MakerFaire North Carolina, We’ll see you there!

This weekend, June 16th, the North Carolina Maker Faire will be happening. This is the 3rd year for this event and from what we’ve seen in the past, it should be pretty good.

We realize that every site has its niche of event coverage that they should deliver. Engadget/Gizmodo need to show new phones and got to big apple announcements. Joystiq needs to be at E3. We feel like we should be where people are hacking/building things. In an effort to reach those places, Maker Faire pops into mind pretty quickly. [Jeremy Cook] will be at this one walking around and doing interviews as well as having a booth for his personal site jcopro.net . If you see him, don’t hesitate to go up and say hi, maybe he’ll have a custom cut vinyl hackaday sticker left to give out.

We plan on hitting as many other similar events as we can swing (sorry, looks like no one can make it to toorcamp this year). Our writers are located all over the country so if you hear of an event you think we would enjoy, shoot us an email. Maybe we can attend!

Light trikes allow you to pedal for your life

Unfortunately, none of our writers are located in California this year. This means that we weren’t able to go to the Bay Area MakerFaire and see the cool stuff for ourselves. We have been following along on the web though and a few projects have caught our eye. The rig you see above is a physical controller for a game that was inspired by the classic Tron light cycle. The gameplay is pretty obvious, you pedal the trike to go and turn the handlebars to turn your light tricycle. The hardware seems fairly simple, they’re using an arduino to collect information from the bike, then sending that through NetLab hub, a cross platform toolkit for taking data from a micro controller and feeding it to flash.  We think they did a fantastic job on the presentation, this actually looks like fun to play.

For some reason though, we want them to build a level that looks like the Stanley Hotel.

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BAMF2011: Google’s SKPR Bot, not for arachnophobes

Google’s Maker Faire exhibit space is swarmed with robots…er, androids. Amidst some cool bipeds and Segway-balancers, our inner sci-fi nerd was most smitten with this hexapod design, which they’ve dubbed SKPR Bot. The “Skipper” is on hand to showcase the ease of various Google technologies: SketchUp, Android OS and the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. The whole project came together in less than six weeks.

18 servos are mounted to a framework designed in SketchUp and laser-cut by Ponoko. The low-level servo PWM control is handled by the Dev Kit (essentially a rebadged Arduino Mega, as we’ve seen), while an Android OS phone provides a slick GUI and handles all the inverse kinematics calculations required as the robot takes each step. The coolest bit is that it’s all up for grabs. At this moment you’ll have to scrounge around the ’net a bit to find the plans and code, but some time post-Faire they plan to bring everything together at the SKPR Bot site.

BAMF2011: Lasersaur is one BIG laser cutter!

Psst…wanna buy a laser cutter, but not ready to sell your internal organs? Nortd Labs’ Lasersaur project aims to create an open source large-format laser cutter/engraver that undercuts (har har!) the cost of commercial models by an order of magnitude.

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BAMF2011: Keyboards built from scratch

As the most direct interface between computer and programmer, keyboards can be a deeply personal, sometimes almost religious thing. Some find solace in their vintage IBM Model M, or luxurious leather keyboard, but maker [Carol Chen] took things into her own hands, quite literally. [Carol]’s Maker Faire exhibit has a half dozen specimens of interesting commercial tactile and ergonomic options…but [Chen]’s personal keyboard, where she commits to her work as a full-time coder, has been made to her own exacting specifications.

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BAMF2011: Bloxes, a building kit with a nifty pedigree

Not every cool hack needs to involve microcontrollers, LEDs or other bling. We were initially drawn to the Bloxes display simply because we love a good multipurpose construction set, whether it be Lego, 80/20 aluminum, or in this case, a system of interlocking cubes formed from six identical pieces of corrugated cardboard, cut and scored in such a manner as to form a surprisingly sturdy little building block. They can become simple furniture, groovy Logan’s Run-style room decor, or the all-important kids’ forts…then later dismantled and made into something else.

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BAMF2011: chipKIT is Arduino to the power of 32

If you’ve been hungry for more power for your microcontroller projects, but reluctant to dump your investment in Arduino shields or the libraries and community knowledge that go with them all, Digilent has you covered. Their new chipKIT boards are built around the Microchip PIC32 MCU…a powerful 32-bit chip that until recently was left out of the cross-platform scene. A majority of code and quite a number of Arduino shields will work “out of the box” with the chipKIT, and the familiar development tools are available for all three major operating systems: Windows, Mac and Linux.

We first mentioned these a couple weeks ago, but the software was unavailable at the time. Seeing the development tools in action was quite unexpected…

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