Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Maker Faire Newcastle 2011

 Maker Faire Newcastle, UK 2011

Last week Makers and Hackers from all over the world converged on the Centre for Life in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne for the UK's third Maker Faire.  Maker Faire is an event organised by O'Reilly's Make magazine to bring together art, crafts, technology, engineering and science projects and to celebrate and encourage the Do it Yourself mindset.

The BBC's Research and Development and Television Platforms groups were there meeting the public and making friends with other Makers. We had several exhibits ranging from the fun Blink-o-tron with its trapped Weeping Angel, Conduct your own orchestra to the more serious Universal Control which allows subtitles to be sent to mobile devices.

 The Maestro demonstrates in an entertaining way our ability to interface to the Microsoft Kinect and to use thedata provided to control video playback. Basically you use the baton and move your hands in the manner of an orchestral conductor and you can control the volume and tempo of the music.

We also showed a concept device which presented a different way of accessing the BBC's Radio archive. The 'Wayback Machine' is designed to look as much like a traditional radio as possible, retaining simple controls, but allows the date and time to be 'tuned' in.

An example of the BBC's collaboration with Newcastle University was also on show with the Tune Table, a device which was developed by one of the universities students while on placement with R&D.

The Tune Table was built to explore the control metaphore and investigate its applications for areas such as video editing.

We also tried to entertain (and sometimes scare) some of the visiting children with our Blink-o-tron and its trapped Weeping Angel from Doctor Who.  This is an example of some basic microcontroller hacking using an Arduino, some LED's and some pieces of plexiglass which works on he principle of Pepper's Ghost. Don't Blink!

There was also a homebrew tapeless camera system on display which lead us nicely into conversations about how the BBC are moving towards using systems such as INGEX and the Digital Media Initiative (DMI).

We also met with and talked to a great many members of the public about the work we do and we dealt with many enquiries about our employment opportunities at BBC North in Salford.

What the other bloggers are saying:-

  Video: Brendan Crowther, Laura Chalmers, Ian Calvert, Bruce James
  Photos: Bruce James
  Blog: Bruce James, Yameen Rasul
  Organisation: Max Leonard, Yameen Rasul
  On the stand: Max Leonard, James Barrett, Tom Bartindale, Bruce James Andrew Bowden, Ian Calvert, Mo McRoberts

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wayback Machine visits Maker Faire

Getting the Wayback Machine ready for Maker Faire.

Since the last update the radio has gone through some drastic hardware changes.  There is still an Arduino driving the LCD and user interface but the backend has been replaced by a Beagleboard running Angstrom Linux.  This has enabled the radio to stream and play MP3 files and also allows the use of Wifi or 3G data dongle.

BBC R&D North visited Maker Faire in Newcastle on the 12th and 13th of March 2011.