World Maker Faire 2013: 3D Printed “Pot Head”

It's surprising how rapidly the capability and capacity of affordable 3D printers has increased.

There were several exhibitors at Maker Faire in NYC last week showing off printers with print envelopes large enough to print really big objects. Of course the print times can be extremely long, and there is also the issue of warping with large parts. Still, the results were very impressive and encouraging.

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World Maker Faire – Day Zero – David Lang – Zero to Maker

130920 Maker Faire David Lang

Great session with David Lang discussing his new book "Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything", and the passion for exploring that inspired him to make projects like OpenROV a reality. He has a great story to tell, and wants you to join him in the quest.

I'll be posting the details of our conversation soon, probably right after Maker Faire wraps up on Sunday evening.

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Makerbot User Group NYC Meetings Available via Ustream

makerbot user group

Just discovered that there's a regular Makerbot User Group meeting in New York City and the meetings are shared live via Ustream.

Archived videos of meetings are available online, though it looks like they just started adding content. Could be a treasure trove of information and inspiration as more meetings are added in the future. 

I won't embed the stream here because it tends to auto play in some browsers, but you can access it via the via link below.

Via: ユーザー makerbot: MUG MeetUp NYC, MUG MeetUp NYC. その他

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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

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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.


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Kansas City Maker Faire Embodies America’s Heartland Maker Spirit (Video)

kc maker faire

One of America's outstanding strengths, and the thing that makes it unique in the world, is its pioneering spirit of self-sufficiency and belief that the nation, and its individual citizens can overcome any obstacle or hazard that nature or mankind throws in its way. That spirit may not be so obvious in its more well known left and right coast megalopolises like New York and L.A., but it survives and thrives in heartland cities like Kansas City.

Kansas City, like so many midwestern areas, was given birth by early pioneers and farmers that knew if they didn't take control of their daily lives they would quickly perish. If a piece of farm equipment broke, they figured out how to fix it. There was no Amazon, no FedEx, nor UPS.

I remember visiting a friend's rural home near Kingsville, just outside of Kansas City, and being amazed as he explained how he built a small tractor. He couldn't afford to buy a commercially built tractor, but he had an old junker car in the backyard that was way beyond being road worthy.

First, he pulled the engine and completely rebuilt it. Once the engine was running reliably, he rigged some pulleys so the engine would drive a generator he had scrounged, and set it up as a welding rig. Using the welding rig, he set about transforming the car frame, cutting most of the body off down to the frame members, then modified the basic frame design. Eventually, and it took months of hard work, he had the tractor he needed, and a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction.

But he didn't have 'pride' - he wasn't egotistical at all about what he had been able to accomplish. He, like many midwesterners of that generation, didn't see anything particularly special or unusual about what he had done. It was just normal, every day, life from his perspective. If I had asked him about it he probably would have responded, "You just do what you gotta do."

That spirit, that creativeness, that self sufficiency is still very much alive and well in America's heartland. And, it's seeing a new groundswell of energy and enthusiasm. A great example is the way the Maker Faire initiative has taken root in Kansas City.

There's a totally different, perhaps stronger, perhaps more grounded, feeling about the Kansas City Maker Faire compared to other similar events. You can feel the difference just from watching the video below featuring the 2011 event.

And, the KC Maker Faire isn't just about 'seeing' and 'experiencing' what makers are doing. It's very much about diving in head first, getting involved, sharing what you are making - or want to make, learning from others, and teaching them what you know. Now's the time to get involved, to become part of this great movement, and to get the same wonderful sense of personal accomplishment. Sign up to be a maker now - the entry deadline is rapidly approaching. You'll be glad you did.


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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.)

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