Maker Mania #5:, 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.

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Maker Mania #4: Cigar Box Guitars, CNC Motored Bikes, Musical PIC Circuit Board, The Sound of Science

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.

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Maker Mania #3: Enabling the Future, Lego Tornadoes, Messing About With Making, Art Parts, Solid State Depot

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.

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Cotery Contest Brings Your Clothing Designs to Life

Are you a Zazzler or a Threadless-er or a Café Press-er? If you are, then you know how limiting it can be to work with ink on a tee shirt. Are you a fashion designer? If so, then you know how hard it is to source materials and market your line, and what a desperate gamble it can be to do these things with no guarantee that sales will be there on the back end.

That’s where The Cotery comes in.

Use the site’s design tool to bring the vision of your awesomeness into the world of electronic “what could be”. Then pre-sell your designs to fashion-forward users browsing for the next big thing. A bit like Kickstarter, if you reach your pre-sale goals, The Cotery kicks your design into production and your orders are magically fulfilled – making your electronic designs a reality. Snap, yo! It’s just that easy. And there are no up-front costs – if the design gets produced, The Cotery takes 10 percent of retail sales (5 percent for premium members).

It’s the brainchild of Boulder startup insider Char Genevier. As a high school student in Pasadena, CA, Char had an afterschool job at a web development company. “They’d literally be calling me during class saying there’s a bug in the software and I’m stepping out of stats class to take calls,” she says. On the side, Char and her boyfriend built an online message board for their school, an image hosting software, and the framework for what would become Char’s first startup, Social Engine, which, like the message board, allows companies and “people who want to be the next Facebook,” Char says, to design, brand, and host their own social networking sites.

Even after successfully bootstrapping Social Engine, Char felt like she working in a bubble in Los Angeles – they applied to the TechStars program, were accepted and moved to Boulder in 2010. There was an exit and the Cotery is Char’s answer to “what’s next?” It’s also the story of a true maker – in addition to being The Cotery’s CEO, Char built the back end.

Stop by the Cotery booth at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31 – Feb 1, 2015 to try it for yourself. Really: Cotery will be on hand to work with you through the process of designing your own clothing. Not only that but Cotery is also offering the opportunity to win a prize package that could help you push this new design into the world in a very real way. Launch a design on the site by February 15 and you could win a Cotery-sponsored package that will take your ability to sell your designs to the next level. Based on the number of presales your design generates, winners in “group” and “individual” categories will get the following:

Grand Prize (Design in Each Category with Most Pre-Sales):

  • One month subscription to Adobe Cloud.
  • Pre-Production Sample of Garment, one per designer in group category
  • Editorial Photoshoot
  • 6 months Premium Membership
  • Profit from winning design if sales goal is met

Second Place (Design in Each Category selected as Editor’s Choice):

  • Pre-Production Sample
  • 3 months Premium Membership
  • Profit from winning design if sales goal is met


Maker Mania #2: Tessa iPad Stand, Threshold School, AnomalyCon, Precision Machining Technology

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.

Tessa iPad Stand: The Tessa Stand is the most complete tablet stand invented, period. Pick it up, hold it, try it, and you will be asking where you can get one for yourself.

Threshold School: a project- based, independent 6th–12th grade school opening in Centennial, August 2015. At the heart of the Threshold program are large-scale, highly collaborative pursuits. Whether students are restoring wildlife habitats or producing feature films, they will use real tools and real materials under authentic conditions. The pursuits will genuinely matter to the young people; their purpose will not be a letter grade or a trophy.

AnomalyCon: AnomalyCon is Colorado’s premier steampunk, sci-fi, and alternate history. We aim to educate, baffle the mind, and entertain! We cover everything from sewing to engineering, to mad science.

Precision Machining Technology: Advanced Manufacturing is an exciting career choice for students who love making things and solving problems. Come investigate the world of precision machining at Front Range Community College.


Maker Mania #1: Usborne Books, pcDUINO, Parametric POLOC, Edify Technologies

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 (tickets HERE). And that means MAKERS galore! More makers than you can count. More than you can imagine. More than you can shake a stick at, though we can’t imagine why you would want to shake sticks at makers. Hey, what is it with you anyway? Threatening defenseless little makers with a stick. Sheesh.

