Meet the Maker: Trossen Robotics

hros1chassiBigDid you ever want to walk a robot on a leash? Or learn how to make a robotic arm to do your bidding? Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is excited to welcome back Trossen Robotics, a company committed to helping people learn about robotics and electronics, for a third year!

Trossen Robotics started in the late 2000s selling robot parts, but they’ve grown into designing and even manufacturing their own open source robotic kits, such as crawlers and humanoids. Grounded in a belief that community is critical–people can always use help when building things, experimenting, and sharing their experiences–Trossen wants to foster a community of builders through forums, blogs, and other support networks. And they want people to realize that anyone can learn how to make robots!

You do not have to be an engineer or have millions of dollars to build a robot. The field of robotics has something for everyone–from those interested in electronics and engineering to non-STEM fields like aesthetics and design–and Trossen is committed to helping everyone from the casual hobbyist to the university student working on a robot for their thesis.DFmkRFIAt this year’s Faire, Trossen will be showing off some of their amazing robots. People will have the opportunity to play with a variety of different robots, and even have fun walking a crawler robot on a leash. They will also be displaying their “voodoo robot,” with a large robotic arm and a smaller one that works like a controller, as well as some autonomous robots that use sensors to navigate the world.

Kyle Granat at Trossen Robotics told us that they are really excited about Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire this year and explained that people often leave the Faire in awe: not the kind of awe you would see at a car show or technology show, but the feeling of awe upon realizing that they can do some of the amazing things that see for  themselves. We look forward to seeing them there!

Open Call for Makers 2015!

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WE’RE BACK! (Admit it, you missed us)

Schurz High School , the Urban School Foundation, and local maker Christina Pei return with the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, celebrating teaching and learning for all ages of makers, new and old!  For those of you who are new to Maker Faire, it is the largest celebration of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) in the world.  Maker Faire is a venue for inventors, technophiles, artists, crafters, mad scientists, hackers, musicians, and anyone who makes cool things and want to show others how it’s done.  If this describes you:

APPLY NOW!

Reserve your maker table at Schurz High School on Saturday, May 2, 2015.  We will be accepting applications until April 6.  There is no cost to makers to present and it’s FREE for your friends to attend!  Makers will also be featured on our website and advertisements.

Questions? Contact us at ChicagoNorthsideMF@gmail.com

A (Belated) Summary of Inventables’ Launch of “Carvey”

October 20, 2014

We went to a launch party: Chicago’s hardware store for designers, Inventables, presented their cool new 3D tabletop carving machine, aptly named “Carvey.”  The next day, they launched their Kickstarter campaign with a funding goal of $50,000, which they reached in about 1 hour. How ’bout them apples, eh?

It was shockingly quiet, waaaay faster than 3D printing, and on Kickstarter for another 30 hours if you want first dibs.

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Just open it up.

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Clamp down your material of choice–wood, acrylic, soft metals.

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…and we got this in minutes!

We hope some of our makers are putting 3D carving to good use by the time the fourth annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire comes around in May!

A (Belated) Summary of Maker Faire Milwaukee

Road trip! Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire made their way to Milwaukee Maker Faire this past weekend. And we had tons of fun. The event was located at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in Milwaukee. At the same time, there was Harvest Festival, which made for a very festive environment!

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Outside of the Exhibition Hall, there was a wonderful collaboration between Maker Faire and Harvest Festival. It was none other than a pumpkin throwing trebuchet. It had all the glory of a trebuchet with added joy of pumpkins smashing against a target. It was delightful to watch. There were Life Size Mousetrap, and an ironworks demonstrating how to make shields and other metal armor. So cool!

20140927_142225Inside was the joyful buzz of people learning and making. Over at the Build-A-Blinkie table, soldering tables were filled with happy busy people. We made our own Blinkies! We soldered together an atomic pin with blue flashing lights. It was the bees knees. Next time, we’re going to have to build their lighted cube! (Well, if we have a spare 2 + hours.)

We also met a group of makers who were prototyping a video game gym. It was a rather fantastic concept. The screen was hooked up to an exercise chair with pedals and arm poles. On the screen, there was an Asteroid game. To make your little space ship accelerate, you had to move the pedals. If you want to turn around, you had to pull or push the arm poles. Very neat. I can’t wait to see the final product.

We also got to see robots from First Robotics face off! These magnificent machines whirled and twirled across the court attempting to throw balls into one another’s goals. It was really inspiring to see what kids were able to do. I can’t wait to see what they make next!

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We also schmoozed with hacker spaces from Wisconsin. We met people from Madison based Sector 67. They were demoing a theremin piano. It was a horizontal theremin with piano keys for reference. Normally, you have to have perfect pitch to play a theremin but this piano key setup allowed regular folks to have a sense of what pitch is being played.

