Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Meet the Maker: Jody Culkin

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Jody Culkin

Imagine being an artist with an insane desire to learn the tools that would set your art apart, that would inspire you to create something closest to your imagination. Imagine a burning desire improve the lives of others with all the skills that you have. Imagine, being Jody Culkin.

Jody started her career with Technical Photography at the Medical Department of New York University, an art form that is long lost in today’s world of Instagram and digital photography. A course taken on Physical Computing in 1998 at the age of 45 at ITP, NYU to learn electronics and coding, pushed her to be the maker that she is today. She is currently teaching a course in a Community college in New York. She is also an avid sculptor, an artist, a comics maker, a welder and many more things that marks a true maker. An exclusive interview with her here would take you closer to the world of makers.

Priya: What is your oldest memory as a geek and a maker? Also what were the first experiments that got you started in electronics?

Jody: I remember my junior high school days when we were taught about computers yet never got to work on one. Me and my friend used to exchange notes in ASCII art with pencil on paper. Also I had been making small functional objects like a table and lamps.

The first circuits were really simple with a play of many switches. I loved to use switches for so many different things.

Priya: How was the transition from being an artist to an electronics maker? Which, according to you, is the better way to go?
Jody: I think ideas need to be more clearer than only electronics, for that you need to be a designer. Otherwise I see a lot of designers getting help for electronics in the art world.

Priya: I am a huge fan of the Arduino comic strip that you did years back for arduino. What inspired you to do that? Are you working on more such comics?

Jody: Back in 2009, during a summer camp at ITP, I wanted to express whatever I had understood very clearly. So I decided to document it using a comic strip for others too. What you might observe in the comic, is that there is a central character telling the story, it is not only electronics and wires, which is an essential part to make it appealing in any comic.

Yes, I did some work for a breadboard workshop organized by Make. I would also like to do some work on CSS and JavaScript.

Priya: Wait wait.. You code JavaScript?

Jody: Yes, I started with Code Academy, they have some really great lessons to get you started with.

Priya: Impressive! What are the tools, might you suggest to be the essentials for any designer aspiring to add electronics to the art?

Jody: The tools I would suggest are Arduino, Processing, JS, also I liked MAXmsp interface, other random stuff like Digital multimeter, screw driver, basic sensors etc.

Priya: As an artist what are your most commonly used sensors? Also do you have to use general purpose PCBs or get it custom made?

Jody: I use photocells a lot. I also like IR sensors and Force sensitive Resistors, as they are pretty easy to interface. Regarding PCBs, I have always used breadboards. For some reason, they have always held up pretty strong.

Priya: What drives you? And what advice do you have to make it big in the world of Interactive Designs?

Jody: Curiosity drives me. I love putting different stuff together and observing the final results. Like one of my installations is a self turning-pages book, an added functionality of turning the pages via web was interesting.

To be a designer, one should learn to express things in a simple way. A majority of time should be spent working. Apart from that, networking is a must. Try to hang out with the designers whose work you get inspired by. People like to see works of different designers under the same roof. So try to improve your work to get in the grove with them.

Priya: Very insightful. What are your latest works that you would like to talk about these days?

Jody: There was a show at Florida, at the Boca Raton Museum of Art – I had some displays on fashion there. Also had a presentation on the way comics can be used to explain technology. I was working on a Lasersaur build with Eric Hagan, which is an open source laser cutter project started by Nortd labs at ITP at NYU.

Priya: Lastly, how does it feel to be a woman in tech doing electronics and art together? How did it feel back at the university? What is your current passion?

Jody: It feels great and empowering. T, The strength in the university was 50-50 for men and women. However, I observed that the men were putting in more efforts to learn in Physical Computing, whereas the women were more into web development. I wished women participated more. Tom, really supported and guided me well.

Currently, my passion is to teach the diverse students attending the Community College. Yes, some are very well prepared, some are not, but then, that is where a teacher’s true test of creativity lies.

Thank you for your time Jody!

(All of her work has been documented here.)

Something is rotten in Denmark (Bio-Hacks)

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Labitat, 3/2013

Massimo and I had the chance to visit a Labitat makerspace in Copenhagen. I have to thank Martin Markus to let us in on a non-visit day and move underground, where the lab is.

