2nd Shanghai Maker Carnival 2013

Quiet time at the popular first day of Shanghai Maker Carnival 2013 had crowds of locals and hackers and makers from Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing, Shenzhen, Taipai, Indonesia, Singapore, Prague, America, ……

The number of companies large and small also exploded and many of the sponsors also had a major presence, including AutoDesk, Lego, DFRobots. More photos in next posts.

Overview - quiet time!


Not so busy – relaxed busy

A friend in XinCheJian hackerspace Shanghai asked me today what I have been up to. I was thinking not too much, as I have watched quite a few movies (Sleep Dealer is pretty good, Avatar was way better than I expected) and re/read several books & magazines, but then I started to list some of the things I have been doing…….

  • PartTester – built 2nd board with 1% R – did not work, and now 1st one not working – same issue, eventually worked out LCD had partially died on trip home from China.
    • Looking into ways to do improved or auto-calibration
    • As part of above, part of X-bot work discovered that Gerbers used for PCB production have an electrical issue where 328 processor digital ground is not connected. This is only in the Gerbers – the schematic is correct!
    • Red circle in photo highlights difference between “good” gerber (blue) and my gerber with missing ground connection.
    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!
    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!
    • X-Bot – learning SMD soldering (old, unrefrigerated solder paste = :(, new = 🙂 )
      • Made a pogo pin ISP connector to easily test if processor was working
    • Playing with el-cheapo Taobao STK500 programmer (good in HV mode, but can’t get it working in ISP mode)
    • Fighting several nasty computer issues
      • XP system freezes for 1/2 to 3-5 minutes yet CPU is at 1% and no other symptoms or errors!
      • XP ongoing anti-virus software instability issues
      • battling security update issues on XP and Lububtu
      • Lubuntu intermittent keyboard & mouse issues – only some keys/buttons work!
      • Lubuntu SMB file copy issues
      • Lubuntu “system problems”
      • Lubuntu restoring backups – path too long
      • Unsuccessfully trying to install Windows 7 to SSD and user directories to different disk
      • Unsuccessfully trying fix injet printer ($$ cartridges, cleaned, factory resets, extra cleaning…..)
      • …..
    • Replacing swimming pool pump (now pool is leaking – think it is drain system)
    • Car window electric winder replacement
    • Fixed front door lock
    • Home Theatre – fixed bad solder joint that stopped right channel working
    • Toshiba SD-K310P DVD player won’t play disks – seems like region free hack has stopped working
    • Dish washer – bottom arm won’t spin .. ongoing effort to fix
    • Backyard jungle:-
      • Getting rid of dangerous European wasp nest
      • Digging ditch for irrigation system repair
      • Hacking away at six months growth (two trailer loads so far), have not even started on the 80+ meters of hedges yet!
      • Watching Cockatoos, King Parrots and Roselas
      • Saw a falling star
      • Cleaning up flood in garage last night due to major storm – we were lucky – could hear clean up with chainsaws nearby.
      Backyard Cockatoos
      Backyard Cockatoos


      Backyard King Parrot
      Backyard King Parrot


First Shanghai Maker Carnival

First day of the Shanghai Maker Carnival was today with exhibitors also attending from Beijing and Shenzhen.

It is part of the very large Creation Exhibition, an arts and crafts expo with about 200 exhibitors – #12, in Century Park Shanghai and runs from today Friday to Sunday 4 November 2012.

Today was a slow start as it was a work day and the weather windy and cool, especially by the lake, but I am sure tomorrow will bring lots more interesting items!

I prepared a small swarm of SwarmRobots running the new remote control code I just released. Some people surprised to see the SwarmRobots move, most were surprised to see group movement where each group does the same movements. A few people really “got” the demo mode.

Nearly everyone wanted to know why the remotes did not control just ONE SwarmRobot, or did not control ALL, but most struggled with the explanation of deliberate separation into different groups – until this was explained in Chinese! Maybe I should have stuck with my idea to use coloured flags and letters/numbers to indicate the groups, rather than just use the wheel colour! Main reasons I did not was it would transport harder and more effort to set up the flags at events.

Using standard TV/DVD remote to control robots – I thought people would instantly understand how to control the robots! Well as usual I was wrong, at least until you get people to think like controlling your DVD, then some get it, others takes some demonstration first!

