People discuss my art and pretend to understand, it as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love.
- Claude Monet
Hello dear reader.
As someone who's never been to a Maker Faire before, this past weekend was quite the experience!
Last Friday (10/14,) Maker Faire Pittsburgh held an Education Day, giving schoolkids the opportunity to see the different exhibits up close and personal before the crowds arrived on Saturday. Jack was present giving demonstrations of MoNet, which the kids loved. I'd call that a great start.
Saturday (10/15) was the official beginning of the Faire. If you've never been to one, picture this: you're surrounded by a group of people who've poured months (or perhaps longer) into creating different works of art. There's jewelry, papercraft, clothing, and when you turn the corner you find homemade drones, robots, music machines, 3D printing stations and so much more. With more enthusiasm than air (even if some of it seemed like the "it's finally done" variety,) and beautiful weather, it was fantastic.
Specifics you say? Well, one that'll be remembered for a while was a synthesizer that used fruit to play notes instead of keys. No, I'm not joking. Facebook failed me though, and it looks like I didn't take a picture of it, so in the strictest rules of the internet it didn't happen. That shouldn't stop you from heading over to our Facebook page though. While you're at it, check out Maker Faire's Facebook page as well. We've both got pics to share.
MoNet in the Field
The most common issue we ran into was airbrush nozzle clogging, followed by internet connection difficulties. The latter's no surprise - any makers at the Faire using the internet were all sharing one Wi-Fi connection. Faire officials even posted notices for faire-goers saying that, in technical terms, your WiFi speed will be lousy.
Despite that, MoNet performed like a champ and produced several paintings. Here's a couple:
We also had our extra circuit boards (made locally in Pittsburgh) on display and fielded numerous questions about what made MoNet run (Arduino, NodeJS, Express, etc.) and what it was doing.
One of our proudest moments came Sunday afternoon. I was out of state fulfilling a promise to a very understanding wife, but Jack and Gareth were present for MoNet winning a blue "Editor's Pick" ribbon.
Not bad for 3 guys and a few months worth of work.
With that, Maker Faire Pittsburgh 2016 was over.
So...what happens now?
That is the question, isn't it. Who knows? For MoNet, there are new technologies coming out that would help it run smoother, faster, and there's always things that can be improved. Fair goers were also asking if the paintings were for sale - so a commercial route could be in the future. Perhaps at Maker Faire 2017 there'll be a 2.0 version.
Regardless of what happens, you can always find our source code at GitHub. The Facebook and Twitter pages will remain open in case you feel like dropping by to say hi, and the blog posts will always be here as well.
No matter how you look at it though, our time together has officially come to an end.
This experience started because 3 guys were present at a Free Code Camp meetup. One of them had an idea and lots of experience making things, another had experience with art & design, both had experience with coding, and the other was me. I've learned a lot over these past few months and will be continuing my coding education - which is never done - to experience more moments like these.
I want to thank Jack Heaton for putting up with my questions and awkwardness around power tools. I also want to thank Sylvia, who didn't seem to mind that we took over her dining room table while building/debugging code. Thanks also go to Gareth Warren for helping out with the code far more than I could, and for offering to help me in my Free Code Camp exercises.
On a personal note, I want to thank my wife Sara for putting up with some late nights of post writing, my pursuing the 100 days of code challenge, and for being a generally awesome person.
Finally, thank you for reading. It's been a privilege to record & share MoNet's progress with you, and I hope you've enjoyed these posts.
- Richard Zacur