People doing strange things with electricity

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7:30pm Tuesday
13 January 2009

984 Folsom St (@ 6th) 2nd Fl
San Francisco CA 94103


FREE ADMISSION but DONATIONS to our hosts much appreciated.


Dorkbot SF glow in the dark T-Shirts will be for sale! $20 cash


Joe Grand - The Projects of Prototype This

Designing and building projects is hard. Designing and building projects of things that have never been done before is harder. Designing and building projects of things that have never been done before with the financial and time constraints of television is verging on ridiculous.

For 18 months, I was a co-host of Prototype This on Discovery Channel, an engineering entertainment program that followed the real-life design process of a unique prototype every episode. Comprised of an electrical engineer (that's me), a roboticist, a material scientist, and special effects guy, we had the major bases covered and would often join forces with outside resources. We filmed thirteen episodes in very challenging conditions and that single season has almost finished airing.

In this mostly visual presentation, I'll go through design details and show never-before-seen pictures and videos related to some of my favorite episodes, including the Traffic-Busting Truck, Fire Fighter PyroPack, and Virtual Sea Adventure, each of which had to be designed and built in a matter of weeks.

Joe Grand (aka Kingpin) is an electrical engineer, hardware hacker, and president of Grand Idea Studio, Inc., where he specializes in the invention, design, and licensing of consumer products, video game accessories, and modules for electronics hobbyists. He also spent many years as part of hacker collective L0pht Heavy Industries in Boston finding security flaws in hardware devices and educating engineers on how to increase security of their designs. He.s written a few books, holds a few patents, and is also the sole proprietor of Kingpin Empire, a project that gives back to the technology and health communities through charitable donations. His contributions to Prototype This can be found on his site at:

Michael Ang - Gigapixels: Practice and Aesthetics

Creating images with gigapixel (1 billion pixel) resolution is now within the reach of anyone with a digital camera and computer. Picture taking robots such as the GigaPan (developed by CMU and NASA) and modified telescope mounts can automatically take many overlapping pictures of a given scene. The individual pictures can be automatically stitched together to create a large final image. What are the aesthetics of this increasingly accessible medium? How does stitching together many small images differ from taking one very large one?

Michael (aka "Mang") first used the GigaPan in the summer of 2007, when he took a prototype unit to Alaska by pickup truck. This talk presents some of his work with robotically assisted photography. Practical aspects of creating large panoramas will be presented as well less straightforward uses of the technology.

Mang holds a BASc in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Canada and a Master's Degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications program. His interests include the intersection of technology, art and physical experience.
Mang's pictures at
Michael's gigapan image of the dorkbot meeting. Click on the image to pan, zoom, etc. Click on the links for more details on his talk

Paul Cesewski (aka Paul da Plumber)- Fun is the Universal Language

Explore a carnival of interactive machines. People powered contraptions delight and amuse. New and used materials are used in a kind of contemporary alchemy. The re-animation of yesterdays dreams.

Paul's work focuses on interactive sculptures. He has worked in general contracting work, fabrication, and high-end construction for the last twenty years and has built many commissioned public art projects in the context of his own work, on collaborations, and as part of San Francisco's Bike Rodeo.

Some of Paul's installations include: Bicycle Ferris Wheel and Bike to the Moon, Cyclefuge, Lotus Land, etc.

Please mail Karen Marcelo (dorkbotSF [at] dorkbot [dot] org) if you would like to open dork (10-15 min mini-presentation)

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