posts tagged with the keyword ‘makerfaire’

2017.10.29

miami-laser

As mentioned in my previous post, I got to help out at Maker Faire Orlando and while I spent most of the Faire working, I did get a chance to check out some of the makers and exhibits that were there. Here’s my report!

miami-makers

The folks from Moonlighter helped organize the Miami Makers Pavilion and showed a lot of fun projects. (I got to visit Moonlighter back in January, so it was nice to see them again.)

learn

I really liked these CNC’d words offset with some nuts and bolts to make a simple 3D piece. I can see making some of these on the large CNC we have in our shop.

bmo-videogame

This cute lil BMO from Adventure Time housed a video game system. I didn’t get a look inside, but I’m guessing it might have been a Raspberry Pi-based RetroPie.

A post shared by Pete Prodoehl (@raster) on

My favorite piece from the Miami Makers was this super-simple demo that served as a visualization of sound waves. It was a pan of water on top of a cabinet with a speaker below that played sounds. Here’s a short video showing how it worked.

jeremy-cook

Jeremy S. Cook was there with his ClearWalker. I’ve been a fan of Jeremy’s posts for quite a while, and if you haven’t see his YouTube channel, check it out! One of the things I love about Maker Faires is being able to meet makers I’ve known online for years.

marbelous-bells

Marbelous Bells was a lot of fun. It was inspired by Wintergatan, and built by a father/daughter team called Just for Fun. I remember reading about this online and I didn’t quite get how it worked, but as soon as I saw it, it all made sense. I then spent about five minutes closely examining it. :)

cardboard-arcade

I came across this Cardboard Arcade while I was putting up all the signage for the Faire, and I wanted to come back and meet the maker who made it. For some reason I assumed some young maker(s) were behind it, but it turned out to be a maker called “DanBot 5k1″. He told me he loves building things with cardboard, and that as kids were checking it out they’d get excited because they realized they too could build things with cardboard. It’s pretty much free, and all you need is some tape, glue, some markers, and a few other things. Cardboard!!!

fire-daisy

The Fire Breathing Daisy was a really nice sculpture that also gently shot fire into the air. I believe this was the first fire exhibit that Orlando ever had, and oddly enough, it wasn’t the only one this year…

game-of-fire

Kathy brought her new exhibit Game of Fire all the way down to Orlando! (It debuted at Maker Faire Milwaukee just last month.) It was quite the spectacle and since it wasn’t hot and humid enough in Orlando (kidding!) having five fire poofers going off made us even warmer. ;)

wienermobile

Kathy doesn’t like to do just one thing, so she also brought the Wienermobile down to Orlando for the final race of the season for the Power Racing Series. (And yes, the Wienermobile brought home the Tesla Cup, as the overall winner of the 2017 season!) Kyle and Kathy make a great (and hilarious) team.

orlando-ppprs

We also had a lot of other great teams & cars for the PPPRS race. ACME and Donatello from Michigan/Texas/parts unknown came to have some fun and lay down some laps. They were joined by Orlando’s (2016 winner) Driftie Monster for podium of the Endurance Race on Sunday.

botsy

Finally, one of my favorite exhibits was a drawing machine named Botsy. If you know me well, you may know that I’ve got a thing for drawing machines, and I used to design and build them. Botsy is a well designed machine. It’s similar to a concept I had three years ago, but never actually built. That might have been part of my fascination with it, that it’s the realization of something I dreamed about.

Liza Kholodkova is the maker behind Botsy, and it was great to talk to her about the development. One of the things I really liked about Botsy was that it looked like a finished product, not just a loose collection of wires and wood and an Arduino (which, oddly enough, describes many of my own projects!) Botsy is meant as an aid for mural artists to assist in creating the outline of the artwork fast. It’s definitely faster than any of the string & gondola polarbots I’ve seen in past years. You can check out a few articles about Botsy if you want to find out more.

So that’s my recap of Maker Faire Orlando… I hope I can make it back next year and lend a hand in making it happen again.

Update: Lots of great photos!

