Friday, July 11, 2014

Frankie Flood + Blog Tour

Frankie Flood contacted me today about participating in a "blog tour" - I've never heard of this before, but apparently it is a process of linking to three blogs you follow, and asking those three bloggers to do the same. It initially reminded me of the chain-letter emails popular in the late 1990's AOL era.  Since I do follow a couple of blogs pretty religiously, and constantly find myself pointing people toward them anyway, I thought it could be fun to participate.

I dont think I'm supposed to use Frankie's blog as one of the three I'm to "tag" (I probably read his more than any other) but you can at least head there to check out his post on this blog tour.

Now, let us continue the tour.

Blog #1: Bunnie Studios

Andrew "bunnie" Huang is an American hacker, who holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering from MIT.  He blogs primarily about open source electronics and hackery, and about his own projects ranging from re-purposing SD card micro controllers, to building electrical circuits on the fly using a series of pcb stickers he designed, to his incredible open source laptop series. 

His blog also features a regular segment titled "Name that ware" where he posts ambiguous details of circuit boards and asks his readers to attempt to identify their origin.  I rarely have any idea of the pcb's identity, but it is always fun to read replies from the savvy readers who do.

Blog #2: Anna Kaziunas France

Anna Kaziunas France is the Digital Fabrication Editor of Maker Media and the Dean of Students for the Fab Academy program. She blogs about everything digital fabrication, and focuses primarily on new platforms for 3D printing, desktop CNC milling, and home-brew manufacturing.  Any time I hear about an exciting new platform for making it is usually from this blog.

Blog #3: RasterWeb!

Pete Prodoehl, who started RasterWeb in 1997, is a Milwaukee-based artist, designer, tinkerer and all-around maker.  I met Pete after his robot beat my robot in a competition last summer.  He's an active member at the Milwaukee Makerspace where he serves as communications director.  I love his blog because he posts about things that span the entire spectrum of what I'm interested in, including art, design, digital fabrication, creative coding, open source hardware and a bunch more.  He is also great about posting walk-throughs of his experiments, which makes for an amazing learning opportunity for anyone in this vocation. 

Thanks for reading, and happy touring!!

A Glimpse of Shanghai's Maker Scene

Before my trip, I contacted DFRobot (China's version of Sparkfun) with questions about the maker scene in Shanghai.  Early on during my stay in Shanghai, I met up with Berlina Li, a DFRobot Employee who was kind enough to respond to my emails!  She invited me to a gathering at the new fab lab at Tongji University.

The fab lab there is small, but they have some funds incoming this summer that will fill their facilities out with power tools, CNC machines and other fabrication equipment.  It was great to see how things are done at a university on the other side of the planet, and I had the opportunity to chat with students and faculty about the kinds of projects happening at this design-focused college.

After chatting with Berlina about Milwaukee's maker scene and my practice as an artist, designer and maker, she proposed I come do a talk at Xinchejian, Shanghai's first Hackerspace.  While I was off in Dalian for the conference, she organized a meetup in Xinfab (Xinchejian's fabrication lab).  The talk was well attended - around 20 people came to listen and chat with me about art, design, making and sharing.  I also had a chance to scope out Shanghai's equivilant of the Milwaukee Makerspace.

While I only saw a tiny cross-section of maker culture in Shanghai, it was exciting to see the same kind of excitement and curiosity surrounding making, creativity and science.  I will certainly have to return some day to explore further.

Shanghai's Beijing Lu

While in China for a 3D Printing conference, I west to visit Shanghai's famous Beijinglu (Beijing Road), known as the "hardware district" of the great city.

It is only a couple blocks away from the metro - I took line 2 to the East Nanjing Exit and walked two blocks north on Henan Road.

Spanning several blocks surrounding a stretch of road between Xizang and Henan, this area is home to a seemingly bottomless supply of any kind of hardware, tools, stock metals, adhesives, electrical components, and pretty much anything you'd need for any hardware project.


 Found in the back rooms and street corners all over this area were men and women preparing packages to be shipped all over the world. I realize now when I order components from China they are most likely coming from places like this!