September Review: Maker Faire, Casting, Lasers & More

September Started with my final week and a half at Xelerance. It was kind of bitter-sweet: I’ll miss working there, but I was also ready to move on. Alaina got back form Singularity University. It sounds so awesome! She showed us the telepresence robot she’s making:

Alaina, her robot, and me.

A robot's view of the world (ROS).

She helped with the physical set up of BioCurious (a biohacking space) while she was there, and we’re talking about starting one in Toronto. She sequenced part of her genome and genetically modified bacteria. Very awesome! I really want to get involved in this sort of thing. To that end, I’ve subscribed to the DIY Bio list.

My mom took me out to a really fancy restaurant, to celebrate the end of work. The highlight was them making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. I’m looking for an excuse to do this.

liquid nitrogen ice cream

Since 3D printing telescopes wasn’t going too well, I decided to start on a far more modest goal: 3D printing laser chess. Originally, I’d hoped that tin foil would suffice but it didn’t work well.

First few laser chess pieces

Later that week, we had a party for Alaina. I had no idea what type of cake she liked, so I just got one I did: Key Lime Pie!

Eventually, we ended up drawing diagrams on paper plates. Kind of like physicists and napkins.

People dropped trash in our Guerilla Garden… again:

Trash in the garden.

That week end I went to visit my grandparents in Peterborough. After Guerilla Gardening, I appreciate their garden way more:

My grandparents pond is awesome.

I came back Saturday evening to get started on a buzzy week: preparing to run a booth and talk at NYC Maker Faire.

Hacklab was messy, so I cleaned it.

Messy lab was messy

I switched to using polished metal sheets for laser chess:

So much more reflective!

I finished it that week, it’s now up on thingiverse where it was featured.

Laser chess, done!

That particular shade of acrylic was extremely fun to laser cut:

Don't look into laser with remaining eye!! (says the sign)

I also did some experiments with casting based off of 3D printed objects.

3D printed objects for mold making!

In other news, tin foil is a lazy man’s mold and tight cling-wrap can be used for spacial interpolation. The results of this first attempt kind of sucked.

Low quality probably should have been expected for the first attempt.

I also got my hackerspace passport:

I disassembled my Malthus, and packed it in my suitcase:

Christopher Olah's RepRap in his suitcase

RepRap in a suitcase

My vacuum cleaner went in a sock:

Vacuum in a sock

Vacuum ready for transport to Maker Faire!

And it was off! E- and I took a bus to NYC.

Crossing the border was a nightmare! I won’t go into the details now (I may do another post on it), but the long and the short is that, apparently, people only go to the US for vacation or to make money, and we (going to Maker Faire) obviously weren’t going for vacation, so we must be planning to sell things! The fact that I was running a booth and talking for free only made the guard for suspicious. Then he googled me and found me described as a hacker…

We got through the border 45 minutes later.

In any case, the length of the bus ride sucked, but Maker Faire was awesome.

My booth-neighbour, Shane Hope, was particularly awesome. He 3D printed art based off of chemistry. He makes the colours by drawing on clear PLA with Prismacolor products (which he has worked out will last long after the print). We talked about such an approach at hacklab, but were worried that the colouring might react with the filament and clog the extruder.

Shane Hope's art

Shane's art (picture via Eric Boyd)

I spent a lot of time at my booth on Saturday, first doing a mad rush of final preparations for my talk, answering questions, and passing out for a while after my talk.

Christopher Olah Talks at NYC Maker Faire on Programmatic CAD

I give my talk on Programmatic CAD (via Andrew Plumb/@clothbot)

Then we had an adventure across NYC to visit NYC Resistor… I felt slightly uncomfortable going because of their “no one under 18 policy” but I still really wanted to see it. People were super friendly and we got to see the old Bot Cave, but we were too tired to stay long.

NYC Resistor

NYC Resistor (via Eric)

The next day, I did some exploring. One really cool thing I saw was a bubble solution thing

Giant buble surface at NYC Maker Faire

Hihi wave equation! (via Eric...)

I think some day I’d like to make one of these and spend hours playing with it and thinking about waves.

