Maker Faire

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Off to Maker Faire, part 2: Kansas City!

Submitted by TechNinja on June 22, 2011 - 11:24pm

This year, the Kauffman Foundation has graciously offered to sponsor Sylvia and I to be a big part of their Kansas City Maker Faire. We incredibly honored to be brought halfway across the country just to see and be seen by our fellow makers.

Sylvia holds a sign that says "Maker Faire Super Awesome Sylvia!"

We plan on doing multiple group sessions on things we've done before (Molding/casting, ALTAlarm), and a few new-to-us classics (Mr. backpack, No heat lava lamp). We also hope to bring kids and adults together to make some simple things they can take home and be proud of (Crazy Putty, Chicken in a cup). It's going to be great! See you there if you're coming, and if you can't make it, we'll be posting some photos to Flickr and a video to come.

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Maker Faire and so much more!

Submitted by TechNinja on June 1, 2011 - 2:50am

May 21st brought us to the 10th annual Maker Faire (The 6th in San Mateo), with Sylvia and I running two demos at the Make: Live stage.

Our very first time presenting together, the demos were a little harrowing, but still lots of fun. For the first demo we showed everyone how to mold and cast a miniature pointer finger we’d made out of sculpey. Little urethane resin pointer fingers When the demo was done, we gave out a bunch of finished Composicast urethane resin mini pointers to everyone! The audience had a great time and so did we.

For our second demo, we attempted to show off and of our version of an Arduino Laser Tripwire Alarm, though because of laser and microphone difficulties, it ended quickly and without much fanfare. At least we had some fun with it, and the code is out there for all to use and enjoy.

Sylvia gets out of school soon for summer break, and she'll be posting up her own log of the incredible makers she met and things she did this year. Not to be missed!

As for the future; we’ve signed up with Make Magazine to do a volley of Mini Maker shows, about once a month (or more often if we can make it) for the summer and beyond, as long as we can keep the show ideas flowing, and near as we can tell, there’s plenty to be made. We're also going to start a brand new post section called "Show and Tell", that chronicles the adventures of people like you, kids, adults, teachers, moms, ninjas and the rest. People who actually got out there and made something because of the show, and want to tell the world.

If you or someone you know made something and feel proud about it, drop us a line on our contact form!

At the end of June we’re heading off to Maker Faire Kansas City, our very first out of state Maker Faire! We’re going to try and do something great for the community there, and hope to see all our favorite makers, and hundreds of new ones. Arc Attack will be there, and maybe Sylvia and I can work up the courage to get in the Faraday cage like Adam ;)

Obviously we'll have to work on our "Robot" skills that don't involve servos and micro-controllers.

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BAMF Demo: Arduino Laser Tripwire

Submitted by TechNinja on May 22, 2011 - 10:16am

At Bay Area Maker Faire (BAMF) 2011 (and now at Maker Faire KC) one of our demos is how to build your very own laser tripwire to help guard your room!

Inspired by action_owl's version at instructables, Sylvia and I made up our very own version with audio feedback for calibration, and authentic alarm sounds!

The ALTAlarm inside a mint tin

Get the code at Github to copy and paste into your Arduino IDE right here!

More instructions, build details and the like to be updated after our Demo today.

Update: Alrighty, so our demo didn't go quite as planned, with our cheap laser diode falling to pieces during the presentation, but we did our best with what we had. We're quite sure that with more time we'd have had everything working great! Not that it matters to much, as there's always time for you to get out there and try it yourself!

As the code explains hints at, for this build you only need a few things:

  • An Arduino (any version will do)
  • A small cheap red laser diode (a small laser pointer will do)
  • A small piece of mirror, or something else flat and reflective
  • An infrared LED from a remote control (or something else to sense the light from the laser)
  • and last but not least, a speaker (if you want a noisy alarm)

For the code as it stands, plug your laser's positive lead into pin 13, one lead of the speaker into pin 10, and the positive lead of the LED into analog pin 0. All the other leads go to ground. When powering up, the laser gets ~3volts from pin 13, which should be enough to light it and send it's photons off toward the mirror, where they will bounce off. If aimed correctly they should find their way back to the infrared LED.

When infrared light hits the LED, it sends very tiny (but measurable) voltage back through to analog pin 0. On our LED, this was read at around 115, or about 0.5v. Without the laser, this came down below 100 reliably, so we set the alarm threshold at 95. If the LED's value stays above that number for more than 5 seconds, the alarm is considered "Armed" (it gives a nice beep every second to let you know, then a double beep when it's armed). If the beam is broken (and the LED value drops below the threshold), Woop woop! Alarm!

A serial signal is sent at the same time, and if you have a program on a computer listening for this, you can trigger any action you want! Maybe a twitter message for every intrusion, or perhaps an email or text message silently alerting you!

We may just want to go ahead and do a quick video on this cool little project in a bit, with all the bugs worked out this time :)

Leave a comment if you've got questions! Thanks!

Update: For our Maker Faire KC demo, we took out the middle man mirror and replaced the Arduino powered laser diode (which gave us problems galore!) with a simple laser pointer pointed directly at the LED. This is an invisible modification and doesn't require any code change, so you can make yours either way.


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