I got a 3D Printer!

It has been a while since I posted. School has been chaotic and I have been playing with my new “toys”. The Christmas of 2016, I got a 3D printer kit. The model is a version of the RepRap project‘s Prusa, invented by Josef Prusa. The printer is made by HICTOP and it is the Prusa Mendel i3.


The printer is the best tool I have now. The kit was 100% complete. It came with all of the parts and tools you needed to build the printer. The only tool that I had to get myself was a pair of scissors! The only problem was, I had to either have a laptop plugged in or get an SD card and transfer the g-code that Cura made and plug that into the printer and press start. I needed a streamlined solution. Something, where I could upload a model and the software, would slice it and start the print, all with a couple of keystrokes. Something that runs on a Raspberry Pi or other microcomputer. Something like OctoPrint.

OctoPrint is a 3D printer management software that runs on Raspberry Pi and other Linux-based computers. I had bought myself a $9 computer that was on Kickstarter called C.H.I.P. It came after a couple months (typical crowdsourcing). When I first plugged it in and made a makeshift AV cable, I got what I paid for. The graphics were terrible, and no software came with it (Python, LibreOffice, etc.). so it sat in my sensor and computer box for a while, until I found OctoPrint. All of my Pis were somewhat “booked” at that moment (Pi running Pi-top, Pi running flight simulator, and Pi used to develop the 2017 light show) so I could not run this awesome software until I remembered my C.H.I.P.

I was doubtful that a $9 computer was going to run an almost $300 3D printer. I read forums that said the C.H.I.P was capable enough to run OctoPrint and the printer, so I tried it. I installed OctoPrint from the source at GitHub (open source heaven), and it ran beautifully! This software allowed me to send a model, slice it on the C.H.I.P, and print it, all from the comfort of my couch.

My 3D printer is the best tool I have. Some people say 3D printers are only good at making useless knick-knacks, but it has some awesome DIY project potential (I made every bathroom sink in our house an optional water fountain).




Maker Faire 2016: It’s Finally Here!

Maker Faire Pittsburgh is finally here! This time its bigger and cooler than before! I will be stationed in the education zone next to robot alley! We will have multiple projects such as LEGOs, Makey Makey, Snap Circuits Scratch, and other things! Come see us at the Junior Maker booth this weekend (both Saturday and Sunday) from 10am to 6pm! Here is a link to the map: Click HERE. See you there!

Maker Faire Update: See You There!!

Hooray!!! I was accepted into the Maker Faire for 2016!!! I was so happy when I saw the “Approval Status: Approved” line for my application. If you would like to read the blog post on what will be there, click here. Thank you Maker Faire Pittsburgh for approving my application! This has been a huge relief because I have been waiting for it to be approved. I really hope you are as excited as I am to be there!

Maker Faire Exhibit Page: Click here

Maker Faire 2016!

Maker Faire Pittsburgh 2015 was a huge success! I got multiple interests in my projects and got radio interviewed once! Anyhow, Maker Faire 2016 is going to be sometime in October so, why not start planning now!

Last year I saw a lot more younger kids than I anticipated. The young ones were asking if there was anything to play with (button, keyboard, if they could start the show, etc.) So, this year I wanted to have a “hands-on” booth with toys that I used when growing up that developed the skills I have as a maker! This year I am having a Junior Maker Booth! Bellow are some of the things that are going to be at the booth. The ages are what the activity is aimed for so older kids can try younger kid toys too!

  • 3-5 Year Olds will have Legos to build with.
  • 6-8 Year Olds will have Snap Circuits and a MakeyMakey
  • Making isnt ALL electronics, there is also an invention aspect to it. So we will have a parachute builing contest to see who can make a parachute that takes the longest to get to the ground.
  • 9-10 Year Olds will have a Arduino and Raspberry Pi. The Pi will be used to learn how to code on scratch or python
  • There is going to be a joystick controlled Lego Mindstorms NXT robot for fairgoers to drive.
  • Special Feature – We will have a 3D Printer there printing random things
  • Special Feature – There is going to be a iPad with 123D Catch on it to scan and make 3D busts of people

Here is the description used to apply to the Maker Faire:

This exhibit will have all hands-on toys for younger kids to play and tinker with! We are encouraging younger kids that they can join the maker movement too! Some cool hands-on activities include MakeyMakey, Snap Circuits, and Arduino.

We will have more advanced toys for the older kids/grownups (Raspberry Pi, Arduino, 3D Printer, etc.). For the younger kids we will have legos, snap circuits, and MakeyMakey.

The Raspberry Pi and Arduino are to teach the fundamentals of programming and tinkering. A Scratch station will teach fairgoers to make games and stories while running on a Raspberry Pi. This is a fun way to teach about something that they can access at home.

We will have a Lego Robotics demo with a Lego Mindstorms NXT robot. This robot will be a forklift that fairgoers can drive and try to pick up foam blocks.

One more thing that we will have a the Junior Maker booth is a 3D printer. We will have a basket of little makey robots for people to take home.

Making is not all electronics so, we will have a craft/experiment to have a passenger (ex. army man, lego man) in a harness and have it so it attaches to a parachute that fairgoers can make and customize. It will be a competition to see who can get the longest time (slowest descent).


