Maker Pro Newsletter #28

Maker Pro Newsletter #28

“Moore’s Law has gotten to the point where you can put supercomputers in just about anything”

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, and innovators, along with technology and market trends.

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Autodesk and Collaborate on 123D Circuits


A screenshot from 123D Circuits

Autodesk expanded its suite of free 3D tools by partnering to launch an electronics design tool: 123D Circuits.

The program allows users to create virtual breadboard-based designs to build and experiment with circuits. A virtual Arduino board can be added to the design, and the code can be edited in a browser window and simulated. The code can also be edited collaboratively (“a Google Doc for electronics,” Autodesk claims). Hooks are provided to allow users to have the virtual boards professionally manufactured.

123D Circuits was created in collaboration with, a free web-based circuit editor that was started by two developers based in Ghent, Belgium.

123D Circuits is free for open designs. For those interested in creating private circuits, the cost ranges from $12 to $25 a month.

The new program joins a growing collection of free Autodesk “123D” 3D tools that provide relatively simple, lightweight on-ramps to 3D scanning, designing, and modeling.

The new program will be hosted on the site. For those interested in experimenting, the development team has created anumber of online tutorials and a collection of help pages.

3D Systems Buys The Sugar Lab

A 3D-printed confection from The Sugar Lab

A 3D-printed confection from The Sugar Lab

3D printing giant 3D Systems acquired The Sugar Lab, a startup “micro-design firm” based in Los Angeles, Calif., dedicated to 3D printing customized, multi-dimensional, edible confections in real sugar.

The Sugar Lab has been using 3D Systems’ Color Jet Printing (CJP) technology to print on a sugar bed using different flavored edible binders that meet all food safety requirements. 3D Systems said it plans to immediately integrate The Sugar Lab 3D printing technique into its professional and consumer content-to-print platforms with a variety of production-quality applications, as well as the ability to 3D print indulgences at home.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but the investment site Seeking Alpha speculated, “odds are the price tag isn’t huge.”

Engadget’s “Insert Coin” Hardware Competition: Two Weeks Left to Apply

You have until September 27 to enter the second annual “Insert Coin: New Challengers” competition.

The competition brings together Engadget editors, readers, and a panel of expert judges to help identify the next great gadget.

The “Judges’ Choice” winner will receive $10,000; the “Readers’ Choice” winner will receive $15,000. Both will get an Engadget review, and the chance to debut their products on stage in front of press, attendees, and a live online audience at Expand NY, Engadget’s consumer technology event this November 9-10 at New York City’s Javits Center.

At the inaugural “Insert Coin: New Challengers” competition at Expand San Francisco, the Ziphius aquatic drone won both Readers’ Choice and Grand Prize awards, taking home a grand total of $25,000. They subsequently celebrated a successful Kickstarter campaign and will be shipping to backers around the world next March.

Eligible projects can submit to Insert Coin using this form. Be sure to check out the official rules for more info on the prizes and the contest timeline.


An ingenious table that's designed for small urban apartments, Penggu can be stored vertically, on the wall, when not in use.

An ingenious table designed for small urban apartments, Penggu is a finalist in the New York’s Top Makers competition.

The competition, and the NY edition of the Hardware Innovation Workshop, are part of the emerging NY hardware development scene described in a recent post by Dale Dougherty (@dalepd) and Travis Good (@travisgood): A NY State of Hardware on O’Reilly Radar.

Other updates:

  • Another 3D scanner project has launched a campaign on Indiegogo:Rubicon
  • And one other one, also on Indiegogo: Dimbody
  • Meanwhile, Israeli researchers announced software that canextract 3D objects from photos.
  • In MAKE: the latest thinking around privacy and the Internet of Things.
  • Speaking of the Internet of Things, the deadline for applying to theR/GA Connected Devices Accelerator is a month away.
  • Remember that Michigan Tech study that showed how a 3D printer can pay for itself? Now there’s an infographic version, focused on small business.
  • Finally, an article on the Fast Company blog reminded us that we forgot to check in with this year’s Gartner Hype Cycle. 3D printing is near the top, along with Internet of Things and Wearable Human Interfaces. Want to catch a trend at the very start? Think “Smart Dust.”

Gartner's Hype Cycle

Gartner’s Hype Cycle


The State of Open Source Hardware Entrepreneurship

Last week’s Open Hardware Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sponsored by the Open Source Hardware Association, attracted a sold-out audience of 500+ to hear an impressive list of speakers.

Mathilde Berchon (@makingsociety), who blogs atMakingSociety, presented a well-researched report on the current state of open source hardware startups (her definition of open source hardware, by the way: “hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design.”)

Mathilde Berchon

Mathilde Berchon speaking at the Open Hardware Summit (picture by Jeremy Blum)

Berchon maintains a database of more than 100 open source hardware startups, and she plumbed that deep well to pull out a number of surprising facts.

Among them:

  • “Location doesn’t matter.” Although both coasts have clusters, open source startups are cropping up all over the country.
  • Engineering is the default for startup leaders: 83 percent of open source startup founders are engineers.
  • Bootstrapping is the norm: 62 percent are self-funded; 28 percent crowdfunded.

One surprising slide: how many open source hardware startups are focused on electronics, specifically “hobbyist electronics.” This inspired Berchon to make a brief pitch to prospective open hardware entrepreneurs to consider branching out into other areas.


A slide from Berchot’s presentation. “OH” stands for Open Hardware

Two more pitches from Berchot, both light-hearted, caused laughter to ripple through the crowd:

1. Give blue and gray a rest in your logos. Those colors are far too common. Berchot recommended red, the color she chose for her own logo — mostly because it is under utilized.

2. Choose project names that do not contain “tiny”, “duino,” “labs,” or “blocks.”

“Those are taken,” she said.

Rob Coneybeer, Hardware Investor, Speaking at Hardware Innovation Workshop


Rob Coneybeer (@robconeybeer) is a hardware double threat: he has two degrees in mechanical engineering and he’s the co-founder and managing director of the venture capital firm Shasta Ventures.

Over the past few years he’s made investments in companies like Nest and Ouya, and he’s looking for more. Earlier this week he was one of the stars at TechCrunch Disrupt conference, which posted anextensive backstage interview with him on the subject of … the hardware opportunity.

“Moore’s Law has gotten to the point where you can put supercomputers in just about anything,” he told TechCrunch, and that enables hardware products, like drones, that were impossible to make just five years ago.

Coneybeer is going to feel right at home at this year’s Hardware Innovation Workshop, where he’ll be part of an all-star panel, “Maker to Market,” which will examine the early stage road map for hardware startups. Joining him will be Ben Einstein, co-founder of the hardware incubator Bolt, and Scott Miller, co-founder and CEO, Dragon Innovation.

The New York version of the popular maker pro event will be taking place next week, on Wednesday, Sept. 18. The workshop focuses on industrial design, features local hardware startups and investors from East Coast venture firms who specialize in hardware, and promotes entrepreneurs with early-stage products and prototypes.

This one-day event, presented by GE and sponsored by ShopBot and Engadget, will feature over 30 speakers with expertise in digital fabrication and manufacturing, 3D printing, and industrial design.

To register for the 2013 MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop at NYSCI in Queens, NY, visit:

Six Things About Kickstarting Your Hardware Idea That Will Drive You Insane


Inventors Marie Staver and Jeremy Fryer-Biggs, who came up with the Mebotics Microfactory 3D printer and milling machine, discuss their pitfalls and share their tips in MAKE after using a crowdfunding site to get their project off the ground.

“We’re industrial designers, engineers, and (obviously) unstoppable superheroes,” they write, “but putting together the Kickstarter almost drove us all completely insane.”


World Maker Faire New York

A little more than one week until the show: Sept. 21–22.

Take advantage of a new deal we’re offering with our friends at Engadget. A single $50 ticket gets you into Maker Faire andEngadget Expand NY 2013, Engadget’s consumer technology event that will be held Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9–10 in New York City.

Also consider arriving a few days earlier to attend the Hardware Innovation Workshop.

Featured Maker Faires

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. (You can watch a sneak preview here.)

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
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