Colorado’s Largest Maker Faire Features 30 foot laser and fire shooting Robot


The Noco Mini Maker Faire, an all-ages festival, is thrilled to bring do-it-yourself makers never before seen creations, new inventions and DIY tech to the City of Loveland. This year’s faire includes a fire breathing, laser shooting, 30 foot robot resurrection, a BrickBuilder expo, a youth entrepreneurship showcase, a 6 foot robotic 3D printing arm and much, much more.

The faire will be held at Loveland’s Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology on October 4th & 5th and features a multitude of hands-on activities from e-textiles with SparkFun to laser engraving with Epilog Laser and a Cardboard Challenge!   With opportunities to make, create, learn, invent, craft, recycle, build, think, play and be inspired, the second annual NoCo Mini Maker Faire is sure to turn heads. The NoCo Mini Maker Faire is the region’s largest faire. With indoor and outdoor exhibits, hands-on demos and presentations spread out over 100,000+ sq feet.

Highlights of this year’s faire include:

Robot Resurrection:

Loveland BrickBuilder Expo:

In partnership with the Colorado Wyoming LEGO User Group (CoWyLUG), this Expo will include displays from master builders, a brick building play area, and a building competition.

Sculpture Games:

 Cardboard Challenge:

  • The Cardboard Challenge is a conduit for creativity and the role communities can play in fostering our creative capacity.

Sound Puddle:

  • The SoundPuddle is an interactive space of visual-acoustic synesthesia. This spectrographically colorful spaces creates color and light from sound, illuminating every noise you make on an immersive canopy of light. Bring your voices and musical instruments, and 5,760 LEDs will unify your ears and eyes.

Nerdy Derby developed by CSU LEAP students:

  • The Nerdy Derby is a no-rules* miniature car building and racing competition. With a larger, undulating track and no restrictions on the size of the cars or materials participants can use, the Nerdy Derby rewards creativity, cleverness and ingenuity.

“Our job is simply to find the most creative makers in the region and help make their visions come true within the Faire. There is nothing more fun than bringing together an awestruck audience with the great people and groups that are imagining, building and sharing their creations,” says Elise VanDyne, Executive Director. “This year we have even more fantastic things to play, learn, craft and experience.”



Cheaper Robotics Through 3D Printing

Humanoid robotics are really cool, but the cost can be prohibitive for a hobbyist. Although it’s hard to get around the cost of the high quality servos typical of a good humanoid robot, Michael Overstreet is out to prove that 3D printing can provide most of the other mechanical parts.

Michael has been experimenting with 3D printing parts for his robots for several years. Lately he’s been working on Robby, his clone of the Robotis DARwin-OP humanoid robot. Although he could have high quality parts printed by a service like Shapeways, Michael strives to get as many parts as possible printed on affordable 3D printers that an individual might own.


Micheal will be at World Maker Faire in New York this September giving demonstrations of his humanoid robots to show just what a hobbyist can accomplish in this field with 3D printing. Michael will also let kids play soccer with his robots, or control them by voice and cue card commands.

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You can follow along with Michael’s developments on his blog: I, Bioloid.

Resistance is Futile: Harvard’s Kilobot Swarm Keeps Fellow Robots in Line

Credit: Harvard SEAS via Harvard Gazette

If you’ve ever made your own Bristlebot, you can appreciate how pared down and elegant is the category of artificial life know as vibrating robots, or vibrobots. Well, it turns out that when it comes to vibrobots, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In 2011, researchers at Harvard came out with the Kilobot, a tiny, inexpensive ($50 or less) open source research robot that could be controlled en masse using infrared signals. Last week, in the most recent edition of Science (the same journal that featured self-folding walking paper robots), lead author Michael Rubenstein, a research associate in the lab of Radhika Nagpal at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, described programming a swarm of Kilobots a thousand strong to arrange themselves in predetermined shapes.

The Kilobots, which resemble a stack of quarters perched on three needle-thin legs, are not that easy to control one on one. Driven by two vibrating motors on opposite sides of their body, they tend to veer off course and misjudge distances.

But when you put 1024 Kilobots in a room (the number corresponds to the number of bits in a kilobyte of information), they work together to complete the assigned task. For instance, to self-organize themselves into a particular shape, four robots mark the origin of a coordinate system, and the rest use primitive behaviors such as following the edge of a group and keeping track of their relative location to wiggle into position. If any stragglers wander away, or a bottleneck forms, other Kilobots step in to bring their fellows back into line.

As the speeded-up video above shows, it can take up to 12 hours for the swarm to whip itself into shape. What makes this newsworthy is the sheer size of the Kilobot collective. While just one of many studying robot swarm behavior, the Kilobot project is the first to include more than just a hundred or so individuals.

You can order your own mini-swarm of pre-assembled Kilobots from K-Team, or construct your own under a Creative Common Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license.

Coleman cooler robot opens and delivers cold beverages on-demand

Bruce Strauss’ Colebot robotic cooler will open and deliver your favorite bottled beverages

Bruce Strauss’ Colebot robotic cooler will open and deliver your favorite bottled beverages

Outdoor activities usually involve a cooler on-hand loaded with frosty bottled beverages. Whether it’s relaxing on the beach, playing in the park or digging trenches for new sewer pipes, everyone loves having something cool to drink. Sometimes… that cooler is ‘way out of reach’ and our arms can’t possibly stretch the foot and a half span between the cooler and us. Sure, you could yell for someone to get that beverage for you but that requires significant vocal effort on our part and could have negative consequences. To overcome those obstacles, Bruce Straus and his son Jason designed the ‘Colebot’ robotic robot Coleman cooler to not only bring us the cold bottled drinks, but opens them, and delivers them into our lazy, self-absorbed hands as well.

