Meet Your Maker: IoT Design Shop

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Vancouver-based IoT Design Shop is a leader in the development of Internet of Things (IoT)-related technology. They’re dedicated to bringing a number of solutions to market in 2014, including Bluetooth Low Energy devices, proximity systems, and wearables. Their products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in their office, right here in the Lower Mainland. They’re bringing their ConnectionMaker indoor location system to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire for attendees to try out; fairgoers will be able to download the ConnectionMaker app from the app store and then use it to locate and identify other people who are using the app. Fun!

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What are you making/exhibiting at VMMF this year?

This year we are exhibiting ConnectionMaker, a state-of-the-art indoor positioning system that brings the power and convenience of GPS to micro indoor locations. It’s basically an indoor location-based social network that makes it easy for people to meet with one another at events or conferences. Using the ConnectionMaker app on your smartphones, you will be able to see the location and contact information of other Makers at the Faire. ConnectionMaker is revolutionizing how people meet at events and the underlying technology will pave the way for indoor location-based services that will change the way people do business.

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What else do you make?

We are excited to be launching the beta version of our new consumer product at VMMF this year! It is a system that bridges your digital and physical worlds by combining the location-detection abilities of our beacons with a mobile app. Basically you can configure your smartphone to take predetermined actions when you encounter beacons in the world. These actions, or really reactions, include:

 

  • launching an app

  • displaying a message on your phone

  • playing a sound

  • opening a URL

  • starting a text or email message

  • starting a tweet or Facebook post

  • starting a phone call

 

So how do we use it? Our favourite ways are to launch iTunes as we approach our cars and to play a sound to announce our arrivals at the office! Stop by our booth at the event to see the product in action.

 

We have also developed a proprietary platform called IoT Core. It is basically a toolkit that can be used to rapidly develop connected-product ecosystems. The components include mobile apps, Bluetooth Low Energy devices and a cloud back end. IoT Core is what we have used internally to build our new consumer product, ConnectionMaker and Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons with iBeacon Technology (BLE Beacons). We see IoT core being a key bridge between Makers and smartphone control of their creations.

 

Our BLE Beacons create small, concentrated areas of detection where a user’s proximity to a known location can be determined. This opens the door for many promotional, analytical and convenience applications that have not been possible until now. The basic idea is that business can increase revenue by sending targeted messages to their customers upon entry to a zone or store.

 

For Makers we currently sell a Beacon Development Kit with iBeacon Technology that includes custom firmware and a sample iOS application. This is available for purchase through our website and will also be available at our booth at VMMF. We engage directly with companies that are looking to roll out large numbers of beacons or even customized devices.

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part? The most challenging part?

Without question the our favourite part about being Makers is seeing our ideas come to life. There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing the proverbial “Hello world!” message when you flip the power switch or run an app for the first time. Our favourite-favourite part is then refining our ideas to make commercially-viable products so we can create revenue for our company. Our least favourite part is hunting down well hidden bugs, which can also be the most challenging part. But without challenges to overcome, and the headaches that come along with them, Makers would not get the same satisfaction out of their creations!

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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?

Making is really a state of mind. Once you’re there, good luck keeping it from permeating the other areas of your life. An example of this is spending all day trying to optimize a solution in the office. When you go home and make tacos for dinner, I bet they won’t end up being the base solution of ground beef, salt, and tortillas. Those babies will be optimized with cilantro, spices, guacamole, salsa and of course mucho queso!

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Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?

 

Yes we have! Some of our earliest memories of Making include ‘playing’ with Duplo. Looking back on this now we all agree that we were in fact developing job skills that we’ve since applied in our careers in the tech industry. Another memory that often pops up is that of taking things apart to see how they work. I have to admit that I struggle not to take my toaster apart on a daily basis… I know how it works, but maybe this one is something different than the 10+ I set my parents’ kitchen on fire with when I was 7. Those were bad years for household appliances!

