Madison Maker Faire

Saturday was the first Madison Mini Maker Faire. In this case, it’s Madison, Wisconsin (sorry Madison, SD I didn’t mean to get your hopes up) where I live. Of course I’m not the only crazy hardware hacker in the area. As soon as I got there I almost tripped over Ben Heckendorn who also lives in the area.

ben-heck-gameboy

Check out that incredible Giant Game Boy the he was exhibiting. Okay, you think to yourself: Raspberry Pi and an LCD. Wrong! He’s actually using an FPGA to drive the LCD. Even cooler, it’s using an original Game Boy brain board, which the FPGA is connected to in order to translate the handheld’s LCD connector signals to work with the big LCD.

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Autonomous Electro-musical Devices

Circuit-bending is tons of fun. The basic idea is that you take parts of any old electronic device, say a cheap toy keyboard, and probe all around with wires and resistors, disturbing its normal functioning and hoping to get something cool. And then you make art or music or whatever out of it. But that’s a lot of work. What you really need is a circuit-bending robot!

Or at least that’s what [Gijs Gieskes] needed, when he took apart a horrible Casio SA-5 and grafted on enough automatic glitching circuitry to turn it into a self-playing musical sculpture. It’s random, but somehow it’s musical. It’s great stuff. Check out the video below to see what we mean.

We also love the way the autonomous glitching circuit is just laid over the top of the original circuitboard. It looks like some parasite out of Aliens. But with blinking LEDs.

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ROBOCHOP! It Slices, Dices, But Wait! There’s More…

You’re gunna love my cuts. 

KUKA robots are cool. They’re both elegant and terrifying to watch in action as they move unyieldingly to preform tasks. Not many of us get to use industrial tools like this because they aren’t exactly trivial to wield (or cheap!). Artists [Clemens Weisshaar] and [Reed Kram] however created an installation that allows anyone to potentially control one of these orange beauties to do their bidding… all from the safety and comfort of a computer chair.

For their piece, “ROBOCHOP”, the artists developed a web app that allows you to easily manipulate the surface of a virtual cube. You can rotate for positioning and then use a straight or curved line tool to draw vectors through its surface and subtract material. Once you’re finished sculpting your desired masterpiece, one of the four KUKA robots in the installation will retrieve a 40 x 40 x 40 cm block of foam and shape it into a real-life version of whatever you created in the app.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 1.03.39 PMStarting today you can visit the project’s website and upload your own mutilated cube designs. If your design is selected by the artists, it will be among the 2000 pieces carved by the robots throughout their installation during CeBit in Hanover. After the show, your cube spawn will then be mailed to you free of charge! The only way I could see this being cooler, is if they filmed the process so you could watch your shape being born.

Anyhow, I personally couldn’t resist the invitation to sculpt Styrofoam remotely with an industrial grade robot arm and came up with this gem.

You can go to their page if you want to give the app a go, and really… why wouldn’t you?

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Ro-Bow, The Violin Playing Robot

There are robots that will vacuum your house, mow your lawn, and keep their unblinking electronic eyes on you at all times while hovering hundreds of feet in the air. How about a robot that plays a violin? That’s what [Seth Goldstein] built. He calls it a ‘kinetic sculpture’, but there more than enough electronics and mechatronics to keep even the most discerning tinkerer interested.

There are three main parts of [Seth]’s violin-playing kinetic sculpture. The first is a bow carriage that draws the bow across the strings using an electromagnet to press the bow against the strings. The individual strings are fingered with four rubber disks, and a tilting mechanism rotates the violin so the desired string is always underneath the bow and mechanical fingers.

As far as software goes, the Ro-Bow transforms MIDI files into robotic mechanization that make the violin sing. From what we can tell, it’s not quite as good as a human player; only one string at a time can be played. It is, however, great at what it does and is an amazing mechanical sculpture.

Video Below.

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What Could Possibly Go Wrong Giving a Robot a Chainsaw?

Chainsaw wielding robot

[Morgan Rauscher] is a rather eccentric artist, inventor, maker, professor… jack of all trades. His latest project is called the Art-Bot – and it’s an 8′ robotic arm equipped with a chainsaw. Did we mention you can control it via arcade buttons?

He’s been building sculptures for over 10 years now, and has enjoyed observing the evolution of automated manufacturing – from CNC machines to laser cutters and even now, 3D printers. He loves the technologies, but fears machines are making it too easy – distancing us from the good old physical interaction it once took to make things with a few simple tools. His Art-Bot project attempts to bridge that gap by bringing tactile transference to the experience.

The cool part about the Art-Bot is that it is mostly made of recycled materials – in particular, bicycle parts!

Making a robot from bicycle parts is really not that difficult, and I highly recommend it.

The rest of the robot consists of electric actuators (linear), the control circuitry, and of course — a chainsaw. For safety’s sake, [Morgan] also built a polycarbonate wall around it to protect users from it going on a murderous rampage wood chips and other debris thrown from the robot.

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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.

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Create and Conflagrate giant modeled sculptures with Kinect and CNC

Summer has hit, and with it a bunch of crazy people going to crazy festivals and (often) burning crazy sculptures to crazy music! In that vein [Matthew Goodman] recently got involved in the burning flipside community down in Texas for his first big effigy build.  The project called for a gigantic archway flanked by two human shaped figures, since he had been working in Kinect [Matt] decided to try his hand at physically modeling the figures from Kinect mesh data.

After co-registering the depth and image cameras, setting up a capture routine to record, getting  .ply based meshes from the depth camera, and making a keypoint detector [Matt] was ready to start getting real world data from the Kinect. Armed with a ghetto steadycam built from his local Austin Hackerspace‘s spare parts bin, [Matt] proceeded to collect three 1.5 gigabyte scans of the charming [KT], who served as a model for the sculpture.

Once the meshes were imported to sketchup they could be merged and smoothed into a coherent form. The figure was split into CNC-able parts (known as the “lady bits” by [Matt] and his crew) and sent to local makers [Dave Umlas] and [Marrilee Ratcliff]’s ShopBot CNC mill. The 400 some odd bits of wood were then carted to flipside, methodically set up, and promptly set aflame the end of the event.

We have seen a couple of really interesting burning man projects, but this is possibly the shortest lived end result. Stay tuned this summer for more insane Black Rock City bound creations as well. Also don’t forget to check out [Matt]’s site for more details.