Tag Archives: the edge

Block Battle Bots

The Block Battle Bots tournament will take place during Fun Palace on 6 October 2018 at State Library of Queensland, South Brisbane, Australia, Earth, The Solar System in the Milky Way Galaxy. The winner will be crowned the Galactic Champion and will walk away with a super awesome Battle Bot Kit worth $100.

To build a robot and test its…mettle, sign up for the three-part workshop series!

Galactic Block Battle Bot Championship Federation Laws

• Bot teams will have 2–4 members
• Battles will be 2 and 3 minutes long
• Winner determined by three judges or by knockout (disabled)
• The judges’ rulings are always final
• Block Battle Bots will be built using Lego and the equipment and components below. Limited amounts of 3D printed and laser cut parts are allowed (see below)
• Limited amounts of rubber bands, string and similar if used for energy storage, tyres, control lines or similar
• No reinforcing allowed!

List of components
• Official ‘Brick Bot’ LEGO kit, 1,274 assorted pieces
(pieces can be shared or traded with other teams at the team’s discretion)
• Official Battery Pack
(Currently: 11.1v, 450mAh LiPo, weight approx. 40g)
• Official Electronics Pack
(Pre-programmed with Open Source Code Base, weight approx. 20g)
• Choice of official motor options
• Robot Remote
(Currently clone PS3 controller)
• Limited access to laser cutter, chassis plans and one (1) A4 sheet of 3mm acrylic
• Access to 3D printers and 200g of filament
(only 100g allowed in the final build).

Meet the VSAs — Rei

The VSAs are the amazing folk who greet you at the service desk, provide you with caffeine and support you in all your adventures through time and space here at the Edge. They are essentially humble super humans without whom this place could not run. We thought you might enjoy finding out more about these mysterious creatures, so we will be quizzing them and introducing them to you over the next little while.


I started working at the Edge…
Only just recently! About a month ago.

My favourite thing about the Edge is…
The fabrication lab! I used to visit The Edge a lot to concentrate on my work as it was a great quiet space and until recently I was unaware of all the different equipment that was available to the public via the Fab lab downstairs. It’s given me the opportunity for me to work on bigger projects that I wasn’t able to do before.

Come talk to me about…
Beagles, Korean food, film photography, Japan, chorus pedals… but more importantly, your creative projects. I’d love to hear about what you’re working on.

I am making…
Actually at the moment I’m laser cutting a new pickguard for my guitar. I would love to try to make a body + neck with the CNC Router sometime too.

I am listening to…
Porches, Snail Mail and the new Dinosaur City Records compilation.

I am watching…
Terrace House (So good, highly recommend it).

In my spare time I…
Play drums in a post punk band.

If I could live anywhere it would be…
I’d love to live in Japan again for a bit but really Bris has my heart.

Pineapple on pizza?
No, never. Feel very strongly about this.

Beach or mountain?
Beach. Love a swim.


What do you make when you have a new laser cutter..?

… an egg cup Dalek.
We bet you didn’t see that one coming!

Some may say why? Others may say why not…? An egg cup Dalek is a great idea! But frankly, the egg cup doesn’t matter as much as WE HAVE A LASER CUTTER!! You may have thought that the Fabrication Lab couldn’t get much better; that the 3D printers, sewing machines, tools and CNC were pretty cool, but we think we’ve just topped it!

Are you ready to play? Access to the Laser Cutter works like all the other resources in the Fabrication Lab. To book the resource you first need to complete a safety induction. But, we haven’t released any inductions for the Laser Cutter yet. If you’d like to be informed when the inductions are running, register your details with us, and we’ll put you on the priority waiting list.



Cheers to Beck and cake.

Greetings. I’ll keep this brief for once.

It’s my second last week here at The Edge and I feel like my time here has gone by incredibly fast. I cannot attest the same for Beck and Tegan whom, having received the brunt of my rambunctious (and more often than not cringe-worthy) behaviour, are probably ready to break open the champagne.

