Saturday, December 5, 2015

Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire - Joliet, Illinois

Coming up this weekend at Barnes and Nobles Bookstores, nationwide, are Mini-Maker Faire's.   Friday, Saturday and Sunday (11/6-11/8)

While I thought I didn't make the cut since I didn't hear anything by Oct. 9th... I got the call last week asking if I could exhibit on Saturday and Sunday at the Barnes and Noble in Joliet, IL.  Over the weekend I found they also had an open spot for Friday.  So, SURPRISE!!!, I'll be there all weekend (I said yes to all days - of course, see below for the Meet the Maker exhibit schedule).

Friday 11/6 (Meet the Maker)
  • 5pm
  • 7pm
Saturday 11/7 (Meet the Maker)
  • 1pm
  • 5pm
  • 7pm
Sunday 11/8  (Meet the Maker)
  • 1pm
  • 5pm

Below is a brief summary of my entry for the Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire:
My Project Entry was my "Musical Lightning": A tabletop musical Tesla Coil. The electrical arcs produced by the coil are modulated to enable them to produce musical notes without speakers!
The first Tesla Coil that I built, about 4 years ago, was motivated by wanting to show my daughter a "Lightning Machine". Ever since building that first coil I've wanted to build a musical Tesla Coil. After a number of failed attempts at building a solid state Tesla Coil I shelved the project with the plan to go back after I've learned a bit more.  Finally, after building a home brew CNC Machine and 3D Printer I decided to go back and try again - even though I didn't feel I really understood enough yet. I knew it would be a struggle but I registered for the Chicago Southland Maker Faire knowing the deadline would motivate me to learn what I needed to know to build it. After lots of research and experimentation, both of which continue, I learned even more than I hoped I would - about electronics, music theory, micro-controllers and programming.
I put off repairing my coil when I didn't hear anything by Oct 9th and switched to other projects - mainly my daughters Halloween costume (we like to MAKE our costumes in this house), a File Shelving project, and online coursework on micro-controllers, C programming and electronics.

After working hard for the week leading up to the faire and getting very little sleep - I made it for Saturday and Sunday (to many issues Friday - trying to get everything to work).
Here are a few pics of the faire:
My Table
My exhibit was received well and I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people in education, other Maker's, people in different tech fields, and my favorite - kids who love seeing tech stuff.
Lego's and Little Bits

 I missed getting pictures of other tables - forgot about taking them until Sunday near the end of the Faire.

There were a good number of last minute challenges that I faced for this Maker Faire:
  • First was building the Geek Groups Audio Modulation board for SSTC - only to find after all my work that the software libraries needed to use it only worked on the Mapleleaf Board - based off Arduino but different pinout and library would need to be ported to the Arduino.
  • Biggest was my exhibit coil failing 2 days before the Faire and I was unable to repair it.
  • Old Faithful - my backup, battery operated, coil that always works - my Mazzilli Flyback driver died.  After waking up extra early on Friday I made a brand new Mazzilli driver on perf board with point to point wiring (took me a few hours) that died also.
Saturday night I again stayed up late and built a basic 555 based flyback driver and added audio modulation - just to have a nice demo piece - finally I had something that worked (and it continued to on Sunday).

For future Maker Faire's / exhibits I need to have better backup exhibits (less  fragile, in good solid enclosures).

This Maker Faire was great and I really hope Barnes and Noble continues their support of the movement.