Meet the Makers: 3D Scanning and Sculpting by Mick Cipollo

Maker Mick Cipollo creates innovative 3D technology art with the fusion of digital scanning, digital design and sculpting.

Come talk with an artist and engineer about the processes for producing art with 3D printers and other software used to integrate form and function.

The Troy Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. Get your free tickets  now (or just come by) and join us on to meet all our Makers. We look forward to seeing you!

Meet the Makers: Monoculite

Monoculight is an open and freely available 3D printed functioning eyeball that works using the same principles as your own eyes. The model is fun and easy to build and creates an inverted image on the “retina screen” of whatever you point it at. Materials will be on hand to build your own “Mini-Monoculight” for free. is an open and freely available 3D printed functioning eyeball that works using the same principles as your own eyes. The model is fun and easy to build and creates an inverted image on the “retina screen” of whatever you point it at. Materials will be on hand to build your own “Mini-Monoculight” for free. See for yourself how your own eyes work!

On his Thingiverse page, inventor Art Davis says he’s most proud of how Monoculight can be used to inspire self-directed technology education.

Just put a Monoculight in someones hands and see what happens:

  • Experience how basic lens technology works in a very tactile and understandable way.
  • Press a button to make bright lights. Pop the Monoculight open and see the very simple circuit technology at work.
  • Confused about why the image is upside down on the retina in Monoculight while we don’t see things upside in real life? It’s easy
    for our brains which are better image processors than any technology ever invented.
  • Light up Monoculight in the dark and observe first hand additive color mixing which is the principle behind the ubiquitous display technologies we use every day.
  • Curious about that display technology? Open Monoculight, place it near a display and see the RGB pixels firsthand.

The Troy Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, August 27, from 11 am to 6 pm. Get your free tickets  now (or just come by) and join us on to meet all our Makers. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!

Meet the Makers: Ecovative

Ecovative is a home-grown company that has made it big.  The Ecovative “Grow It Yourself” Mushroom Materials let makers literally grow any idea you can think of! At 11 am at the Troy Mini Maker Faire on August 27, Ecovative will be offering a workshop where you can try out their material for yourself. Space is limited, so come early!

Wondering how this unique product got its start, right here in Troy? Ecovative’s Jeff Betts answered some questions for us:

Tell me briefly about Ecovative — what do you make, how did you get started, how is it manufactured?

Ecovative is a biomaterials company founded in 2007 with locations in Green Island and Troy, NY. Our founders came up with the idea for using mushroom materials to displace chemical based products like foam packaging, insulation, and engineered wood resins in a product design studio at RPI.

Our products are grown using agricultural waste bound together with mycelium, the roots of mushrooms.

Who uses your products? What’s the most unusual use of your product you’ve seen so far?

We have commercial clients that use our materials for packaging, furniture, and insulation, but what we are talking about at the Troy Mini Maker Faire is our GIY material. Our dehydrated Grow It Yourself material is ready for you to add water and grow into any form. You can make a 100% compostable finished product or component with this alternative to plastics, foams, and other chemical based materials.

We have seen some incredible GIY projects from students, artists, and makers all over the world – some interesting ones have been a wedding dress, interior lighting, compostable pet urns, and furniture. From compostable drone bodies to furniture, lamp shades to 3D printing — makers all over the world have been using GIY as an alternative to foams and plastics.

What is the most surprising thing members of the public learn about your product?

That our materials literally GROW in just a few days.

You’ve been to big Maker Faires on both coasts — Bay Area in San Francisco, and New York. What did you like about them? How did they differ?

The best thing about the flagship Faires is the scale—everyone pulls out all of the stops!

Best thing at the World Maker Faire New York: I’m a big desktop fabrication fan, so seeing every desktop router, laser, 3D printer, the DIWire, X-Winder… all in one place!

Best thing at the Bay Area Maker Faire: seeing the Crucible displays and makers in person. Its an Oakland based non-profit arts school focusing on metal working, fire performance, glass working … basically the hottest making processes. They had a great panel by four awesome women who are some of the few union welders in the Bay Area that I really enjoyed.

What are you looking forward to at the Troy Mini Maker Faire?
Getting to meet local makers, enchanted citizens, and enjoying the outdoor farmers market.

Get your free tickets for the Troy Mini Maker Faire now and join us on August 27 to meet all our  Makers! The Call for Makers has ended, but we may consider late applications if space allows. There’s no charge to be an exhibitor, and we are open to any kind of art/tech/science project you have in mind. Just fill out the online application form and let us know what you’d like to share with the Maker Community. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!

Meet the Makers: First Robotics Competition Team 20

Maker Faires have always been a good place to go robot-watching. At the Troy Mini Maker Faire on August 27, you can meet Scorpio and other robots designed by the FIRST Robotics Competition Team 20 out of Shenendehowa High School. Their team advisor, Helen Gutelius, answered some questions for us.

What does a team in the FIRST Robotics Competition do?

