MakerFaire NYC 2013 : part 2 of 2

Continuing the pictures from the previous post..

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MakerFaire NYC 2013

Went to MakerFaire in New York this past weekend. This is my 4th year going and, as always, it was pretty awesome. I went both days – Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was mostly walking around randomly; Sunday was picture day.

MakerFaire is always fun and I’m already looking forward to heading back next year. I think my favorite bit about it is that EVERYBODY is totally engaged. People who are showing a product, people who are hoping to make a product, people who have zero interest in business and are just goofing off – they’re all really into it and are happy to chat with you as long as you’d like. I really enjoy that.

Anyway, I don’t have tons of notes but the pictures & videos I did take are below, in mostly chronological order. I did a handful on Saturday then a ton on Sunday, until my phone battery was pretty much dead.

I don’t think I posted any pictures from my trip last year so I’m erring on the side of spam this year – posting most everything and hoping to give people who could not attend a feeling for what it’s like..

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.NET Gadgeteer + Lady Ada(fruit) = blinky goodness!

I took last Friday off and, since I didn’t really feel like working on any of the 97 side-projects I should be working on, I messed around with one I felt like working on. In particular, a digital-addressable RGB LED strip I picked up a few months ago at, driven by a FEZ Spider .NET Gadgeteer board (I’ve got their starter kit, which includes a ton of stuff) by GHI Electronics.

Controlling RGB LED strips isn’t anything new – you can find a ton of websites on how to do this with an Arduino-type boards – but I haven’t seen much for doing this type of thing with a Gadgeteer board, so I figured I’d write it up.

Here’s the end result, a shaky washed-out video of it running through some test sequences. Pretty happy with the way it (the project, not the video) came out, especially with the fading stuff seen towards the end..

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Some guy with cancer…

Bit more serious than normal for me…

I’m now working for guy named Joe Graves and Joe’s got cancer. He just started radiation and chemo is coming soon. It sounds like the prognosis is very good but he’s got a difficult road ahead.

Joes attitude towards this is really amazing. We get funny stories (and pictures, which, to be honest, sorta freak me out) about the “Hannibal Lecter mask” (his words!) that holds his head steady during radiation treatments and about the fun times he’s got coming once the treatments ramp up and.. well.. it just goes on and on. And it goes on in good nature and with humor and with strength I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have.

Anyway, here’s a link to his blog about this process which you might find informative, amusing, uplifting, inspiring and/or terrifying:

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Ultimaker FAQ: but what about the quality of prints?

A lot of the press that Ultimaker has gotten has been about the crazy speeds these machines can print at. That press is pretty well-deserved, IMO, because they can indeed move very, very fast. Scary fast.

That kind of press is usually accompanied by several questions in the comments, wondering about the quality of prints. Can something that moves at such speeds actually produce high-quality prints or is Ultimaker just about speed?

The answer is yes, an Ultimaker can absolutely produce prints of amazing quality.

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MakerFaire NYC

Back from MakerFaire NYC! Drove down from the Boston area for the weekend and had much fun.

My stoopid camera was acting up and I lost a bunch of pictures. There are a bazillion others on the net anyway though so no huge loss, I guess.. Here’s some random (and not-so-random) ones with what my still-sake-soggy-brain can remember.

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GHI goes Gadgeteer…

.NET Gadgeteer was probably the thing I was most excited about at MakerFaire NYC last year. They had some demo/proto kits out and were letting people play around with it. I wanted to mess with them too but there were always a crowd of little kids in front of me. Little kids making robots and stuff.

GHI Electronics announces the (AFAIK) first .NET Gadgeteer product:

…Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio/Visual C# Express. Gadgeteer combines the advantages of object-oriented programming, solderless assembly of electronics with a kit of peripherals, and support for quick form-factor construction using computer-aided design. This powerful combination allows embedded and handheld devices to be iteratively designed, built and programmed in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks. Learn more at …

Although you can buy just the board itself, they have a “FEZ Spider Starter Kit” for US$250. Before you start running away because of the price, look at all the goodies you get with it: (picture courtesy of GHI, without their knowledge (please don’t sue me!))

FEZ Spider Starter Kit

FEZ Spider Starter Kit

Color touch screen, enet, SD card, webcam, buttons, blinky lights, USB host (attach a keyboard/mouse/anything to it), USB client (act as a USB device to your PC), joystick, all the cables. Craploads of stuff.

Though it’s a small package, it’s no slouch – it’s a 72MHz 32-bit ARM7 with 4.5MB (yes, M) of program space and 16MB of RAM. This isn’t needed because .NETMF is bloatware, either. GHI’s other .NETMF products get along quite nicely with far, far less. And you can always do native code in C or assembly, if you need code that’s really small and fast:

FEZ Spider

FEZ Spider Board

I’ve got an Arduino UNO and it’s nice and all but it’s too hardwary for me. I’ve also got a FEZ Panda (and Panda II) that runs .NETMF but even though are too low-level for me – do I need a 1k resistor or a 10k? Or do I need one at all? I don’t know. I could figure it out if I felt like learning but I just want to screw around.

With .NET Gadgeteer, if you’ve got a project that needs I2C, you look at the picture above and just plug into one of the sockets labeled I2C. Or don’t even use the picture above and just look at the board, plug into any spare socket that’s got an I on the etch, stuff the socket number (also on the etch) into the code and you’re all wired up. That’s it for hardware – you’re done.

And if you then want to turn it into a real project GHI does sell the processing bits separately, which is based on .NET Micro Framework. And .NET Gadgeteer is based on .NETMF so it’s about as easy of a port as you can get..

If the idea of poking at Arduino stuff has you interested but it’s a bit too nerdy for you (and it is pretty nerdy – no offense, guys), this stuff is definitely worth taking a look at. Far, far more approachable for people with little/no hardware experience.

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