Maker Faire 2014 for an Electronics Maker

This is the third year I am going to the faire, and every year it gets bigger and better. With all the MTA metro work on the weekends its always a challenge to get there, but once you reach the New York Hall of Science it’s like entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory ! filled with creativity, Robots, Drones and Mentos Fountains making it a geek paradise.

The flag....we are proud of...

The flag….we are proud of…

The intel Edison

The intel Edison

I feel the main highlight was the talk by Jim Chase, the product manager for Intel Edison. Intel is changing the way people look at Iot(Internet of Things) devices with their new Edison platform. A single tiny board computer that runs YOCTO Linux (YOCTO is also IP friendly) on a dual core 500 MHZ processor along with a 100 MHz MCU for real-time operations which is also equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, 1GB ram and 4GB of onboard eMMC memory. But, Intel did not stop with that. They added onboard wifi (FCC certified) and are also launching a cloud infrastructure for all their Iot devices. This would enable companies to directly buy Iot cloud services and cloud analytics from Intel. The Edison is also designed to be fit into products and the company now partners with design firms that can incorporate the Edison into a product design.

the Hat

the Hat

According to James Adams of the Raspberry pi foundation, more and more companies are looking to drop these single board computers into their products . Pi has therefore also come up with compute modules that can directly integrate into products. Like the shields from arduino and capes from BeagleBone, Raspberry pi comes up with its very own ‘HATs’. These HATs come with an interesting feature that enables the pi to auto the HAT and configure its hardware settings to work with that HAT.

There were a few interesting presentations from the BeagleBoard foundation highlighting the PRUs available on the BeagleBone black and the Arduino Tre Project. The PRUs are microprocessors/co-processors that are connected to the main CPU for on the beaglebone for I/O expansion. There are two PRUs available on the BeagleBone black that run at 100Mhz. Using BOTSPEAK you can program scripts to run on these PRUs for time critical operations. Unfortunately, these PRUs do not support interrupt modes but offer a very low latency and are completely real-time since they have no overhead from the CPU or the OS.

Moving on, Belkin is going all in for the Maker community .With their WeMo maker you can now connect your toaster to the internet or program your dryer to send you a message. This pro-hacking WeMo maker has one digital input (TTL 5v) and a controllable relay contact that supports a load up to 24 watts. For their next version, they have promised more I/Os and an ADC. The current version is expected to launch on October 15.

there are cute :)

there are cute 🙂

Apart from all these presentations and talks, the Makerfaire was overflowing with interesting projects and ideas. Robotis came up with their mini humanoid robots and smart servos that make building robots easier. These servos cost around 20$ and you can cascade up to 24 servos on one channel and address them independently by using just 3 wires.

Kettlebug has a new fitness tracker that can monitor the activity of your kettlebell and tell your instructor if you are not doing enough squats ( or may be that was just for me). It was also interesting to see the FirstBuild initiative by GE and Local Motor where you can post ideas for Green technology and GE/Local Motor would build it for you. Interestingly, you also get a royalty for every device sold. The Green Bean project which is a hardware platform that talks to a proprietor GE RF link embedded in all the new GE appliances for diagnostics.

The green Bean   source:

The green Bean source:

Another Interesting product from Carbide Labs was the Pick ‘n Paste machine. This machine applies solder paste, picks and places passives that are up to 0603 packages and ICs with a 0.8mm pitch.



This was the year of Iot devices! The Linino board from the makers of Arduino Yun makes it easier to connect your project to the internet. The we-io is another board for Iot, but it runs a powerful WRT Linux. The DFROBOT and TAH provides BLE solutions for Iot. Anniken BLE shield for arduino has a powerful UI interface for app development. They was also a few new players to the single board computer like UDOO, Humming Board, Wand Board and RIoT Board


I-robot 🙂

Life sized 3d printed humanoids from InMoove were really cool and so was that big 3d printer that printed flower pots.

3D printed vase

3D printed vase

A giant 3D Printer

A giant 3D Printer

Dancing Ferro magnetic particle from CHOREOV, and their choreographic algorithms that turn music to dance.


you printed!

You could also get your figurine built using the SCAN-A-RAMA .Ultimaker had their launch deal where you would get a free 3d doodler. m3d was selling its desktop 3D printer for 349$.

If you came looking from some high voltage projects, OneTesla was hiding in the kickstarter farm with their singing tesla coil.


Delta smart faucet

Delta was showing off their innovative faucets and toilets that never get clogged. Brain wave generated music by Lisa Park was another crowd favorite.

Brain wave music

Brain wave music

Around 6pm I finally got time to grab lunch. All in all, it was a day well spent and now its time to MAKE…!!


Makers have an answer for everything

10:00 am(1/26/2013)- I get a text from @leftyfb “pipes broken at lowellmakes come fast”

11:00 am-  We find our store room with 2 inches of water, laptops switches and sparkfun kits all drenched.



11:30 am- Makers get to work!! @leftyfb brings in water pumps used in his fish tank to pump water out.