The FIRST Robotics Competition is one of multiple programs offered by the FIRST organization. FIRST is actually an acronym that stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.” The founder, Dean Kamen, created FIRST with the idea that scientists and engineers should be just as revered and idolized as, say, Eli Manning or Miley Cyrus. By creating role models for kids to look up to, more kids will be interested in STEM from a young age, and want to follow -or at least have a good understanding of- math and science subjects and careers.

That being said, FRC could probably be considered the largest competition out of all the programs that FIRST offers. It is open to all high school aged kids and most teams are open to having adults from the community join as mentors, whether they’re engineers or not. With several thousand teams and millions of participants across the world, FRC is enormous and still growing at a rapid pace. Each year at the beginning of January, the Game Design Committee releases a challenge to design a robot that fits the constraints of a game that they have created. This year, the game released was called “Stronghold,” and teams had to create a robot that could cross different medieval-themed obstacles (like a drawbridge) and shoot a “boulder” (really just a large foam ball) into a tower.

What is the history of the FRC Team 20?

Team 20 has actually been around since the beginning of FIRST, which started in 1992. We are one of the last few founding teams left in the entire world, and we’re nearing almost 25 years of experience! We’re very proud of our team and have even had two of the very first members from the 1992 team come back to visit us at one of our competitions. As a matter of fact, some of the original mentors even help us out! Mr. Kane, who used to teach at our high school (Shenendehowa) still helps us with welding the robot frame every year even though he is now retired as a teacher.

How many students are involved in FRC Team 20? What backgrounds and interests do they bring to the team?

In recent years, we’ve had over a hundred students each year join our team to participate on our many subteams. Team 20 is divided by subject: programming, mechanical, CAD, animation, VEX, media, safety, spirit, branding, business, scouting, and more. Some of these groups are working all year round, and some only stay active for a few weeks of the year, but all of them are doing very important work that makes our team successful and innovative. Many of our students tend to join for just one of these subteams, often programming or mechanical, and end up staying for something entirely different, like scouting or business.

What do students get out of participating in FRC?

A lot! Not only does FIRST provide millions of dollars in scholarships, students are also gaining valuable experience as to how an actual engineering company works, and get to see where their niche might be in a real business setting. Because of FRC, we’ve had students go on to schools like MIT and Yale, and get full 4 year scholarships to schools like WPI. Above all, FRC is a fun place for many to make lasting friendships and learn skills that last a lifetime.

Have you visited any Maker Faires? What are you looking forward to at the Troy Mini Maker Faire?

This is Team 20’s first time visiting a Maker Faire! Our individual members have gone to separate events, like the Maker Faire in New York City, but we’re really excited to be able to come and present our work together at a Maker Faire for the first time. We’re also really looking forward to see what other exhibits there will be, and showing the community what we can really do (if you let us, we’ll talk your ear off about FRC and the team). It sounds like a lot of fun, and we can hardly wait for August 27th!

Get your free tickets for the Troy Mini Maker Faire now and join us on August 27 to meet all our  Makers! The Call for Makers has ended, but we may consider late applications if space allows. There’s no charge to be an exhibitor, and we are open to any kind of art/tech/science project you have in mind. Just fill out the online application form and let us know what you’d like to share with the Maker Community. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!

Meet the Makers: Schoharie Mohawk Initiative for Science and Technology

Among the educational Makers bringing fun hands-on STEAM activities to the Troy Mini Maker Faire on August 27 is the Schoharie Mohawk Initiative for Science and Technology. The group is made up of engineers and educators, dedicated to delivering and supporting STEM initiatives to local communities. The group’s founder and president, Walt Silva, is an electrical engineer who works on submarine development at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and the father of two daughters. He answered some questions for us:

What is the Schoharie Mohawk Initiative for Science and Technology? How long have you been around? What do you do?

We started in 2013. Our original purpose was to introduce robotics to fourth grade students in the Duanesburg Central School District. We quickly found that students and parents of the Schoharie Mohawk region were interested in STEM. As result we started offering programs year round to students in grades 4-12 and became a 501(c) non-profit organization in 2014. We partner with the Duanesburg YMCA using their facilities for our programs.

What kind of programs do you offer?

We offer robotics competitions through the First Lego League, a SeaPerch program where students build underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) from a kit, classes using littleBits and more.

Who can participate in your programs?

Although our programs are geared for students located in the rural regions of the Capital Region, they are open to any student who wants to participate.

What activities will you be bringing to the Troy Mini Maker Faire?

Squishy Circuits are a fun and easy way of learning about electronics by building circuits using a Play-Doh like material. The conductive dough allows participants to build circuits by simply sticking electrical component connections into the dough.

Rumblebot racers pits participants against each other. Participants build simple racers out of commonly available material; however, the catch is that racers have no motors. They move down the track simply by vibration. Who will finish first?

Have you been to a Maker Faire before? What are you looking forward to at the Troy Mini Maker Faire?

