Maker Faire 07 Highlights


There was so much to see and do at the Maker Faire, that it would have taken a week to properly milk it dry for all it was worth. I wandered about for an afternoon with my kids — who had a great time. Here are some highlights of things that caught my eye and may be worth following up on.

I really liked this guy’s (David Butcher) human power generating set up. He was parked under a shade tree and pedaled slowly for two days, generating the electric power needed to run his laptop, his printer and two LED lights. If you asked nicely he would pedal fast for a few minutes to run on old TV. He sells his plans for building the set up yourself with “unlimited hand holding support” for $50 at his website.

This plotter was built from Knex. Nice execution.

We watched this nifty demo of foundry skills. They melted aluminum chair parts into a pool of liquid metal and then cast it into sand molds. The concept was very clear. Hey, I could do that, the kids say.

Oh, the tesla coil lightning machines! When this was cranked up the sparks jumped across the 15 foot gap with crackling that could be heard in the next building. They let you get way too close, but that was the fun.

Add some led lights to your bicycle wheels, and some timers and you can make ever-changing designs as you ride.

For me this was one of the coolest hacks. It’s sort of an air guitar. A sonar detector on the homemade wooden guitar detects your hand movement, up and down. You can change pitch with a few push buttons. The notes are constrained, so you don’t sound like an idiot. With four people playing you can actually jam even if you are like me unmusical. A lot of fun. He calls it a Thereping, an experimental musical instrument. The guy gives away plans here.

At the very end of the show on Sunday Mark Pauline’s Survival Research Labs staged an impromptu performance of his danger machines in the parking lot. The machines crashed into each other and made sonic screeches. Then they light this huge ball of cardboard on fire. The wind was fierce and blew flames and smoke directly into the crowd on the bleachers, dispersing them. The asphalt began to melt. The fire department came. Pauline aimed his sonic boom machine as the fire truck. The end.

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