Posts Tagged “convention”

Upcoming venues for the Chaos Machine:

Past venues:








  • TCEP 16, September 2009, Laurel, MD.

I’ll be looking for Chaos Wranglers for all of these events (and thanks again, Tony, for your continued wrangling!)

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… since the Tyrolean spa had the chess boys in it.  Scratch that, wrong song. But it has been quite a while since I last updated here.

MakerFaire:NC 2011 was great — easily twice the size of the previous year.  This year Tony Montouri came down to Raleigh to help with the Chaos, and we had a great time.  We spent most of Friday assembling the framework, planning the stunts, and getting the initial track layout done.  That left Saturday for fleshing out the build and showing off to all and sundry.  This time we built a large U-shaped layout, with a high bridge across the top of the ‘U’.  This allowed us to run marbles completely around the machine, which reduced the need to keep shuttling marbles from one side of the machine to the other.  Once again, there was barely time to look around at the rest of the exhibits.  The machine was a great draw for the show, and Jon Danforth has asked me to bring it back next year.

TCEP 18 was lots of fun too.  No where near as many people as MakerFaire:NC, but the chance to spend an entire weekend building and improving the machine is always good.  This year the Chaos Machine was used as a prop in the LARP (Miskatonic Class Reunion).  Another nice thing with the longer, slower pace is that I get to spend time teaching the kids how to troubleshoot the machine.

It looks like the next venue for the Chaos Machine will be the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival which is being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, April 27-29, 2012.  This should be a huge show, but at least it’s local, with Friday for pre-build, and Saturday and Sunday for full exhibition.   I wouldn’t normally be able to afford the exhibition fees, but the organizers have arranged with Gary Mauler (RobotFest and Midatlantic Mini Maker Faire) to make a large number of booths available to local area Makers.

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Rented a van to haul the machine to Laurel, Maryland, for Tad and Craig’s Excellent Party 17.

Friday night I set up the framework and elevators before dinner, then started working on track after dinner.  After assessing the space, I went with a lightning bolt, set diagonally along a wall, which left most of the room for gaming.  The elevators were at the center corners of the machine, with their catch tracks running to the opposite ends of the machine   I didn’t make as much progress as I might have liked, due to the assistance of two cute little redheaded girls.

Saturday morning I finished tying one side together with a triple loop-de-loop and a complex trampoline, which gradually drew in kids and parents, along with a couple of other like-minded souls.  By 2pm it was going well enough that I felt I could take a break; when I came back around 5:00, the machine had evolved.

Sunday featured more gradual evolution and bug hunting, mostly by the kids but with help from some of the adults.  I mostly looked in on it between running a LARP and an INWO event.

Monday morning I tweaked a couple of rough spots, which drew in more helpers — I may have convinced a couple of parents to go hunting for used sets on eBay for their kids.  Monday afternoon we broke down the machine and packed it back into the van for the trip home.

All-in-all, another successful outing.

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I took my Chaos Machine to Tad and Craig’s Excellent Party, and had a blast. There was lots of interest from adults as well as children, and I’m definitely going to take the machine back next year.

We arrived at the hotel around 5:00pm, and after some negotiation with the staff, got the machine into the function space. I started off with a framework that was about 7 feet long, one foot wide, and roughly five feet high. I put a screw elevator at one end, and a chain elevator at the other, with collector track feeding each elevator. Then I started with some simple runs and stunts (a double loop-de-loop for one side, a simple trampoline for the other). Working alone, that took much of Friday night (with breaks for dinner and socializing).

When I came back after breakfast Saturday morning, people were already playing with the machine, making the runs more interesting (complicated) and tweaking things. This continued off and on throughout the day on Saturday, and again on Sunday. Saturday afternoon I replaced the screw elevator with another chain elevator (the 9-segment screw was prone to jamming), and the double loop got downsized to a single loop, and eventually removed, again due to reliability concerns.

It took about an hour on Sunday night to pack everything up again (not including delays due to socializing). Having individual bins for each of the different types of parts really made it easy to clean up, and stacking the bins in the tubs made them easy to move (the tubs fit nicely onto the hotel carts). I know I’ve got some cleanup to do (there was the expected amount of breakage over the course of the weekend), but for now the machine is stored in my garage.

There were a lot of small children, but for the most part they were well behaved. The hard part was convincing their parents that neither I nor the Chaos Machine were babysitters. I found it odd that after a while most of the kids were referring to the balls as ‘chaos’ and that adding more balls to the machine was ‘adding more chaos’. A couple of times I had to remind the young kids that the machine was fragile, and twice I had to explain that the support tubes weren’t intended to be used to make rifles or swords. All in all, the kids were well behaved … for kids.

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