Two bits of Maker Faire news to share. First, it looks like i3 Detroit will be hosting the official Maker Faire afterparty. Details to follow, but the murmurs I hear from the planning team are interesting indeed.
Second, an email went out from Maker Faire yesterday:
The Maker Faire Detroit Call for Makers has been extended to accommodate the tremendous response we have received from groups and individual Makers! You now have until Friday, June 15th to complete your application or start the process.
Thanks to all the Makers that have already completed their applications, we have been accepting applications weekly. We will be sending the Maker Manual with all the information you need as well as the agreement in the next couple of weeks. Once you sign and return that agreement to us, we will place you in the Faire.
All applications must be submitted no later than 5 pm Friday, June 15, 2012. http://www.makerfairedetroit.com/call-for-makers/
Thanks and we’ll see you soon!
The Maker Faire Detroit Team
So if you were previously unaware (as I was) of the closing date, there you have it! Another week to put the finishing touches on the project…
At the Hamvention fleamarket, Dustin got an amazing price on a Handheld Products 3800r barcode scanner, probably because the cable wasn’t included. The connector on the bottom of the scanner is a nonstandard 10p10c (aka RJ50), so most folks wouldn’t just be able to make one, but buying a $57 cable for a $1 scanner seemed silly. Further frustrating the situation is that Handheld (acquired by Honeywell) is pretty tight-lipped about certain info. The pinout for the RS232 cable (p/n 42206300) was easy enough to find, but the innards of the USB cable (p/n 42206161 or 42206203) proved elusive.
Luckily for Dustin’s iTrackMine habit, i3′s electronics lab had a set of 10p10c crimpers and a box of connectors (and a resourceful mentor geek), waiting to solve just such a problem. After building a little 10p10c breakout cable and a USB breakout cable, some breadboard jumper wires made it relatively straightforward to investigate every permutation until the device enumerated. (Note that ‘straightforward’ does not equate to ‘quick’.)
For the purpose of saving some hapless future scanner technician some time, the pinout is as follows:
|USB pin number||function||color||10p10c pin number|
Two construction tips:
First, it’s difficult to position the wires in a modular connector if you’re not using every position. Stuffing the unused ones with little stubs of wire made it easy to guide the relevant wires into position.
Second, modular connectors can be reinforced by flooding the back with hot-melt glue. (This works very well on cat-5 patch cords.) Since this build used a flexible, thin USB cable in a giant 10p10c connector, the glue is the only reason it didn’t fall right out.
Middle: STN1110 multiprotocol vehicle interface IC.
Bottom: MCP2551 CAN transceiver IC.
None of this stuff is particularly expensive or hard to find, but in i3′s electronics lab, it’s already been picked out, ordered, shipped, and sorted. With this potential within arm’s reach, what will you build?
Friday, April 6, 5pm-10pm-ish: Open Shop Friday, holiday weekend edition! With so many members off work for the day, there’ll be someone around the shop earlier than normal to open the doors and host guests. This is an ideal time to drop in and see the space, meet the members, and work on a project!
Saturday, April 7 8pm-2am: Twisted Toys and Mad Scientists, Victorian/Steampunk show at District VII. (off-site) Several i3 projects and members will be there.
Thursday, April 12, 7:30pm: Arduino Meetup, newbies welcome. Good platform to get started in microcontrollers.
Friday, April 13, 7pm: Open Shop Friday for those sad souls not in Cleveland at the midwest’s finest tech/art/everything conference.
Thursday April 19, 7pm-???: Tabletop Gaming. Does Dominion ring a bell? How about Settlers of Catan? Guests welcome.
Friday April 20, 7:30pm: Lockpicking for Beginners. Please register for your seat now!
Saturday April 21, 1pm-4pm: Roadside Skills For Non-Greasemonkeys. Registration required. Learn to patch a puncture, install a spare tire, jump-start a dead battery, and more.
Friday April 27 thru Sunday April 29: Penguicon (off-site). Geek-interest conference, expanding to larger digs in Dearborn this year. Several i3 Detroit members are presenting, teaching, and otherwise involved. There may not be an Open Shop this day because most of us will be at the con.
(Also, hello Detroit News visitors! What do you hack? What do you make? Let us know in comments!)
Hackerspaces/makerspaces tend to accumulate certain types of stuff. One major category, measured by both money and square footage, is rapid prototyping. In concrete terms, this means things like CNC mills and lathes, 3d printers, laser cutters, and such. While many of these are a bit expensive for everyone to own just yet, that’s why we exist.
There’s a lot written on the subject of rapid prototyping, but it’s relevant to everyday people because it means a change in the way we think about products. As do-it-yourself gets faster and easier, it starts to displace traditional manufacturing in ever more situations.
When I explain the CNC area to guests, I compare it to a mechanical typewriter and a word processor. With a traditional machine, once you’ve made your first part, making a second one is almost as time-consuming. It’s like typing a whole second copy of a document, versus just clicking “print” again. With the machines here, you can “print” physical objects (though the setup is sometimes a bit more complicated than loading paper). This also means that certain design features, like curves and generated shapes that might be hard to do by hand, are easy to include in your digital design.
But the other cool thing about digital designs is that, just like documents, you can share them! Email a copy to a friend around the world, or post them online for anyone to download. That’s what Thingiverse is about — some of the people behind the Makerbot project started a website just for sharing digital designs for rapid-prototypable objects.
So when I spent a few hours last Thursday designing a simple laser-cuttable Battleshots board, I didn’t want that work to be spent on making just the single game I needed. With a few clicks to export the files in a Thingiverse-approved format, and a few minutes to upload them and write the description, I created my first Thing. Now anyone can download it, visit their friendly local laser cutter, and make a copy! A custom-made drinking game, the product of personal production.
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