The GE Design & Build Challenge is coming back to Maker Faire Milwaukee again in 2016 for its 3rd iteration. Sponsored by GE Healthcare, last year’s Challenge gave teams of four Makers three hours to build a machine to deliver a ‘brain’ for transplant through the Maker Faire Hospital. With no prior knowledge of what the challenge would be, and using only materials available from a well-supplied Hack Rack, teams designed, assembled, and tested their transporters in front of the Maker Faire crowd and raced through the course.
The technical centerpiece of last year’s challenge was the ‘Brain’ which was designed and built by a team of Engineers and Industrial Designers at GE Healthcare. The Brain itself was 3D printed using ABS plastic, and it was suspended in an acrylic jar. Embedded inside the Brain was a NI myRIO FPGA controller from National Instruments, which read data from a 3-axis accelerometer and transmitted it back to 3 desktop computers through WiFi. Those computers could then display the data in real time, so the crowd could see the bumps and drops as the teams moved through the course.
The Brain was also fitted with NeoPixel color-changing LEDs to give a visual indication of its life. Rainbow colors were displayed when it was healthy, the lights turned to red when it was getting damaged, and finally turned off when the health dropped to zero. It gave the judges quantifiable measures of how well each team performed, and also let the audience know how well the teams were doing.
Technology will be a factor in this year’s challenge as well. Make sure to stop by the Design & Build Challenge on Sept 24 to see what the teams will be challenged with this year, and if you think you’re up to the Challenge, apply as a team!