The main reason of our visit was getting in touch with the Bio-Hackers and Maker Community meeting there, get them involved in the Call of Makers for the upcoming European Maker Faire in Rome. We had a good time in talking with them about the strange situation we are witnessing here in Europe: many languages, many nations, one big movement of people tinkering around stuff. Get everybody to know about this event and the chance to meet and talk to each other is a massive task. But we are going to overcome it!

Labitat, 3/2013

The place is just super. I’ve been involved in the making of a makespaces in the last three years of my life, but I have no words in describing the feelings I had in witnessing the massive amount of contents that basement kept. No joke.

I tried my best in recovering those objects, those feelings and this odd XXIst century knowledge in a pool set of Flickr, where I tried to describe and follow the different projects I’ve seen.


Why visiting makerspaces is to me just like standing on giants shoulders? Basically because I know the problems and I see better, streamlined solutions answering (better than ours in Fablab Torino. You guys feel free to comment and make me feel naiv about the Fridge,  Bio Hacks, the communication billboards, and the AtMEGA 16u2 hack from Dennis.


Tinkering and coding with teens for a future of digital making

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

one day digital Pic by Alan Richardson Dundee,

At the beginning of march Christopher Martin, researcher in applied computer,  wrote us an email to tell us that he got involved in an ambitious plan taking place:  100 school pupils, 5 different digital-maker themes in 1 day for 4 subsequent weeks across Scotland.

The event called “One Day Digital” started on the 2nd of March at the Dundee University, where he is based,  and is organized by Nesta, supported by the Nominet Trust, O2 Think Big and the Scottish Government which created it as part of a wider programme called “Digital Makers” . It is especially aimed at:

encourage and enable a generation of young people to create, rather than simply consume, technology. Working closely with a consortium of partners, we are launching a campaign to highlight the benefits of learning digital skills and encourage innovation in digital education to equip young people with the skills they need to thrive in the digital world.

one day digital Pic by Alan Richardson Dundee,


Let’s go creative with lighting on a DIY laser device

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

blaus lasershow

Last year MediaInteractiveDesign and PlayModes , two interactive design and creative technology studios based in Catalonia, collaborated to develop a system to control DIY Laser robot.

They created a new shield  to control Dinamyxel servomotors  to work with PWM laser drivers. The shield works using Arduino Ethernet programmed with a specific firmware to control laser and motor using Open Sound Control.

The project involved a team of 3 people (Eloi Maduell, Alex Posada and Santi Vilanova) coming from the field of audiovisual creativity, hardware engineering and software development.

To show us the way this system can be used, they sent us two of their projects. Enjoy! (more…)

A thermometer of future temps with the Arduino GSM Shield

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013


Things you can do with the new Arduino Gsm Shield: a thermometer of future temps!



Turing and interaction at the Science Museum in London

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Looping by Hirsch&Mann

Codebreaker is the exhibition started last year at  the Science Museum of London and celebrating  the centenary of the birth of computing pioneer Alan Turing.

Hirsch&Mann were commissioned to create a “series of exhibits which demonstrated and recognized the progress in computing while at the same time representing a spirit of engineering and innovation” .


Prusa Brothers at Officine Arduino Torino

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Prusa brothers

The feeling of pure joy that is felt when the first object is printed on the Prusa Mendel i3 is a priceless and a compulsary experience for any maker. The super-simple yet sturdy design of the printer is coupled with the easy to use and well maintained software crafted for the purpose of 3D printing Slic3r by Alessandro Ranellucci. The interview with them later that day was interesing too. A lot has been written about Josef Prusa he also has a TEDx talk to his name. His youtube channel has a lot of 3D printing related information. Make magazine recognizes him too! A lot can be found out about him, and google tracks his transition from the time that he was a very young enthusiastic maker to the current open source 3D printing guru. For the newbies, a single line definition of a 3D printer could be, that it is a printer which prints the uploaded 3D file, layer by layer, through an extruder, with a material mostly looking like pastic Eg ABS(Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). Here is the exclusive interview with the DJ-ing, electronics hacking, Chicken Tikka masala loving Prusa Brothers :

Priya: It was lovely attending your workshop, I see that you are really passionate about 3D printing. If there was another topic that you could talk to me about apart from 3D printing, what would be that?

Michal Pruša: It would definitely be music, Techno and minimal to be preicise. I sometimes perform as DJ too.
Josef Pruša: For me, it would be tinkering in general.