In any case, we’re going to do our best to give mad props via shout-outs to all our intrepid makers between now and the Faire. Barring that, we’ll write about them here at this blog. All the makers previewed here between now and the Faire will be AT the Faire, confirmed in blood, spittle and ink. Or sometimes just with ink. And sometimes not *actually* with ink, but with, you know, an email. So if you see things you like, put them on your list. And then come check ’em out at the Faire! Which, we should point out, is the perfect distraction from a Broncos-less Super Bowl…

Without further ado, away we go:

Usborne Books: Usborne Books & More publishes high quality books that allow people to expand their knowledge and travel to new places through the pages of a book. We have many hand on books that allow you to create new projects or experiments. Come try making a paper airplane!

pcDUino: pcDUino is a $39 DIY computer that is compatible with Arduino ecosystem.

Parametric POLOC: Parametric POLOC – Plops, O (drops), Lines On Canvas is a machine for creating large size abstract expressionist paintings in the style of Jackson Pollock. The mechanical machine tries to replicate the mechanics of drip painting, while the software tries to make rich, detailed, pleasing abstract art accessible to decorate your home. The exhibit allows visitors to take direct control of the painting process. This project is my introduction to physical computing.

Edify Technologies: Teaching kids to love and understand music through composition, with the app Sketch a Song.


23rd Studios Does Everything Graphics for Startups and Beyond

23rd.Studios.LogoAre you a maker, a hacker, a tinkerer with the next big thing sitting there brand spanking new on your workbench? If so, it might be time to, you know, show it to people. And if you’re gonna do that, you’re going to need a way to show it. That’s where Paul Talbot and his 23rd Studios comes in. In addition to graciously fulfilling all the photo and video needs for the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31 – Feb 1, 2015, 23rd Studios is a one-stop shop for all of a business’s graphic and web design needs.

“One of the exciting things about working with maker and startup people is the energy associated with solving a problem or figuring out something new to solve a problem,” Paul says. It’s like that in the photo business, says Paul, who got his start in video while working as a photographer in New York City when producers realized that new DSLR technology meant he had video capability built into that camera he was carrying.

“I kind of fell into what I’m doing now,” says Paul. Now 23rd Studios has worked with everything from mapping images from Apollo, to graphic design for the Boulder Green Streets program, to food photography for Rueben’s Burger Bistro.

“On a photo or video shoot, you’re always solving problems to get the lighting just right, or work around that noisy air conditioner, or then after the shoot to use footage in creative and useful ways. I can’t wait to see the problem solving going on at the Faire,” Paul says.

Got a new gimbal device or wiring harness you’re showing at the faire? Or maybe a new photo drone technology? Be sure to track down Paul, ’cause he’d love to see it. He’ll be the one with the big camera clicking pictures and shooting vids.

Play With Modular Robotics at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

Not long after opening its doors in an unassuming industrial park building just off Bluff Street in downtown Boulder, Modular Robotics found itself in crisis: every Friday an employee had been running to the suspiciously close Boulder Beer for a pair of six-packs, but now the company had expanded and not only was there no room in the fridge, but, “the six-packs went incredibly fast,” says Christie Veitch, the company’s Education Director.

In the early life of a tech startup, desperate times call for decisive action and now, almost five years after their 2010 founding, a Kegerator sits in the corner. Just before the holidays it was nearly buried in cardboard boxes and tupperwares full of plastic pieces. Down a tight hallway where the Mod Robotics team had recently cut through the wall and into a vacated next-door space are the smashed-together bench style desks of the administrative and marketing team. After our meeting, Christie decided to avoid the hallway by going outside with me and then back into the building via another door.


Chip is a Level VI Modular Robotics elf.

But the real work of Mod Robotics is done the old-fashioned way: by elves working with screwdrivers and soldering irons. Here is Chip. He is a level VI elf. They’re no longer baking circuit boards in a fry pan, as did CEO Eric Schweikardt for his PhD project that became the company’s prototype. But after the boards are printed and the plastic pieces molded, the elves snap, screw and solder these pieces into Cubelets and MOSS robot building systems.

That’s the genius of Mod Robotics: the elves do the heavy building so that you don’t have to. Cublets are self-contained inputs and outputs that you and yours can magnet together into robots as big or small as your imagination. The black ones are sensors, the clear ones do things, and the colored ones think, or, you know, at least provide the backbone of logic.

The newer, MOSS system adds the structures of panels, wheels and various other connective bendy bits to Cubelet-like backbones, allowing you to make cars, creatures and other creations that look like real or imagined awesomeness. If you’re an educator or an education-minded parent, Mod Robotics also hosts free, downloadable lesson plans like 10 Cool Things to Do With Cubelets, 10 More Cool Things to Do With Cubelets, and the comprehensive MOSS Instroduction to Robotics Unit.

