Membership at MIDAS: What It Can Do For You!

#madeatMIDAS Corporate membership

We at MIDAS are so proud of our Corporate Services.  Membership to the MIDAS Fabrication Lab opens up so many opportunities to expand, develop and grow your business and, ultimately, help you fulfill your innovation or entrepreneurial dreams.

Membership:  beat the competition through rapid prototyping at MIDAS

MIDAS specializes in fast-iteration, short-run and rapid prototyping.  Our membership services are open to regional companies, including start-ups, with a focus on supporting prototype and product commercialization.

Our facility is unique to the entire region, providing members with the best in state-of-the-art modern technology tools – almost half a million dollars in superior digital fabrication equipment and industry leading expertise to help bring your idea or innovation to life!

3D printing technology, CNC milling, vinyl cutting and more!  In addition to the equipment, MIDAS offers the necessary training, providing makers, companies, entrepreneurs and employees with advanced skills to turn business dreams to reality while defining our region as experts in advanced materials/metals and digital fabrication.  With a membership at MIDAS you can get the customized training you need to help you and your business get ahead, embracing new technology and maximizing your business’ potential through the variety of tools and equipment available.  Prototype development can be had at any stage, allowing you to get your product to market faster, hands-on, locally right here in your own backyard.

From engineers to aspiring, innovative entrepreneurs MIDAS customizes the experience to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need to develop your product or service.  Have an idea?  Join the MIDAS corporate membership to help get it out the door!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake #metaltechalley

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fun Friday: DIY 3D Printed Fidget Spinner

DIY 3D printed fidget spinner

Despite being on trend for the past several years, Fidget Spinners are everywhere!  This little gadget of mindless distraction is likely the single most 3D printed item, and very simple in design, so it’s understandable why makers, young and old, are eager to design their own version.

This is a great 3D printing project because it will provide you all there is to know about the mechanics of fidget spinners and how to create your 3D printable file.

DIY 3D printed Fidget Spinner

The Fidget Spinner is a simple project that uses three 3D-printed parts and a bearing from McMaster-Carr. Learn how to use the McMaster-Carr part browser, basic 3D modeling, and how to make mechanical joints.

Modelling demo and files:  If you’re unfamiliar with Fusion 360, here’s a handy 3D Printing Class to get crash course in using the program.  The application is free to students and hobbyists, so there’s plenty to be had for educational support as you get to know it.

This is a fun and pretty easy project, and if you follow the complete instructions, which includes instructional webinars and video, totally do-able for the beginner maker.

3D design and printing truly allows just about anyone access to fabrication and prototyping with relative ease.  If you’re interested in learning the basics in design, 3D printing and fabrication, be sure to check out all of the cool courses we have on offer.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fun Friday! Easy & Fun Beginner Maker Ed Projects

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projects

Maker Ed, or Maker Education, is a new school of educational thought that focuses on delivering constructivist, project-based learning curriculum and instruction to students. As the Maker Movement begins to make inroads into conventional education, maker education spaces are geared to facilitating hands-on learning experiences that incorporate both low and high tech, and can be as large as full high school workshops with high-tech tools, or as small and low-tech as one corner of an elementary classroom.

Maker Ed is particularly effective when leveraging the balance between exploration and execution. Small projects lend themselves to indefinite tinkering and fiddling, while larger projects need complex, coordinated planning. Often, small projects can organically grow into larger and larger projects. This deliberate process strengthens and enriches a learner’s executive functioning skills.

Effective Maker Ed isn’t just about the tools and technology.  Communication and collaboration are two of Maker Ed’s fundamental values. Making allows learners to practice their social communication skills in a variety of ways:  Affinity-based, where students organize themselves in real world and/or Internet (or virtual) to learn something connected to a shared endeavor, interest, or passion; role-specific, where the learning is customized dependent upon the specific tasks and function of the project and the training is presented in the context of a specific role ands what it takes to perform that role; or, teacher-assigned, where the educator facilitates more directly assigning each student to a particular task in the project.  It’s important for all different groups to be present in student learning spaces so that all students can practice their social skills in multiple settings.