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Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

Nikola Tesla is my favourite Maker of all time hands down. Not only were his ideas huge and crazy, he was a genius and actually turned his waaaay-out-there concepts into super useful technology!

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

It’s hard to explain, but we all feel the same deep-seated duty to build things. It’s almost a primal instinct to create. So really, it would be a challenge to stop making rather than to find the inspiration to continue. Save us from ourselves!

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What is it about Maker Faire It that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?

As Makers we love to connect with community to see what our peers are up to. We never cease to be blown away by what our fellow Makers dream up and the quality and complexity of their projects.

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Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?

Making is at the heart of what we do. It’s all about identifying a need and then finding a creative way to apply technology to address it. For us it’s paramount to support other creative people, regardless of what their medium is, and to help them show the world what they’ve done!

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Don’t miss the presentation that IoT Design Shop’s Trent Shumay is giving as part of the 2014 VMMF Speaker Series! He’ll be telling us about how they used 3D printing technology to quadruple their manufacturing capacity, and how it allowed them to test markets, pivot, and deliver production-quality units to customers around the world. And make sure you stop by the VMMF silent auction to place a bid on their awesome donation – a Mini Electric Guitar Kit! For more information and to keep up with what IoT Design Shop is up to, check their website or follow them on twitter.

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Guest Blogger, Laura Bucci: Stitching With Purpose

I was aware of the craftivist movement for at least a couple of years before I took action with my own project, “The Minimum Wage.” It all started a few years ago, after I closed my small business and started looking for work in the arts, and eventually beyond the arts. Employers wanted my educational credentials and work experience in exchange for only $10.25 per hour—the current minimum wage in BC (the living wage in Metro Vancouver in 2014 is $20.10 per hour). It is impossible to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle in Vancouver when earning the minimum wage.

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While this was frustrating for me, it also got me thinking of the struggle that others in more challenging situations experience: single parents, students, seniors, persons with disabilities, even two parents earning the minimum wage. I decided that the best way I could add my voice to the issue was by crafting messages and putting them out there for people to think about. I use yarn to cross-stitch short phrases onto large wire mesh panels and hang them on city fences around my neighbourhood. I envisioned people glancing at my messages while walking to work and back and starting a conversation in their head about their own situation and forming questions about the issue. You never know who is going to be looking at your work; it could an employer, a policy maker, a minimum wage worker, a child. Using craft to communicate an idea, a feeling, or your view on issues is what craftivism is all about. Craftivism offers an alternative way of contributing your voice to issues you care about. When you decide to take action, you increase your involvement in an issue with body and mind. The mere act of working on the project propels you into further thought on the issue.

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While there are other types of craftivism, the one I practice at the moment is text-based and comments on a social issue I care about. The workshop I’ll be leading at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire focuses on this type of craftivism. I’ll lead you through a brainstorming session, and then you’ll learn how to cross-stitch your message on fabric (see image below), so that you, too, can add your voice to issues you care about. And if you’re not feeling political, that’s OK, you can express any sentiment you like. Stitch it and share it with your neighbourhood.

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The Stitching with Purpose workshop happens June 8th at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. All materials provided; please pre-register here.

 


About the Author:

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Laura Bucci is an artist whose work includes an ongoing project in craftivism as well as investigations in the practice of art journaling. Her craftivist project has been seen in her Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood and explores facts and feelings about the minimum wage/living wage. Laura believes that creativity is an important part of everyone’s lives and to this end she has taught workshops for non-artists as well as having organized a mail art exhibition (2013) that was open to anyone at any age. She recently presented at Pecha Kucha Richmond. See more of her work at www.laurabucci.com.