Christie says that in addition to demonstrating the basics of robotics – sensors, effectors, logic – Mod Robotics hopes to show the power of emergent behavior.

“Each one of these things is just a thing,” says Christie, eloquently, “but when you put them together, you can see how they create complex behaviors – a robot lighthouse that knows to come on in the dark or a steering robot that knows to slow down before it crashing into stuff.”

My experience of chucking my kids (8 and 6) into a pile of Cubelets is that offspring tend to be immediately engaged in a way that creates their own emergent understanding. At first my kids snapped stuff together randomly and semi-noticed what happened, and then their ideas got more goal-directed.

“I want to make a car,” said Leif, 8, and with some experimentation, he was eventually able to do just that.

“I want to make a robot dinosaur that breathes fire at daddy’s butt,” said Kestrel, 6, and now a couple weeks later she remains steadfastly undeterred.

If you want to play with Cubelets or Moss yourself, stop by the Mod Robotics booth at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, January 31 – February 1, 2015 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds! For more on the Modular Robotics manifesto of simple pieces from whence arise complex behaviors, check out CEO Eric Schweikardt’s talk at TedX Front Range, here:

Dancing LEDs Promise Merriment at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

Imagine with us the following holiday utopia – call it a holopia: You hang LED holiday lights on your house or tree or mother-in-law. You snap a picture with your phone. An app recognizes the distribution of bulbs. And now you can map anything you want onto this imperfect LED grid, from sound sync that pulses along with your thumping holiday tunes, to groovy smooth fades through the rainbow, to scrolling holiday messages, to – be still my beating heart! – a never-ending repeat of Nyan Cat!

That’s the promise of Jarrod Eliason’s Dancing LEDs. Among other projects, Jarrod programmed his home tree to sing along in Santa face to his family’s recording of “We wish you a maker Christmas and a hacker New Year” (above). In fact, this is more than a utopia — at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb 1 Jarrod will be in Colorado making this utopia a reality. Seriously: stop by the Dancing LEDs booth, download the free app, and you too can drive strings of LEDs as they and you make merriment for all.

“What we’re doing is taking any video or animated GIF, running it through a Windows program to turn it into a light sequence, and then remapping it from the video onto lights,” Eliason says.

He says the current prototype is based on a triangular display, because he didn’t have a good rectangular space on the side of his house. Eliason imagines cities leaving the displays up year-round and changing the colors based on the season. And plugging in a floor display of Dancing LEDs still in their boxes – customers download a free app and right there in the store can interact with the LEDs or project a picture of their face onto the display. And businesses using them to replace existing, four-sided LED displays.

For now, “It’s kind of in the beginning stages,” Eliason says. “I’ve got prototypes on my desk, developers working on the app. But we expect to have things to put in people’s hands in the next week.”

Eliason runs it with a Teensy board and once he gets schematics and code, he plans to open-source the whole thing. And he’s looking for comments, suggestions, tweaks and hacks. In other words: Makers needed!


Computer Science Education Week Kickoff, Dec 8!

Design an app, program a robot, learn computer thinking outside the box and more at Computer Science Education Week in Boulder, CO, Monday, December 8 – Saturday the 13th! Best yet, swing by Boulder co-working and tech connection juggernaut Galvanize on Monday for a kickoff with Maker Boulder, co-sponsored by local startup 911 Labs Inc (which does development and operations for early startups). We’ll be running a radical computer scavenger hunt, all ages welcome.

“Computers are a part of everything these days. Not only in obvious places like laptops and phones, but in thermostats, traffic lights, and washing machines,” says Daniel Zacek, CEO of 911 Labs says. “Our display will show examples of how computer science is involved in everything from farming to flying, and include a scavenger hunt for computer science in and around Galvanize.”

You’re reading this on a computer. You depend on the computers in your car to transport you to places where you can buy food sources like kale and Slurpees. Computers are shaping the very folds of your grey matter in ways we’re just now starting to understand. Don’t you think it’d be kinda good to know just a little bit about how these computers work? Here’s your chance to get edumacated without the terribly painful process of actually studying.

“We are working together to inspire the next generation of coders, makers, and innovators to think about how computing is part of their lives today, and their future through a groundbreaking and town-wide week of programs,” says Galvanize.

Come on down to Computer Science Education Week events next week and have a good time! Full list of events at (And while you’re at it, if you want to stay up to date with Maker-ish events and news in Boulder, please consider following us on Facebook!)