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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Bay Area Maker Faire: Hackaday has arrived!

It’s a madhouse already at the 2011 Bay Area Maker Faire. Though the show doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, Friday is “Education Day”, a special preview for local schools. As makers scramble to set up their displays, a thousand impressionable young minds seek the most cacophonous mixture of taiko drumming, ArcAttack’s musical Tesla coils, and the beeping and booping of the R2-D2 Builder’s Club.

Maker Faire is returning for its sixth year at the San Mateo Event Center, and is shaping up to be bigger and zanier than ever. We’ll do our best to provide some live updates through the weekend. As always, check out the official site for pointers on hours, admission, parking and especially public transit options.

(Photo: Colossus, the death-defying centerpiece of the Midway area of the Faire.)

Bay Area Maker Faire 2010 video

Since the previously-posted stills can’t quite convey the chaos of last weekend’s Maker Faire, here’s some video from the event to help get you through hump day. It’s like three liters of Jolt Cola in a two liter bottle.

One thing even video can’t adequately capture is our gratitude toward our readers at the show who took time to express their appreciation for the blog. You guys and gals rock our world. Thank you!

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