Category Archives: Featured Maker

Meet the Maker(s): Tampa Hackerspace


Maker Faire Orlando is a maker magnet, drawing creative and energetic individuals and groups from all over the state.  Tampa Hackerspace is one those groups,  opening as Tampa’s first Hackerspace in 2013, and recently moving into bigger quarters to accommodate a growing and active membership.

We asked Director of Operations, Jon Adair, a mobile app developer with his own company, Thinkamingo, and a founding member of Tampa Hackerspace, to tell us more about  the space and what they’re bringing to Maker Faire Orlando.

Tell us about Tampa Hackerspace.

THS 2JA: Tampa Hackerspace is a non-profit, member-driven workshop. We provide space, equipment, and a community for people to make stuff. We now have three 3D printers, 2 CNC machines, an electronics lab, a wood / metal shop, and classroom space. We offer over a dozen classes for members and nonmembers on everything from Arduinos to Lockpicking to 2D Art. Every Tuesday we hold an Open Make Night for people to come check out the space, meet people, get advice or help on a project, 3D print something, etc.

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Meet the Maker: Nepchune’s Noise Circus

Chuck Stephens performing at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014 in Tampa.

Chuck Stephens performing at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014 in Tampa.

Chuck Stephens is an artist, musician, hardware hacker and small boat builder who specializes in the use of recycled, repurposed and salvaged materials.   He’ll be exhibiting at Maker Faire Orlando as Nepchune’s Noise Circus.  We asked him to tell us a bit more about what he does and why he does it.

What’s a “Noise Circus”?

The Noise Circus is the result of my experimentation with electronic noise circuits and generative music. My goal is to build machines that use sensors or internal logic to create evolving rhythmic and melodic patterns. I use simple circuits like building blocks to build more complex devices capable of a wide variety of musical possibilities.

This year I’ll have my Lunetta open patch CMOS based sound machine. This device uses very simple logic circuits to create complex rhythmic and melodic patterns by manually rewiring circuits with alligator clip lead wires. Once it’s wired up it can create amazingly complex and evolving sounds- from repeating musical patterns and beats to atmospheric sounds and horror/scifi sound effects. I’ll also have my Medusatron optical sequencer, circuit bent toys, an Arduino based synth and some other fun projects. I’ll have things hooked up so folks can play around and I’ll turn it up and do a few jams throughout the day.

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Meet the Maker: Brian Johnson of Johnson Arms Replicas and Props


For over five years, Brian Johnson of Johnson Arms Replicas and Props has been customizing guns, blades, helmets, and other props for collectors and cosplayers. From original steampunk designs to video game, TV, and movie replicas, Brian does it all. Here, he lets us in on his favorite part of the process, what got him started, and more!

How did you get started making custom props?

It all started with doing a repaint on one of my son’s Nerf blasters about 6 years ago. He agreed to let me offer it on eBay and it sold for what I thought was a reasonable amount. So we went to the store and bought a few more… which has lead to more custom blasters than I can remember, haha.

When replicating a prop, how do you figure out what elements or techniques to use? Do you go for exact duplication or put your own spin on things?

Since I do almost everything on commission, I usually let the buyer decide the method. I really enjoy emulation without trying to be exact. That’s where the Nerf and other toy shooters are great. I can do a lot with a cool design and some paint.

If exactness is required, that’s when we can bring in 3D scanning or modeling to make something as close as possible. It’s quite a bit more expensive, but there are a lot of people who will pay for that uniqueness.

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Featured Project: The Wedding Dress of the Future

“Here comes the bride. All dressed in — LIGHTS?!”

That’s right! This wedding dress, you could say, is from the future. That’s what it’s called anyway.


The Wedding Dress of the Future is as beautiful as it is bright, which utilizes a Lilypad Arduino SimpleSnap controller and protoboard (a small sewable computer) to control the fiber-optic flower centers. The flowers are lit by Neopixels, a product by Adafruit, which are LED lights that come in sewable form.

The dress itself is illuminated by one watt LEDs with a heatsink that helps distribute the heat generated. They’re powered by a LED driver circuit and a 24-volt power supply. The bodice of the dress — that is, the part above the waist excluding the sleeves — is covered with fiber optic fabric produced by SensingTex of Spain and imported/distributed by Gadgetcat, a local company.

The one-watt LED can illuminate the fabric so well that it can be seen in daylight. The center flower located on the bodice is controlled by an Adafruit Gemma, another wearable and sewable microcontroller.

And it wouldn’t be a wedding dress without some bling! Fiber optic strands are glued into Swarovski crystals and onto Lilypad LED micros. The dress is powered by a lithium polymer battery.

See it yourself at Maker Faire Orlando on Sept. 13 and 14 at Orlando Science Center!


Meet the Maker: Artist Justin Peterson


Justin Peterson is the artist and writer behind the graphic novel series Very Near Mint, a muralist for Tijuana Flats, an illustrator for Mad magazine, and the designer of Maker Faire Orlando’s badges and t-shirts featuring the Orlando Science Center T-Rex, Stan, since last year. He keeps busy, but he found time to give us some insight into his artistic process and what inspires him to create!

What first got you interested in being an artist? Who or what are your influences?

Honestly, I don’t know what made me become an artist! It’s all I’ve ever really been good at. I found out early that drawing was in my blood. Maybe three, four years old, I started drawing all the time. Early influences would have been cartoons, like every kid!

I was really into Peanuts by Charles Schulz, who’s still one of my biggest influences, and other comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes. I started reading comic books in middle school, and fell in love with artists like Chris Bachalo and Joe Madureira, who both drew X-Men comics.

stan_transparent_240x314How would you describe your style?

“Angular” was always a word my teachers would use. I think it’s loosened up over the years, though. One thing lots of folks say when they look at my work these days is “it’s really funny!” I try to bring some fun and some energy to my drawings. I went to college for animation, and while it’s easy to bring life to moving characters on a screen, it’s much harder to convey that with static, still images. ENERGETIC! ANGULAR! CARTOONY! FUN!

Tell us about your graphic novel series, Very Near Mint. What’s it about and what’s the creative process like?

Very Near Mint is the story of two guys, Colin and Sam, who own a comic book shop. One day, a new, rival comic shop opens up across the street, and this new shop is out for revenge! Over the course of the books, you find out just why this rival comic shop wants to destroy Colin and Sam’s shop. It’s really a love letter to comic books and to comic book shops.

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