Denver Mini Maker Faire 2016 recap in pictures

SSD members turned out in force the the mini maker fair held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the crowd was fantastic.

Jim’s Drawbot was a huge draw — one girl adored it and was thrilled when he gave her the drawing it had just made!

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Terry’s soccer scoring system got the most interest and kids loved rolling tennis balls through the goalposts and watching it mark their point.  Pictured behind is the mini version of John English’s Soundpuddle, set up by Tijlon.


Jennifer’s automatic dog play system also entertains kids pretty well!


Dan’s remote car had lots of kids mugging for its camera.


I had lots of fun walking around with my video T-shirt and explaining how it worked.  Mostly though, kids just stared at it, mesmerized.




Turnout was excellent for other booths, with the return of many popular exhibits and new ones, too.

One of my all-time favorites is a group that deconstructs old pinball machine mechanisms and explain how they work. Very hands-on, it’s much easier to see how a mechanical score counter works than an electronic one.

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Denhac had a lockpicking workshop, where kids could try to escape from handcuffs. They also had some great lights in the darker area of the Faire

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Zoe Doubleday’s Haptika series of therapy gloves were a hit —

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I didn’t get the guy who made these beautiful electronic quilts — he was one of many participants who also did amazing things:

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Human foosball, of course!


I fell in love with these hacked furby skeletons!


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Looking forward to future Mini Maker Faires!

Bitmessage and Tahoe-LAFS at Crypto and MeshNet Meetup

Little MeshOn Wednesday, August 28, the Solid State Depot had crypto and meshnet meetup with lightning talks, general discussion, and installation for Bitmessage and Tahoe-LAFS.

Ben Burdette started off the meetup with a presentation on Bitmessage. Bitmessage is a P2P communicationns protocol used to send encrypted messages to another person or to many subscribers. It is decentralized and trustless, meaning that you need-not inherently trust any entities like root certificate authorities. It uses strong authentication which means that the sender of a message cannot be spoofed, and it aims to hide “non-content” data, like the sender and receiver of messages, from passive eavesdroppers like those running warrantless wiretapping programs.

Zooko talked about Tahoe-LAFS.  Tahoe-LAFS is a free and open cloud storage system. It distributes your data across multiple servers. Even if some of the servers fail or are taken over by an attacker, the entire filesystem continues to function correctly, preserving your privacy and security.

Aspects of Tahoe-LAFS of interest at this meetup:

  • LAFS cryptography: Public/private keypairs are per-file, not per-user, digital signatures are everywhere, public-key encryption is not used, secure hashes and merkle trees are a beautiful data structure, akin to git.
  • The open source project: We have dozens of hackers from around the globe extending LAFS in different ways ; Want to contribute? We use a development process with complete unit test coverage and mandatory code review on all patches. We are nice. We have weekly meetings. Join in!
  • Usage: How to get the source, build it, deploy a grid of storage servers, share files and directories with your friends; who runs storage servers and gives you access to their storage server—friends sharing storage space with each other? Strangers meeting in the darknets? You can lease storage from my for-profit startup.

See more about this event on its page.

Fix-It Clinic with Eco-Cycle

Volunteers of the Solid State Depot Boulder Hackerspace, along with Eco-Cycle, coached and assisted citizens of the Boulder, Colorado area in need of electronic equipment repair as part of the Fix-It Clinic event on Sunday, August 11th.  By not only helping fix, but also helping teach and educate by demonstration, the Solid State Depot volunteer fix-it coaches aided those from the community in the process and approaches required to fix their appliances instead of throwing them out.

The Fix-It Clinic coaches repaired appliances vacuums, toasters, two blenders, a scanner, and various other appliances.  Of note was a broken plastic part for a blender.  To replace it, Solid State Depot member Rob Bryan rapidly, algorithmically defined and modeled a replacement part using OpenSCAD, and then Bryant Hadley handled the 3D printing of the modeled part at the hackerspace.

Replacement Part Modeled in OpenSCAD

Replacement Part Modeled in OpenSCAD

This is even more recently relevant, since last month Colorado followed suit with 19 other states and banned the dumping of electronic waste into its landfills. Notably, the health risks associated from heavy metals from various electronics potentially escaping out of the landfills and into groundwater has prompted this movement.  There are electronic waste handling facilities, but the processes required to recycle the electronic equipment can also be rather toxic. Thus, by repairing instead of disposing, we reduce the negative impact upon our environment.

3D Printed Blender Replacement Part

3D Printed Blender Replacement Part

Facilities such as the Solid State Depot offer an important venue in the community — allowing people to get together and have access to tools and resources for tinkering, creating, making, and repairing that are often collectively too costly and take up too much space for most individuals to have all in one spot. In the end, fun and excitement was had by all in the exploration and discovery of the household devices around us all.