I spent this past weekend in sunny Austin, TX at the annual Maker Faire event. The best way I can think to describe the event was a combination of a science fair on steroids and a circus carnival. There were some AMAZING things to see there such as a life-sized game of Mouse Trap, and Guitar Windmill and a live solar-powered rock band. If you are interested at all in making things, this is definitely the event for you.
Phil Wheat, Zain Naboulsi and I helped our friends from the .NET Micro Framework team staff the first ever Microsoft booth at Maker Faire. Our team manned the Robotics station, which was deluged by over 5,000 out of the 30,000 people attending during the weekend. Many came to see our .NET-powered doughnut robot and pick up some free snacks (yum!), others came to drive around a couple of our LEGO Mindstorms NXT robots, but everyone got to see Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio and the cool features in the latest version of our product such as the visual programming environment, a full 3D simulation environment, support for multiple robotics platforms – and did I mention that Robotics Studio is free? That’s right – you can download the current release or the new CTP version for from from our Robotics website: http://www.microsoft.com/robotics. The visual programming language makes it really easy to get started, and you can augment your program with code you write using Microsoft Visual Studio and your favorite .NET language. The robots are a fun way for the kids to get involved in programming, but Robotics Studio is also popular with some of our large manufacturing customers who use Robotics Studio to drive some amazing industrial and manufacturing robots.
This is also a good time to let you know that MS Press has just released a free e-copy of Programming Microsoft Robotics Studio by Sara Morgan for all to download. This is a great starting reference for learning all about robotics programming on the current released version of MRDS (version 1.5), but all of the concepts you learn in the eBook are directly applicable to the new version. Once you get into it a little bit, you will realize how fun it is to program different robots, and you might even be tempted to go out an purchase your own robot, such as the Parallax Boe-Bot or the Lego Mindstorms NXT.
Anyway, Maker Faire was a lot of fun, and I look forward to going back again next year with my family in tow. Perhaps we’ll bring some extra robots and set up a robot soccer game… hmmm…..
Pictures copied from the Maker Faire web site: http://www.makerfaire.com