2017.10.26

mfo-2017

Maker Faire Orlando happened the weekend of October 21st & 22nd, 2017, and I was there! The team that produces the event asked if I could be part of their team as a “Producer in Residence”, so I jumped at the chance and after a few weeks of recovering from Maker Faire Milwaukee, I was headed to Florida for my first Maker Faire down south. (I managed to miss Nashville and Pittsburgh because I had some other commitments and wasn’t sure doing four Maker Faires in four weeks was the best idea.)

mfo-synth

When I produce the Milwaukee Faire I’m part of a small team that coordinates everything. I’m usually in charge of Maker Relations as well, so that means I deal with 250 makers in some way or another. It was strange (and exciting) going into Orlando not really knowing any of their makers. (Well, even that isn’t really true, as I started browsing the list and looking up some of the makers I definitely wanted to meet.)

mfo-bmo

I arrived Wednesday afternoon and headed right to MakerFX Makerspace, which is home to the Maker Effect Foundation, which organizes Maker Faire Orlando. We took care of things there with a plan to hit the fairgrounds Thursday morning. Compared to Milwaukee, it felt like we were a little behind schedule. In Milwaukee our core crew goes on-site Tuesday morning and starts moving things in and getting set up so that we can bring in large exhibits and complex setups on Wednesday. In Orlando we were running just a bit behind, so we spent a good amount of time Thursday chalking the floor grid, dealing with signage, electrical, water, barricades, and other set-up things. More people joined the crew as time went on, and everyone was busy getting things ready.

mfo-color

Friday was the day for maker load-in, and I think that’s always a bit hectic no matter what city you’re in. It’s all about getting dozens (or hundreds) of people and exhibits in place as quickly and efficiently as possible. All at once. Does anyone have this process perfected yet? We also had a Maker Mixer Friday night and then some of us managed to get a bit of sleep before the Saturday morning madness began.

mfo-wood

Again, Orlando is different than Milwaukee. We’re both at a fairgrounds, but Milwaukee is a free event, and Orlando is a paid event. Both of those create a unique set of challenges, but both share many of the same issues. That said, while we had to scramble a number of times, the critical things got resolved quickly. (One of the biggest problems was air conditioning not working properly, or working too well. People were too hot, people were too cold. You can’t please everyone, right?) Orlando had a much larger crew than Milwaukee, and everyone had a radio with an earpiece, which made a huge difference! The best thing about helping out in Orlando was seeing how they do things, and being able to analyze the process in Milwaukee to look for improvements.

mfo-ppprs

While I was busy making a list of all the things Orlando does really well (often by just quickly snapping a phone photo of something) I also offered advice about how Milwaukee does things, and some of the problems we’ve been able to solve in the past four years. Through all of this, Chad from HackPGH was an MVP (that’s Most Valuable Producer) because he’s been a producer in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Orlando, so he’s seen a lot. He’s also served on the crew for Bay Area Maker Faire, and the National Maker Faire. I see Chad as a conduit between Maker Faires, and able to share best practices between them.

mfo-makey

Saturday was a long day, with a lot of running around dealing with various issues, but we got a short break to hang out at FamiLab in the evening. (This was my second visit, as I was there back in 2016.) Sunday in Orlando was typical of many Maker Faires I’ve been involved with. A bit more relaxed than Saturday. Most of the critical issues are dealt with by then, and you can ease back on the throttle and let things run a bit. I was really pleased to be able to take a break on Sunday and see a good amount of the exhibits. (I also handed out some Maker of Merit ribbons, which was super fun!) After the Faire ended we had to deal with load-out, which again, is not a lot of fun, and pretty hectic and stressful. (Once again, does anyone have this process perfected yet!?)

mfo-wmc

So yeah, I’ve now helped produce a Maker Faire that wasn’t in Milwaukee, or even in Wisconsin, or even in the Midwest. It was in Florida, where it’s hot and humid and they have “fire ants” and no cold water from the tap. It was awesome and amazing and different… and I loved it.

Oh, I diverted from where I thought this post was going, so I’ll be following up with a look at some of the exhibits and projects I saw.

Stay Tuned!

2017.10.15

NoiseMaster VII

The next noisemaker in this ongoing and seemingly never-ending series is one of my favorites. This time we’ve done away with any sort of real “enclosure” and everything is just mounted on a board. We’re also using a real Arduino on this one. It’s an Arduino Nano, which you can find online for approximately $3USD nowadays. It’s quite a step up from the ATtiny85 chips used in many of the previous noisemakers.

NoiseMaster VII

Even though we moved away from an enclosure on this one, we still have to mount things, so why not model and 3D print some things? We’ve got a button and a potentiometer as our controls, and each one has a small printed part to allow for mounting to the board.

NoiseMaster VI

Again, the best thing about 3D printing in this process is you can create exactly what you need. With bits of scrap wood you’re constantly cutting and drilling to get things the right size. With designing your own parts, you make what you need. Here’s a piece that holds the button I had and has a small hole near the base to allow wires to come out.

