There’s No Business Like Snow Business

deltaTree

I made it home from Michigan alive! My vacation in Harrison was both relaxing and productive (but mostly relaxing). I spent my time consuming warm food rich with carbs while beached on the fold-out bed as I played games online and watched the snow fall outside. I was like a fat over pampered bear in hibernation for the past week, but it was the medicine I needed.

Any how, I hope everyone takes this week to slow down and enjoy spending time with the people important to them. =] Cheers!

I’m Pretty Darn Thankful

photo-2 copy

So it’s that special time of year when my Polish family (and friends) jam into my grandmother’s living room for an evening of decadent eating and potential drunken arguments to the tune of Il Volo (the teenage Italian opera singing trio my mom is currently obsessed with).

New additions to this years feast are my cousin’s husband Andy (welcome to the family bro!) and Mark, who we baptized in sour cream two weeks ago… so he’s technically a Pollock now and I think my mom officially claimed him as her own- but anyhow. They’ll get whats coming to them soon enough.

As I sit here, basking in the aroma of Jeff’s homemade apple pie cooking in the oven, I reflect on the past year and all that I am truly thankful for (I’m going to get emo for a second now). It was just last November that I was preparing for major surgery and was suffering the height of my brain’s uncomfortable compression into the walls of my skull. I am sitting here one year later, alive, healthy, and living my dreams as such with an amazing group of friends to support me as I climb to the top of my own shit mountain. Life’s great =]

This past year rocked. Last November in Mark’s chilly compact workroom, I soldered my first SMT part to the first PC board I ever designed in Eagle… which was the first thing I ever etched in Jeff’s kitchen. I attended my first Maker Faire, and helped with two contests at Defcon 21. I even started my own podcast with the man who’d become my best friend and by doing so liberated this loud, neurotic, semi-perverted side of myself. I’ve hosted several themed shindigs, helped teach soldering classes at our hackerspace, worked a ShopBot without killing anyone in the process, and watched the people who I’ve gone on this journey with also grow as a result of having me in their lives.

My dreams are no longer somewhere out there beyond my reach as a direct result of those who have brought out the best in me. You all make living feel truly alive. –  I hope everyone I know gets to be someplace special tonight eating themselves into a satiated food coma. <3

Ok, I’m done being soggy. The picture at the top is of my first robot, Flower, which I retrieved and brought over to Jeff’s last night. It’s now united with its progeny for the first time. ^.^

Geeky Freaky

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 3.36.26 PM

For the sake of branding, Mark and I decided to switch the name of our podcast from TACO Time, to Geeky Freaky before we were too far along in the game to make such a huge change. After all, how well does “TACO Time” describe two wash ups who create artistic amalgamations of tech and mind warping perversion? Not very.

You can now find our podcast at our new youtube channel : SM Geeky Freaky.

…And as promised, here is the third episode, “Just the Tip”

Pudding and 2” PVC

What is an army of robots if they are all a heap of sleeping catatons? Sure they look dazzling, especially if we’re talking about my shiny yellow deltas…. but they aren’t impressive by any means. A robot is meant to move, and to tell you the truth, I’m tired of carrying a bread board and whole stinken arduino around just to demo how my show horse works. So I sucked it up this weekend and designed the board that will control each individual in my army. It will be the first board ever that I send away to be fabricated professionally; which I am excited about! OSH Park will be getting some business from me at last.

As such… I am getting better at designing boards. However seeing this in the beginning still scares the crap out of me :

IMG_2712

And Mark is laughing because this isn’t even hard mode. I know. But realize, this is how I think eagle (and all chip pinouts) should work in my head :

IMG_2708

Other than that, I have been spending mostly all of my free time collaborating with Mark on another project (that’s still secret right now). Without really intending to, I seduced him with the idea of embracing his artistic instinct and following it to glory, as such, he quit his job so that he could focus on making the crazy shit we talk about when we’re drunk. Best life decision ever… it doesn’t get more bohemian than that.

During this first week of freedom we’ve been frequenting just about every craft and fabric store in town, as well as ever toy isle. In fact, we can’t complete a beer run without stopping to discuss the ponies and chibi Bjork alien dolls that we recently discovered (potentially a future podcast topic).

Life is productive. I get to work on all flavors of moving parts and film our avant-garde banter all while drinking Blue Moon, making cake, and drawing on ponies.

