Sunday, September 26, 2010

MakerBot etc (pt3)

MakerBot, RepRap, CNC, it was all there from hobby level to pro.

I have been interested in computer controlled tools ever since I first saw one (probably a milling machine). I have WANTED one ever since I saw that you could control a Dremel in 3 axis using surplus stepper motors and a cad program on Linux.

Since that time the home hobbiest machines have gotten better and better. Now not only can you use a Dremel to sculpt in 3-D, you can build a rapid prototyping machine that creates objects using hot extruded plastic.

So the vary first thing I saw when I got to Makers Faire (after a Spinal Tap-ish hunt for the location...with random other people) was a demo by the NY University ITP lab of a 3 axis Dremel CNC controlled by an Arduino board. (Arduinos and other hardware were for sale at the Faire) A computer (windows in this case running the software "Processing" ) sends the cad data to the Arduino board via USB, the board converts that into data to tell the stepper motors where to move. The CNC hardware available from Bluumax CNC ($415). ITC lab created it to build circuit boards.

The following video is of the Arduino CNC demo done by the NYU ITP folks...I cut out the first 3 minutes of trouble shooting to find that the power plug was turned off (oops).

Next I saw a demo by MakerBot industries of their brand new latest generation MakerBot "Thing-O-Matic". The MakerBot is a rapid prototyper that uses a stream of hot plastic to 'print' a 3-D object...very cool...these also use an Arduino board.

The brand new top of the line one is $1200, but it is a complete kit. The frame is made out of laser cut wood pieces. It holds a 12x12x12 work area, and you can make things just smaller than that...(not sure about the height). If you decide you have outgrown the MakerBot, you can use it to create the RepRap.

The RepRap is another rapid prototyper, but this one can be created by a rapid looks like an erector set and is all open source. I think one of the benefits is you can make it a custom size to create odd sized objects. With the MakerBot you are stuck to one size...well now two sizes.

There were about 20 or so MakerBots and about 10 versons of the RepRap in a couple of tents, making stuff, or showing off what they made...I really want one of these.

This doesn't really fit exactly in this category...but is related...the company WidgetWorks Unlimited was showing off their line of vacuum formers. (stretches plastic sheet warmed in oven over form), a 12x12 was about $300

Ben Heckendorn (Ben Heck) at Makers Faire (pt2)

I knew Ben Heck would be there because he said so in his blog post;) I have been following his projects since the beginning.

For those who don't know Ben Heck (Ben Heckendorn) the hardware hacker from WI, back in 2000 he created a hand held Atari 2600 that even took cartridges. He has since built many similar custom things, some for fun, some for clients. His most recent two creations were a Bill Paxton fullsize pinball machine with lights/bumpers/sound effects....the works. Why? he wanted to. His other recent build is a "laptop" XBox 360. He took a brand new Slim model, created a shell for it, and mounted a 1280x720 LCD screen in the top (that is the highest 360 native resolution)

He recently joined up with Element 14, a electronics hobbyist site with parts and info, and now he has a bi-weekly video where he builds a small user submitted project, and continues work on a large project. The current large project is another laptop Xbox 360 (this is actually the 3rd)...he had it there at their booth, and fired it up, so it is almost done already...I want one...He has a couple other ideas for large is another pinball machine. I don't think they hinted at any others.

I was able to talk to him at his booth, nice normal hobbyist that was able to turn his hobby into his job.

Here (in 2 parts) he talks about his new show and new projects...and I ask him about Bill Paxton Pinball. (part 2-4:10)

Maker Faire NYC 2010 (pt1)

Maker Faire NYC 2010

I was fortunate enough to happen to be in Queens NY Sat the 25th for the first day of the first ever Makers Faire in NYC. It was held at the World Fairgrounds in Flushing...specifically the NY Hall of Science. That was a brilliant move, because the Science Museum and other things were open, so there were things for everyone to do (i.e. kids and adults were kept busy the entire time)

I had seen pictures and reports of other Makers Faires, but had never been to one before. For me it was quite a treat, definitely right down my alley as far as hardware hacking and my other stacks of projects go. It was almost like a science fair/carnival for adults...but aimed more toward the home hobbyist, but definitely there were some serious commercial devices being demonstrated/vended. In addition there was a craft area...very large, not as large as the tech area but you could spend a good part of the day just looking at that stuff.

So there are MAKE: things and craft things...kind of matches the magazine that sponsors this event, MAKE:

I have read some of their articles online, there is something for everyone... builder/hobbyist.

I will have two other blog entries, one on Ben Hecklethorne, and one on the various 3-D prototyping machines.

The other things I enjoyed

-watching, no, experiencing Arc Attack! The Tesla Coil have probably seen videos of them on line...short summary is 4 Giant Tesla arc generators, a robotic drummer, a human guitarist wearing a chain mail arc suit, and loud music created by the arcing Tesla coils. You have to see these guys...probably the most dangerous rock band in history;)

-EepyBird, the Coke Mentos folks did a show near the end of the day...again, a lot more fun, if not wetter, in person.

-There was a giant size "Mousetrap Game". You know the one you played as a kid...a Rube Goldberg sounded better in theory than in person...but definitely a large thing to see.

- Need a robot that solves Rubik's cubes?

-Want some animated Halloween decorations this year?

-How about a merry go round powered by V-1 rocket motors (well similar to the V-1 motors used in WWII by the bad guys) I didn't see it running, but I heard it all over the Faire throughout the day.

I saw what I wanted/needed to see in a day, but if you get the chance you should check it out.