Tremendous appreciation to our customers and friends who attended Parallax EXPO/UPEW

Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 5,603
Hey all,

I really can't describe the excitement, enthusiasm and energy we had at the Parallax EXPO/UPEW this weekend. We had visitors from Europe, Asia and all over the USA and I'm fairly certain we exceeded 2,000 guests. I can't begin to express our appreciation for the guests and their contributions.

The event was designed to handle the UPEW crowd mostly inside, and the entire EXPO guests everywhere. Five large tents in the parking lot provided soldering projects, microcontroller programming stations, hands-on robotic play areas, tech presenters, vendors, three food trucks, and a variety of guests with their own projects. We toured at least 1,500 people through the facility on half-hour guided trips complete with live manufacturing processes, stories about success and failure in the business, and often ending with impressive first-person view quadcopter flights with large video projection inside the building. Kids got to start CNC machine production runs and the manufacturing crew had the pick-n-place machine opened up with safety override keys they made on the laser cutter. Boy Scouts were able to meet part of their merit badge requirements and we had the chance to share the business with the local community.

The Parallax crew and their entire families ran the show, bringing our team to around 70 people - all teaching, sharing, talking, and assisting customers throughout the day. I'm not sure how much money we raised for Placer County Food Bank, but whatever it was I'm sure we could have made it 4x bigger if the kids sold tickets, but they were already booked at productive places throughout the facility.

I didn't have an opportunity to get a drink of water or food during Saturday, but a customer (Fred Evangelisti, American River College) brought me a nice Tex-Mex mix from a food truck just to say "thanks, I know you won't get a chance to eat so here's lunch". My dad thought the lunch looked good and said "hey, do you have any money - I didn't bring lunch money!". I didn't have any cash because I gave it to the kids to get lunch, so I turned to Tracy Allen for $20.

Many parents provided sincere appreciation. They just weren't ready for an event like this where kids were a true beneficiary, where liability concerns were not the ruler of our activities, and where they thought they'd visit for an hour but stayed for three. We heard many magic-moment "thank you's" in which the exposure was launching new interests. For many of our team and customers, key childhood events influenced their choices as adults and we're thankful to be able to pay it back. Kids are welcome in our office all the time and we are fortunate to have a place where they want to go (a recent poll by our HR manager found that kids wanted to go to Parallax on Spring Break instead of Mexico. . . but a trip to Hawaii made them think twice).

The technical exchanges were significant and presentations looked productive. So badly I wanted to see presentations but I had the chance to meet with some product developers instead. Many business connections were made between guests, too. The amount of post-EXPO collaboration will be more significant than the event itself.

To thank all of the contributors would be impossible, so I'll just thank everybody, starting with Jeff Ledger and Lauren Davis, our Marketing Manager. Parallax thanks every participant in the event!

Sincerely,

Ken Gracey
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Comments

  • 45 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Matt GillilandMatt Gilliland Posts: 1,398
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    One of the preliminary tasks that I was responsible for was running a BUNCH of electrical power out across the roof and over the parking lot to some trees on the back side of the tents.

    Ironically, that was nothing compared to the "electricity in the air" that I felt from all our friends (new and old) that were able to join us! I was especially happy to see so many kids roaming around - and in the words of many, they we're "having a blast!"

    You know how you're always apprehensive about "throwing a party" and wondering if anyone will show up? Pile and piles of people showed...it was ELECTRIC !

    -MattG

    PS: (private note to Marketing Department) - Get started now...Let's triple it for next year :thumb:
    - Matt Gilliland -
    - mattg@parallax.com
    - (916) 624-8333 x3018
    Ask me about the Lifetime Warranty on the Propeller BOE :smile:
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 19,551
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Congrats to Parallax for the hard work and successful EXPO! You guys never do anything halfway, and I'm sorry I missed it. (I almost had a friend convinced at the last minute to make it a Road Trip and share 16 hours of straight-through driving. "They'll have QUADCOPTERS!!!" was my presumptive hook, since he's big into RC. But I failed to reel him in with the idea.)

