Big Weekend for Bay Area Young Makers


We have another two wonderful Young Maker/Open Make events happening in the San Francisco Bay Area Saturday, March 16. Just like last month, you’ll have to pick just one of these two happenings because they occur simultaneously on opposite ends of the Bay. Each offers a flurry of activity that starts at 10am and ends with an inspiring “meet-the-makers” panel discussion.

The events are at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science. Each museum is also hosting a plussing session, where registered Young Makers can develop and finesse their projects for Maker Faire Bay Area.

Two Open Makes/Young Makers Meetings From North to South

woolcardLawrence Hall of Science pedals its way into our hearts with the wheely wonderful theme of bikes at Open Make @ the Hall. Bring your helmet so you can take a spin in the saddle, or take your turn with a wide range of projects in bicycle hacks, pedal-powered electronics and art, or bike repair. The day includes Cyclecide on the plaza, Rock the Bike’s pedal-powered stage, “Wacky Bikes” by Young Makers Stavros Boutris and Jake Wallin, fruit smoothies from East Bay Bicycle Coalition‘s pedal-powered blender, our own Stephanie Chang demoing the Bike-to-Scale Energy Bike, “bike fills” by East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, Katharine-Ellen Jolda’s wool-working Cyclocarder (pictured right), and electric bikes. Dale Dougherty will moderate the Meet the Makers panel.

softelectric2 folktails fitbit

graceThe Tech Museum’s third Open Make @ The Tech struts its stuff with the theme of Wearable Tech. Come make LED bling, help build and then play a conductive musical jacket, and program LED patterns with TinkerTags. Featured makers include wearable technology designer Grace Kim (teaching, pictured right), Fitbit R&D director Shelten Yuen, and Young Makers’ own Team Folktails (pictured center, above).

Learn more about the Featured Makers or the event.

Registered Young Makers get free museum admission on Open Make days for themselves and one adult mentor. Additional family members get into the museum at the group rates.

And next weekend…

There is yet a third Young Makers meeting on March 23 at The Bay School in San Francisco. The theme of that meeting is Fabrication, and it will feature jewelry designer Alexis R Turner and metalworker Tom Lipton, writer of Metalworking Sink or Swim: Tips and Tricks for Machinists, Welders, and Fabricators and the blog, Nothing Too Strong Ever Broke. Representatives from Autodesk will run workshops on 3D design and fabrication using their 123D line of products. You can read more details about the Bay School Young Makers meeting here.

Whether you can come to an event this weekend (or next) or not…

If you are a young maker interested in creating your own project to exhibit at Maker Faire, just fill out our registration form to get started.

“Heads Down” Display for Bicycles

MAKE@SXSW 2013So far the coolest thing I’ve seen at SXSW has been this clever early-stage prototype from our own Matt Richardson. It’s a “dynamic bike headlight” that projects your speed (and potentially other useful information) onto the road in front of you as you ride.

The prototype has a Raspberry Pi for a brain, which is connected through its onboard HDMI port to an LED pico projector mounted between the handlebars. A Hall effect sensor, connected to the Pi’s GPIO pins via an adafruit Pi T-Cobbler breakout kit, detects revolutions of the front wheel. The software counts these, converts their rate into a speed in MPH, and sends the numbers to the projector for display on the road surface.

Matt showed off the proof-of-concept build this morning at Bike Hugger’s Built: Make & Tell event.


Right now, the setup is battery-powered, and is limited to one hour’s use. Matt’s already making plans for dynamo power in a later build. Check Matt’s Flickr set, linked below, for more pics of the system in action.

Dynamic Bike Headlight


Breathing Bike Scrubs Your Air as You Pedal

BreathingBike There’s been a lot of talk about the pollution problem in Beijing lately. Last month, the air quality index there hit 755, going well beyond the top of the scale (which is set at 500). Matt Hope‘s defense against the enormous problem is the Breathing Bike, a bicycle that cleans the air as its pedaled through China’s capital.

Attached to the back of the bike is an Ikea wastebasket, which is positively charged by the generator attached to the bike’s back wheel. The wastebasket charges the particles in the air, which are then attracted to the negatively charged air cleaner mounted inside. The air is then fed through a tube to the rider’s face mask.

“It seems to make more sense to give you clean air rather than to try and filter it.” he says in the video below. “Because when you filter it, you can’t breathe. So I thought I could use my basic knowledge of electromechanical stuff […] to make this weird, provocative object.” [Thanks, Ben! via Core77]

The Velopresso is a Pedal-Powered Coffee Machine


This pedal-powered espresso machine definitely combines two of my passions: Bicycles and coffee! I still have a few questions looming such as how do they keep all the saucers and cups from breaking? And how much does the whole ride weigh? But I’m still excited to see this project go from concept to prototype.

