Friday, 29 May 2015

Count Down to Hannah Festival 2015

Two weeks to go to our Hannah Festival celebration and it is all hands on deck to get our Aerobots finished to support our first robot workshop. Follow our journey in pictures. Find out more about this year's Hannah Festival.

1. From BOM to unwrapping!

2. Preparing to apply the solder paste
3. Three up, now with solder paste 

4. Double sided tape holds
those tiny components in place 
5. Really wishing I had my
reading glasses
6. Vacuum pick and place by hand  

7. First Aerobot out of the oven
8. Triplets!

Many thanks to Kitronic for letting me hang out out their place and cook up my first three robots in their lovely oven!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sneak Peak

Here is a first look at my new yellow Maker Fun Aerobot boards and a glimpse of my hot off the press (literally) Robot Fun T-shirt made at Fab Lab Manchester yesterday! 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Red Robots and Drinks Coasters!

Having challenged myself to make my first robot I placed an order for 15 circuit boards. On the 29th of January I received my first batch of 15 'drink coasters'. If you would like to buy one feel free to get in touch! How did my robots turn into coasters?

Lesson Number 1: When downloading open hardware files make sure that ALL the files are the latest version. 

Check, double check and check again before you click on order, buy or get anywhere near the checkout. If you  the don't you may end up with circuit art. 

It is not that I didn't look at the files before I ordered them it's just that I hadn't realised I could open all the files simultaneously in my gerber viewer. 

Thankfully have a hands on approach that goes beyond simply making what you ask for and extends to checking your files.

When I asked them to print a stencil that didn't match the board they explained the problem. 

Karen Lin got back to me with this picture showing me the difference between the solder mask layer .GTS and the top paste layer .GTP.  

Even when I found out my red boards were obsolete I still felt really attached to them. In fact I carried them around in my hand bag for more than a week. 

This served two purposes. I could show people what I was going to make and the cool thing I had already done; made my own circuit boards. That just wouldn't have been possible a few years ago, at a price I could afford.

By sharing I found out more information about the next stage of the process. I would need some more changes to the files, perhaps a bigger battery pad and to increase the solder mask layer around the DFN. Since I hadn't ordered a DFN I was a bit confused but when another colleague mentioned it too I looked it up and discovered that they were referring to fixing the motor driver component. Since I wasn't going to use a automated process or a 'pick and place' machine like they did in the original Harvard buildit made sense to amend the design to make it easier to build. I was planning something between cooking it up in my own kitchen and trying convince someone with a reflow machine to hold my hand whilst making the first board. 

Now I have all of the latest files and persuaded a friend to tweak the design so I am ready for another run! 

Friday, 20 February 2015

From Zero to AERobot

Just before Christmas I saw this article in Wired for a DIY 10 dollar robot called AERobot. Not to be confused with an aerial robot this is an affordable educational robot, AERobot. It does all the cool things that you would want of a first robot like following edges, lines and light too. The robot can be programmed using a graphical programming language called Minibloqs  and it captured my imagination as being the perfect project for getting young children into robotics. 

Michael Rubenstein and colleagues at Harvard Research give a really good overview of the AERobot:  

Join me over the course of the next few weeks as my robot adventure evolves from bare boards to a world record attempt and lots of lessons learnt in between! 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Planning a little Sonic Pi this Sunday

Sonic 'Pet' Pi

I was looking for inspiration for getting started with Sonic Pi and found this quirky compilation by Sarah Angliss. Her Sonic Pi composition features an adorable dog, fascinating music archive from a time when music was printed on cylinders not vinyl and lots of imagination. Take a look. 

Find your own music gems here: The Internet Archive. And more Sonic Pi inspiration from the Sonic Pi: Live and Coding website. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Review of the Year 2014

Looking back on Maker Fun's first year we have delivered 26 events, and over 450 'makes'. Over 430 kids have taken part, joined by over 200 parents! We have hosted our own events at our local village library, supported our local Coderdojos in Manchester and Stockport, and delivered events at Museums.

Our top three activities were: 'Making Dragon Snot and Slime', turning Jitter Bugs into 'Art Bots' and our popular 'Dashing Reindeer and Dancing Angels' with a Frozen make-over, enter Sven and Anna and Elsa. Missed out? Then check out our Maker Fun Recipes and bring Maker Fun home.

Our most memorable event was our first Maker Faire at Newcastle Centre for Life. We hoped others would be interested in our club and were overwhelmed with the positive comments and response.

What's next?

We want to reach double the number of kids and families next year. We would like to launch the Maker Fun Library too!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Everybody Freeze it's Anna and Elsa!

Elsa and Anna joined the staff at Startpoint Coffee shop bringing Disney magic and sparkle to the Christmas light switch on at Woodley this weekend. 

We made dashing Sven's and dancing Anna and Elsa's using a vibrating motor, a paper cup, a coin cell, and some craft materials. 

No time to come to an event then download one of our activity sheets and do it yourself at home. See our latest activities.

More Maker Fun with Olaf. What is your funniest Frozen joke? Mine is about Olaf. Here comes Olaf. 

Q. What is Olaf's favourite food?

A. Frozen carrots

No! Click on Olaf to find out. 

Now try it for yourself! Click on the 'remix' button and make your own 'meme' using Mozilla Webmaker. Here a meme is a picture and some text that can be copied and changed by others and shared again. 

Mozzilla Thimble will open and the tutorial will guide you through how to make your meme!