Should The Hackerspace Movement Remain Pure or Accept Military Funding?

makerspaces & the military

There's a significant debate going on in the hackerspace/maker community over acceptance of funding from DARPA, the research organization of the US Department of Defense to underwrite the creation of high school makerspaces.

The 'Yes' side of the argument is personified by Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE Magazine and Maker Faire, while Mitch Altman, a pioneer in the hacker/maker movement, is vehemently opposed to the point that he is actively boycotting Maker Faires and related activities.

Both sides of the debate are presented in detail by both Dougherty and Altman in the "Makerspaces & the Military" segment on this week's episode of Spark.

For those not already familiar with the excellent programming by Spark, it's a regular 'radio' broadcast (also available via podcast) produced by the CBC. Spark's charter is to create "An ongoing conversation about technology and culture."

Via: Spark 181 – May 6 & 9, 2012 | Spark

Read More

Affordable 3d Printers Hit The Market…? (Video)

3d printer

Last week I visited the iheartengineering headquarters in Brooklyn and was surprised to find that they have managed to build a rapidly expanding business around the print-on-demand model and unique product designs. Besides their abundant creativity, the heart of their business is a first generation MakerBot 3D printer that manufactures parts as orders come in the door (or over the internet).

It's not unusual for them to keep the printer running for hours, and sometimes days, at a time when orders peak. They've developed some special techniques for producing large parts with some unique fill patterns that I will post more about later.

Most important, the work, and the business model, that iheartengineering is pioneering convinced me that all the buzz about 3D printing generating a rebirth of manufacturing and creativity in the U.S. is much more than just hype. It is a practical and achievable goal, one that may soon be a reality for a growing number of start-ups.

(more…)

Read More

Quad Copter Autonomous Drone Demonstration (Video)

120110 THS QuadCopter 4

I've always wanted to build a R/C helicopter but thought that the technology and learning curve would be much more than I could squeeze into my limited schedule and budget. Tuesday night, Randy MacKay and Jiro Hattori totally blew me away and evaporated all my misconceptions.

They visited Tokyo Hackerspace and were kind enough to share the work that they have done with Arduino based drone helicopters, based on open source software and hardware designs from DIY Drones.

(more…)

Read More

Affordable Stretch Sensor from AdaFruit Industries

Adafruit stretch sensor

I'm so incredibly jealous. Lady Ada over at AdaFruit Industries has all these great toys to play and experiment with, and she's figured out how to do it while enriching all of our hacker lives and making a little money to find more great stuff.

The 'toy' that triggered this post for me is some conductive rubber stretch cord that acts as a sensor. It's like being able to pull on the end of a resistor and have it's characteristics change linearly as it gets longer and shorter. Way cool! And it is incredibly cheap. She's priced it at less than ten dollars for a full meter and even includes a pair of alligator clips and a 10k resistor. Science teachers, for example, could dice it up and have enough for each student to have a piece for experiments.

The only drawback that I can see is that the sensor takes a little while to recover after being stretched, though I guess that could be compensated for in some applications by using two sensors in opposition.

As usual, the AdaFruit website has a great related tutorial page so you can learn while having fun.

(Via Conductive Rubber Cord Stretch Sensor + extras! ID: 519 - $9.95 : Adafruit Industries, Unique & fun DIY electronics and kits.)

Read More

boomer-robot-maker-faire

KC Robot Builder Featured in Maker Faire Promo (Video)

boomer robot maker faire

Michael Overstreet has been a good and respected friend since the first time we hooked up several years ago at RoboGames in California. So, I hope he doesn't mind if I make some frank, and well deserved, comments.

When we first met Michael seemed like a typical robot geek, very talented with lots of expertise, but a bit shy and withdrawn. You really had to push him to get him to tell you what he thought. I'm sure he had lots of valuable and useful things to share, but they didn't flow easily.

Over the years, with experience, learning, and success, Michael has really blossomed and come out of his shell. He's become a key member of the Cowtown Computer Congress - Kansas City's leading hackerspace, a frequent exhibitor and participant in Maker Faire events all over the US, and a strong proponent of the DARwin-OP humanoid robot platform.

(more…)

Read More

ARS Electronica Festival to Kick-off With A Bang (Video)

Tesla Orchestra

If I had no budgetary and time constraints it would be fantastic to jaunt around the world experiencing all the fantastic technology, robot and science exhibitions I could find. Number one on my personal wish list, at least at the moment, would be the Ars Electronica Festival, scheduled for August 31st through September 6th, in Linz, Austria.

The long running festival goes back to September, 1979 when it was originally staged as a "pilot project was designed to take the Digital Revolution’s emergence as an occasion to face important questions about the future and to focus these inquiries on the nexus of ART, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY."

(more…)

Read More