Makers and Hackers, London

I’m having a fab time at Makers and Hakers today – basically a one day hack-day bringing together crafts people and techies, and the brief is to ‘build a household item of the future’. Watching people pull out all sorts of kit from their bag – really excited to see the appearance of a sewing machine alongside arduino, soldering and electronics kit!

10:30am After Alex’s welcome and we introduce ourselves, people tentatively split into 4 teams. We chatted about what we fancied doing and after uniting our ideas, we came up with a name for our groups. Our four teams are:

* Fragile (formerly BOB)
* Nigel and the Craft Girls
* 2 Men 5 Legs
* Creatorz of Crazyness

11:00am I’m in team Creatorz of Crazyness with Omer, Andrew, Craig (from O’Reilly) and Tim. We chat about the ideas we came with, Tim wants to build a clock and Andrew wants to build some ickwl tiny bots – he’s brought loads of kit and also tons of brightly coloured felt.

12:00pm I’ve downloaded the Processing interface for arduino and Omer and I are looking through libraries for scripts. Andrew and Craig are soldering away.

13:00 Lunch. There’s a arduino weekend workshop going on and my colleague Nicky and others join us. There’s some nice introductions and chat about arduino going on.

14:00pm We’re consolidating ideas to build an arduino clock. Omer and I have spent about 3 hours so far trying to write a clock, we had some initial problems getting the Processing interface for arduino to work, so have ditched that. We’ve gone back to using the original arduino programming interface and have got some compilled code working as clock.

15:00pm Andrew gets a tiny sound out of his robot, but it’s barely audible, so he’s thinking about how to improve it.

15:10pm Eureka – Andrew adds a plastic cup to the robot and the tiny buzz is amplified!

15:17pm Epiphany – we got an alarm to work and we sit and watch the numbers ticking over in the arduino interface!

15:30pm Omer gets the servo to work with arduino and Tim gets the *rotating_bit* of the clock working

15:32pm Alex gives us a bonus half hour because we’re crafting/hacking carefully (slowly)!

15:52pm Craig has built a box! Now do we give it a felt coat? Andrew’s bot is attached to the servo and box so it acts as an audible alarm for the clock and the cup will doubles as a tipper.

16:15pm Last minute fiddling and yay our servo moves properly and distributes felt flowers by tipping them when the alarm goes off!

16:30 It’s time to stop working on our creations and set them up for judging on the designated area. Teams are hastily fiddling and arranging.

16:35 The people from the arduino workshop come out to vote. Teams describe their appliances to everyone, much clapping ensues.

16:50pm Everyone has one vote for their favourite creation. There are two prizes of £50 – one is an expert panel vote, the other is a peoples vote for their favourite.

17:00pm votes are counted and the expert panel goes away, to deliberate over their winner.

17:05pm The two team prize winners are announced:
* Experts panel award of £50 goes to Fragile (formerly BOB) for the LED arduino
bracelet from the Fragile team – which lit up when a new Tweet or email was recieved.

* Public vote goes to Nigel and the Craft Girls for their sound key rings. They attached an arduino to a Yamaha sound module to play individual MIDI tunes. An RFID tag on their key fobs triggered the tunes which could be played individually or together as a mix, reflecting who was in the building.

Alex is going to take the two winning creations to Maker Faire on the 14-15 March to show.

The other great projects were:
* 2 Men 5 Legs – who created a chair spin counter, ie it counted how many times you spun round on your office chair, although sadly ran out of time before completion.

* Tim Hutt – created an arduino driven tactile clock proof of concept device that would tell you the time in the dark using textured surfaces.

17:10pm Tidy-up time, wires, arduinos, soldering irons, a sewing machine, beads and ribbons are put away.

17:10pm Everyone is leaving and I’m blogging on the floor so will write up more detailed account later – byeeeee!

17:15pm Pub!

What a fantastic day, I’ve had so much fun and made some lovely new friends. Well done to Alex, James ( & Folksy) and all for putting this on. Looking forward to Maker Faire in Newcastle 😀 Shout to sponsors BBC Backstage, O’Reilly Maker Faire and 4IP.



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