About two weekends back I volunteered for North Bay Science Discovery Day helping exhibitors find their booth, carry their items, setting up, etc. I got to talking with Catie Clune who is the education specialists of the Turtle Island Restoration Network. They were there promoting and educating the public about one of their initiatives called SPAWN, Salmon Protection and Watershed Network. I was fascinated to find out how much salmon ecology there is here in Marin. Catie mentioned there were volunteering opportunities listed on their website. Over the weekend Carter and I volunteered for one. We spent a good part of Saturday planting native grass seedlings in the parking lot and loading and cleaning stations of the old Rich Readimix Concrete Plant. We appear to be continuing an effort that started back in June. I've driven by this place for years but never paid much attention to it. I didn't realize how damaging it was to the Nicasio Creek below. Preston Brown, who lead the effort, explained some of the history of the plant but more importantly how the plant adversely affected the landscape throughout the decades. The harmful structures were already removed when we got their Saturday. We were just helping out trying to restore the area to be a healthier part of the ecosystem. After about 4 or 5 hours, Carter and I left with sore backs, bruised knees, achy muscles, a hole in my pants, and positive feelings that maybe we made a long term difference in our home county and for the planet in general.
I received my Kamigami robot from Kickstarter about 1 or so months ago. Not until now did I have time to assemble it. Actually, Lauren assembled most of it while I just helped occasionally.
The bot body is made with precision cut plastic which folds (this is the gami part) into the shape of something like an insect. Folds are held together with plastic snap rivets.
The PCB board is the brains and spine of the bot. It has RBG LED eyes and tail. The tiny motor is geared to move the insect legs fast and furiously.
The app updates firmware, drives the bot, and has a few bot games. There is a speed control which when running in full speed makes the bot look like its floating across the surface.
Unfortunately, because the parts do not assemble with precision, the mid-rail, which attaches the geared motor to the legs, fails to move because it is out of alignment and the motor does not have enough torque. So occasionally the left side doesn't really move causing the bot to spin in a circle. Fussing with it causes it to work again, but then it fails again. I may have to ditch the gami body and replace it with 3D parts.
I finally got around to assembling my vinyl sticker cutout that I made at CEC Makerspace. Andrew Maley held an Introduction to Vinyl Cutting class some weeks back and although I was able to cut it, I didn't have time to finish assembling it. I went all out and cut a not so simple design of Deadpool signing I ♥ U. At Andrew's suggestion, I taped the background red layer onto a window so that I could lay the next layers on top using the background light as a sort of light box. I got a few bubbles and some misalignment, but for a first try I like it.
CEC Makerspace offers a ton of classes ranging from laser cutting to vinyl cutting, glass etching, 3D printing, milling, wood and craft projects, virtual and augmented reality classes all geared for kids, teens and adults.
Carter and I attended the Maker Faire again this year. This was my 6th or 7th, for Carter his 3rd or 4th. As always, it was a blast. The strangest creations pop up at this faire. Truly inspirational.
The best thing about this faire this year over the others was that I volunteered for two days with the Arduino.cc folks. I helped out explaining their education initiatives, CTC and Pelars, to all who were interested. I met a lot of nice people who work for or had ties to Arduino. I met and talked with the authors of Make: Bluetooth, Don Coleman and Sandeep Mistry. Sandeep even helped me fix my MKR1000 issue I had been having for a while. It was also great hearing stories from Valentina Chinnici, who had been to Maker Faire's all around the world, and Quinn, a transplant from Oregon. I also talked with Michael Shiloh, less about Arduino and more about SRL. I unfortunately didn't get to meet the founders themselves since the entire event was very busy. Thanks Arduino for the opportunity.
I recently completed this flip-flop bot in the shape (kinda) of a cylinder. Arduino really makes creating bots very easy. And a 3D printer makes designing bots very fun. More details can be found here.
After years of timing conflicts and waiting lists, I was able to finally get into Welding I at the College of Marin. The class is pretty intense. A lot of information, some of it quite technical, in a short amount of time. The shop is pretty amazing containing a variety of equipment from simple OFW systems to huge MIG, TIG, other stick systems, a plasma cutter, grinders, belt sanders, tools and more.
I'd have to say that when I truly realized that I'm moving a pool of molten metal only a foot or less from my face, it's pretty daunting. One little misstep and you've got a 3rd degree burn. Things are popping and sparking. Fumes are rising from the work and the torch. Eye hand coordination of the torch and the filler rod is intense. And to top it off, the environment is very loud. All five senses are definitely being bombarded.
Carter, Lauren and I waited in a line of cars at 6:50am for the park gates at Pan Toll Ranger station to open. Around 7:10am the gates finally swung open and we hurriedly made our way to the East Peak parking lot. Sunrise was at 7:26am. Briskly we walked out to one of the vista viewpoints. It was very cold and windy. Pocket warmers were only mildly effective. Pulled out the camera just in time for the sun to peek over the East Bay hills.
I finally got around to writing up my build for the LED'tennae, LED Antennae For Your Cap. I've been building these for months now. I wear them nearly everywhere, including work. I get a lot of weird looks and complements. Folks interested in building one for themselves can see the project here.