Author Archives: ocminimakerfaire

Arxterra: Robots for Education and Science

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Imagine, for a moment, that you could build a robot that can be remotely controlled using your phone then you send that robot off to explore the Mojave Desert of Southern California or the Redwoods in Northern California or the Amazon Rain Forest or… the moon??

Meet ROSCO, RObot SCOut, and Pathfinder, Playground Bots!

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ROSCO

Arxterra is a telerobotics company developing open source, low cost robots, which can be controlled from anywhere in the world with cell phone coverage. Specifically designed for Makers, ROSCO rovers can be made for less than $168.00, sans Android phone.

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Pathfinder

Arxterra’s Pathfinder Rover, a sturdy adventurer, will be exploring the high deserts of California and visiting an ancient volcanic crater.

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Gary Hill

Arxterra is the brain-child of  Gary Hill and his son who were prone to spending evenings around the campfire discussing how the real-world has gone on-line via social media and wouldn’t it be cool to bring it back around to real-world applications… with robots!  

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They talked about, Robot Vacations and eventually came up with the idea to create Robot Parks where people could send their bots to explore remotely.  The parks will be manned with personnel in case of any needed robot repairs or rescues.  Eventually, these community-based telerobotic explorers will lead to the creation of a network of parks where Makers can send their robots to play, create and explore.

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A look at ROSCO’s control panel and camera view.

This can also open up possibilities like Time Share Bots, Travel Bots and even Community Art Projects!

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You can meet the Arxterra team and they’ll be more than happy to chat with you about this great project at the OC Mini Maker Faire on August 17th.

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Arxterra is:
Sean Copp, Gary Hill, Mike Pluma, Jeff Gomes and Jeffrey Scholz

More information on Arxterra’s mission statement and links to their instructables can be found at http://www.arxterra.com

Vocademy: A New Hackerspace in Riverside!

 

Maker and Hacker spaces are incredibly important for every community to provide a place for kids and adults to learn, explore, create and build with their own free will. It is so good to be seeing these places popping up in towns all across America, the world even!  Vocademy is one such place coming to Southern California and we here at OC Mini Maker Faire have been thrilled to watch it’s growth and progress over the past year.  Here’s Gene Sherman telling about this journey in his own words:

A journey begins with an idea and can take you to unimagined and unexplored places. My journey began with an observation that I started to see over and over. Every student over the last 15 years or so has been told that their only option was to attend college in order to be a success.

Schools have been slowly getting rid of their hands-on skills’ classes. Metal shop, wood shop, ceramics, sewing, auto shop…look at your local schools and you will see that they rarely exist anymore. Having gone through high school in the 80s, I did have those resources available to me, and I took advantage of every one I could. It is probably what kept me going to school during my junior and senior years. Even those who do choose higher education are missing out on the joys and creativity necessary in making things with their hands.

I look around today and think to myself, where can the average person go if he/she wants to create something, invent, tinker, explore and/or learn to use tools or machinery? Maybe to a friend’s shop or garage, but how many people have access to that?


It got me thinking about how I could be part of a solution to this dilemma that faces young and old, male or female, student or not. Where could someone go to get the hands-on skills to create or learn to make what they wanted? You see, I have always been a maker and have been curious about how things worked. I built models and played with RC cars and helicopters. If something broke, I figured out how to fix it. These are priceless experiences that put you in control of your possesions. I had parents who encouraged and taught me how to explore, how to use hands-on tools, and my father was a master machinist who taught me the nuances of the profession.

As I mentioned earlier, I was becoming disheartened by the lack of skills being taught and how people did not have a place to use these skills. I knew I was not alone in this thought. And so years ago I discovered that there was a movement growing, a maker movement. People started getting together in tiny garages and homes. They would share their limited resources and expertise and just make things. But these groups were very small and not well known. I wanted a place where anyone can go, any time of day. And that is how the idea for Vocademy came to fully develop.

Another integral part of the Vocademy process was when I worked at a local university as the lab and shop manager for a mechanical engineering department. I worked there for five years, and I saw a distressing trend. These future engineers didn’t know basic tools, or how to read blueprints, or what kinds of metals to use, or even how to competently use machinery. In a school of over 21,000 students, only 50 had access to the shop. I knew there were many others interested in learning this stuff! So, I started teaching my own version of Machine Shop 101 class to the students in order to help fill in their learning gap and quickly found out that many in community also wanted in. Word spread and people started asking for more! They wanted woodshop, sewing, 3D printing and every other kind of “industrial art” possible. I also wanted to make these classes available on a larger scale. To also let people use the entire facility to practice what they learned and make whatever they desire!

