In 2006, Make magazine hosted the first Maker Faire in San Mateo, California (located in between San Francisco and San Jose). Since then, it has launched annual "faires" in Detroit and New York City as well as "Mini Maker Faires" in Ann Arbor, Durham, Kansas City, Aspen, Oakland, Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. (Find upcoming festival dates at here.)
There was something for everyone at Maker Faire. Areas were grouped by theme such as solar vehicles, homegrown, steampunk, digital sounds, robots, crafts, and more.
Next to Google's big setup of shipping containers turned into shelters were a few more modest outdoor structures, such as this module wooden hut by Zome Builder.
These curved-roof structures are the first of an envisioned series of Makerspaces. Developed by Robert Bridges and Bill Young, of ShopBot, a Makerspace is a place, perhaps in a backyard or public park, for kids to craft and create and start DIYing early in life.
Members of Astromech were zooming their hand-built R2-D2s around the festival space to the delight of children—and many adults—in attendance. The carnival food gave the event a real fair-like feel.
In the Fiesta Hall, Purin Phanichphant displayed its Tap Tap Animation wall. Festival-goers were encouraged to tap the lights on and off to create patterns and images that were captured via a time-lapse recording booth.
The Fiesta Hall's main attraction was the Tesla Stage. Here, Austin-based group ArcAttack! set up its Tesla coils and Faraday cage. The coils create electricity, which become electrical arcs, which look like lightning bolts. Where the arcs connect to the Faraday cage and panels determines the sound they make. ArcAttack! created its own DJ setup to play songs by adjusting the voltage of the arcs so that they produce tones in certain patterns (like in the end of the Nicolas Cage flick The Sorcerer's Apprentice). It was pretty awesome to see and hear.
MakerBots was also exhibiting in the Fiesta Hall, with three Thing-O-Matics on display. The rapid-prototyping machines are robots that melt plastic and reform it into small items like plastic gears of small toys. Machines such as these used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, but now companies like MakerBot have brought the price down to just over $1,000.
I unfortunately have no idea what this forest of inflated tree lights was, but I loved the look of it. The trees were popular with attendees, and the tops were always moving around from kids running into them and tugging on their branches.
The Homegrown Village was one of the outside themed areas. Greywater Action was on hand helping people understand water reuse.
Back to the Roots Mushroom Kits were a big hit. For $20, you got a box that will sprout a crop of mushrooms within ten days. Each box is reported to grow at least two crops. Perfect for apartment dwellers and available online.
Another area housed outdoor play structures. The Ravenna Ultra-Low-Altitude Vehicle is a treehouse shaped like a rocket ship. It even sprays water (to look like exhaust from thrusters) and shakes to emulate take off.
Though the robot here is physically painting this piece of art, its motions were controlled by festival attendees. The Move.Me software tool lets people use a PlayStation Move game motion controller to control the robot's movements. It's like robotic surgery just on a far more basic level and using video game equipment.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday, Make and its sister publication Craft hosted demonstrations. Though much of the festival featured technology-based projects, there was a large area dedicated to fabrics, clothing, knits, jewelry, and other crafts.