Makerfaire NY 2012: Booth 8736 (My RepRap!)

So even though my blog is still around 11 months behind, I’ve decided I absolutely have to post an out-of-order post describing what just happened this past weekend. This weekend (September 29-30, 2012) was Makerfaire NY 2012. I’ve attended the previous two Makerfaires in NY (in 2010 and 2011) as an attendee. This time, I finally brought my RepRap down and exhibited. I was booth 8736. It. Was. Awesome.

I live in Methuen, MA (which is about a 4 hour drive from NY). I bundled up my RepRap in the back seat with a blanket, packed the car completely full, drove to pick up my friend Chris Connelly who went down with me, and headed for New York.

Friday night there was a big party for all of the exhibitors, the day before everything started. I took this panoramic picture after things started dying down:

Got some sleep, headed over, and set up the table.

Here were my thoughts walking back from parking the car before it all started.

Here are some pics of the booth before the gates opened:

I started up my first print (thing 21555, which I forgot to pack, but I have a 3D printer!) and waited for the attendees to flood in.

That was the quietest it would be all day.

I barely got any pictures of the crowds of people on the first day, because it was just a sea of people. It’s reported that over 55,000 people attended Makerfaire NY 2012. I believe I spoke to at least half of them.

At some point my brother Jon and my nephew Blake arrived (who I’d gone with for the past two years).

He took a few great pics too, this first one being my favorite:

And Amy Buser took this one that shows Chris too:


There were so many great talking points I’d gravitate to while talking about RepRap. Some of my favorites:

  • “All of these things you see on the right were made by this 3D printer. But you know the coolest thing it can make? MORE 3D PRINTERS! This was made by another 3D printer, and it has made three other 3D printers!”
  • (in response to “well it can only make the plastic parts”) – “Humans can’t synthesize all of the molecules we need to live. The molecules that we can’t synthesize we have to get externally from our environment. We call those vitamins. That’s why these parts (metal, nuts/bolts, circuits, etc) are called vitamin parts. RepRap can make more of its own parts than humans can!” [Note: I’d like to verify that last point]
  • “Every 3D printer that you see here at Makerfaire, and the past 5 years of the 3D printing movement, all came from the RepRap project. 3D printing started back in the 80’s. The patents on that expired, and Adrian Bowyer in Bath University had access to these expensive machines and thought that everyone should have access to this technology. He realized that a great way to do that was to design a 3D printer that was made up of 3D printed parts, so it could print out copies of itself. The RepRap tradition is that the first thing you’re supposed to print, well, the very first thing is a shot glass that you use to toast the successful creation of your printer. Then you print a full set of spare parts and put them in a shoe box and put it in the closet, so if your printer ever breaks you can take the part out, fix the printer, IMMEDIATELY print a replacement part, put it in the shoebox, and put it back in the closet. But THEN, FINALLY, you’re supposed to print out at least two more full sets of parts, and give them to friends for the cost of a case of beer, and then they have printers. Now some people want to make money on that, so they’re trying to sell you printers that require something that you can only easily get from them. Don’t listen to anyone telling you that you need to buy something from them – I self-sourced everything on this except for the electronics (which is all open-source). Do you have a laser cutter? No? Neither do I. So be hesitant to buy a printer that’s made of a bunch of laser-cut parts unless it has a laser cutter in it. Everything on this could be bought at a hardware store (maybe except the electronics, stepper motors, and heated bed), but those are easy to get from multiple sources. Build a RepRap!”
  • “So, unfortunately, as it turns out, this machine – this very instance of this machine, right here, is the great great great great great great great great great grandfather of the machine that will eventually enable SkyNet to take control of the physical world and enslave mankind, which ultimately leads to our destruction. So, sorry about that. So actually, all we’d need to do really is destroy this one box, right here, and we’d be fine! But, we won’t, because it’s pretty. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • “So, about that Soma puzzle.. When I was a kid, I had that puzzle. Mine was blue pieces and a clear plastic box. I remember taking those out and putting them back together like a million times. Then as you grow older, you lose your toys. Maybe it’s in a bin somewhere, but, it’s gone. Then one day I checked thingiverse for new objects (I check it more than youtube now) and I saw that someone had uploaded it. I was like ‘That’s the puzzle I had as a kid!!!’, and that night I went home and downloaded then printed it. And then it was there. I had it. I didn’t have it, and then I DID have it. Just by pushing a button. And there I was, playing with the puzzle from my childhood that I hadn’t seen in 30 years. And then I gave it to my kids to play with, and they were playing with it for the first time. How damned awesome is that?! I didn’t have it, and then I did. 3D printers are awesome.”