    Next year!

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they'’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’'s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It'’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • Tracy AllenTracy Allen Posts: 5,617
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil, imagine a queue of parents with children 20 or 30 deep outside the tent waiting to have a turn at the soldering stations to learn to solder their very own scribblerito. Small children sitting on parent's laps, big kids doing it on their own. Necklaces, badges, or ear rings--that LED was to be seen everywhere, and I bet many of them with show up at schools on Monday morning. A lot more programming and education excitement was going on in those tents. I heard Andy give his amazingly practiced put-you-inside-the-box explanation of how the Memsic accelerometer works, for the benefit of dad who had a boebot in hand.

    No worries about the 20 bucks Ken. I got my money's worth! Please donate it to the Placer food bank. This was indeed a community-wide event.

    I got a whiff of the "special plate" from the Taco truck that Jeff Martin was into while watching the quadcopter get blasted with Rick Galinson's paintball gatling gun. Now, that was a "hit". Amazingly it stayed in the air and didn't even seem perturbed, but it came back drenched with yellow. I wonder how it would have fared in the hailstorm the day before? Anyway the tacos were great.

    I regret not having time to meet and talk to more people I know were there, and to see more of the projects on display. Another opportunity next time, right? Thanks to all the organizers, OBC, Parallax staff, everybody.
  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,251
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Here is when the S2 button soldering line was short...
    ButtonLine.jpg

    Every solder station was busy for every minute of the show...
    BusyStations.JPG

    Great job Parallax!:thumb::thumb:
    Thank you so very much, Looking forward to next year!


    -Tommy
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  • ercoerco Posts: 14,459
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    What an awesome event, I'm extremely glad I went. Kudos to Ken, MattG and everyone for making such a successful expo. Even Friday's rain (& later hail) couldn't dampen the energy there. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the Parallax folks and Forumistas (Tracy Allen, I'm still not worthy!) who were simply the nicest and whip-smartest people around. Thanks to Matt for giving me permission to do and yack about anything & everything at the Tech Zone tent. I had many of my simple BS1 & BS2 projects there, including 4 robot arms. One of those was my BS2 robo-printer. I had my doubts about whether any kids would like it. Yes, it was a technical success, but ponderously slow to print. I was very pleasantly surprised that most kids were actually amazed and often lined up 4-6 deep, even though it took 2-4 minutes to print each badge! Naturally the BoeBot Flamethower was a hit, I know people like fire. And my robo-catapult was shooting baskets at nearly 100% except when the wind picked up or someone moved my buckets! I spent most of my time in the tent, babysitting fragile projects and making sure no one activated the flamethrower. But everywhere I looked, people were interested and engaged in the wide variety of activities and exhibits. I'll be back next year! A few pics attached. First two are families all proudly wearing their Post-It note robot-printed badges. I couldn't resist.

    I lost a bunch of sleep preparing for and driving to Expo, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
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    You'll find me in the new Robotics forum.
  • davejamesdavejames Posts: 3,852
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    ...wow - just wow! This was my first UPEW and I really enjoyed it. I brought one of my sons and he was just fascinated with all the displays, discussions and products. He's now the proud owner of a BASIC Stamp Activity Kit, a PIR, and a KickStarts Book. I haven't see his eyes light up like this in years. Oh, and he's 32 years old. We had a blast bonding over some tech stuff.

    A BoE-BOT, compass module, and the XBee pack were added to my Parallax collection. And of course, the nifty S2 blinky light thing and Erco's cool robo-pantogram printed name badge!

    I was able to meet and talk with:
    vanmunch (and his lovely wife)
    Erco
    Ttailspin
    Average Joe (and his lovely wife & son)
    JimInCA (see you at work!)
    Mr. Ken Gracey
    Mr. Jeff Martin (tour guide)

    Thanks guys for making me feel welcome.

    Unfortunately I missed:
    WBA
    Mr. Ari Alvarez

    Thanks to all that made it possible. My son asked if we're going again next year.