We also got to check out some friends of Northside Maker Faire: Chicago Electronic Distributors. We talked to them about some new and exciting future projects. And they had some neat kits to build!

One really nifty thing was that GE sponsored a contest. Contestants had three hours to assemble a vehicle to navigate an obstacle course without spilling an open container of water. You couldn’t use normal vehicle parts like a wheels, etc. It looked like a great deal of fun. Some folks had projects that would travel by rope; other groups made wheels out of plastic and rubber pieces. Next time, we are totally signing up and competing!

Thanks for a wonderful day, Milwaukee! Can’t wait for next year!

Even More Maker Faires! Hooray!

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Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire producer Christina Pei teaches lockpicking with TOOOL

The Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire team visited the incredible Henry Ford Museum this weekend, site of the 5th annual Maker Faire Detroit.  We played with, among other things, old school tractor engines, Power Wheels, hacked bikes, soldering, lockpicking, 3D printing, oh my!  Over 400 makers turned out for this featured Faire.  Here’s a little taste of what we saw:

A simple game of Flaming Skeeball

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Life Size Mouse Trap always draws the crowds!

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Celebrations of past tech: manually-powered motors, retro bikes, and this couple dressed for the olden tymes.

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We milled a bottle opener with this Shapeoko 2 from Inventables.

The Manulith

We visited our friends from the Manulith, the 3D printing experts.

If you missed Maker Faire Detroit, have no fear!  It will return in July 2015.

And…you can join us locally this Saturday, August 2nd, for Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire!  Located at the Ford City Mall, it is the second Mini Maker Faire in Chicago:

Saturday, August 2nd
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Ford City Mall
7601 South Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60652

Register HERE for free tickets!

Celebrate the Day of Making

The White House is hosting its own Maker Faire today!  Follow the action at http://www.whitehouse.gov/maker-faire.  Or join in the fun from home by posting a picture of your own creation today, using #NationOfMakers.

day-of-making-badgeWe signed the “Building Maker Communities” Pledge on Makezine.com to show our support for the maker movement, and you can, too!  When you sign the pledge, you’ll also receive a free e-copy of the book, “Zero to Maker,” by David Lang.

The CNS Maker Team is headed to South Side Hackerspace this evening to start building the dice kit provided to us by Chicago Electronic Distributors. There will likely be making of other things, too–chainmaille from Blue Buddha Boutique, lockpicking from TOOOL, and possibly some of the gadgets we picked up from Maker Faire Bay area!  Follow us on Twitter @CNSmakerfaire for updates on our projects.  Or come join us tonight, starting at 7:30!

And just a reminder of the fun we had last month, here are some more pictures of the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire.  Thanks to ChiBots, the Schurz photography class, and Glowing Mood Flower for sharing!

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Thanks for Coming!

20140503_115024May 3rd, 2014 marked the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, and the largest Chicago Maker Faire yet! 80 exhibiting makers, many of them young makers, and 2,000 attendees made this an amazing event. Thanks to everyone who made this happen!

20140503_140409For those of you who joined the fun, here’s a recap of some of our favorites.  And for those of you couldn’t make it this year, here’s a taste of what you missed. Our veteran makers returned with some of the exhibits you’ve come to expect from Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire – lockpicking with TOOOL, soldering with Build-A-Blinkie, tinkering with hackerspaces, DIY projects from Chicago Children’s Museum, Build Your Own Chicago, FIRST Robotics presented by local high schools (Schurz, Lane Tech, Whitney Young), Blast the Nerds from the Schurz National Honors Society, and many more!20140503_134647

When you first entered Maker Faire, did you notice the aerial drones from Mad Lab Industries flying overhead? 14 - 7 20140503_120922-MOTION

Did you hitch a ride in a muffin baked by Oak Park Muffineering? 20140503_115440 20140503_115551-MOTION

Did you learn to use a drill from the Chicago Tinkering School and Chicago Children’s Museum?20140503_115749

Did you blast a nerd or explode some Coke with Mentos?20140503_115814

20140503_150926We grew so much this year that we needed to expand. For the first time, the stunning domed library was open for Maker Faire, housing a planetarium brought by the Adler Planetarium, all three major Chicagoland hackerspaces (Pumping Station: One, Southside Hackerspace, and Workshop 88), the Chicago Public Library, ChiBots, and Schurz’s own Anime Club.20140503_145836

The hallways were packed with student art, 3D printed designs, a Rube Goldberg device in action, a DIY photobooth, and a taste of the neat offerings of Chicago Electronic Distributors.
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Of course, the cafeteria was a center of activity. We hope you also checked out the Electric Garden and Colossal Squid just across the hall, all the robots from the FIRST Robotics teams who presented in the Gym, and Schurz Digital Media making images and beats in the surrounding hall.2014Garden