No. We look forward to meeting other folks who are interested in STEM and perhaps partnering with them in the future to expand STEM opportunities to students in the Capital District.

Get your free tickets for the Troy Mini Maker Faire now and join us on August 27 to meet this and all our other Makers! If you would like to have your own Maker exhibit at this year’s Troy Mini Maker Faire, our Call for Makers has ended, but we will consider new exhibits as space allows. There’s no charge to be an exhibitor, and we are open to any kind of art/tech/science project you have in mind. Just fill out the online application form and let us know what you’d like to share with the Maker Community. We look forward to seeing you on August 27!

Power Tool Drag Racing Comes to the Streets of Troy!

If you love racing — and particularly if you love crazy racing vehicles — the Troy Mini Maker Faire  is right up your alley! On August 27 the streets of Troy will become the scene of the first Power Tool Drag Race (PTDR) to be held in our area. Tom Tongue, executive director of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, describes it like this:

Power Tool Drag Racing puts racing contraptions powered by ordinary power tools in head-to-head competition to see who takes it … who REIGNS SUPREME!

The history of Power Tool Drag Racing is apocryphal and filled with myths, legends, hyperbole and downright facts. Never let facts get in the way! Needless to say, it’s probably been around since the first hand power tools were available and some genius decided to zip-tie the trigger on a belt-sander and watch it tear across the floor to sounds of mad glee, terror and pure, unadulterated delight.

Today power tool races are held all over the world, and almost anybody can build a racer in a few hours with a few items from a thrift store. And that’s where YOU come in!

Do you hear it? Do you hear the sirens maddening call to BUILD AND RACE?!? Then YOU need to come to the Troy Mini Maker Faire on August 27th, 2016 and RACE to the adulation of the throng!

Our Power Tool Drag Race page has more info on this great event. Or go directly to the online form to register to enter the Power Tool Drag Race and join the fun! Questions? Email Tom at PTDR@tvcog.net.

Meet the Makers: John Petsche and his Biodiesel Land Speed Motorcycle

Maker John Petsche will be traveling up from Long Island to show off his hobby at the Troy Mini Maker Faire on August 27 — building racing motorcycles that run on vegetable oil. In 2011 and 2012, he brought  his first alt-fuel speed motorcycle to World Maker Faire New York. He built the custom drivetrain in his garage workshop, and set multiple land speed records in the Alt Fuel category. Then, in 2014, he retired the bike from racing and set out to build its successor.

For 2016, John will present his second homemade alternate fuel motorcycle. It is a 1979 Harley Davidson Sportster with an 850cc v-twin tractor diesel engine, running on 100% biodiesel. He fabricated and welded every component myself, developed the drivetrain, and raced it at the Ohio Mile 2016 Land Speed Event, where it set its first of what he hopes are many records. John answered some questions for us about his exhibit:

What is your background (Maker and otherwise)?

I graduated from RPI in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. I currently work as a Controls Engineer for National Grid at the Northport Power Station on Long Island.

I have been tinkering for as long as I can remember, starting with Legos and Erector Sets as a child. I have been involved in robotics, alternate energy, biofuel, automotive, and motorcycle projects since high school. At my job, I am heavily involved with electrical projects, equipment troubleshooting, design upgrades, and environmental compliance.

How did you come to build your first vegetable oil-powered motorcycle? How long does it take to construct one?

My first diesel bike took about 3 years to construct, troubleshoot, test, redesign, and race. I developed the transmission from scratch, and fabricated the mounting brackets, exhaust system, supercharger drive, and controls in my garage machine shop.

I built it because I have always been interested in alternate energy and biofuels, but had an extremely limited project budget. A friend gave me the remains of a junked motorcycle that he had parted out, and I decided to use it as the basis of a biodiesel project. It was an invaluable learning experience, and taught me much about vehicle design.

Tell us about the records you’ve set with your alt-powered bikes.

My first bike holds four records in the Alt-Fuel category at the Loring Timing Association in Limestone, Maine. The second bike, completed this past Spring, holds one Alt-Fuel record at the Ohio Mile in Wilmington, Ohio, with hopefully more to come!

You exhibited earlier models of your vehicles at World Maker Faire New York. What did you enjoy about that experience?

Exhibiting at the NYC World Maker Faire was an amazing experience. I enjoyed meeting an incredibly diverse and talented group of other makers, sharing my experiences with them, and learning about their projects in return.

What are you looking forward to at Troy Mini Maker Faire?

I am looking forward to returning to the city of my alma mater and meeting a different group of makers, all with their own unique stories to tell.

If you would like to have your own Maker exhibit at this year’s Troy Mini Maker Faire, the Call for Makers is open until August 1. After that date, we’ll consider new exhibits as space allows, so get your application in! There’s no charge to be an exhibitor, and we are open to any kind of art/tech/science project you have in mind. Just fill out the online application form and let us know what you’d like to share with the Maker Community. We look forward to hearing from you!