Bronze Casting from Makerbot Printed Original

One project I hope to undertake at Maui Makers is doing some metal casting using originals made on our Makerbot 3D Printer. This is something that has been talked about in the forums since inception and at every demonstration of the ‘bot that I’ve given/seen. Mostly it was about how cool it would be if you could do this but rarely has anyone actually said they did it.

Well FINALLY someone has come forth with detailed information on bronze casting using ‘bot made originals. The great folks at theband new (sept 2010) Quad Cities Collaboration and Hackerspace (QC Co-lab), of Davenport Iowa, have been making their hackerspace coins using their ‘bot and bronze casting. Back at the beginning of October 2010, MBI posted a blog report interview with David Hinkle and QC-Cola. It had lots of info and nice pics. Now MBI blog brings us two videos from QC Co-lab, showing how they prep a ‘bot made coin, make the sand mold, cast it, and a bit of cleanup. Very Cool!!

Here is Part 1, the mold preparation:

and Part 2 where they fire up the furnace:

Ok. I’m going back to refitting the Mk5 printruder onto GoldBot! Hopefully it will be operational later today.

Vimby/Scion Hackerspace Challenge – CrashSpace videos live

This past summer Mitch AltmanVimby and Scion sponsored a challenge to 5 hackerspaces in the USA.  They were given $3000 grant, 3 weeks and asked to create something that:

1) repurposed a commercially made object
2) was interesting/fun/useful to the average person
3) referenced a commercially released movie

They have been slowly releasing videos in the series.  Today two clips covering CrashSpace went live.  The Crashers repurposed their store front building into an interactive art/music installation called Store Front Music:
CrashSpace Part 1

CrashSpace Part 2

I was there for the beginning and end of the project as a member. Unfortunately, I was only able to work on the project itself late one night on my way back from LAX and Maui.   It was a really cool project and I was impressed by what CrashSpace built (and what other spaces have done too).  One neat part of Store Front Music that didnt make the videos is the ‘easter egg’ – if you move properly across the sensors, it triggers playback of the theme from Close Encounters.   The video did show a bit of the unveiling party.  There were a couple couches and food platters set up on the sidewalk and we had a great time watching people walk by.  Sometimes they would walk around the chalk keyboard, other times straight thru.  Sometimes they would not really notice the music until they past the building, then look back.  A few people stopped and played with it a bit.  The kids were the best to watch.

The Vimby site is not all that well designed and it can be hard to find the videos.  The first episode gave an introduction to the challenge and the spaces. Next up, they covered NYC Resistor’s slotmachine drink maker (Video 1,  Video 2). Then they went to Chicago for Pumping Station One’s Tron Bicycle ice cream maker (Video 1, Video 2).

Next week will be the Artisans Asylum followed by The Transistor.  After that Mitch will pick “the winner” on one episode and then they will have one last episode showing the winning space (maybe going back out for more footage/reaction shots).

from STEM to STEAM – lets not forget the Arts!

My friend from CrashSpace, R. Kevin Nelson, has written a great open letter response to Thomas Kalil’s opening speech of the NSF‘s “Innovation, Education, and the Maker Movement” workshop.

Kevin notes that while the maker movement has much to contribute to the educational push for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), we cannot forget the massive contribution to our cultural progress by Art.  Kevin calls for broadening the scope to include arts…

“It is how we come together to pick up STEAM for the renaissance … STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.    Educating and encouraging our children to embrace artistic expression is just as important as teaching them calculus and the periodic table.”

I could not agree more!!  My career as a software developer has been at its most satisfying and fun when I was collaborating with artists … and social/cognitive scientists. Much of the push of our factory educational system over the last hundred years or so has been for industrialized STEM.  We need to incorporate Art and encourage creative thinking in our redesign of education. It was an integral part of renaissance education. Somehow we left it behind in our race to the top.

It is one of my big hopes for Maui Makers that we can draw in artists and develop cooperative activities with various art communities here (Hui No’eau, Lahaina Arts SocietySource Festival, etc.). The collaboration of artist-scientist-engineer is so much more productive and positive for society than any acting alone.

So if you are an artist, Welcome! Please feel free to browse around. Speak up, ask questions, learn and teach.  I and other techies are happy to have you here, and at our space-to-be.

Makerbot Video from NYC Maker Faire 2010

The Makerbot folks were out in force at the Maker Faire NYC with their new Thing-O-Matic printer, frostruders, unicorn plotter and regular Cupcake bots (total around 20 bots!) all printing out and giving away sample printed objects (and snacks!).  Check out the video (about 5 min), and more at the Makerbot Blog.

Lilypad successes, Makers and Education, DARPA Program

LIlypad Embroidery, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from bekathwia's photostream

This post is an amalgam of several news items I read recently.

First off an article on the LilyPad’s success in bringing women into electronics projects. From a post in BoingBoing:

“MIT’s Leah Buechley and Benjamin Mako Hill recently published a paper called LilyPad in the Wild: How Hardwareʼs Long Tail is Supporting New Engineering and Design Communities, about the success of the LilyPad microcontroller in attracting women to electronics projects. LilyPad is derived from the Arduino open processor, but was “specifically designed to be more useful than other microcontroller platforms (like normal Arduino) in the context of crafting practices like textiles or painting.” The Buechley/Hill paper shows that this was a successful strategy for engaging women makers and contemplates how to use the LilyPad approach to engage with women and girls in other science/technology/engingeering/math (STEM) domains”

Also read Mako Hill’s blog post “Feminism and Microcontrollers“.  Discussions around the net have ranged from positive, to some reactionary that this buys into the sterotypes and women should use electronics in their original form just like hard core hackers do.  Personally, I like the LilyPad and soft circuits. I think that Lilypad Embroidery by Becky Stern is awesome combination of arts. (Image: LIlypad Embroidery, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from bekathwia’s photostream).

Next up – Makers and Education

There was an NSF sponsored workshop on “Innovation, Education and the Maker Movement” on Monday following the NYC Maker Faire.  It was organized by Margaret Honey of the New York Hall of ScienceThomas Kalil of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dale Dougherty.  Tom gave the opening speech, which Dale published in his blog.  It gives a good summary of how Makers are changing the economy and education.  I havent seen any other output from the workshop yet. After meeting kids and educators this weekend at the Maui County Fair VEX Robotics Tournament I am even more excited about bringing a makerspace to our island.

DARPA MENTOR bringing fab labs to 1000 high schools

DARPA has a Draft BAA out for a program called MENTOR (Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach). This program “is part of the Adaptive Vehicle Make program portfolio and is aimed at engaging high school students in a series of collaborative distributed manufacturing and design experiments. The overarching objective of MENTOR is to develop and motivate a next generation cadre of system designers and manufacturing innovators, and to ensure that high school-age youths are exposed to the principles of modern prize-based design and foundry-style digital manufacturing.”  They are looking to deploy digital fabrication equipment (3d printers, cnc, etc) to 1000 high schools globally and encourage partnerships with small business, non-profits, etc.  It looks like they are going to be sponsoring various competitions “in the development of cyber-electro-mechanical systems of moderate complexity such as go carts, mobile robots, small unmanned aircraft, etc.”  I would LOVE to get Hawaii into this program!  Anyone interested in getting involved please contact me.