Marble Run Wall at reDiscover Center

Now that summer Tinkering Camp has wound down, I can share some of what we’ve been up to! I will post about the camp experience in itself soon, but first I’d like to show you one of the newest additions to reDiscover Center. Take a gander at the marble run wall!

 

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I worked with Molly Allis to build an 8-foot-tall pegboard wall for one corner of the studio. The top 40% contains elements designed by myself and some other facilitators and kids, which are meant to stay in place for the most part. There is a spiraling cylinder pulled from a donated gum ball machine, and a pachinko machine that uses screws as pegs. Pulley systems are set up on both sides of the pegboard to allow kids to crank marbles to the top of the marble run and let them loose.

 

The rest of the pegboard is entirely for tinkering. Kids can make elements such as ramps and funnels to add and move around, using wood, power tools, and recycled materials. Every day includes playing with the marble run wall!

 

Take a look at the videos below showing the process of making this installation and some of the first elements.

 

Barb Makes Things: Scribble Bots

Scribble bots are something I’ve been doing for quite a while, they’re awesome as a project for kids, and you can actually see some of the bots made by my Art Machines tinkering class at reDiscover Center last Friday. So enjoy this week’s Barb Makes Things with scribble bots!

 

Barb Makes Things: 3D Printed Poking Device

DSC01745 copyIt’s Tuesday again, which means a new video. In this one, I recreate a 3d printed device I made for a previous Halloween costume, about 2/3 size and printed with stainless steel filament. It is a poking device mounted on a scissor mechanism. I mean, really, why not?

 

I also posted a full instructable for my Layered Wood Pendant Necklace video.

 

 

 

Barb Makes Things: Marble Run

In this post about tinkering and prototyping materials, I mention bamboo skewers and show a video of a marble run I built. I thought it was time I show the actual process of building one. This may expand to a larger thing, possibly to live on the walls at CRASH Space. The frame is made from dowels, and the rails and stops from bamboo skewers, and the whole thing is held together with hot glue. This makes for a quick, easy assembly and fast fun.

 

 

Keep an eye out for next week’s video, in which I use a Qduino mini.

Barb Makes Things: December and January

A roundup of my videos on Barb Makes Things from the last month or so:

 

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Layered Wood Pendant Necklace

I’ve been making a fair amount of jewelry lately, and Rockler has tons of great, super thin veneer sheets. There are a few tutorials on instructables about making bent wood rings, I decided to go another direction… literally. I’ve now made several rings with many glued layers, and which I finish with tung oil and cyanoacrylate (super glue), and in this video, I make a necklace in a similar style.

 

3D Cookies

When I say 3D, I mean that in multiple ways: I 3D modeled and printed custom cookie cutters, and the resulting pieces slot together to make a shape that stands up. I only show the process of modeling the tree cookie cutters, but I also created ones for a moose, which you do see toward the end of the video. They were tasty, and an awful lot of fun to make.

 

Tiled Desk

This is actually footage from back when I was first setting up my desk, so it’s technically my first video. I used floor tiles and hot glued them to a piece of plywood that rests on two small bookshelves. I could have used a more permanent adhesive, or done a finishing coat over the whole thing, but I wanted the flexibility to peel up and replace individual tiles, should they get damaged. And a hot glue gun is an often underestimated tool; the tiles are all staying perfectly.

 

Wooden Camera Arm

I’ve done a number of tutorial videos in the past, and the tripod is simultaneously helpful, and a huge pain. Getting the camera in the right place for the right shot is one thing, but when you need to reach around it to try to make something, all the while paying extra attention to staying in the shot, well… I knew there had to be a better solution. My first attempt was a custom frame for my camera that would hang from four hooks in the ceiling. It worked for a while, but wasn’t entirely reliable, and wasn’t remotely adjustable. Hence, the custom camera arm. I love mechanisms, especially ones made from wood, and this extending arm does the trick.

 

Wooden Toy Car

My work at the reDiscover Center focuses mainly on reusing materials, so this video shows a project that someone might make there (actually, cars are a popular thing with the kids who come in). I also spend most of this video working at the kids’ makerspace, so you get to see some of the tools that we (and the kids!) use there.

Barb Makes Things on YouTube

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As you may know, I do a lot of tutorials, both written and video. Some recent ones include a Concrete “PotHead” (which CRASH Space members intend to turn into an Easter Island-style display out front of the building), Concrete Letterpress Sign, and the latest tutorial for FlipBooKit, about assembling a Moto kit.

 

And now I’ve started a new YouTube channel called Barb Makes Things, in which I will explore some of my many maker interests with a new video each week. I’ve made a mount for my camera above my desk and am posting high-speed videos of what happens there. Some will have associated instructables, like the first one for the Concrete Letterpress Sign. Plans for upcoming videos include a papercut and frame, assembling my tiled desk top, and wooden rag dolls. If you have anything you’d like to see me make, let me know!

 

Head on over and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any.

