Over the past seven years that we’ve been putting on the Maker Faire, we’ve made countless new friends and have been endlessly amazed by the creativity of the maker community. The wonderful thing about the maker movement is that everyone is invited, and of course this includes robots, like our good friend Russell the Electric Giraffe. This year at our seventh annual Maker Faire Bay Area, taking place on May 19 and 20 in San Mateo, we have a new bot joining us, and his name is Hotshot Few Thousand. Hotshot is certainly not short on personality, and he took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us.
1. You consider yourself to be the “world’s only living robot.” What does that mean to you? Is it lonely being the only one?
2. Can you share some of your technical specs with us? What makes you tick and how were you conceived?
3. What are some of your favorite features and skills?
4. You’re 7 years old at this point, correct? How have you changed over the years?
5. You love being in public making new friends. What are some of the notable places you’ve visited?
6. Folks aren’t used to seeing free-roaming humanoids. What are some of the most memorable reactions you’ve gotten?
7. This is your first time coming to Maker Faire. How did you hear about the Faire, and what made you decide to participate as a maker?
8. What are your hobbies?
9. What’s your motto?
10. Do you foresee a future where being a humanoid is not so unusual?
Thanks Hotshot! We know you’re going to have an awesome time at the Faire.
BEAM Solar Chariots have a mind of their own! Well not really a mind, more like a nervous system that stores up solar power and then discharges it, producing movement. Inspired by nature, BEAM stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics, which both informs and inspires BEAM design and function. The Solar Roller and Symet both use the same circuit design, dubbed “solar engine,” named so for deriving its energy from solar light. With various technoscrap parts — we salvaged ours from an old micro-cassette player – and common components (transistors, resistors, LED, and capacitors) hooked up to a solar cell, you can build one of these little critters!
The Solar Roller move forward with bursts of energy, while the Symet spins around on its DC motor’s axle. Watch the video below to see both these vehicle being built and in action, then head over to the project page to start making your own BEAM critters!
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Dunno how many retro wargaming enthusiasts we have in our audience. I know Gareth and I definitely qualify, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that many of you at least recognize the name Ogre. If not, here’s my best off-the-cuff haiku:
Bees can kill a bear
And here’s the Wikipedia entry if that was less than helpful to you.
The first original project I ever did for MAKE was a method for making wargaming counters out of Shrinky Dinks, using a set of Ogre gamepieces as an example.
In 1977, the original edition of Ogre was a young Steve Jackson’s first commercial game offering. I was two years old. Since that time, Ogre has been through five editions, and whispers of a sixth have been percolating among the Illuminati for years.
Now it’s here. Steve set out to fund the project on Kickstarter, seeking $20,000. As of today, they’re about to break $440K, with a week still to go. They keep blasting through their stretch goals, and the game they’re going to make keeps getting better and better as a result. [Thanks, MikeG!]
Guilherme Pena Costa created a lighting system for a standard childs’ swing that uses the motion of the swinger to power strips of LEDs.
A geared motor with an armature is attached to the swing’s chain, and then run through a bridge rectifier before giving juice to the LEDs. The result is an array of lights that respond directly to the motion of the swing. Pumping hard, Guilherme is able to generate between 6-10 volts at 230-400 mA.
Ever wanted to talk with other people who create and maintain hacker and makerspaces? SpaceCamps exist as a forum for facilitators and founders of hacker and makerspaces to speak to each other on the meta level of the maker movement and associated responsibilities. SpaceCamp took place at Maker Faire San Mateo, Detroit, and New York in 2011. It’s also taken place for the Seattle ecosystem and informally at Chaos Communication Camp in Germany. This first independent Camp will bring together people for a focused 1 1/2-day event. We will all learn from each others’ victories and mistakes, design new patterns for our space processes, and walk away from the event with deeper ways to interact with each other.
The first dedicated SpaceCamp (not as a subsection during another event) will take place May 16th and 17th in the Bay Area.
19:00 to 22:00 of Wednesday, May 16th at Noisebridge: mingling and session planning
Thursday, May 17th at San Mateo Faire Grounds (where Maker Faire will take place that weekend): 10:00 to 21:00 with breaks for lunch and dinner. MAKE is generously hosting the space, though this is a Space Federation event. You are responsible for getting yourself there and creating a badge.
Sara Wylie at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) has developed an inexpensive, DIY “thermal flashlight” that you can build into an old VHS tape case. Paired with a camera, the device lets you create a color heatmap of interior surfaces. A school program in Harlem, New York is using the device to document apartments that require better insulation.
Here’s how to make one. The thermal flashlight uses a $14 non-contact infrared thermometer that reads temperatures from short distances. It translates the readings into colored light that shines back onto the test surface from an RGB LED: blue for cold and red for hot. To make a heatmap, you take a long-exposure photograph in the dark as you sweep the flashlight over all of the surfaces you want to image. For best results, wear dark clothing, and of course stay out of the way of the camera’s view of the RGB LED light.
IM BLANKY, from a group of architects at the University of Toronto, is both blanket and input device. Its surface is decorated with a network of interconnected sensors and microcontrollers that is both functional and beautiful.
Each sensor consists of a six-lobed “flower” with a conductive tassel in the center. The tassel is loose, and its orientation with respect to gravity influences which of the petals it falls on. This action closes a circuit, and the software can thus infer something about the slope of the blanket at each sensor, which gives some information about its overall shape.
Also, of course, about the shape of any object the blanket is draped over, which presents an interesting idea: Can we make useful 3D models this way?
As with most experimental devices, there are many caveats and open questions. First, though I may have missed something, it seems that simply knowing the orientations of each sensor with respect to gravity is not sufficient to infer the blanket’s overall shape—you also have to know something about the displacement of each sensor with respect to some reference position. The prototype has only 104 sensors over its 8′ x 4′ area, which is very low resolution for modeling purposes. I’d love to see some sample output, but it may be telling that none has been posted.
Nonetheless, some great-outside-the-box thinking, and an unusually beautiful prototype. [via Hack a Day]
I loved reading Tom Larkworthy’s recent post on Edinburgh (Scotland) Hacklab’s blog on his experiments with building an OSHW robot arm with a reach of 1m, positionable to within 0.1mm and able to lift up to 2kg. Rather than sourcing expensive components, Tom’s goal was to develop an optical tracking system that would allow the use of commonplace motors. In the post, he tries a couple of different techniques including edge detection of a Lego construct using VRML. Ultimately this post appears to relect Tom’s initial experiments, and he still has a lot of work ahead of him.
Managing to fit into two rather large suitcases, Melvin the Machine, from Eindhoven, NL design studio HEYHEYHEY is a portable 38-step Rube Goldberg machine traveling abroad and having a bit of fun along the way. At each stop, if the run is successful, Melvin will finish off with a personalized stamped postcard and affix proper postage before the operator tosses it in the mail. Also on board is an HTC Desire that snaps photos and uploads them to a map so folks can follow along as Melvin travels from place to place. [via The Verge]
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