Additionally, making offers unique opportunities to generate flow learning, an optimal psychological state that students experience when engaged in an activity that is appropriately challenging to their individual skill levels while encouraging immersion and concentrated focus on a task. Flow learning allows for deeper learning experiences as well as higher levels of personal and work satisfaction where the teacher is better able to leverage high-interest projects and activities and turn them into learning objectives within a curriculum.

Ultimately, we are talking about collaboration and learning through doing.  Maker education provides the space for real-life collaboration, integration across multiple disciplines, and iteration—the opportunity to fail, rework a project and find success.

We at MIDAS are fully committed to supporting the efforts of educators and makers looking to promote a cooperative learning environment where collaboration and education work hand-in-hand encouraging innovation in the most fun and organic ways possible.

New to the Maker Culture and education?  Here are a few fun and easy suggestions to get things going with the young – or old – aspiring makers in your life:

Smaller Scale Maker Ed Projects

Do you want to get into Making and Maker Ed but don’t know where to start? No problem! Here are nine class-tested, teacher-approved ideas, which can be built using a few tools for K–8 students.

tower of power beginner maker projectTowers of Power

Materials:  Paper, Scotch tape.

Tools: Scissors.

A great starting point for a beginning Maker teacher, this “Towers of Power” activity allows students to build towers out of paper and Scotch tape.

Students can build the tallest tower with an unlimited amount of materials, constrain themselves to limited materials or introduce new materials, such as straws and paper clips.

Once it’s complete, have fun crushing the tower with textbooks! Find out which tower holds up the most weight.

This group activity can help students with teamwork, leadership and planning skills. Best of all, variations on this theme are endless — and the materials can be found in any home or office.

simple catapult beginner maker projectCatapults

Materials:  Mouse traps, wood stirring sticks, erasers, wood blocks, ping-pong balls. hot glue.

Tools: a hot glue gun.

 

Introducing elements of STEM, this catapult activity is a favourite project to introduce engineering principles, motion and fun. The catapult allows students to chase down the best launching angle and the ratio between power and arm length, as well as discuss projectile motion, gravity, physics laws and a whole host of other things.

Plus, every student likes trying to smash something apart with a teacher’s permission.

Little hands might pinch themselves handling the strong lever, so it’s good practice to disengage the spring for students while they make their catapults.

Design Challenge Projects

Terrific exercises in STEAM!  And a great way to get into making is to give you and your students a few hours to explore the Making design process. Design challenges are a great way to get this done.

Set a hard time limit, test the devices, take time to evaluate and reflect.

Bridge to Nowhere beginner maker projectBridge to Nowhere

Materials:  Wood craft sticks, hot glue, 5-gallon bucket with weights.

Tools:  Hot glue gun,  diagonal cutters.

Design a bridge to span a foot-long gap and hold as much weight as possible.

An extension could be to build a cantilever — a bridge with only one footing.

Use a set amount of craft sticks or materials in order to encourage creativity in solutions.

Float the Boat

 beginner maker projectFloat the Boat

Materials:  Tinfoil, craft sticks, bamboo skewers, paper, hot glue, clay, wood scraps, pens and markers.

Tools:  Scissors, hot glue guns, craft sticks.

Design a boat that can hold the most cargo, move through the water the fastest, or has the most efficient weight to cargo ratio.

Find the best shape for sails, design the fastest hull and find the balance point.

Egg Drop beginner maker STEM projectEgg Drop

Materials:  Cardboard boxes, packing tape, junk and stuff (the weirder, the better). Think packing materials, fabric scraps, string, rope, plastic bags, etc.

Tools:  Scissors.

Some serious STEM fun!

Throwing eggs off something high always gets kids motivated.

It’s a great way to discuss momentum and illustrate why you should always wear your seat belt!

Beginner Maker projects DIY musical instrumentsInstruments


Materials:  Wood scraps, strings, dried rice, beans, sandpaper, cardboard, cardboard boxes, paper rolls, hot glue, tape, small sections of pipe, etc.

Tools:  Hot glue gun, scissors, hole punch, awl.

If a teacher offers a student the opportunity to make something joyfully noisy, they usually take it.

Homemade, DIY, maker instruments come in all different sizes and types — from wood drums to coffee can shakers, to wind chimes to xylophones, it just takes a bit of a Google search to find great ideas.

