Magic in the Midwest: Maker Faire Kansas City

What did you do over the weekend? I spent both days at Maker Faire Kansas City and it was awesome. This is the fourth year the Faire has been held in Union Station, a stunning Kansas City landmark that celebrates its centennial this fall.

The Things

As you might imagine, there were 3D printers galore. One of my favorites was the One Up family from Q3D. These acrylic beauties start at $199 and offer a heated bed plate option.

Maker Juice Labs, purveyors of 3D printing inks for SLA brought a LittleSLA printer which they demonstrated by making some very nice key chains.

Little SLA does it stereolithographically.

Little SLA does it stereolithographically.

SeeMeCNC had their Rostock Max V2 printer cooking up some huge prints, and Oni Technology, a local KC company, had their H Bot cranking.

Locally-made Oni H Bot.

Locally-made Oni H Bot.

At the Modio booth, my companion and I constructed heroes and monsters from a rainbow-colored pile of 3D-printed body parts and weapons. With Modio’s iPad app, you can create characters from the existing parts library, modify those parts, and print them on any 3D printer. All of the parts are designed to snap together. Modio recently teamed up with MakerBot and hopes to port their app from the iPad to the iPhone and Android in the near future.

I managed to resist the inexplicable Hostess booth and their free piles of Twinkies, Cup Cakes, and Coffee Cakes. They had a display that promised banana Twinkies and some Greek yogurt oddities, but only had the regular stuff on hand. On Sunday, I saw many people lugging around entire boxes of free Donettes and other goodies.

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Popmaskinen — An Electromechanical One Man Band

one man band

The Stockholm Mini Maker Faire 2014 has just finished up, and [Johnny Eriksson] was awarded the Maker of the Year award for his very impressive electromechanical one man band.

As a musician/electrician/furniture carpenter, [Johnny] has quite a few skills — and he wanted to try putting them altogether for a project. He calls it the Popmaskinen (the pop machine).

Using MIDI keyboards, buttons, and knobs, the Popmaskinen translates digital outputs to physical instruments controlled by various electromechanical components. One of our favorite parts is the guitars, which use solenoids to strum, and even more solenoids to squeeze various cords on the pair of guitars.

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Live from Maker Faire #hadmf

Want to see what kind of shenanigans we’re up to at Maker Faire Bay Area? We’ll be tweeting all weekend. Use #hadmf and follow this list for the Hackaday Crew.

Find the Giant Jolly Wrencher at Maker Faire this Weekend

scaled_DSC_0038

Check it out, I made something really geeky for Maker Faire. If you’re going to be in San Mateo this weekend for Maker Faire Bay Area, watch for the floating Skull and Wrenches. I won’t be alone, and my compatriots and I will be loaded down with stuff to give away to those who ask for it. If you are hell-bent on finding us, just check this Twitter list as we’ll frequently be tweeting our locations and exploits.

Want to grab a beer with some other Hackaday folk? Even if you’re not attending the Faire, you can take part in the festivities. We’re descending on O’Neil’s Irish Pub on Saturday night. You might want to let us know you’re coming. You can show up unannounced, but we can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to squeeze into the 80-person-pub. If we have way too many hackers overflowing into the street we’ll probably split the party up and go bar hopping. The place is apparently right next to a train stop for your traveling convenience. We just hope to keep things tame enough to make it to Maker Faire again on Sunday morning, but we can’t guarantee that either ;-)

LIB3 plans to bring contract manufacturing to the masses

LIB3's paste system

LIB3’s paste system

LIB3 is an open source hardware start-up from upstate New York. Thus far, the team has made some interesting products such as the piLED kit. However, they have big dreams for the future. LIB3 plans to become a contract assembly house specifically targeting low volume makers. To do this they have to build their own tools. LIB3’s latest project is a solder paste dispenser for surface mount components. Traditionally solder paste is applied with stencils made of stainless steel. In more recent years laser cut kapton has become a favorite for low volume production.

Both of these systems require a stencil to be made up. LIB3 took a different approach, and modified an old CNC glue dispenser for paste. The team got their hands on an 1991 vintage X/Y glue dispensing system. X/Y systems in this era were big, heavy affairs with powerful motors. LIB3 removed all the control electronics and built their own system from scratch. New features include direct computer control, and a vision system.

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castAR comes to Maker Faire NY 2013

castAR-2

If there was one sentence heard over and over at Maker Faire NY, it was “Did you see castAR yet?” The Technical Illusions team was at Maker Faire in full force. [Jeri Ellsworth], [Rick Johnson,] and team brought two demos:  the tried and true Jenga simulator, and a newer overhead shooter based on the Unity 3D engine. We didn’t see any earth shattering changes from the previous demos of castAR, as [Jeri] has moved into optimization of the Hardware, and [Rick] toward even more immersive demos of the software. Optimization and preparing for market are considered the “hard yards” of any product design. This is the place where a huge amount of work goes in, but the changes are subtle to the layperson.

In addition to her development of castAR’s ASIC, [Jeri] has been hard at work on the optics. The “old” glasses used a solid plastic optical path. The newer glasses use a hollow path for the twin 720p projectors. This makes them even lighter than the previous generation. Weight on the castAR glasses can’t be overstated. They feel incredibly light. There was no perceptible pressure on the nose or ears when wearing them. Also missing was the motion sickness people often experience with VR. This is because castAR doesn’t replace the user’s vision field, it only augments the vision. Peripheral motion cues are still there, which makes for a much more comfortable experience. [Read more...]

PocketNC P5 takes desktop CNC to the 5th dimension

PocketNCp5

What do you get when you put together a husband/wife team of a machinist and mechanical engineer? If you’re [Matt and Michelle Hertel], you get a 5 axis CNC, which we think was one of the hidden gems at Maker Faire NY.

Hobby CNC machines have grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. Nearly all these machines have been 3 axis (X,Y,Z). 5 (and more) axis machines have been around for years in the industrial world. These higher level machines never have made the jump to the hobby/home shop world.

The P5’s two extra axis allow for extremely complex parts to be created in one setup. A good example of this would be a turbine wheel. Compound curves on (and behind) each blade would make this an impossible job for a 3 axis CNC. The P5 was machining these parts all weekend at Maker Faire NY. Even more impressive is the fact that it was cutting Delrin, not wax.

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