Living salad, makerbot songs, and noodle! Answered
My first day at Instructables, I found myself sitting on a chair fabricated by the guy next to me, listening to plans for a living salad which would grow through your plate, fertilized by worms below the surface and a stained glass window made of dried fruit, trying to focus on absorbing all the information Vanessa and Noah were dishing out. Just beyond loomed the amazing fabrication facilities, with rows of 3D printers, zillion-axis CNC machines, a stocked electronics room, every kind of adhesive you could dream of, and even a test kitchen! It was a makers dream, Pier 9 had the material and equipment resources to allow us to realize nearly any idea we could dream up, and dream we did. It was immediately clear that the one month my collaborator Kyle (https://www.instructables.com/member/kylemcdonald/) and I had planned to spend there was not enough. Sadly, it was all we had, so we got to work immediately on Noodle, a little robot with the I/O of a machine but the thoughts and feelings of a human.
I could go on about the shop at Pier 9, but the thing that really made the experience for me was the people. Hosting 10-12 AIRs at a time, the studio was always full with people building crazy things. One day we'd experiment with Nick's instruments fashioned from rocks, sticks, and water jugs while sampling cocktails from Ben's machine and Rima's cricket ganache, the next day we'd admire Aaron's work on hoodies that zipped around your hands while being serenaded by Andreas' makerbot which seemed to be singing the future. We were all so excited and inspired it wasn't unusual to find half the group there all weekend long or into the wee hours of the night. I won't go so far as to say anyone slept the night there, but...
Not only did we get to hang out in the AIRea, but we also got to know all the others working at Pier 9. This was a building full of people willing to chat about anything from caustics to contests, lend you their skateboard so you could learn how, or demo their latest projects. Vanessa and Noah couldn't have been more supportive and helpful, and it was so inspiring to run into them in the shop on weekends hacking away on crazy things of their own.
With so much going on, we sometimes had to work hard to tune it out and stay focused on our Noodle. Luckily, Kyle and I had worked together before and we were able to divide and conquer pretty productively. Kyle handled the fabrication aspects, spec'ing all the hardware and designing and lasercutting then 3D printing the physical enclosure for Noodle. I was heads down on the software trying to hook up our raspberry pi to Amazon Mechanical Turk, speakers, a display, a camera, and an interface. Thankfully, the long hack sessions were broken up by Vanessa coming by to peek at my computer over my shoulder and ask, "what's taking so long? how hard can it possibly be!" ;)
I will end this post here and get to work finishing up our instructable before Vanessa hunts us down. If the specifics of our project are a bit cryptic still, all will be revealed with the instructable post (see attached pictures for more mystery). And to all of you considering applying to the AIR program, DO IT! If you are a motivated, curious person with energy and ideas you will have a blast. And the weather is ok, too.
Thanks Vanessa, Noah and Instructables!