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 source:raspberrypi.org

the Hat source:raspberrypi.org

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:https://firstbuild.com/greenbean/

The green Bean source:https://firstbuild.com/greenbean/

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.

UDOO

UDOO

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

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.

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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.

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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…!!

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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.

oops..

oops..

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

Dammmm...

Dammmm…

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

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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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24hrs of hacking


just back from the first ever hackathon i helped organize, at LowellMakes . Met some awesome people and finally got to MAKE something(after a long break ). I build a simple framework for User and Entry management to maker spaces. This initial idea came to me when one of the makers told me how expensive it is to get a professional RFID entry system installed. “There was no reason we should not build one”- I said …

so i build one 🙂 … i used the ID-12LA, 125Khz RFID reader from sparkfun and a raspberry pi. The ID12-LA works on 3.3v hence we could directly hook it up to GPIOs of the Raspberry pi. i also ended up using the Pi-Face to hook up leds and Relays for the Magnetic lock. with a few lines of code, here i was able to create an RFID locking system that uses a CSV database of users, cards and access levels to lock and un-lock doors or activate machines at makersspaces (and maintain a log of everything 🙂 ). The tool still needs some work, but i guess it is good for the 12-13hrs I put in (i was a little distracted by the 3D printer).. don’t forget to vote for my project http://lowellmakes-opening.challengepost.com/submissions/18357-rfid-entry-system

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pi time….

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pi+ RFID

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very distracting