Gearbox hosted the President of Slovakia, Andrej Kiska, as he paid the iHub community a visit to get acquainted with tech start ups in the makerspace, with an intent of possible partnership and funding.
Slovakia is well known for it's car manufacturing industry as well as electrical engineering. Since 2007, Slovakia has been the world's largest producer of cars per capita.
He toured our makerspace and had a chance to interact with our innovators.
Here is a quick review of the event.
Approximately 3 million school days are lost each month due to lack of sanitary towels. Esther Mwangi started Esvendo- a social enterprise that aims to increase access to sanitary towels through vending machines that girls can use to purchase sanitary towels, promptly tackling this demise.
During the pilot phase, Esvendo used three kiosk outlets in Kibera and was able to serve 500 users. By introducing custom made vending machines and working with the safe spaces, they expect to reach at least 18,000 girls over one year and sell over 5000 vending machines in two years.
The Esvendo machine provides sanitary towels to girls at a low price. With a ten shilling coin, any girl can purchase a sanitary towel.
Esther has already placed an Esvendo machine at Binti Pamoja in Kibera, a community center for young girls. She aims to install another at Darajani near Kibera Girls Soccer Academy and more of them over time.
In addition, this project will also provide health education and economic empowerment workshops for both women and girls in the informal settlements.
Esvendo is targeting rural and urban settlement areas that don’t have access to shopping centers, hospitals and schools.Esther aims to promote accessibility of sanitary towels without limitation.
On the evening of February 10th, makers in the Health Sector converged at the Gearbox offices to share their inventions which have helped combat some of the issues facing the Health industry in Kenya.
The event was organized by Makernet, a consortium whose main focus is to link makers and maker-spaces to the market.
The purpose of the event was to introduce the just-concluded 4-month pilot project whose highlights included making health devices that could be utilized locally. A similar project is already in operation in Nepal.
Some of the devices they have successfully created include kidney trays, foetal scopes, centrifugal tubes, to name a few. These devices have already been tested out in the field.
St.Patrick Health Care Centre in Kayole and Amua Family Health Clinic in Kajiado have been beneficiaries of this initiative.
With a background in Mechanical Engineering, Sato Bonface Kariuki has been able to put his skills to the test, by coming up with a Foetal Heart-Rate Monitor, whose sole purpose is to detect the heart-rate of a foetus, and at the same time be able to tell the mother's blood pressure, throughout the 9 months expectancy period.
The project which is the idea of four (4) individuals, including an engineer, a nurse, a public health person and an I.T person, under the umbrella body of 4-month old start-up company,
Jalbit Tech, was developed after they discovered through research the high mortality rate of unborn children throughout the country.
Some of the factors that contributed to this were:
1. The duration between antenatal check-ups was too long, i.e. every 2 weeks.
2. Congestion in maternal health centres/clinics. This resulted in expectant women choosing to
skip clinic visits.
These factors resulted in the children having underdeveloped organs and others being distressed.
Although the project is currently at the pilot phase,it is believed to be a great solution to the stated issues, especially since the mothers-to-be will be able to use the device at their
own convenience, and from the comfort of their homes.
In addition, once it has rolled out, it will be retailing at an affordable price, so as to cater for people from all walks of life.
With deep interest in 3D printed products, Karl Heinz has revolutionized the health and education sector by making the Juakaliscope – a 3D printed microscope which is portable, locally available and accessible at a cheaper price.
After completion of his higher education as a mechanical engineer, he used his knowledge and skills to venture into business. In two years, he has built and distributed his own 3D printers and subsequently started a mass production of Juakaliscopes.
Karl Heinz makes two types of microscopes: the student kit and medical kit, which vary in magnification. He prototypes the microscopes at Gearbox and tests them before mass production.
These microscopes can be used to conduct water tests, medical and livestock diagnosis.
Unlike typical microscopes, the Juakaliscope uses a USB cable to connect to a phone or PC. The specimen is viewed on the screen and preferably sent to a doctor for review or projected for study.
Lately, Karl has been working with Sidai Africa to revolutionize the provision of livestock and veterinary services to farmers in Kenya with the aim of creating a more sustainable service delivery. Farmers can now send their specimen to vets for diagnostic review from the comfort of their farms.In the near future, Karl aims to extend his reach to Central Africa.
Gearbox hosted an interactive session with Hakob Arshakyan from National Instruments, known widely for Labview System Design Software and instrumentation products. He showcased solutions that can help accelerate systems engineering learning and productivity.