NoiseMaster VI

This piece holds the potentiometer. It’s the correct thickness to allow the potentiometer to fit and the shaft to go through the hole. The holes for mounting screws are also the exact dimensions needed to work with the #4 screws I had. Making things fit together is about 90% of making.

NoiseMaster VII

Here’s a neat trick. Remember all those hard drives we took apart? Well, I saved all the magnets, and they’re handy to have around. Since they are attached to pieces of metal with mounting holes on them, I screwed one down to the board…

NoiseMaster VII

…and it’s perfect to hold a speaker in place. Really. That speaker ain’t going nowhere! You can pull it off, but it’s on securely enough that it takes some force, and it’s not going to fall off or get knocked off easily.

NoiseMaster VII

The Arduino Nano is on one of my Nano BOB boards. I use these to allow screw terminal connections to a Nano. (I really should get these listed on my Tindie store one of these days.) Power is provided by a Mini USB cable, and yes, there’s two 3D printed standoffs under the PCB. As a bonus, the wires used were pulled out of some phone wiring I rescued from a dumpster.

NoiseMaster VII

I like this one so much, I may be reusing some of the parts in another build I’m working on. Hopefully I can post about that in the coming weeks.

This is just one post in a series about noisemakers. Check out the other posts as well:

2017.09.30

dalek-headwear-0195

One of the big attractions for Maker Faire Milwaukee this year was a Guinness World Record Attempt for the “largest gathering of Daleks” and since I was drafted to be part of the “Dalek Dream Team” I thought I should make something to be part of it all.

You may have seen a few in-progress shots on Instagram of the Dalek eye which was 3D printed and then painted, but I’ll cover a bit more of the construction of the rest of it.

dalek-headwear-8796

For those of you unfamiliar, the Daleks are evil creatures from the television series Doctor Who. Above is a photo of a Dalek so you can see what the head looks like. I was aiming to replicate the head on a low-budget, and without much time as I was just a little bit busy organizing Maker Faire.

dalek-headwear-0197

I started with a large metal bowl I got from a retired science teacher who was cleaning out her house and garage that held 30 years of classroom experiments and materials. Getting the bowl (and a bag full of plungers) was pretty much the inspiration for this project… along with the fact that the folks at Dalek Asylum Milwaukee were on a rampage building Daleks at Milwaukee Makerspace every time I was there.

Once I had the bowl and acquired a lovely gold spray paint, I grabbed an eye from Thingiverse, split it in two pieces, printed it, and then painted it and attached it to the bowl with a bolt.

eye-half

I forgot to get a photo of the two halves, but this is a trick I often use, printing in two pieces and the assembling together. This time I drilled a hole through the bottom part, stuck a bolt in, and then hot glued it in place before gluing both pieces together. It worked out well.

dalek-headwear-0198

Jon (Master of the Daleks) gave me two light cages, which appear to be laser cut Acrylic glued together and painted silver, along with two ping pong balls. I then got two size PM-40 pill bottles which I Dremel’d to the right size, and put sliced in half pudding cups inside of to hold the ping pong ball at the right height.

dalek-headwear-0199

I also cut some 1/4″ Baltic Birch (by hand) to put on the bottom of the light cages. I hot glued those in place then attached Velcro® Hook and Loop so I could easily attach them to the bowl (and remove them if needed.)

dalek-headwear-0200

The next part was the most difficult. I should state that I really never make costumes or wearable things, so… yeah. I originally tried to make something with foam, and I thought about chin strap, but then I got a hard hat for about $7 on Amazon and thought that if I could attach that, it would be easily adjustable to (nearly) any size human head. The hard part was getting it attached to the bowl. I tend to deal with rectilinear things, not curvy shapes.

I brought the whole thing to Milwaukee Makerspace and asked for ideas… One member said he could make a wooden frame for it, and we did that, but it ended up being really heavy. Like.. uncomfortably heavy. I ended up removing that and using Great Stuff, as another member recommended. I’ve never used Great Stuff before, and let me tell you, it’s terrible.

