We're there for the Ham Radio learning ourselves. This is generally done by Matt running the projector from his laptop, going over questions for the next test for most of the participants (last night it was the Extra Class Exam). The rest of us will sit around the table and attempt to answer the questions, and then discuss the answers as we are proven right or wrong. There is often much joking interspersed with the serious queries, of course! But the Q&A discussions really help learn the material more solidly than just going over the exam questions on our own.
Meanwhile, there are almost always other folks in the shop with us, working on their own projects while we're discussing our questions. Sometimes they are also participating with us, more often they're working on their own but enjoying the company. These projects can take the form of robotic contraptions to make our life easier, to art projects that involve (or don't) the Arduino chipsets, to more luddite craft projects (I was knitting a hat for the UB during the session, for instance).
Andy was working on a Synth Piano of his own design on the back table. Soon after this picture was taken, he had the piano (the device with the springs on the right) more fully assembled with both the black and white keys, and was playing scales successfully.
Logan was working on a Christmas Lights display. We teased him about having another almost-year to finish this project, but he pointed out that he's planning to have it ready for an exhibition in February.
Not pictured: Lori working on her latest art project; Jon heckling everyone from the back of the room while programming on his laptop; the UB, Matt M., and Isaac participating in the ham radio sessions while working on their laptops; and Doug with his official Extra Class License ARRL book open to help us find the reasons for the answers on the exam. I think I'm forgetting a couple of others in the room as well.
After the Ham Radio class was done, Marty took control of the projector to start with his Ruby class, aimed at the non-programmers who would like to start learning a programming language. I'm not sure how that went, the UB and I decided we were hungry and departed for dinner at that point. I think Marty had more hecklers than students though -- which would have made it a fun time!
These Monday night classes are free for HackPgh members, and set up more as BoF sessions than structured classes. They are a lot of fun, and tremendously helpful if you want to learn the subject. And even if you're not there for the class, it is a great place to find company while you work on those odd projects you always wanted to get to.
If you'd like to know more about Hack Pittsburgh, you can always ask any of us questions about the place. We also have open house Fridays, where we can invite in non-members for special events; you can stop by to see the place for yourself then!