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Videos / The Maker Revolution

The Maker Revolution celebrates the creation of new devices and the modification of existing ones - the transition from a consumer buying goods to eventually having a major part in their creation. The Maker Revolution places strong emphasis on free (as in speech) sharing of designs, code and ideas. Learning is self-motivated and usually just for the fun of it.

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Okay, so I have spent a little while putting together a poster of the, what I think are pivotal moments in the maker revolution, and, and here it is in glorious glossy A2 - this is kind of like a timeline but also categorized of what I think are pivotal moments that are moments that really changed the way we think about maker electronics and the way we do it. I've tried to avoid things like iterations of the same idea so that's why it looks the way it does it kind of looks and it didn't, it didn't it, intended to but it kind of looks like a torn flag a little bit if you if you kind of squint a bit and I kind of I think that kind of works all quite long with the with the revolution fist motif, but here we have it and I'll bring up the bench with a smaller copy so we can take a closer look.

So here is my summary of the maker revolution you can see down the right-hand side I've arranged it into what I think our major categories of maker's and we might have just makers who were just interested in playing around with DIY electronics for the fun of it, that are the interested in robotics I've put in some community because really the movement is driven by the maker community, we've got 3d printing, wearables, education and the Internet of Things, which is a pretty new one that's just sprung up. So I guess I'll just walk you through the graphic and kind of give my give my two cents about why I've included a few of the things that I have.

So I'll start us off from the top and I guess we'll move down we'll start from the DIY electronics section, which I guess is a bit of a catch-all, it's a bit of a cop-out, but that there you have it so across the top we have our timeline and far over to the left around 2003, Nate Sydal founded Sparkfun electronics it was at the same time that the ATmega8 was rolled into the wiring project and that would then forked into what we know today as Arduino. So in 2003, that was when a bunch of guys got together and thought "Hey this would be pretty cool to have this wiring language" and, and all of all the advantages that it offers for beginners and kind of roll it into microcontroller development so this is pretty much where the Arduino project got kicked off, of course, Arduino, not really needing an introduction but there you have one anyway.

Only a couple of years later we had Adafruit Industries founded, so Sparkfun and Adafruit are pretty much what what I think are the first to maker advocate kind of hobbyist electronics companies these guys are guys that solve all the right all the right hobbyists gear and wrote some really good educational documentation, down the track to support that gear, so that they're definitely heavies in the maker electronics world. I'd be stunned if there was anyone watching the video at the moment who hadn't bought something from Sparkfun or Adafruit at some point.

In 2005 the first Arduino board was released this was the Arduino Serial so it had the big chunky what is it like a db9 serial connector and that was basically it was power the serial connection and a large and in charge, ATmega8 which was then, not very long replaced by the ATmega168, but at the time we were still rolling with I think ATmega8. In 2007, Core Electronics was founded to kind of nourish the maker movement in Australia there wasn't there wasn't an abundance of obvious electronics resellers that kind of got into the same market that Sparkfun and Adafruit did, so Core Electronics was founded to try and nourish that void and then in 2010 the Arduino Uno was released, so this is a little bit Arduino heavy, I know I said that I wanted to avoid it reiterations of the same idea but really I kind of think of the Arduino the early Arduino that's the genesis of Arduino and then the Arduino Uno is in there because that's that's like the board everyone knows it's why it's the board that beginners reach for pros who are looking for like a quick means, a quick and easy means to an end, it's the kind of board that everyone knows about and probably most people have used in in that kind of area of the DIY electronics area. So that's that's pretty much where the barrier of entry into controlling things really easily with a microcontroller got completely dropped when the Arduino Uno was released because that represents when the programming environment was quite mature there was a lot of user libraries a lot of them more or less official like the de facto standard libraries for, for so many peripheries that it was really easy to get your project off the ground.

Alright let's jump down onto the robotics ribbon here, so pretty much I mean this I can say this about myself at least, robotics was was like the first alure into DIY electronics it was kind of, it was kind of the first touch where you see these projects online and you think wow that's that's a thing that I can do with just these bits of hardware and some code so I think robotics at least for me as my poster so there you have it I think everybody definitely deserves a place on the poster and only going back as 2003, so I started off with the founding of Pololu, they are like really early game robotics enablers, they came out with their own their own lines of hardware that with all kind of standardized data hubs the wheels motors drivers even kits.

