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Maker Faire Orlando 2019

I managed to attend seven Maker Faires in 2019, including Elkhorn Mini Maker Faire, Maker Faire Miami, Maker Faire Kansas City, Maker Faire Detroit, Maker Faire Milwaukee, Madison Mini Maker Faire, and Maker Faire Orlando. For three of those I served as a Producer or Producer in Residence, and for the others I attended as a Maker, either representing Milwaukee Makerspace, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, or taking part in the Power Racing Series.

Pictured above is a shot of the crew for Maker Faire Orlando. They are an amazing bunch of volunteers who work their butts off to put on an amazing event. I’m proud to have been able to join them the last three years and assist in any way I could. And besides all the local folks who help out we had guest Producers from New York, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee all helping out, each bringing a unique perspective to the group.

(Note: We’re missing a few valuable crew members in the photo because they were busy with Robot Ruckus, which is an amazing event that happens inside another amazing event. Amazing!)

I tried to get a little time to run around with my DSLR and capture some photos, and I’ve got a whole album, but here’s a few worth sharing… Above is a creepy doll, or to be more precise, one of the Deviant Dollz. I don’t know that I’d ever purchase one of these dolls, but I loved seeing them, and if I ever have to shoot a horror film, I know who I’m getting the props from.

Our old pal Matt Stultz was there with Prusa, the company and the man, and people really liked finding out more about what they do. Also, I learned that bringing your Prusa printer to a Maker Faire so Josef can autograph it is a thing people do.

Gary the Snail (along with Aren) made it for the Power Racing Series finale, and took the title! Many PPPRS friends were there as well, including Jim, Patrick, and racers from around the country. We also got to test a new water barrier concept on the track this year, which was fascinating and fun.

It’s always good to see Jeremy Cook and his latest strandbeest contraptions. If you haven’t met Jeremy yet, check out his videos. He’s one of those makers who seems to keep busy all the time.

Hey, if you’re gonna throw a Maker Faire you should have a DJ because they make sick beats happen, they make people smile, and they make everyone have a good time. At least that’s what the.kd.queen managed to do. She even handed the mic over to some crazy futuristic robot for a while… magical!

Want more? Check out my Maker Faire Orlando 2019 album or browse through photos from Jay De Los Santos, and start making plans to attend Maker Faire Orlando 2020 right now!

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Dodecahedrons

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I honestly can’t remember where I got the idea to make a bunch of dodecahedrons for Maker Faire Milwaukee came from, but I do remember looking at Thingiverse for some connectors I could use with 1/4″ dowel rods. I know I tried Trammell Hudson’s design, since I always admire his work, but I was not using pencils, so it didn’t work. I did attempt to alter his file, but ultimately ended up designing my own file, which worked well enough that I wanted to share it. (Check out Dodecahedron Connectors on YouMagine.)

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So I made nine dodecahedrons that could hang from the ceiling in the Dark Room. And since they’d be in the Dark Room I figured I should use fluorescent filament to create the connectors, and fluorescent paint to paint the wooden dowel rods, and with help from Kathy H. at Milwaukee Makerspace, we got everything painted. Sadly, we did not get the blacklights set up in the Dark Room due to budget constraints, and there was too much light where they were placed, and we had to bundle them all together, and… well, anyway, they turned out great, despite a few issues with presentation.

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I’ve also made a smaller (hand-held) model for home. It’s small enough to fit on a 13″ MacBook Pro, though I might hang this one from the ceiling as well. Or maybe make it into a lampshade. I don’t know yet.

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This is the original version, which uses 12″ long, 1/4″ diameter wooden dowel rods. A pack of 100 dowel rods is under $15, and a roll of fluorescent filament is about $22. Since you need 30 dowel rods and 20 connectors per dodecahedron you can easily build three large ones (or a lot of small ones) for under $40 USD as long as you’ve got access to a 3D printer.

Did I mention I really like dodecahedrons?

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AUDIO FACE [APC-320]

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One of the projects I built for Maker Faire Milwaukee this year was AUDIO FACE [APC-320], which consists of the following things.

  • A cabinet built from scrap wood and plastic found at Milwaukee Makerspace and Brinn Labs
  • An Atari Punk Console that Kathy C. from Milwaukee Makerspace gave me for my birthday (which was already assembled!)
  • A 320 watt car stereo amplifier that someone donated to Milwaukee Makerspace, that I then gave to Jon H. for Disco Dalek, and he then gave back to me a year later
  • A really nice car stereo speaker I got from Andy A. from Milwaukee Makerspace for about $10
  • Some LED lights from Les, a long-time Maker Faire Milwaukee volunteer
  • A hefty 12 volt power supply and a 12v to 9v buck converter, which I purchased from Amazon for about $25
  • Some random arcade button I had lying around, a handful of drywall screws, and probably a few more miscellaneous things I forgot…

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The concept behind this “noisemaker” is a continuation of what Maks, Dustin, and I did back in 2017, which was a series of devices that made sound when action was taken. Typically this was pressing a button, and often with potentiometers of some kind to alter the sound. I ended up building a lot of Arduino-based sound devices. Are these synths? Maybe… Are they noisemakers? I guess so.

