Some great Kickstarter projects

Kickstarter (we're assuming you've heard of it) is the leading crowd-funding platform, and it's changing the way research and development is taking place. What was once only possible in research and development departments at corporations is now being done by tinkerers and gadget makers in their garages. Of course, there's the odd corporate mixed in there too, but that just makes the search for genuine passion projects all the more interesting.

What I really love about Kickstarter is that if you want to see where the trends in technology are at a given point in time, just browse through the tech projects and you'll instantly get a feel for the zeitgeist. Here are a few of our favourites right now. Some are revolutionary, some are just pretty cool, and of course one involves beer kegs. Read on!

3-Doodler

3Doodler is the world’s first and only 3D Printing Pen. Using ABS plastic (the material used by many 3D printers), 3Doodler draws in the air or on surfaces. It’s compact and easy to use, and requires no software or computers. You just plug it into a power socket and can start drawing anything within minutes. As 3Doodler draws, it extrudes heated plastic, which quickly cools and solidifies into a strong stable structure. This allows you to build an infinite variety of shapes and items with ease. Most people will instantly be able to trace objects on paper, and after only a few hours of practice you will be able to make far more intricate objects.

Programmable Capacitator

There’s a need for making prototyping easier, and this inventor wants to do his part to make prototyping for everyone smoother and more of an enjoyable and intuitive experience. To do that he needs help funding this open source Programmable Capacitor. When prototyping a circuit you face a challenge acquiring all the components and tools necessary to make your LED’s blink, your speakers speak, and your robots work. The capacitor is an essential component of any electronics design, and without them, even the most basic circuits wouldn’t function.

Aqua-Plumb

A liquid level sensor that measures any liquid level with a strand of wire. Unlike traditional float based technologies, the AquaPlumb has no moving parts, and gives a measurement reading that is a continuum over the range of the sensing wire, that is proportional to the liquid level.

Sun-Volt

A portable charging platform which will efficiently convert the sun’s rays into powerful charging current for your mobile electronic devices.  On a clear day, a SunVolt Solar Power Station can charge multiple devices with the same speed as if they were plugged in and charged from the wall. A custom designed carrying case which is light, stylish, and functional, enables the system to be highly portable.  In mere seconds, users can easily set up the panel, plug in their devices, and start the charging process. When charging is complete, the panel quickly and safely stores for future use.

QU-BD One Up

World's first production ready 3D printer to break the $200 barrier.  It uses industry standard technology and electronics and everything is open source. The One Up and Two Up can produce results rivaling the best print quality of virtually every printer on the market at a price less than an XBOX.  By leveraging our supply chains and machining components in house in our industrial machine shop we can pass the savings on to you.  The One Up and Two Up use all industry standard components albeit at a quality substantially higher than most kits available.  This allows very precise movement enabling extremely high print quality with the minimum of 'fuss'.

Bicycle Astronomy

This inventor wants to build an ultra-lightweight and compact telescope (calling it the Veloscope Bicycle Transportable Telescope) that can easily be carried on a cargo bicycle, so he can engage in spontaneous and sustainable sidewalk astronomy--hosting public viewings of the night sky all around his city of 13,000 people. Bicycle Astronomy’s goal is to inspire people with the night sky (the telescope), and at the same time, challenge them to consider more sustainable transportation (the bicycle). 

Phenox

Named after phenom (genius) and phoenix. Phenox is a small programmable drone that controls itself intelligently to hover stably and revives any number of times by reprogramming. A uniquely developed “intelligent self-control system (ISCS)” for Phenox enables it to hover stably without any ground stations. With this technology, it remains quite small - almost fits in your hand. This is the world-first successful quadcopter realizing both this smallness and full autonomy within the system in small body.

Robotboat Mark VI

A fleet of autonomous sailing robots to study the oceans. Each boat can sail itself anywhere & send data back to shore. Each robotboat is fully autonomous, needs no fuel, and will bring to bear myriad sensors at remote points on the surface of oceans, lakes, and rivers.  Think of it as a satellite for the seas.

ISS-Notify

A simple light that shines when the International Space Station is overhead. The ISS-Notify is a simple attempt at making our space program more real. Many times a day the international space station passes overhead unnoticed. Often it happens during the day when it's too bright to see the tiny dot in the sky. So this light will pulse and shine whenever the station is overhead -- making the invisible visible.

Cygnus Project

The Cygnus Project is a project created by two Texas Tech University students, Erich Leeth and Terry Presley. Their goal was simple. Send a camera to space that was capable of doing the landscape justice. It is by no means a new thing to attach a small point and shoot or small camcorder to a weather balloon, but they had yet to see someone take the next step, the DSLR. So they strapped a Nikon D300s to a weather balloon to try to capture the awe inspiring scenery at 100,000 feet. Now they're looking to take it to the next level again. A Full Frame DSLR accompanied by several HD video cameras and real time payload tracking.

2-Stage Beer Keg Rocket

Team Numb has been building & launching High Powered Rockets for over 15 years.  In 2008 they successfully launched and recovered the 1st ever Beer Keg Rocket. This was an 11 ft tall, 350 lb rocket and the payload was a full, 15-gal keg of Portland's finest beer.  They sent the beer keg to over 6,200 ft!. Now it's time to up the ante! They're building a 2-Stage Beer Keg Rocket.  The 1st stage will have 4 very large 'N-Class' motors and a 5-gal keg of beer.  The 2nd stage will be based on the 2012 rocket and will have a full 15-gal keg of beer on board. I mean why not right?