We wanted to showcase efficient human-powered, cycling-based technology that could easily replace electrical equivalents given the right context and to instigate more sustainable urban business models. Our goal was a robust, versatile and ‘go anywhere’ machine that could produce high quality espresso coffees with the smallest physical and operational carbon footprints.

The video below gives a demonstration of the machine from bean to cup, using camping gas to heat the boiler, with plans for future versions of the machine to use ethanol derived from waste coffee grinds. The video also contains no sound, which is a shame because the last question I have is what does a motor-less pedal-powered grinder sound like? Lots of technical details can be found on their website.

velopresso2 velopresso1

Trotify your Bike, Monty Python Style

Design group Original Content London pulled inspiration from Monty Python’s coconut-thumping squire and came up with Trotify. It’s a mechanism that attaches to the front wheel of any bike and bangs two coconuts together in a rhythmic fashion as the rider pedals, mimicking the clopping of a horse.

All the pieces are cut out by a CNC on a single sheet of wood, and the buyer assembles it. The group has started a target pre-order run of 1000 units before they ship in March of 2013. Coconuts are not included, but no matter. I can’t wait to see this gadget put on an asymmetrical mount and strapped to John Guy’s Rocking Horse Bike.

A Cardboard Bike?

Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni says he ready to mass-produce a 20-pound bicycle made of cardboard. There are no metal parts. The chain is actually a car’s timing belt and the tires are made from reconstituted rubber. The cost? Twenty bucks.

From Endgadget:

Izhar…spent 18 months just folding the material every-which-way in order to discover a strong enough design, and now he claims his technique is almost ready for mass production. His maintenance-free bike uses a “secret” mix of organic materials to make it waterproof and fireproof, and is then lacquered to give it a friendlier appearance.

“It’s strong,” Izhar says. “It’s durable. It’s cheap.”

This video about Izhar’s project is a great look into a maker’s mind at work.

The Treadmill Bike

The Treadmill Bike by Bicycle Forrest is cracking me up. Yes, it’s a viral video to ever so subtly introduce you to their Bicycle CAD software, but that’s not going to stop me from writing about it. Besides the fact that there’s CAD software geared towards building bikes, which is cool by itself, I think it’s great that they had an itch and decided to build a treadmill/bike mashup to scratch it. For some reason I’m compelled to be athletic after watching this video, but I’m not quite sure if I want to go for a jog or ride a bike. It’s a little disorienting. Perhaps some sweet jumps will help me make up my mind. [via Dvice]

Self-Balancing Unicycle

Achieving Balance

By Laura Kiniry

Photos by Rachel Fong

Tired of walking to the supermarket from his dorm, 21-year-old MIT computer science and electrical engineering student Stephan Boyer decided he needed a quicker way to travel.

“I wanted a personal transporter that could get me around campus but be as small and light and fast as possible,” he says. Five months later, Boyer had Bullet, a self-balancing electric unicycle that reaches a top speed of 15 miles per hour and is the envy of his peers.

Boyer built Bullet with $1,000 and endless ingenuity. After teaching himself welding and some mechanical engineering, he got to work collecting materials: a basic fork to hold both a moped wheel and motor, welded-on pedals to provide foot support, and a top seat. “I didn’t really plan out the [entire design], so the battery and electronics are held on with zip ties,” he says. Bullet also features a kill switch for swift deactivation. He says the design could be built for $600.

For balance, Bullet employs an onboard computer and two sensors: a gyro and an accelerometer. The former measures Bullet’s rotation speed and the latter determines its acceleration due to gravity. Using this data, the computer can detect the angle of the unicycle and prevent it from leaning too far forward or backward.

“Because Bullet only has one wheel, you still have to balance side to side,” says Boyer, who does this by twisting his hips to turn and occasionally flailing his arms for stabilization, in the same way a flying squirrel uses its tail. Riding it several miles daily, Boyer became somewhat of a pro at handling the vehicle, but he stresses that it takes both skill and patience. “My number one rule when riding Bullet is that things in the road are always bigger than they appear.”


DIY Suction Mounted Roof Rack

If you’re an amateur cyclist, you’re probably aware of the cost of a decent bike rack for your car. On top of that, installing a bike rack can be slightly cumbersome–not to mention a little theft-prone if you neglect to purchase a lock. For about $50 in parts, this handy DIY suction mounted roof rack looks like it would do a fine job of allowing you to shuttle your bike around. When not in use, it could easily be stored in the glove box. [via Bike Hacks]