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Meet Your Maker: Sophia Kreuzkamp of Parrotphernalia – Five Reasons Great Jewelry Comes From Happy, Healthy Birds

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We’re excited to host Sophia Kreuzkamp of Parrotphernalia in our Maker Faire Marketplace this year. We were so intrigued by her process and her products that we asked her to tell us a little bit about herself, and how she ended up working with a medium as unusual as bird feathers. Here’s what she told us:

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My story begins with my Blue-fronted Amazon, Larry. While he can sometimes be a grump or a little wary around new people, Larry is actually very sweet once you get to know him. I think Larry and his parrot-brethren are some of the most beautiful animals on the planet. They come in all shapes and sizes, and in pretty much every colour imaginable. As is natural for birds, Larry loses his feathers (or molts) twice a year around winter and summer. During one of these molting periods, I realized that Larry’s feathers, too beautiful to be thrown away, deserved to be appreciated as the works of art that they are.

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And thus, Parrotphernalia was born!

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Here are the top five reasons we love what we do:

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1. Our products are from happy, healthy birds.

Most (if not all) feathered jewelry and accessories bought in stores use feathers plucked straight from the bird while they’re still alive. All Parrotphernalia products are made solely with ethically-sourced feathers no longer needed by happy, healthy birds living in sanctuaries across Canada or as someone’s companion.

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2. Our products are from natural breed birds.

Feathered products bought in stores often come from birds that were bred specifically for the production of these items. Feathered hair extensions are a common example – these come from specially bred roosters created to produce a special kind of tail feather. These roosters live in a factory environment solely to produce feathers for consumers. Our products, on the other hand, come from birds who enjoy freedom of movement and healthy interaction with humans.

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3. No dyes or harmful chemicals are used to create our products.

Many feather products bought in stores have been treated with harmful chemicals before being imported. In most cases, these feathers have also been dyed, which imparts an unnatural hue. Not only are these processes environmentally unfriendly, they diminish the final feathered product’s longevity. Compared to our ethically-sourced feathers, commercial feathers have a very short life-span. Because we know our feathers come from healthy birds, and they are not imported, we are able to use a simple cleaning solution which doesn’t affect the colour or longevity of the feathers.

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4. We give what we get!

In return for each feather donation we receive, we make the contributors an exclusive piece from their donation as a way of thanking those that help us bring our products to the world. Additionally, we provide products for our partner sanctuaries’ fundraising events.

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5. If we can upcycle bird feathers, you can upcycle something fabulous too!

From our business we hope to inspire others to upcycle and recycle everyday things to create something fabulous. Every little act of creativity, whether by us or you, helps our environment and our feathered friends!

 

Look for the Parrotphernalia booth in our Maker Faire Marketplace, or check them out online on their website, on facebook, or (fittingly) on twitter.

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Bring Your E-Waste to the Faire for Free Recycling!

Is there an old Atari in your attic? A Commodore 64 in your closet? The Hackery will be at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire to take your unwanted computers and components! There’s no charge for recycling, and no limit to how old or broken the components can be. In fact, there’s room on their museum wall for a few more historical artifacts. Bring all your odds-and-ends of electronics, cables, phones, and what-nots to the Faire and The Hackery will make sure that they will be either reused or responsibly recycled.
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They can accept anything computer-related for recycling, whether it’s in working order or not:

  • Computers – complete or in parts
  • Laptops – complete or in parts
  • LCD’s – Computer or TV
  • Motherboards and accessory cards
  • Computer cables, wires
  • Keyboards and mice
  • Network equipment
  • Printers and scanners
  • Game consoles
  • Cell phones
  • UPS – Uninterruptible Power Supplies
  • Home electronics(Stereos, DVD players, etc)
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • CRT Monitors
  • CD & DVDs
Donated computers will have their hard drives wiped or crushed to keep data away from prying eyes.
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They can’t accept:
  • Tube TV’s
  • Kitchen appliances (microwaves, coffee machines, etc.)
  • Toner or ink cartridges
  • Photocopiers
  • Smoke detectors
  • PCB containing light ballasts

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E-waste recycling will be available all weekend, next to the VMMF information booth outside of the entry. Send your friends too! Cool things happen to people who recycle.

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The Hackery has been repairing and recycling computers since 2008. They’re a local company offering a local solution to the global e-waste problem, specializing in component-level repairs that other shops turn away. And for gear that’s ready to retire, they ensure that every part is recycled ethically – and free of charge.

