SelfDesign Kids Showoff 3D Printing Skills at TedX

tedxgroup20141118_171420John Krotez and his band of SelfDesign makers have been playing with some pretty exciting tech-stuff over the last year and last week they got a chance to showoff their 3D printing skills at a TedX conference in Vancouver.

That first sentence was a mouthful so maybe I should start at the beginning ….

You are probably wondering what ‘making’ is or who a ‘maker’ is … quoting from Wikipedia

The maker culture is a[n] … extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by ‘makers’ include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronicsrobotics3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworkingwoodworking, and traditional arts and crafts.  Making stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.

One of the interests that the SelfDesign Maker group has been exploring a lot is 3D printing … a way of building an object from a 3D model by laying down (or printing) lots and lots of layers of a given material … it is not really as complicated or scary as it sounds.

mc_shotWe also noticed that group menbers have been playing (literally) a lot with Minecraft (duh!).  So, in an effort to combine these two interests the group started printing things that they were creating in Minecraft with 3D printers.  This collision of virtual Minecraft objects and real world items has led to some interesting results … and caught the attention of one of the organizers of a local TedX for kids conference that was hosted in Burnaby this last weekend and is why our maker group was frantically setting up a booth on Sunday.

Ted Conferences are a series of talks given by different speakers on a range of topics (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design) … the talks are fascinating and the speakers are very engaging.  Nobody in our group was asked to speak this year, instead we were asked to host a booth showcasing Minecraft and 3D printing so that conference attendees could see what we have been up to.  We setup a minecraft workstation and people were encouraged to build something in Minecraft that we then printed out on a 3D printer … totally like Star Trek … just not as fast.  Our booth was REALLY popular, we had a line of people (alright kids) waiting to build something in Minecraft and people were waiting after the conference ended to get their 3D-printed swag.  We were pretty tired by the end of the day, but pretty rewarding to see that much interest in things we have been doing.minecraft prints

This winter our Maker group is expanding its interests and will be offering an on-line SelfDesign robotics course for grade 10.


2014 Earthship Tours

Thank you to all who came to see our earthship on November 2nd. After a year hiatus from tours – at the request of our children – we convinced them to open up the house again.

We had two, two-hour tours that day.  It was a lot of fun. We got to meet some long-time Darfield Earthship followers from as close as Clearwater BC and as far away as Hazelton BC.  There is as much interest in our budding permaculture adventure and how it ties into modern homesteading, as there was in the earthship itself.

Helen zinged Chris when the discussion at the morning tour turned to who had actually met Mike Reynolds. As some might remember from our posts in 2010 we visited Grant and Linda’s build where Earthship Biotecture was putting up the earthship. Before we left we quickly introduced ourselves to Mike and Chris told him, “I never thought I’d be able to meet somebody and say ‘I’ve read all your books'”.  Helen (who is 13-years-old) deadpanned, “Yeah, Dad totally fan-girled on him”.

We had about four people attend who are seriously planning their own builds in the spring in various parts of BC. We also had folks from Clearwater, who were probably our most local official visitors to date. (We have had lots of friends and family from Darfield and Barriere see our home unofficially).

We sold out the tours about a week prior…and I turned away about 15 people who wanted to know if they could “sneak” into one of them.  One couple who could not make it tried scalping their tickets…it was pretty funny and dare I say, gratifying?

I felt badly turning people away but 20 people is about all that will fit in the earthship before people are peering around each other to see our home’s features.  I would hate to have people complain that it was just too crowded to be enjoyable.

We were pleased by how the tours went and hope to have more in the spring. We have some projects planned for inside the earthship over winter, so there will hopefully be more to see in April/May both inside and when the goodies start popping up in the hugelkulture.  We will post about these projects here and on our FB page as things progress! We have also resumed some work on a few e-books. It is always slower than we’d like but we continue to balance our consulting work, the kids’ school and activities and our need for some down-time from all of the above.

Please stay posted for dates as spring arrives!

Friends then and now

In August our friends, Richard and Alison Kicksee visited us from Ontario.  If you look closely in the photo we had just started pounding tires!  And, they only had two children.  The second photo below, is from five years later…from this past summer.  Earthship?  Check!  And notice Richard and Alison added a child. We have only two kids in the recent photo but that’s because Katie, our 16-year-old, was at work. Instead, we replaced her with Shiloh!

Nice look at how everything has changed, including all of us!