The biggest comic con in Florida's most densely populated county! For fans of comics, gaming, anime, cosplay, and makers/hackers!
This week, we are at Pinellas Comic and Maker Con in Seminole, Florida. The event is organized by Chad Mairn and his planning committee and is hosted at the library at Saint Petersburg College. While only a few years old, this free event has become very well attended by the public and vendors. During our broadcast, we interviewed makers, cosplayers, writers, crafters and more.
There are a few groups that we tend to see everywhere we go. One of those groups is FIRST Robotics Competition team 79 Krunch. This team has been around since the early days of the FIRST Robotics programs and has consistently done well both on and off the field.
Henry Sloan, a member of the team's scouting sub-team, talked with us about his team's experience in the past season's game, Stronghold. This was a very different game from what we've seen in the past, and it provided all-new challenges for older teams. He also discussed the many outreach events that the team participates in, talking with the public about robotics and FIRST.
Everyone has, at one point or another, had an idea for a t-shirt that simply doesn't exist. A mashup between Space Invaders and Star Wars, or a Pokémon GO joke, there are always ideas bouncing around. What most of us never do is take those ideas and actually produce them.
Mo Eppley from Tangible Labs speaks with us about how she and her husband took those ideas that all of us have and added them to their existing 3D printing business. In the past she has shown us NerdTags, and the t-shirts and vinyl stickers are a perfect addition to the lineup.
She also discusses her other business, FreeFab 3D, a local company that produces and sells 3D printers. The company's first sale was to Saint Petersburg College, the host of this event. Since our initial interview with the company, they have launched a new model, which is larger and can self-level.
Have you ever been such a fan of something that you wanted to talk about it with people, but you just couldn't find the right people? Sometimes the best way to deal with it is to create your own group. That is exactly what Greg Plantamura did with TARDIS Riders In Pinellas.
This group is a fan group for Dr. Who, the ultra popular British sci-fi series. Members meet monthly for themed get togethers where they can discuss the series and sometimes just spend social time with people that share their interests. It is an open group that welcomes all Dr. Who fans through their Facebook page and website.
One of the most interesting aspects of this event is that you never know who might be in attendance. For example, The Narrows Nature Center, a city park in Largo, Florida. Theresa Ribalcava, a bird handler at the park, came by to talk about the experiences available.
First, the park has a surprisingly large collection of raptors, including a bald eagle. In addition to normal park interactions, the birds are used as a part of a PTSD therapy program, which has helped Theresa herself. There are also nature trails, a turtle pond and even a discovery playground where kids can dig up hidden objects.
The Narrows Nature Center is open from dusk until dawn everyday.
The idea of being able to do what you love and use it to do good in your community is the ultimate good feeling. That is exactly what Gamers on the Edge is able to do, playing games, both video and physical, and raising money for charity while doing it.
Angel Miranda, the founder of the group, talked to us about how the group got started and how they raise money. Start with one part walkathon and add in a 24-hour marathon of gaming and you've got Gamers on the Edge.
In addition to the charity events, the group also runs game rooms at evens such as Pinellas Comic and Maker Con, MetroCon and more. To find out more about the group, checkout their website.
Lucienne Diver is an author who takes from her anthropology and Latin language background to write her adult Latter-Day Olympians series, which features "Greek gods running around modern day LA with murder, myth and mayhem." The series is 5 books deep, plus a free prequel novella to get you into the series, and has been running for 5 years.
Her other series, Vamped, is a young adult series that is "Clueless meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Vamped currently has 4 books and has been running for about 9 years. Next year she plans to release a 5th installment, plus a reissue of the others, all with new covers.
The 5 books of Latter-Day Olympics and 4 books of Vamped are available now.
In the US, we have a lot of electronic waste. If you need an example, take a look at what is happening with the Samsung Galaxy Note7. More universally, though, as people upgrade their computers, older models need to go somewhere - but where?
Tony Selvaggio spoke with us about his company, eSmart Recycling, which takes those old electronics off your hands and finds new uses for them. Some may have zero value, but others have great value to developing countries. What we consider to be an antique laptop is far better than what is used in some schools in other countries. Tony's company takes those computers, as well as the revenue from scrapping other devices, and fund computer labs around the globe.
If you have older electronics that can be recycled, you can contact eSmart Recycling through their website.
While the maker community is large and varied, the most notable sector right now is the electronic. With boards and kits like Arduino, Raspberry Pi and mCookie, there are lots of ways to learn and build a variety of electronic projects. Unfortunately for many, getting into this area of building can be a it difficult.
Joseph Long, the founder of HackerBoxes.com, spoke with us about his company and the product and services they provide. Think of it like Loot Crate, except instead of receiving t-shirts and Funko Pop figurines, you receive electronic parts and kits. Each kit is themed and comes with instructions for various projects. The online community includes additional projects to repurpose previous parts for new builds.
Modern maker events are an evolution of what was once craft fairs, so it is no surprise that maker events often feature unique crafts such as jewelry and blades. Vicky McGriff of Your Day Bouquets & More is one of those artisans.
Together with her husband, they create hand-crafted knives from lawnmower blades and more. In addition, Vicky creates jewelry from unusual things like Scrabble tiles. She also makes more traditional looking items, but often featuring charms and items from popular culture, such as super heroes.
Vicki also takes custom orders for her jewelry through her email, which is shown in the video and not here for anti-spam purposes.
Artistry is a skill that, for most is inherent. While many require formal training to hone those skills, others are self-taught and can accomplish great things. Noble Valerian is one of those self-taught artists with a tremendous amount of skill. Picking up the skill while helping a friend, he found he had a knack for it and continued to pursue it. Today, he lives in the Tampa area and is responsible for graphics including the new branding for this year's Pinellas Comic and Maker Con.
In addition to 2D graphics, he has also been working on an indie game, which he hopes to release before the end of the year. The game is based on research conducted from potential players via survey. As it is his first game, he plans to release it for free, with the hopes of getting more feedback from players. To follow along with his journey, check out his blog.
For many, Halloween is a favorite holiday. It gives us the ability to pretend to be someone else for a day and exist in an altered reality. We can even explore our fears in a safe and controlled environment through haunted houses and attractions.
Mark Muncy is the creator and casting director for Hellview Cemetery, a haunted attraction in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Taking over parts of his property for the last 2 weeks of October, this attraction started as a personal project for a few former scare actors from Tampa and Orlando who wanted to venture out on their own. With time, people offered them money for what they did, and they turned it into a charity event, supporting two separate charities.
Unfortunately, since this interview was conducted, it was announced that a new neighbor had forced Muncy to get a new type of permit for the event, which the city would not grant, meaning that Hellview will not happen this year. Hopefully the charity event will return in 2017.
When you think of electronics and robotics, Barnes & Noble might not be the first name to come into your head, but it might be time to change your way of thinking. Similar to how libraries are changing the type of knowledge they contain, so has Barnes & Noble. Today, in addition to the books and periodicals you would expect, the store also carries electronic kits, robots and more.
Elizabeth Dunn from the Saint Petersburg store talks with us about the change in culture and products for the company. Today, each store has its own social media accounts so that they can interact properly with the local community. Each store holds events - some of which are in conjunction with corporate, while others are entirely local. One of the more surprising events is a Mini Maker Faire taking place at all locations on November 5th.