    IMG_2504_compressed.jpg


    Yours truly, awaiting the quad-copter competition.
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  • Martin_HMartin_H Posts: 3,715
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Sounds like a fun time. Glad to see some scouts there as the robotics merit badge is one of the cooler actives.
  • stamptrolstamptrol Posts: 1,719
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hi Ken,

    Really glad to hear the event went off so well! Time and distance didn't allow me to attend but its on the list for the future!

    There's just something about a good company doing great things that lets it continue to get better.

    Congrats to you and the team.

    Tom Sisk
    Tom Sisk
    Sisk Consulting Inc.
    www.siskconsult.com
  • MacTuxLinMacTuxLin Posts: 757
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    It was really an eye opener! The dedication & commitment of the Parallax team & the community were what made the expo successful (you can see the happy faces from all the kids). The 30+ hours travel time was worth it...
  • WhitWhit Posts: 3,055
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Just wanted to say that ScribblerKart and I enjoyed checking in on the streaming video too. Sorry we couldn't be there, but we had fun chatting with others online. Great job Parallax!
    Whit+

    "In almost every robotic project I attempt, I am way over my head going into it..." - Carol Lynn Hazlett
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,570
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Like Whit, ScribblerKart, Duane, Phil, Perry, and many others, during both days I watched the expo over the camera at the 50 yard line. It wasn't the same as being there, but it was fun and exciting just the same. Thanks as always for a great learning experience and social event! Ken, I especially liked the look on Lauren's face when you gave her and her team the coupons for the free massages. Her gracious look told a whole story all in itself.

    -- Gordon
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 19,551
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    'Looks like erco made quite a splash with his badge-maker and other demos. He's certainly a crowd-pleaser, both on the forum and in person. 'Way to go, erco! 'Wish I coulda been there to see it!

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they'’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’'s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It'’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • ercoerco Posts: 14,459
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks PhiPi. Pure fun, I enjoy hamming it up nearly as much as Matt does. He gave many energetic safety demos, related to his Christmas eve Quadrotor "incident".

    And PhiPi, be VERY proud of your direct contributions to Expo. Your excellent S2 object made the S2 writing possible, fine work by Nikos & Rich. The Marauder RB gun was a hit, nice demos by Rich & sons, and your S2 pendant soldering project was a resounding smash!
    You'll find me in the new Robotics forum.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 19,551
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks, erco. Even though I couldn't be there in person, It's nice to know that my presence was felt.

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they'’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’'s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It'’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • ercoerco Posts: 14,459
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    C'mon PhiPi, you know we love you! It was a kick meeting one of my heroes Tracy Allen, I was gushing. If you and/or Mike Green would have been there too, I would have made a complete fool of myself with hero worship!
    You'll find me in the new Robotics forum.
  • W9GFOW9GFO Posts: 3,623
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Friday evening in the conference room at Staybridge my son was asking me what this wire was attached to the breadboard of a BOE that he picked up from the freebie table. Tracy was sitting right there and immediately identified it as one of the experiments he designed in the book he wrote. It was a temperature sensor.

    He thought that was pretty cool.

    So did I.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 19,551
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    erco,

    You and Tracy and Mike are my heroes, too. I've had the pleasure of seeing Tracy on a couple of occasions. You and Mike still on my bucket list. :) Next year, for sure!

    -Phil
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they'’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’'s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It'’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • TheGrueTheGrue Posts: 103
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I enjoyed the streamed event and several from LMR (letsmakerobots.com) joined in also. I was sorry not to come but the video helped me feel like I was there. Thanks to all for the event and to all of the presenters for such wonderful presentations!
  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,251
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Here is one more picture...
    Why do I feel like I just robbed the place, everytime I leave UPEW?
    15% off, goes a long way...
    UPEW2012Purchases.jpg

    Thanks again Parallax.

