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Project Time!

Today I got home late from work, but right after dinner Josh and I started on his school project.  He has to make a poster with 3D elements incorporated so we decided to start with headlights added to a car.

Three button cells make LEDs super bright!
Three button cells make LEDs super bright!

Josh was a big help with the soldering. He was in charge of stripping insulation off the wires and dispensing the solder as I operated the iron.  I keep forgetting how long it takes to wire up even the most simple circuit.  I’m guessing we spent about an hour getting things all wired up.  It even has a nice little button switch on the front for people to press.  We finished just in time for bed. Luckily it all worked on the first try!


Here are the results:

Car with lights off
Car with lights off


Cool headlight effect!
Cool headlight effect!

Josh still has some work to do incorporating his essay onto the poster as well as adding a few more (less technical) 3D elements. Those will come tomorrow night.

Night all!

Champlain Maker Faire a HUGE Success!

Champlain Maker Faire at the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn
Welcome Makers!

Wow, I had such a great time exhibiting at Vermont’s first ever Maker Faire yesterday! I didn’t have much to present other than an older project I built that I call the “Critter Twitter Trap”.  I almost didn’t even make it to the event as I’ve been flat out busy with Work and Home responsibilities.  Hacking and “Making” is my lifelong passion so I couldn’t possibly pass it up.  I worked from about 9:30pm – 2am Saturday morning to pull things together for my booth.

It was really neat to see that a few of the “last minute” things pulled together were extremely popular with visitors. One was a Arduino powered laser trip wire built from a standard laser pointer pen.  When guests “broke” the beam I had random sounds played through an external speaker.  That was programmed at about 1am on Saturday morning. The second was not a project, but an item from my retro collection of toys.  It was a Radio Shack Armatron, robot arm.  I set it up so kids could pick up lego figures and deposit them into a small box.  I just happened to spot it in my basement while packing up my final things and thought “what the heck, everyone loves  a playing with a robot arm!”.  Sure enough, the Armatron was tied up all day with kids and adults lining up to give it a try!

Everyone loves to ply with a robot arm

The heart of my display, the “Critter Twitter Trap” was really nothing special from a technical standpoint.  Simply put, the trap sends a text message and posts to twitter when it is sprung. I had no idea how popular this would be  although I’m sure the fact that it was mentioned in the 7-Days newspaper on Thursday didn’t hurt.  People packed my booth all day asking how it worked and I had a blast explaining the details as they stood there with huge smiles.  “Wow, what a great idea” was said on numerous occasions and I have to admit it felt great.  Several people recommended that I pursue the idea as a commercial product, swapping out the WiFi for GSM so it could be used in remote locations.  I have to admit it is tempting.

Critter Twitter Trap

My Critter Twitter Trap 

My only regret was not bringing along a friend that could manage the booth and answer questions so I would have more time to walk around. There were so many amazing projects to see amongst such creative minds.

Me and John Cohn
Me and John Cohn

The night ended with a cold pumpkin brew and as much excitement as it had in the beginning. You could tell the Makers knew without a doubt that this was a huge success and there will be more to come!

Pumpkin Ale
Organic Pumpkin Ale! Amazing Stuff!