So they really they were kind of filling the void is reverse and just standardizing the gears so that people can just buy things and connect them together and have a robot at the end of it they can program then down here in what looks like 2011, I probably should have noted this before maybe I've got a straight edge somewhere that I can use, not really I guess look close enough the the time line across the top the tick, the ticks are aligned with the left edge of the bubble, so Arduino and that being released in 2010 it's left edge is aligned with that year just just to clear things up so coming up to MakeBlock in 2011 they kind of changed the game because they're an incredibly well supported educational platform, that's open source so we have, it was around you know just 2010 that the other source movement was really kicking off I'm talking about hard-ware open source the free software that goes back and to the dawn of software basically so I'm talking about open hardware this this is I think these guys deserve a spot because they're really nourishing and kind of adhering to that open source movement in the educational robotics industry so I think that's fantastic and over in 2014 we have the first Hebocon, I'm not quite sure, it's done up in Japan, it is a competition for crappy robots, right like, seriously crappy robots, robots that barely work and often don't work at all, and and the idea there is that like you know online and just when we are looking at other people's projects we rarely, if ever, see the failures and of course as makers and we're always learning all the time at some point we made something that really sucked and this is kind of a celebration of that idea that it shouldn't just be the headlining projects that there was super successful that we see we should be able to celebrate really really crappy robots.

Jumping now to the community ribbon these are open maker enabling services, mostly online, but at the start around 2004,2005 we have Hackaday Instructables and MAKE magazine. These all essential blog instructional websites or publications I mean Hackaday was focused on users who are really using devices that they own for purposes they were never intended so hacking the things that they owned to get them to do what they wanted. Instructables an instructional website where users can do a project and upload the instructions of how to complete that project and make magazine a print publication that really, I think, that the major impact is just spreading the word and also inspiring readers and bringing readers that prefer print publications the same content that you might find on Hackaday and Instructables. We have the first maker set in California in 2006 and in 2007 hackerspaces.com launched, so that was I guess that was spurred by the growing interest in hackerspaces but hackerspaces.com is essentially a wiki that's dedicated to documenting the locations and statuses of hacker or maker spaces around the globe. We had the launch of kickstarter.com in 2009 and I didn't really know whether to include this because a lot of people kind of think of Kickstarter as just a shop but I mean for the home gamer or the small run hobbyist who comes across something that there might be a really cool idea a lot of people have pushed that push and funded their projects through Kickstarter successfully, really quite an enabling platform for anyone who has a decent idea, so I decided to include them. And then we have the open source hardware definition drafted in 2010, so this is the first attempt I guess to formalise the definition of what is open source and bring about some standards, I know I said that open source existed a long time ago with the free software movement but this isn't I mean we're in 2010 this is just hardware trying to play catch-up and we have OSHPark founded in 2012 so originally organized as kind of like a group PCB buying organization, just amongst friends OSHpark is now growing to pretty much you can get really cheap really good quality PCBs printed and sent anywhere in the world for very, very little money like if you've ever had to hand drill a printed circuit board that had a lot of through-hole components then you'll understand how valuable a service this is and of course you know double-sided what-have-you.

Over in 2016, we have created Arduino.CC which is a an online code development environment and that I think is a move in the right direction because you have, now projects that you can develop the tread very lightly, on whatever resource limitations you might have as a maker, so and I think we'll see a lot more of that in the future, where companies move to an online programming environment.

Alright moving down to the 3d printing ribbon across here we have the RepRap concept is conceived in 2004 so RepRap is the notion of a self-replicating 3D printer so this is kind of like the genesis of hobbyist 3d printing or affordable 3d printing. This is kind of where it all began because the RepRap project spawned the Prusa Mendel and the MakerBot which was the first desktop printer so we have we have these two really influential designs hitting the market at around 2009/2010. In 2010 Aleph Objects was founded and these guys made it because they are open everything so tying back in with the the open-source movement, Aleph Objects essentially has their hardware design their software design even the logo that I was able to pull you can pull that apart and do whatever you want that they are literally open source everything, they absolutely lead by example.

In 2012 we have the Prusa i3 which is the most used 3d printer in the world according to an article that is referenced in this article, and in 2016 we have the Lulzbot Taz 6 Release, Aleph objects are the parent company of Lulzbot. So the Lulzbot Taz 6 was released in 2016 and an astonishingly high-quality 3d printer, that's kind of setting the benchmark for, at the optimization point I should say for hobbyist 3d printing. Next up we have the wearables ribbon which has the Arduino lily pad and adafruit's flora so these are two really influential designs that essentially nourished the growing interest in wearables, I do only have two entries in this section because it was never an area that I really got into that much but it seems to definitely be this fusion of art and creativity and kind of kind of knocks down what you would think of those like typical maker electronics so there's definitely an interest and a growing interest in that field I think it was around this area that Becky Stern did a whole bunch of work with MAKE magazine kind of also nourishing the growing interest in wearables, of course, this is an open source poster and if I miss anything please do tell me, I mean this is highly subjective this is this is all just stuff that I've chosen but if you think I've missed anything that you would deem as pivotal in the maker movement let us know.

