The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maker Faire

I've found that I'm fairly terrible at event coverage so here's a simple list of the cool things I caught at the New York Maker Faire hosted this past weekend at the New York Hall of Science.

FRC: First Robotics Competition
High school students participating in the FRC ("A varsity sport for the mind") showed off robots from the recent 2010 challenge, which was to build a soccer-playing robot. These students were among the most excited and outgoing presenters at the fair and managed to pull off the--inconceivable in my generation--coup of being in high school, a science geek and cool simultaneously. There will be a scrimmage this Saturday (October 2nd) at the Francis Lewis High School in Queens. Check it out if you're in the NYC area.

Frank DeFreitas of Holoworld demonstrated his approx $100 DIY garage kit for creating holograms; using a laser pointer, metal pipe, some bulldog clips, and a lens. Frank has been creating holograms and teaching the process since 1983. His website has details on his workshops and updates on new developments in the art.

Mustafa Bagdatli explained his high tech, interactive mood ring project called "Poker Face" which uses "a heart rate monitor and galvanic skin response" to provide real time and highly visible readings of a user's emotional state (mood changes are displayed via a color changing medallion). The coolest feature of this project to me was the ability to sync this data with something like Google calender so you can track exactly who/what makes you happy and edit your life accordingly. It also made me imagine the potentially amusing conversations with spouses when they ask something like "Why were you so happy between 1:30 and 1:35 last Tuesday afternoon?"

Well above my understanding level, but incredibly cool is the Orbotix hardware/software platform for turning your mobile phone into a remote control unit to command killer robots.

Proteus Gowanus (543 Union Street in Brooklyn) hosts a "Fixers' Collective" every Thursday night. A "social experiment in improvisational fixing and mending", participants bring in broken objects and the accumulated expertise and brain power of the room tries to diagnose and fix them. Looking forward to attending a few of these this winter. Unfortunately most of my broken electronics were sent off to the "Deconstruction Lab" organized by my lovely wife for one of NYHOS's own Maker Faire workshops. Guess I will have to break more things.

Lastly a mesmerizing kinetic sculpture by Brad Litwin:

The piece shown at the fair was even more complex than this as the entire sculpture spun and the balls were catapulted through small holes in two spinning sheets of plexiglass. I could have stared at this thing for days.

Also noteworthy the 3D printer pavilion, life-size Mousetrap, the Rubiks solving robot, and lots more.

All-in-all a great time. Check it out if it comes to your town.

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