Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Maker Faire NY 2012

I spent the last weekend at a DIY 3D printer convention Maker Faire NY with the MITERS crew showing off some projects from the past year, as well as some older ones. Last year was my first time attending a full Maker Faire, although I've done the Cambridge Mini Maker Faire several times. Armed with a better understanding of exactly how many little kids with inattentive parents were going to try to touch, climb on, and ride the sharp and dangerous projects, I came better prepared this year:

Yes, tinyKart made it down again, this time with a new license plate. Getting it down was a little trickier than last year, since we had to bring nine people plus all the projects in one minivan and one Jeep. That meant going a step further than the two-piece configuration that made it down last year. This year, tinyKart was packed entirely flat and stuck in the back of the minivan along with all of my other small projects:

And I just sat in the seat the whole way down.
I almost didn't bring tinyKart this year, but I'm sort-of glad I did because it was able to finally get a tiny bit of "track" time on the Power Racing Series track at Maker Faire. The Power Racing Series is a relatively new racing league for modified Power Wheels-style cars. tinyKart is obviously not a modified Power Wheels, so it was ineligible to win any races. (Although as some places seem proud to point out, it was apparently eligible to lose them...) 

Still, it was fun to get a little track time in an ultralight kart that was never really designed for anything of the sort, which weighs 55lbs and can be brought down in the back of a minivan. If you want to see what it actually can do, here's Max taking it for some laps with little traffic to slow him down:

It's a viable go-kart with handling that is way better than it should be, given the custom and very flexible chassis. I got to run some laps in the wet and it was quite amazing. By the second day of the Faire, it had incurred a bit of race damage and was down to one wheel drive and a single disk brake. Then, it started raining. No matter, it was still awesome:

So, tinyKart is a little broken after this trip. It's been due for maintenance anyway, so this will be a good motivator to fix it up and finally put on new controllers. Other than that, it needs completely new spindles, since two of them got bent up in brushes with the track barriers. It also needs a new belt and a new steering linkage. (The part which is called a "fusible" in French for reasons I now understand more completely.) And some of the non-structural front frame got beat up. No major structural or powertrain damage though.

Kinda glad we kept those corners in the design.
Of course there were also many copters at this year's Faire. Here's the selection of MITERS flying objects that made the trip down:

From left to right, there was 4pcb (which didn't get to fly since it's mostly an indoor copter), my versatile Talon Quad, Nick's feather-light tricopter, and Banks' Derpcopter. There were several other groups with flying things at the Faire. One that particularly caught my eye was the AeroQuad booth, which had several nice FPV frames:

Generally, it was too crowded to fly around, but there were a few opportunities to do so at the field near the AeroQuad booth. My brother and I also decided to head in early on Sunday to get some aerial video before the crowds showed up. Of particular interest was the (real) Titan rocket, which is a bit over 100 feet tall. Here's some GoPro video from the Faire before it opened on Sunday:

The Talon has been flying great with FFv1.2s motor controllers and the modded KK2.0 firmware. It's mostly limited by my piloting skills and lack of FPV equipment at this point.

Photo credit: Matthew Honickman.
I also brought Pneu Scooter, and as luck would have it the rear tire got a leak the week before Maker Faire just like last year. So just like last year, I took the entire wheel/motor assembly apart, cleaned everything out, and replaced the wheel. I also took the opportunity to extend the phase wires so they would not have to be cut every time I need to replace the wheel.

After the wheel change, I also tried and failed to get a 3ph v4.0 controller in Pneu Scooter for the Faire. But since I ran out of time, I went back to the trusty v3.1 and it worked with no problems for the entire event. It's by far the best way to get around the venue when it's crowded.

That's it for the project updates, but here are some more pictures I collected from the Faire:

Chibikarts and hexarideablepods.
Ground clearance?
Runs on two D&D motors.
MITERS won an editor's choice award from Make.
I hope those are all used metro cards.
One of these things is not like the others...
Ben's scooter hauling most of MITERS back to the cars at the end of the Faire.


  1. Hey,
    It was really great to meet you guys at maker faire.

    I would like to take a second to clarify a few things about the power racing series. Before the races, we were told that you would be racing. Whether or not this is what the conversation actually was, I have no idea. PPPRS communications are.... less than stellar.
    As far as I know, you guys could have actually won stuff. Even though you were out of spec, we decided it would be awesome and fun if you guys would race with us. I don't remember who I gave it to, but I know I gave one of you guys a medal for your road race pole finish.

    Anyhow, I'm done with that bit. It was really great to meet you in person. Also, please build a power wheel for next year? Please? Please?

    --Jeremy (TinyBike guy)

    1. Hey Jeremy,

      Nice to meet you too. I had no contact with PPPRS before the Faire - maybe Charles set something up independently. We were just there for fun.

      Thanks for letting us use the track, though. We've never gotten to take tinyKart out on a track of any kind - it was awesome. I also enjoyed seeing all the PPPRS vehicles.


    2. Shane,
      You're right, it was Charles Jim emailed.

      But anyways, fun is the whole point. It's why I race with a pink helmet; it keeps me from taking things too seriously. I'm applying to MIT right now, hopefully I'll be able to join you guys in tiny electric shenanigans next year.

    3. That would be awesome. We need more silly vehicle people at MIT. There are too many serious-business competition EV teams now.

      Best of luck to you! I hope you get in.

  2. Hey it's Justin from North Street Labs! I had no idea you were there! I spoke with one of your MIT buddies while riding around in the motorized hammock and bar stool. He didn't tell me you were there when I mentioned you; oh well! Next time.

    1. Dang! I totally saw the hammock but didn't realize it came from you guys. How's the new vehicle planning going?

    2. Quite frankly, we were tied up for a week for the whole Maker Faire thing. Painting, fixing, and shipping the Centrifury spinning game took a lot of time. As soon as finances are available, I'll be ordering the motor controller for our future project. Basically, it's been slow and steady progress as usual.