Speaking of champagne, today was the last day for Sally so it was only fitting that we had some bubbly and cupcakes for lunch. Sophie and I thought that it was possibly a cruel joke, building up our expectations of ‘the real world’. Where else does your supervisor caution you to stop working as it’s time for cake?

party image

Cake has been a good friend to me this week given that I’ve returned to editing the first three case studies that I wrote up. It’s not that I don’t like editing; it’s just that I resent it for forcing me to look back at my own work, which I can never really come around to liking. (I’m fairly certain I briefly touched on this in an earlier post.)

Beck has also been friendly throughout the editing process having substituted her red pen for a less soul-smushing blue Staedtler. She’s still trying to beat the commas out of me (they’re my last wall of defence); fortunately I think that as a result some of her masterful ways are rubbing off.

Once again one of my biggest challenges was cutting down several paragraphs into a matter of lines. Four lines to be precise. It started off being quite difficult but became easier as I grew better at identifying the most important information. And I have to admit that seeing a page full of equal length paragraphs was quite rewarding.

That’s it.

You can’t have your glass half-empty and eat it too

I’m not sure that the title is exactly what I’m looking for in terms of thematic foreshadowing — but my life is full of mixed metaphors, so tough.

I’m proud to announce that I’ve officially hit the halfway mark of my internship with The Edge. 80 hours of intense literary mastication, and I’m beginning to feel like my shiny intern gloss is slowly being scraped away and the soft, mushy parts where my self-esteem used to be are now non-specific clusters of minerals and trauma… I’m completely joking mostly, so far it’s been awesome fun and a really great experience — exactly like the brochure said!

Amongst other things, I’ve finally put the staff profiles behind me. The whole process was quite in-depth and the last points of editing included tone, length (I edited them all to fit in the same amount of lines) and general avoidance of repetition between profiles (particularly members within the same team). I’m glad to be moving on to something new and I’m probably 70% happy with what I handed to Beck, but I suppose that’s always the way with one’s own work. As I’ve said in previous posts, one of the best things I’ve taken from the experience so far is to know when to let go of something, and to also place less emotion into my general work (note the aforementioned transition of mushy parts to non-specific clusters).

Coming up next week I’ll be starting work on writing content for current programs as well as a select few of the previous projects that have gone on here at The Edge. I got to choose from a list and naturally my first pick was the Zombie Climate Apocalypse. I’ll also be writing about the Mad Scientist Tea Party (a great party theme in my opinion) and the Science Fair, so keep your eyes peeled — or for a less coarse approach, pulped — for a look at some of the great stuff from The Edge’s past. I’ll also try to include a couple of the best photos I come across during my digital trawling.

zombie 1

One of the many photos documenting The Edge’s Zombie Climate Apocalypse

I suppose what I was trying to woefully allude to with the title, is that if you don’t have a positive outlook, chances are you’re not going to enjoy your internship/whatever you’re doing. And usually to get to the super-cool-fun-stuff you have to trudge through the tough and tedious, and remaining positive through the latter can sometimes be a mission. So far, that hasn’t been the case in my experience and whether it has been because of the people, the content or the general work environment, even usually menial tasks (e.g. capitalising) at The Edge result in stumbling across something new and interesting.

Wish me luck for the second half of my stay! I’m looking forward to it, but with the finish line imminent I’m not sure whether my own emotional glass is half-full or half-empty. Stay tuned for more self-cognitive epiphanies.

At this monumental point in time, a piece of advice for future interns: always eat the cake. If you don’t it will go stale — or sour if it’s a cheesecake.


INTERNal Dialogue: Thinking with words

Today marks the end of my first week as an intern with The Edge (I’ve been told my official title is negotiable, though business cards will not be provided. Check this space later for any further development.)

The first thing I noticed about The Edge was how fantastic the space is; nestled between State Library and the Queensland Art Gallery, you’d not be blamed for missing it. Although I’d moseyed along the boardwalk, right past the office windows countless times, I’d never had the foggiest as to what lay beyond the glass. Inside on the first level are are a bunch of wondrous spaces, filled with couches, beanbags and projector screens that appear out of the ceiling! Combine this with an awesome view of the city and you’ve got a recipe for collaboration and inspiration (or maybe just distraction). But the coolest area, I think, is the basement, where the offices and other dark and mysterious corners can be found.