Did you make a bouncy ball and learn more about supporting Comer’s Children Hospital from the Schurz IB students?20140503_144229Or were you too distracted by the adorable bunnies?20140503_142814Or maybe it was this guy?20140503_134952

Did you learn how to make a cool coin purse from a recycled chip bag?20140503_134709

Did you play a round of Giant Jenga?20140503_140644

Did you check out the Shapeoko 2 from Inventables?2014Inventables

Did you see the bionic hand made by UIC New Media Arts?2014Bionic

Did you make a giant mold, learn to solder, use a cyclic harmonograph, make pictures with fire, craft your own spa products, build your own Chicago, inflate a moon ball, fold some origami, etch an eraser stamp, needle felt a design, construct a hexbug, or build a kit from Brown Dog Gadgets?  Whew! We were overwhelmed, too!20140503_135155

Don’t worry, we’re coming back in May, 2015 – more makers, more attendees, more stuff to DIY. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to always be in the know. That’s all folks! Keep on making, and come back for more!

Countdown to Maker Faire: 2 Days!

Partly CloudyWeather Update:

Rainclouds part in honor of Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire!  Expect partly cloudy skies, and a high in the mid-60s.  It’s still chilly, so bring a jacket.  You know Chicago weather!

Construction Update:

There is major construction all along Milwaukee Avenue.  As a result, parking will be more difficult this year.  Remember that you can bike, or take public transportation.  Check out the details on our ATTEND page.

 

Meet the Maker Sponsor: Chicago Electronic Distributors

2014ChiEdHello world! Want to make some awesome electronics? Then you definitely have to check out Chicago Electronic Distributors, a sponsor of Mini Maker Faire Northside Chicago. The company distributes electronic kits, preconfigured Raspberry Pis, and many other wonderful electronics. Craig LeMoyne started this internet based company in February 2013 when he started selling preconfigured Raspberry Pi, a credit card sized low cost computer that you can plug into a monitor or TV screen. In time, the company grew and now it sells a variety of products including electronic kits from Adafruit, Arduino, Spikenzie Labs, RaspBMC, Cyntech, and more.

In an interview, Craig LeMoyne said, “My goal is for people to know that building something electronic is a lot easier than you think. Soldering shouldn’t be scary, anyone can do it.” There is lots of information online and that you can learn from online tutorials. Plus, at Maker Faire this Saturday, you can try soldering for yourself with Build-A-Blinkie! If you’re a novice, Craig suggests making a TV B-Gone by Adafruit, which turns off all TVs!

Craig was drawn to the maker world because he feels that people should really try to make more of their own things. Chicago Electronic Distributor is a huge supporter of the maker community and the study of STEM subjects. The company also has a neat blog detailing various projects that people can do. For instance, in honor of the Polar Vortex, he wrote about making a digital thermometer. Sweet. Chicago Electronic Distributors is also looking for people to write blog entries about their projects so if you are interested, you should definitely talk to Craig LeMoyne via email or at Maker Faire.

At Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, Chicago Electronic Distributors is bringing various products like the TV B-Gone, a basic clock, a thermometer, and much more! You’ll get a chance to learn more about these electronic kits and the company. Chicago Electronic Distributors is looking forward to meeting its customers and supporters and learning more about the needs of makers in Chicago. Check out their website to learn more about the products and their projects: http://chicagodist.com/

Meet the Maker: Cyclic Harmonograph

2014HarmonographYou have to check out the wondrous machine called the Cyclic Harmonograph. Built by Peter Dalton, this hand-powered wooden machine uses a pulley system to create incredible circular interloping designs on paper. The Cyclic Harmonograph is a bit like a spirograph but it’s much larger and it uses pulleys instead of gears. The designs can be changed by five principle variables, such as changing the ratios between drawing arm and the paper, the rate of the movement of the drawing arm, and more. You can also change the paper and the pens to get different effects. But it’s not all about the pretty pictures.  The machine is a wonder of mechanics.  You can learn a lot about how rotary motion converts into lateral motion and much more.

The first Cyclic Harmonograph came about several years ago when Peter decided to try to put it together as a proof of concept. And it worked! Last year, his neighbor Katherine Edwards remembered the device as a kid and asked him to make one for a Tedx conference at University of Michigan. They collaborated and he built a larger Cyclic Harmonograph. It was a hit! Peter also showcases the machine on special days at the school where he works as a substitute teacher.

When I asked Peter what he wanted people to get out of his Cyclic Harmonograph, he told me that he wants you to know that you can take an idea, put it down on paper as a rough sketch, and figure a way to actually make it. It’s important to continue that process of discovery. Peter also advises that kids watch their family and friends to learn new things, like woodworking and sewing. So come on by to see the marriage of art and mechanics in the Cyclic Harmonograph and get your own design made before your very eyes!