National Instruments offered Gearbox a six months licence of Labview Systems Design Software for member learning and use.
Gearbox provides a compelling platform for international equipment and software vendors in the hardware space to showcase their products and potentially influence future buying decisions.
Vendors are welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with partnership offers.
Gearbox is offering a fab lab platform for fab academy, with activities such as technological empowerment, peer-to-peer project-based technical training, local problem-solving and small-scale high-tech business incubation.
Fab academy is a distributed platform of education and research, in which each fab lab operates as a classroom and the planet as the campus of the largest University in construction in the world. Students learn about the principles, applications and implications of digital manufacturing technology.
The fab academy program runs for 6 months and students learn how to envision and prototype then document their projects and ideas through many hours of hands-on experience with digital fabrication after which, certificates are awarded on relevant technical topics and an ultimate fab Diploma when all topics are completed.
Empowered by the fab academy program, users can use Gearbox for fast paced, hands-on learning experience to plan and execute their weekly projects.
Students learn and mentor each other, gaining deep knowledge about the machines, the materials, the design process, and the engineering that goes into invention and innovation.
While building their fab academy portfolio of mastery of skills, gearbox gives students an opportunity to be effectively equipped and efficient by providing the makerspace, supplementary knowledge and technical assistance.
computer controlled drilling and milling machine
Gearbox hosted the Sketch to Prototype meet up to provide a networking opportunity for engineers, students, makers and entrepreneurs.
The theme was centered around bridging the gap between an idea to prototyping a product that meets the needs of a consumer.
During the session, we had an opportunity to listen to maker stories from various participants.
Karl Heinz, a Gearbox maker, makes 3D printed microscopes which are portable, cost-effective and easy to repair, qualities essential in remote health centers.
Yassin Bare, from BRCK, headlined the session by taking the audience through a brief history of kio kit from a product development perspective to the well known education technology solution; a digital classroom.
“Kio kit is a simple and elegant solution made up of 40 Kio tablets, a BRCK, a wireless tablet charging to reduce breakage and a hardened, water-resistant, lockable case. There is a single plug used to charge the kit and one button to power on the entire system,” he explained.
George Chege is a Gearbox member working on a smart controller to improve efficiency of chick brooders. He successfully completed a Bsc. in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Nairobi in 2016.
He has had an exciting and inspiring journey transitioning from a university student innovator where family support was a given, to post university graduation where he has to justify developing his project instead of looking for a job.
Fortunately, Chege’s father is a seasoned businessman and professional marketer who understands the risk and reward of private enterprise.
After obediently making job applications, Chege managed to persuade his family for support, winning over his father who is now a business partner, investor and leads product marketing.
This took demonstrating dedication to complete the project, meeting potential customers with his father to assess market feedback - which has been very positive, and formulating a smart action plan together.
They are now pilot testing.
For any recent university graduates with compelling ideas, what would it take to win the support of your friends and family to develop your idea into a product?
Michael Gathogo is the project coordinator of the MakerNet pilot in Kenya, a product designer, entrepreneur as well as a Gearbox member.
Before Gearbox, he designed a range of products such as CladLight, a medical delivery drone and circular economy solutions.
At Gearbox, Michael specializes in digital fabrication, 3D printing, CAD modelling, CNC milling and tooling.
In recent times, he has dedicated his time to health and humanitarian acts. He has been repairing, improving and innovating health assist-hardware. Consequently, visiting a few hospitals to test his prototypes as well as repair broken equipment.
The Gearbox Android Things and post-CES 2017 review meetup was a success with developers, freelancers and students all geared up for training on embedded systems development.
The Android Things meetup was the first of its kind for local developers.
We introduced development boards such as Raspberry Pi 3 and Intel Edison.
The session was centred on developing Android applications for the Android Things platform. Developers had an opportunity to set up their development environment and deploy applications on to the platform.
Alfred Ongere talked about augmented and virtual reality technology such as Project Alloy which allows users to experience mixed reality.
Both augmented reality and virtual reality can find use cases in real-estate, land sale, expeditions, education and more.
Mixed reality will allow an engineer to design, visualize, annotate and improve their prototypes before production.
He further explained about the Intel Compute Card which is slightly longer than a credit card at 95mm by 55mm by 5mm and with a range of processor families in the works. It offers an optimal solution to power everything from entry level to full featured host device.
Later on, after the IoT session, audiences were treated to a fireside chat where they discussed blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, self driving cars and many others.
