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Cemetech will once again be showing off coding and hardware hacking with graphing calculators at World Maker Faire in New York City this September 22nd and 23rd. Our volunteer team has reduced Cemetech's presence at the Faire to such a science, this article is sure to be a blatant copy-and-paste of past news articles about our appearance at World Maker Faire. Our first appearance at Maker Faire was now six years ago, with rather rudimentary displays; in the years since, we have gone through many iterations of our demos and displays, ending up with what I humbly believe is a fairly polished booth. Over the years, I've been joined by dedicated Cemetechians Alec "qazz42" Szigeti, Tim "geekboy1011" Keller, Thomas "elfprince13" Dickerson, Nathaniel "Eeems" van Diepen, Fred "mr womp womp" Desautels, Danial "Pieman7373" Leath, and Botboy3000, who have volunteered their time, effort, and money to help make our Maker Faire booth a success. We have garnered some modest press coverage, we have collected a few new Cemetech members and reconnected with old ones, but most importantly, we have introduced probably tens of thousands of Faire visitors to the fact that they can learn programming, electronics, and other STEM subjects with their graphing calculators. We're excited to continue that mission this September.

This year, we're bringing back all of our proven displays. Here's what we're displaying:
  • TI-DCC (Calculator-Controlled Model Trains): This evolution of a few-years-old project to control model trains with graphing calculators no longer requires an Arduino. Thanks to hard work by geekboy1011 and Iambian, TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition calculators can directly bitbang the DCC (Direct Cab Control) protocol, allowing the calculator to control a train through a simple H-bridge motor driver.
  • Whack-a-Mole: Built with a TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, a TI MSP432 Launchpad, and lots of RGB LEDs and light sensors, the Whack-a-Mole project was a hit at World Maker Faire 2015 and T^3 2016.
  • CALCnet Networking Demo: Four TI-83 Plus calculators connected via CALCnet, running the Flourish demo, showing how you can build and test a complex communication protocol with just the hardware your calculators provide, plus a few wires.
  • GPS Demo: A version of the GPS for graphing calculators project, allowing a calculator to communicate with a GPS module to get its latitude, longitude, altitude, the current time, and more.
  • SimpleI/O Demo: First displayed this year at T^3 2016, the SimpleI/O demo illustrates how easy it is to connect an Arduino to a graphing calculator. It shows how a calculator can read the state of pins on an Arduino to see if you're pressing a button or toggling a switch, and how the calculator can in turn control LEDs, motors, and more.
  • Sound Demo: A TI-84 Plus Silver Edition with mobileTunes and songs by Alec "qazz42" Szigeti and Thomas "elfprince13" Dickerson, plus my floppy drive music with a TI-83 Plus project.
  • Interactive calculators for games: a TI-84 Plus CE, TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, and if any of them are still working, a Casio Prizm, with games and other programs loaded.
  • "Using the TI-84 Plus" and "Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus": As has become traditional, we brought copies of my books as examples of written reference material that new learners could explore outside of Cemetech. "Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus" teaches programming concepts to beginners via TI graphing calculators, giving them a toolbox of programming knowledge they can bring to any programming language. "Using the TI-84 Plus" is the missing manual: a gentle guide to the vast array of math and science features available on TI graphing calculators, grounded in plenty of examples just like the ones students might see in class or on the SATs.
  • Learn to Program demo: A giant calculator emulator, with key entry from a real TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition calculator. Aims to teach visitors to write a simple guessing game in 60 seconds.


Do you have something new you want to see to refresh these admittedly time-worn examples of what we do? Please post in the attached topic with your ideas, or better, make something and bring it! What can you contribute? In addition, if you're in New York City, we encourage you to hop on the 7 train to 111th Street in Queens and come visit World Maker at the New York Hall of Science. We'll be there 10am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday, September 22nd and 23rd. See you there!

Cemetech's contingent last year: mr womp womp, Pieman7373, Kerm Martian, qazz42, Botboy3000, and geekboy
I think itís time I come and visit this for once! Honestly it looks awesome and Iíd love to come take a look or help if you wanted me to, if I am able to take a trip that weekend (or as long as I donít get nervous about going to a big scary city). Iíll have to see if I can convince anyone to go with me.

and maybe I could show off my BasicNote program? Razz
I would really love to come and meet you guys and hang out. I could see if I could get a ride to NYC, but I am really not sure if my parents would go for that Sad.

Its worth a shot anyways!
I intend on coming back again this year, although no concrete plans have been made on my end as of now. I'm sure the memes will be spicy.
I will admit that the displays could definitely use a makeover, with some of the projects having been completed nearly a decade ago. I understand that we can't really showcase projects made by people who aren't there, since we mostly spend our time there explaining and discussing how the demos work, but there are some very nice projects that have been released in the past couple of years that I think would be interesting to include, particularly a couple CE projects.