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Make sure you catch The Hackery’s exhibit at the Faire – the majority of what they make are repairs, which are often tucked away inside of a device where no one can see them, so this year they’re turning things inside out! Their exhibit, Behind the Screens, shows the inner workings of common devices, from cell phones to Playstations, laid bare for all to see. Staples from our modern world have been saved from recycling, repaired in their shop, then carefully cut open in such a way to preserve functionality. You can finally see what makes your laptop tick or your TV light up!

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Come down and try your hand at playing Pac-man on half a TV. See if you can still use a cell phone when the parts aren’t where you expect. And most of all, get a glimpse of the world hiding right beneath the surface of our daily lives.

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For more information on how to recycle your e-waste at The Hackery year-round, check their website, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 







Meet Your Maker: Jessi Langager and Joshua Langager

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Young Makers Jessi Langager (15) and Joshua Langager (13) are two of our most popular Makers, and they’re returning this year with a new project! We can hardly wait to welcome them back.

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What are you bringing to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?

We will be doing demos of our NXT robot which is a buildable and programmable robot.  We will showcase how it gets programmed on the laptop, showing how it moves and turns, and fun things you can build and program with it.

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What is your favourite part about being an exhibitor at the show? 

We get to teach kids about robotics and we loved the “like stickys” last year, all the awesome displays- 3D printers, the Titanaboa robot……The toughest part was leaving and waiting another year to come back.

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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?

We have always being very creative; we love to build things. Our mom finds competitions, events, fun programs for us and dad has trained and pushed us to practice everyday our robotics so this year he helped us get a gold medal.  He has been our robotics coach.

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You’re among the youngest Makers at the show this year – what’s that like?

We love the attention and we can teach kids better because we are kids.

langager-2Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?

We both love drawing Pokémon, Mario kart, and playing minecraft- creating lots of worlds.  Joshua started composing his own songs at 18 months old about his favourite toys.

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Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

Titanoboa is the most fun coolest robotic snake we have ever seen!!!

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

Our dad pushed us to  practice a lot and it can be frustrating when a program doesn’t work properly but we stop and try again- we have learned to get along better, to not argue or get mad at each other, we make a really focused and relaxed team and our mom got a ton of complements from the judges of the competition this year, she was so proud.

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What is it about Maker Faire It that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?

It’s fun being there showing off our talents as programmers and it’s so much fun to look around at  all our neighbours and all the cool things they’re doing.

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Don’t miss the Langager booth at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year! You’ll find them in the tech zone at the north end of the Forum.







Guest Blogger, Jessica Glesby: Challenging Stereotypes Through Graffiti Knitting

The recent and relatively unknown contemporary art form of graffiti knitting is the act of installing yarn-based products in a public space in ways that may gently provoke sociopolitical and cultural dialogue.
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What happens when male and female teenagers are taught how to yarn bomb as part of their high school arts curriculum? This was my qualitative research as a graduate student at Boston University.
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Students each designed their own graffiti knitting installations, and were required to write artist statements. Classroom discussions blossomed while students knit. Topics included self-reliance, consumerism, graffiti and knitting sterotypes, gender roles, community, installations, the history of knitting and graffiti, empowerment, and the perception of the role and value of craft art in society.
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I look forward to further explaining my research as well as my findings at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Speaker Series on June 8th at 2:00 pm. Bring your questions!
You can also find me at womanundone.com.

About the Author:

Jessica-Glesby

 

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Jessica Glesby is an artist educator who works to make cold spaces warm by producing and strengthening communities and empowering individuals. Her artworks build on the experiential knowledge of participants and facilitate discussion through collaborative craft. Jessica has a Bachelor of Media Arts from Emily Carr University, a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia and a Masters of Art in Art Education from Boston University. She currently works as a freelance community artist while teaching high school for the Vancouver School Board. Say hello and discover more at womanundone.com

Photo Credit – Michaela Garstin

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Guest Blogger, Matthew Murray: The Machine: Using a Raspberry Pi for Readers’ Advisory

 

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Raspberry Pi is a tiny, low-cost computer that was created to teach young people about computer science and programming. They’ve been embraced by the maker community and are being used for everything from robots to spinning wheels to cellphones to Minecraft servers.