At one point I got to take a break while Chris manned the booth so I could walk around briefly. I walked by a booth with two RepRaps and they had a broken carriage on one (while trying to fix the other for something). I asked if they wanted me to print them a new one, and they appreciatively said “Yes, please!”. The next thing my RepRap printed was that carriage. Kids asked what it was, and I got to explain that the guys in the other booth get to have me print them a free replacement part because we can, because their printer is made from printed parts! (people loved that)

The carriage:

Filmed this upon delivery:

I talked to so many people. A crazy amount of people. I got pretty good at reading their reactions. There were almost zero uninterested people. There were a lot of people who thought it was pretty cool and stuck around for a few minutes to aborb it all. There were a similar amount of people who thought it was really cool and hung around for a long time, playing with parts, and asking questions. I’ll skip one group now and go to the top, where there were also people who said they were already building a RepRap (or were in the process of deciding which to build etc) that also hung around and asked tons of questions. But right below that there was a small very rare group of people where I could tell, from the look in their eyes, their excitement level, and the questions they asked, that they were absolutely going to build one of these in the next month or so entirely from this conversation. That small group was people who didn’t know what a RepRap was before this, but they were absolutely immediately hooked (in a way that the others who still thought it was awesome were not).

I’d say at most I met 20 or so of those people over the two days (and that’s probably an exaggeration – maybe it was more like 8-10). The very first of those was on Saturday morning. The hook was absolutely there. Then came the “I need a business card”, followed by me saying “I’ve got nothing! I’m not selling anything, I’m just showing off my printer and my fun hobby!”. Panic set in, which I addressed with “Do you have a phone that records video?”. This was the awesome result, which I found uploaded on youtube a few days later:

Here’s a long video (about 4 minutes) that just shows how loud everything was. Most of the day the printer was printing, but in a few of these videos (like the beginning of this one) there are moments where I’m waiting for it to heat up between prints. If you decide to watch it, only do so if you promise yourself to watch the rest of the videos below (don’t let this slow one slow your momentum, especially when the video right after it is one of my favorites).

And here’s one to watch – this was my thoughts after the first day, while walking back to the car. I got kind of emotional recording it. My throat was destroyed:

Packed up, got dinner, saw a movie, and went to bed. Slept late, got in, set up again, parked the car miles away, took the shuttle back, and started it all over again.

Here was what my voice sounded like early on Sunday, after the constant talking of the day before (Saturday night I was literally coughing up blood):

More pics:

Then here’s a quick glide around the tent, then across the way to Bruce and Nicholas Wattendorf (and their absolutely crazy-awesome-sized version of the Ultimaker):

Sunday seemed even busier than Saturday, if that was possible.

There were a bunch of people that I was glad to see on Sunday. (Mentioning them in no particular order). Aaron Double stopped by the booth (he’s up from my neck of the woods in Boston but we hadn’t met in person yet):

Then there was this guy (I forget his name):

..who if I’m remembering my faces right was the guy who talked to me for a while about the RepRap, loved the idea, seemed genuinely interested, and then said “listen, I hate to ask this if I’m wrong and you’re not related, but your name sounds so familiar. Did you have anything to do with the TiVo community?” With excitement I confirmed it, then pointed to the mention of it on my booth sign. He proceeded to tell me that he had my book (“the green one!”), had read it cover to cover (that was a 550 page book!), hacked his Series 1 to the max, but didn’t really bother with his Series 2 since it was such an additional pain. We talked for a while about that and then I told him with an ear to ear smile that he’d just made my day (which was something, since the day had already been incredible). That made me pretty damned happy.

I talked at great length with Tony and Amy Buser both days, and I’m always glad to see them.

Had a good talk with someone named Dimitri:

Here’s hoping he builds a RepRap and makes what we talked about privately (shhh). ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a damned good talk with Johnny Russell, where we realized that our journey had been almost exactly the same.. He’d also built a Makerbot Cupcake to try building a Mendel (around the same time as me), he had all of the same problems I had, he also tried doing direct drive by mutilating the shaft of a perfectly good stepper motor without luck, and he was also in the same IRC room the same day I was when we saw the first Mendel that I can remember seeing video of from the U.S. (Tonokip’s? maybe it was this one?), etc. Lots of good conversations there. His new RAMBo board (RAMPS but all in one board) looked pretty good!

Peter Coe was there again this year – I’d met him last year and admired his prints – I remember it revving me back up last year.

I got to finally meet whosawhatsis in person, but didn’t get to talk to him nearly as much as I wanted (next time!). Had a few discussions with Josef Prลฏลกa about his new machine, open source, and thingiverse. Got to see my friend Will Ware and the friend of his that I met last year (sorry, can’t remember his name). Loved seeing Bruce and Nicholas Wattendorf and the crazy big Ultimaker they made (see pic/video above). More shouts out to Tokonip, Andrew Plumb (Clothbot), the Hive76 guys, Anderson Ta (he had a Rostock printer that looked pretty sweet), John Abella Sr and John Abella for setting up our 3D printing villiage, and to anyone else I didn’t mention that I don’t mention somewhere between here and the end of this post.

So it turns out that the guy next to us at the DIWire Bender booth actually designed the OXO turntable that I had my RepRap on! What a small world!

A special thanks to Mark Russell for not only coming out two days in a row to visit, but bringing me the closest you can buy to Excedrine Migrane (it seems it’s temporarily off the shelves until they can work out some contamination issue.. that caused pure panic that I buried away), and then helping us pack up the booth (including walking my keys out to me when I left them behind during a ridiculously long bus fiasco). Thanks man.

