“We’re explicitly inviting you to understand, remix, and remake our resin” — Eric J. Wilhelm, Autodesk
From the editors of Make:, the Maker Pro Newsletter is about the impact of Makers on business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends. Please send items to us at [email protected].
Don’t Bring Your Drone to SXSW
As at the most recent Super Bowl, drones are banned this year at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. According to organizers, the festival is concerned about possible interference resulting from congestion of the frequency spectrums generally used in the remote control of drones, which they say could disrupt the music and pose a risk to public safety.
Spark Launches Hardware Blog
A new hardware blog called Prototype 2 Production launched last week, and seeks to aid everyone from engineers to DIYers on the ins and outs of building a hardware company from the ground up. The blog was launched by Spark, a startup that has run three Kickstarter campaigns and shipped tens of thousands of products. The writers will share their experiences of successes, mistakes, and everything in between with budding entrepreneurs.
The overall aim of the blog is to pull together tips for Makers to help dispel the concept that “hardware is hard.” Send topic suggestions at [email protected].
A New Marketplace for Makers
Just a few years ago, it was a high-flying, online artisanal bazaar with hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital funding. Now, after suffering a precipitous drop in value, Fab.com is starting over as an e-commerce wing of PCH, the global manufacturing supply chain company that has been assembling a vertical stack of hardware-related companies.
The PCH tower of companies now starts with new product ideas, harvested by its hardware accelerator, Highway1, moves up through PCH’s core manufacturing supply chain business, and goes all the way up to direct-to-consumer sales.
PCH already has a consumer facing operation: Shoplocket, which it bought just last year, but that seems to be morphing into a storefront service for hardware entrepreneurs. Presumably the fire-sale price for Fab — reportedly $15 million for a company that was once valued at $1 billion — was too good a deal to resist.
The goal for PCH: to enable a Maker to enter the PCH funnel with a simple prototype, and emerge at the other end with retail exposure and experience — and valuable sales and marketing data.
PCH chief executive Liam Casey (@liamcasey) explained to the design blog PSFK that his soup-to-nuts model, which may eventually stretch even further to include real world pop-up retail stores, will create “a platform for designers to create new products, and will provide a way to help them from design, production, distribution, retail, and delivery.”
MakerCon Bay Area — Maker Pros Gather
Just announced! Featured speakers at MakerCon 2015 will include Eben Upton (@EbenUpton) of Raspberry Pi, Chris Anderson (@chr1sa) of 3D Robotics, and futurist Paul Saffo who teaches at Stanford and chairs the Future Studies track at Singularity University. Other noted speakers include Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi), co-founder of the Arduino project, HAXLR8R CEO Cyril Ebersweiler, Bolt managing director Ben Einstein (@BenEinstein), Spark CEO Zach Supalla (@zsupalla), and others.
MakerCon Bay Area, a conference by and for makers, will take place May 12th and 13th at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Early Bird tickets are on sale now.
3D Printing Frontiers
Autodesk released the formula for the resin used by its Ember SLA printer this week. It’s an interesting move for the design giant, which last year promised to keep the Spark platform open and accessible to users.
How to License 3D Designs
Public Knowledge has a new whitepaper on how to license 3D printable designs. The basic steps: Determine whether your object or file are eligible for copyright; understand the limitations of copyright; and, finally, choose a license.
“For many 3D printed objects, and the files that represent 3D printed objects, protection is not as clear or straightforward,” wrote Public Knowledge vice president Michael Weinberg. “In many cases, intellectual property law will treat the physical object and the digital file differently.”
Win $2,500 in the PSoC Pioneer Challenge
Cypress’ PSoC 4 BLE kit has a number of features that are attractive to Makers: Arduino-compatible headers, a BLE radio, 4 OpAmps, 2 comparators, an IDAC and programmable digital logic.
Enter your own Internet of Things design in the PSoC Pioneer Challenge (the deadline has been extended to April 6) and you could win $2,500 for travel to the Maker Faire Bay Area’s 10th anniversary event this May.
Launch Pad Startup Competition at MakerCon
A new competition for hardware startups, Launch Pad, will be highlighted at MakerCon Bay Area. The contest is open to companies that are less than three years old, with late or closed-Beta products, and that have raised less than $3 million in funding. The submission period for Launch Pad runs until March 31. Ten Launch Pad finalists will present their products on the first day of MakerCon. The winning pitch will receive a $5,000 prize, a booth at Maker Faire Bay Area and a feature in Make: magazine.
