Category Archives: Makers

Thank you all for making the day simply fantastic!

Wow, now that was fun :)  What a truly awesome day!!!

Thanks to everyone who came along:  you were all fantastic.  We really appreciated how you were all excellent to each other.  That made the job of the crew significantly easier.  Thanks.

A special thank you to our Contributing Sponsors Swinburne University of Technology, Uniting Church in Australia and 3D Printing Systems.  Thanks also to our assisting sponsor element14 for their support with the soldering workshops, and a special shout out to MakeDo for their wonderful system that made the Maze and partition screens possible.  Without the help we received from our sponsors, it wouldn’t have been possible to host the event.  And of course, thanks to Make and O’Reilly media for their support and encouragement.  Thank you all very much.

The day itself would not have been the intensely fun and fantastic event that it was without our wonderful family of Makers who came along to show their projects and skills.  You folks simply rocked!  And I’d particularly like to thank everyone who traveled from far away to be with us, and to John Bosua for his help with equipment.  Please check out the list of Makers on the Maker page to learn more about their work.

And last, but very much not least, I’d like to officially thank the core team and our other volunteer members of the Mini Maker Faire Melbourne crew.  Please check out the M Team page to find out a bit more about who pitched in to make the event happen.  Truly outstanding help from all of you.  Thanks for making my job a heck of a lot easier.

My thanks again to you all for helping the Connected Community HackerSpace run the first very successful Australasian Mini Maker Faire.  Call me crazy, but I’m already looking forward to doing it again soon!

Featured Maker: Robert Shepherd

Robert is a biomedical researcher pursuing his PhD in using transgenic plants to make vaccines for developing nations. Robert is part of a group that is promoting a DIY DNA amplification machine called OpenPCR. Ordinarily PCR machines cost several thousand dollars are firmly out of the reach of researchers, schools and hobbyists. Robert said that great technology and life saving therapies are often sadly too expensive to be used in low-resource environments but at least in the area of DNA analysis, the OpenPCR machine delivers an important tool to a wider audience.

“What is so brilliant about theOpenPCR project is that it can be used by almost anyone with a basic understanding of molecular biology, and isn’t cost prohibitive to get started,” Robert said. The machines are already being used in collaboration with CSIRO Education to introduce school kids to experiments in DNA that they wouldn’t have access to.  The ‘open’ stands for ‘open-source’ and Robert said that this approach provided huge potential for the application of the OpenPCR machines.

“We’re really proud to be the first group promoting this machine in Australia, but as they start to catch on with education, research and hobbyists, the applications in which they will be used is only limited by people’s imagination.”

Robert is inviting people at the Faire to come by and ‘play with DNA’ and have a chat about this exciting new field. Click to jump for a video on OpenPCR made at  at  a stateside Maker Faire.

Continue reading

Featured Maker: Gregory Crocetti

Gregory makes use of recycled and upcycled objects to craft all kinds of weird and wonderful and totally unique lamps as part of a project he calls ‘Lamp it Up’. Greg said he was initially inspired by the opportunities that arose out of the arrival of compact  fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, adding that their low heat meant that they could be used near ordinarily flammable materials like textiles, wood and plastic. Just the ticket for transforming junk into luminous works of art. We can’t help but wonder what could be achieved by combining these upcycled fixtures with some similarly creative interactive LED electronics? Sounds like a great discussion topic for the day!

“Our lights are made using small wooden bowls and white glass shades, cheaply sourced from op shops, second hand stores and recycling centres,” Gregory told us. He said the main challenge is connecting the lamp holder and plans to provide a demonstration at the Faire on how to easily and safely handle the wiring aspect of the job.

Check out Gregory’s Flickr set for some inspiring photos depicting the ‘wombling for waste’ to gather raw materials.

Featured Maker: Karlo Julian

Following on from Atosha yesterday, we’re delighted to welcome another fantastic group of women in technology. Karlo is representing Robogals , a student-run organisation with the aim of introducing young women to engineering and technology.  Explaining what drew Karlo to engineering, she told us: “Engineering a little bit of creativity on top of all the mathematics and science concepts so, there are so many valid solutions for a given problem.”

 “The moment where you get everything working is the best feeling in the world”

Started locally at the University of Melbourne, Robogals is now an international organisation that hopes to help increase female enrolment in engineering, science and technology courses at universities. Robogals members travel to  girls primary schools to run LEGO robotics workshops and mentor teams in LEGO robotics competitions.

Karlo and the Robogals team will be hosting two one hour workshops, “on the day, be quick to register because there are only 20 spots per class!” said Karlo. In addition, throughout the day Robogals will be displaying some of the robots used in the workshops as well as answering questions regarding a career in engineering and talking about Robogals in general. Click the break for a documentary video about Robogals to learn more.

Continue reading

Featured Maker: Atosha McCaw

Atosha creates ‘noise makers’ or loud analog electronic instruments that she says “look like they might have fallen out of a cold war submarine”. Always interested in how things work, from the time Atosha tried to work out how her first watch worked by smashing it open with a rock, she spent her pre-teen years rewiring headphones  with sticky tape to use them as microphones. “I lost interest after year nine electronics where I was the only girl in the class,” Atosha told us.

Fortunately she rediscovered her love of “red buttons and massive switches,” and told us that when starting a new project she begins with a case and then imagines what would be “amazing” inside including: “circuit bent toys, feedback loops, amps, effects, oscillators and the occasional self developed circuit primarily based on the ever reliable 555.”

Enthusing about the aesthetics of obsolete technology and the “faced optimism they represent,” Atosha has a love of anything that she can “coax a noise out of.” One of the projects that you can see at the Faire will be Atosha’s homage to the instruments of the Radiophonic Workshop, a keyboard made out of 12 individual oscillators “just like the one that was used in the workshop and used on the Dr Who theme”. Dooo wheee-oooo!

 

Featured Maker: Bernd Wachs

Bernd is a member of the local Connected Community Hackerspace in Melbourne says he was first attracted to the Arduino microprocessor platform  because of the availability of Macintosh development software and because add-on modules were easily available at reasonable cost.  One such Arduino-powered project is Bernd’s car trip computer.

“I wanted to develop small electronic projects such as a car computer based on a system that can be reused again easily to decrease development time,” Bernd said. He also built a rally computer for a friend that competes in rally motorsport with a VW Beetle.

“I have learnt a lot from the members of the CCHS hackerspace who have interests in  microprocessors, 3D printing and CNC milling”, he said. Bernt also participated in the CCHS entry for the Element 14 Global Hackerspace challenge entry,  the electronics teaching toolkit OpenLab. Bernd will be showing off his car trip computer at the Faire.

Featured Maker: John D’Alton

John grew up with model steam trains as a child, then read some of the cyberpunk classic novels in his later formative years so it is perhaps no surprise that he would one day transform into Prof. Uncle Festa, Steampunk inventor and ‘upcycler’ extraordinaire.  The good Professor is not just going to show off a range of wood and brass steampunk extravaganzas, he is going to turning ordinary household junk into  "useful and/or beautiful objects"  right before your very eyes at the Faire.

The quixotically creative Uncle Festa will also be holding workshops where he will discuss the philosophy of upcycling as a way of life and the practical challenges of forging works of varying forms and functions.  Watch and be amazed as every day waste is transformed into the exotic such as an airship desk light, fairy shadow box (pictured), steampunk walking stick and the obligatory steampunk raygun.  We can’t wait.

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.

Continue reading