At some point this week I even got a tour of the Blue Man set and was able to fondle these sexy beasts. I’ve always wanted a KUKA as a pet… (since about two months ago when I learned what they were) The consensus is that I need to make a working miniature that will paint your toes. Challenge accepted! :

IMG_2722

Tomorrow Mark and I film our next episode of Taco Time. Though we still don’t know what the topic will be (and it’s 11:00 the night before) we will be discussing whatever it ends up being to the tune of bloody marries and cream cheese frosting. You’ve been warned.

Oh, and if you were wondering… the safe word is “Pudding”

Maker Faire : San Mateo 2013

IMG_2618

I found my people.

We packed up the truck for the ten-hour long pilgrimage to San Mateo to embark on one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. This weekend I rediscovered what child-like wonder is as I perused the main hall, attention fracturing over the decadent saturation of brainy eye candy. I want to thank Jeff for letting me in on this secret… we had an amazing time walking around as Mr. and Mrs. Cool Goggles.

Playing to the big kid side of me (which is more than 3/4) the first cool thing I saw upon entering the first building we came to, were giant RC controllable Wall-E robots. They could look around, change expression, and even occasionally played sound bites from the movie such as the musical clip from Hello Dolly. My pants were immediately charmed off :

IMG_2477

The very second thing that demanded my attention upon crossing the antechamber threshold into the ‘dark room’ was the stage containing the obnoxiously large Tesla coils. Now, I have seen performances on youtube by Arc Attack before, and though they are indeed the bees knees… I had never witness one in person; much more amazing. Around the time we were about to leave the dark area, they started their first performance… sending ten foot long bolts of musical lightning across the stage in deafening pulses. At some point they even took volunteers on stage and locked them in a cage which then became the object of the lightening’s affection. I stood with Jeff and his friend Mark debating whether or not I would go into that cage if given the opportunity. For some reason I can’t accept the fact that certain things don’t deviate from their defined behavior… like electricity. I was afraid that on a whim, a piece of lightening would change its ‘mind’ and fry my face off… which might be irrational, but I couldn’t shake the fear. In the end I probably would have gone in… :

SAMSUNG

I saw a whole lot of delta robot 3D printers. Enough to satisfy my craving. The majority of which were huge in scale. I even talked to someone who had designed their own delta printer and had come up with an even better bearing joint than the one Mark and I are currently using in our models (Magnets! Brilliant!). :

IMG_2601

Jeff and I at some point stumbled across a transparent pinball machine. Though I crave making my own, seeing all the internal components at work in their analog greatness was a bit intimidating. That project may have to wait… never the less, very cool :

IMG_2524

IMG_2520

My old mentor would have loved these things. I would seriously have bought one if I ever planned on having a lawn to display it on. :

IMG_2548

One of the makers at the show created professional armor from various video games/ movies. I had to take a picture of this guy because I happened to love this suite, from Dead Space. Extremely well made :

IMG_2545

The second day of the show we had breakfast with Suz and Pawel and spent the morning walking around with them. They were collecting footage for SYN Shop’s second podcast episode. We even hijacked some chairs and set up a makeshift location for a quick talk about how fantastic the show was and what our favorite things that we saw were. :

IMG_2556

Pawel and Suz checking out the neon yellow robot :

IMG_2582

I collected about a dozen miscellaneous stickers from the various booths… Covered my left boob in Maker pins… and successfully dodged getting sun burned the entire time. At the height of each day, it did get quite crowded pretty much everywhere you could possibly stand, inside and out, making it difficult to see what was where. With the ebb and flow of traffic, things we hadn’t yet seen were revealed. I saw a steam-powered printing press, the Keepon dancing yellow snow ball, and I even got to try on an Emotiv Epoch in one booth (which tickled be senseless).

After all was said and done we regrouped at a little bar called the Swinging Door, ate and cooled off a little bit. The four of us returned for one last run through the main hall since it was starting to clear out a bit. Even in the last hour we saw things for the first time that we had somehow missed.

Sunday night Jeff and I went to the ‘bring your hack’ dinner at this not very hofbrau-like “hofbrau”. I sat pinned against the bar like a wall flower, afraid to mingle with the other kids until I got a beer or so in me. Eventually I dove in and started parading around with my delta on my arm like a rat dog. I met some fantastic people and got to talk to another person who had also built a delta robot out of hobby parts. =D I could have stayed there all night mingling… but apparently bars in San Mateo have last call (What is that?).