 

Kinetic Show:LA

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Mark and Wendy of CRASH Space and FlipBooKit have put together a truly unique exhibition called Kinetic Show: LA at ARENA 1 Gallery in Santa Monica, featuring a ton of tech and kinetic art. This is well worth checking out! What’s more, both of my Hexachords are on display to see, hear, and play. The Arduino-powered Hexachord has some shiny new code under the hood. Tonight is the opening, and it’ll be running through October 6th, so make sure you get out to see all of the fun!

 

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CRASHspace at Maker Faire

If you’re heading to the Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend, make sure to come by the CRASHspace booth and see all of the amazing things our members have made. There’s Theron’s 8-bit ukulele, Daniel’s retro modules, Steve’s “Jacob’s Splatter” (a combination Jacob’s ladder and levitating fountain… high voltage and water ftw), Nate’s zoetrope, and I’ll have both of my Hexachords there as well.

 

We’re located at the southwest edge of the Expo Hall, right across from the south wall’s doors. More pictures soon!

 

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Prepping for Maker Faire 2015

Maker Faire Bay Area is just a week away! I am so excited, and sooo busy.

 

Last year for Maker Faire, I showed my first Hexachord, a 3-foot-tall six-chambered rotary instrument. This year, I’ll be showing both the original and a new version. It’s a single-chambered design with six necks radiating from the center, and played by six servos hooked up to an Arduino Uno. Have a look at all of the in-progress pictures here and stop by the CRASHspace booth in the Expo Hall to see the completed instrument!

 

Hexachord interior assembled

Hexachord top  New Hexachord Necks

 

I will also be running workshops at the FlipBooKit booth in the Maker Shed, so come on by. There will be a sneak peek of my new ‘How to Make a Custom Animation’ video playing in the shed along with the original assembly one. Here’s the finished animation from my demo!

 

 

See you there!

Tech Disrupting

Cause & Effect Machine Flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the wonderful folks at MakerEd, I got to be involved with the Intel Experience Popup Store this holiday season.  I was one of three “Tech Disruptors” at the Venice store (think Makers-in-Residence), who took apart old electronics and built new inventions from the parts.  We came up with some fun gadgets on our own and in collaboration with people who came into the store, especially kids.  There’s a special joy when children who have never seen the inside of a computer or car stereo crack into one for the first time, and it’s great to witness shy kids come out of their shells.  It’s so hammered into us that you Do Not mess with technology, you Do Not void the warranty, that breaking the taboo is wildly freeing.  Even the most rule-abiding is willing to join in when exclaim gleefully, “I want to see what’s inside, so I’m going to take this printer down to nothing.  Want to help?”  We’re curious by nature, it’s how we learn,  so why on earth should we keep kids from it?

One great thing from this experience was getting to know my fellow Tech Disruptors Carlyn Maw and Jen Fox.  The store’s run has ended, but we’re just getting started working together.  (Last Friday I introduced Jen to the fun that is shrink plastic, and she did little else the rest of the night.)

In any case, here are some of the things we came up with:

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 – Circuit Board Christmas Tree. Made from some of the many circuit boards we had on hand.  The dremel and I became very close during this process, we’re now BFFs.  It’s created from six half tree shapes, strung together with some old wires.  The colorful component ornaments were largely the work of guests and other employees at the Intel store, who all got very involved with our projects.  As a final touch, I charlieplexed some LEDs and plugged the whole thing into an Arduino.  A proximity sensor made the lights blink more quickly when you got up close.  I’m pretty proud of our result.

 

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 – Hard Drive Bird.  It occurred to me that the actuator arm of a hard drive looks a bit like a bird’s head, so I carved up some wings/feathers from multiple colored circuit boards, and added a wire foot and peacock feather that I had lying around.  I swapped out the hard drive’s motor for a different stepper motor, and rigged up a belt made from gaff tape that transfers Arduino commands from the stepper to make the bird’s head twitch.  See the video!

 

 

the noisemaker, mounted

 – Gear Noisemaker.  This is something that evolved over the course of my time there (and is still evolving in a current project, which I’ll get into in another post).  It started out simple – a VCR motor and a cardboard gear, but quickly accumulated colorful electronic components for the gear’s face, and a plastic knife that would spin and hit whatever items we surrounded the gear with.  Among the noise items: parts from a 3.5″ floppy disk, a broken cd, random metal machine bits, copper wire strings, and old wind chimes.  By the end, I’d mounted the whole thing to a PVC frame, some guests added more strikers to the gear, and we incorporated it into the big Cause & Effect Machine.

 

 

 

cause & effect dog dish filler

- Cause & Effect Machines.  Each of the Tech Disruptors was challenged to come up with and put on an event.  Rube Goldberg machines are so much fun, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to try to create one.  I built a seven-foot PVC pipe frame for us to build on and went nuts at dollar stores, and off we went.  The first day doing this project saw the creation of a dog waterer, and when we brought the activity out for our final showcase, Jen and I made a chain reaction that used a wooden skewer marble run, a lever triggered by jenga blocks, and two big metal enclosures attached to alligator cords that closed a circuit and started my noisemaker running.  Watch the videos!

 

 

Check out the full photo set on my flickr.  Carlyn made very detailed posts from her time at the store, and she has a lot on her flickr stream as well.