1:00pm- More makes join in with mops and buckets

2:00pm- The Lowell fire, police and public works try to stop the broken water line.

3:00pm- The water still keeps gushing down the crack on the wall

water water everywhere...

water water everywhere…

4:00pm- Makers build a dam to contain the water



5:00pm- There is too much water for the fish tank pumps to pump out.

6:00pm- We head over to lowe’s to get a real water pump.

7:00pm- We have the water pump hooked on to a timer that goes on every 30 min. to pump the water out from the store room to a drain

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timer connected to the pump

9:00pm- Ha! now we are getting some progress. but the water still keeps pouring.

9:30pm- Makers take apart laptops and use compressed air to salvage a few remaining laptops that were not completely drenched.

10:30pm- Makers get to work on a flood detection system using raspberry pi, pi-face and a block of wood.

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pi-saves the day…

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water detection..

11:00pm- With some bad python codes and the twilio API , we put together a floating water detection system that would send us an text message if the water rises above a certain level.(code here)

11:00pm- We setup up dropcams to keep an eye on the space.Thanks dropcam!! live feed

image (5)

a watchful eye

12:00am- All the makers go home for a nap 🙂

The pump worked the whole night in 30min cycles to pump water out, the dropcam kept an eye on the leak and the raspberry pi made sure it woke up the Makers if there was more flooding…  This might have been a small problem that was completely over engineered but this shows the dedication and creativity of Makers and their skill to use what was lying around to solve a real problem. The professional water damage contractor who came in the next day was surprised and very impressed with the ingenious way this problem was tackled and he said “we could not have done this better”… Thanks to all the makers who gave up their Sunday night plans to be here and help us out. keep checking out lowellmakes for updates (or @lowellmakes)

vend a tweet!!

Just got done with the twitter enabled vending machine at Lowell Makes. Twitter has always helped people to connect to the world, and there is no reason our vending machine at Lowell makes should not have a twitter account. With some awesome Bash from @leftyfb and my pet python ,Tweetmachine now looks out for your tweet and vends out a 3D printed toy for every tweet. check out our cool demo and come over to lowellmakes to play around with the tweetmachine. You can find our code here; more improvements coming soon.

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The World of Open Hardware

I have always been a big fan of open source, with my first Arduino to The Pis and Beagle bone i play with today. The impact of open source on my life has been great. This affinity to all things open source has lead me to the OHSWA 2013 conference at MIT. Where all the greatest minds in open source come together for a day of fun and knowledge sharing.

It all started with the ebadge by WyoLum, which is a e-paper display on a nice white PCB. here is my display pic that was created using the wifit program ( it had a few bugs) but works fine :-),  awsome work by the guys at WyoLum and Repaper.


the WIF image

Finally found a place to park..

Finally found a place to park..

An Amazing keynote by Eben Moglen , on the Open Source spirit started the talks. It really touched my heart and made me a true believer in open source…
Next was the talk from the creators of dropbot, a replacement for poor grad students working on fluid pipette. This was followed by a quick presentation by Mach 30 on export control and various regimes that control export of Open Source hardware in the US.  J.Simmons told us how you could end up in prison, if  you don’t pay attention to export rules and regulations set by government.

Then came Open Source Chip design by Julius Baxter. It does have its drawbacks because chip design is very expensive and there is little room for error. It also threw some light on the CERN license. Finally 3D printing, from the makers of RepRAP. The RepRap Morgan(good for food printing), RepRap Simson are two new designs that are added to the RepRap family. The idea of having a completely open source 3D printer makes it possible, for everyone to have their own 3D printer.



The Lasersaur Project, sounds interesting, started in 2010, its a open source Laser Cutter… Awesome i want one of those 🙂 . it has an amazing cross platform tool that runs from your browser(more amazing).

The Open Hardware Car challenge, 100 Km on 1litter, Now that’s what i call milage.

That lead to the most awaited coffee break……

Tiny Tinkering Platform ...

Tiny Tinkering Platform …

Snake Bot

Snake Bot

That was a short break…

Michael Weinberg gave his inputs on the Copyright symbol and why protecting hardware ideas using patents is bad idea. Sharing Infrastructure and Norms of Open Source Hardware is very important-moral of the story. Alice King spoke on Open Source funding and how to fund your ideas through crowdsourcing . Check out the new bountysource (gives some limelight to funders too).

Collective innovation, is messy words of wisdom by Amanda Wozniak. Project management is the key element to manage large complex and diverse groups working together on a single project. Check out Open Design Engine to manage your next open source project.

