Maker Pro Newsletter #20

Maker News

“We thought it was going to be a security camera. It turned out to be an everything camera.”

From the editors of MAKE magazine, the Maker Pro Newsletter is about the impact of makers on business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, innovators, along with technology and market trends. Please send items to us at makerpro@makermedia.comClick here to subscribe to this newsletter!


SEC Lifts Ban on Fundraising

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lifted the ban on general advertising of fundraising rounds. This means that startups will be able to advertise investment opportunities directly to the general public. This is the first stage in the implementation of the JOBS act that President Obama signed into law in April 2012. The SEC has yet to rule on the second phase of the JOBS act, which proposes allowing crowdfunding sites to raise money from investors who are not officially “accredited” — able to prove that they have more than $1 million in liquid net worth. Equity crowdfunding sites are still waiting for that ruling.

Bluetooth’s Next Generation

The new Bluetooth LE (for “Low Energy”) standard, easier to work with and more useful than the current version, will soon be supported by both the iOS7 and Android platforms. Adoption on the microcontroller end is also taking off. MAKE’s Alasdair Allan (@aallanexplains the significance for makers, and points to two Arduino Kickstarter projects that are taking advantage of the new standard.

ComposiMold Enables Molds from 3D-Printed Prototypes

Prototyping possibilities increase dramatically when you combine 3D printing with moldmaking and casting. A video from ComposiMold explains how to combine the two processes to quickly duplicate your prototypes and expand your material list to include plaster, candle wax, soap, and chocolate. (While we’re on the subject of molds, check out this charming video homage to the small New York casting operation that is the largest producer of Statue of Liberty figurines.)

A New 3D Printing Directory

THRE3D promises to help users compare, rate, and review 3D products and materials. Organizations can manage their existing listings and upload new products, projects, and locations for free.

Ford Creates New Sheet Metal Prototyping Process

The auto maker has developed a new computer-controlled system for rapid prototyping with sheet metal, potentially reducing the time from concept to production dramatically.

NC State Team Develops Process to 3D Print Liquid Metal

3D-printed microelectronic structures are nearing reality now that researchers at North Carolina State have found a way to print liquid metal at room temperature. The team’s video is worth a watch.

Planet Labs to Launch a Fleet of Remote Sensing Satellites

Planet Labs, a space and analytics company based in San Francisco, announced that it has raised $13.1 million in funding from investors, including O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and  Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company launched two satellites in April 2013 as an extension of their laboratory, each one running an on-board Linux operating system. Planet Labs plans to launch a fleet of 28 remote sensing satellites in December 2013. Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen (@cboshuizen) wrote an article about building your own satellite in MAKE Volume 24.

From Maker to Pro

Last week, as we rounded the four-month mark, we asked for feedback on how we’re doing (we’re always interested, of course). One message we received: more profiles of maker pros.

Happy to oblige! Stories about startup maker businesses are always fascinating, circuitous adventures: unpredictable and instructive.

We’ve got three this week.

Starting with Andrew Terranova‘s account in MAKE of how the founders of educational startup LightUpTarun Pondicherry (@tarunpondicherr) and Josh Chan (@joshchan), shepherded their project from Stanford, to HAXLR8R, to the Hardware Innovation Workshop, to Maker Faire, and finally to Kickstarter, where they were fully funded within a week and met two out of three of their stretch goals.


Josh Chan told Andrew that learning to communicate well and getting people to “join your vision” was one of the most important lessons he’s learned.

8-Bit Lit‘s Question Block Lamp has taken a different route, one that required a few strategic realignments along the way. Co-founder Adam Ellsworth describes the journey, and the crucial decision points, in MAKE. First the team had to change their production process to handle their initial Etsy success; later they had to redesign the lamp for mass production. Now that new version is up on Kickstarter. With less than a week to go, it is closing in on its $100k goal.

Question Block

Adam Ellsworth and the Question Mark Lamp

Finally, Greg Duffy, co-founder of DropCam (@dropcam), recounts a different maker journey in Wired: how the DropCam team was able to combine powerful software and a cloud-based service with commodity hardware (IP video cameras) to create a product that looks like a low-cost security camera, but packs a lot more software punch.

The result: consumers are using their DropCams in all sorts of surprising ways.

“We thought it was going to be a security camera,” Duffy said. “It turned out to be an everything camera.”


According to Duffy, a product’s software and hardware must both be amazing.

“Today it’s not enough to build a company that only does one of those things,” he says. “You just have to be working on all fronts.”

Should You…

Join an Accelerator?

Venture capitalist Jeff Bussgang (@bussgang) agrees with the idea that accelerators are like “finishing schools for entrepreneurs,” but he believes that they work particularly well for certain kinds of entrepreneurs. You should consider an accelerator, he says, if: you need to grow your entrepreneurial network, you need an entre to a new city or industry, or you are new to fundraising.

Crowdfund Your Next Project?

It’s a mistake to think that it’s only about the money, a panel of three crowdfunders told an audience of aspiring entrepreneurs at Baruch College in New York. Among the non-monetary reasons to crowdfund: you will be able to harvest input from a wider circle than just VCs; it’s less disruptive, distracting, and exhausting than a full-on, formal VC roadshow; and you will get more feedback from potential customers.

Create a Quality Control Manual?

If you don’t own your factory (and who does?), you should own your Quality Control Manual, says this post on Maker’s Row.

Make Your Own Maker TV Show?

Phil Shapiro discusses the flavors of video streaming software Wirecast in MAKE, including the free version available to users who have more than 1,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Makerspace News

Mark Frauenfelder addresses a standing-room-only crowd at the American Library Association’s “Maker Monday” event in Chicago.

The annual meeting of the American Library Association in Chicago hosted a “Maker Monday” that featured a variety of talks and activities designed to help librarians embrace makerspaces.

Vocademy, a makerspace in California’s Inland Empire, used the crowdsourcing service Fundable to raise more than $61k to move to larger facilities and upgrade their equipment.

Crowdfunding Leaderboard


Ringtool, “the world’s most compact multi-tool:” popular on Kickstarter

On Kickstarter, leading popular projects include BLEduino, a tiny Arduino-compatible development board with Bluetooth Low Energy built in; Ringtool, “the world’s most compact multi-tool;” and Bukito, a portable 3D printer.

MAKE’s curated Kickstarter page includes a pointer to Hex, a proposed open source starter humanoid robot.

On Indiegogoa project to manufacture wireless helpers, Wimotos, is doing well; so is the KREYOS smartwatch, with voice and gesture control. The credit-card sized Micro-Phone has blown past its goals and is now running an extended campaign with expanded features.


Why Microsoft’s 3D Printing Rocks

We covered the announcement that the next version of Microsoft Windows will support 3D printing a few weeks ago. Now MAKE contributor Xo Wang (@XoWangexplains why it’s awesome.


World Maker Faire New York

It’s just north of two months until the show, which is Sept. 21–22. The Call for Makers is open until July 28.

Need funds to polish your project? Apply for the popular Road to Maker Faire Challenge,  World Maker Faire New York version, which will award one maker $2,500 to bring a project to New York. If you’ve got a project on the runway, consider applying.

Featured Maker Faires

The fourth annual Maker Faire Detroit happens July 27–28. Also, start making plans to participate in the first Maker Faire Rome, Oct. 3–6. It is for Europe at large, and will attract an international crowd from all over Europe and beyond.

Mini Maker Faires

More than 70 are currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

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DC Denison is the co-editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

DC manages customer stories at Acquia, the digital experience company.

View more articles by DC Denison