Meeting Minutes — 2017-01-11

Location: Copperas Cove Public Library (CCPL)

Number of attendees: 12

Awesome group of makers: Educator, Students, Programmer, Doctor, Modeler, Photographer, and more

Topics of conversation:

  • 3D Printer:

Copperas Cove Public Library has available computers for designing 3D Models and a 3D printer for printing your design.
Tinkercad.com has very good tutorials for learning to design 3D models and it’s an excellent site to explore existing 3D models which are available to download and 3D print.

Here’s come cool 3D models Makers have shared at TinkerCAD.com

3D Print Model examples

3D Print Model examples

 

  • Drones:

Learning about Drones

Learning about Drones

Dan Kott brought in a selection of different mini drones for everyone to view.  Here Dan and Ron talk about the pros and cons of various models. The key take-away? If you are getting into drones, remember that it’s a matter of when it will break, not if it will. So, be sure to look for models with available spare parts. Extra batteries provide extended run time (most mini drones work no more than 10 minutes on a charge). Extra propellers are a necessity — they are the most common parts to break.

The micro / mini drones are the least expensive (under $100) entry point into the world of drones. However, they take some time to learn, and it’s easiest if you have a large room (like an empty gym) to practice in.

Dan is working with local model airplane groups to get more experience along with tips/tricks. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to stop by our next meeting. Drone discussions will be an ongoing topic of discussion. We’ll be covering larger, more sophisticated, models along with technologies like First Person Video — where you control from the “drones eye view”.

 

  • FlightAware:

Flight Aware

Ron demonstrates the newest version of PiAware to Dan. PiAware runs on a Raspberry Pi single-board computer and, with an inexpensive receiver, allows the Pi to receive aircraft navigation signals. These are uploaded to the FlightAware server for data aggregation. This is important as radar does not cover every area, and planes need to know where nearby traffic is located.

Ron recently upgraded his setup to include the newest PiAware receiver (with built-in filter) and installed a new outdoor antenna. This resulted in over 5 times more flights tracked per day. Minor changes can make a big difference! Given that the ADS-B signals (broadcast from commercial aircraft) work line-of-sight, and Ron’s home has a hill to the East, you can see how most of the tracking is to the West. Ron intends to install an antenna at a higher location to see if he can get more low-level and Easterly air traffic.

You can check out Ron’s stats here: Ron’s PiAware Stats

Dan also runs a PiAware setup. He’s in Killeen and has less obstructed view of the sky — giving him excellent readings. Dan’s PiAware Stats

 

  • Affordable Android Laptop:

Affordable Laptop/tablet

Dan and Roy brought in two of their latest gadgets — inexpensive ($80) Android tablets with keyboards. Members have been on the lookout for affordable, yet rugged, tablets and laptops. These lightweight devices make it easier to set up “classrooms on the go”. This one is made by RCA. The younger crew quickly go into the browser based games.

  • Photography – Light-Field Camera:

Light-Field Camera Technolgy

Light-Field Camera Technology

Evelyn demonstrated her Lytro Light Field Camera to the group. This specialized camera, in one photo, records information in a continuous depth of field. In the above example, you can see how one photo can be “re-focused” in software to highlight a desired area in the frame. This innovative technology came out several years ago, yet most aren’t aware of it. Why? Well, one of the reasons was lack of end-user software. Whereas sites like Facebook and YouTube natively support 360 degree videos, there was no such viewer for the Lytro. This made sharing photos much more difficult.

The good news is that Lytro is still around, and now focusing on VR experiences. Their light field techniques are perfect for Virtual Reality work — imagine a room photographed in 360 with a Lytro. You could virtually move around the room, get closer to a bookshelf, and focus on the titles of books — using real images, not computer rendering.

 

A Note: 

A great start to the new year of making, learning and exploring, let’s keep the momentum with more creative and interesting projects.  Please feel free to share your experiences with family and friends.  Everyone is welcome.  If you enjoy making and creating, join us.

ANNOUNCEMENT:

Next club meeting will be Wednesday, February 8th, 2017, at 6pm at the Copperas Cove Public Library. Bring your project for the Show & Tell segment.


 

Happy Making Fellow Makers.

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