Electricity

Once you—parent, teacher, facilitator —get your “legs” for developing and encouraging Maker projects, why not expand your skills?

By now you’ve seen what you and what your kids can do. You’ve probably worked out how to efficiently manage the classroom and supplies, and document learning. Kick it up a level consider some more advanced projects incorporating electricity.

Electromagnetic beginner maker STEM projectElectromagnets



Materials:  Metal bolts, nails, copper wire, batteries.Tools:  Pliers, scissors or wire snips.

Electromagnets illustrate the connection between electricity and magnetism.

In real life, electromagnets are the cornerstone of many common electrical devices, such as door bells, burglar alarms, car doors and electric motors. Students can fiddle with them to create small toys that can pick up ferrous objects.

Squishy Circuits DIY beginner maker projectsSquishy Circuits

Materials:  Battery holder – 4XAA Batteries w/ Switch, (4) AA Batteries, LED – 5mm or 10mm Jumbo, Conductive Dough, Insulating Dough.

Tools:  Hot plate, or stove, and pots, wire snips or scissors.

Squishy circuits are a fun way to learn and explore the basics of electricity and electrical circuits and they solve one of the biggest conundrums with younger Makers: how to build with real electronic components when the young hands have yet to develop the fine motor skills to connect relatively small parts together via grown up tools?

Play dough! Take a piece of flour and a small collection of electronic parts (which you can find online at a low cost.)

You can get all the deets for this project HERE.

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projectsArduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey Controller Boards

Materials:

Anything you can get your hands on:   Tinfoil, wires

Tools:  Pliers, scissors, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey

Once the students have made a few electronic circuits, they might ask for something a bit more complicated.

Give them a programmable microcontroller board, which they can use to play a banana piano, design a custom video game controller or create a dance floor that can play different songs with each tile.

Check out these great microcontroller projects HERE!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fun Friday: Raspberry Pi BeetBox

DIY Raspberry Pi BeetBox

Looking for a new and unique party activity… using a somewhat unpopular vegetable??  May we introduce the BeetBox!

This fun and interesting project combines the magic of the Raspberry Pi and beets to create a rather unique and simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets.

Since its release in 2012, this little gem of a mini-computer has the DIY community in love!   And it’s the range and diversity of the Raspberry Pi that has made it such a hit among makers.  This project requires a Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit, a touch sensor, a soldering station, and your favorite invention kit if you’re a newbie. You’ll also need some basic carpentry skills to build the enclosure. But, once your BeetBox is complete, you’ll be charming friends and family with the best and most interesting instrument on the block!

To get started, the source code and instructions for the BeetBox are viewable on GitHub. This project is also do-able with an Arduino as well as MaKey MaKey.  There will be reference to other necessary components here and you can visit over to Scott Made This for more info and a simple Google search can also lead you to where you can find them (ie. Amazon).

Raspberry Pi & beets DIY BeetBox

The enclosure is made with .5″x8″ poplar boards, which are cut to size and finished using various hand and power tools. A router can be used for both the edge details and for grooves in which to conceal the wires, and a drill press to create the speaker grill and to bore holes for the beets with a hole saw. It can then be stained and assembled with wood glue and a nail gun, sealing the enclosure with polyurethane.

Touch sensing is handled by an MPR121 Capacitive Touch Sensor from SparkFun, for which existing Arduino code can be ported to Python. This board communicates with a Python script on a Raspberry Pi via I2C. The script watches for new touches and triggers drum samples using pygame. Audio from the Pi’s line out is run through a small amplifier using an LM386, which is based on a circuit straight from the data sheet. The amp is connected to a salvaged speaker mounted under the holes in the lid.

To find out more information, including a complete list of recommended tools and parts, as well as more DIY inspiration, head over to Scott Made This.

3D Printed Tools: Durable, Functional, Economical & Strong!

3D printed tools at MIDAS Fab Lab

If you’ve picked up your toolbox recently, chances are it was quite an effort.  Overflowing with conventionally manufactured chromium-vanadium alloy items such as wrench sets, your collection of screwdrivers and a seemingly endless selection of socket components, it’s no surprise it weighs a ton!  With the advent of, and increasing ease of access to, 3D printing, now you can save your shoulder – suprisingly strong and durable 3D printed tools can easily replace their steel counterparts.