P: How is it Michal, to work with your brother and what are the other interesting things that you have done with electronics?

M: Oh! we have a lot of incomplete projects. I designed an RFID access system for the fablab at home, been doing DIY PCBs for almost 5 years now. Back in high school, since I was not wanting to take exams, I requested the teacher to transfer the exam credits into a project. I successfully built a method of teaching router encoders for school students. The most memorable moment was me wanting to build my own laser cutting machine at home, and trying to import the tubes from china 3 years back, and getting it all broken through the customs. Local access to materials is important! Especially for someone who loves building things.

J: He wants to build everything from scratch, I am more of a person who spends more time in improving stuff and not reinventing the wheel. Michal, lets do one thing, lets start mining tin. (Laughs)

P: What is a regular work schedule for you people is like? All the time on 3D printers? Also what is your favourite tool around the lab?

J: I am mostly working on 3D printing, while he just assists me on workshops. As far as his individual work is concerned, there is loads of electronics, DJ-ing, organising events and of course there is college. We are fuelled by Coke and Pizza on gaming nights. We are big time into playing minecraft as it is exciting to build new stuff. We use an extension called Tekkit which is a very good modpack.
M: Favourite tool, should definitely be the glue gun and hot air solder gun.

P: Josef, what was your first project and did you publish it? Did you both start tinkering around the same time?

J: Michal has been tinkering with electronics since the time he was very young, I started only at the end of high school. But, I was into programing with php and python. My first project was using an Arduino and MaxMSP. MaxMSP talks to the arduino and an iphone. I controlled a remote RC car. (Smiles) I wrote to the local Czech magazine, nobody bothered locally, then I submitted the same to the english magazine, gizmodo and wired covered it. That was in the year 2009. The most recent coverage of that project was when Damien Stolarz of O’Reilly wanted me to write a chapeter in his book of iPhone hacks on the same hack.

M: The first time that I used a multimeter was when I was 9. I have made many projects but I am too lazy to document anything. (I catch a sneaky side glare from the older brother here.)

P: Who do you look up to in the field of technology? Which is the one city that beckons you to live in?

J: I used to look upto Bre Pettis before makerbot became closed source. Massimo Banzi, for of course Arduino and a good sense of humour. I would like to live in NewYork someday.

M: We both grew up watching Mythbusters hence Adam Savage I guess tops the list for us having this innate passion to create stuff.

P: What is the one thing that scares you?

J: Media scares me. The ability of the media to make anyone an overnight star, has lead to a bunch of people 3D printing guns. Which, as I can see, is not good for the 3D printing industry, it might bring a very bad name to all of us who are trying to do good with the same technology.

P: One last question, I saw your TEDx Talk dating 3 years back, your english then to the english now is very different, I see that now you can think in English. Whats the secret?

J: (Smiles) Good question and please do quote me on this. I learnt engish by chatting a lot on IRC channel #reprap on freenode, for the diction I watched a lot of english TV series. That TEDx talk was my first ever public speech at a large platform.

It was indeed a pleasure talking to them. They can be contacted here.
His book: Getting started with RepRap.


Interview of Massimo Banzi by Wired

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Watch Massimo Banzi, co-founder Arduino, talk about the Arduino platform and their new product, Arduino-Due.

Arduino: creation is child’s play [Wired Italia]

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Have a look at this wonderfully handcrafted 20-min webumentary about Arduino, made by Opificio Ciclope and produced by Wired Italia.

Nice format and nice look: good job.

The core of our story is the life of Massimo Banzi, and the region in which he was born: the Canavese area. In particular, the city of Ivrea, a veritable Mecca of Italian informatics, where Olivetti had its headquarters. The more we discovered their world, the more it became clear that this story was not only about silicon and circuits: it was about their shared excitement and their curiosity, like kids playing with their favorite toy.

(BTW, Massimo is not from Ivrea, but I guess Ivrea’s Mayor is going to give him and the Arduino Team the honorary citizenship)

via [Wired Italia]

il Trailer del Documentario di Wired su Arduino

Friday, November 30th, 2012

E’ stato appena pubblicato il trailer del documentario che Wired Italia ha realizzato su Arduino. Il video per intero verrà rilasciato la prossima settimana.

source [Facebook]