Tag Archives: open source

OHS 2013 Highlights: NeoLucida

NeoLucida was the subject of one of the best presentations and demos at the 2013 Open Hardware Summit.

The NeoLucida is a drawing aid that allows you to trace what you see.  It’s the first portable, authentic camera lucida to be manufactured in nearly a century. We love camera lucidas, and we think they can help people understand art history in provocative new ways.

The NeoLucida is was launched in a wildly successful kickstarter campaign to make a modern version of a camera lucida available to a new generation of artists. It’s not a complicated device, but it is an extremely specialized one, and niche products like it are a place where open source hardware and crowdfunding can come together incredibly successfully. They were able to bring the cost of owning a camera lucida into the realm of possibility for artists who can’t afford antiques. By publishing how the device works and how they make it, they have increased understanding both of the device itself and of historical works of art made using it.

It was exciting to try out a NeoLucida during the demo session at the summit, especially after hearing about its history.

Open Medical Hardware: The Open Stent

The stent pictured above is an example of an Open Stent from NDC, makers of nitinol materials and devices, particularly for medical applications. In their introduction to the project, they write:

The first problem that we encounter when developing useful and practical educational resources for stent design is that every design we might want to use as an example is proprietary! That leaves us without much to talk about… So to solve this problem, the first step was to create a design to use as an example. The Open Stent is designed to be completely generic, but also realistic, and relatively easy to modify and extend to be useful for whatever purpose a designer intends.

In addition to publishing their draft of Open Stent Design, which they call “a practical guide and resource for design and analysis of a generic Nitinol stent,” NDC has provided extensive calculation tools and CAD files as well, to help others evaluate and create derivatives of the design.

The project is a fascinating open source hardware use case, where creating an open design provides a platform for education and discussion where none existed before.  It’s also very exciting to recognize this as an early example of open source hardware in the field of medical devices— one of the places where open hardware can potentially make a very big difference in the world.

The 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire in Pictures

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The 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire is a wrap— and it was amazing.  And we took pictures. We’ve uploaded 362 photos from maker faire right here for your browsing pleasure.   But first, a little preview.


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Kids play with giant cardboard robot arms at the Giant Cardboard Robots booth. As they say, “The revolution will be corrugated.”

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Glo-Puter Zero, by Alan Yates, with its phosphor-based memory. Truly a highlight of the show.


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Lenore shares a nerdy moment with Akiba from Freaklabs.

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An unusual LED badge, from the Bay Lights project.

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The Western Pyrotechnics Association is a club for people that make their own fireworks.  It’s incredible to see the complexity and artistry of the fireworks and the tooling that makes them.

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A beautiful hovercraft, designed to look like a flying DeLorean; you can see video of it on the project site.

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Back at our booth, the WaterColorBot was a constant hit.  Above, Sylvia shows visitors how to sketch with it in real time.

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An unexpected application: Our friend Bilal Ghalib stopped by and enlisted the WaterColorBot to help him make a birthday card for another friend.


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And one of our favorite moments of Maker Faire: a young visitor, tickled pink as she tries out the WaterColorBot, watching it paint a drawing that she had just sketched.


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A bicycle-powered cardboard walking rhino, by Kinetic Creatures, makers of walking cardboard robot kits, with Theo Jansen inspired walking mechanisms.


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Some of the creations are simpler, like this sidewalk-chalk wielding vibrobot, spinning on a tabletop chalkboard at the Exploratorium booth.


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Some of the creations are more technical, like the OpenPNP project to create open source pick and place machines for electronics assembly.  We’re excited by where this is headed, along with a few related projects.


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And of course, there’s no shortage of LED goodness.

Please click right here for the rest of our 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire photo album.


DIWire Bender is open source

The designers at Pensa have released their fantastic homebrew computer-controlled wire bender, the DIWire, as an open source project, and have just posted on Instructables showing you how to build your own. The DIWire can take wire from a spool and automatically form it into arbitrary 2D or 3D shapes you have designed digitally.

We had a chance to see the DIWire up close and in action (and also to meet the folks behind it) at last year’s Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire in New York.  The DIWire is exciting not just because of what it can do, but also because it represents the first of its kind in do-it-yourself CNC machines.

In the last decade, we’ve seen an explosion of DIY CNC mills and routers, and a separate explosion— at least as large —in so many now-familiar 3D printers.  But the DIWire represents a whole new class of DIY machines, completely different in function and form.  Will the next decade also bring us an explosion in homebrew CNC wire-EDM, water jets, embroidery machines, turret punches, and lathes?  We certainly hope so.

In addition to the instructable, documentation for entire DIWire project, including both hardware and software, is hosted at Google Code.

Twitter controlled Eggbotted LED Ornaments

AJ Fisher posted an incredibly thorough write-up about his Twitter/Raspberry Pi/Arduino controlled LED lit Eggbot decorated Christmas tree ornaments. Each ornament would light up when twitter keywords represented by their icons were being used.