Another really awesome thing was a radiation visualization. They created supersaturated alcohol vapour so that disturbances cause condensation and put a radioactive sample in. The α and β shot away from it making lines of condensation that you could see!

α and β decay is visible at NYC Maker Faire as condensation trails.

This should be in every physics class, evermore! (via Eric)

I also spent quite a bit of time at my booth again. A lot of people were really excited about the laser chess set and a number of games were played with it. I also had opportunities to teach math when explaining my mathematical visualizations. And George Hart of the Math Museum dropped by to have a look!

Then it was sadly time to head back. The border was much less intimidating returning to Canada, thankfully. And it was good be home. Sleep deprived as I was, the following days weren’t my most productive. It was also my Mom and my Birthday that week. I turned 19, which made me feel slightly old and rather disappointed with the last year — I’ll try and write a year review in the near future. Hopefully this next one will be more awesome!

The only really notable thing about turning 19 here in Ontario is that you can drink. I find the idea of anything messing around with my mind disturbing and thus don’t find the idea of drinking alcohol very attractive, but I decided to have a tiny sip since such a tiny dose shouldn’t really effect me and I figured I should know what it tasted like. I actually found it really gross, and gross in a very different way than the non-alcoholic beer I tried at H-‘s in Germany, which was this sweet almost bread-like taste as opposed to this which was just bitter. Just one more reason not to drink!

I did get one present that I’m really excited about: Rudin’s Principles of Mathematical Analysis. Well, `get’, its still in the mail. In any case, I’ve already read Pugh (and its one of my favourite books) but I wanted to read the classic. It’s kind of a mathematical right of passage, it seems.

Besides that, I did do a few productive things that week, including a little bit of work on implicit CAD, more work on lens making, and huge amounts of email correspondence and some combinatorics reading (A Walk Through Combinatorics). I also did some work on ldnsx (the python ldns wrapper I wrote while working at Xelerance; it’s now BSD’d for license compatibility with ldns) in preparation for ldns releasing with it included.

Perhaps more exciting, one of my friends, A-, sourced some alginate for us. It’s awesome stuff.

Alginate mold of a minimal surface in Minkowski Space

A used alginate mold

Using it, more awesome casted objects were made.

Minimal Minkowski surface cast models

The two rightmost ones were done in an alginate mold.

That weekend was the unconference Cyborg Camp, which was super awesome. I think the highlight for me was when Alaina’s robot brought me cake! It was super touching!

Christopher Olah receives cake from Alaina Hardie's Telepresence Robot

Alaina's Robot gives me cake! D'awww. (via Eric)

Brad Templeton‘s talk on the ethics of copyable people was also awesome. Of particular interest was his mention of the drug Versed (Midazolam), which is used in anaesthesia and prevents the formation of long-term memory. It creeps the hell out of me, but makes a number of thought experiments I’ve had reality. I got a brief chance to talk to him afterwards, but wish I’d had more of one.

After Cyborg Camp a number of attendees went out for dinner, which led to a whole slew of other  interesting conversations.

The next week, I ran a 3D printing workshop on Monday and the first Hacklab Burrito Night on Tuesday.

Hacklab's First Burrito Night

Yummy Burritos were yummy!

The next three days were characterized by me alternately panicking and procrastinating working on my SoOnCon talk (to be presented Oct 1st). I did do some other things, including math reading and working casting optics, but always with the talk looming over me.

Polyester resing lens hangs to dry at

I resorted to hanging lenses to avoid them being damaged by the surface they rest on.

On Friday, I went to Site 3 to see the pre-SoOnCon party. I was kind of late and missed almost all the lightening talks, but I got to see some awesome people. Then I stayed up all night finalizing my talk, a great strategy before giving your second ‘real’ talk and Nuit Blanche.

Reflecting on September, I want to be more focused and efficient this month, working on more important projects and being more prolific in my writing. Here we go!


One Response to “September Review: Maker Faire, Casting, Lasers & More”

  1. September Review: Maker Faire, Casting, Lasers & More … | Liquid N Ice Cream Says:

    […] from: September Review: Maker Faire, Casting, Lasers & More … This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged a-far-more, far-more, going-too, ice-cream, […]

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