3D printed tools can be made as you need them

Metal alloys are inarguably very strong, but for many jobs, there’s really only so much an item needs to withstand. Your choice of tool depends significantly on the pressure required and the structure of the design relative to the demands of the task.  And while every material has a limit, the rise of 3D printing for any manner of application, is challenging these limits through effective design.

3D printed tools made at MIDAS Fab Lab

3D printed tools #madeatMIDAS on the fly in the MIDAS booth at the 2018 #BCTECH Summit

3D printed tools are cheap, easy to customize, easily replaceable, and non-conductive. A simple search will bring up most common tools, all of which can be resized with a 3D modeling program to fit your needs.

3D printing creates parts by building up objects one layer at a time.  Infill, print speed, layer thickness, shape and widths all affect the lifespan and grade of wear resistance.

Keep in mind, the materials used aren’t simply the plastic filament you may associate with 3D printing.  The Markforged printers, which we have in the MIDAS Fab Lab, offer a single-step process that produces parts and tools with a custom plastic-carbon fibre composite, capable of making parts that are 20 times stronger and 10 times stiffer than standard ABS plastic.

The company claims that its 3D material can replace machined aluminum in industrial applications. The key is Markforged thermoplastic fiber filament, which incorporates a “strand of continuous fiberglass” into the carbon fiber for added strength.

Given the increasing ease with which industrial grade tools can be made, NASA has been making headlines with their own 3D printing projects. Robert Hillan’s multipurpose precision maintenance tool contains a variety of wrenches, wire gauge, and stripper, as well as a way to utilize drill bits.  Part of the “on demand” focus of the testing, NASA also successfully 3D printed a working ratchet wrench.

As NASA understands and proves with each production, one of the main advantages of additive manufacture is the speed at which parts can be produced compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Complex designs can be uploaded from a CAD model and printed in a few hours. The advantage of this is the rapid verification and ongoing,  iterative development of design ideas.

Printing a tool or part with a printer such as that of Markforged can be 50 times faster than carving it out of aluminum and 20 times cheaper as there’s no wasted material. For example, a small bike valve wrench takes about 10 minutes to print.

Wrench made in space by NASA

One of the biggest concerns for a product designer is how to manufacture a part as efficiently as possible. Most parts require a large number of manufacturing steps to be produce by traditional technologies. The order these steps occur affects the quality and manufacturability of the design.

Consider a custom steel bracket that is made via traditional manufacturing methods:

As with additive manufacturing, the process begins with a CAD model. Once the design is finalized, fabrication begins with first cutting the steel profiles to size. The profiles are then clamped into position and welded one at a time to form the bracket. Sometimes a custom jig will need to be made up to ensure all components are correctly aligned. The welds are then polished to give a good surface finish. Next holes are drilled so the bracket can be mounted on the wall. Finally, the bracket is sandblasted, primed and painted to improve its appearance.

Conversely, additive manufacturing machines complete a build in one step, with no interaction from the machine operator during the build phase. As soon as the CAD design is finalized, it can be uploaded to the machine and printed in one step in only a couple of hours.

The ability to produce a part in one step greatly reduces the dependence on different manufacturing processes (machining, welding, painting) and gives the designer greater control over the final product.

The advantages to 3D printing anything, including tools, are making their way into the public consciousness, particularly as access becomes more readily available.  Fabrication labs like ours at MIDAS, where the equipment and training are made available to both corporate and public users, increase the ease with which tools, parts or just about anything else can be easily prototyped and produced for a fraction of the cost of conventional means.

If you’re interested in learning more about the possibilities here at MIDAS, please contact us.  If you’d like to see the valuable training we have available to take advantage of our state-of-the-art facilities, check out our course calendar.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake #metaltechalley

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fun Friday: 20 Day Giveaway – KAST’s 20th Anniversary Contest!

KAST 20th Anniversary giveaway

In honour of 20th Anniversary of the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology (KAST), they, along with the team here at MIDAS thought, what better way to celebrate than to give away some great innovative stuff!