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A few months ago I saw a post on Tumblr that showed an “Electr-O-Matic Book Fortune Teller” that used an Arduino (a computer similar to a Raspberry Pi) to print book recommendations onto receipt paper when people pushed a button. This seemed like a relatively easy project for myself and some other students to use to get experience working with a Raspberry Pi.

The first step was setting up the Raspberry Pi itself. Raspberry Pis run a version of Linux that’s a lot less scary than you might think. We messed up our installation, but you don’t have to do that!

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Next we had to set up the mini thermal printer (we bought ours from Adafruit). This involved cutting and stripping some wires, then screwing them into a DC power adapter so we could plug the printer into a power source. Then we installed the printer driver onto the Raspberry Pi.

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Once we did that we connected the printer to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins using the included wires and printed off a test page.

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Actually, first we wondered why nothing was working once we’d hooked everything up. Turns out you need to plug the HDMI cable into the Raspberry Pi in order to have anything show up on the computer screen. Despite being supposedly intelligent, tech-savvy graduate students, we forgot to do this at least four five times (so far) during this project.

Once we had the printer working we started work on hooking up the button. This is a complicated process that involves:
1. Acquiring a button that doesn’t actually have the necessary connectors.
2. Purchasing the wrong resistors.

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Of course you can choose not to follow our steps directly and just get the proper pieces the first time. Either way, you then wire everything into a breadboard and connect it to your Raspberry Pi. (Your breadboard doesn’t have to be quite so long, but we ended up using ten resistors instead of one because we originally had the wrong type.)

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You’ll then have to install or create a program on the Raspberry Pi that understands when your button has been pushed and tells the printer to print a review. We’ll hopefully have one available on our blog soon! The reviews for our machine are ones that we wrote and include title, author, and a brief description. You could choose to include other information such as ISBNs or call numbers.

Once all of that is done you’ll have a working machine that will print off book recommendations! You’ll probably want to get some sort of box to put everything in, but we’re still working on that.

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We haven’t completely finished this project yet, but we’ll be posting updates (and eventually complete instructions) to the ASIS&T at UBC blog! In the future we might expand the machine so that it will have more than one button to allow readers to pick from different genres, moods, or other qualities (books with covers the colour of the buttons?)

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We’ll be showing off our machine at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire on June 7th-8th at the PNE, you should come by and check it out!


About the Author:

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Matthew Murray is currently completing a Masters of Library and Information Studies at UBC. He’s a member of ASIS&T at UBC (without whom this project could not have happened!) and is excited about bringing technology like the Raspberry Pi into libraries. He’s probably working on too many projects right now. He also really likes monsters and comic books.

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Meet Your Maker: Zaber Technologies

 

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Zaber Technologies is a Vancouver-based manufacturer of computer-controlled motorized linear slides, miniature linear actuators, motorized rotary stages, and other devices. Make sure you stop by their booth this year to catch all the moving parts! They’ll have several interactive demos, including a “Microsurgery Game”, interactive musical stages called the “Zee Board”, laser-cut give-aways that will be made at the booth, and “Big Zed” – a moving/changing Z-shape that lights up. In fact, they’re bringing so many different projects to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire that we had to talk to several of them to put together the details for this article!

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What are you making/exhibiting at VMMF this year?

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Several Zaberians (people who work at Zaber) have gotten together to make the following:

Frank’s project: Micro-surgery game – Think “Operation”, but miniaturized and with a joystick.
Justin’s project: Big Zed – A giant, multi-part, moving, 3D “Z”.
Aaron and Connor’s project: Zee-board  – Make your own music with our stages.
Dan’s project: Laser cut give-away – Something to take home and make yourself!

