Gulf Coast Makers offers a broad based creative community for Gulf Coast area entrepreneurial and creative DIYers. This is a place where everyone can join together to share resources, information, events and more! Gulf Coast Makers hosts an annual DIY Celebration of the Inventive Spirit each spring, to showcase Makers, Shakers and Innovators across Tampa Bay. Collaboration is always invited and everyone is always welcome!
This week, we're at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2016!
One of the best parts of the Tampa Bay maker community is that many people are very active. Because of that, we've gotten to know them well. One such recurring member of the community is Maestro Matthew Maines of the Tampa Music School. He first appeared with us at Roboticon 2015, and since then has expanded his Show Steelers program.
Show Steelers is a youth steel pan band, housed at the Tampa Music School. The students, including Ayden Weil, learn to play the instruments, as well as learning to work with other players. This is important because players switch out on the same station, sometimes between songs and sometimes during. The Show Steelers were at the event playing hourly.
Challenge Yourself with a Game of Mentagy!
Allyn Kahn has invented a new, award winning letter-based puzzle game called Mentagy. This game challenges your critical thinking skills by making you think ahead to complete a puzzle board. Kahn taught college mathematics, philosophy, and critical thinking/logic and later coached afterschool chess. He realized that the complexity in chess can really test the patience of people of all ages and he decided to create a game that can challenge people in the same way.
Mentagy is a puzzle for all ages and is easy to learn! It can be described as a letter version of Sudoku and can even be compared to the old-school game, Snake because the completed solution wraps around in a similar way. In this interview, Kahn demonstrates how to play on a physical peg board but an activity book version is also available for purchase. The activity book has multiple levels of difficulty inside and the completed solution in the back.
Funky, Cool and Unique, Creative... Sir Bentley Freckles & Associate is all of this and more.
Brand new to the exhibit scene is Barbara Sapp Lancaster with Sir Bentley Freckles & Associate. Barbara (aka: The Dali Baba) takes her love and appreciation of musical instruments, along with her passion for art and combines it all into treasures that are truly one of a kind.
Barbara creates her pieces using assorted materials to decorate objects that she finds interesting. She finds it amusing, therapeutic and very fulfilling to make something fun and unique out of ordinary items such as beads, paper, glue and recycled items.
"I love art and cannot even draw a stick figure," she says. "I like being creative and making something that will last, be interesting, unique and colorful." Her artwork appeals to those out there that like something cute, a little quirky and different. Lately, she has been fascinated with Steampunk and is looking forward to expanding into this genre.
Barbara gets her inspiration from her surroundings and those around her. Ideas flow from seeing pictures, objects and from meeting new people.
A newcomer to GCMC this year caught our eye with his artistic talent and fresh take on fan art.
By mixing techniques such as charcoal, colored pencils, water colors and acrylic paints, Marc's artwork comes to life right off the page. His portraits are so much more than a simple profile. They capture the emotion and essence of the subject. Marc believes that the artwork that he creates is relatable to his audience. He is influenced by the human condition and his more personal pieces reflect the extreme side of emotion.
Another aspect of his growing portfolio is Fan Art. Whether it's a cute and whimsical cartoon character, or a detailed and imaginative action hero, his Fan Art exhibits his true love of comics, movies and anime. He is able to take the pure enjoyment he gets out of these mediums and relate them directly into fantastic renditions for others to enjoy. He is also venturing out and creating his own original characters, as well as contributing his artwork to other artists to use within their own mediums, as we saw with fellow artist, Barbara Lancaster with Sir Bentley Freckles and Associate.
As Marc is getting his name out there and developing an increasing fan base of his own, he is excited to enter into the world of Cons & Fairs to be able to exhibit his unique take on the art of illustration. This year's GCMC was only the beginning for him. He's looking forward to many more conventions in the future.
Check out Marc's artwork on Instagram @Marcustorresart13 and feel free to reach out to request an existing or newly commissioned piece.
Several of the events we are involved in every year are organized or sponsored by the Eureka! Factory, including this one. Chuck Stephens works with the organization in putting on these events, as well as other activities, such as library makerspace projects and training.
In addition, Chuck helps to mentor a FIRST Robotics Competition team, the Edgar Allan Ohms. Based in Land O' Lakes, the team is the first and only known library FRC team in the country. This has provided unique challenges for Chuck and the team, but has also given them unique capabilities, as well.
