Tag Archives: Bristol

Shonkbot Workshop – BOOK in advance!


Kick off your Maker Faire experience by making your very own Shonkbot – a low-cost robot that you can program to draw, move and sing sweet beeping tunes to you.

The lovely folk at Bristol Hackspace will be running two workshops on the day -suitable for over 12s as we’ll be using hot tools. Grown-ups also welcome.

Thanks to our sponsors Rapid Electronics we can now offer this workshop at half the normal price!

10:30-11:30 – Book your space here

14:00 – 15:00 – Sign up on the day of the event

For Shonkbot workshops a cost of £5 will be payable on the day to cover material costs and adoption of your shonkbot.

Access to the rest of the Bristol Mini Maker Faire is FREE

Register your attendance at the rest of the faire here.


*MAKERS SOCIAL* Dorkbot Special! – Speakers confirmed

We’ve teamed up with  Dorkbot & At-Bristol Science Centre to put on a special event for the makers who are showing their projects and sharing their stories… And to tempt you all here the night before to start set-up we’ve pulled out all the stops to bring you two great talks from John Higgs and Shardcore.

Dorkbot will be moved from its regular spot to At-Bristol on Friday 21st at 7.30pm (the night before the Maker Faire if anyone is travelling down).


The Talks


“Authors Vs Algorithms” – John Higgs

John will talk about Apophenia – the ability to find patterns and links – and why he believes that human and algorithmic pattern recognition is complimentary – and the value of using expanded datasets to create new stories with meaning.

“Adventures in algo-culture” – Shardcore

Shard will talk about his experiments making worrying and confusing bots that live on the internet and then watching people interact with them.

About The Speakers


John Higgs is an author, journalist and biographer of both The KLF – the Acid House pioneers who burned a million pounds – and Timothy Leary, the Harvard psychologist once dubbed “America’s most dangerous man” by Richard Nixon for his championing of the use of psychedelic drugs.

John’s work explores the more obscure corners of cultural history, like magic, ‘ideaspace’ and rave culture, to construct new narratives around the innovations that powered the 20th century. His next book, Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century, provides an alternative perspective into recent history, by examining the radical artists, genius scientists and maverick pioneers who made it happen.


Shardcore (aka Eric Drass) is an artist and curator who works in a range of media, from painting to generative experiments that live on the net.

Exploring identity, consciousness, artificial intelligence and big data, his works are frequently reported and cited online by the likes of BoingBoing, b3ta, Imperica and Huffpost Tech.


Remember, 7.30pm, Friday 21st August, At-Bristol.  There may be drink and nibbles if you get there early enough…


CALL TO MAKERS! – What’s stopping you?!

Our Call to Makers closes at midnight this FRIDAY 10th JULY! So if you’ve been  ummming and aaaahing about whether or not to make an application here are a few answers to your questions…. Go on do it! You know you want to!

1. Am I a maker? The answer is probably YES!

If you tinker away on personal projects in your freetime or are lucky enough to make a living from things that didn’t exist before your brain and hands got involved then we’d love to hear from you! It’s really important to us to have a wide variety of projects on show – from soft fabrics and working with natural materials to breadboards and future teachnology.

2. My project probably won’t be finished in time, is that okay? YES!

We’d like to showcase the whole making process so prototypes or works in progress are absolutely part of that story. Even better if you can somehow demonstrate to attendees how your projects have progressed from your initial idea. We’d love you to talk to people about what you have planned as next steps. maybe they’ll have some ideas for you to?!

3. My projects doesn’t always work reliably, is that a problem? NO not really

As above – we’d like to inspire people with the whole making journey and as you folk will know it’s often the bugs, issues and teething problems that reveal how projects work and encourage you as makers to come up with innovative and creative solutions. As long as attendees are safe and you can spin a good yarn about the weird stuff that might happen as you show-off your project then you’re most welcome!

4. I’m not sure my project will survive the inquisitive audience of a Mini Maker Faire – should I stay at home? NO please don’t!

We understand that some people’s projects might be delicate and have limited opportunities for people to touch and get hands-on with. We can help you think about how you might provide opportunities to satisfy people’s curiosity and keep your project safe. Right now the main thing is to get your application in! Detail any questions/concerns you might have in the ‘hands-on’ section of the online form.

