Maker Faire 2010

Sadly Maker Faire is over for another year, but we had an awesome time and I think this is our best showing to date. We had 8 builders in attendance with their droids (and family), and we presented a builders panel for the first time at the faire.

Group Shot (Steve, Gerard, Johnathan, Chris, Matt, Grant)

Between Tammy and I we took over 500 photos/videos, so it was hard to pair it down to a handful to post here, but here goes.

As usual there are many more photos in the gallery.

Saturday started off hectic with booth setup, we had a nice big space with some new banners I had made, parts, plans and a slide show on the table.

Saturday Setup

For the faire open in earnest, I had big surprise for the builders. I’ve always liked the award tradition that Mike Senna started for R2LA, so I decided to start our tradition. Our first recipient of the Bay Area Builder of the Year went to Matt McCormick who has done an excellent job of helping fellow builders, hosting events and completing his droid. It’ll be up to him to make next year’s award and pick the recipient.

Matt - Bay Area Builder of the Year

Bay Area Builder of the Year Award

Not to leave everyone else out, I had Dana Powers make special medals say thank you to everyone else for being there this year. Thanks Dana!

Everyone got a commemorative medal

Everyone got a commemorative medal - include R2

One of the children from Friday’s Young Maker Day dropped of this thank you note.

Thank you letter from Friday's Young Maker Day

We jacked some of the sign posts with our own addition, and it even made some of the blogs and local papers.

R2 trying to find his way

There were a number of Star Wars related craft events, including Bonnie Burton and her friend Terri Hodges, who are there every year with a fun SW project. Matt, John and I took our droids over to say hi and to give Bonnie one of our commemorative medals. Here’s a link to some of Bonnie’s photos from Saturday.

Bonnie and Captain Akbar

Bonnie got a Builders Award too

Jackie Nuag also presented a workshop on how to make your own felt R2d2, and we were there to support the effort

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There were a lot of cool things to see and were able to stop by some of them

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One of the funniest things was that the Maker folks put up signs around Expo Hall to keep the droids out (they think our 2.4GHz radios kills their WiFi). Only a true web geek will get the joke I think

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/robots.txt sign

Throughout the weekend we were inundated with people at the booth, it was pretty much like this the entire weekend.

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I’m so glad we had stanchions again this year to keep the crowd at bay.

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Some people were more obviously SW fans than others. The lights even worked on this home made beanie hat.

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This guy had a little R2 he wanted to share

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Most children who came by and asked all sorts of great questions, and some took notes

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Matt did a great job of getting up close and explaining things

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It was very dark in the room, which was a concern at first during Friday’s Young Maker Day, but on Saturday Gerard brought in an awesome lighting rig and the mood created was perfect

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We were so busy people were taking photos in parallel at times

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Our panel was at the end of Sunday afternoon, but the faire was still going strong and we had a good showing. Matt did a great job of leading the discussion again.

Buildes Panel

Buildes Panel

After the panel was done, we hung out to chat further with some future builders

Buildes Panel

So that’s it for another year – each time we do the faire we get at least one new builder, so next year I can see we could have an even bigger presence.

Johnathan took some awesome pictures of the event too, here’s his blog post and I’ve copied them to my gallery here.

I’ll try and post some additional photos and video in the next week.

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Posted by Chris on May 28th, 2010 in General | 4 Comments

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Maker Faire 2010 – Young Makers Day

Steve and I did our annual appearance at Maker Faire’s Education Day. This year it was called Young Makers Day and we had an awesome turn out as usual with lots of curious children in attendance.

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One of the teachers was wearing the famous Haynes R2 Repair Manual t-shirt

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After about 4 hours of being bombarded with questions, the official event was over and we went to explore some of the other exhibits being setup – including this awesome retro rocket ship.

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This was one of many art exhibits being setup, very 3PO but made mostly of old typewritters

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Our setup was right next to the Tesla Coils, and they added the Imperial March to the routine :)

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Posted by Chris on May 21st, 2010 in Events | No Comments

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Discovery Day – Washington Elementary School

As a warm up for Maker Faire, the Dad’s Club at Washington Elementary School in Burlingame put on a Discovery Day for the children, hopefully  inspiring  them about science and engineering. I was asked by the folks at Make: to bring along my Artoo to be part of the fun this year.