The Colebot was designed using an Arduino Mega board and two Adafruit motor shields that power a stepper motor, two servos and three linear actuators along with an electromagnet. The beverages are pushed along a trough until it gets to into position of the robotic arm that pries off the bottle cap. The cap is captured by the magnet and dropped into a bin (keeping the area clutter free), after which a platform then raises the beverage out of the cooler.

The robot is controlled with an RC-like controller that lets the user/consumer pilot the robot anywhere they need it. The father/son team even made a couple of ‘accessories’ (add-on cart/coolers) that provide music and even lighting for nighttime activities! These too are also built into coolers and are powered by car batteries, which act like a roving party train when connected together.

When the Colebot turns the corner the first time in the following video… I feel proud to be in the USA! Mantras may begin!

A $100 Origami Robot That Folds Itself Up and Walks Away

A self-assembling robot from researchers at Harvard and MIT.

Photo: Harvard’s Wyss Institute

I have a thing for low-tech robots, especially when they’re made from everyday stuff. The body of this new little robot bug from MIT and Harvard, described last week in the latest issue of Science, is made from a five-layer sandwich of copper traces, paper, and shape-memory polymer — the stuff you know as Shrinky Dinks. With batteries, motors, and microprocessor, it uses about $100 worth of materials. And when you plug in the battery, it folds itself into shape and scurries away.

The origami robot is a conglomeration of earlier work at MIT, Harvard, and elsewhere. Its laser-cut composite body is reminiscent of Dash, the robot bug from Berkeley. The heat-activated self-folding polymer sheets have been studied at North Carolina State University. The origami structure — which opens up the possibility of multiple configurations, customized for on-the-go robotic needs — is based on research by MIT’s Erik Demaine and Daniela Rus, part of the team that wrote about the current robobug in this month’s Science.

But what’s particularly exciting is the fact that the building techniques and materials to make a self-folding robot are probably within reach of the average DIY fan, with or without access to a laser cutter. Watch Harvard’s Rob Wood talk about the genesis of the self-folding origami robot, and check out more videos at The Creator’s Project.

Better Tea Brewing with DIY Robotics


I’m surprised that I haven’t already seen a tea-brewing robot in an issue of Skymall, because I think it’s just the sort of luxury item that would really appeal to someone on their second or third bloody mary. Luckily, you can just go ahead a make yourself one in less than 10 minutes with this ingenious tutorial project called LittleTea from Taipei Hackerspace.

Whenever I’m trying to brew some tasty tea (and that happens quite often) I always miss the right amount of time needed for the brew. Talking to someone, reading a book, watching a bit of YouTube, browsing Instructables while I’m waiting, and suddenly the 5 minutes becomes 15, and my tea is not as good as it could have been.

Make sure your tea is the best it can be by simply programming an arduino to control a servo and a buzzer, then just mount it on cardboard, attach a stick to the servo, and voilà, perfectly brewed tea!

On second thought, this project is way too useful for SkyMall.

Robot uses Legos to build new space elevator

Hknssn’s Lego Space Elevator could theoretically stack Legos all the way into space

Hknssn’s Lego Space Elevator could theoretically stack Legos all the way into space

Space agencies from all over the globe have been looking for ways to build an elevator that can bring people and materials into space, however it seems to be a technical nightmare for engineers to actually build. Perhaps they should just leave it to robots, such as Hknssn’s robotic Lego Space Elevator. His robot takes premade Lego modules and stacks them atop of one another, which could theoretically reach into space given enough time. The robot features 4 NXT servomotors, 8 EV3 servomotors, 8 touch sensors and a color sensor to stack the interlocking modules together on a conveyor-like platform.

While it can constantly stack the modules, it requires humans to build and feed those modules to the robot. By the time the elevator reaches space however, we most likely would have interstellar ships and have evolved into some kind of advanced life forms, as it would take 7,432 years to build the elevator! Yep, the robot has a build speed of roughly 0.2-inches per-second and would have to tower above 62 miles high to reach into space. A LEGO Tower of Babel play set on the way?

(3) They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. (4) Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens…  

-Genesis 11:3-4

Art and science come together to reinvent the wheel – robot wheel

SNU’s Origami Wheel Robot features wheels based on the ‘Magic Ball’ pattern of origami.

SNU’s Origami Wheel Robot features wheels based on the ‘Magic Ball’ pattern of origami.

The Japanese art of paper folding is a difficult one to master, involving taking a 2D sheet of paper and transforming it into 3D shapes. For most of us, three folds are the maximum number we normally handle ─ usually only done when we have to send a letter in the mail. Roboticists from Seoul National University, on the other hand, have taken that art form and have adapted it for a new type of deformable wheel that can transition its radius depending on the obstacle. The wheels themselves use the ‘Magic Ball’ design that uses a series of specific folds to create a sphere structure.

A set of actuators can expand the wheel to its full diameter for traversing large objects and difficult terrain and retract them to a smaller diameter for moving under objects and small spaces. A series of sensors outside the wheels detect the terrain and then adjust the wheel diameter accordingly making the design both agile and strong. So much so that it’s designed to move quickly while carrying a payload. If the robot is carrying too much weight, it will deflate the wheels until it can produce enough torque to move efficiently.

The roboticists believe that their design could one day be used as a planetary rover for space exploration on the cheap as it can fold down and therefore take up less valuable payload space on rockets. I saw that coming… thanks “UCHUU KYOUDAI” space rover arc!