Bay Area Maker Faire 2010 in pictures

Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any bigger and crazier, they manage to outdo themselves again. The Bay Area Maker Faire wrapped up Sunday evening, but we have so many story leads that we’ll probably be busy until next year’s event. In the meantime, here’s just a tiny, random sampling of the countless delights that greeted visitors this past weekend.

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Maple R3 now shipping

Leaf Labs is now shipping the Maple R3 boards. [Phil Burgess] gave the platform a look just before launch last fall and the high-powered prototyping board is now even better. New features come in both hardware and software varieties. The bootloader can now be upgraded without additional programming hardware, there’s hardware SPI and I2C interfaces, and a newly-polished IDE for Linux and Windows. At $50 it’s a good way to get access to the power of the ARM Cortex M3 processor at the center of the board. We’ve seen several projects that use the mbed, which is in the same class as the Maple, but we’re waiting to see what you’ve accomplished with this little devil.

DB9 form factor USB-RS232 replacement

If you’re attached to that favorite DB-9 interfaced device you should look into this part. FTDI is selling a USB-RS232 adapter as a replacement for DB-9 connectors. They come with USB male or female connections depending on the application and have the same serial footprint and pinout to which you’re accustomed. Using converter cables is just fine but this simplicity requires a few minutes of desoldering, rather than redesigning, etching, and populating a board in order to give that older design built-in USB connectivity.

[Thanks Juan]

Build HAL into your kitchen

Instead of building a $500 iPad into a cabinet [Gojimi] used the old hardware he had lying around to building this kitchen computer. He did buy a few items such as a used touchscreen and a bar code scanner but the 2 GHz computer was just collecting dust. It’s running Windows XP, talks to you like HAL or KITT, and scans the bar codes on food as you add it to the pantry or using it for meals. The lengthy video after the break covers all of the features, such as Weight Watcher’s calculations, food information, recipe book, unit converter, weather forecast, browser, and digital picture frame. It seems to have more features than the iPhone kitchen lookalike but it also looks dauntingly complicated. But we still want one.

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Prison tattoo machine made from PlayStation

Prison inmates have a history of being gruesomely resourceful hackers. The toothbrush shiv comes immediately to mind. One such inmate in the UK wanted to offer tattoos to his fellow convicts so he came up with a tattoo gun using a PlayStation for parts. The crude setup involves a sharpened ballpoint pen and the use one of the motors from the optical drive to move it up and down. The inmate didn’t document his work for us but there are other examples of this method available. Even with modern hardware, ink seems a little 20th century when compared to laser tats.

[Thanks Memmy T]

BAMF2010: Spy TRAKR – no lasers, $14,861 cheaper

Maybe $15K for an elaborate balancing telepresence robot is a bit out of one’s league. In that case, another Bay Area Maker Faire exhibitor — Wild Planet — has you covered. Faire attendees got a hands-on sneak preview of the upcoming Spy Video TRAKR, a video-transmitting radio-controlled toy that’s programmable and extensively hackable.

The TRAKR has an impressive pedigree. It’s a collaborative effort between three successful and creative technology companies: Wild Planet, makers of the Spy Gear toy line; MOTO Development Group, designers of the Flip Video camera; and Making Things, software designers for the Make Controller.

So just how hackable are we talking? The Spy Video TRAKR is intended right out of the box to use downloadable apps, and allows development of new programs in C. The controller and vehicle each contain their own ARM9 processor, and the ’bot features 8 megs of RAM, an SD card slot and USB client and host (yes, host) ports. And that’s all with the cover still on. Pop the lid, and you’ll find links to online schematics and neatly-labeled breakout headers for deeper exploration.

The Spy Video TRAKR is expected to ship in October with a target price of $139 or less. Additional photos after the break.

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Sun tracking solar panel

As we all know, a solar panel must be exposed to the most amount of sunlight possible to reach full efficiency. A solid mount limits the amount of time that the panel is fully exposed to direct sunlight. The solution is to build a pivoting mount that automates the process of aiming at the sun.

[bwitmer] takes us through the process of building one out of some wood and old bicycle rims. He bought a pre made tracking unit to control his actuator, but we think many of you here could rig something up on your own.

[via HacknMod]

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