Here’s some photos from the afternoon, and as always there’s more photos in the gallery.

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Posted by Chris on May 20th, 2010 in Events | 2 Comments

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Maker Faire Bay Area 2010

The Bay Area Maker Faire is almost upon us, and we’ll be there in force with more droids and builders than ever before. Look for us in the Fiesta Hall. We’ll also be participating in Young Makers Day on the Friday, and hosting a builders panel at 4PM on Sunday on the main stage in the Expo Hall.

Posted by Chris on May 14th, 2010 in Events, General | No Comments

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Dual Receiver Board

I posted this photo a few days ago for people to try and guess what I was working on. Alas, nobody got it right.

Short answer: It’s a Dual Receiver Board.

Dual Receiver Board

We’ve had issues at some events where our 2.4GHz Spread Spectrum radios cause problems like interfering with WiFi setups, and we’ve been asked to limit where who go. Luckily, on my Futaba 10C I can quickly switch out it’s transmitter module to either be 2.4GHz FASST or old school 72MHz FM. So I devised this little board to allow me to have two receivers (FM and FASST) connect to Artoo at once, and flip between them with a flick of a switch.

I’ve had this idea for a while, but only now getting around to implementing it because Maker Faire is in a few weeks, and I know we’re going to have interference problems and I didn’t want to limit myself to either FM or 2.4GHz – or have to make a fiddly change in the field.

Receivers connect on the left and the real servos and speed controllers connect on the right along with receiver power. Ignore the black/red/white wire color on the cables coming out of the receivers. I’m only connecting to the signal out on pin 1 for each channel, and the only nice wire I had handy was standard servo cable. The last pair in the row adds power/ground and are tied to the select switch.

I’m also tinkering with some other droid controllers and this will allow me to have them connect without disrupting too many things, but more on that later.

Posted by Chris on May 10th, 2010 in Electronics | 1 Comment

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Mystery Board

Can you guess what this is for? It’s pretty simple and no it does not automate anything, but it will come in handy at Maker Faire in a few weeks.

I still need to wire it into my droid for testing so I’ll post more later.

Mystery Board

Click for the answer

Posted by Chris on May 5th, 2010 in Electronics | 3 Comments


RoboGames 2010 – Robot Power

RoboGames was last weekend, both Matt and I brought our droids on Saturday and I soloed the event on Sunday. As usual the place was packed with people and all things robotics, from 200lb fighting battlebots to more peaceful robots that fold your laundry.

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One of the highlights for me was getting to talk with the Mech Warrior guys. They had some of the most sophisticated robots in the competition, and had developed some interesting control techniques I’d like to try on R2 sometime soon.

Here’s one of their bots traversing their mini city hunting down it’s prey – bb-guns at the ready.

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These bots are huge, here’s a shot next to R2 for scale

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I got to hang out with Grant Imahara from Mythbusters (and an ILM alumni). He graciously spent over an hour signing and taking photos with his fans for free. And Artoo stood by entertaining the crowd while they waited.

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Helping the Mech Warriors was Fon Davis, model maker extraordinaire, also an ILM alumni, who among many other things worked on repairing/painting the original OT droids for the Prequels. He also built the mini city arena for the Mech Warriors, and had some MORAV models on show – he also graciously offered to keep and eye on my stuff – Thanks Fon :)

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This is the PR2 robot , some of you may have seen recent videos of it on YouTube performing all sorts of complicated tasks, like folding your laundry.

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As usual there was a lot of kids at the event

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This little girl was very enamored with all things Artoo. Matt was very gracious and allowed her to control some of the sounds on his droid, and she followed us around for a big part of the afternoon. I’m pretty sure we have a couple of droid builders in the making with her family.

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I had my fair share of scared kids but this was my only crier for the weekend – I normally get at least a couple more.

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This woman appeared from nowhere to grab her chances at a photo. I’m not sure if Artoo or I was more frightened what she was going to do next

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This is my most favorite shot of the weekend I found on flickr. Titled “R2R2 – A kid admires a pair of Artoos while his dad admires their makers.”. Original photo by Lenore M. Edman, www.evilmadscientist.com.

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Posted by Chris on May 2nd, 2010 in Events | No Comments

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