Beijing Maker carnival, five dollar micro controller, candle replacement and more!

Beijing Maker Carnival was held last weekend: “makers and hackers from around the world and China came together to show off their projects, do talks and lead workshops. The event was mainly organized by Beijing Maxpace with a lead role by Justin Wang (王盛林) and the help of many students from various Chinese universities in Beijing”. Ricky from Xinchejian attended and presented and has published some very interesting highlights .

A portable, rechargeable, affordable candle replacement has been developed by the Wyld Collective and Foul labs in Canada to help reduce very frequent fires in Bangkok! They gave a presentation at Xinchejian in Shanghai and also attended the Beijing Maker Carnival. It is really inspiring to hear how such a simple LED light can have a major social impact, quite possibly worldwide!

Mitch Altman and his “crew” were in Beijing for the Maker Carnival and also visited Xinchejian in Shanghai a few weeks ago. The inspirations that I gained from there talks were:

  • Mitch has been living of the proceeds of the TV-b-gone for several years! UPDATE – Mitch just blogged his trip report.
  • $5 micro controller MC HCK that is roughly equivalent to an Arduino is being developed by Simon Schubert. This extremely affordable price will make the board very accessible to those who otherwise cannot access these tools and also means the board can be “left in place” as a permanent project, rather than disassembled for the next project! I really like this idea!
  • Yair Reshef showed how extremely simple ideas can have a huge influence: {coin battery + LED + tape} = fun toy to introduce very young kids to electronics! I scored some that were left behind and a couple were still working a week later!

Inspirations from Sketching in Hardware 2011

Even just the presentation titles from Sketching in Hardware 2011 are exciting, and the content is even better. I found many great ideas and challenges!

  • Improvement? and Sideways Invention: Alternative Technology
  • Building the Web of Things …. fast prototyping Web-based physical mashups
  • Motivating the Masses to Make
  • Inspired by Edison
  • What does “DIY” mean?
  • What does “DIY” mean when you depend on a massive global industry for your raw materials?
  • Playing in the Scrapyard: … Recycling … Re-use
  • Help Wanted… how to transform a great project into an awesome product…
  • BYO Hackerspace
  • Re-inventions and Improvements
  • Personal Fabrication
  • Modular electronics documentation
  • State of the [Open Source Hardware] Union
  • Open Innovation as a model for invention – OpenIDEO
  • Eliminating barriers … from connecting weird stuff to the internet
  • Connecting Open Hardware to Its Source
  • Programming Programs to Program Programs

I have shortened a few titles to highlight the things that leapt out at me. Once again I encourage you strongly to read or watch the presentations yourself, as your interests will be different to mine!

Inspirations from Open Hardware Summit 2011

Here is a selection of presentations that I found really really inspiring from the recent  Open Hardware Summit. I have also included brief notes highlighting the key points that inspired me.

My apologies to those presenters not singled out below – this does not mean your talk was not inspiring! It just means that I focussed on the key content that really inspired me and changed my thinking. It also means that I have only read the static document, and not seen and heard your presentation, which makes a huge difference!

  • Gabriella Levine, Protei: Open Oceans and Open Hardware: Protei, a proliferating fleet of DIY sailboat drones to clean up oil spills
    • Collaborative:People and professionals from all over the world  creating Protei
    • Already talking about reuse “Reappropriated for other purposes”
    • Even though it is very complex involving physical and electronic design, it is not about the tec/hacking, it is about large scale practical use in remote and hostile locations!
    • very well documented – a key to enable others to build and enhance
    • the speed with which the community created, built and deployed

Major use of open source by the scientific community – you want need to follow back to their main sites to see what they are doing – moodular PCI-e cards, major extensions to KiCad, …..


These drove home to me that open source is NOT ONLY about electronics – steam engines to yurts!


Yet another leap in a different direction – I read the title, but it did not really sink about the scale of what we can all be invloved in until I read the presentation.


I would encourage you strongly to read or watch the presentations yourself, as your interests will be different to mine!

You might also want to check out the 2010 summit – it also had some very inspiring talks, and of course keep an eye out here as I have more inpiration posts coming.