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What else do you guys make?

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Zaberians have been known to make a lot of things, including music, automata mechanisms, heliostats, etc…

 

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part? The most challenging part?

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Frank: I’m an engineer and my work projects are expensive, complicated and precise. Building personal projects helps me develop my skills in new areas with low risk. My least favourite part is not having the right tool for a job or waiting for parts. The most challenging part is finding time.

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Connor: My two favourite parts about being a Maker are the satisfaction of seeing something I created come to life, and the look of enjoyment and surprise on people’s faces when they see the project for the first time.  My least favourite parts (which thankfully haven’t happened this year) are the rare occasions that someone calls into question the usefulness of spending time on the project.  The most challenging part would definitely be when I’m 20 hours into a 5 hour project and it finally feels like I’m about halfway there.

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Justin: Favourite part about being a Maker is the simple joy of creating, sucking sawdust, getting my hands dirty, and problem solving. I’m also able to express my sense of humour through my creations (when possible) which otherwise may go unnoticed from day to day by others. I also actually on occasion make myself laugh because you never know exactly how things will turn out….
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Dan: I’ve never called myself a Maker, but I like making things. My favourite part is starting projects, when every idea is possible. The most challenging part is finishing them.

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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?

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Frank: I became an engineer as I enjoyed designing and building things. It comes from years and years of training with Lego.
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Connor: I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that allows me to embrace my passion for making and work on cool projects, so my passion for making manifests itself almost daily at work. It’s hard to trace the passion for making since I’ve had it for as long as I can remember; however, I can say that my family has fostered my curiosity and enthusiasm for making since I was a small child.
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Justin: Being a ‘Maker’ is a central part of my soul. I create and ‘make’ at home constantly, so much so a day without ‘Making’ would be fairly unusual. Making comes from a desire to create and express where words rarely can be used or are insufficient -OR in some cases words are just a waste of time. One glance, you get it…

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Dan: I try to do my own car and bicycle repair. I get to make lots of prototypes at work. A lot of it comes from pride; I think I can do a better job than what’s out there, or I care more about the end result, so I end up doing things myself.

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Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?

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Frank: Yes, building a Lego gun with a trigger that could shoot Lego blocks about 5m when I was 8.

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Connor: I have been interested in making for as long as I can remember, but I would have to say I was initially more of a watcher and un-Maker – staring at construction sites and taking apart old appliances.  My earliest memory of creating rather than dismantling something is probably one of the hundreds of Lego or science kit projects I undertook as a child.

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Justin: I have been a ‘Maker’ all my life from very young. My earliest projects included a dozen or so tree forts, a Return of the Jedi Scout Walker made entirely out of cardboard and wire (because we were very poor and I couldn’t afford the proper model kit), and a large aerial view diorama of Kennedy Space Center made on a large table in my folks basement – which was inspired by the excitement of the first Space Shuttle launch.

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Dan: I spent a lot of time drawing as a kid. I think that has something to do with it. I also did origami with my mom. I probably inherited some of her Japanese “eye-for-details”.

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Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

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Frank: Dan Gelbart. There are few other engineers that are so proficient at design, machining, and prototyping with such a broad range of expertise and experience.
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Connor: I don’t really have a favourite Maker, or even a favourite project.  If I had a dollar for every time I was blown away by the creativity, complexity and detail of another Maker’s creation, I’d be able to retire and just spend my time building things for fun… however taking into consideration what I get to do at work, I probably wouldn’t.

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Justin: Hands down automata artist Paul Spooner. A close second is Tim Hunkin and his ‘Secret Life of Machines’ BBC series.

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Dan: Tesla, but I guess that’s a pretty popular answer, so maybe Curt Herzstark.

 

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

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Frank: You usually learn the most from failures. I actually enjoy massive failures, because that it is something that I’ll never forget and eliminates an approach, technique, or at least makes for an interesting story.

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Connor: To paraphrase Thomas Edison “I have not failed.  I’ve just found another way that will not work.”

