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!

teaser

 

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 wunderground.com. 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 cgroleau@stetson.edu

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20150506_132724

MakerCon last notice, Makerfaire first notice

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

makers-badge

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.

mf2015

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
http://tic.ocls.info/arduinoday2015/

The Melrose Center at the Library in Orlando is a cool place with 26,000 square feet of tech toys (http://tic.ocls.info/), mostly audio/video/multimedia production. Arduino day is being co-run with the Orlando Robotics and Makers Club (http://www.meetup.com/Orlando-Robotics/).
I will be there with my usual Arduino gadgets and the robot50.org 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.

robot50_p3_top

robot50_p3_bottom

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 robot50.org 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

wball@stetson.edu

Soldering workshop

I will be giving an introduction to soldering workshop at Innovation House on Thursday, February 19th at 7 p.m. This is aimed at people with no previous soldering experience.

Learn to solder badge

Make a spiffy learn to solder badge

The workshop is limited to the first 10 people who sign up below. I will offer at least one more workshop for those unable to attend the first one.

The workshop will cover the basics of soldering. You will make and take home your own light up “Learn to Solder Skill Badge” from the people at MakerShed (cable knit sweater not included).

I will cover basic safety issues with soldering.

Learn how NOT to redecorate with a soldering iron.

Learn how to NOT redecorate with a soldering iron.

We will also, for once and for all, resolve the question of whether it is pronounced “soLdering” or “soddering.”

The workshop is first signed up, first come. Use the form below to sign up. I am collecting your e-mail address and cell number to confirm your registration and in case I need to contact you about any last minute information, I won’t be sharing them.

Bill Ball

 

All-American Makers

I don’t usually endorse TV shows (because the ones I like all tend to get cancelled quickly), but Science Channel’s “All-American Makers” seems especially appropriate for the members of Innovation House. It’s a combination of makers and Shark Tank-style pitch competitions. I though the first episode was rather meh but the second one was much improved. You can check out some clips at: http://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/all-american-makers/. Do  it before they realize I am watching and cancel the series because I seem to be an audience of one :)

By the way, one of the hosts, Brook Drumm, is the guy I bought my 3D printer kit from back when he was just a first-time Kickstarter with no idea how many thousands of units he would sell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help me usher in the robot apocalypse

I am looking for people who would like to be part of a project to develop and make available a cheap robotics platform for would-be makers. A concept statement follows:

Robot50 Program Description

Goals for builders

To learn basic maker skills on an inexpensive and extendable starter project to the extent that they may independently pursue new projects. These skills include:

  1. Fabrication (cutting, drilling, assembly). The project will be suitable for fabrication from commonly available materials with hand tools, but with the option for learning basic CNC work and 3D design and printing.
  2. Electronics (introductory soldering and working with both prefabricated electronic modules and basic components and wiring). Parts will be inexpensive, commonly available, and well supported.
  3. Programming (installing a programming environment, setting up drivers, and working within a high-level programming environment). The programming environment will be wildly accessible but allow for professional-level work.
  4. Skill at participating in physical and online support communities of peers.

Goals for developers

To learn how to shepherd a project from idea through prototypes, community building, crowd-sourced funding, to project evolution and support.

The starter project

The program’s initial focal point will be providing access to a small, autonomous robot design that uses the Arduino microcontroller and costs approximately $50 to build.

Audience

The target audience is individuals or groups age 16+ who aren’t afraid to learn to use saws, drills, or soldering irons, to install software, share what they learn, or make mistakes.

Project milestones

  1. Construct a series of prototypes of the starter project.
  2. Based on a final prototype, prepare a bill of materials, a list of part vendors, a set of assembly and set up instructions, and basic software libraries.
  3. Disseminate the project online, at maker events, and with local partners to obtain feedback.
  4. Conduct a crowd-sourced funding campaign to finance a run of kits.
  5. Prepare and disseminate the kits. Support the project with robust online information and community.
  6. Generate new starter project ideas advancing the same general goals. Provide a path to graduate builders to developers.
  7. Lather, rinse, repeat.

At this point I am in stage 1. I would like to get to stage 3 for the Tampa Makercon in April and/or Orlando Makerfaire in September. To whet your appetite, here is a picture of the prototype I am currently playing with (i.e. testing to destruction).

20150123_161008

There are a number of ways for anyone who is interested to get involved. It would be great if one or two students would like to get seriously involved: building their robots, developing code libraries and helping to populate a website and promote the project. I hope it could lead to a summer SURE grant for somebody (application due 3/11). Maybe a senior project in Computer Science. But there are less intensive ways to get involved also. Anyone who is interested should get in touch with me: wball@stetson.edu

By the way, this is a good commentary on the likelihood of the Robot50 project actually ushering in the robot apocalypse.

Bill Ball, wball@stetson.edu