Remote controlled quadcopters and drones have become one of the biggest trends over the past few years. Whether you're a hobbyist who purchases one at your local toy store, or a maker who has built one from scratch, there is a lot about both quadcopters and drones to keep people interested.
Joshua Newby is the organizer of Tampa Drones, a group that gets together specifically to challenge and inspire one another with their technology. He showed us several pieces of hardware, including a custom quadcopter built using 3D printing and carrying a Polaroid Cube. In addition, it has a first person camera that transmits to a pair of flying goggles.
FIRST Looks isn't the only time we get to talk to FIRST Robotics Competition teams. As students who create robots, they are definitely a big part of the maker community, in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. Phoebe Mitchell from Edgar Allan Ohms (FRC 5276) spoke to us about her team, her role on the team and how it has inspired her.
Most FIRST students whose career decisions are made because of the program tend to consider mathematics, engineering and the like. In this case, her career goals are in medicine because of an experience through the program where she helped someone who was hurt and felt positive about what she had done.
The University of South Florida is becoming a popular location for engineering students of all types. From mechanical engineering to software engineering, the university has a program to fit many needs. Representatives from USF Students in STEAM brought some of their engineering projects to show off.
First, Kaitlin Lostroscio, a senior in mechanical engineering, showed off an asteroid chipper. As part of a NASA challenge, she and her team built the device to chip part of an asteroid and collect it in an isolated container. This allows for collection without cross contamination.
Second, Kevin Martinez, a senior in mechanical engineering, showed off a custom-built treasure chest from The Legend of Zelda. Inside is a sensor which detects when it is opened, and the machine determines the color and type of rupee, which is then displayed on a screen on the front, along with a tally of your total collection.
We always have so much fun when we get to speak with Jason Rawley of Fireblade Comics and Suncoast Ghostbusters. He brings his witty, fun and energetic nature to everything he does. This is his 3rd GCMC and we've been lucky enough to catch up with him again this year.
He and his team are having a good time not only displaying but playing with the various movie props they brought along with them. They really enjoy an event like this to be able to fire things up and show them off. When asked about how they come up with their designs, Jason explained that they use just about anything and mostly junk. They look at things in a different way, seeing basic shapes and then breaking them down and turning them into something new. It's the finishing touches that really bring them to life, from the paint job to the weathering and final details. And sometimes, the dirtier the better, when it comes to these types of props.
Of course we had to discuss the much anticipated upcoming release of the new Ghostbusters movie. Like us, he is reserving his initial opinions regarding what he has seen about the film so far, as he wants to see the film first. They are also waiting to start on any prop replicas until they get a chance to take it all in, and in context. We look forward to meeting with him again to see the new items they come up with and discuss this new take on this classic fan favorite.
Thanks to companies like Tesla, electric vehicles have become part of the popular culture once again. Whenever something becomes that popular, it is inevitable that it will become a popular part of the maker community as well. We speak with Nick Brothers from Electrathon of Tampa Bay about how their organization fits in. This group produces races for 3 and 4 wheel electric vehicles that are produced by small teams.
Unlike some other engineering clubs, Electrathon vehicles are relatively inexpensive, meaning that the barrier to entry is lower to create a new team. Teams do not have a lot of limitations, meaning just about anyone can participate. The largest challenge posed by the competition is energy efficiency, since batteries are pre-determined and vehicles must survive an entire hour of racing.
As the maker community continues to grow, in both size and diversity, one of the most needed support issues is equipment. Many people are not capable of owning the equipment needed because of space and cost. Because of this we have seen a sharp rise in the number of makerspaces in the community. Makerspaces give people the ability to use equipment that they would otherwise be incapable of interacting with in a common location. Many have CNC machines, drill presses and other large machines that would be cumbersome at home or in a small workshop.
We talk with Brandon Mead of MakerVenture, a very new makerspace project in North Tampa. This new space is working on building their space, acquiring the equipment and starting classes. Right now the classes are taking shape, and the MakerSpace and Maker's Market are coming soon.
One of the best things about covering GCMC is having the opportunity to see all of the new ideas that these wonderfully creative artists/crafters/entrepreneurs come up with. There are new and exciting ideas every single year. Kyle Nurminen from #SeedRegion1 not only recognizes how inspiring this creativity can be, but has come up with a way take it to the next level by involving the local community and businesses and then to attract larger companies to invest and potentially even come to the area.
