This weekend the Wife and I had a booth at Singapore Mini Maker Faire. This is the second year we have been and the first time that we had a booth. The Wife exhibited some of her oil paintings as well as some sewing creations. I showed the BeerBot and Squirty. Given the breadth of our combined interests (which confound gender stereotypes) we called our booth “Tinker Tailor”. There were also some Soldiers and BeerBot could be viewed as a robotic Spy.
The event lasted two days and included around 70 booths that covered subjects including superconducting levitation, home brewing, homemade tesla coils, robotics and of course lots and lots of 3D printing.
BeerBot was set up with a control console made up of my trusty Shuttle XPC (aka “Compy”) who will be celebrating her 10th Birthday next year. I tried to get a control console set up based on a Raspberry Pi but it couldn’t handle the video streaming. Compy managed 5-7 frames per second but the Pi never got more than 1 fps.
Kids really enjoyed driving the robot around. We set up a robot enclosure and put two crosses on the floor with masking tape. The challenge was to pick up a can of beer from one cross and move it to the other. Fortunately no one challenged me on the appropriateness of encouraging children to pick up beer, and even more fortunately none of the kids tried to drink it. To make the enclosure more interesting we put some toy soldiers in there too. I initially positioned them in such a way to form a maze that the drivers needed to navigate through. This shows that I have forgotten what it is like to be a child – they showed great enthusiasm in running down as many soldiers as possible and one of my routine duties was to clean out soldiers from BeerBot’s undercarriage when it started to interfere with its handling.
I managed to get a few more features included in the BeerBot before the Faire. As well as installing a laser (will post more later on this) I found the colorama library and used it to make the interface look a bit more interesting. I also made it so that you could turn the robot a customised number of degrees in one go rather than just doing 10 degree steps. You can see what the driving experience was like in this video. The top window on the monitor shows the video stream, the bottom shows the Putty connection to the robot.
Here is a successful beer drop off
The laser provoked mixed reactions. Some people actually dared to ask “what is the laser for?” clearly missing the whole point of lasers. Kids generally got the idea, with one literally jumping for joy once the laser was activated. Another kid took to targeting the soldiers with eerie precision.
Squirty received more attention from the grown-ups. During the event I printed some cool lettering from thingiverse using some natural PLA I bought and they turned out quite nicely. From the prints I brought along the lithopanes got the most attention. A lot of people asked me how I made them – the instructions are incorporated in comments to Rob’s blog here.
Not everyone quite got the idea of RepRap. One gentleman commented that it was “certainly the most frugal looking printer I have seen so far”.
The Wife’s paintings and sewing got lots of admiration even though we were in the Science and Engineering section. A few people were quite confused by the combination though and kept asking how we printed the paintings…