Now, here we are in 2013, and we just completed an incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign. Last week, I signed a lease to our new 15,000 sq. ft. building in Riverside. We hope to be moving in in September! Meanwhile, I am working on finding/meeting with equity investors, gathering more equipment and hiring staff. There is a lot to do and I am expecting our grand opening to be October 6th.

The journey will continue, and there will be unexpected turns and hills and valleys. Today Vocademy is now coming to reality and once again, people will be able to express themselves with their hands.

To learn more about Vocademy just click on the name to visit their website or come see them in person at the OC Mini Maker Faire on August 17th at UCI!

 

The Final Weeks!

Our call for Makers is officially closed but, don’t despair we have a few spots left!  We are doing a hard close for vendors but, if you have something you’d like to demo, show off, let other people play with, let us know and we’ll see if we can squeeze you in!

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be posting articles and showing you some of the cool new things you can see and experience at OC Mini Maker Faire 2013!  

Stay tuned!

 

Call for Makers ends July 1st!

You read that right, the day is quickly approaching and we are working on finalizing the details! We still have some space left for a few more Makers and vendors so, if you’ve been thinking about joining us for OC Mini Maker Faire 2013 now is the time to sign up. Just click the Call to Makers Application button and let us know you’re coming!

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OC MIni Maker Faire 2012

Wonderful video montage of our first ever Orange County Mini Maker Faire which happened on July 14, 2012! Many thanks to everyone who helped make it a fantastically successful day!

Video by:  Andy Verostek

Music by : The Budrows

Makers of MakerPlace

Lounge at MakerPlace

It’s a pretty impressive facility, the digs at MakerPlace in San Diego.  They’ve got all the dream machines for woodworking, crafting (sewing & quilting), metal working, laser cutting, electronics and 3D printing not to mention office space, conference rooms and storage for your materials.   So it’s no wonder that at the One Year Birthday Celebration on Saturday May 9th there were some fantastic Makers there showing off their stuff.

I had made plans to meet with Dublin Mini Maker Faire organizer Tomas Ward and we thought this was the perfect place and time to do just that.

Tomas Ward

We had a great time touring the facilities and meeting the Makers.   Balazs Moldovan had some great whiskey and wine barrel chairs.  You can tell which ones had held red wine in a past life by the cheery rose tint and those that were charred to give a smokey flavor to whiskey.   The hole in the back of the chair is called the bunghole, it’s where the plug went in the barrel for draining the liquid.  This particular chair can swivel and has a reclining option too. Whiskey Barrel Chair by Balazs Moldovan Lots of other beautiful woodwork to be seen as well… WP_000242 Pat Downing was there representing blacksmiths with some nice metal work. Pat Downing metal As well as James Cosimini with his mini portable forge and some pretty knives. ???????????????????????? There were some nice textile arts on display including quilts and a “painting” made of stitching. WP_000241   One of my favorite things about gathering together Makers is the fun juxtapostion of odd things like custom made skateboard decks and Halloween quilts. WP_000240   Gary was there with the beginnings of his Mail-bot.  Gary lives at the top of a hill but, his mailbox is at the bottom so, he’s building a bot that will switch out mailboxes for him. Gary S. with mailbot   The brains are made up of a Smartphone and a Nullspace built microprocessor.mailbot brains   Also in the robot area was this cool hand (no one was there to demo it for us) WP_000250

…and this great Steampunk Aether Wave Disruptor by R.E. Calou.

Aether Wave Disruptor by R.E. Calou

The great thing is that with all these tools and machinery at their fingertips the Makers of MakerPlace can create all kinds of interesting things.

Light up wall art (laser etched glass):

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Steampunk wine cellar doors:

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Curiously strange mythical beasts like Grinnus Hexapedus:

Grinnus Hexapedus

San Diego definitely has lots of fodder for a terrific Maker Faire!  If you find yourself in the area go check out MakerPlace, you never know what you’re going to see.

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Paper Bag Books

Here’s a fun reuse project to do with, or for, kids!  You will need:

  • Four paper lunch bags
  • glue (school glue or glue stick will work, just something sticky)

That’s it!  That’s the basics anyway, you can also have materials on hand for creating a cover if you want like felt or sheets of craft foam or decorative paper or what ever material you want.

So, start with four paper lunch bags:

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First, keeping them folded, glue the flap that is the bottom of the bag down.