On future meetups, the developers will be taken through thorough sessions in bid to enable developers prototype IoT solutions from ground-up. This Meetups and hands on sessions will be hosted, delivered and coordinated by Gearbox at our premises.
We would like to thank Bob Afwata, Alfred Ongere, Kennedy Otieno and Duncan Muchiri for making this meeting a success.
Last year in December we had a chance to innovate for the unluckiest of beings. We innovated for wildlife, partnering with Wildlife Direct, we gathered experts in different fields – conservationists, community workers, engineers, county administration, Kenya Wildlife Service, community members, and more, and held the “Innovate4wildlife” workshop at Amboseli in a bid to seek innovative solutions towards human-wildlife conflict (HWC).
Over the past few years, human interest in farming and livestock keeping has affected the existence of wildlife in their natural sanctuary, and has resulted in frequent HWC with deaths recorded on both sides. Increasing human populations have added more pressure on the limited natural resource land, leading to individuals cultivating on land that has previously been wild animals’ corridors and grazing areas for livestock. The change in lifestyle from pastoralism to more sedentary forms of living has compounded this problem with the otherwise nomadic Pastoralists taking up and fencing huge tracks of land in these areas for farming.
Along with the reducing vegetation cover in the area, this has forced wild animals, especially elephants, giraffes, and others, to invade these farms and feed on farmers’ crops. Thanks to the age-old problem of predators preying on livestock, inhabitants of these areas have been at war with these wild animals, which has resulted in losses to our wildlife resource, losses to farmers, and even death as a result of HWC.
Amboseli ecosystem being the only biosphere in Kenya that human beings and wildlife coexist in the same land with over 75% of the animals living withing the community owned group ranches, has been one of the worst affected with HWC. All it takes is a herd of elephants rumbling through acres of farmland to destroy crops worth millions and a whole year of food for a community. Pastoralist have also been dealing with huge loss of livestock under the mercies of predators such as lions, jackals, hyenas, etc. So, it’s no surprise that the community who were once living peacefully with these animals are resorting to violent ways of protecting their livelihoods and the wild animals are retaliating when attacked.
In this workshop, all energies were geared towards developing innovative, non-violent, low-cost, and low-tech solutions toward HWC that can be taken up and produced by the community as an income earner and help in keeping elephants from wandering into agricultural fields, predators away from bomas, and hence reduce deadly encounters and confrontations with farmers in the Amboseli ecosystem.
All partners on board went through stages of problem solving with a focus on human-centered design; all innovations were to be designed in such a manner that would favor the human in protecting their homes and resources and be harmless to wild animals. Problem identification, persona categorization, research and exploration of different solutions and ideation exercises for prototype making were employed through the workshop, and we developed several prototypes to solve this problem that would later be iterated and refined at Gearbox.
An audio scare crow was among the prototypes developed. Although Elephants are big, the mere buzzing of bees is enough to send a herd running off. The audio played pre-recorded sounds that scared away the elephants and gradually sent the herd away.
We improvised an existing technique of using chili guns to shoot plastic balls filled with chili powder at invading elephants. The guns used before were modified paintball guns which used compressed air canisters and chili balls which were expensive to acquire. Our improvised Chili gun made use of plastic pipes mostly used for irrigation purposes, a foot pump, and 3D printed plastic balls filled with chili, all of which are locally available and performed equally as well as the guns used before.
The predator alarm sensor wrist band is a prototype that senses heat waves emitted by predators e.g. lions, jackals, and hyenas, then alerts herders to divert their livestock from danger. From a safe distance the wrist band could collect the waves from lurking predators alerting herders in ample time to move their livestock away from danger.
The team came up with predator solar lights that bomas can use at night to keep away predators. Energy absorbed by the solar panels is used to light lamps designed to imitate a guard with a torch walking a homestead through the night, deterring predators from attacking the bomas.
A pepper dung with launcher is a smoldering mixture of elephant dung and pepper. When shot at a herd of elephants, it irritates their senses keeping them away from farms. Elephants don't like capsaicin, the chemical in chilies that makes them hot. This is a cheap method, with readily available materials to make deterrents like briquettes of crushed chili and animal dung.
The prototypes will further be refined at Gearbox to production quality and funds are being sourced to empower the community especially local women groups to produce and sell them to the community generating income leveraging on the locally available materials used to produce them.
