Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bret Dickerson on using the Shopbot in school

Brett has been using Shopbot in his classroom for over 22 years. He likes what he sees in the changes that his students have shown. He likes the way that his students have grown socially and intellectually through the projects they have done. He has had a great time learning alongside his students.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

A conversation with Mitch Altman at Maker Faire

Mitch Altman creates kits that inspire people to make things. "If we don't make things on our own, then we're stuck with what the corporations want to give us....If we make our own things, we can make whatever we want. If we can imagine it, we can make it."

Wikipedia profile: Link
TV-B-Gone Link
Brain Machine on Engadget Link
Mitch's profile on the Make site Link

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Brain Machine Users at Maker Faire Austin

The people in this video are using Mitch Altman's Brain machine. It uses a microcontroller to vary the blinky pattern of the leds and the sound through the headphones to match brain wave activities and give a terrific visual experience. The program runs 14 minutes and is quite exciting. Every person seems to have a different experience.

The article in Make: 10 Link
Video Podcast Link
Kit in the Maker Shed Link
Hack it into a tin Link
Notes on Mitch's visit to AS220 during of the summer of 2008 Link
Mitch also invented the TVBGone Link

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Danny Brought his daughter to Maker Faire

Danny and his daughter returned to Maker Faire for some excitement with building and experimenting. While she was learning to print with silkscreen, he was checking out the Shopbot and surveying the nublabs Fab Lab.

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Patrick Built his own CNC machine

Patrick from Buildyourcnc.com talks about making his own computer numeric controlled machines. He originally started the project to make parts for a hobby, but now uses his machine to cut parts that he sells as kits so others can make their own machines. It is the machine that can make its own replacement.

His website has lots of information for people looking to get started making machines that can be controlled by computers.

Site Link: buildyourcnc.com

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Denise Made vinyl silkscreen stencils at the nublabs Fab Lab

Denise is a chemistry teacher. She put on a contest for her students to design pictures for Mole Day. She brought the pictures to the nublabs FabLab where she used the vinyl cutter to make the stencils. Later that week, she printed the shirts with the students. The students then wore the shirts in schools bearing their custom designs. Limited edition ChemGeek shirts!

She used the techniques for Silkscreen Print With Vinyl described here
nublabs operated the Fab Lab at Maker Faire Austin 2008

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Matthew Dalton in the Maker's Shed Kit Building Area

Matthew Dalton worked Maker Faire in the Kit Building Area of Maker Faire Austin. He showed people how to solder, and helped them through the process of building the kits that they bought at Maker Faire. By helping people get familiar with the tools of electronics, he's teaching them so that they can work on electronics at their home doing the projects they want to do.

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Steve Davee Shows His Maker Notebook Projects

Steve Davee came to the nublabs Fab Lab at Austin Maker Faire 2008. He has been working on his Maker's Notebook, and shows some of the way he has modded the book and how he has used it as a way of storing and developing his ideas. He also talks about his experiences in education and how he is able to inspire kids to do amazing things. Steve is a teacher at the Opal Charter School in Portland Oregon.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Educators' Maker Faire Proposal

If you were an educator or learner and going to Maker Faire, what would you want to find out? If you couldn't go, what would you want other people to find out? How could you learn more about what happened at Maker Faire long after the physical event ended?

Here is a link to the Educators' Maker Faire proposal: Link

These are supporting documents that will help inform our thinking about the project:
A Community of Learners Link Cultivating the Joy of Learning - Link Facts, Frustration and Fun Link

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shopbot Users Group Maker Faire

On Friday October 19 Shopbot held a User's Meetup on a prep day for Maker Faire Austin. We were treated to lots of information about how shopbot is changing the way people do business. There were signmakers, boatbuilders, craftspeople and lots of curious, creative people.

For materials, mostly people were working with wood, MDO, Medium Density Urethane (mdu)There were some really neat ideas for signmaking with incredibly complex and innovative designs.

Prototyping was a recurring theme. One signmaker brought in a sign that he made to show a client, and the client liked it so much that they bought several signs of the larger size. A boatbuilder used a scale model to show the client what it would look/feel/weigh like. It helped inform the client before having the boat built. Having an example piece that the client can see and touch helps to illustrate what can be done in your shop.

Moldmaking is a neat thing and was featured in several presentations. We got to see the molds and the resulting products. People were very helpful in sharing information about what products worked and how to apply them.

Rob Bell has made a plug in for Google Sketchup that allows you to output your sketchup designs to the shopbot. He had a really neat dome-ish structure right next to the Shopbot booth.

Geoff Neilsen from the Fab Lab group explained how he is using the ShopBot to cut aluminum to make a desktop cnc machine. He is also using the shopbot to cut Delrin, which cuts almost like wax, but has strength similar to aluminum.