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When you press the button you are responsible for the creation of the sound. If creating weird noises embarrasses you, you have to deal with that. If you are getting into it and everyone else hates it, it’s on you. Only momentary switches are used so no one can turn them all on and walk away. If you’re there, you’re the cause of the sound.

Many of the devices from 2017 were somewhat fragile, built from small pieces of scrap material, and they sat on a table. For AUDIO FACE [APC-320] I wanted a large cabinet, which was pretty much a requirement due to the large speaker, amp, and power supply. While all of the 2017 devices were extremely cheap (built from scrap, found and scavenged speakers and components, and $3 Arduino boards or ATtiny chips) AUDIO FACE [APC-320] was a bit more expensive, probably costing close to $40 USD.

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As a sculptural piece, I think AUDIO FACE [APC-320] is interesting because of the contrast. Some of the build material is really nice laminate material or higher quality plywood, but it’s assembled in a slapdash method. There are rough edges that don’t line up, and there’s very roughly drilled holes on each side. While I love precisely designing things, I also love just building with no plans on occasion. Just getting to work and figuring it out as I go. This cabinet is that. At least one person mentioned this at Maker Faire, seeing this as quite a contrast to my other pieces which tend to follow a specific grid or use mathematical concepts. It’s not by accident.

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One other interesting thing about AUDIO FACE [APC-320] is that it’s sort of a bench. I mean, you can sit on it, and if you dial in the right sound and then sit on the button it makes your insides feel funny. I really like this part and may explore this in the future. I also like the fact that it’s sort of a table or a stool. A weird table or stool with controls in the middle of the top surface that makes noise and vibrates, but still… could be a table or a stool.

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Maker Faire “Space Invader” Shirt

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While taking a break from reading through all the applications for Maker Faire Milwaukee I had an idea for some art we could use this year. It ended up becoming shirt art after I shared it with the other event producers.

The art consists of an 8×8 grid with 64 items, yes, as always, I try to make these numbers mean something. 8 bit, 64 bit, you get the idea… The color pallet comes from what we used previously for our kaleidoscope design.

The most difficult part was the typeface. I tried many existing fonts but nothing was working. Makey the Robot is (almost) square, so I needed the letters M, K, and E to be square. Stretching existing fonts did not work, so I ended up creating my own type.

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Once I had the M, the E was easy. I just rotated it 90 degrees! The K was a bit more difficult, but the line width matches the parts of the M and E, and I then just aimed for the corners to make them end in 45 degree angles so it would all look even. It’s probably the best “MKE” I’ve ever designed.

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Here’s a terrible photo of the shirt. We still have some left, so if you want one, let me know, and I’ll get you hooked up for a nice price! (The original design was completely square and did not have the long “Maker Faire Milwaukee” logo on the bottom, but Stacie reminded me we should really add that.)

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Maker Faire Miami

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I was fortunate enough to be invited to Maker Faire Miami by Mario the Maker, who I’ve followed online for quite a while, and had met previously at Maker Faire Orlando.

I’ll admit, when he invited me, and told me it was at Miami Dade College (which I had been to before) I assumed it would be indoors. When he told me it was 84 degrees there a few weeks before the Faire, I hoped it would be indoors. I got there and found out it was all outdoors. When people asked me how Miami was, I say “Hot!” (I’m from the Midwest, I don’t handle heat well.)

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Besides that darn heat, Maker Faire Miami was pretty awesome. Every Faire in every city has a different flavor, and while I know a little about the Maker community in Miami, it was great to see more of it. Most of my time there was spent assisting where I could, and a lot of that involved helping with the Power Racing Series.

This was the first year for Power Racing in Miami, and the Orlando Crew pretty much took care of everything. We had a few issues with water, and power, and magic smoke, but in the end things worked out pretty good, especially for a first attempt.

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Orlando (well, MakerFX Makerspace) also brought along their “Print a Shirt” station, where you can pay $5 to screen print your own t-shirt. (Or $10 if you buy one already printed.) Now that’s how you incentivize making!

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As usual, Florida favorites included Hedgeclipper and the work from Moonlighter Makerspace. They had a giant tent filled with awesome things.

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One of the more interesting exhibits I came across was this little CNC lathe made for engraving drumsticks. I was interested in it because it looked like the little CNC machine I built from a kit a few years ago. Indeed, I talked to the Maker and that’s what it was, a heavily modified version of the same kit. We talked a bit about the Grbl firmware and I gave him a few tips on saving the settings. (Check out a video of it in action.)

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I met a lot of great people in Miami. I talked with John Edgar Park and I think we bonded a little over our love of documenting and sharing work. I met Abby K. (VEX iCutie) who was super enthusiastic about what she made, and spent time explaining her robot to me. I also got to meet Esteffanie (YouTube, Instagram) who gave an inspiring talk about making and failing, and continuing to try new things.

Overall, Maker Faire Miami was a great event, and I’m really glad I got to be involved with it. If you’re in the Miami area, check it out next year, as I’m sure it will only get better with age!

Want more photos? There’s a bunch in my Maker Faire Miami album.