs member, Bob Coggeshall, his strategy is to dramatically reduce the costs compared to larger scale service providers and pass the savings on to makers. (Coincidentally, Bob is also credited as the co-author of “sudo”, one of the most famous linux commands.)

Mass Customization

First, he employs a “mass customization” and “no frills” model for PCB assembly, recognizing that makers mostly utilize a common set of electronic components. Think “CafePress for hardware.” By limiting parts selection to a common set of parts, set-up costs can be reduced dramatically.

Check out this video of his Pick and Place machine at work!

Web Interface

A web interface entirely manages the customer experience of engaging a PCB assembly service. Through the interface a customer can upload their board design file, select the parts and place the order.


Automation of Back-End Processing

Coggeshall has also automated much of the back-end processing interfacing the highly advanced robot, known as a Pick and Place machine with the ordering system.

Overall, these cost savings can be passed on to the makers, allowing small batches of several hundred units to be competitive with the larger scale production runs of several thousand units.

Incubator Lab

Here’s a look inside Small Batch Assembly’s offices currently residing in one of Nova Labs’ incubator labs.

A look inside the lab of Small Batch Assembly, located at Nova Labs.

A look inside Small Batch Assembly, located at Nova Labs.

As Nova Labs’ flagship incubator tenant, Small Batch Assembly has benefited from co-locating at a makerspace. Nova Labs members have enthusiastically volunteered to beta test the service to ensure system bugs have been worked out while getting their custom-designed PCBs assembled. Speaking of bugs, Bob put together a bloopers video of early mishaps involving larger components.

How do you submit an order? Check out this video!

HARDWARE INNOVATION WEEK: MakerPass Simplifies Makerspace Management


MakerPass is a platform that makes it simple to install and manage access and track usage of space, equipment, and vending services. It is the brain child of Nova Labs Co-Founders Jason Kohles and Ted Markson and solves one of the more difficult problems of managing a makerspace.

The board you see is the heart of the MakerPass platform: the MakerPass Wiegand Board. Wiegand is a communications protocol that HID Global card readers and other commercial access control products use.


The advantage of the MakerPass platform is that it adds intelligence at each access control point. This eliminates the need for running the Wiegand interface back to a control panel, which saves hundreds of feet of wiring.

For instance, if a user requests access to the table saw, MakerPass can make high level decisions to also turn on the blast gate and dust collector. It adds logic at the point of control.

A standard topology connects the MakerPass Wiegand Board over UART via RS-485 to a Wifi-enabled “Node Manager” such as a Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black. The Node Manager would then connect to an internal or cloud-based network to confirm a request against an authentication server.


One Node Manager can manage up to 32 MakerPass Wiegand Boards.

Technical Specifications

  • RS-485 full duplex communication (Exar SP491E)
  • Dedicated Wiegand device interface
  • 6x Inputs (5V analog compatible)
  • 6x Outputs (5V level)
  • Onboard power 5V regulator for logic

Here is a picture of an early prototype:


The project is available on GitHub.

We’re featuring Nova Labs hardware innovation all this week leading up to NoVa Maker Faire. Stay tuned!