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3-D Printers Galore!

We here at PopSci are cracy about  3-D printers, and Maker Faire was flush with plenty of implementations of this amazing developing technology. The project we featured in June, Fab@Home, had its open-source 3-D printer cranking out delicious computer-generated prototypes in cake icing:

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Also filed under the "delicious 3-D printing" category was the Evil Mad Scientist Labs's CandyFab 4000, which makes its 3-D prints in sugar. A jet of hot air warms a bed of sugar one pixel at a time. Once a 2-D layer is complete, another layer of sugar is piled on and the process repeats, with each layer of sugar fusing to the next until some truly amazing sculptures are birthed:

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A fresh layer of sugar gets printed.

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The results.

The folks at TechShop—a supercool Bay Area group that gives its members open access to a ton of high-powered tools—had an industrial-grade ABS plastic 3-D printer going in their booth. This one was making a salt shaker, complete with a threaded screw-top lid:

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And finally, Bathesba Grossman is an amazing artist using 3-D printers that work in metal to generate complex geometric forms. Some of the forms, consisting of intricately interlocking bands of polished metal, would be impossible to make without a 3-D printer and a computer. —John Mahoney

3dprintersmetal

Top-Notch Persistence of Vision

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Another image from the day-one slide show I couldn't let get buried: James Nick Sears and his dad's amazing "persistence of vision" project, called the ORB. The ORB is hundreds of computer-controlled LEDs soldered into a ring that spins at an impressive 1,600 rpm. A computer synchronizes the LEDs to project animated digital images in full 3-D. —John Mahoney

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Be Your Own Google Earth

Of all the projects I saw on display this weekend, the one I'm most anxious to try myself is kite aerial photography. Cris Benton, one of the masters of the field, was on hand to show off his numerous kite rigs. Before taking up kites, Cris was a photographer first and a radio-controlled-airplane enthusiast second. His two hobbies came together quite nicely, inspiring him to fit his cameras with some RC controllers and take them aloft on kites. His current workhorse is a thing of beauty:

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A Canon digital point-and-shoot is nestled in an ultralight wood-and-aluminum frame. The whole thing is fitted with servos allowing Cris to control the angle of the camera from the ground and squeeze the shutter when the moment is right via radio control.

The process goes like this: Cris first gets his kite flying smoothly in the air. Once satisfied with the conditions, he ties on his rig's lines to the main kite string and sends it farther up; an ingenious system of four pulleys keeps the rig (and the camera) parallel to the ground using the rig's own weight. The output can be truly stunning:

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Salt ponds in Fremont, California, from Cris's Flickr stream. Check it out for more amazing shots.

Cris's current shooter is pretty tricked out, but you can make a much simpler version out of a disposable camera and some Popsicle sticks (you can see part of the instructions here on the Make site). —John Mahoney

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The Life-Size Mousetrap

    Mark Perez's life-size Mousetrap rig is a 10-year labor of love. This Rube Goldbergian contraption sends a bowling ball through a bevy of component steps, all resulting in a two-ton bank safe dropping on the poor mouse's cheese. Or at least that's what supposed to happen—but if it ran perfectly every time, it wouldn't be quite as exciting, right? The semi-unsuccessful run in the video above was offset by Perez's very successful marriage proposal to his girlfriend before the action began (she plays the mouse in the show). Highly adorable.

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Perez readies a trigger. He's a married man now!

Is That the Star Trek Theme?

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It wouldn't be a true techie gathering without a theremin, one of the oldest electronic instruments in existence. Dr. Robby Virus of the Bay Area group Project: Pimento played it, and played it well.

Just in Case You Missed It...

Ataricrochet


This was at the very end of the day-one slide show, but I had to bring it out in its own post: The coolest thing I saw in the Craft area by far (Craft is Make's sister magazine all about crafting) was Christine Domanic's crocheted Atari 2600 console, complete with two controllers and an old-school woodgrain TV. And the coup de grace? The picture-perfect Pitfall scene on the screen. So awesome. —John Mahoney

Maker Faire Action: Photos from Day One

I just got back from day one at Maker Faire, and to say I'm overwhelmed wouldn't even begin to describe it. Never have I seen more cool toys, ingenious projects, smart robots and, um, crocheted videogame consoles in one place. I spent most of the day walking around in a daze at the incredible variety of stuff on hand in San Mateo—somehow, though, I managed to take some photos. Below is a recap slide show from day one (click on each image for the full explanatory caption, and if you can't see anything at all, click here). Tomorrow we'll take a close look at some of the brightest Makers at the faire. —John Mahoney


Created with Paul's flickrSLiDR.

PopSci at the Maker Faire

Makerfaire_sign Tomorrow, yours truly is shipping out to sunny San Mateo, California, for the second-annual Maker Faire. Put on by our good friends at Make and Craft magazines, the Faire is quickly turning into the ultimate DIY gathering anywhere. Ever! I'll be there scoping out the wildest projects and demos—the list is literally too long and amazing to even get into, but you can check out the full schedule over on the Make site, as well as the previews they've been running all month of what we'll be seeing this weekend (personally, I'm pretty pumped for the disco giraffe we featured in How 2.0 a few months back).

So stay tuned here for updates, photos and videos from Maker Faire this weekend. If you're in the Bay Area, come say hi. —John Mahoney

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