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Minne Faire This Saturday
Denhac’s GeekShow Variety Act Extravaganza
Hot Pants-Making Night at Vancouver’s VHS
The event is Monday, April 18th at 7:30pm.
Pumping Station: One Celebrates its 3rd Birthday
The cost is $20.
LVL1′s White Star Project Update
Hackito Ergo Sum Hacker Conference
As we continue to countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area, taking place on May 19 and 20 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, we’re continually amazed by the variety of projects that will be on display. Whatever stripe of maker you are, this is one event you will not want to miss. Truly the greatest and biggest show and tell on Earth. Last week, we got an inside glimpse into the Zevrino, and Arduino-powered cat feeder made by a father-daughter team. This week, we speak with artist and project collaborator Marnia Johnston, who will be bringing a set of three TE+ND Rovers, which are mobile, interactive, robotic plant-fostering environments.
1. Tell us about the TE+ND Rover project. What inspired you to envision it and what was the development process?
The design of the robot is based on Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests and the Mars rovers. Space exploration had a lot of influence in designing the project. I think of the TE+ND Rovers as terra rovers, exploring the Earth for the best place to grow native California habitat. Working with Corey, the rover has been modeled, and animations of the walking elements can be seen on tendrover.com.
I’m currently working on designing the hydroponic growing platform on top of the walking base. Most traditional hydroponics use an inert medium like gravel for root development. Substrates like that won’t work on a walking rover because the gravel would roll around and destroy the roots when the rover is on anything but a flat surface. I’m creating a stable ceramic sponge-like material that will hydrate without the need for traditional substrates. I’ll show examples of the ceramic sponge at this year’s Maker Faire.
2. How do audience members become participants in this project?
3. At Maker Faire Bay Area 2008, you exhibited another collaborative project called SWARM. Tell us about that experience. How was SWARM received?
4. Having participated previously, what is it about Maker Faire that motivated you to participate as a maker again?
I love talking to people at Maker Faire because they are so interesting and they are always working on or developing something fascinating. I love hearing about what they are up to.
5. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
The people I look to are artists like Theo Jansen and George Gessert. George is an amazing artist who is interested in plant aesthetics and ways that human aesthetic preferences (hybridizing plants in search of beauty) affect evolution. I could gush about George all day. I also read a lot of Stephen Jay Gould, Donna Haraway, Lewis Thomas, and other authors who write about contemporary issues in science. Their ideas usually seep their way into my work as well.
6. Your bio describes you as an “interdisciplinary instigator collaborating with engineers, biologists, programmers and tinkerers.” As an artist, what do you look for in project collaborators?
The most important part of collaborating is to have fun. If the crew is having a good time, we will be more likely to meet and work together to finish the piece. Also, the end product reflects that buoyant interaction, and the viewers will experience it through the work.
[Check out the TE+ND Rover Timing Gears With Legs animation by Corey McGuire below.]
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about collaborating with folks across varied disciplines?
8. What new idea has inspired you most recently?
9. What is your favorite tool and/or medium?
10. What advice would you give to young makers just getting started?
Next, set aside time to work. Don’t let the laundry, that TV show, or that computer game steal time away from you and your project. And work on it every week because progress feels good, and when you feel good, you’re more likely to work on it and complete it.
Also, talk about what you’re working on with friends, share it on your blog, post it on Pinterest. I spend hours looking for awesome maker projects and always love hearing about new projects as they are made. They inspire me to start something new or get off my butt and finish some cool piece. It’s the synergy of being a maker.
Thanks Marnia! Looking forward to meeting and interacting with the rovers!
NEWS FROM THE FUTURE – “I saw a bit of the future in a Taipei tax cab”… Kevin Kelly writes-
Black boxes for cars, wireless video streams storing to the “cloud”, sensors storing everything. Your insurance policy of the future will include how many gigabytes you’re allowed to store.
This week, I’m at the Conference on World Affairs in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. Yesterday, I was on a panel titled “DIY: Hipster Economy” with three fantastic co-panelists Eric Wilhelm of Instructables, Tom Preston-Werner of GitHub, and Kiki Sanford of This Week in Science podcast and radio show. The panel was videotaped, and I will post it here when it becomes available.
On my way to the panel, I was walking down an alley in the University Hill area of Boulder and saw this cool 2-story shed / playhouse in a backyard.
Jie Qi, from Media Lab’s High-Low Tech Group, took a synthesizer and distilled it into a compact, no-frills interface. About the size of an audio cassette, it has setting for multiple tones, looping ability, and five note polyphony. The sound has an 8 bit feel to it, but the real magic is in how it’s controlled They packed a ton of functionality into a small space, including the ability to share tracks with friends.
[via The Creators Project]
Furniture and instrument builder Charles Lushear (Venice, CA) built a beautiful and fully functional NES Controller Coffee Table out of wood. He used the natural hues of mahogany, maple, and walnut wood in place of the original black, gray and red motif.
Kyle Downes’ NES Coffee Table (original colors)
Concrete, as most folks know, is strong under compression but weak under tension, and is commonly strengthened by casting it around, e.g. a grid of steel reinforcing bar (“re-bar”). Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete is, well, pretty much exactly what it sounds like: concrete reinforced with glass fibers. As in most composite materials, the fiber elements in GFRC can be carefully oriented, or randomly distributed, in the solid matrix. The nice thing about the latter method is that you can just mix the reinforcing fibers into the bulk concrete and don’t have to pre-position them in the mold. GFRC concrete panels can be much thinner and lighter than metal-reinforced slabs, and the glass fibers are not subject to corrosion.
If you’re interested in experimenting with GFRC, however, you may have noticed that practical how-to information is a bit scarce online. The notable exception, IMHO, is this pair of hands-on tutorials from Brandon Gore (who produced the cool concrete coffee table with cast-in saucers we hit last Friday), first published in Concrete Decor magazine in the summer of 2008 and now freely available on their website.
In the first, Brandon details three different concrete mix recipes used in the casting of a GFRC bathroom counter with integral sink. These are the “face coat,” which is sprayed in to line the mold and does not contain fibers, the “vertical backing coat,” which is applied behind the face coat to the panels upright services, and the “self-consolidating backing coat,” which fills in the rest. In the second article, Brandon covers the process of actually applying the mixtures to the mold. [Thanks, Brandon!]
Dustin White of the i3 Detroit hackerspace created this instructable on how to assemble your own electronics tool kit. Dustin suggests everything from packets of Sugru to desoldering braid, a sharpie, a dental pick, a multitool, as well as the gotta-have multimeter and soldering iron. How about you? What do you keep in your portable took kit — and what’s the weirdest thing? Leave a note in comments.
Inspired by the commercial PhotoCapture 360 system, Muris designed his own spinning-product camera controller that includes custom software to synchronize turntable rotation and photography through a single USB port. He wrote the program, built the turntable (using a stepper motor from an old scanner), and hacked an off-the shelf camera remote to provide control of the DSLR. [Thanks, Muris!]
It may be some time before we start to see mainstream adoption of Project Glass-like augmented reality, but in the meantime, that’s not stoping folks like AR hacker Will Powell from rolling their own solution from off the shelf components. Check out this demo Powell put together using a Vuzix HUD, microphone headset, a couple of webcams, and Dragon Naturally Speaking. He built his own UI and was able to navigate common tasks in this supposedly undoctored video. [via Slashgear]
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