Sweetie and Jeden :

IMG_2612

My new goal is to get into Make magazine one day! The plan is to keep creating stuff and keep meeting other cool people who do as well. My life has changed so much in the past year just due to my new surrounding influences that it strikes reverence into my heart. I could not have been on this amazing journey growing like I am if it weren’t for the people I now know.

Here’s to all of us at SYN Shop being at Maker Faire next year 😉

Delta Force

clash

The SYN Shop podcast pilot is up for viewing just in time for Maker Faire weekend! Check it out! I want to thank Suz and Pawel again for thinking of Mark and I while coming up with ideas for their first show. They did an awesome job editing our rambling and childish robot play into something cool to watch.

….Oh yeah….. and a special thumbs up for including my bloody nose art. If you didn’t get a good look at it in the middle of the film… here it is in the flesh (teehee!) :

noseBleedsmall

Lets just say I know how to make Mark bleed.

If you are curious about Amber, as you well should be… check out Mark’s Blog at Circuit Monkey.com

Science & Technology Week

I sit here in my bathrobe, numb from the events of the past few days. Even though it was really cool, I don’t think anyone else aside from the volunteers who participated in it realized that this was “Science and Technology Week” here in Las Vegas. SYN Shop answered the call of duty for this festival. It was coordinated to coincide with First Friday, which made for a brutal gauntlet of setting up, tearing down, and giving attention to endless amounts of people.

All of the excitement began on Thursday night downtown in new Fremont with the Science Crawl. The first event was family friendly and held at our hackerspace, attracting a wild herd of parents and children for an hour of building ‘light sabers’ out of pool noodles and electrical tape. (doesn’t that not sound horrifying??) Luckily, Jeff and I escaped this madness by the skin of our teeth and went for some dinner before the pub-hopping portion of the night began.

Having bypassed that, we met up with the others at ‘Park’ bar. This was one of the stops from the Blinking Man event which I liked a lot as it had incredible ambiance. I was happy sitting there on the terrace with the others, all goggles bedecked in appropriate lab coats, but eventually the group migrated to the last stop of the crawl which was at a bar called ‘Commonwealth’. This seemed like a poor choice of venue because though the theme of the bar fit the steam punk occasion, it was over priced, pretentious, and any chance of conversation was thwarted by throbbing 80s R and B music.

Where we were all rearing to go a few hours earlier, the group quickly broke up and I found myself back home with Jeff before 11:00. This was alright as we had a long day ahead of us.

The next morning, after consuming a majestic cheese Danish at Wieß deli with my sweetie, we packed up our children and prepared to display them at the SYN Shop booth for First Friday. I don’t know what they were thinking, but the event coordinators put the pasty nerds in locations most exposed to sunlight, so I spent the first two hours or so hiding in whatever pockets of shade I could find. Once the sun set, time flew by. Over all I’d say it was a success for the shop as we handed out dozens of flyers and went through our reserve of cards.

420669_10151196117752614_2056625041_n

The white arching arm on the table is a 3D scanner that one of our members, Judd, has built. It pans three cameras around a central object, taking pictures every few degrees of rotation or so. A free to use program called 123D Catch then cross references the photos and creates a rendering of the object photographed which can then be converted to STL and printed. SO COOL! :

922963_10151196117707614_1271697180_n

Here is an example of an object it captured (reactor goggles) :

The night ended with midnight breakfast at Blueberry Hill, scarfing down ham and eggs while mentally preparing ourselves for a more intense repeat of the whole shebang in less than six hours.

Morning brought the Science Faire at Cashman Center. This was the event that stole my soul and left me rocking back and forth on the floor of my shower last night. I found myself and my innocent delta robots in a sea of children three to four deep. It was like a gang rape. They came at me relentlessly from all directions without any sign of stopping until my will was gone.

My stuff on the front line of defense :

IMG_2186

Jeff and Nomad :

IMG_2206

Brian and his Hydrogadget :

IMG_2190

Mark with his lovely Amber :

IMG_2240

IMG_2230

The Sarah wearing too many goggles :

IMG_2223

OMG Pool noodlez :

IMG_2220

Before I go off and rant a little bit… I first want to say that I do not hate all children. I am annoyed by anyone of any age who is running around like they’re jacked up on PCP not minding other people’s hard work or personal space.