At one end of the basement is Lab 4, where, amongst other things, you can find a batch of Kombucha Tea (see photo), which the team have used to manufacture a unique fashion line (I’m still trying to get my head around it). At the other end you can find a Nerf Gun surplus, left overs from the last Zombie Climate Apocalypse that the building suffered (I tried to hide my devastation when hearing it was unlikely there would be another during my time here. I may have failed). The Edge is full of the weird and wonderful and has me anxious to start next week.

kombucha tea sustainable clothing

More wonderful and slightly less weird, are the inhabitants of the basement: the staff. The first task I’ve been given is to begin re-drafting staff profiles for the new website. This meant I first needed to spend some time getting to know everyone. Although I could give you a spiel about the particularities of each of the staff I’ve spoken with thus far, it’s suffice to say that they’re about as clever and diverse a bunch of people as you’re likely to find in any basement. Aside from an excellent opportunity to introduce myself and get to know the team, my first task gives me an opportunity to use some of my skills (no one has challenged me to a staring competition yet) in a professional context. It’s very rewarding to be able to begin making connections between your university education and how you might be able to apply it in the real world (thank you QUT).

It’s Friday and 5pm is quickly approaching so you’ll have to wait to hear more about this creative-wonder-factory. Otherwise I’d suggest coming down and having a look for yourself.

Intern out.

Sound Extrusions: Porcelain Reloaded

Plaster molds for the porcelain speakers

Plaster molds for the porcelain speakers
Plaster molds for the porcelain speakers

The “hero shot” in this post (above) is a picture of clay models of the porcelain shapes. They were used to create actual plaster moulds. This is one of the first steps towards the final porcelain speaker shells  the main features of the project. The idea behind creating a porcelain object is very straight forward: once we finish a model in clay, we are ready to cast a plaster mould and use it as a negative shape for later porcelain slip casting. This is the most common approach. The beauty of plaster mould is in the fact that we can replicate the objects many times afterwards (3D printing is also pretty good in that regard, as we saw in the last post!), and that we are able to refine our object to finer detail while editing the plaster mould too. But the biggest advantage compared to a direct modelling approach, is the far greater chance of fault free product in the end, thanks to the process of slip casting.

The intriguing story of the Meissen porcelain manufacture workshop, from the beginning of 18th Century, was covered in one of the previous posts. It gave us an unusual introduction to this exciting material. But let’s leave the mystery of European manufacturing behind us for now, and let’s have a look at the process of porcelain making itself!

Making plaster moulds is in fact an art in itself. The reason for this claim is that complicated shapes require plaster moulds to be “assembled” out of many interlocking pieces. The reason for that is that you have to be able to take the mould apart once the object is casted. The only way to achieve this is to divide the clay model into virtual plains and cast the mould step by step, creating separate interlocking pieces as you go. Even some of the finest porcelain makers and designers leave this process to experienced mould makers.

Another step in the production is the magic of porcelain slip casting — in fact it’s fairly simple, but you wouldn’t know unless you knew what to ask for! By pouring liquid porcelain into the plaster mould we create the porcelain slip. But the real secret is in the plaster itself — more specifically, in the porosity of the material. Plaster in fact, is made of a maze of little tunnels and microscopic cavities, which are ready to absorb water. And here the magic starts. By pouring the liquid porcelain into plaster mould, the water in the porcelain gets absorbed into plaster and we are left with thin sediment crust. (Yes, this is already your favorite translucent coffee cup with a dragon!) After a few minutes we are left with a few millimetres thickness of porcelain wall. The rest of the liquid is poured away and the casted slip starts to shrink and pops easily out of the mould.

Sounds simple, but we are not done yet! The secrets of kiln and glaze firing are the most intriguing and guarded secrets. Porcelain firing temperatures reach up to 1280C, while the whole process is divided into two steps — the bisque firing (makes the whole object hard and reveals any material impurities like micro-cracks — oh no!) and the final glaze firing, which gives the porcelain body the glass like qualities and creates the sleek look of the porcelain objects.

In such a short introduction to the material, there was already lots of information. But let’s have a look, for a change, at how the old fashion decorative porcelain concept turns into a challenging adventure in contemporary design!