I'll come down now to education where we have LittleBits in 2011 they kind of set the standard for educational electronics kits, for me there's probably a lot of watchers who are familiar with me like the spring board style kind of essentially a glorified breadboard, these guys kind of took the notion of plugging things together like Lego and just just completely nourished it with technology so I've included that because if I had that when I was a child I probably would have gotten into electronics even earlier and many of them weren't even faster because of just what they have available. The Raspberry Pi, released in 2012 again something that kind of needs no introduction but I will anyway, originally intended as an educational platform so for schools as a cheap computer for schooling and computer science the Raspberry Pi obviously was adopted by makers pretty much globally as an excellent, high-powered, cheap computer like you can bring enormous power to your project for very little cost comparatively. So it absolutely makes it into the poster we have code.org launching in 2013 so code.org there are not there are not for profit and they're really just setting the standard for coding education, I think I think that their model or their kind of educational criteria is being used as the primary bacteria for schooling in the US from kindergarten to their equivalent of year 12, if I'm wrong and I definitely pick me up oh but they're that strong influences in the maker and coding education. And then over in 2015 we have BBC releasing the Micro:bit so I think it was back in the 80s correct me if I'm wrong on that BBC released the BBC micro which was an essentially a microcomputer and probably a lot of people from that era in the UK that was their first touch with computing so it's really nice to see is they pick up the torch again and release the micro:bit which is a small electronics platform that's designed for the classroom and to kind of work with that they've released a whole bunch of really really high-quality educational content.

And finally we come to the IOT or Internet of beans category which I started off in 2013 this is one of the Spark Core was crowdfunded it was actually crowd funded on Kickstarter with a nice synergy that that sparkle they were that company would later become known as Particle so if you're familiar with the particle photon or particle electron this was pretty much where they got off the ground in 2013, I actually took part in that Kickstarter campaign and still have my original Spark Cores just just some just some nerd cred anyway now the the reason that made the poster is because this was the first the first successful in my opinion attempt at fully integrating the entire internet of things experience so the hardware the software all the way down to the application level. Everything was kind of wrapped up into this beautiful web based idea it was very easy to get the spark core off the ground get it connected to your account programming over the Internet the entire thing was just so well integrated I think that's going to strongly influence the way that IoT develops. We have the ESP being adopted by Western Makers in 2014 of course I have quite a Western-centric point of view but I mean I first learned about the ESP8266 when it was blogged about on hackaday so that's kind of when I got the news of it it had been around for one maybe two I think it was only released maybe the previous year, but this is when Western makers kind of thought, kind of got the notion that hangs of this device shows a lot of potentials, an entire community sprung up around trying to translate bits of the as-yet untranslated Chinese datasheet, to try and extract more information about this device. I think at the time the development environment for it was still being developed and as more and more features were becoming unlocked or enabled in the development environment people were rushing to try and build libraries and just get the thing off the ground so not only was it a pretty game changing piece of hardware like it's an incredibly small Wi-Fi chip for those that aren't familiar with the esp8266 really really powerful and Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller board for like a couple of bucks so I think that definitely makes it because it just even just the community sprang up around it. We have in 2017, we have the Raspberry Pi Zero W released again no introduction necessary but in Australia back when the Raspberry Pi zero was released I think I was in 2015 it was pretty much vaporware, well I just couldn't get one and it was really really pleasing to see that it wasn't the case this time like the this all the supply chain came together and at last in Australia we had access to a Raspberry Pi zero not only a Zero, but a zero W so that brought in the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that essentially the Raspberry Pi zero was just missing and yet it kind of came with a price difference, but that really just stands on its own two feet now is the perfect kind of headless embedded computer at the moment, and we also have Particle, so you might remember the Spark Core, Particle rolled the entire Raspberry Pi system into their particle cloud service so you can now have all of your particle Hardware interacting with raspberry pi hardware completely seamlessly as if they were you know completely native devices and that partnership I think is going to be a real driving force in how the Internet of Things develops.

Now I've just zoomed in quite a way just to draw a thing to your attention and that is, might be beyond the focus limit, I don't know if you can see that but there is a version 1.0 there so of course, this poster as it stands is pretty much as I've made it but now I'm sending it out to you the maker community because absolutely I have 100% missed something important, that should be on there there's plenty of space on it this may not even be the best layout so this, I'm now putting it out there to you the maker community to take and adjust to, what you think it should be like. I'd love to hear from you in the forums about your thoughts on the poster what could be included what might be taken out maybe it better a better structure for it, this timeline structure kind of forms this winds up forming this kind of diagonal line and whether or not that is intended or if that's just how its kind of come out in the mix by the way I've arranged the categories I'd love to hear your thoughts on improvements that we could make to it.

So that wraps things up for this video I'll just leave you with the reading from the piece of text from the poster that goes like this

"We change things to how we want them we truly earn the things we buy, we void warranties, the maker revolution is a celebration of the desire to create, so solder saw, print, code, blog, and don't be afraid of releasing the magic smoke"

I'll see you later

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