2008 Austin, TX Jamboree/Maker Faire

Shed-at-sunriseShopbot and the Maker Faire seem to be a natural fit for one another. It’s a chance for creative people to show off a little, and at the same time learn a lot from others doing the same…
This Faire and Jamboree were no exception.
There were 5 days of activities starting on Wednesday the 15th with a condensed “basic training” class held by Sallye Coyle. Sallye squeezed a lot of information into the session, and helped to jump start a new group of ‘Botters.
On Thursday we had a VERY full day of sessions.
Ted Hall started off with his annual “state of the Shopbot address”, and announced a number of NEW developments. One was about the roll out of the new “Buddy”models, and how they fit into the Shopbot line of products. Ted also showed off the new “Z axis retro fit”unit which will let almost ANY prior Shopbot get upgraded to a current version of the Z axis which has really increased stability, and accuracy for later model owners. In addition he pointed out that older models can now upgrade their rails to a much more stable, hardened version as well.
That was followed up by James Booth, and Brian Moran who rolled out the latest/greatest addition from the Vectric software line called “Aspire”. It is a “3D modelling”program which offers features previously only available in much more expensive programs. James did a full demo of Aspire’s capabilities, and totally wow’d the crowd ! You’ll be reading a lot more about this program on ALL the forums in the next few weeks/months…
Raymond Chapman then gave an excellent presentation which addressed the issue of how to determine pricing for the work you do. Because of Raymond’s expertise in the sign trade he used that as his business model, and I think he opened up a lot of eyes to what really goes into running a successful Shopbot business.
Scott Cox brought in some great samples of work he has been developing over the last few years using the ‘4th axis/indexer’. He spoke about his techniques in laying out the projects, and then explained how he is now using “Aspire”to help him develop his tool paths.
Robert Ball delved into the concept of “using a Shopbot in your business”, and went on to explain how he has been able to change the focus, and production of his bat house empire through the use of his Shopbot. He gave examples of what he used to do to produce his product compared to what he is now capable of. In addition Robert brought a trailer full of bat stuff, and displayed his bat houses ( including a visit by a local fruit bat..) at a booth next to ours during the Faire.
Ed Stutz followed up this concept by speaking about the idea of “production cutting”with a Shopbot, and spoke of his experiences integrating a Shopbot into a well known West Coast company which builds tools, and parts for people wanting to build their own musical instruments.
Brad Devereaux of Delcam then gave a demonstration of the latest tools in their Artcam program, and he brought in some excellent samples to show off the program’s capabilities.
Jon Santiago of Sustainable South Bronx/Fab Lab followed with a presentation of “Green Shopbotting”in which he described how his community based project in the Bronx, NY is using a Shopbot to help develop new job skills, and businesses for people at risk.
And then Dennis Michaud a recent graduate of MIT spoke about the concept of “digitally fabricated housing”which was highlighted by a full scale project cut by Bill Young, and Robert Bridges in Virginia, trucked out to Texas, and assembled by 4 of us with only rubber mallets in 1-1/2 days ( see above) .
And after all of that was over we had a Bar B Q down at the RV camping area for anyone still left standing….
Friday morning kicked off with Sallye Coyle running a Women’s class in the Show barn, and this year all of the “students”got to design, tool path, and cut their own sign to take home.
While that was going on James Booth did a session in the Skyline Club which explained the concepts of using “dimensional”work in creating projects. he went over the use of 3D clip art, and did a replay of his “Aspire”demonstration for those people who weren’t there on Thursday.
Then we had our “Show and tell”session, which produced some great stuff this year ! Pictures of this work can be seen on our Flickr”page; http://www.flickr.com/photos/campshopbot/
And if that wasn’t enough we had the (un) usual stream of brilliance from all of the other attendees at the Maker Faire going on all around us ! Some of this year’s favorites were;
A car fully equipped with 500 singing “Billy Bass” plaques all doing opera….
The crowd favorite “Diet Coke/Mentos fountains”which was comprised of 110 bottles of Diet Coke synchronized to explode like a Las Vegas fountain show.
A 60 foot bicycle powered “rattlesnake”mobile sculpture propelled by 8 drivers.
A booth which explained how to build your own CNC machine out of MDF parts.
And hundreds of other “Makers”who got the chance to show their stuff to the world.
It was a VERY wonderful week, and I think all those who attended will agree that we filled every possible minute with interesting activities for all…..

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