What was World Maker Faire NYC 2012

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Maker Faire New Yorl has recently come and gone. I had an awesome time checking out all sorts of robots, makers, hackers, Arduino creations, fire, and games for all. In case you missed it, here’s a look at just a few projects and sights I thought were incredible, geeky, or just crazy.

So Many Robots

MetroCard bot: This MetroCard Robot by Gregory Rodolico isn’t just stylish; it’s really retro. too. The robot’s body is made out of an old X-ray machine filled with old-school hardware like relays, a rheostat, a cassette deck that plays music from the Epcot ride Journey Into Imagination With Figment, and an old AM/FM receiver that Rodolico can use remotely control the robot.

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Hello Romo: Romo, if you remember, is an adorable smartphone mobile robot platform. The cute droid has grown up a little since we last saw it and now you can use it as a miniature telepresence robot or a mobile FaceTime platform.

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Shooting hoops: Gus Robotics Team 228 is ready make all the 3-pointer shots the NBA so desperately needs. Meanwhile, the Nerf gun-toting robot behind it is ready to take on the zombie horde.

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Shooting hoops 2: It looks like there’s going to be a robot basketball shootout! Stuypulse Team 694 from Stuyvesant High School also brought along its own Basketball robot. Unlike the catapult-armed Gus Team robot, this one uses motor belts to whip the ball into the air, and it can even load itself by sucking up balls on the ground.

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Meet Hubo: It might look like Asimo’s long-lost robot brother, but Jaemi Hubo (that’s the robot’s name) is actually an American robotics project out of the Drexel University. Instead of being a stay-at-home robot helper, Hubo is designed to rough it out in the wilderness as a rescue robot.

Need for Speed

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Biofuel bike: Buying yourself an eco-friendly vehicle is one thing; building your own engine that runs on vegetable oil is another. This is John Petsche's biofuel motorcycle: It runs on just about any kind of fat you can get your hands on, and gets over 100 miles to the gallon.

Not too shabby considering that Petsche started the project two years afo with only a Kawasaki KZ400 frame. Since then, he hand-built his own bio-fuel engine, slapped a supercharger onto it, and rebuilt the whole bike as you see it now.

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Spider walker: The future of personal transportation robot spider walkers as developed by MIT Electronic Research Society.

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Nerdy Derby: This year there was the Nerdy Derby for kids and toy car enthusiasts to race their own creations.

Go go power racers: Onto a more serious racing series: The Maker Faire hosted the first New York Power Racing Series race. The Power Racing Series is a sub-$500 electric motorsport where modders take ordinary Power Wheels cars—the same expensive kid cars you always wanted—and turn them into souped up racing machines.

In this series there are only two rules: The car has to be based on a Power Wheels car and the electric motor it can't exceed 36 volts. Other than that, it’s a no-holds-barred 75-minute endurance race—with an emphasis on endurance—with driver changes, battery swaps, Nerf wars, foam sword-based road rage, and the occasional electric fire.

006: Stirred, not Shaken won the race with their faux-Lamborghini Countach. By the end of the race, the car’s front right brake completely sheered itself off the axle after it decided to continuously clamp down on the wheel for a few laps during the middle of the race. A member of the 006 team told me it’s still a huge improvement over the days where they would just push wood planks against the wheels to slow down the cars.

You Built That!?

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DIY PC: According to Gio Rescigno, the average windows computer eats a whole mess of RAM even when it just sits idle—my MacBook Pro seems like it uses an average of 1.5GB of memory all the time. Rescigno wants to change all this with the Clone Computer that he built and programmed with his friends.

Rescigno says the problem with modern computers is that they are weighed down by bloatware and too much extraneous code, even on the operating system level. Even Linux is too inefficient, he says, so Rescigno started programming his own CloneOS based on an OpenSUSE kernel and a Gnome 3 user interface. With the stripped down OS, Rescigno says that he can run Firefox and VLC without using more than a quarter of a gigabyte of RAM.

The same sort of bare-bones mentality goes into the computer as well. The computer is powered with a 1.8GHz dual core Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and a single 500GB hard drive. The idea is to build an affordable computer that’s powered by a light OS but sill has enough power to do everything you need it to. Sounds pretty cool, and a team of kids made it.

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A toothpick recreation of Yankee Stadium. Holy carp!

Toothpick skyline: Stan Munro built these incredible replicas of real-world buildings with just glue and toothpicks. Wow!

Red Bull Creation

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Mechanical thumb war: It’s not every day that you see a jumbo-sized version of thumb wars. As you might have imagined, it’s just like playing the regular game, except instead of using you hand, you use a lever to control giant mechanical thumbs with sensors to make sure you’re not pulling the old index finger cheat. The Maker Twins (Mike and Pat Murray) created Thumby Wars.

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Spinfury: The Spinfury game, by North Street Labs, is simple you spin as long as you hold down the button, if you let go then you lose, if you happen to start throwing up while you’re spinning at max speed…well then everyone loses.

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Red-ish October: 1.21 Jigawatts who won the last Red Bull Creation event came out swinging with an impressive The Hunt for Red October simulator. The build involves a massive movable platform as a stand-in for a sinking submarine that you need to stabilize so you can fire off your torpedoes. It sounds simple, but you’ll have to turn a dozen different knobs to reorient yourself while dealing with constant leaks.

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Labrynth: Hack a Day isn’t just a site that covers hacks, some of the writers are makers themselves, and this year they joined in and won the Red Bull Creation competition with a giant labyrinth board. The board is so big that you need two players to tilt the board. You can also troll your opponents with a touch of a button to block their path with a gate or hold their ball in place with magnets.

Artsy Fartsy

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Drawing machine: We’ve seen robots that dance and robots that paint, but this is a machine that does both at the same time. The Makers Toolbox strapped a few marker as legs for a cardboard cutout equipped with a model plane propeller motors to make these tiny drawing machines dance and create art at the same time.

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Ultimaker: While it’s not the largest 3D-printer we’ve ever seen, the grande-sized Ultimaker can make large scale 2.5-foot square by 3.5-foot tall prints—all while still being (somewhat) practical to have at home.

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The Replicator 2: Speaking of 3D Printers, MakerBot Industries showing off their latest 3D printer, the MakerBot Replicator 2.

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Social bots: Leo Kang , and electrical engineer, artist, and researcher, came up with this wonderful little art project that combines robotics and social media. These 50 custom-made robots are linked to a television and speaker system. The system is hooked up to a computer that combs the Twitterverse for messages containing the phrase “I want to…” that are then relayed back as messages saying “I have to…” on the screen and though the speakers while the robots dance a little jig.

Saw something else interesting at Maker Faire NYC? Leave a comment.

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