There’s one more “detail” to porcelain production. While watching a short documentary on Bugatti Veyron L’Or Blanc and the use of unusual porcelain interior decorations, be aware, that porcelain shrinks by 14-16% throughout the whole production. In other words, matching precisely crafted interior car parts with porcelain custom shapes must have been an adventure of its own!

Sound Extrusions: Interview – 3D Printing, Prototyping & Muffins with Mick Byrne

I have come across another obstacle in the proposed porcelain speaker design recently — how to actually attach an inductive speaker onto the interior surface of the proposed porcelain shape … Mick Byrne from The Edge came up with a great idea to use a 3D printer at The Edge to do the job. We found out that it probably won’t print the final piece for the installation (it’s quite fragile and wouldn’t hold the weight properly), but it would be great for making a prototype and help with latex mould creation for later resin casting of the part itself!

After the bold introduction to porcelain making in the last blog post, here’s another topic, yet again very much connected with object design and modelling. This technique, completely new to the creative tool box, is based on recreation of digital models through printing, using various materials.

I have caught up with Mick Byrne for a short interview on 3D printing, just to give you a quick glimpse into this new emerging creative hi-tech universe, mixing computer graphics and design into one. Thank you Mick, for also sharing with us a great document covering the sintering experiment by Markus Kayse. Powered by the sun and using sand as printing material in the Sahara desert, it looks like a great adventure!

How far away are we from printing our muffins for breakfast in the morning, Mick?

In fact the technology is already out there, it just wouldn’t make sense to do it money-wise I would say!

Being in Australia right now makes me think about printing even surfboards on demand!

Yeah, you are right, the scale of 3D printers changed quite a lot recently. There are already some building companies using it for computer controlled injection of materials  which is pretty much the same thing as a filament printing process we do use here at The Edge.

It feels somehow, that 3D printing has a bit too much hype  being this new and seductive an element is an almost fetish approach to technology, don’t you think?!

I would say it’s more about narrowing the technology divide and allowing pretty much everybody to try it out. Not just the big companies with research parks behind them. In a way it’s democratizing the creative industry right now (on-line jewellery boutique shops, etc.). It’s a bit similar to what happened in the movie production some years ago.

This brings me to a tricky question, which has arisen quite recently  the publication of a 3D printed gun on the internet. What’s your point of view on that?

It’s not a real issue from my point of view. It was just a single use gun. It still has to be loaded with regular and controlled ammunition anyway …

Anyway, what is the most intriguing object you have come across concerning 3D printing?

It’s actually a sintering machine powered only by solar heat using mirrors and lenses. That is quite cool!

What’s the sintering process anyway? We have been talking about filament printing, which makes use of liquefied plastic cords what’s the difference then?

It’s a very different printing process: consecutively laid layers of powder on top of each other (which could be anything from plastic to titanium!) are heated in a very precise way with a laser to form the object. The beauty in that is that each layer of the actual powder adds a supportive structure to the originating element. In the end you just blow off the dust & away you go!

Is it very different to traditional production methods, such as mould casting or block subtractive manufacturing?

Sure, big time! You are able to build quite complex even interlocking structures, which are not possible to achieve with traditional industrial design approaches.

What are the current trends in 3D printing?

I know about amazing medical applications  basically you would print a shape of an organ, as an ear for example, out of cellulose. Then you “invite” the cells to grow onto it to form the actual organ, great idea!

Let’s finish off the interview with connection to my actual Sound Extrusion project! What are the workflow ideas in this case for me?!

It’s pretty straight forward  first of all you have to clean your model (we use Tinker CAD, but any other 3D or CAD software will do), export it to 3D printer and print the prototype. The next step would be to cover the printed object in a release agent (to prevent it from sticking to the actual mould) and use a two part latex putty to create a casting mould. Then you can use regular resin to produce the object for real life use.

Thank you Mick, for your time and the workflow ideas!

solar sinster video
Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo

Seriously infected! …

I decided to have a look at my cheek cells and spit under the microscope. I’ve been feeling a bit sick with flu, so I was interested to see if there is any difference from previous viewings and also to look for bacterial presence. I was shocked to see crazy fungus contamination on the slide. OMG!  No wonder I’ve been feeling so terrible.

Cheek cells with wierd spore clusters and fibres

Cheek cells with weird spore clusters and fibresmouth19313_2

I must admit, I had a bit of a freak out…but then thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was more likely that the slide was dirty or contaminated rather than myself.