To help KAST celebrate and to enter the giveaway, we ask that you simply like the KAST Facebook page and enter your email (daily!) for the chance to win some great swag.   The perfect opportunity for anyone interested in trying the facilities here at the MIDAS Fab Lab because on the block is a great grand prize pack, which includes a 1 month membership at MIDAS, along with 2 FREE MIDAS courses of your choosing.

There’s other great stuff, too, and all the prizes are completely transferrable so be sure to consider the creative innovator or maker in your family, home, or office and make it happen!

The contest opens today and runs for 20 days, don’t delay!

So, help to celebrate 20 years supporting science, tech, business, startups and all things innovation in the Koots and be sure to visit KAST on Facebook, like us, leave your info each day until mid-June, and increase your chances to win!

Thanks to all and good luck!  Click HERE to enter!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fun Friday: MIDAS Fab Lab & SMRT1 Taking #BCTECH By Storm!

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

The MIDAS & SMRT1 Technologies teams had a tremendous time networking, connecting and promoting at the 2018 #BCTECH Summit this past week.  First off, a ton of fun was had sharing space, time and laughs with the rest of the Koots contingent, KAST, Metal Tech Alley, Austin Engineering, and Imagine Kootenay and seeing a whole bunch of familiar Koots faces over the course of two days.

This year’s was a biggie, record-breaking, in fact.   Bigger than ever, this year’s Summit hosted an estimated 9,000 participants for approximately a dozen conference-related events over three days.  A whopping 3,000 delegates connected with over 270 exhibitors and watched more than 200 speakers highlighting the transformations technology is driving across all industries in British Columbia and beyond.

“There is no better indication of the robust and dynamic state of B.C.’s tech industry than this event—which has touched a record number of people for a third straight year,” said Shirley Vickers, President & CEO of Innovate BC, which delivered the event in partnership with the Government of B.C. “The #BCTECH Summit is where industry meets innovation, and the significant involvement of technology leaders, investors, senior government officials, students, researchers and business executives in every industry shows an unquenched thirst for innovation and collaboration in this province.”

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

MIDAS Fab Lab Director and tech-savvy-innovator-in-chief-teddy-bear-biker, Brad Pommen, was THE man!  With tremendous skill and his usual warmth, he inspired, excited and charmed just about everyone who stopped by the booth with his range of knowledge, his expertise and his unstoppable enthusiasm.

Innovation is clearly Brad’s passion and it exuded in every conversation he had.  Whether it was the MIDAS Fab Lab or the business that was borne from it, SMRT1 Technologies and the incredible Brain STEM Toolbox vending machine, he made the booth a highlight of the conference.

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

MIDAS Fab Lab Director, Brad Pommen, addressing the #BCTECH Summit press

 

KAST Executive Director at the MIDAS booth #BCTECH Summit

KAST Executive Director, Don Freschi, playing with the Hololens and Selkirk College’s Jason Taylor, at the MIDAS booth at #BCTECH Summit 2018.

In addition to the MIDAS/SMRT1 fun, attendees enjoyed thought-provoking sessions, panels and keynotes by global thought leaders featured highly among many other conference highlights:

  • 150 investors that represent $225B in capital watched 45 of B.C.’s most promising startups pitch in the Investment Showcase.
  • Approximately 2,000 high school students participated in Youth Innovation Day to learn about the jobs of the future and a career in tech.
  • Over 220 B2B Meetings were matched between 38 technology buyers with 98 local technology solution providers.
  • Delegates from 16 countries and four continents complemented a strong international presence of companies including Title Sponsor Microsoft, Google Cloud, Lululemon, Amazon, Blue Origin, Lyft, Lockheed Martin, Sage, WeWork, LinkedIn, Salesforce, IBM and RBC.
  • Premier John Horgan announced tech and innovation investments including over $102.6 million in funding for 75 research projects in B.C. and $10.5 million for entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students.

If you weren’t able to attend, make sure you check out some videos from this year’s crop of speakers HERE.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fun Friday: Easy DIY Arduino Thermometer

Fun Friday: Easy DIY Arduino Thermometer

An easy and immensely practical first Arduino project – making the lowly thermometer fun!

