The Other Shoe Drops

Now that we have a spiffy new makerspace, we need a spiffy new course on the books to teach in it. So here it is, ask for it by name (actually by CRN 7096) at registration time for Spring:

ENTP190 Special Topics in Entrepreneurship: 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping 
MWF 01:30 pm-02:20 pm

Instructors: Tandy Grubbs, Chemistry and Bill Ball, Political Science

Have an idea for a product or small project but don’t know how to get it made?  This hands-on course will introduce you to the tools and concepts you need to rapidly bring your ideas to life using the resources of Stetson’s Innovation Lab. Primary emphasis will be on 3D printing and 3D design for printing. This will be supplemented with introductory units on model making, electronics, micro-controllers, vacuum forming, CNC routing, hand tools and power tools.


Membership, the reboot

J.J. Abrams was not available for this reboot so I guess we will have to do it ourselves.

Now that Innovation House in the old garage has become Innovation Lab in the Library we will need to redo our membership list.  You will need to re-sign a risk acknowledgement form similar to the one you did before. This will put you on the list for access to Innovation Lab. Let me put that another way: to use Innovation Lab you need to sign the paperwork again.

The form is here,

It will also be available in the library. Please complete it and turn it in to Bryan Roppolo or another librarian. The list of names generated from the singing the forms will also allow us to renew our blog author list and stay in touch with everyone.

We will also announce a series of safety workshops (and other workshops) shortly. You should sign up for one of these if you have not done one. I will try to provide Bryan a list of everyone who has had a safety orientation but I think you will get access to everything sooner if you just take one of the safety orientations when they are announced.

To use anything in the room with the power tools you will have to be on record with the Library as completing a safety orientation.





Innovation House becomes Innovation Lab

Ok here is the big announcement…..

Thanks to the efforts of Dean Susan Ryan, Innovation House has been merged into a greatly expanded and renovated space that has been housing the library’s 3D printers. All of the equipment (and most of the furniture) acquired by Innovation House has been moved over to join the four 3D printers in place at the library.

We will have to work out the details of membership, etc., but at this point Innovation House has essentially ceased to exist and we will call it Innovation Lab, a name the library has already been using. Feel free to come over and check it out and start using it when you are back on campus. While you are there, say hi to Bryan Roppolo, the new library staff member who has his office in the lab and will be taking on running Innovation Lab. I have a desk in the new space and will be there often. We will put together some workshops for the fall.

The new space is about the same overall size as Innovation House but divided up into more functional rooms and much nicer. Needless to say, it is in a much better location on campus, right on the main floor of the library.

Below are a series of photos showing the new space. Everything is operational at this point except for the Shapeoko CNC and I will get to that when classes start.

The best thing about having a garage start-up story is the part about moving out of the garage. Goal accomplished.



Is this the new home of Innovation House?

This post mostly serves as notice to watch for the next one.

A big announcement is coming soon!

Until I have a date finalized I can share two things:

  1. Innovation House is currently all packed up and will not be available for use for the next couple of weeks.
  2. No more bugs!



Internet of Things Weather station at Stetson.

I am assembling a wifi-connected weather station at the Gillespie museum on campus that will stream weather data via As a base I am implementing the Sparkfun weather station project (although with the much more sturdy mast structure already in place). This will be a base that someone who wants to do a project in IoT, interface design, data analytics, etc can work from in the next academic year. It will be operational before the summer is over.

This is the Sparkfun setup. Ours will be more professionally mounted.

This is the Sparkfun setup. Ours will be more professionally mounted.


Upcycling Innovation House

I came into to Innovation House today and found Jifu Groleau and Logan Dobson making messenger bags out of upcycled materials. The bags are made from plastic grocery bags, old t-shirts, wax paper, used tie-down straps, zippers, and velcro. If you are interested in making your own contact Jifu at



MakerCon last notice, Makerfaire first notice

Now is the time to plan your attendance at the local festivals of Make.