The event will be held on October 15 & 16th. We hope to see you there!



Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard

Google CardboardWhen I first heard about this was when I was leaving summer camp one day and my friend told me he bought a “Google Cardboard” for around $25. He said you could watch Youtube videos in 3D and look around. As soon as I got home, I looked for it around the internet and found it. It looked sort of looked like an Oculus Rift but made of cardboard. Then I never visited it again for about 3 months. I was bored one day and wasn’t feeling like listening to a song over and over again and correcting the code for the light show. So I decided to pull out some cardboard and make a “Pi Hololens”. It was the size of my 7″ screen and really heavy. The Pi, screen driver board, HDMI cable, and a power cord were all mounted on the box. Plus, it was really uncomfortable. I wasn’t ready to go spend $100 on accelerometers and gyros. So I resorted to the only thing that had gyros, an iPhone! Since the Cardboard ran off a phone,  I looked up templates and found a few templates but they were for a laser printer/cutter. I spent another hour looking for printable templates. I found version 1.2 as a pdf (it can be found in the “Downloads” section). I printed it out and started cutting one of our old moving boxes. It was a bit to thick so I looked for something a tad thinner. I used one of our kitchen cabinet boxes and printed new templates. The DSC_0624recommended cardboard is a large pizza box but you can laser cut a regular piece of cardboard from a mailing box. The actual end product looked pretty ragged. I decided to go ahead and look to buy one. My friend that told me about it, sent me links to a free VR goggles website where they ordered one. Since they were “Free” they didn’t expect them to come so the went ahead  and bought a pair for $25 on e-bay. When I went and ordered them they said that I was on the back orders and that they would tell us when they get more. Which would be around 3-4 weeks. If I get them, hooray! If I don’t I will fin a way to laser cut the parts and buy the lenses for around a dollar.


If you want to make your own apps for the Cardboard, Google came out with an SDK for Unity, a SDK for Android Lab, and an app called Cardboard Design Lab that is free. The SDK for Unity can be found here. The SDK for the Android Lab can be found here.


Jump Goolge CardboardJump is a camera rig that allows Cardboard users to view Youtube Videos in immersive 3D and be able to look around while the video is playing. The rig consists of 16 GoPros and a stand. The software chains together all 16 videos into one, fully 360 view video. I can’t imagine the cost of all 16 GoPros. If you do the math, each camera is $200, and if you do 200×16 it equals a hefty $3,200 in just cameras!


In all, the Google Cardboard is a pretty good tool for any VR project that is on a strict budget. This is definitely an alternative to the Oculus Rift but it does have some limitations. For example, if you wanted to stream  you computer screen and have the sensor data come back over a wire, you must have an android phone. The Oculus on the other hand is very pricy and can get sold out easily. If you are just buying it for the fun of having some VR goggles, then this is the right tool for the entire family to enjoy.


Google Cardboard Scissor Template

Google Cardboard Laser Cutter/Printer DXFs



The Sphero definitely lives up to he phrase “Big things come in small packages!”. This tennis-ball size ball is actually a robotic ball. The ball can connect to your phone with bluetooth, and you can drive it with the apps that sphero has launched. The Sphero has a whole family of accessories. They range from nubbies to racing covers and ramps.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 9.25.08 AM

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Bellow is the trailer for the Sphero 2.0.

In the trailer it looks super fast but can only go around 6mph, witch is fast for something that small, but isn’t as fast in the trailer.

The Tech in a Sphero

The Sphero only has 3 sensors, the accelerometer , compass , and gyroscope. Witch is very few for what the Sphero is capable of doing. It also has 3 RGB lights that can glow in as many as a million colors. The Sphero also has “wireless charging”. No, this isn’t a huge Tesla Coil sitting in your living room constantly charging the Sphero. This is called “inductive charging”, this is where the Sphero sits on a special station and uses an electromagnetic field to charge it.


The sphero has a cousin, the Ollie! This cylinder like bot can go more than 14mph! The app has speed governors for the little ones who play. The bot has only has hubcaps for “Ollie only” accessories but is compatible with the ramps in the terrain park. This little bot has the power to go almost 1, 1/2 feet if going off a steep ramp! The vido bellow shows the true power of a OllieScreen Shot 2015-08-30 at 9.28.11 AM

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The Trailer for the Ollie is bellow.

Where Do I Buy?

You can buy a Sphero for around $130. The Ollie costs about $100. You can click here to go to the shop or go to store.sphero.com


My Favorite part about the Sphero Family is that all there products are different but they have the same idea, use technology to make robots that people never thought could be done. To sum it all up here is a video that shows all of their products in one place.

Maker Faire 2015 Summary

The Maker Faire was the best experience of my life! There were a lot of projects that amazed me and left me thinking, “How did they do that?”. My booth was a big hit! We nailed the color scheme and we actually found trees that we could display! I was TV interviewed and Radio Interviewed on the Saturday Light Brigade! Overall there were more booths than I could get to! I probably only got to 3/4 of the faire! If it was longer that would of been awesome! If you came by the booth and I was not there, and you had a question, click here or fill out down bellow to submit a question and I will email you with the answer to that question! In short, this was probably the best experience of my life!

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