Liverpool MakeFest 2016

It was a pleasure to exhibit at Liverpool MakeFest last weekend. We were made to feel very welcome and the venue was amazing. The MakeFest took over the central library in Liverpool. The library has ultra modern architecture with floating walkways in the sky and an amazing roof terrace overlooking the city.However the building retains some of the original oak rooms with really traditional reading rooms.

We were swamped with visitors from opening to after closing! People were queuing to have a go of our sticker critter and cognitive mirror.

Liverpool MakeFest Maker Badge 2016 showing liverbird and word maker

For this show, I reprinted the critter nose in yellow that gives a much more distinctive face. I also improved the messaging and animations on the LCD screen. This has resulted in a speed improvement as the critter no longer has to wait for the messages  on the screen. As one of the things that visitors seem to be amazed by is the speed the sticker is produced, this should make them even more impressed. This show also uses the self peeling sticker option on the new ebay Zebra printer. This means the visitors don’t have to rip the sticker off, that resulted in no jams and less messing..

I also updated the Pi Win IoT to the latest insider preview version, that seemed to produce some performance improvements.

Sticker Critter with designs people have made in background

The sticker design was updated with the branding for this faire. Below were some of the designs people came up with.

Designs on the design board for Liverpool MakeFest 2016


Visitors making designsReading RoomView up from ground floorReception

Qualcast Bosch Lawnmower Scarifier Handle L-Shaped spring position

If you have a Qualcast lawnmower or lawn scarifier and want to know the position that pesky L-Shaped metal spring should go, here is a photo.

I searched for this, I found no results that properly answered this question, so hopefully this will help someone out there.
Comment if it helped you!

Click to enlarge

Qualcast Handle L shaped Spring Position highlighted with yellow box

At the faire!

Over the weekend it was great to get so much positive feedback from visitors and fellow makers!

Finally we settled on Sticker Critter as the name of our little creation, and that is what the project will be renamed at future showings.


Built in a day and a night…

Having played with Project Oxford at Christmas and then seeing it launch just before Makerfaire at the Build conference, I was keen to include it as part of my stand as I felt it was fresh new and bleeding edge.

Microsoft Cognitive services is a cloud based API that allows you to send photos to it and get back a results showing how much of a pre-defined list of emotions, the faces in the photo are showing.

I could use this to put on a sticker to show everyone else how they are feeling…

I had got the main project finished on Thursday and had already arranged the Friday off work to setup and as contingency time. I set to work building the Cognitive mirror in a day and a night.

I took  some MDF, black spray painted the top that allowed me to conceal a camera, it turned out when people are concentrating on the mirror, jo public did not even notice the hole where the camera was, frankly I was amazed, and pleased.

I’d been planning to do this a few months back, so had bought the mirror and the discount shop. I repurposed the big switches I’d used last year for the animal scanning to use when people wanted to start the process. Finally I had purchased another thermal printer in anticipation.


I made an “A” frame behind the mirror back board to keep it up right, hot glued the mirror to the board to keep it there. Got another RPi, threw another Win IoT core image onto and SD and booted up.

I then sat down and coded the code. Luckily as I’d played with the API at Christmas and already had API keys etc I was able to quickly make it return the result from the webcam attached to the mirror.

The result contains face frames, so I used the face frames to cookie cut the faces out of the original image, I then married this with the stats returned from the API.

This then was dithered and printed onto a sticker, for the top three emotions.

It all came together quite quickly and worked well.

It was well worth doing as this became a good talking point to the more technical people visiting the stand, and everyone else just found it amazing magic how it worked out what they were showing on their faces.

On  the Sunday morning while having breakfast I chop sawed and drilled and hot glued in 10mins a new switch as the industrial switch had too strong a spring for some visitors to use. The connection to the PI was also flaky so I improved that at the same time. The new switch I was quite proud of considering how little time it took to make.


Here is a shot of the mirror in action from behind the stand.

It got some amazing reactions as people tried to portray the various emotions.