Last week, we held the first Guts’n’Glory night competition at Gearbox, and it was a rousing success! Nine contestants presented a slew of great ideas they would like to build at Gearbox ranging from hydroponics testing rigs to interactive art displays, from solar-powered off-grid refrigeration to IoT water sensors. The judges – made up of our first 10 generous donors who contributed a total of 50,000 KSh towards the prize – had a hard time of it. Each and every contestant gave a solid pitch, despite only having five minutes to get their idea across.
Ultimately, the presentation that won the vote was Luide Kakembo’s proposal to build a low-cost, multipurpose quadcopter using a carbon fiber frame. Aside from the obvious potential, both in the market and in impact, of light UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles), Luide showed a clear understanding of the challenges presented by building one in Kenya's current regulatory environment. His pitch was thorough and well-said, and ultimately convinced the voters of the value of his project, the benefit he would see in working at Gearbox, and the feasibility of making substantial progress over the next month.
Guts’n’Glory is a monthly competition held at Gearbox to help those with strong ideas for things they want to build get to the next step in their projects. Contestants get five minutes to present their idea to an audience made up of individuals who have donated towards the prize, who then vote on their favorite. The prize is made up of all the donations raised by the audience that month – this month it was 50,000 KSh – plus a one-month 3rd Gear membership to Gearbox and a month’s worth of free classes.
The winner must then report back on the progress they've been able to make over the next month. We can't wait to see what Luide comes up with!
If you’ve got an idea for something you’d like to build at Gearbox, next month’s Guts’n’Glory night will happen on November 29th. Submissions are open now at http://www.gearbox.co.ke/gutsnglory-night. If you’d like to contribute towards this month’s prize and be a part of choosing the winner, contact email@example.com. You could make a real difference and an immediate impact on the next wave of Kenyan inventors, designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs!
Guts'n'Glory Night at Gearbox -- Oct. 25, 6:30pm - 9pm
Win 50,000 KSh, a full month's membership to Gearbox, and all your classes free!
This month, we're kicking off a monthly event that could give you everything you need to get started making things at Gearbox. On Tuesday, October 25th, up to 10 contestants will have the chance to present something they want to make to an audience eager to help them build it. The winner will walk away with 50,000 KSh to use towards building their project, a full month's 3rd Gear Membership to Gearbox, and all of the free classes they can take in that time (a ~36,000 KSh value).
Money for materials, access to tools and equipment, and training how to use it -- you won't have any excuses left for not making your dream a reality!
We want to help you make great things, and it turns out, so do a lot of people in our community. The prize money for Guts'n'Glory Night will be raised from donations each month from people you know, right here in Nairobi. This month, we've raised 50,000 KSh to offer as a prize. That's 50,000 KSh you can use to purchase materials, get parts made, order components, or do whatever else you need to do in order to move your project forward.
What's the catch, you ask? The winner will be determined by the people who donate the prize. Each contestant will have 5 minutes to present their idea at the event using whatever means they have at their disposal (props, slides, or their charming personality). The audience will then vote on their favorite idea to win. Only people who have donated will be allowed to vote, so your pitch needs to win their hearts!
The competition is open to anyone, of any background or experience level. There's no paperwork, no long application form, and no prerequisites. We're making it as easy as possible to get started making things -- just fill out the form on the page below to submit your name for the event.
We also need to send out a huge thank you to the generous donors who have contributed to this month's prize! We're planning to do this every month, so if you want to get involved, just let us know!
Starting October 3, Gearbox will be open seven days a week.
You've been asking for it, and the day is finally here. Starting today, Gearbox will be open from 9am to 9pm, Monday through Friday, and 9am to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday.
While working in Gearbox is a full-time job for some of our members, we know many of you aren't able to get away between the hours of 10 and 6 to learn how to use the laser cutter or whip up a PCB. Well, now we're inviting you to pop over after work, or spend your weekend building a prototype of that new invention you've been dreaming about for months.
We're also launching a whole new membership model to suit your schedule and budget. You can now choose from four membership options:
Student Memberships -- 1,000 KSh/month
Access the space any one (1) day per week.
1st Gear Memberships -- 4,000 KSh/month
Access the space any two (2) days per week, Monday through Friday only.
2nd Gear Memberships -- 6,000 KSh/month
Access the space all day Saturday and Sunday, and after 5pm Monday through Friday.
3rd Gear Memberships -- 10,000 KSh/month
Access the space all day, seven (7) days per week.
It's never been easier in Kenya to learn, design, and build anything you can imagine. Gearbox is open to anyone and everyone, so sign up now!