I witnessed a little girl point to my deltas and say, “Look daddy! Aren’t those cool?” only to have him tell her, “Well, you see the problem with those is that they don’t have a purpose…”

The throngs of children were one thing (and the nature of such is to be expected), but I contribute the loss of my soul to the gross number of adults who while holding the joystick in their hand and watching my delta robots move still had to ask, “What do they do?”.

I honestly had no idea how to answer them without sounding like an ass. Apparently Jeff experienced the same thing in regards to his remote-controlled robot, Nomad. It all boils down to the fact that as a whole, people can’t process the idea that something might not in fact have (need) a specific purpose to validate its existence. Or that there are people in the world who make things simply because they want to see them exist and enjoy the challenge of doing so. This being what I desire to change about the world most, there is no place I belong more than at the hackerspace’s booth as a crusader of awesome for awesome’s sake.

If there ever is a next time for me and my deltas at a family friendly event, I will simply make up a different explanation every time someone inquires about my robot’s function for my own amusement.

IMG_2197

Though it was mostly fun, we left two hours early (because we were spent) with Nomad and the deltas to catch the last period of the hockey game at Wing Stop. To add insult to injury, the Red Wings lost. By that time, Mark too had left the event and met us for a well deserved beer. We all vented for a while. Where my robots at least made it out alive, poor Amber was completely obliterated. By 2pm Mark had to take her off the table because she couldn’t hold it together anymore. Poor girl was splayed out and loose like an 80-year-old hooker :

935485_10151198135752614_4494988_n

And that’s why humans need to evolve to phase out their reproductive organs.

In conclusion, the weekend was long and taxing but I’ll admit that it was fun for me to display my work in public. I did meet cool people in the process, some of which will hopefully become members at the shop and will add to the environment. I will now go sleep for the rest of the week. <3

SYN Shop Podcast Pilot

IMG_2061

Last weekend my friend and collaborator Mark Koch and I were asked by our wonderful PR team at SYN Shop to have our delta robot making ‘rivalry’ featured in the pilot episode of the hackerspace’s podcast.

Needless to say we were excited to help out and talk a little bit about our precious bots whom we’ve been building over the past five or so months. We each had goals to achieve before the episode was shot last Sunday, but both Mark and I had some complications that kept us from preparing anything epic quite yet. With the team’s deadline set before first friday, they needed to get things underway so they took what we had (even though we whined a little).

You see… I had a lot of motors scheduled to arrive earlier this week, which they did on time as expected… however I am an idiot and ordered the wrong size and had to return everything. This was a huge buzz kill. Mark on the other hand was hoping to have robotic fingers fixed to the effector of his delta, which would grip or release by means of electromagnet. He underestimated how tricky it would be to make your own home-brewed electromagnet or solenoid, so he too was SOL come Sunday.

Amber likes top :

IMG_2093

I hope I didn’t ramble too much during the interview. I will post the video here as soon as it’s done being edited. Thank goodness the thing wasn’t broadcast live. ::cringe:: and thank something we had beer left over in the fridge from Pawel’s birthday party to ease the process. =]

IMG_1981

Suz directing all of us silly drunks :

IMG_2059

Mark oogling over what real delta robots look like :

IMG_1990

Our directors and interviewers, Suz and Pawel :

IMG_2098

Thank you both so much for thinking of us while choosing your guinea pigs! It was truly a blast!

Reactor Goggles Featured in Student Film

IMG_1936

I was at Robo Day two weeks ago where I was approached by independent film maker, Rick Barcode to have a pair of my goggles used as a prop in one of his short movies.

Now, normally I am an untrusting wretch who hordes her precious things away from any possible dangers, but lately my mantra has been “yes”, because cool things don’t happen if you keep saying no to people.

That being said, I was still hesitant about lending my babies to someone I didn’t know all that well. So, I agreed to let him use them under the condition that I tag along while he filmed. I figured It’d be a good opportunity to learn something new. Besides, it wasn’t like I was going to get drugging and featured in a snuff film or anything…?

It turned out that they were extremely cautious and respectful with my goggles. I quelled my nervous itch but also had a nice time witnessing Rick and his friends do their thing. I’m pleased to know I was able to aid in a student collaboration, and I can’t wait to see the project once it’s completed! More on this to come…

IMG_1968