Obviously thanks to Chris Connelly for going down with me and sharing the experience. Booth 8736!

Ok so enough people. Finally started up the last print of the day (or at least I’m guessing that’s what it was from the fact that it’s the last print picture on my phone):

Walking out towards my car, I recorded two videos (one pointing the camera towards me, one using the front facing camera). Both are must-watches, so I’m putting them both here. Watch them both.

That was it! All done.

For dinner, rewarded ourselves after a crazy weekend of exhaustion with a trip to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Dayum!

There was a lot of media attention and pictures of me, Chris, and my RepRap. Here was the one that I remember most:

NY Tech Scene — Rising (Week of 10/1/12)

There ya go! Next post I’ll jump back 11 months ago and catch you up on the stuff that led up to my feeling confident enough in my printer to bring it to Makerfaire this year.

So. Damned. Cool.

10 Responses to “Makerfaire NY 2012: Booth 8736 (My RepRap!)”

  1. There were a lot of people I didn’t get to talk to as much as I would have liked. We arrived to set up early on Friday, and didn’t realize until all of our neighbors started showing up that we weren’t in the 3d printer village where most of our friends would be, but had instead been banished to the 3d printer pavilion with MBI, UP, and the like. There were some other cool people on that side, like Ultimaker, QU-BD, Type-A, etc., but I wish they had put us with you guys instead.

    Next year, we’ll have to set aside some time before and after faire hours for those of us with booths to have time to talk to each other. I’m also hoping we can get them to put the “professional” and hobbyist printers closer together next year so that we get more of a chance to talk when we do get a few minutes away from the booth.

    • jkeegan says:

      Yeah I’m sorry you were away from us. People aside, personally I liked having at least a little separation of the hobbyists from the companies, so that the DIY stuff wasn’t overwhelmed by teams of people manning commercial booths.. but it did suck that you and Tony Buser were so far away (and I didn’t even get a chance to meet Erik de Bruijn).

      Agreed, we need to work out some real get-together next time, maybe a whole day earlier or something.. Saturday we were so tired..

      • I barely got to speak to Erik during the faire, but luckily I ran into him and the rest of the Ultimaker crew when I visited the MBI store on Monday to take pictures for my post about it. We had time to have a nice talk then.

        Setup occupied most of my time on Friday (our machines were largely disassembled for transport, and needed a bunch of replacement parts to repair the damage the TSA and airline did), and teardown after the faire on Sunday, when I would have liked to be able to walk around and talk to you guys. There was a party at NYC Resistor on Saturday where I was hoping to run into more 3d printer people, but the group I went with (Rob, Aaron, and Diego) seemed to be the only ones there (at least by the time we arrived).

        Thursday evening, Saturday evening, and Monday morning are probably the times when the most people will be able to meet up without booth duties to attend to, so I suggest we schedule something for one of those times.

        I agree that it’s good to have some separation between the hobbyists and the big corporate printers like MBI, but several of the booths on our side were people like us who were basically hobbyists whose hobby had produced a product to sell. There is a continuity between the hobbyists and the “professionals” that was not reflected by separation between the two areas.

  2. Aaron Double says:

    So, when are we going to meet up?

    • jkeegan says:

      Good question! I need at least a month to decompress, and I promised I’d get the MoS their RepRap back complete by the end of the year (still never attached endstops or an extruder, or wired up the heated bed). We should schedule something after that. Maybe one year after the last New England RepRap event, which was somewhere around January-February if I remember right? I’ll have to look it up.

  3. Matt Hinton says:

    Great post! I almost feel like I was there.

  4. Craig says:

    Looks awesome! (and not just the 5 Guys ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). If you are going to write “movie star” on your bio, why not also add “fabulous lover”

  5. jkeegan says:

    Another video, this one syndicated by IDG. My printer is initially visible at 0:18, which leads into Chris talking about RepRap. Then Marco Perry talks about the wire bending bot he’d made – he’s the guy I mentioned in the post above that designed the OXO lazy susan that my RepRap is on. The commenter is clearly confused after that when in the lead-in to me at 1:25 he describes me as having 3D-printer-envy – I think he thought the RepRap was Chris’s, not mine (Chris left his home this year). This was on Sunday – you could hear how badly my voice was mangled. Sorry about the ads in this video – they’re not mine.

  6. jkeegan says:

    And here’s the last of the interviews that I remember doing, which just came out today, from International Business Times (produced by Nick Deel).

    Before giving you the link, I’ll clarify a bit more what my position was in the video. To throw a bit more context on what I said re:Makerbot, I said that while I can understand why Makerbot feels they need to close off their product, it doesn’t affect me much since it was already outside of my area of interest because it wasn’t self-replicating. So as long as they weren’t doing anything that affected the ideals of open source (such as trying to test whether something that was previously open could be closed), I don’t care (because it’s already less than a RepRap which can self-replicate).

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