MAKE Magazine

Show Me a Maker Faire

I'll be in Kansas City, MO tomorrow to meet with folks about organizing a Maker Faire there this summer. (Make:KC organized a Mini Maker Faire last summer.)

Sandy Clark, a Missourian ("The Show Me State"), sent me a note recalling his 2006 visit to the first Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA.

I live in Springfield, Missouri and volunteer at the Discovery Center. Laurie Duncan is coming up there tomorrow to find out about Maker Faire. I have sent her a long letter outlining local resources and interested groups in our area, about three hours south. I'm hopping we can bus a load in and send some great hacks your way.

I wanted to share my impression of the first Maker Faire with you. I lived in Oakland at the time. It was life changing.

Oh the store of inquiry and wonder. When you love to hack and think of people as these vessels of unlimited potential, it is hard to find your place. In a button-down culture of rigid guidelines and expectations, enthusiasm and hacking are a threat. Don't be too passionate. Don't be too enthusiastic. Those become things you pursue alone.

Football fans will fill a stadium in an orgy of overexuberence, but hacking is done in isolation. It was a lonely proposition up until MAKE magazine launched the first Maker Faire in 2006.

Giant buoyant clouds of hydrogen bubbles rose up in a weightless column behind the entrance to the San Mateo Fairgrounds. Off to my right, a shiny red fire engine shot jets of flame into the sky.

That was my first impression of the very first Maker Faire.

Through the gate, I was confronted with hall after hall of nifty hacks and clever invention. A game of polo was being played with Segways on the green. Before I could decide what to do, a young man wearing an LCD screen on his chest shoved an Atari 2600 controller in my hand.

"Here," someone said. "Try my new videogame."

While I sorted that game out, he explained his quest to program the venerable 2600, the epic quest to learn to burn ROMS and 2600 programming quirks. I handed him the controller and he gave me a flyer with his website on it. Nobody has made 2600s or software for them in 20 years... Until now.

"Here," he said to the couple behind me, "Wanna try my videogame?"

The polo players were coming off the field and I realized one of them was Apple founder Steve Wozniak. I walked over and introduced myself. We chatted. I got a photo. Nobody came up or made a scene.


"You know," I said. "We are probably at the center of the largest gathering of geeks I've ever seen, and nobody is even making a fuss over you."

He grinned.

"I know, there is just too much cool stuff here."

Above us the hydrogen filled bubbles ripped an orange seam of ignition across the sky. Two thousand people cheered.

I had been at the first Maker Fair less than 30 minutes. I was home.

Sandy Clark is a writer and a self-described "worm coddler" and geek.

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Shinya Kimura, motorcycle maker

I loved this mini documentary of custom motorcycle creator Shinya Kamura. [Via yatzer]

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Lego ghost trap replica


Flickr user Alex Eylar made this amazing LEGO replica of a Ghostbusters ghost trap. If you're not familiar with this this piece of equipment, the site Ghostbusters Fans has a primer for you. No word yet if Alex plans on making a matching Ecto Containment Unit. [via Gizmodo]


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Apartment covered in 25,000 ping pong balls

74 Box-Box-08

Apartment covered in 25,000 ping pong balls...

A pied-à-terre as permanent residence, Box/Box is an apartment for Snarkitecture partner Daniel Arsham. A 90 square foot private hideaway contained within a larger 2,500 square foot collaborative workspace, the project was conceived as an accelerated design/build experiment and was completed within a two-month period at a cost of less than $100 per square foot.

The selected site is an existing storage loft onto which the volume of the apartment sits like a gift balanced on a high shelf. Enclosed within this volume is a simple and economical program: a space for sleeping and dressing. A ladder at ground level leads upwards through a hatch concealed in the floor, entering a treehouse-like residence consisting of only a closet and a bed. A gradient of 25,000 spheres clad the walls, moving from dark to light as they meet the illuminated grid of the ceiling, made of translucent panels that reveal a hidden grid of spheres when backlit. This luminous ceiling, the skylight and the facing mirrors on opposite walls brighten and expand the room to create an illusory space that appears more expansive than actual size.

I really wanted to do something like this, but instead of covering every single wall - I was thinking of just a wall of ping pong balls with LEDs in them, but it turns out one of the top execs at Google actually already did this (it's google-able, that's how I found it!).

Julian Guthrie's profile of Google's Marissa Mayer for San Francisco magazine back in 2008 had the following...

A wall-size light panel with 576 individually placed Ping-Pong balls, which Mayer made over eight weekends spent home alone, inspired by the light display she'd seen at a 2005 U2 concert.
In the NYTimes it was also reported that she spends "her weekends doing hardware electronics"....

1. We'd love to have this light up 576 ping pong ball wall she made at Maker Faire.
2. Marissa, would you consider doing a hardware electronic's workshop at Maker Faire?

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Rings of Saturn

I can't say I'm convinced of the viability of this amusement ride concept by Thomas Casey, however I'm entranced by the model version that he shows off in this video. So many colorful moving parts!

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