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Open Make @ The Tech Followup

posted Mar 1, 2013, 9:32 AM by Lendy Dunaway   [ updated Mar 1, 2013, 10:17 AM ]

There was a great turn out at the tech for the most recent Open Make. The rocket building was a huge hit. Rick’s project really makes something that seems complicated completely accessible. The kids came right in and got busy building, rebuilding and modifying their rockets. The rockets themselves were simple paper and masking tape constructions. The key was using the PVC pipe stands during assembly. The result was near perfect ballistic flying machines.


The central open area at the Tech made for a prefect launch site. The completed rockets were slipped over a PVC launch tube. A bicycle pump supplied the compressed air fuel. Twenty PSI of pressure was stored in a larger PVC canister and secured by an ordinary irrigation valve.  A battery powered switch would open the valve to release the stored energy. The air is vented through the launch tube that the rocket is mounted on sending it flying! Several actually stuck in the ceiling.


A number of familiar faces were in attendance. The meeting gave us extra time to connect and talk about the progress of our projects. It’s very nice to have the entire space of the museum to explore. This month’s theme was flight. The “Meet the Makers” session had three presentations about different aspects of aviation, rocketry, flying robots and flight simulation.


A panel discussion with questions to the makers finished up the session. A number of the questions were to the Viper team, a group of young makers that has been involved with Maker Faire projects for several years. The take-away for me was that this is a very valuable experience for the kids and adults alike and that significant knowledge and skills development is always part of the result. These projects have the potential to bring positive lifelong benefits to all the participants.


The last part of the Tech Museum event was the plussing session. The groups were split into two for showing and viewing projects and ideas. The group that was showing stayed at the tables while the others wondered about asking questions and making suggestions. This was a really fun time. The kids loved talking about their project ideas and there was no shortage of suggestions either. This is a good method for getting "out of your box" and expanding the context of your project. There were a lot of creative ideas floating around, more than a few stuck.



I have an update from the Flow game team. The boxes for the tiles seem to be working out well. The two real milestones have been reached. The first is that the acrylic top with pixel mounting has been prototyped and seems to be working out as hoped for. The second is the one that really had Davis and Matthew smiling. They managed to get the pixel strips lit using the arduino. After spending some time lighting the entire strip in solid colors they set to work


on getting the strips lit with multiple colors and patterns. This involved a crash course in C programming, number bases and logical operators. The boys were able to cobble together a few functions that allow them to display color and patterns at will. Next will come load cell monitoring and tile communication. Good work guys!


I've gotten some questions lately similar to: “Now that I have a plan how do I get started.” This transition from design to development is obviously a crucial step in the project process. Size, shape and dimensions followed by materials and mechanics is often the starting point for me. Budget and funding are important early considerations as well. I use Sketchup to create full scale three dimensional models for all of my projects large and small. I’m happy to help those that are interested in building a 3D model and love teaching Sketchup to others but it is not necessary. Getting a good idea of the needed parts shape, size and quantity will give you a list to get started on.

I know a number of you are interested in a project that involves remote control. I've setup some individual meeting with a few kids and mentors that have contacted me. If you are having trouble getting started I think it might be a good idea to setup a meeting with me and a mentor or two that have related experience. This could make for a great jump start by having each team member leave with a specific list of action items. Contact me if you feel this would be helpful.

Keep working hard and sent me some updates.