I got Great Stuff on my hands, and that shit is nasty! I tried to scrub it off, and eventually using Comet cleanser, probably not the best thing to clean your hands with, but then again, Great Stuff shouldn’t be on your hands either. Wear gloves! I ended up getting my hands clean enough to not be sticky, but my fingers were stained for a few days. Yuck!

dalek-headwear-0201

I ended up spraying the Great Stuff into the bowl, then laying down plastic wrap and pushing the helmet in to shape the Great Stuff into a helmet receiving shape. It actually worked okay. Then to get the helmet to stay in place, I turned to my old friend, hot glue. There’s a liberal amount of hot glue holding the helmet to the Great Stuff. It’s ugly as Hell, but it works.

dalek-headwear-0203

Since I also had some plungers (from the science teacher’s house) I painted one gold to go along with the headwear. Every Dalek should have a plunger and a whisk, or a paint roller, or something that looks like that silly Dalek arm… the one that is not a plunger.

dalek-headwear-0204

The first time I painted the plunger I ended up flexing the rubber part and flaking off the paint a bit, so I turned to… hot glue, once again, to make a sort of “weld” thing around the base to prevent the rubber from flexing. It worked, but I forgot to bring the plunger with me (a symptom many were guilty of) so it didn’t get to be part of the ensemble.

dalek-headwear-9500A

And here’s Rick from Milwaukee Makerspace wearing the Dalek headwear while holding the 10 foot ladder I was standing on. The headwear does work okay, but if you’re moving around it tends to fall forward. And forget about running or leaning forward. Perhaps it does need a chinstrap. Or maybe I’ll just keep it around without actually wearing it. I don’t know… it’s just another ridiculous thing I made because I love Doctor Who and Maker Faire.

2017.09.27

Moxie

A large part of the Power Racing Series is Moxie. Moxie is best described as, being awesome. The crowd gets to vote for your car using the Moxie Board. Each button press equals a vote. Being fast is one way to get points, but another way is by being awesome… so, Moxie.

Above you’ll see a photo of the official Moxie Board used by the series. Since we also had a PPPRS race during Maker Faire Milwaukee, which overlapped the race in New York, we had to build our own Moxie Board, so here’s what we did…

The Moxie Board

It looks fairly similar, but it’s a bit smaller and lighter than the original, and it’s got 24 buttons instead of 30 (though I believe the original was recently expanded to have that 30 buttons. Who knew there’d ever be that many cars in a race!)

I got some Coroplast from Midland Plastics for super cheap, and they didn’t have any wide enough, so the black strip running down the center is gaff tape used to hold two pieces together to be wide enough. I then found some scrap wood in the shop at work which was long enough, but too skinny to be used for anything else, and built a simple frame with some small blocks of HDPE in the corners to hold it all together. (I was told the reduced weight of this Moxie Board was a big plus.)

The front is screwed into the wood frame, and the back is held in place with some VELCRO┬« hook and loop so we could open it to get to the electronics…

As for the inside and the electronics, while the original uses an Arduino Mega with a Bluetooth module to send real-time updates to Patrick’s Android phone which is running some special app, I chose to do it differently.

moxie-board-04

I’m using a Teensy 3.5 which has plenty of input pins and a built-in MicroSD card slot. The way it works is simple, each button represents a number from 1 to 24, and when pressed, the Teensy gets the value of every button, with the ones not being pressed equal to 0 and the one being pressed equal to 1, and then writes it to a file called MOXIE.csv. When the race is over you just put the MicroSD card in a card reader and import the CSV file into a spreadsheet and grab the last row. (Hopefully your spreadsheet is set up with the names of the cars in the corresponding columns.)

In testing, this all worked fine, but obviously the real world had to come along and crush my hopes and dreams…

moxie-board-05

Failure #1: Because the Teensy is a low power device, it doesn’t draw much power from the USB battery pack we were using. I’ve seen this before, so I use a battery pack with a built-in LED “flashlight” that stays on, as long as you press and hold the button when turning it on. I told this to two people, but forgot to write instructions to put inside the Moxie Board, so there’s a chance this was not done properly and power was lost. (There is an indicator LED that lights up when a button is pressed, but not a “POWER ON” LED which would have helped… maybe.

Maybe Failure #2: It could be that my code isn’t quite right. I do not have the most recent code that the official Moxie Board is running, but I have an older version that may be close. My code is a little different, but should yield the same results… I think. This is worth checking on.

I also do not have a good way to attach Moxie Labels, so they are just attached with tape or Hook and Loop for now. Ran out of time for anything better. :/

One more note! In the photo there’s a bunch of green wire and LEDs attached to the front of the Moxie Board. Those were added for the night race. All the actual wiring for the Moxie Board is located on the inside.

moxie-board-03

I’ve heard of one other group working on a Moxie Board that will use a Raspberry Pi, which I thought about doing as well, but ended up choosing a Teensy instead. As we add more races, we’re going to need more boards, so I’m hoping we see more ideas and eventually come up with even better ideas. (Note that I wanted to stay simple because simple gets done while over-complex builds, while fun, don’t always get finished, or work properly. But then, who am I to talk!?)

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