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Justin: I have to, it’s who I am. Cliché but true. You always learn something from a failed project. The next one is ALWAYS better than the last.

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Dan: It’s whoever I promised something great to. If I don’t tell anyone about a project, I will probably just leave it in a box when it stops being fun, but if I tell someone about it, I feel obligated to deliver something, and nobody likes delivering something below expectations. This is why I usually don’t like showing unfinished work.

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What is it about Maker Faire that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?

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We like that Zaberians can get together to make something using our products. The process is fun, challenging, and team building.  We also really like that VMMF is a family event. It might sound cliché, but we look forward to the “show and tell” aspect of VMMF. We like to talk about what we have made, but we also enjoy seeing other people’s projects. We are still kids at heart!

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Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?

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Zaber’s roots are in “Making”. The company’s founders are Makers, and a lot of Zaberians are too. We also understand the vital role “making” and creativity play in building a strong community. All of the groups who participate in VMMF – crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, science clubs, students, authors, and commercial exhibitors – get together because they are passionate about making things. We feel like we have a lot in common with these folks – some of them may even one day work at Zaber or go on to start their own companies. We find this very exciting.

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For more background on Zaber’s progress for VMMF projects, please visit Zaber on Facebook to see more photos and write-ups.

 







Guest Blogger, Stephanie Ostler: Making a Difference – Buying Better Means Buying Less.

11 years ago I created a clothing company. I was fresh out of high school, full of energy, and naive about what I was getting myself into. Calling it Devil May Wear, I began with a passion for self expression and providing an exceptional service – but soon my experiences with chemicals in clothing and the growing list of human rights atrocities would begin to lead me down a road of fashion activism.
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 I often speak with students graduating from their fashion programs, and  they tell me “I don’t think I can work in fashion. It is too unethical, and too polluting.”
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“That,” I respond, “is exactly why you must.” Fashion is, after all, the second largest industrial user of fresh water and one of the greatest causes of environmental degradation, in addition to boasting an appalling history of slave labour and sweat shops. We aren’t going to change it by turning a blind eye to the problems but by using our skills, our knowledge, and our creativity to provide better options for our bodies, our lives, and our planet. And the best part is better options are just more fun!
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Those luxury fibers that feel so good on your body, wear so well in the long run, keep you cool on hot summer days and warm on soggy winter nights – the textiles you just can’t keep your hands off are often the very same ones that are better for your body and for the world. Textiles made from materials like bamboo, the fastest growing plant we can make textiles from, and which is also all organic because there is simply no need to use pesticides on it.
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The local, wearable art of true artisans making special, one-of-a-kind items personally for you (or so true to fit that they seem as if they were made from your specs) let you show off your exceptional taste and enjoy something made with love, with the added benefit of keeping your money in your local economy. They are the kind of items that may cost more in the short run, but save us money and resources in the long run –  we desire less because we love what we already own – and because quality goods typically last  much longer than cheap, mass-produced  items, we have no need to replace these items frequently.
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The same premise applies to the food we consume, the vehicles we drive, the houses we live in, the communities we are a part of. My background is fashion but we are all connected, and we can all enjoy living better in every aspect of our lives. Information is key – we must strive for the truth behind products, companies, and laws. We’re not going to change the world by waiting for policy makers to dictate what we can and can’t do, or by continuing with business as usual, or even by nagging each other with depressing statistics and “granola” clothing,  but  by changing the way we choose what we buy. By taking the time to find the items we love, that will last us a lifetime. By seeking out items as close to natural as possible, and manufactured close to home. And when you are proud of the beauty you have let into your life, you will inspire others to live better. This way we can spread a revolution of luxury, and quality, and of hope for a better – dare I say sustainable – and more equitable world we can enjoy for generations to come.
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When I launched Devil May Wear, I didn’t realize the responsibilities I’d have as a business owner in my community. Now that we’ve grown into a company with two stores, international sales, and a fantastic staff of passionate individuals, we’ve also grown and evolved to offer better products for a better planet. By not only designing but also sewing everything in Vancouver we create more local jobs; we make everything in our Vancouver studio as opposed to in a sweat shop; and we control our quality so we aren’t over-producing unsellable quantities in order to fill quotas, which in turn fills up landfills. We can respond to trends faster, make clothing that fits and appeals to our growing client base, and offer free, minor alterations (after all, our customers don’t all have cookie cutter bodies and preferences!) We use sustainable fibers and textiles with fewer chemicals and carcinogens than conventionally milled fabrics. After all, if we’re sewing it we don’t want to be inhaling or absorbing all the fire retardants and petrol chemicals used these days any more than we want our customers to be wearing them!
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Please come to my talk at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire to learn more about the impact of fashion, and how you can enjoy it better. Or come visit us in one of our stores and see for yourself what change looks like!