The one lone SwarmRobot that was configured as an object follow SwarmRobot also raised questions – why not the same! It is good everyone understands that these are the same, but the idea that some behaved differently really raised some questions.

Several XinChejian members helped repairing battery connector wires and making more SwarmRobots. Some non-members also had fun finishing and making SwarmRobots – thanks guys!

Swarm Robot competition winners announced at World Maker Faire

Xinchejian SwarmRobotsThe fantastic capability of the XinCheJian SwarmRobots has been recognised with 2nd placing in the AFRON $10 robot competition Traditional (Roaming) category. The announcement made at World Maker Faire today (via Wired) awarded first place to Harvard’s research group and third place by to MIT University. XinCheJian’s high placing against such prestigious competition highlights just how good XinCheJian’s SwarmRobots are!

The SwarmRobots are still under rapid development with work progressing on coding object detection and inter-robot communications using the already developed InfraRed shield. Work is also underway on wireless charging and a Atmel 32u4 version. It has been a lot of fun to be part of this team as can be seen in these videos!

Barcamp Shangahi Fall 2012

Three Xinchejian SwarmRobots

Had fun at Shanghai Barcamp Fall helping to show off Xinchejian’s SwarmRobots. It was great seeing how all the children (young and old) explored the robots ability and asked heaps of questions!

Also helped with a presentation about Xinchejian’s SwarmRobots and the AFRON $10 robot competition and I gave one presentation on one of my favourite topics “Instantly turn your project into a kit” available in Libre Office odt and as a power point. It has a LOT of pictures and includes three video picture shows, so it is around 10MB!

Been busy @Xinchejian!

Xinchejian Swarm Robots and the new motor driver PCB, IR shield and the Afron competition entry.

Helped run the Xinchejian Advanced Arduino course and getting PartKeepr  setup for Xinchejian.

Plus of course Lophilo– see post before this one!

Enjoying lots of extremely good presentations at Xinchejian – here is a link to this weeks sound and video processing, Nixies and LED cube and Haxl8r!

Nixies on display at Xinchejian





And there are several other major projects actively being worked on, but none are yet into any state to talk about!

Communities artistic, creator, DIY, social, maker, hacker, …

One goal of this site is to help bridge and bring together the many different communities that can help and learn from each other. An alternate perspective is to broaden the view of makers and hackers to see the rest of the world 🙂  So it is very pleasing to see that there are many others who have similar goals. This previous post highlighted some of the routine activity at Xinchejian last weekend, but it did not highlight the activities contributing to this goal where diverse community members come together.

Communities seen at Xinchejian last weekend were Breesee, Makesense and GoodtoChina.

Breesee‘s business card slogan “creative community” fits in with this sites goal. Breesee aims “to be a bridge connects different types of creators in the world. Whether they are artists, designers or engineers, we will try to encourage them cooperate and make more innovation happen”. Their site has some very nice content – it is worth a visit!

Makesense were also present, several of their members have close relationship Xinchejian. See this previous post for an introduction to their very good work worldwide.

In addition to the “drop in’s” Xinchejian is sharing the new space with GoodtoChina with a very co-operative open plan and shared facilities arrangement!  “GoodtoChina inspires and supports sustainable living through environmental projects, social initiatives and consulting projects”.

Xinchejian are also setting up a kitchen in their new space for hacking cooking, there is already a post on Sous Vide, Xinchejian is active in the Space program, see this mailing list, and host extremely popular popular processing classes to help anyone with an artistic leaning to create computer art, are into hydroponics and also have active relationships with Dorkbot Shanghai and Xindanwei.

All that is pretty amazing on top of all the making and hacking already reported!

Lophilo, Swarm Robots and R2D2

Xinchejian hackerspace is still settling in to their new space, but there was a lot of activity on the weekend!

Things that I noticed included many active projects undergoing design work, coding and assembling a quadcopter (commiserations on the maiden flight crash) and first timers playing with Arduino.

Highlights for me were:

  • getting hands on a real Lophilo – this development hardware looks extremely professional, flexible, and is not “vapourware”… can’t wait to own one!
  • Swarm Robots meeting – lots of really interesting ideas
  • R2D2 was at the swarm meeting – just too cute not to give a special mention