We Built This (Cardboard) City…

WP_20150509_16_57_55_Pro

Cardboard City Bridge is a success!

05/28/2015 – Eric Gundersen

Balance, patience, and plenty of coffee are indispensable when it comes to constructing a 16’ x 16’ city out of cardboard in about 16 hours.  That is the mission before us at the second annual Denver Mini Maker Faire (coming up on June 13 and 14).  Eight of us gathered on a cold and rainy day in May for our first preparation/prototyping session and learned much during those four swift hours.

Lesson #1: Safety, safety, safety

Two finger tips were lost in the first 30 minutes – fortunately they only belonged to a glove while the hand inside was left unscathed.  Cardboard is dense and even with sharp knives it requires a fair amount of strength to cut.  Always keep your blade sharp.  If cutting becomes a challenge dispose of the blade properly and replace it with a fresh one.  Retract your blade or store safely between cutting sessions.  I had a friend who required multiple stitches after stepping on an X-Acto blade stored in a coffee mug, blade up, on the ground.

WP_20150509_13_20_19_Pro

At work on the prototype Cardboard City

We used hot glue to affix cardboard to cardboard which takes time to set.  The glue can get up to 380⁰ F.  Instead of risking burns use binder clips to hold your pieces as they cool.  Also, remember to unplug your glue gun immediately after use.

Lesson #2: Cutting

A straight edge or L-square is beneficial for making long cuts.  Make two passes on the cut so you don’t have to use as much pressure.  To make a clean corner for a fold, score the interior of your piece by making a shallow, straight cut.

Lesson #3: Creature Comforts

Working on your hands and knees can get uncomfortable.  Consider using knee pads or gardening kneeling pads.  Coffee also hits the spot.

Lesson #4: Balance
WP_20150509_16_58_09_Pro

Our prototype in progress!

Our team is fairly diverse with a variety of skillsets.  Some of us are more technical and some more artistic and everyone has strengths & weaknesses.  We organically broke up into three smaller groups to tackle infrastructure (base plates), landmark pieces (a skyscraper and suspension bridge), and “greebling”/”gingerbread” details in parallel.

It… was… sloooow.  After four hours (nearly 25% of our allotted time) we had:

  • 8 houses
  • 1 swing set w/ slide
  • 5 trees
  • 1 classy above ground swimming pool
  • 2 base plate platforms
  • 1 skyscraper w/ water tower
  • 1 bridge that took 10 minutes to make
  • ½ a bridge that took 2 hours to make

We learned that a bargain must be struck between quality and speed.  Work too fast and it looks like junk, while painstakingly obsessing over getting all the details right takes way too long.

As we made ready to leave and looked across all the modest structures we realized that it’s the city that we’re making; not the house or tree or skyscraper.  The flaws are absorbed by the scope, variety and whimsy of the landscape.  These pieces make up the whole just as your companions’ participation make up the experience.

We’re going to create an assembly line process to accelerate building the building of 144 houses, our goal.  We’re going to separate into groups for mass production (speed) and unique landmark pieces (quality).  Perhaps you’ll visit us at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on June 13th & 14th, or better yet roll up your sleeves and give us a hand.

If one day you find yourself building a city out of cardboard remember to be creative, be patient, encourage your partners and have fun!

Editor’s Note: See the Cardboard City, and many other curiosities (you can even build your own cardboard creation), at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on Saturday June 13 and Sunday June 14 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  Join MakerBoulder and Level(3) in some maker magic!

Catapult in to Fun, At-Home Activity!

7bec1ae57a5e19277834222ff4122b40We are honored to attend events all around the Front Range where we get to interact with adults and children alike and talk about our mission.

Most recently, we were at the Frank Shorter Kids Fun Run for Health where we met several amazing inventors that created unique designs for desktop catapults.  This fun activity is best when you simply put the materials out, and let kids go wild.  They will invent, iterate and problem solve.  You can set up your own targets using cups and bowls, or the sink – or your mom (as long as the ammo is a marshmallow or a nice, soft pom pom!)

Materials:
  • Popsicle stickscandy-corn-catapult-1
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic spoons or plastic water bottle lids

Yep, that’s it.  If you want to get fancy, you could add:

  • Alligator Clips
  • Clothes pins

You can also visit our Pinterest page to see more complicated designs.

 

(Thanks to FrugalFun4Boys.com for the example here.)

 

Take a Kitables survey!

Have you ever seen an awesome project you wanted to do and then looked at the parts list and just thought “NOPE!”

