Next Weekend: The Midwest Reprap Festival

midwest

Guess what next weekend is? It’s the Midwest Reprap Festival, in Goshen, Indiana. We’ll also be there keeping tabs on an absurd amount of new RepRaps and other 3D printers, new filaments, and distributing a ludicrous amount of Hackaday swag.

The highlights of the fest include the folks from Lulzbot and UltiMachine, [Prusa] showing off his i3, [Nick Seward] and the WallySimpson, and Lisa RepRaps, and hundreds of other RepRappers showing off their latest projects and printers.

Here’s the best part: it’s all free! It would be cool if you register before making the trip out, but any way you look at it, it’ll be an awesome weekend. It’s also the largest US gathering of 3D printer aficionados that isn’t on the east or west coast.

We’re Going To The Midwest RepRap Fest

One month from now, Goshen, Indiana – deep in the land of Dairy Queens – will become one of the premier sites for RepRapping, 3D printing and everything involving open source manufacturing. It’s the 2nd annual Midwest RepRap Festival to be held March 14-16. Oh, Hackaday will also be there, cavorting around, distributing some swag, and doing some live videos and posts of the event.

Highlights of the Festival include [Prusa] giving a talk on the state of open source printing, [Sonny Monicou] discussing the challenges of his RepRap workshops, a roundtable discussion of the RepRap project, [Nicholas Seward] and his creations – the Wally, Simpson, and Lisa, along with a few folks from Lulzbot and UltiMachine. Basically, the only way to go to a bigger RepRap convention would be to visit a Maker Faire, and even that would only add a few hundred 9-year-olds astounded by printed Minecraft figurines.

If you’re willing to make the drive, there’s no fee to attend; just register, show up, and you’ll get a table for all that up-til-midnight RepRapping. There’s also a waffle breakfast on Sunday, along with me walking around makin’ it rain Hackaday stickers.

Midwest RepRap Festival

We’re a US-centric site, but aside from events in New York or California, we don’t see many hacker, maker, or 3D printer events aimed at the parts of the country filled with corn and WalMarts. The 1st annual Midwest RepRap Festival aims to change that with enough events, speakers, and activities to make Elkhart, Indiana look like the hoppingist place around.

Officially, the festival started yesterday but the schedule of events really ramps up today. [Josef Prusa] will be taking the stage talking about the state of the RepRap, and a ton of 3d printing vendors will be there showing off their wares and selling some really cool stuff. There’s also tons of experienced RepRappers available to help you tune your machine to perfection; just as well, because the festival is going for the world record for the greatest number of 3D printers printing simultaneously.

If you’re around northern Indiana, you might want to check out the festival and send us a few pics or videos.

A huge microwave-powered bug zapper

This is the biggest bug zapper we’ve ever seen. It’s called the Megazap as its zapping area is 1 square meter. [Eighdot] and [Sa007] combined their talents for the build in order to help reduce the insect population around the Eth0 2012 Summer festival.

You may recall from our bug zapping light saber build that these devices work by providing two energized grids. When an insect flies between the grids it allows the potential energy to overcome the air resistance by travelling through the insect’s body. The Megazap uses a transformer from a microwave oven to source that potential. The transformer produces 2.4 kV and the current is limited by a floodlight fitted inside the microwave. The side effect of using the lamp as a limiter is that it lights up with each bug zapped, providing a bit of a light show. Don’t miss the video after the break to see some flying foes get the life shocked out of them.

[Read more...]

Donation meter raises alarm when not plugged with coins

This is something of a mandatory donation meter. If you don’t feed it with coins it sounds a very loud alarm continuously.

[Piet De Vaere] built the device for a free festival in Ghent, Belgium. The intent is to help raise awareness that although free of an admission price, the success of the event depends on donations. It works much like a parking meter. When you feed it coins time is added to the meter. When it runs all the way down that large loudspeaker on the right side of the case sounds the alarm.

In the video after the break [Piet] walks us through a demonstration, followed by a tour of the hardware. The pointer on the meter is a piece of cardboard connected to a servo. An Arduino board controls the servo, adding time in two-minute intervals whenever a coin enters the chute and passes by an optical sensor. There is no distinction between types of coins.

The use of a pizza box as a prototyping board shows that you don’t have to be fancy to build something neat.

[Read more...]

Adding a lot of twinkle to this rebar sculpture

Blinky lights have a way of attracting attention and that’s exactly what the members of the Maui Makers hackerspace were shooting for. The sculpture above is the logo for the Source festival, a Burning Man inspired music gathering in the Aloha state. For this year’s festival they went crazy, installing twelve meters of RGB LED strip controlled by seven Arduino boards.

The goal was to make the twelve-foot tall sculpture into a lighted interactive showpiece. In addition to the LEDs it includes a microphone, capacitance sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, and a piezo speaker. There’s one Arduino to rule them all, with another Teensy controller to drive an LCD display in the control box, and five Teensy boards to address the LED strips. They grabbed [Bill Porter's] Easy Transfer library to facilitate communication between the microcontrollers (his libraries are becoming popular, we just saw his mp3 shield library used in another project on Tuesday).

The code which drives the LED animations is based on some Adafruit examples. We really enjoy the waving flag effect seen in the clip after the break.

[Read more...]

XKCD inspires YouTube feature

Who knew that a silly comic strip could be so influential? XKCD’s strip focusing on the inanity of YouTube comments inspired someone to actually add the Audio Preview feature to YouTube. It’s provided us with much amusement, especially where one commenter mentions that the “preview of my own post sounded moronic!”

Speech synthesis software is nothing new, of course. While it’s not the most sophisticated software, it’s an invaluable resource to those with disabilities, language learners, and others. This tutorial on Festival, a Linux-based text-to-speech software framework, would be a great place to start. You’re just moments away from finding out how stupid email, IM, and IRC sound read aloud.