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One of my personal high points at Maker Faire was being presented with this custom-made Solarbotics HexPummer Lantern by Dave Hrynkiw of Solarbotics. I was really touched. The gift encodes tons of meaning for me. I’ve known the Solarbotics folks since the “radio days” of cyberspace. They were one of the first e-commerce sites around, one of the first mom and pop kit shops, one of the first tech kit/small parts etailers to create a user-community where builders could share their creations. The first BEAM bot I ever built was their SolarSpeeder 1.0 kit. Dave was on a robotics panel I hosted at the Faire and I didn’t get a chance during that discussion to get his historical perspective on the growth of the small-kit DIY industry. I was planning on quoting that country western song: “I was country when country wasn’t cool.” Well, Solarbotics was maker when maker wasn’t cool. In many ways, Dave and Cheryl wrote the playbook from which we’re all now working. (Oh, and pummers are one of my favorite robo-critters in the BEAM taxonomy.)

The lantern image on the left is a cartoon of me, done by artist and MAKE editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder, for Leo Laprorte’s and my TiVo hacking book. The image on the right is Mousey the Junkbot, my project to turn a computer mouse into a light-seeking robot (using the Herbie circuit I stole from Dave’s Junkbots, Bugbots & Bots on Wheels).

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Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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