A few years ago the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire got promoted to full Maker Faire status… and for good reason. Since its first gathering in 2010, the event has continued to grow and grow; it started out with about 40 or so exhibitors on the Georgia Tech campus but quickly outgrew that location. Since 2014, the Atlanta Maker Faire has been hosted by the city of Decatur, and this year’s event was held on October 1st and 2nd with some great weather. (Last year, we got some rain on Saturday and many exhibitors headed home–Sunday was better weather but short on stuff to see.)
As with all Maker Faires I’ve attended, it’s just a whirlwind of stuff to see, things to try out, questions and answers, and walking walking walking. My boys (ages 9 and 6) really enjoyed all the hands-on activities that included making paper, silk screen printing their own tee shirts, making Popsicle catapults, and more. I enjoyed just about everything, of course, and wish the Atlanta Maker Faire was twice a year. Many local area schools and makerspaces were represented, spreading the word about their services and locations and (hopefully) inspiring more attendance and more people to learn new skills.
The drone races were popular–I saw many a crash but was also amazed at how fast the pilots were able to recover them and get them flying again in the next race. My boys loved how fast the drones were, and I was surprised by a few and how quiet they were when they whizzed by. We didn’t get to the Power Racer series, but it was there and I imagine a lot of folks were laughing at the adult racers inside those small souped-up cars.
A few things I’d like to point out that either my boys found fascinating or I did… or both:
- Bob Claggett of I Like to Make Stuff was on hand again to show off his creations from a Dark Night battle helmet (from Batman v. Superman–light up eyes!) to foam armor and sword to air hockey table. Bob is still putting out some outstanding How-To videos over at his YouTube channel, so check them out and I guarantee you’ll find something that interests you and may get you in the workshop this weekend. He’s now over 100 videos and growing!
- Jesse Kovarovics and his son were showing off their 3D-printed foam dart shooters that are compatible with NERF darts and clips. They even had one mounted to a remote-controlled turret base that offered 360-degree firing. This booth had a LOT of kids and adults crowding around… a definite crowd pleaser. I’ve got plans to 3D print one of my own (with Jesse’s instructions and electronics kit), so stay tuned for an upcoming project post. You can find more details about the two models (FDL-1 and FDL-2) here.
- My friend, Dan, was on-hand again this year to show off his DuinoKit and Duinokit Jr teach-yourself electronics and programming kits. He also was showing off his newest kit, the RpiKit–a Raspberry Pi 3 learning kit! The thing was incredible, and I’m already pondering how I might wrap a school camp around this particular kit. You can check out the details on all Dan’s kits here. Dan’s a teacher, so help this small company out by spreading the word or sharing with your school’s STEM director or science teacher.
- The crew from Missing Digit Workshop were on hand to show off some amazing woodworking projects. Of course, they’re well known for their Spartan Knife Block that you may have heard of or seen. They’ve got some beautiful cutting boards (including a geek-y Pac-Man version) and a desktop version of the Spartan that holds pens. Check out their stuff here.
- Leave it to my boys to discover the Mini Dotz Tag booth, an Atlanta business. These little rubber “dots” come in 4×4 squares and you tear dots off (singles, 2×2, 1×4, whatever size you need) and push them down onto a base. With all the colors, you can create some cool designs and use the (included) clear plastic sleeve and rubber band to connect them to your bookbag. My oldest created a Minecraft Creeper and my youngest made a Pokemon Poke Ball. You can see more of the Mini Dotz stuff here.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Atlanta Maker Faire. If the event continues to grow as steadily as it has these last six years, I think the Southeast will finally have a significant maker’s event that could draw even more makers and businesses. You can get more information on the Atlanta Maker Faire here.