This is a terrific foray into working with your new Arduino.  Not only is it a simple build but it will actually be incredibly practical and great to have around the house.

The components you’ll need: Arduino Uno, DS18B20 – One Wire Digital Temperature Sensor and 7-Segment Serial Display.

This project only has one input – temperature sensor, and one output – 7-segment display, so the wiring is not all that difficult. Click HERE and you’ll be redirected to an app, where the components for the project are already selected for you.

Here are the various components in a bit more detail:

  • The temperature sensor has 3 pins – VCC, GND which provide power to the sensor, and DQ which is the data pin. Every component you use has a datasheet – this is where you can read about the component and learn what features it has and how it works.
  • The 7 segment serial display can show 4 digits at a time. Each digit can be controlled separately. It can display numbers, letters and some special characters. The 7-segment display is a bit more complex to wire. As you can see it has 10 pin-outs. You won’t necessarily need to use them all and you can read more in the datasheet. You may have noticed that unlike the temperature sensor, the 7 segment display has holes and not pins. Therefore, you’ll need to solder male header-pins. Soldering may sound scary but it’s actually not that intimidating. There are great online tutorials you can use, here’s a good one by Sparkfun.

Next up is the breadboard.  Breadboards are a basic prototyping tool that allows you to test different wirings without needing to solder the parts together.

In the wiring diagram on circuito.io you can see that this project is utilizing a breadboard. This saves up a lot of time and material. Once you have the final design, you can create a PCB or use a perforated prototyping board, like the one you see in the picture above.

This may seem like a lot, and it really is!  But, don’t give up if you don’t understand everything quite yet. That’s part of the fun – learning while you make things!

Upon completion of the wiring, it’s time to look at the code. The code is basically a set of rules and instructions that tell your sensors and actuators what to do. If you want to understand a bit more about it, check out this info on Arduino code. To help with your understanding, you can also watch this 3 video series about programming for Arduino by ILTMS.

With this project, the data read from the DS18B20 temperature sensor is presented on the serial 7-segment display using the sevenSegment.write and the ds18b20.readTempC() functions. The specific code for this project is found on the Hackster project hub in the code section at the bottom.

You need to download this code and paste it into the firmware tab of your original code, as explained in the tutorial on Hackster.

Pulling all the parts of this project together, is a project called Sugru – a colorful and super-strong epoxy that you can mold to the shape you want and let dry. Once dry, this material is super-strong yet flexible.

Now you should have an accurate little temp taking device.  Great job!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Exciting #BCTECH Summit Launch: SMRT1 Technologies Brain STEM Toolbox

This is definitely MIDAS Fab Lab Director Brad Pommen’s week!  First, the announcement of his featured speaking gig and now the exciting unveiling of a project dear to his heart and one that has been much anticipated by Brad, his company, SMRT1 Technologies Ltd., and anyone who has had the privelege to witness the idea’s evolution over these many months.

Eight years ago, having initiated his first tech club, the Nelson Tech Club, Brad found himself in search of an effective way to provide the growing local maker community a way to not only find the tech products and equipment they needed but also how to use it.  In one efficient step.

While a huge ask, he looked to the traditional vending kiosk system for his answer.  The idea simmered, and the concepts were pondered and explored for the next six years.  It wasn’t until shortly into his tenure as Director of MIDAS that the idea started take physical form.  He purchased his first vending machine directly from the factory and began the long and iterative journey of prototyping.

At the same time, his new business, SMRT1, also began taking shape.  His entrepreneurial journey was assisted when he registered with the BC Venture Accelerator Program under the expert guidance of entrepreneur-in-residence and current Executive Director of KAST, Don Freschi.

From basic vending machine to state-of-the-art touchscreen technology, SMRT1 Technologies is taking a pretty brilliant stab at revolutionizing what is a very conventional industry.  Vending machines have been slow to change and the Brain STEM Toolbox technology gives brand new life to the traditional vending machine with incredible touchscreen capabilities that go well beyond simply choosing your desired item off a rack behind glass.

MadeAtMIDAS SMRT1 BrainSTEM vending machine.

A very early iteration of what is now the clean and efficient touchscreen technology in the final version of the SMRT1 Brain STEM vending machine.