Ken burns, founder of Tiny Circuits shared his experience on launching his project through kick starter. Thats when i met rayn who  was sitting next to me, he just had his RGB led project funded through kickstarter. Mathilde Berchon gave some very interesting infographic maps of open source hardware, creators and projects, nice to know 83% of these open source hardware startup founders are engineers out which 95% are Men 🙂 and remaining 5% percent are women. I am sure Limore Fried founder of adafruit is on the top of the list, with programs like ada-initiative we can see this number increase over the year.

me with Limore Fried

me with Limore Fried

Ted Hayes told us that Internet of things has been added to the Oxford Dictionary. I was happy to hear about Weemo in his talk, i have two of those , and heard these weemo switches have some security flaws, really don’t care, coz all they can do is switch off my lights 🙂

Neo Lucida, is the most amazing thing i have see today, made me an artist in 5min. Check it out. (I really need to get my hands on one of these.)

Neo Lucida

Neo Lucida

The apparatus

The apparatus

The app testing robot from@hugs the co-founder of sausce labs. was interesting,  words of wisdom ” you need to make ONE” to sell one! check it out…

app testing bot.

app testing bot.

Building one kit at a time by Jeff Warren. He talked about the little bits kit which is an amazing toy for kids to learn science, check out other kits from spark fun and Digilent and the awesome spectroscope from public lab .

Little Bits...

Little Bits…

man behind the idea..

man behind the idea..

Sparkfun Engineering :-)

Sparkfun Engineering 🙂

Marcin Jakubowski gave a simple, yet creative presentation on the open source Industrial Evolution, a very interesting way to look at things. Later the Traces of innovation talk , showed how novelty and popularity are interrelated based on the analysis on work submitted on thingiverse.

A talk from the inventors of parallela, an open source parallel computing platform, it uses the Adapteva  and a ZYNQ. They have convinced me to buy their new dev. board, they said it should be shipped by the end of Oct- (a 99$ super computer- 16core CPU, 2 ARM A9 and FPGA all on one board). I totally agree with  Paulo Blikstein, making kits easier to use and cheaper is the need of tomorrow. Phoeneix Perry, a very annimate person, gave the most amazing talk of the evening , on women in technology, sad that less and less women are getting into technology:-( .

Then came “Why?” by Bilal, the countries with the highest GDP has the highest no. of Open Source Contributions(interesting observation), a good thing ?..check this out (help them out)

small robots

small robots

Guys from Fritzing

Guys from Fritzing.. they r awsome 🙂

Touch screens that have feedbach, it uses a vibrating(ultra sonic) screen

Touch screens that have feedbach, it uses a vibrating(ultra sonic) screen

Matthew Borgatti gave an amazing talk on ” how open is ur source?”, he talked about how hardware desing methodologies are shared and how to publish knowledge. Ilan E. Moyer spoke on making machines that build, its all about the tools, the material and the idea, Gestall is his new opensource framework that can be used to build machines that can make ( go make your own 3Dprinter that can engrave 🙂 )

Sophil Kravitz, a freelancer electrical engineer. shared her ideas on  “Ideas” and “Ideas to make money”, can open source make money? maybe yes… Becky from adafruit industries gave an amazing demo/ talk on wearable electronics.check out zipper activate romance pants he he!!

Caleb From EE times, gave an emotional and powerful message on how hackers can help the disabled check out his video. and check this out http://

Finally the last talk talk for the day by Katherine Scott, reassured that robots are not talking over our jobs, rather organized labour or automation helps us to increase productivity and help develop the economy.

also check out the minnowboard, finally a open source board from Intel.:-)

and another Pi board, called the Pi topping to aid students in learning Robotics using Raspberry Pi 🙂

panel-implications of Open Source Business: Forking and Attribution

panel-implications of Open Source Business: Forking and Attribution

A web Oscilloscope

A web Oscilloscope

the end...

the end…

bag of goodies...

bag of goodies…

All the talks were awesome and very different in their own way, but i am really sorry if i forgot to mention it on the blog… The organizers did a fantastic job this year…bravo!! can’t wait for the next 🙂

Raspberry Pi wireless speakers

I have been trying to make an wireless speakers for quite some time, but got stuck in at couple of places. Finally I found Kmonkey‘s work with some help from Colin CW which helped me to cross those hurdles and make my own wireless speakers. The AIRPLAY method also works well with the PI, but the Bluetooth ones are more useful, I was thinking of putting one in my car. so all you raspberry pi fans out there go make your own wireless speakers.

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visit my github for code that will start the Bluetooth on startup, and wait for a connection, the code is very basic and works feel free to tailor it to your needs…

Living with your raspberry pi…

I have finally been able to put together a few tutorials on how i used my raspberry pi and how you can do the same, i have referred a lot of tutorials and guides to come up with this, and i hope this would be useful…The Host Your website instructable is quite basic and would help you get started on your raspberry pi, The talking to sensors tutorial is more advanced and required an advanced understanding of linux commands and Python. So go ahead have fun living with your raspberry pi…

Halloween Cookie jar prank

just completed my cookie jar prank tutorial for, it uses just three components that you can buy from any Radio shack. This cooke jar sounds a loud alarm if any un-authorized friend tries to steal your cookies, You can also use it to play a prank on ur little sister.. 🙂 and it took me 15 min to finish the whole project, happy halloween guys!! and do visit the tutorial here