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Then fold the bags so that the bottom is on the outside.

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Next, you want to glue the bottom panel of one bag to the top part of another bag, do this with all the bags.

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Make sure to cover the bag well with glue, especially along the edges.

And there you have the basic book!

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Now you can get fancy and make a cover!  The black book is covered with felt and there is a fan of colored foam with sticky backs to make it easy.

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Our resident teen artist covered her book with white craft foam then used puffy stickers and paint on it.

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They can also be decorated for a holiday and given as gifts or extra fancy cards.  (This one is drying after having hearts applied with Mod Podge.)

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We were gifted one of these fun little books with prompts on each page to help encourage them to be used.

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And since the open end of the bag is facing out they can be used as secret pockets to keep treasures in!  How about using one as a recipe book.  Recipes can be clipped out of magazines and kept in the pockets while others can be written on the pages.  White lunch bags can be used as well.  Play with it and make it your own!

Community College Makers

Makers can be found everywhere including in Design classes at Community Colleges!  Recently I was invited to attend the Golden West College Design Department Student Show called Connection Points.

I particularly enjoyed this S’Mores Clock.  The graham cracker is the minute hand and the chocolate marks the hour.

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Design program instructor, Greg Wight, has partnered with a local physician  who creates an amazing Halloween display each year in Huntington Beach which attracts thousands of spectators and media attention.  GWC Design students help to build huge props and displays which include animatronics and walk through attractions on the streets of a local neighborhood.

In 2011 the theme was Scary Tales and included sets portraying Alice in Wonderland, The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, The Three Little Pigs and other stories.   Following is a photo of the top half of Titan from Little Mermaid, this piece stands over 15 feet tall.

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The theme in 2012 was The Wizard of Oz including the Wicked Witch of the East and The Great Oz, both of which are animatronic and include sound.

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Many forms of design were displayed at the show including lots of artwork, fiber arts, sculpture, 3D printed pieces and this cool model of a concept house…

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It’s great to see young people making and creating and the partnership for the Halloween display is particularly special here offering a great opportunity to apply and increase skill

Solar powered vehicle build by GWC Design program students.

Solar powered vehicle build by GWC Design program students.

.  We hope to see some of Greg’s students showing off their talent at the OC Mini Maker Faire soon!

Robotis Inc.

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On Nov. 28th Jinwook Kim from Robotis Inc. invited me to observe one of the Kidslab classes that they offer.   He also provided a free kit for my 12 year old son and invited him to join the class.

The OLLO kit is fun and versatile although, it does contain really small parts that challenge fine motor skills.

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Jinwook and I had a long pleasant conversation in which he stressed his strong desire to bring STEM education to as many grade school kids as possible.    His idea for being a part of the OC Mini Maker Faire in 2013 is to showcase kid’s projects from throughout the year.  In future years, when we have a larger venue, he might like us to host area competitions.

“ROBOTIS KidsLab teaches elementary school students math and
science through the use of the educational robot kit named OLLO.”

Miles enjoyed the class and since bringing the kit home he has designed and built many new projects on his own using the OLLO parts.

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Make Room! at LOSCON39

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The friendly folks at DIG  invited us to join them again for their 2nd annual Make Room at the LOSCON39 Science Fiction Convention during the weekend after Thanksgiving.   This year we were in a bigger space with even more Makers and I loved the wonderful comraderie we all shared.  Makers included: Deezmaker 3D print shop, a beer maker from the Maltose Falcons Brewing Club, Tim Lewis the animatronics guy, several tables of Arduino projects, the ThinBot Bartending Robot, Crash Space, Mag Labs, an amazing NAO robot and more.  Larry Burch ran an Arduino workshop and he and Annika from LA Robotics Club were part of an Arduino panel at 10am that was packed!

NAO robot J2 performing Tai Chi.  This robot was fascinating to watch, it can dance, sit down and stand up and even recognize faces.  Handler Jay Jay (Danilo Napalan)

The ThinBot Bartending robot by Kevin Roche, the bell notifying you that your drink is ready is a perfect touch.

Tim Lewis, Tim Laren, James Howarth and Larry Burch,  whom I bemusedly dubbed The Arduino Geek Squad for the weekend.

Larry Burch holding the beginnings of a gun made with Arduino.

Half of Darth Vader’s 3D printed head from Deezmakers.  Bequi asked for the castoff in order to see if it would work as a Mason Bee habitat.  Mason Bees are stingless native pollinators in North America.