Our friends at one of our favorite local start-ups, Kitables are trying to solve that problem by providing kits for projects you love right to your door. No more wasting time and money sourcing parts, thank goodness, that stuff takes for-ev-er and can be cray expensive.

But they need our help…

They are trying to make their products better for makers and would greatly appreciate it if you took a minute of your time to fill out this quick 9 question survey!

If you do you will be entered to win a Kitables Kit! (we’ve taken the survey 43 times already… just kidding, they won’t let us.)

Also if you would like to reach out to them directly with questions, suggestions, or just want to say hi email them at info@kitables.co

Maker Interview – Alison Hughes

8667564636_a6e9a1e73d_mMy name is Alison Hughes and I’m a lifelong maker. I love music, art, craft, bikes, and the outdoors, especially when I can bring a nerdy angle to it. Engineering has always been a creative pursuit for me. I used to write audio hardware drivers at Apple but now I’m pretty excited about smaller scale embedded systems, sensors, and automation projects.

What do you make?

Lots of things! I am currently focused on enhancing the backyard farming experience with embedded technology but I also enjoy designing and sewing my own clothes, knitting, and making mixes with my cherished vinyl collection. I’ve built my own electronic instruments and assembled LED adorned housewares like my motion activated LED coffee table. Craft and electronics go together so naturally!

How did you get started making and why?

Since I was itty bitty, making has endlessly entertained and delighted me, especially growing up as an only child without a lot of playmates. My favorite playthings in elementary school were paper, scissors, pencils, yarn, and tape. I made everything I could dream up from these simple materials: animal ears and tail (my best friend was a dog so I wanted to fit in with the canine crowd), fashion eye glasses, lots of drawings, costumes, and games. I learned to program BASIC on an Apple IIe in 3rd grade. As I grew older, I picked up oil painting, sewing, jewelry making, DJing, and all sorts of crafts.

My father is an engineer/DIYer and had a huge influence on me growing up. He encouraged me to enter the science fair in junior high which led to my first hardware make: “Cooling Computers: Heat Pipes vs. Fans”. My dad specialized in thermodynamics so I obviously did not come up with that crazy idea on my own, ha!

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?

“Why don’t you just buy it?”

What is your advice to women and girls looking to do what you do or make what you make?

The most importaALISON HUGHES_bringyoujoynt thing is to figure out what you care about in the world – it could be music, food, the environment, running, ping pong, dog clothes, particle physics – whatever gets you very excited – and then think of something you’d like to create or improve that relates to that interest. It has got to be something that you care about or else it won’t be any fun. Things that bring you joy will inspire the best ideas and projects that you will be motivated to complete despite tough challenges along the way.

And don’t be afraid to combine your interests even if nobody else thinks it makes sense. Putting novel things together is where the gold is, trust me. And finally, always bring empathy and your unique perspective to your designs. As women, you have so much to offer in this regard.

 

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

I love the way it empowers everyday people to make their world the way they want it to be. It encourages people to be creative, teach themselves new things in a non-traditional manner, and to put their ideas out there even when it feels scary. Most importantly, the maker movement brings people together to exchange ideas and relate to one another in an empathetic way.

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I would like to turn making into my own business. I’ve made things for fun, I’ve made things for others as my job as a software engineer – now I’m ready to take on making as an entrepreneur. I care a lot about education and connectedness to the natural world so I see myself working to use technology to enhance those domains.

What do you wish you cALSION HUGHES_THEWAYTHEYWANTITTOBEould make but dont know how to (yet)?

I suck at analog electronics. I can hack it a bit, make some small mods but honestly it is a blurry, hand-wavy mess to me most of the time. Someday I would love to be able to design my own circuits from scratch!

 

Maker Mania #10: Mosaic Architects, Boxwood Pinball, Colorado MESA, Innovation Center

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

Read more

Maker Mania #9: Kodo Kids, Computers to Youth, JAKE’s Toy Box, Tunisian Crochet, Silicognition, Hey Chicken!

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

Read more

Maker Mania #8: Rikki’s Tropicals, Openponics, Gizmo Dojo, Deccibulz, Colorado Quilting

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

Read more

Maker Mania #7: LEGO Rube Goldberg, LulzBot, Arrister, Geekify, Healing Poetry

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

Read more

Maker Mania #6: Friends’ School, Mackintosh Academy, Connections Academy, DMNS, Zanjibil Organics

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

Read more

Maker Mania #5: Seed.io, Boulder Public Library, Douglas County Schools, Zander Lander, Project Daffodil

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

Read more