In the words of a friend of ours, “It makes me feel as though there are people all over the world celebrating with their family and friends just like we are, and you’ve brought them all into the room with us” – and if that’s not what doing this sort of technology is all about then I don’t know what is.

The article includes techniques he used, links to his code, source vector art, and so much more.

Open Source Pumpkin PCB

The Great Pumpkin PCB on a pumpkin!

Eric over at Low Voltage Labs has posted up his design for a simple PCB ideal for putting an LED into a pumpkin. This is very much like our simple LED pumpkin project but in a neat, reusable format. And it makes a mighty cute little jack-o-lantern all on its own.

KiCAD - pumpkin PCB layout

He has made it available as a kit with PCB, switch, resistor, battery holder and the same candle flicker LEDs which we love so much. Unfortunately, the kit is currently sold out. Hopefully he’ll make more, if not in time for this Halloween, then at least for next year.

OSHWA and OSI Logo Agreement

Just announced on the OSHWA site, the OSI and OSHWA have signed a co-existence agreement around the use of the community generated open source hardware logo. From the announcement:

This agreement means that each group separately has control of their respective logo and in particular that the Open Source Hardware community will be able to continue to use the Open Source Hardware logo.

We’re very happy that the open source communities were able to work together on this issue.

Lady Ada Lovelace Day

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For Lady Ada Lovelace Day, we would like to celebrate an area of success for women in science and technology: the open source hardware community. This vibrant community has many strong women it holds up as role models. The newly formed Open Source Hardware Association is well represented with board members Alicia Gibb (president), Danese CooperCatarina Mota, and Wendy Seltzer. In addition, the Open Hardware Summit has been organized by women from the start: Alicia Gibb and Ayah Bdeir in 2010 and 2011, followed by Catarina Mota and Dustyn Roberts this year.

The 2012 lineup of speakers included women from all over the world and from an amazing variety of disciplines, including Leah Buechley, Ayah Bdeir, Shannon Doesmagen and Liz Barry, Katherine Moriwaki, Louisa Campbell, Liza Stark, Sylvia Todd, Erin Kennedy, Myriam Ayass, Amanda Wozniak, Meg Pirrung, Valérie Lamontagne, and Hannah Perner-Wilson.

In addition to the speakers, there were even more women presenting posters and demos, including Amelia Marzec, Cindy Harnett, Gabrialla Levine, Jennifer Jacobs, Joanna Cheung, Tesia Kosmalski, Analisa Russo and Jennifer Lewis, Margarita Benitez, Maki Komuro, and Sophi Kravitz.

All of these presenters build on the past two years of excellent content at the summit, and we look forward to the inspiring speakers of years to come.

Photo of OSHWA board members Windell Oskay, Nathan Seidle, Wendy Seltzer, Alicia Gibb and Catarina Mota at the 2012 Open Hardware Summit by Jacob Gibb.

Highlights of Maker Faire New York

Mayoral Proclamation of Maker Week

Maker Faire has grown to an overwhelming event, where it just isn’t possible to experience everything, but we’ve pulled together a few highlights of the 2012 “World” Maker Faire in New York.

Maker Faire started out on Friday night with a Mayoral Proclamation declaring Maker Week in New York.  Mayor Bloomberg’s words— about his own tinkering background —were surprisingly personal and resounded with many of us.

Jeri Ellsworth

Shortly after the reading of the proclamation, Jeri Ellsworth was crowned Maker Hero at the Makey Awards while decked out in LEDs from eyelashes to skirt hem. Congratulations, Jeri!

Once Maker Faire got into full swing, we only were able to catch a few heats of Nerdy Derby, but it was a huge hit.

 We also enjoyed the wooden automata by Dug North.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Alden Hart about TinyG and grblShield, two motor controller boards designed for low-cost CNC machines.

DIWire is an open source CNC wire bender from Pensa.

Another CNC project we were excited to see in person was Pancake Bot, a pancake batter dispenser made from Lego.


While the sheer number of 3D printers was somewhat overwhelming, a couple of newcomers stood out from the crowd: the B9Creator and the Form 1, both resin-based printers.

Felt touch sensor arms

The Touched installation by artist Rebecca Strauss would quickly retract when touched, and then gradually relax again.

arms without their felt cover

It was made with conductive felt sensors mounted over wooden armatures.


The flipbookit mechanical animation kit is on kickstarter right now. It looks much better in person than on the internet.

OLED boards

These tiny OLED oscilloscopes by Gabotronics made us go “squee”!

lasercut textures

Our good friend Jenine Bressner created rich textures from laser cut fabric.


And forming a bridge with the makers of the past, there was a beautiful collection of patent models from The Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum.

Photo of Jeri Ellsworth by Becky Stern.