Author Archives: Mat Bettinson

Featured Maker: Peter Barrett

Peter runs a business called nCounters which specialises in the design and construction of custom data acquisition systems.  One such example Peter will be showing at the Faire is a portable limb load monitor, essentially a device which offers biofeedback to the wearer.  Designed to assist those recovering from surgery or a stroke, biofeedback allows its users to reach their treatment goals in half the usual time.

Peter’s clever load monitor uses pressure pads inserted into normal shoes in order to provide audio and visual biofeedback to the wearer.  The load monitor also has add-ons for measuring seating posture and knee movement with all data recorded on SD card for later uploading for analysis.  Peter and nCounters is a great example of creative problem solving making a difference.  Come see the load monitor at the Faire or check out Peter’s YouTube video for further details.

Featured Maker: Daniel Donahoo

Daniel is the brains behind an ‘ideas consultancy’ called Project Synthesis and one of those big ideas is LEGO Poetry, devised to be a creative way to engage children in literacy.  LEGO Poetry allows people to  manually build sentences and construct poems from the venerable classic plastic brick, one of the world’s favourite creative toys.

“LEGO Poetry was our solution to engaging primary school children struggling with spelling and literacy with words. The focus was to provide children with different learning styles a medium that they would engage with,” Daniel said.  Daniel describes LEGO poetry as an ideal approach for ‘kinaesthetic’ learners or children who “learn with their hands and by doing and building, rather than reading and memorising”.

LEGO Poetry has been successfully used in schools, artist in schools programs and at writing and literacy festivals.  At the Faire, attendees will have the chance to see what all the fuss is about by having a go themselves! Daniel is offering chance to build a poem and learn how you can make your own LEGO Poetry kit for less than $60.

Featured Maker: Malcolm Faed

Malcolm Faed is a legendary Kiwi maker, now residing in Sydney. Having played with electronics for as long as he can remember, Malcolm grew up on Electronics Australia, Silicon Chip and Talking Electronics. With an interest in electric vehicles, Malcolm once converted his Toyota HiLux ute into an electric vehicle which featured in Silicon Chip. Malcolm will be exhibiting at the Maker Faire with his open source self balancing scooter aka the ‘DIY Segway’. (More info here)

Malcolm is also no stranger to the maker movement, having subscribed to O’Reilly’s Make magazine since issue one and having attended two of the non-Mini O’Reilly-organised Maker Faires in Austin, Texas (Flickr photo set). Another project he’ll be showing off is the common humble 555 timer chip implemented with discreet electronics and fitted a copy of the encyclopaedia of integrated circuits.

Malcolm’s 8-year-old daughter Victoria in addition to giving dad at hand on the day will be showing off  her Drawdio (a project that turns pencil draw into sounds) and various projects from her Hot Wires electronic kit set.

Check out below the break for a video of Malcolm’s self-balancing scooter and, if you’re you’re lucky, you might even get to have a go yourself at the Faire.

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Featured Maker: Maria Meza

Maria’s Wool Forrest project is an outlet for hand needle felted wool toys and a fantastic example of the breadth of makers you’ll see at the Maker Faire. For those not in the know, needle felting is a fibre art craft that uses barbed felting needles to sculpt fibres into new shapes without weaving. As one might expect of an Australian maker, Maria works with 100% sheep’s wool.

Maria’s toys  feature natural and traditional themes such as dolls and farm animals. There’s also an otherworldly strand that runs through her work with fairies and gnomes taking up position in forest or vegetable garden settings. In this way Maria revives a long tradition of home made toys.

Come along to the Maker Faire and see some of Maria’s Wool Forrest toys and find out more about how she creates these beautiful hand made all-natural toys. You can also see more of Maria’s work at her Needle Felted Toys blog.

Featured Maker: Andee Napiorkowski

Andee's LED cubeIn this new series of posts we’ll be featuring some of the makers that you can expect to see at the Maker Faire. Since no maker event would be complete without some awesome flashing lights, first up is Andee and his stunning 8 x 8 x 8 RGB LED cube. That’s 512 full-colour LEDs!

“It was almost like I got possessed by the spirit of the LED cube. There’s just ‘something’ about them,” he said. Andee started out assembling Jaycar kits and had never designed a circuit or written any microprocessor code before the LED cube. Not a bad first effort we reckon!

“Initially I did consider just buying a kit, but after reading as much as I could find about LED cubes and doing a few microcontroller “tutorials”, I decided it might be fun to finally try something like this for my self,” Andee told us. Incredibly he says that the intricate lattice of wiring for the LEDs was the “easy part”  but admitted that it “took a lot of time and a lot of patience.”

“It’s all the late nights of hacking at the code trying to get the thing to work, that was far more challenging and at times far more frustrating,” he said, adding that that there never was any commercial reason for the project. “I did it purely for the fun and achievement of it.”

If that doesn’t sum up the maker spirit then what does? Head over to Andee’s site to see much more detail on the cube and his other projects. You will of course have the chance to see the cube in action at the Faire. Can’t wait? Click the break for a video tease.

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