PayGo Energy, one of Gearbox corporate members is transforming the cooking fuel business among low-income urban households in Kenya. The company is enabling this population to access Liquid Petroleum gas (LPG) at quantities and cost that fits within their daily budgets.
The Kenya informal settlements, where the company is currently carrying out its operations, is home to almost 56% of the total urban population. These households spend an average of ksh 50 daily to cook on charcoal or kerosene – LPG tanks and stoves require an upfront investment that prices out this customer segment. PayGo Energy developed a smart meter that attaches to the gas cylinder and allows for pay per use gas in small quantities – and delivers a service that allows people to cook from day one on their own stove and pay only for the gas used per day.
The detrimental effects of using cooking fuels like charcoal or kerosene on people’s health and the environment are well known, their fuel efficiency is also very low. By working with households in urban Nairobi, PayGo Energy has shown that cooking on LPG is faster, cleaner and just as affordable per day if customers can have a flexible payment structure that suits the dynamics of their life.
PayGo Energy prototyped their smart metering technology at Gearbox. PayGo Energy replaces the gas cylinder before running out – offering a continuous supply of gas for their customers. They also tapped into Kenya’s world renowned mobile payment platform to support the micro-payment structure.
By reducing the high up-front cost of the stove and cylinder deposit, and by smoothing the cylinder refill costs into affordable micro-payments, they are hoping low-income households will adopt LPG as their primary cooking fuel.
Gearbox played host to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who visited the iHub community and met with tech entrepreneurs and Gearbox makers. Here is a pictorial tour of the visit...
Currently one of the best investment opportunities in Kenya, chicken rearing offers high potential returns within a short time period (average 6 weeks for broilers and 6 months for indigenous breeds) and many Kenyan farmers are flocking into this business. This is the potential market George Chege, a soon to be graduate from Nairobi University saw and set out to net.
Having himself tried the business several years back, Chege faced the two daunting challenges most chicken rearing farmers attest to, diseases and maintaining a conducive (temperature-wise) environment for the chicks. These two factors account for almost 90% of the losses incurred by chicken rearing farmers, he himself having lost almost half of his brood during his first stint at the venture due to a slip-up by one of the workers who forgot to turn on the infrared bulbs that provide heat in the chicken coop. The following morning almost half of his initial stock had died out of cold from the previous night. “See, it’s a labor intensive venture as one has to constantly check on the chicks especially during their early days between 1 to 14 days for broilers,” he explains. This is a common occurrence echoed by thousands of chicken rearing farmers.
For his fourth year mechanical design project, he decided to find a solution to this problem by designing an automated temperature sensing gadget that will alert a farmer when temperature is dipping or going above recommended levels. His project was just a concept with ideas acquired from reading articles and watching videos from the web and was good enough for him to pass the unit in school, but he still had the urge to develop the product. After an initial attempt at the fab lab in his university, he joined Gearbox as a member determined to make the project a success.
Named "Self Regulating Chick Brooder" or "SRCB", the gadget consists of a micro controller fitted with Temperature sensors (as many as necessary depending on the size of chick brooder and number of chicks), infra-red bulbs, a GSM module that manages communication between the gadget and the farmers mobile phone. He also developed a program based on C/C++ for the ATMEGA micro-controller that regulates the temperature of the coop corresponding to the age of the chicks.
“Chicks require different temperature levels at different stages of their growth” he explains. The code reads temperature levels from the sensors and switches on and off the infrared bulbs to maintain the temperature at the recommended levels all while transmitting the data to the farmer’s mobile phone who now has an easier time managing temperature levels in the coop. The gadget also transmits regular information that alerts the farmer when any of its functions break down or when temperatures drop to critical levels.
Having ran several successful tests with local chicken farmers, he is currently looking for investors to help mass produce the product.
He is especially impressed with the equipment and the amazingly short time he took to develop the product from concept to prototype at Gearbox and he is looking to further iterate on his prototype to improve performance. We can't wait to see where he gets with the product!
“Gearbox sees itself as leading Kenya’s charge into the 4th Industrial Revolution"
-Dr. Kamau Gachigi
How much influence can a company have on the narrative of a coun
try? What about a sector? Immense, I could say. There is a lot
to back that up.
Sony Corporation’s mission, in addition to helping rebuild post-war Japan, was changing the perception of Japanese products that the rest of the world held.
It is now ranked among the best global brands, holding the most valued Asia brand in 2014 and enviable positions in the USA where Japanese made products had a dismal reputation in the 1950s when Sony was re-branding.