Education is a huge driver behind the Brain STEM Toolbox.  It isn’t simply about the purchase.  Rather, SMRT1 Technologies  has created a learning system designed to be easy and fun.  The touchscreen allows for full specs, details and the ability to rotate and zoom on the image of the product to allow for a far more educated purchase.

SMRT1 has been enthusiastically received by local education institutions.  There are currently six Brain STEM Toolboxes set to roll out to BC schools in September.  Teachers who are already using the learning modules and projects are excited to have in-school access.

The Brain STEM Toolbox takes the vending machine as we have always known it to a whole new level: this is an interactive and educational shopping experience.  It’s perfect for schools, technology retail, or any other pop-up retail location. Payments are easy and secure with cash, bank card or digital wallets.

“Snack vending machines are retro-fitted with our custom hardware which uses machine learning to interact with the student to help them choose the right project.  It also allows cash, credit or a digital wallet to pay for the project which is then dispensed.  It was the best way I could think of to get the projects that pair with the online learning modules close to the students and the teachers,” said Brad Pommen CEO of SMRT1 Technologies.

“The Brain STEM Toolbox can shape-shift to have application to a wide variety of micro-niche retail sectors.”

SMRT1 BrainSTEM Toolbox #BCTECH Summit launch

SMRT1 Technologies bridges the physical shopping experience with that of e-commerce. Not only does this technology revolutionize what is possible through a vending machine, it’s a completely custom experience available for less than $10,000!

This high-tech touchscreen tech vending machine will be on display at the MIDAS Fab Lab booth at the upcoming #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver next week, May 14-16,

If you want more information on the Brain STEM and SMRT1, do visit: www.smrt1.ca.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fun Friday: DIY Raspberry Pi Photo Booth

A DIY photo booth for your next party

Looking for a cool way to amp up your next party?  This DIY Raspberry Pi Photo Booth should do the trick!

If your in need of a cool addition to your next party, check out this cool little DIY project.  Forget renting a photo booth to document your friends and loved ones, with a little techie elbow grease, a DSLR and the magic of a Raspberry Pi, you can set up your own rig for simply pennies.

There’s two parts to this project. You may find that connecting all the components is the least challenging part of this project with the slightly harder part the wrangling of the software.  While there’s a lot of similar projects out there on the ol’ interwebs, this one from developer Phillip Trenz, with a useful local Wi-Fi feature for downloading photos, seemed to be pretty good.

To install it, follow Trenz’s instructions from the Github page for the project. Essentially, what you’re doing here is installing the various pieces of software the program needs to run — including gphoto2, which is a super comprehensive piece of open-source image capture software that works with almost every camera ever made.

Next step:  install the app, and you’re good to go.

What you need:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3, or an older Raspberry Pi with a Wi-Fi adapter.
  • A monitor with HDMI-in, to be the screen of the photo booth.
  • A DLSR or other camera that can connect to the Pi over USB, along with whatever weird cable your camera needs to do it.
  • A mouse and keyboard, which you’ll need to get things set up on the Pi.
  • A tripod, ideally one that’s taller than your screen so that you don’t block the camera.
  • Patience for messing around with network settings.
  • Props!

Tips to putting it together:

A few hints: once you connect the camera, you need to eject it from the local filesystem, since it can’t be mounted as a folder and used as a camera at the same time. Similarly, I’d recommend setting the camera to shoot in JPEG — not RAW — if you’re using a DSLR. This is because the Pi has trouble handling the larger images.

There’s also a config.json file where you can edit some settings, like whether or not the app will run in fullscreen or if you want the camera to save pictures or simply store them directly on the Pi.

Trenz’s app also includes a local webapp for viewing and displaying pictures. The trick here, though, is to get the Raspberry Pi to broadcast a local Wi-Fi network, which is kind of complicated. This guide from developer Phil Martin over at Frillip is a good place to start.  When you get everything setup correctly, you’ll have a local network. You’ll just need an IP address to share with guests for access to the photos. If you’re really clever, you can use DNS mapping to make an actual simple address for your local network, like photo.booth, to make it easier to get to.

Now, all you need are the fake moustaches, feather boas and some crazy hats!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave