Circuit Playground teaches kids about electronics

Web series uses puppets to inspire the next generation of inventors


Adafruit continues in their quest to make DIY electronics easy for all ages with Circuit Playground, a children’s web series that teaches electronics in a quirky and fun way.

“We’ll have each component have a story, a song and something to do”

From Cappy the Capacitor to Hans the 555 Timer Chip, this light-hearted approach will enable enquiring youngsters to immerse themselves in technology as they gain valuable real-world knowledge.

Supporting the show there are additional fun low-tech teaching aids including a colouring book and a set of plush dolls that will bring the characters to life. Combine this with the Circuit Playground iOS app and you’ve got plenty to not only keep the kids entertained and engaged with the learning process, but also maintain the underlying goal of inspiring the next generation of engineers.

“We want to celebrate the fun and good parts of making things, and even tackle complex subjects like what’s ‘good’ to make”

Circuit Playground is scheduled to air in March on Google+ and Ustream.

via Wired

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The King of CNC heading to a printer near you

Indiegogo campaign spreads the word about DIY digital manufacturing

What exactly does it take to be crowned the king of CNC? Amongst those jostling for Regal top honors is the prolific and wildly enthusiastic Jon Cantin, a fellow you may recall as the guy behind WoodMarvels, now known as CNCKing.com.

Jon has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help make Volume 4 of his CNC book series available to a wider audience. It draws on many years of experience making children’s toys using the distributed manufacturing models offered by companies such as Ponoko.

This book contains all the knowledge I wish I had access to all those years back… if you want to learn how to design using a CNC table router or laser cutter, you must add this book to your library!

Beyond selling a few books, a broader goal of the campaign is to encourage more kids and educators to embrace the potential that CNC machines have to change peoples’ lives. Jon imagines a day when children ask Santa for a CNC machine so that they can build their own toys.

Learn more about the campaign and pledge your support at Indiegogo.

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Self taught teen from Sierra Leone invited to MIT Media Lab

Youngest visiting practitioner at 16 years old runs a radio station he built himself
At 16 years of age, Kelvin Doe or DJ Focus is the youngest person ever to be invited to MIT Media Lab as a Visiting Practitioner. Even more remarkable is that Doe lives in Sierra Leone, an African nation on the path to recovery from civil war, and he’s already an accomplished, self taught maker. Prior to his visit, he had never traveled more than 10 miles from his town.
Doe was given the opportunity to spend three weeks at MIT as part of their International Development Initiative program, after becoming a finalist in Innovate Salone. Innovate Salone’s a contest started by fellow Sierra Leone local and PhD candidate at MIT David Sengeh to challenge and stimulate young people to solve many of the complex issues of their country which has recently emerged from a decade long civil conflict. (more…)

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Make Your Own Laser Cut Toy challenge winners announced

Amazing toys in this laser cut design competition!

An impressive number of creative and thoughtful toys were tough competition for the seven judges including Ponoko CEO Dave ten Have of Solidsmack’s ‘Make Your Laser Cut Toy’ Challenge. It is clear that people went to a lot of effort with their toy designs with quite a few generating photo-realistic renders or actually getting them laser cut. Many of the entries also included well resolved mechanical components to aid moving parts. But the grand prize went to Andrea Garuti who created Castle attack, an expandable medieval village. (more…)

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The Fixer’s Manifesto

Sugru sheds light on the unsung hero of creativity

Most of us have already encountered Sugru, and many are using it in all kinds of interesting, creative ways. The team behind this extraordinary putty have enjoyed becoming a hub for Fixers so much that they put their heads together to come up with an equally extraordinary document: The Fixer’s Manifesto.

“We made this to fuel the conversation about why a culture of fixing is so important.”

Drawing inspiration from documents such as the Repair Manifesto by Platform 21 amongst others, this variation seeks to expand and grow by tapping into the huge community of makers, thinkers and fixers that have already shown such inspired creativity using Sugru.

Click through to see the The Fixer’s Manifesto in full, and keep in mind that this currently exists as Version 1.0 in what is intended to be an ever-evolving credo that can be tweaked and tinkered with, in true Sugru style. (more…)

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Hummingbird is a ‘pre-Arduino’ for kids

Making it even easier to get into electronics

We all know and love Arduino, and what it has done for the rapidly growing world of DIY electronics. Yet the complexities of Arduino can be a bit much for young makers, and education enthusiast Tom Lauwers just may have the answer to harness that creativity while it is still fresh.

Heralded as a kind of “pre-Arduino”, the Hummingbird kit from Birdbrain consists of a custom controller that connects to a range of motors, sensors and lights that allow kids to build their own functional robots and more.

“…the Hummingbird controller is designed for kids who have never touched electronics or programming before.”

It’s really easy to get started making fully functional electronic devices, but don’t take our word for it. Click through to the source where Tom talks it all through in a neat clip featuring an animatronic cardboard dragon made by some 10 year old kids. Now that’s seriously fun.

Hummingbird via Engadget

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Manufacturing product beta?

Manufacturing development emulating the software worldDesign studio Teague recently showcased 13:30, a pair of headphones at Makerfaire. They are currently experimenting with applying the concept of releasing products in ‘beta’ to manufacturing. For Teague, John Mabry designed a pair of headphones entitled 13:30, for print on a professional grade FDM 3D printer using commonly available electronic components. (more…)

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Make your own 3D printed cookie cutters with Cookie Caster

Custom cookie cutters!

C is for Cookie, or so a friendly blue monster once sang while tossing great big round cookies into his mouth. But we all know that a chocolate-chip cookie is no less delicious, whatever shape may it may be. With Cookie Caster, a 3D printing initiative from Dreamforge, the rounded cookie is a thing of the past.

Cookie Caster enables you to design, share and print custom cookie cutters. The site hosts a neat little web-based vector app that makes it really easy to create a 3D model of your own cutter that can then be printed and delivered to your door. Designs are gathered in a steadily growing gallery, where they can be shared with others and even purchased by fellow cookie enthusiasts.

For those who have a 3D printer at home, your Cookie Caster model can be downloaded for free as an .stl file to print at your leisure.

A lot of effort has gone in to making the creation of a custom cookie cutter a seamless, versatile and fun process. It only takes a few minutes to whip together your unique shape using the simple drawing tools… as can be seen in the P for Ponoko pictured above.

If you’re feeling a craving coming on, click through to the source and get creative with Cookie Caster!

Cookie Caster

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3D Printing Event on October 23 part of Dutch Design Week

Additive manufacturing in Eindhoven!

For all those who get excited about digital manufacturing, October 2012 is a great time to be in The Netherlands during Dutch Design Week.

Setting out to showcase just what is behind the fierce growth rate in the 3D printing industry, a series of linked activities will unfold under the banner of the 3D Printing Event.

Featuring an impressive collection of participants ranging from industry heavyweights through to noteworthy newcomers, the event will explore four identified trends:

• The established industry is not only introducing new professional 3d printers with more and more functionality, but has started to bring low end 3D printers as well.

• The open source community works hard to create 3d printers which can be used in personal and professional environments.

• The biggest bottleneck is still the 3D software for making great designs easily.

• 3D Printing services are playing a very important role in creating new business and new business opportunities.

Not only does the seminar series boast over thirty speakers, the accompanying exhibition is host to a display of 3D printing in its current and future formats and there is also a 3D printing design competition in collaboration with Grabcad. Enter your design for a chance to win a Leapfrog Creatr 3D printer!

Head over to the event website to register your attendance, and follow the latest event related news on their 3D printing blog.

3D Printing Event

Ponoko is proud to be a Media Partner of this year’s 3D Printing Event.

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New book on the maker revolution by Wired’s Chris Anderson

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired, has written a new book on the maker movement. Makers: The New Industrial Revolution addresses open source design, 3D printing, and amateurs and enthusiasts who are leading what has been dubbed “the next industrial revolution.”

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