5. I don’t have a project to show – can I get involved? YES PLEASE!

We’ll shortly be recruiting volunteers from the Maker community to be part of this fabulous event as our Maker Faire Crew! If you’re passionate about making and like chatting to people then keep your eyes peeled here and on Twitter for more details soon.

Meet the Maker no.1: Libby Miller

In the first in our series of Q&As with makers and creatives we had a quick chat with Libby Miller who works in R&D for the BBC and spends her spare time tinkering with shonky bots…

Who are you and what do you do when you’re not making?
I’m 42, female, and have a background in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and a PhD in Economics. In my day job I’m a producer at BBC Research and Development, which means I do project and product management for the prototypes we make there.

The team I’m in make lots of different kinds of prototypes – my two recent favourites are physical and software radio prototyping platform, Radiodan,   and BBC Shuffle, a web-based prototype that learns what you like and creates a bespoke TV channel just for you.

What is it that you make?
I’ve been making a lot of streaming internet radio-based prototypes from Raspberry Pis and off-the shelf components. Over christmas I used the basic code to make a “podcast in a box” controlled with RFID cards. More recently I’ve been working with Bristol Hackspace people on Shonkbot, a £10 Arduino-based programmable robot. I love making cheap things, and I love laser cutting.

How did you first get started?
I went to the last Mini Maker Faire in Bristol! I loved some of the things there especially Richard Sewell’s drawing robot Sketchy, John Honniball’s pieces made of old shop till displays, and some lovely origami foxes Roborigami by Ad Spiers. Then I accidentally went to the Bristol Hackspace open day at BV Studios in Bedminster – I went to see the artists studios and didn’t realise Hackspace was there. I got chatting about lots of things, and have been going back most Thursday evenings ever since. I’ve had loads of help there for home and work projects too, and hopefully I’m starting to contribute a bit back.


Tell us about a recent project?
Walls Have Eyes
is a work project but it’s very ‘maker-y’. It’s three pictures with Raspberry Pis inside the frames. They take pictures of you and capture information that your phone gives out when searching for wifi networks and then print it out on a massive noisy old dot matrix printer. It’s designed to give people a more visceral understanding of what data their phones are leaking as they walk around. This kind of data is used by companies to track us in physical (rather than digital) space, for example at Cabot Circus. It was a bit of an eye-opener researching it. We (myself and my colleagues Jasmine Cox and Andrew Nicolaou) made it for the Mozilla Festival last year, but it got nominated for the Design of the Year awards so it’s now at the Design Museum in London – for a year – and that was really hard, to make it stable enough to last a year.

What can people expect to find at a Maker Faire?
Lots of different stalls, which will be a table or two with some interesting things on it and someone to talk to. Last time in Bristol there were lots of drawing bots of various kinds, some mini hovercraft, some tiny robots made of tooth brushes, some large metal interactive sculptures, 3D printing and some crafts too. It’s normally very diverse and I bet most people would find something that interested them.

What was the first Bristol Mini Maker Faire like for you?
I was wandering around alternately going “how on earth did they do that!” and “that’s amazing!”. I felt like it was really possible to start hacking on objects and make them do different things to what was intended. I was really impressed at the creativity of the people there and wanted to do something like that too.

What’s are your top 3 ‘makes’ of all time?
That’s tricky, there’s so much brilliant stuff going on. I loved Martin Raynesford’s useless machine at Maker Faire UK last year , John Honniball’s resurrected plotter  that lives at the Hackspace, and Richard & Anton’s Giant Staring Eye .

And finally, can you give us a project we could start this evening…?I think you should try Shonkbot, the robot we’ve been working on at Hackspace, which made Hackaday recently – http://hackaday.com/2015/06/18/cheap-easy-to-build-robot-for-beginners/. You can get the bits from Maplin mostly (though eBay’s a lot cheaper!) It’s a robot built on a CD which draws shapes and avoids other robots, and the instructions are here.


“robots are cool”

Spotted this great TEDx  talk recently by robotic obsessive Joel Gibbard, who explains his journey from a child tinkering with lego to avoid chores to a man creating 3D printed prosthetic hands. Perfect lunchtime viewing…