Arduino Uno Recap

As part of 2018’s Teen Tech Week at South San Francisco Public Library, we held an Arduino Uno program!

This was also the final workshop in our Basic Electronics series had students working with Arduino Uno! We learned the basics of breadboard prototyping as well as using the Arduino Sketch interface. We went through the onboard LED example and then created designs of our own!

Arduino uno

Here we have some young makers programming LEDs to flash automatically and also on button press command! Be sure to join us next year for Teen Tech Week events:

Teen Tech Week at SSFPL schedule

In the not so distant future, on April 27th, we will host an Arduino Demo Day! Be sure to drop by and take a look at projects others have created! There will also be some units available to code on the spot.


Porsche and Bugatti turn to 3D printing for complex or rare parts

Rarely have we seen car companies use 3D printing technology to print car parts. First limited to start-ups, high-end car brands like Bugatti have recently revealed that they have been printing brake calipers out of titanium! Trying to limit the weight of their front brakes, this new printed part weighs about 4lbs less (as opposed to 10 lbs) Although currently not on the market yet, Bugatti is deciding whether to put them on their $3,000,000 cars. The print time is 45 hours, but we’re seeing some cool interesting developments coming out of the car industry. Another card company Porsche is using 3D printing to recreate parts that are no longer being manufactured. Currently in testing, they’re using a combination of 3D printing and laser technology. And, because Porsche’s other company Volkswagen makes such low numbers of cars, it’s easier to print the pieces instead of making molds.

What an exciting time for the car industry! Being able to print out of titanium must mean their extruder head gets very hot. Until now, I didn’t even know you COULD print with titanium. 3D printing seems to be a very cost effective method for them too. Also, we’re seeing the technology expand into other industries. Long are the days where we’re using printing for trinkets and fidget spinners.

If you want to 3D print more leisurely, we got you covered! We have 2 3D printers that you can play with. Walk ins are welcomed, but to guarantee your spot, feel free to make a reservation at

To read more, please visit:

CNN partners with Magnopus to bring VR news to the Oculus Rift

What a time to be alive!  Before, CNN has tinkled with allowing Facebook users to view stories in 360 degrees. But, now CNN are upping the ante by allowing users to participate in a more immersive news and story-telling experience. CNN will be launching their own VR (Virtual Reality) mobile application. Called CNNVR, this application will grant users access 100 videos, 4k resolution and 360 degree views. Though tried by other news outlets before, none will be as fulfilling as this one! As long as you have a VR headset, a Google cardboard or something similar, you don’t want to miss this cool opportunity!

As someone who loves what the VR industry is coming up with, I think this is a great feature to showcase what VR technology can do. We tend to think of VR as a device we use to play games. But now, we can experience stories and news like never before. We can be more engaged in the story, which is what I suspect CNN’s goal is here.  Imagine yourself surrounded by whatever news story you’re reading. How cool would that be?!

And, if you want to experience VR yourself, we have recently obtained our own VR headset! Be on the lookout for future programs where we demonstrate how to use it!

For more information, please visit:




Soldering at SSFPL!

In February, we held a soldering program as a followup to our Othermill program last January. This second part of the Basic Electronics workshop series had students soldering their PCBs that were designed in the first session. We also had several other projects going on as well including building an LED cube, soldering an LED star, and last but not least, a traffic light kit! These kits are produced by Velleman.

How to Solder

We followed along with several resources like this infographic from as well as videos from Adafruit: Collin’s Lab as seen below:

After projects are finished soldering together, there is one final workshop about programming these projects with Arduino. Stay tuned!


This is the beginning of a 4x4x4 LED cube. First the LEDs were lined up into a cardboard template, then the positive leads were bent to connect the LEDs together, and lastly the LEDs were soldered together. Next the negative leads of 4 completed layers need to be soldered on top of one another to create the 4x4x4 LED cube!

Hopefully by the next workshop, the project will be ready to program an LED light show with arduino uno!

Beauty and the Beast Rose Petal Project

A patron at our library created a project, inspired by Beauty and the Beast, involving a remote controlled stage prop. This rose prop was meant to drop rose petals on command, down to the very last one, as the play progressed.  The rose holder and some of the internal components were created using the library’s Ultimaker 3D printers.

rose petal

It’s amazing to see creative ideas come to life with the help of free resources found at South San Francisco Public Library.  The project possibilities are endless and the library can help turn your ideas into realities! What will you explore today at the South San Francisco Public library?

The link to the full demo video of the pictured Beauty and the Beast Rose Petals is provided below:

Beauty and the Beast Rose Petals Video

Opposing Viewpoints Recap

Opposing Viewpoints

On February 21st, we held an Opposing Viewpoints workshop where students would explore Gale’s online database on different perspectives on a subject matter. This online resource is free and especially helpful for those working on debates, persuasive essays, or finding primary resources.

Everyday at 3pm until closing at both Main and Grand library, there are Hack Your Homework sessions with librarians available and ready to help students find information quickly. Stop by and ask us about anything and we’ll provide research tips and tricks to help you get homework done faster! Hack Your Homework also has special workshops where librarians go into greater detail about navigating certain online resources, how to cite online articles, and more!

HTML, CSS and JavaScript Class

On February 6th, kids and parents learned about HTMl (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and JavaScript and how they all work together in the process of developing games like Snake and Ping Pong.  A lesson on page design and simple web page manipulation was also covered.