About the author:
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Guest blogger Stephanie Ostler is on a mission to save the planet, one pair of bamboo underwear at a time. She’s the founder of Devil May Wear, an award-winning Vancouver-based clothing line that is committed to staying locally made and as sustainable as possible. Using body-friendly fabrics like bamboo, soy, and organic cotton, she strives to cover your butt (literally) with feel-good fabrics and awesome cuts for your curves.
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Meet Your Maker: Lee’s Electronic

MYM-Lee's-ElectronicLee’s Electronic was established in the heart of Vancouver in 1993, and has been proudly serving local businesses, manufacturers, and people for more than 20 years. They are one of few remaining electronic component stores in the lower mainland. They provide multilingual technical support for students of all levels, from elementary to undergraduate. They’re huge supporters of the Maker scene in general, and the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire in particular. They answered our “Meet Your Maker” questions the way they do everything else – as a team!

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What is Lee’s exhibiting at VMMF this year?

We are making a wirelessly controlled mini tank using a Raspberry Pi micro-computer (we called it the PiTank). Viewers will be able to navigate the tank through obstacles and hopefully if we can make more than two, the tanks might play soccer or a game against one another. This exhibit is to introduce micro-controllers to the general public and how easily available it is for everyone to join into the fun of building.

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What else do you make?

Members of the team each have their own individual projects, like autonomous romba vacuums, lego machines, car custom lighting, and IOS/Android app development.

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part?
Our favourite part about being Makers is the feeling one gets after working on a project for many, many days and when you power it up, IT WORKS! That feeling is extraordinary – everyone needs to experience it! Our least favourite part would be struggling to debug code that you know should work, but doesn’t. It’s tedious – but when you find the problem, it’s very rewarding!
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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?
The curiosity for newer and better ways to solve current problems and future problems encourages us Makers to strive forward.
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Have you been a maker your whole life? 

Some of us on the team have been Makers since an early age, and some have just joined the team not too long ago. Our team members come from various different fields of study and work; fields such as human kinetics, computing science, engineering, chemistry, linguistics, and industrial design.

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Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

Some of our favourite Makers include Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (Myth Busters), Ben Heck (Element 14), and historical makers like Thomas Edison.

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

Other Makers in the community are a huge inspiration. When you see how their projects have changed the lives of so many people, and how you yourself may be using their invention, it makes you wonder how you can contribute back.

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What is it about Vancouver Mini Maker Faire It that attracts you as an exhibitor?

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is a great way to not just show your projects, but to invite others to also be curious and introduce them to the new era of electronics. We’re really looking forward to seeing all the interesting projects other Makers are working on.

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Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. In fact, Lee’s has supported VMMF right from the start! What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?

We have been around for more than 20 years empowering students, hobbyist, and Makers of all ages with the parts and tools they need. We -along with organizations like the Vancouver Hackspace- have been working to build communities of makers and all interested in electronics. We are grateful to see an organization like Vancouver Mini Maker Faire also shares this vision with us. We believe that the VMMF is an awesome event that everyone needs to see and experience for themselves.

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Find out more about Lee’s Electronic at the 2014 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, on their website, or on their Facebook page.