Homecoming 2013

Thanks to all the students who stopped by to help! It’s always great to see the awe and interest on the faces of little kids as they stare at a robot bigger than they are :)IMG_7229 IMG_7232 IMG_7233 IMG_7236 IMG_7237 IMG_7240 IMG_7228

CAD mini-course

I was thrilled to see so many students attend the CAD mini-course that Ed taught. And it was great to see so many of the new students participating. CAD is a tool and like all tools, the more you practice the more proficient you become; use it when it makes sense but don’t abuse it or you’ll just make a mess !

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World Maker Faire 2013, NYC 9/21/13

For the 3rd time in recent years, we spent a Saturday at the World Maker Faire in NY. For those not familiar with the Maker Faire, it’s eclectic collection of people who like to “make” things (hence the name). The World Maker Faire, named for the location of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow Park, is in its 4th year and this year had an estimated crowd of 75,000.

This was the largest of the three we attended – the great weather certainly helped. Aside from the crowds, one way to gauge the popularity of an event is to look at the big name exhibitors it attracts. This year we had Microsoft, Radio Shack, Ford, Autodesk, VEX, Texas Instruments, MicroChip, Delta faucets, and even Purina!

Probably the most noticeable trend in recent years is the emergence of 3D printers from garage shop tools to bona fide tool for the 21st century. Three years ago, there were just a handful of 3D printer vendors selling low-end hardware. This year, we saw printers of all sizes and capabilities. In addition, we saw the emergence of businesses that provide 3D printing services, vendors selling just supplies (not unlike ink or toner for your paper printer), and craftsmen selling 3D printed jewelry and crafts.

The Arduino continues to attract a lot of Maker attention but now has competition from the Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone and other small embedded systems. TI has its Launchpad, MicroChip has its Microstick and even Intel has joined the fray with its Atom powered Minnowboard open source design. The sheer quantity of ideas and uses for small embedded boards is truly amazing.

What I like best about attending events like the Maker Faire is walking away with the sense that there are still people out there building interesting things. I saw more kids of all ages than ever before and that was very refreshing. When I got home, I made a list of 5 things I was inspired to Make. With any luck I’ll find some time for at least one of them. Tops on the list? A MAME driven arcade console using an old PC. Now how hard can that be?

The World Maker Faire returns next September. Who wants to go?

Here are some pictures.

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Look at what you guys missed out on (For those who didn’t come)

Recently, part of the team went to Ruland Manufacturing in Marlborough when they generously offered to give us a tour of their factory floor. As most of you know, we used a few of their shaft collars and couplings during the season, so this tour really gave myself and the others a better understanding of how the different types of collars and couplers work. For example, I learnt that the bar couplers they make are very tolerant of angular misalignments, but cannot stand up to high torque applications. They also showed us a demo box of a few of the different types of couplers they make, and explained the benefits and draw backs of each. Then, their Vice President came to personally give us a tour of their facilities. We traveled the same path that a collar or coupler would take, going from stock all the way to a finished product. First, we saw the loading bay where they receive and house all their raw materials, typically aluminum, steel or plastic. Our guide then showed us the effort that Ruland takes to produce high quality pieces that we and many other teams use. The amount of precision is amazing, especially when you consider that much of the process is not computer controlled. In addition, at each step there are skilled machinists and operators making sure that their products are of the highest quality. Seeing firsthand the care and effort that Ruland puts into their products served as further proof as to why we as a team put out trust in their products and was a delightful and educational endeavor that I hope we can do again for future generations that come through WHS and team 4048.