Later in the weekend, the Shopbot guys were very helpful in helping to set up our shopbot at the Fab Lab, helped us use the Shopbot to plane the surface of the silkscreen frames, and put on a couple of good cookouts.

It was good seeing how they use various hold down techniques. I liked their vacuum hold down board made out of luan and foam. They also had a nice vacuum shoe for keeping the dust down. At DHS Fab we have an older router, not the spindle, so we would have to make up a different vac setup. Bill Young said that there should be some files online for making the vacuum housing.

In the Shopbot booth they also had a computer set up to a couple of stepper motors controlling a pen on a drawing board. I didn't see a control box, could have gone straight from the parallel port. It was running on the Shopbot software.

Here are the photos:
Workshop Link
My Shopbot Photos

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Personal Fabrication Summit

This conference/ workshop/ meeting session included lots of key people in personal fabrication, Shopbot, Sketchup, FabLabs, Modkit, TechShop, Reprap, EvilMadScientist/CandyFab, Fab@Home and a bunch of O'Reilly editors and writers. A lot of the discussion centered around the possiblities of Personal Fabrication, some on the 'ideal file format' and a bit on the obstacles.

A big question that we discussed was "How do we grow personal fabrication?" Sketchup has a goal that they have of hooking people on the 3d design software within the first 15 minutes. At the Fab Labs, we are working on projects that will get people hooked on working in the lab with fabrication tools in under an hour. Bill Young from Shopbot is wondering how you make personal robotics tools available to people. Ted Hall of Shopbot noted that many tools for personal fabrication are inexpensive and available, but lots of people don't realize it yet. Fab Labs are free community centers and available on a drop in basis. In TechShop, they have a business model similar to that of a health club, where people pay a monthly fee for membership, and have access to the tools on a scheduled basis.

Some of the software that was discussed was: Sketchup, which can be used to model in 3d. Rob Bell has created a plug in to allow users to port their designs to the Shopbot. Inkscape is used in the Fab Labs, Blender is very hard to master, but has lots of open source power. Collada is xml, web based and works with 3D polygons, it was apparently designed for game geometry, but can make useful files for personal fab. Vectric comes from the Shopbot folks. Open Cascade and Maya were discussed. A bunch of people talked about Art of Illusion.

File formats included .stl and .dxf Nothing perfect exists, but people are working with the current situation. It would be easier to standardize some of the hardware if the file format question could be settled.

Some obstacles we identified were: fear - people can be afraid to try things. getting people access to the tools and process so they can try it out. Personal fabrication needs a public face to illustrate what can be done and how to do it. Just getting started can be a block for people. Usability is lacking, the software design tools are a problem, workflow issues block people from creating. Copyright issues are also a concern in an area where it is easy to clone/reverse engineer objects and devices.

Some project ideas that we discussed were Phil Torrone's Iphone stand, two pieces of acrylic that press fit together and hold the iphone at a nice angle for viewing movies. It is cut on the lasercutter, and the files are available online. A good entry level project. Shopbot has a parametric project system that allows users to cusomize known to be accurate designs and scale them up or down. In the Fab labs, we are creating a suite of quick projects to illustrate some of the power and process of each of the tools in the lab.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Heading to Maker Faire Austin

At 4:00 on Wednesday afternoon Alec Resnick Ed Baafi and I met up at SETC FabLab to pack up the lab and jam it into our luggage We had a 6:30 flight and I was double parked. We moved fast.

In the back of my car was the original box for the Camm1 vinyl cutter purchased with a grant from the Duxbury Education Foundation over the summer. We put in the SETC vinyl cutter, some posters and a bunch of vinyl. Ed had a brand new Modela cnc mill in the original box. We stuffed all kinds of stuff into our luggage, t shirts, soldering irons, and a million small tools and supplies that we were going to need to build a Fab Lab at the Maker Faire. When we got to the check in, Ed and Alec shuffled the contents around so we wouldn't get over charged for heavy bags. Alec carried about 20 sheets of plexiglass as his 'personal item'

We grabbed a bite to eat at Logan, Ed tethered his computer to his iphone so he could set up one of the computers at the SETC FabLab to give us access to the files on the server there. We made our flight, flew to Houston, hung out in the airport for a while, everything was closing, then moved on to Austin. Lots of instruments in the baggage claim. Jose Marinez arrived a few minutes after we did, so we had more company for the wait on the rental car. Ed tethered again and got a better deal on the rental car than the counter would give. We got to the hotel at around 3am. Geoff Neilsen was already at the hotel working on the cnc machine build.

Thursday we had an early morning meeting at the site for the Personal Fabrication Summit. I was extremely tired, but went along for breakfast at Denny's anyway.

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