    -Tommy
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  • ercoerco Posts: 14,459
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @Tommy: Great meeting you, you are quite a character. I love your passion & fantastic stories. I could have listened to your stories of life in California all night down in the Blue Oaks (?) room at Staybridge.

    When I finally tore myself away to get some sleep, you were debating whether to sleep in the bed in your truck or plunk down cash for a hotel room. Now seeing your incredible haul, I'm guessing you decided to save your dough for Parallax goodies, and I don't blame you!

    Your first Stamp, I believe? :)

    Any comments on the line follower contest?
    You'll find me in the new Robotics forum.
  • Matt GillilandMatt Gilliland Posts: 1,398
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I'd like to publicly thank Erco, WBA Consulting (Andy), Rich (W9GFO) (and his two fine sons!), and ttailspin (Tommy) for their willingness to step up and help with all the kids that came into the Tech Talk Tent.

    In spite of the fact that I called on you at the last minute, you rose to the occasion and made the impact that we had hoped for the kids (especially).

    You guys were amazing! The smiles and excitement that you'all produced were Spectacular!

    Thank you so much - you all made it happen! :thumb:

    -MattG
    - Matt Gilliland -
    - mattg@parallax.com
    - (916) 624-8333 x3018
    Ask me about the Lifetime Warranty on the Propeller BOE :smile:
  • WBA ConsultingWBA Consulting Posts: 2,385
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks Matt, glad I was able to help out! I thoroughly enjoyed doing the tech talks for the kids and their obviously proud parents. Seeing the interest in their eyes as I explained the Propeller Based Reverse Geo-Cache project was definitely worth it. I recall a boy of about 8 or 9 in the late Saturday tech talk I shared with you that had some very good question for his age. And to hear him say he "was learning C and already knew HTML" amazed me.
    Your talk about safety that used your "Christmas Eve Quadcopter Incident" to stress the importance of safety glasses struck home with Liberty (and I am sure everyone else who went through one of your safety tech talks). She has mentioned it a few times! Great job on that talk!

    Overall the event was a blast. I enjoyed being part of the event staff and being able to help out. My wife and daughter enjoyed it as well. Speaking of, you need to send a note of appreciation to your son Tracy for showing my daughter Liberty (age 6) how to solder in the S2 Badge Soldering Tent. She really liked learning how to solder and I of course am even prouder of her. I post a few pics when I get a chance to get them from the camera.

    I must say that Erco in person is as much of a kid at heart as his presence on the forums suggest. Very cool to finally meet him and his gadgets drew a lot of attention. I also enjoyed visiting with several forumistas/parallaxians : Tracy Allen and his son, Jazzed, Joe Grand, TTailspin, Bill Penz, Kevin Cook, Matt H, Ken G, and a few others that I am sure will come back to my mind in time. Also, as a kicker, I have to leads on new business for my employer. How cool is that!?! I even sold a handful of Powertwigs by past customers hunting me down.

    @davejames: yes, we didn't touch base, but I'll be in touch. Funny thing is that I saw you and your shirt and thought "cool, I have seen that somewhere before". Had I realized where I had seen it (your avatar, duh), I would have introduced myself........
    Andrew Williams<br>WBA Consulting
  • WhitWhit Posts: 3,055
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Nice pile of loot Tommy!

    @all - ScribblerKart and I would sure like to come next year too!
    Whit+

    "In almost every robotic project I attempt, I am way over my head going into it..." - Carol Lynn Hazlett
  • davejamesdavejames Posts: 3,852
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @davejames: yes, we didn't touch base, but I'll be in touch.

    ...roger that!
    Well-written documentation requires no explanation.
  • Invent-O-DocInvent-O-Doc Posts: 767
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    No, thank you.

    What a fantastic event. Everyone at parallax was s friendly (not a surprise) but the size and effort put into the event was really something else. It was also great to see online friends and to have made a few more. The best part was all the effort towards and by the youths at the expo. Whether it was 10 year old Carson helping little kids solder or those kids hustling drinks for donations it was cool to see siome of the emerging engineers and hobbyists.