Check Out the Early Competition in the Pitch Your Prototype Challenge
An early entry to the Pitch Your Prototype challenge, a contest by Make: and Cornell University, aims to fight weeds without pesticides by plucking them one at a time. The robot, which is named Nellie, will target Amaranthus palmeri, a pest commonly known as pigweed that threatens cotton and soybean crops.
“This is a serious attempt to address an agricultural problem,” said inventor Mike Rigsby (@Engineerrigsby). “I suspected that robots could handle the weeds and that the time to start working on such a solution is now, before the weeds develop further resistance to chemicals.”
The Pitch Your Prototype challenge is open to submissions until April 30.
A Camera for Your Drone: There’s an App for That
Israeli outfit Percepto (@PerceptoDrones) has built a camera for your drone that can be modified with apps, including one that can automatically follow and film objects. The technology is being open sourced, so developers will be able to create their own apps to better suit specific needs — from urban navigation to collision avoidance.
“The idea is that because this is an emerging technology it’s not clear what the use cases are that people will want in the future,” Dor Abuhasira (@Dor88ab), co-founder of Percepto, told Wired.
Percepto is being compared to Intel’s RealSense 3D camera that debuted at this year’s CES, but Abuhasira claims that his software is more compatible with outdoor environments and long range uses. The project is currently raising funds on Indiegogo.
IoT Concern: Data Breaches
One of consumers’ biggest worries about the Internet of Things is the potential hacking of their devices, but security analyst Ken Westin (@KWestin) of TripWire says they should be concerned about a different problem — data breaches.
“As we interact with our devices there’s this trail of digital exhaust that we leave behind,” Westin told Wired. “Once you combine this data and create very rich profiles of people, I worry that it’s going to be the death of privacy.”
Data breaches already happen on a regular basis, from hackers posting millions of emails addresses online to selling stolen credit card data to the highest bidder. With the IoT, online cloud databases could include even more sensitive information gathered from sensors and connected devices. To prevent the access of potentially compromising information, Westin suggested companies should either stop gathering unnecessary data, or encrypt it in such a way that only the consumer can unlock.
NoVa Maker Faire Spotlights Local Makers
Northern Virginia held a mini Maker Faire this past Sunday, which celebrated the diversity of local makers. The specialties of the Makers varied widely, including Jennifer Gluck, who builds devices for children with special needs such as PVC walkers, golf scooters, and even diving boards.
Other featured Makers were Everest Gromoll, a high school student who taught himself blacksmithing, and Vicky Somma (@TGAW), who won the 2014 White House 3D Printed Design Challenge with an ornament that replicated the Library of Congress. The event also highlighted Jade Garrett, a member of a company called Positive Deviancy (@PositivDeviancy) that develops hardware and software solutions for children on the autism spectrum, such as a video game controller integrated into a toy bear.
Maker Pro Tool of the Week
Need precise control, a familiar writing-style grip, and 8V of power? The Dremel Micro is the ultimate tool for both precise and light duty DIY tasks. It chomps through even metal with ease. Front LED lights ensures you won’t miss any details, and battery indicators flash to let you know it’s time to power up. The micro Dremel comes with a charging station that stops charging when the battery is full – because we know you like your stuff to be smart like that.
It comes with 18 accessories to slam-dunk all of your applications requiring precision and accuracy.
Just $89 in the Maker Shed.
Upcoming Maker Faires
Maker Faire season accelerating!
- Jalisco Mini Maker Faire (Mexico): March 27–29
- Benicia Mini Maker Faire (CA): March 28
- Kent State Mini Maker Faire (OH): April 10
- Saint-Malo Mini Maker Faire (France): April 11
- Fresno Mini Maker Faire (CA): April 11
- Greater Newark Mini Maker Faire (NJ): April 11
- Tyler Mini Maker Faire (TX): April 18
- Göteborg Mini Maker Faire (Sweden): April 18–19
- Martinsville Mini Maker Faire (VA): April 19
- Edinburgh Mini Maker Faire (Scotland): April 19
What’s ahead further down the road? Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest Faire to you.
Hat tips to this week’s contributor: Jennifer Nowicki.