Can't wait to see all the cemetech people again! Hopefully I can understand how bit banging works this time Laughing
mr womp womp wrote:
I[...]but there are some very nice projects that have been released in the past couple of years that I think would be interesting to include, particularly a couple CE projects.
I'm perfectly fine with showcasing projects from people that aren't there. The only caveat is that hardware projects tend to be much more impressive than software projects at the Faire. If anyone has recently completed hardware projects they'd be willing to temporarily ship to me for the Faire, I'd be happy to take good care of them, have us show them off, and return them after the Faire.

Quote:
Can't wait to see all the cemetech people again! Hopefully I can understand how bit banging works this time 0x5
Likewise, and happy to keep explaining it.

Michael: I hope you can make it!
Want me to send you my calculator compatible fan? Laughing
See y'all there!
By any chance would you be releasing the list of programs used in your calculator game demos? I'd be very interested to know what you guys brought and the games that are the most popular Wink
123outerme wrote:
By any chance would you be releasing the list of programs used in your calculator game demos? I'd be very interested to know what you guys brought and the games that are the most popular Wink
Absolutely! Off the top of my head, Tetris tends to be by far the most popular, and people love to see that there's Doom, even if you only poke at it and then get bored. And if you have any suggestions for golden classic games that we should be including, please let me know!
123outerme wrote:
By any chance would you be releasing the list of programs used in your calculator game demos? I'd be very interested to know what you guys brought and the games that are the most popular Wink

For reference, the list of demos from 2017 is here
KermMartian wrote:
123outerme wrote:
By any chance would you be releasing the list of programs used in your calculator game demos? I'd be very interested to know what you guys brought and the games that are the most popular Wink
Absolutely! Off the top of my head, Tetris tends to be by far the most popular, and people love to see that there's Doom, even if you only poke at it and then get bored. And if you have any suggestions for golden classic games that we should be including, please let me know!

I'm sure you've already thought of it, but of course Mateo's Oiram, Portal Returns, and maybe a stable AoCE beta come to mind for CE/CSE games.
I'm pretty confident we had those former two last year, but I'll make sure. By the way, I need to remember lots of things for Maker Faire...

1. Make bookmarks
2. Test out all the calculators we need
3. Make sure the LED cube works
4. Make sure the trains work
5. Check that we have >= 2 tablecloths
6. Ensure the big screen works
7. Need a better 3.5 to 2.5mm adapter!
8. Need another USB hub.
9. Keyboard

geekboy et alia, what else did we put in our TODO list at the end of last year that I'm forgetting?
I've got a couple 3.5 to 2.5mm adapters that I will be bringing, along with a powered USB hub.
Also, I'd like to suggest somebody get a hold of a guillotine trimmer for the bookmarks, which should make the job a lot less tedious (I might be able to borrow one if needed)
I will also definitely bring a nice handful of assorted calculators of course, which could be used in displays if needed. However, I'll be leaving a little early on Sunday, to arrive home at a reasonable time because I have to get to school at 8 the following morning Laughing
I'd really love to come, but with my time constraints it's just not realistic or practical to drop a few hundred bucks to come there one day and hop on a plane back the next day :/ But if you do show BasicNote off by chance, be sure to let me know! Very Happy
TODO/TO PACK Lists:

Kerm:
[ ] Copy bookmarks
[ ] Pack existing bookmarks, get mr womp womp to bring a paper guillotine
[ ] Test out all the calculators we need
[ ] Make sure the LED cube works
[X] Check that we have >= 2 tablecloths
[ ] Ensure the big screen works
[ ] Keyboard
[ ] Cough drops
[ ] Innovator
[ ] Books
[ ] Dry run all the displays so I know if I have all the cables and components.
[ ] If necessary, get more picture frames, print descriptions -> LED cube
[ ] Floppy drive
[ ] Command strips?
[ ] Test and fix Whack-a-Mole
[ ] Screwdrivers
[ ] At least two USB A cables
[ ] More programming printouts
[ ] [ ] Posters

geekboy:
[ ] Make sure the trains work
[ ] Need a better 3.5 to 2.5mm adapter!
[ ] Need another USB hub.
[ ] Soldering iron, solder, wire clippers, electrical tape, duct tape, other emergency repair supplies
[ ] Windex plexiglass for displays, and/or bring Windex
[ ] Power strip + extension cable
[ ] Whack a Mole supports
[ ] RFDave shield for networking
[ ] Gather up displays, take photo(s) so we can double-check we have everything we need
[ ] Look for speakers
[ ] Pack displays, calculators, cables, 3D-printed stuff, computer for emulator, HDMI cable
[ ] Load the remote control software on a calculator, if it's not there already.
[ ] Screws for displays
[ ] Webcam for timelapse
[ ] Snack ingredients?

qazz42:
[ ] Bring media files and any calculator <> speaker adapter(s)
[ ] Speakers?
KermMartian wrote:
TODO/TO PACK Lists:

Kerm:
[ ] Copy bookmarks
[ ] Pack existing bookmarks, get mr womp womp to bring a paper guillotine
[ ] Test out all the calculators we need
[ ] Make sure the LED cube works
[X] Check that we have >= 2 tablecloths
[ ] Ensure the big screen works
[ ] Keyboard
[ ] Cough drops
[ ] Innovator
[ ] Books
[ ] Dry run all the displays so I know if I have all the cables and components.
[ ] If necessary, get more picture frames, print descriptions -> LED cube
[ ] Floppy drive
[ ] Command strips?
[ ] Test and fix Whack-a-Mole
[ ] Screwdrivers
[ ] At least two USB A cables
[ ] More programming printouts
[ ] [ ] Posters

geekboy:
[X] Make sure the trains work
[X] Need a better 3.5 to 2.5mm adapter!
[X] Need another USB hub.
[X] Soldering iron, solder, wire clippers, electrical tape, duct tape, other emergency repair supplies
[X] Windex plexiglass for displays, and/or bring Windex
[X] Power strip + extension cable
[X] Whack a Mole supports
[X] RFDave shield for networking
[X] Gather up displays, take photo(s) so we can double-check we have everything we need
[X] Look for speakers
[=] Pack displays, calculators, cables, 3D-printed stuff, computer for emulator, HDMI cable
[X] Load the remote control software on a calculator, if it's not there already.
[X] Screws for displays
[X] Webcam for timelapse
[X] Snack ingredients?

qazz42:
[ ] Bring media files and any calculator <> speaker adapter(s)
[ ] Speakers?
As you guys might have guessed (especially if you follow us on Twitter), that Faire is going very well. We can't wait to give you the full postmortem tonight or tomorrow. We even got the LED cube working!
*bump* So, the Faire has ended, and it was somehow one of the smoothest ever. We had the smallest crew we had since our first year, when it was just three of us, and we had 1.5 new displays, but very few things went wrong. The biggest hiccoughs were a wire breaking on the LCD display in the giant "Learn to Program" display at the very end of Sunday, and a wire breaking in the floppy drive music display. We had a lot of curious visitors, a good cross-section of hobbyists, kids with their parents, potential new members, and teachers. We collected good ideas for next year's displays and ways we can do things even more efficiently/things to fix for next year. Specifically:
  • The broken wire on the LCD display (twisted pair of wires to be connected to VLED pad)
  • Oddly enough, also the broken wire on the floppy drive music setup (Kerm: see the project page for the correct wiring)
  • A better "Learn to Program a Game in 30 Seconds" board that's easier to understand, faster to complete for casual visitors, safer to store and transport, and will get more than a handful of users each year.
  • Related: we should make a giant interactive calculator for next year! Geekboy is skeptical about the effort and ability to transport this.
  • We have some leftover bookmarks: one of the biggest indicators I have that we may have had fewer absolute visitors than last year is that we didn't use up all of our bookmarks that I printed.
  • Somehow, the jsTIfied on Tim's screen didn't have the History bug fix. Just needed cachebusting? Something more insidious? Would also be nice to edit Tim's ROM to permanently disable APD.
  • Look into whether there's any way to actually send [ON]->[ON] from the control calculator, or figure out a way to encode an infrequently used key or key combination to trigger [ON] on jsTIfied. Also look into giving Tim an offline copy of jsTIfied for this display. Geekboy will look to see if the source code for the original App is on a forum somewhere.
  • Try moving the networking calculators closer together, and perhaps putting their explanation in the case with them.
  • Make a back for the FloppyTunes display.
  • Use Nik's UI and make a real PCB for the LED cube demo -> Note to Kerm: update the PCB in the repository (if there is one?) with the actual final schematic we ended up using.
  • Think about ways we can update Whack-a-Mole to be faster and more fun. Ideas include using physical buttons (which Kerm likes) and using IR laser pointers or LEDs to illuminate every CDS cell all the time (which Geekboy likes). Other ideas include turning it into a Lights Out game. Also, we need to 3D-print a new puck: we had our first (petty) theft. Kerm should consider profiling ArTICL to see if it can Get/Send faster. We also want to reduce the number of boards and wires involved.
  • As per gentle suggestions from [anonymous]: we should really show off some Innovator and Rover projects, especially if I can get the time to put some of the more unusual ones I've had on my mind together this year.
  • Figure out why the train seemed to be running slowly. Kerm suspects the speed settings on the test train. Kerm will test this soon using another model train and the -F version of the TI-DCC app. Geekboy and Kerm spent a lot of time brainstorming increasingly complicated ways to build automatic timetabling in the TI-DCC app. Not clear if it's feasible (or desirable) for next Maker Faire, but very worth further discussion.
  • Summer contest to have people design and execute Maker Faire-style projects... and then show the winners at the Faire.
  • With the interest in the TI-Nspire from several visitors, figure out if there's any display we can make or at least gather better information to share about programming the TI-Nspire family.
Wish I could attend stuff like this. Sounds really fun.
Really dumb/useless idea: water-cool a calculator. Seeing a radiator and pump attached to the back of a calculator would be hilarious.
  
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