He noticed that more and more people were becoming intrigued by the idea of these maker spaces and wanted to explore what they have to offer, but did not know where to find them. So, they started off by developing a web site to map out all of the maker spaces in the area and highlighting the unique vibes with each space. But they didn't stop there.
Their concept is meant to showcase talent and demonstrate to larger companies that we indeed have a community that not only supports their business, but also has the ability to strengthen it. Building upon the Maker Space atmosphere, SeedRegion1 is creating a platform for makers to connect with the resources they need to turn their visions into reality.
It's always nice to see Jon Adair with Tampa Hackerspace and find out all of the new things they have in the works. Jon is one of the founding members of the group and serves as the Director of Operations. They are a nonprofit that has been open for a little over three years now, and they continue to grow. Tampa Hackerspace offers various maker events and classes as well as their monthly memberships for $50/month. Their equipment includes 3D Printers, Milling Machines, Lathes, Soldering equipment, Sewing Machines, Paper Cutters, Vinyl Cutters and more.
Since last year's MakerCon, Tampa Hackerspace has built out a new woodshop as well as a metal shop. They spent $10k on a complete build out of the woodshop and were even able to donate their old equipment to St Pete Makers. They are proud to be building up a community network where the various maker spaces interact and help each other with ideas and allocation of donations.
What's a Con without games? Luckily we didn't have to find out, thanks to Michael Fortino from Armada Games stopping by to show off a few games. Armada Games is located in Temple Terrace on 56th Street in the USF Area. They have been open for almost 10 years and have all types of games, including Miniatures, Board Games, Card Games and Role Playing Games. And let's not forget the Dice. The store also has space for gameplay with 13 tables and a maximum capacity of 90 people.
Michael, like most gamers, started playing DND in middle school and moved on to the other style games as he got older. He noted that Board Games have become really popular in the last few years with very interesting themes. You can catch Armada Games at various Cons in the area. Don't miss them at MetroCon this year where they will be featuring a 14 foot version of the Tsuro board game.
Wayne Rasanen, President of the Tampa Bay Inventor's Council has invented a 10 digit interface device that allows any user to text or type without looking. This new gadget is called the DecaTxt! It has the full functionality of any keyboard with just 10 buttons and one hand. The DecaTxt is Bluetooth compatible with any Android, iOS, and Windows 10 device.
This invention has been in development for about 10 years and was just completed at the end of 2015. The DecaTxt is user-friendly and is helpful for all different types of people. The device's battery life lasts for up to 1 week and can charge fully in about 4 hours with a Mini USB charging cable. Order your DecaTxt now for $125.
We get really excited when the everyday items that we love so much get a cool science makeover. And we were very excited to meet Erin Winick with SciChic. Erin and partner Emily Huber are students in the College of Engineering at University of Florida who have taken their love of science and technology to add a twist to their jewelry creations. They are not only awesome designers, they're also committed to getting kids excited about STEM. As a matter of fact, the idea for their company came from student outreach programs in which they participated.
SciChic makes customizable science and engineering inspired jewelry and accessories utilizing advanced technologies like 3D printing and laser cutting. They design their pieces on computer aided design software and 3D print them in everything from plastic to stainless steel or even gold. They have two main goals with their jewelry. First is to allow people to better customize their jewelry to exactly what they want in an easy way ranging from size to material to color. Secondly, they hope that by using science as an inspiration for all of their pieces, they will be helping to promote science literacy and the beauty in science.
The designs range from Atoms and Solar Systems to Computer Chips and Gaming Joysticks and are available at multiple price points. You can order from their current line or choose your own custom science jewelry now! Check out their store and send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
For any community to thrive, you need to have some people who help promote the activities. In the case of the maker community in Tampa we have the Eureka! Factory. We speak with Terri Willingham, a creative partner with the Eureka! Factory, who organizes Gulf Coast MakerCon, ROBOTICON Tampa Bay, and other local events that help promote and recognize the makers in the area.
Terri has also been involved with youth robotics for many years, helping to found a FIRST Tech Challenge team and serving as Regional Director for Central Florida. In these roles, she has continued to emphasize the maker spirit while adding educational resources as well.