MakerCon is next weekend (Saturday, April 18) at the Florida State Fairgrounds. It’s an easy 2 hour drive down I-4. Over 75 exhibitors have signed up for an intense day of building and destroying stuff. The most popular categories seem to be robotics (including live robot combat), entrepreneurship & inventors, and other makerspaces. Highly anticipated activities (other than the robot combat) include the ability to have yourself 3D body scanned for printing (bring your own thumb drive), an outdoor pod drone race, an open demo mosh pit, and the kind of explosive chemistry demonstrations that have been banned from more timid maker events. Innovation House will have a booth. We probably won’t blow anything up but it should be a kinetic day.


Orlando Makerfaire has been announced for September 12 & 13, at the Orlando Science Center once again. This is the big one for Florida. About 2000 people attend each day, anxious to get their hands on stuff and be impressed by your brilliance. Stetson has had a booth every year of this event and I encourage you to start thinking about what projects you would like to bring, even if it’s only for part of a day.

Arduino Day

Arduino Day at the Melrose Center, March 28

The Melrose Center at the Library in Orlando is a cool place with 26,000 square feet of tech toys (, mostly audio/video/multimedia production. Arduino day is being co-run with the Orlando Robotics and Makers Club (
I will be there with my usual Arduino gadgets and the project. You should come.
Bill Ball​

Trends in Tech Hardware Entrepreneurship

Ready for a 192 slide PowerPoint? I thought so. This one from the hardware accelerator HAXLR8R is worth it:

If you eyes glaze over on the venture funding slides, just keep going, They really cover the field of new technologies and their very fast cycle of creation, funding, manufacturing, commoditization, and obsolescence. So that great product idea you just had is probably already available in Shenzhen for $1. Oh well.

Make money with bots, or just help build one.

Before the opportunity passes, I wanted to provide an update on the $50 robot project and remind students that they could be paid to work on the project this summer.

First, the money part. I am referring to the Stetson SURE grants. One of these grants provides $2000 for eight weeks of work this summer. There is also travel money available for presenting a project. Eligible students must have at least sophomore standing as of the spring 2015 semester and attend Stetson at least through fall 2015. I think the $50 Robot would be an excellent project to base a SURE grant application on. It could either focus on developing the software libraries (for a computer science student, or at least one with programming experience) or the project development and marketing (for someone in entrepreneurship/marketing). The deadline for applying for a SURE grant is March 11, so please contact me immediately if you are interested in pursuing this opportunity to work on the little money-maker over the summer.

Even if you are not in a position to pursue a SURE grant there are other ways to get involved, from assembly to design to programming and testing. Ultimately it will need a better name than the “$50 robot,” so I am looking for ideas on that as well.

At this point the physical layout is pretty well defined, as is the electronics main board. I am fiddling around with sensors and the basic software to go with them. It kind of works but needs a bit more refinement before setting the basic overall design and components.



The main components of the bot include an Arduino to control it, two geared DC motors running from a motor controller, a piezo speaker, and a suite of obstacle avoidance sensors. At present I have an ultrasonic sensor and two bump switches mounted. But there will be variants.

The goal is to have a set of these bots ready for MakerCon in April. I plan to recruit builders at that event, with some partial kit give-aways as inducements.

Short term tasks include (I could use help on any of these):

  • Building more electronics boards. I have some kits ready to assembly by someone who has done some soldering in the past.
  • Building more bodies & drive assemblies. I am ordering parts for some kits at present.
  • Trying different sensors and add-ons. In particular I want to arrive at MakerCon with a line follower version, a bluetooth enabled version, and a lithium rechargeable version.
  • Developing documentation and thinking through the marketing aspects.

Looking past MarkerCon, I’d really like to get this project to the point where a successful Kickstarter could fund some full kits for people. So there is ample opportunity to be involved on the marketing side.

Finally, I have put up a basic blog at to post the details of the development process for now. Eventually, it will host full documentation, bill of materials, build instructions, 3D and CNC files, example programs, and everything else.

Bill Ball