Tinker, Hack, and Invent with TechShop Detroit


What will you be doing during this week’s Tinker, Hack, Invent, Saturday?
TechShop Detroit Presents: ROBOTS AND ROCKETS! We’re picturing three levels of simultaneous engagement that should appeal to a broad sweep of ages and interests and each of slightly different participatory format.

Paper Rockets! Something for younger kids in a make, play and take format. We’ll have a station for kids to cut out, assemble and decorate soft paper rockets. We will add our CNC Vinyl cutter to the mix to create special graphics and reinforcing bands for the rockets. Once built, kids (and the young of heart!) can shoot their rocket from a compressed air launcher made from common plumbing parts along a fixed monofilament line that is attached to some point near the ceiling. In this way, we can send the rockets on dramatic indoor flights while controlling precisely where they fly. Each rocket will ride along that monofilament fishing line by hitching onto a section of plastic straw that slides up and down the line. Afterward, folks can take their rockets with. Tools used are paper tape and common scissors.

Sphero Decathalon! This one is an open, play experience with no minimum time commitment. We’d like to set up an 8′ x 8′ arena in which all ages can experience play with semi-autonomous spherical robots that can be controlled / interacted with using iPads and smart phones (we will bring at least four devices with us and the control app is a free download if a guest would like to try interacting with the robots from their own device). We’ll also have a miniature soccer field setup for games of 1-on-1 Sphero soccer using a ping pong ball for the soccer ball. Robots can be driven directly or “programed” to follow a path by drawing a route on the screen of an iPad.

Sumo Bots! These are more advanced robots, built from open source parts and microcontrollers, that will be programmed to have a sort of king of the hill match on a large, red, gear shaped arena that we built (you may have seen it standing vertically in our entry way). This activity is a demonstration of more advanced robots and programming. They look more like “real robots” with motors, brains and wires exposed. It will be a great show and we will also have several programmers on site to demonstrate how one of the current, open source conversational programming languages can be used to modify the behavior of the completely autonomous Bots. Our programmers can also, off the cuff, work with interested adults and kids to program in a behavior or strategy on the fly so they can see the immediate application of that program in action on the Sumo Bot arena.

What are some of the favorite offerings at TechShop?
Access to the amazing tools and great big workspace is awesome but my favorite “offering” is the huge variety of skills, expertise, creativity and enthusiasm of our community of shop members! Inspiration and support is inescapable here!

What other projects is TechShop Detroit working on these days?
We’ve got lots planned for this year! In April our new series of member and community meetups kicks off. Concepts and Coffee is our open to the public community meetup where members and folks from the surrounding communities get together to see and talk about the projects they’ve been working on and swap ideas and inspiration. It runs in the Auditorium at the shop the second Saturday of every month starting @ 12 p.m. We’re also participating with NASA and sites around the world on the 2013 open.NASA Space Apps Challenge 48 hour Hack-a-Thon! TechShop Detroit is the Metro-Detroit area host this year. Info on that can be found here.

What’s one tool you can’t live without?
My favorite tool, honestly, is a single edge razor blade. I use them in just about everything I do from making model airplanes to furniture to costumes! Having said that, giant CNC Water Jets are nice too!

What are you looking forward to about Maker Faire Detroit this year?
I can’t wait to see all the new things coming from the ever growing community of first-time Makers, the new things old friends have been cooking all winter long and the great projects TechShop members will be racing to complete in time for the show!

Comments are closed.