These three coding languages are analogous to countries like Spain or Belgium for example, that speak multiple languages as a way communicate information. HTML tells the Web Browser how to display words, numbers and text on the screen.  CSS tells the browser how elements should be displayed on the screen.  This is where colors, styles, fonts and aesthetics come into play.  JavaScript brings HTML and CSS together to make websites and browsers more useful and functional to the user.  JavaScript is the brains of the operation.  Remember, JavaScript is a programming language, while HTML and CSS are not



This is what a normal web page looks like below…


This is what the same page looks like with only HTML (No CSS or Javascript)…


Introduction to eBay

On January 19th, eager patrons came to learn how to use eBay. eBay is an online marketplace where thousands of users gather to sell and buy each other’s used or new items. 13 patrons gathered to enhance their knowledge or to simply listen and intake information.

First, patrons were introduced to PayPal. PayPal is a secure and efficient way for users to pay and receive money. Like eBay, it’s free to make an account and is often taken by most sellers. Next, patrons were taught the basics of selling. They were shown the best way to title their listing. The better described the listing is, the higher the sale success. 12 free pictures are also given to show-off the item you’re trying to sell. Patrons were also shown the difference between putting a listing up for auction and “Buy it Now”. Auctions are won through bids, where the highest bid between users wins the item. “Buy it Now” allows users to buy the item right away. Patrons were also taught that items can have a reserve on them. This means that the seller only sells the item if a certain dollar amount is reached during bidding. Also, it’s important to remember that eBay takes 10% of your final sale

Next, patrons were taught the differing shipping options and how to tell which one is best and most cost-effective for particular items. One cheap option is called “Media Mail”. This method is used for books and audio-visual items ONLY. Media mail is subjected to inspection to ensure this. Alternatively, parcel post, first class, and priority mail are other options. Parcel post takes the longest to arrive, while first class is used for items under 1 pound. Priority mail gets to the destination fast (2-3 days) and $50 worth of insurance is covered. Additionally, there are benefits with printing out your shipping label through eBay. First, you get a percentage off. Secondly, it saves time. You can drop the package off without standing in long lines.

Patrons were then introduced to the buying portion. They were shown a listing and its different components. One important thing to remember when buying is that eBay implements a “Money Back Guarantee” policy. What this mean is that if you order something and is incorrect according to the listing description, you can get eBay involved. They will resolve the issue for you. Feedback is also something to consider. Generally, a seller with a higher feedback rating is more trusted. I recommend reading through the negative feedback (if any) to form your own opinion about the seller. Other components of a listing include the item location, the approximate receiving date, photos, item description, and shipping details. It is imperative to double check these details to ensure you get the item you want.

Lastly. patrons examined the eBay user interface. Here they can view a summary of their eBay activities including buying, selling, offers, and saved lists. Also, users can change their personal settings.

One tip I gave to patrons is to sign-up for their rewards program called “eBay Bucks”. This program is useful because eBay will give you back (usually) .01% of whatever you spend. That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up, even if it is just $2 or $5. That’s free money! Also, eBay does bonuses from time to time. They may give up to 10%.

After, I stayed behind to answer any questions patrons might have had. Overall, it is a very successful program. There will be another one in the future due to popular demand! Stay tuned for that!




Basic Electronics: Othermill

Basic Electronics Workshop Flyer

Last week we had part one of our Basic Electronics Series where students learned about how several of our equipment are linked together for deeper learning:

Once circuits are designed on paper through sketches, or schematics, circuit design can be done with actual components for breadboard prototyping. Snap Circuits are the kid friendly version of breadboard prototyping. Once a design has been finalized, students can make use of CAD software and then CAM software. Specifically for the Othermill, programs such as EAGLE and Fritzing can be used to create schematics that the Othermill will be able to understand.

J othmil 0118.jpg

The Computer Aided Manufacturing software that is used with the Othermill is called Otherplan. Students were shown a brief overview of how to measure, set-up, and change required settings before pressing start to begin milling a Printed Circuit Board (PCB).

Perfect solder

Perfectly soldered joints on the Arduino Uno

Part two of the Basic Electronics series will be held in February. In this workshop, students will have a chance to learn about soldering! Soldering helps make more permanent connections when a circuit design has been finalized. Students will solder the PCBs they milled from the first session. Feel free to bring your own projects that you’d like to solder as well!

Makers are Amazing!

Teenagers from France are making headlines in the maker community! Together with their math teacher, the teens built their own Virtual Reality headset for around $100. Their build included using 3D printed parts, a three axis accelerometer and gyroscope, 50mm lenses, and an Arduino. Software knowledge of Arduino IDE, Unity, and 3D design software were necessary for the teenagers to complete this amazing project!

You can read more about the project, check out the neat component photos,  schematic views, and instructions from the Arduino community website:

At South San Francisco Public Library, we do offer most of what you would need to replicate this awesome build. We have Arduino Unos for the public to tinker with and our laptops that have Arduino Sketch installed for patron use. Our 3D printers can be reserved online and our staff can give you a walk through of how to create custom 3D print designs using TinkerCAD or SketchUP. We will also be holding Unity classes in the near future to help designers create environments in virtual reality!