    I visit a lot of companies, universities and conventions each year. I have never seen anything as honest, personable and creative as with the community around parallax.

    Thomas Talbot, MD - New Market, Maryland, USA
  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,251
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Whit, I would have got more loot, and a room, if the "check wallet light" in my work truck didn't come on two days before the show,That sure made short work of my Fistfull of cash, really fast..

    WBA, thanks for bringing the Power Twigs, I can't wait to put them to work on my next robot.
    They are tiny and are going to save alot of space.. so I can add even more gadgets.

    MattG, Anytime bro! I had a great time showing off my toys, Never thought about them fascinating the kids like they did. The miles of smiles was worth every minute, and I was glad to help.

    I just want to apologize to the 150 kids that walked up to the display,
    grabbed the N64 Joystick, started mashing buttons. and getting no response from either robot..
    Thats just not the way things work at UPEW!.
    The looks I was getting from the little darlings, suggested I had somehow gone mad...
    Funny thing, I had the Line Following code loaded, so the N64 Joystick did not function,
    until I couldn't take the sad looks anymore, and went back to my room truck to reload the Joystick code,..
    The faces are much happier faces when the Joystick works... (note to self: glue wires in place, and wear shin guards.)

    erco, you are a patient man to sit and listen to my drifting ramblings of my favorite state..
    I think I have you to blame for my first Basic Stamp purchase, seeing all those wonderfull toys you put together,
    is really inspiring, Well, all your toys, and the fact they were giving them away for $25 bucks.. :)


    -Tommy
  • ercoerco Posts: 14,459
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ttailspin wrote: »
    MattG, Anytime bro! I had a great time showing off my toys, Never thought about them fascinating the kids like they did. The miles of smiles was worth every minute, and I was glad to help.

    I just want to apologize to the 150 kids that walked up to the display,
    grabbed the N64 Joystick, started mashing buttons. and getting no response from either robot..
    Thats just not the way things work at UPEW!.
    -Tommy

    Just goes to show that kids (OK, everyone) just like pushing buttons and making something happen. In retrospect, I wish I had made more interactive exhibits instead of the carefully choreographed demos I did. And kids like personalization, too. If kids lined up to use my cheesy little BS2 badge printer, imagine what they would do to to get a small CNC machine engraving their names in a plastic (or laser burning on plywood) badge. NEXT YEAR, MATT!

    Hmmm... can I make a BS2-controlled laser cutter, or just a burner? Someone point me to the right laser and I'll take care of the rest.



    .
    You'll find me in the new Robotics forum.
  • davejamesdavejames Posts: 3,852
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ttailspin wrote: »
    ...and the fact they were giving them away for $25 bucks.

    I wanted to pick up a couple of the BS activity kits, just because it was SUCH A GREAT PRICE!!! But, restrain surfaced - and then I used the money on other Parallax goodies!
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  • davejamesdavejames Posts: 3,852
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    erco wrote: »
    Hmmm... can I make a BS2-controlled laser cutter, or just a burner? Someone point me to the right laser and I'll take care of the rest.

    (BIG smiles!!!)
    Well-written documentation requires no explanation.
  • Matt GillilandMatt Gilliland Posts: 1,398
    edited April 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Tommy said:
    MattG, Anytime bro!

    erco said:
    NEXT YEAR, MATT!

    Already got you guys penciled in - I promise to be more organized next year! With all the "infrastructure prep" (power dist., network cables, etc), I was not quite out of my mind, but close :lol:

    I count my part in this as a success, due in large part to you guys "pitching in" when I obviously needed a hand.

    W9GFO and WBA are penciled in as well - even though they might not know it :innocent:. With this post, they'll know...

    -MattG
    PS: others of you are going to be hit-up as well - you just don't know it yet...:innocent:
    - Matt Gilliland -
    - mattg@parallax.com
    - (916) 624-8333 x3018
    Ask me about the Lifetime Warranty on the Propeller BOE :smile:
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