Indeed, I once had SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) images taken of my skin, boogas, ear wax and menstrual fluid only to find no evidence of bacteria or other organisms!!!!  I was really surprised. It was still pretty cool to see my bodily excretions this close up!

Ear wax

Ear wax



Menstral fluid blood clot

Menstral fluid blood clot

Although I was really disappointed not to find evidence of strange crawly creatures like this:

Scabies mite.  Image Source: Healthy Life Blog

Scabies mite. Image Source: Healthy Life Blog

Then again….probably good that I don’t actually have scabies!

The notable absence of bacteria and other microflora was however, quite perplexing especially given that we are outnumbered by an estimated 10:1 by non-self cells in our bodies. There are a few possible reasons for the absence of bacteria and other microbes:

  •  The samples were collected at home and processed later at Uni.  This may have resulted in microbes moving on to greener pastures.
  • The preparation process washed surface elements from the surface of the samples. (This is probably more likely as I do not have much experience with sample processing and may have been too rough with my pipetting).

It also seems that that the majority of microbes occupy the interior spaces of our body, rather than just the surface.

Different human microflora

Human microbiome. Image source: Rational Discovery Blog

Indeed, a large number of non-self cells are located in our gut. These bacteria are super important to ensure efficient nutrient processing and digestive health. I remember hearing Dr Karl talk about poo transplants (or fecal bacteriotherapy) on Triple J. Apparently, receiving a ‘reverse enema’ of poo from a healthy ‘digester’ can help individuals with chronic diarrhea and other digestive issues caused by ‘bad’ bacteria.  Gross…and yet kinda cool! (I have yet to find someone who wants my poo – I do offer whenever anyone complains about stomach problems).

Anyway…after checking my cheek cells again with a clean slide, it turns out that everything is A-OK!

Mouth cells.

Mouth cells.

Nothing to worry about and no evidence of bacteria or other creepy things.  (The black dots are spots on the camera lense!) My Edge colleagues can breath easy….for now…

Slime mould madness – coming soon!


Slime mould (Physarum polycephalum).  Image credit: ABC

Slime mould (Physarum polycephalum). Image credit: ABC: Audrey Dussutour

The Fringes program is kicking off soon and we are in the process of organising/finalising workshops that respond to the cross-overs between Art, Science and Technology. As part of this organisation Mick and I had a meeting with microbiologist Dr Carrie Hauxwell from QUT the other week. Together we decided to develop a slime mould 3D printed maze workshop. The workshop is based on numerous studies that have found that slime moulds (despite lacking a central nervous system or brain) are able to solve mazes, by finding the shortest available distance to a food source.

Slime Mould solving a maze - finding the shortest distance to food source. Image source: Forgetomori

Slime Mould solving a maze – finding the shortest distance to food source. Image source: Forgetomori

You can read more about the amazing maze solving abilities in this Nature article.

Since they tend to find the shortest route to a food source they have also been used in studies of traffic systems to find the best connection between two destinations.

A BIT ABOUT SLIME MOULD: Slime moulds, despite their somewhat unfortunate name, are actually really awesome organisms that are relatively easy to culture and pretty darn fascinating to observe.  While they are often thought of as Fungi, they are in fact part of the Protista family. There are a huge variety of slime moulds. My favourite would have to be the cellular slime moulds.  They live most of their life as single celled organisms, but if nutrients run low and they receive the correct chemical signals, they clump together into a slug-like creature. Once they have moved to a new, more favourable location, they produce fruiting bodies and release new spores. Truly amazing!

For the workshop we will be using the more lab friendly variety: Physarum plycephalum. It has been used as a model organism in labs for a while now. As such, it has established culturing requirements and is a low risk organism to work with.  While it can be purchased from numerous biology supply companies including Southern Biological and Bio-Tek, it is also possible to find them lurking about in the botanical gardens or other woody and shaded places. Indeed, as part of the workshop, we will hopefully go on a field trip with Carrie to find our own ‘wild’ specimens. Super Fun!

We’ll be using Photoshop, InkScape and Tinkercad to design the maze and then we’ll print them with the cool 3D printers at The Edge.