3D printing: Here come the hot steppers

robotArmy

Shortly after becoming completely fascinated with 3D printing last year, I decided to get a printer to use at home. After a bit of research, I settled on the RepRapPro Tricolour Mendel kit. The features and machine specifications were on par with other machines available at the time, but the Tricolour Mendel featured the ability to have three extruders and hotends installed. This would allow multi-color or multi-material prints without pausing mid-print to swap out materials.
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From zero to 3D printing

robotMelt

The first time I saw a 3D printer was at the 2012 Orlando Mini Maker Faire. Among the many interesting projects and technologies on display at the Faire were a number of hand built 3D printers. They seemed cool at the time, but didn’t stand out any more than the quadcopters, dancing robots or other technologies that I had read about on various websites and was now was seeing in person for the first time. I didn’t know it then, but I had just been introduced to a new hobby that would lead me to build three of my own 3D printers, run a Maker Camp session to teach 3D printing to local kids and launch an initiative to bring a Makerspace to Palm Beach county.

OMMF2012
MakerBot Cupcake 3D printer on display at the 2012 Orlando Mini Maker Faire

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Teaching the StarBot to sing

My adventure with StarBots started in 2012 when I visited the first Orlando Mini Maker Faire and saw Pat Starace’s fantastic animatronic creations on display. The singing display was very impressive and was easily one of my favorite displays at the event. Luckily, Pat has branched out into making animatronic kits after a very successful Kickstarter and I’m happy to say that the kit is quite a lot of fun.

The StarBot kit is controlled simply enough by a Sparkfun Joystick Shield. This shield allows the eyes and mouth to be controlled in real time and also allows a sequence of controls to be recorded and played back afterwards. This was all great, but I wanted a way to programmatically trigger audio playback and have a way to synchronize movement of the eyes and mouth with the audio. After a bit of research, I decided to use the Adafruit Wave Shield for Arduino to accomplish this and it worked quite well. Continue reading…

Extra Life 2013

extralife2012_300x250Back in August of this year I saw a post on Reddit about an upcoming gaming charity event called Extra Life that caught my eye. The premise of Extra Life is simple: play games for 25 hours straight on November 2nd and raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. When I mentioned all of this to my friends at The HackLab @ North Boynton, they enthusiastically offered to host the event in their new facility and we started scheming.
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2013 Orlando Mini Maker Faire: South Florida Makers Edition

Last Saturday marked the second annual Orlando Mini Maker Faire. I attended the first Orlando Mini Maker Faire last year and was immediately hooked after seeing all of the fascinating things on display (3D printers, robotics, art and technology) and the enthusiasm demonstrated by those at the Faire. Attending Orlando Faire in 2012 led to attending the NYC World Maker Faire and quickly deciding to become more involved with the Maker movement in South Florida.
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Orlando Mini Maker Faire back for a 2nd year!

The Orlando Mini Maker Faire has announced that it will be returning again this year at the Orlando Science Center on October 5th. If you are anywhere near Orlando in October, this should definitely be on your radar! If you didn’t make it last year and are curious to see what it was like, I have a video overview posted on Vimeo:


Orlando Maker Faire 2012 from Pierre Baillargeon on Vimeo.

The South Florida Hack & Tell group is planning to have a presence at the faire this year along with a number of local maker groups. If you have a project that you’d like to show off at the faire, please let me know!

So, you want to do some hacking with your kinect…

If you have read any technology blog in the past few months, chances are good that you have seen an ever increasing number of blog posts about people hacking their Xbox Kinect to do all kinds of really cool stuff. If you are like me, you found yourself thinking ‘I have got a really cool idea to do ________ with my Kinect, I should see what this is all about!’. Problem is, there is no definitive entry point to developing software using the Kinect.
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