Sunday, November 23, 2008

Makeit: open source kit idea

Here is an idea that showed up recently:
It is handwritten because I needed to get it out quick.

Here is a link to the set:

This was inspired by getting one of those cheapie battery operated fans that have plastic floppy blades. It cost a buck, had a nice little dc motor, a 2 AA battery pack with a switch, and a removable hub that holds the fan blade on.  As I drove home, I couldn't believe what a great deal it was for the dollarfan.  When I got back, I made a quick little video of the "what could you do if you had a lot of these little fans?" idea.  I probably get a couple dozen at least of the fans.  There are probably more than two or three in the house already. If prople could weigh in on project ideas, then others could try the project idea out with whatever stuff they have handy.  They could then post it up and the open source project could be widened with reader commentary and documentation.

The larger idea: is to create a kit based on very cheap objects like the fan.  Things that have incredibly good cost to features value, like the dollarfan.  Things like the old cd drives I used for a workshop at the Duxbury Student Union a few weeks ago, and other electromechanical junk.  Inside the kit could be supplies like coroplast, magnet wire, machine screws and nuts, some hardware, some tools, all very cheap, replaceable, upgradeable.  Enough to get some things done, cheap enough to provide variety.  This would give people a way to experiment with the Design Process in a collaborative and low stakes manner.

Included in the information side of the kit would be some project ideas, questions that could be answered with inventions, thought triggers on paper, and in digital form.  All of the projects would be listed first on the web in a forums like place.  People would show their products in flickr, youtube, and what ever other systems they wanted to use.  If they used a consistent tag, then the products would be easier to find.  Makekit would be a decent tag to use.  This could even turn into a formal curriculum if that were an interesting idea to the right people.

If somebody could create a simple project that would work on say turning a cd drive into a small remote control car, or creating a mp3 speaker out of a water bottle or yogurt cup and some headphones, then that kind of thing would be enough to get the ball rolling.  Probably a dozen or so sample projects would relieve some of the 'gettting started' anxiety.  Then, as supplies run low in the kit from project use, people should be recognizing the junk around them and the potential it holds.  Of course, some of the text based material would include possible resources for finding replenishment supplies. The kit is a starter, and it grows as the user gains experience.

To keep the thing rolling, people, organizations and schools could use a subscription model.  Once a month, or at some other interval, a new package would arrive with a few suggestions of project ideas.  Maybe a tool could be in the package, like a little screwdriver with phillips and straight tip or needle nose pliers with wire cutters.  That would be the JunkOfTheMonth club model, as Perry Kaye put it.

This idea will run out in as open a fashion as possible.  Ideally, it should get lots of feedback and inspire some people to be collaborators.  There are a few to turn to at this time, but through the forums and comments, certainly more would come out.  It would also be possible to have people add ideas from developing countries.
So anyway, what do you think?  What should be the first device to deconstruct/morph/hack/mashup? CD drive, dollarfan, cassette player? If you want in, send me a message, or add info into the comments.  Tag your product with kitjunk or Makeit to help us keep track of what each other are doing.

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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 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:

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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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