A Maker Faire Preview

For the fifth year in the Bay Area, Maker Faire welcomes thousands of makers of all ages who show us the amazing things they make. Makers are enthusiasts who love what they do and enjoy sharing it with others, which makes for an incredibly stimulating experience that inspires everyone. Maker Faire 2010 brings back annual favorites such as the Life-Size Mousetrap, Coke Zero and Mentos (note they switched brands!), Russell the Electric Giraffe, a fleet of electric muffins, rocket launches and the Robotic Warship Combat and Swap-a-rama-rama. We have hands-on exhibits created by Bay Area partners such as The Exploratorium, The Crucible, The Tech Museum, The TechShop, NASA Ames, and The Museum of Craft and Folk Art.

Here's a preview of some of what you might expect to see and do at Maker Faire Bay Area 2010, May 22-23 at the San Mateo Expo Center.

Meta-USA Self-balancing Scooter, Mike Phillips

All I can say is note the all safety gear Mike's wearing. He says it goes really fast.

Fishbug, Rebecca Anders and crew

We've brought this one in from the desert and put it in a dark building so you crawl through inside. It's really big and it breathes.

Tirgex Race Cars, INCAS3 from Amsterdam

Wear a helmet to see what this small car sees and move your body to control its speed and direction. Now do it in a race.

Solar Power Charging Station, Solar Design Lab

If you run out of gas, or your devices run out of power, make a stop here.

The Black Hole, Michael Yates

Peer into the deep vortex and lose yourself in the music of the spheres.

Fire Sculpture Robots!, Justin Gray

When this robot starts moving, try to stay on its good side.

Hermes, Morris Jarvis

This is but one example of a project that outgrew the garage it started in.

Henry Ford's Quadricycle, The Henry Ford

Working replica of the first American garage invention; also outgrew the garage. Grew like a monster if you think about it.

Hennenpin Crawler, Krank-Boom-Clank

These pedal-powered masterpieces are examples of "back-dating" -- innovating on what came before the Quadricyle.

Waterboy, Marque Cornblatt

This looks uncomfortable but Marque might allow you to crawl inside and be pushed around by others.

Underwater Photography, Eric Cheng

Eric swims with whales and when he photographs them, he seems to get on their good side. In addition to an exhibit of his photos, Eric will give a talk on Giant Squid and Sperm Whales, a real-world Jules Verne story.

Near-Space Balloon, Hibal

Three college students built a balloon and sent it to near-space, an altitude of roughly 90,000 ft.. All this to see what they could see -- hey, that's Monterery Bay.

Moonraker, Paul's Robotics

Paul came to Maker Faire in 2007 with his combat robot. Now he returns with Moonraker, which won the $500K prize in the NASA regolith Extraction challenge - it shovels moon dirt into a bucket.

Lost in Space Robot, Team Filo

You might have to explain to your kids why this robot makes you laugh and say "Will Robinson!" repeatedly.

Homemade 3D Dome, Mitsuru Kitamura

Another thing you crawl inside. This dome, which is coming here from Japan, creates a starry, starry night.

3D Printing, Makerbot

What Make Senior Editor Phil Torrone famously said about laser printers: "Everyone's getting one," can now be said for 3D printers. So check out which 3D printer is right for you.

3D Face Painting, Valeriya Promokhova

You only have to sit still for the photos. Then some magic turns your head into a 3D object. Finally, you get to go totally overboard with the tattoo thing. Then it's all over Facebook.

Photo unavailable Anti/Surveillance Fashion Show, Noisebridge, SF.

So you want to be seen and not be seen, right? Do you really know who's taking your picture? Here's a fashion show for wearables that might confuse Big Brother or your little sister. (Sun., 3:30pm)

Wearable Adaptive Technology and eTextile Fashion Show, Lynne Bruning

Lynne designs smart garments such as this "bat" jacket that uses sonar technology to help the visually impaired. Lynne is also organizing eTEXTILE: the first Wearable Computing Fashion Show at Maker Faire (Sat, 3:30)

Entranced, Jason Asbahr

Part of the Bay Area Computer Music Collective, Entranced is like lip syncing with a screen saver. Wiggling a Wii controller does the sync'ing part.

The She's

Yes, it's them. You gotta like how they picked the simplest possible name for an all-girl teen band. You just know they rock.

Saphira the fire-breathing dragon, Sam De Rose and Alex Jacobson

Say what you want about kids these days, but you can feel good that young makers are out in the garage, building a fire-breathing dragon, getting Dad to help with the really hard parts, and naming it after a dragon in a favorite book written by a young author.

Pentagonal Wave, Reuben Margolin

Do pentagons have some kind of mystical significance? Reuben Margolin's kinetic sculpture promises to move and mesmerize you.

ArcAttack!, Joe DiPrima and gang

You take a couple of average Tesla coils -- no make that Large Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coils -- and synchronize them to music. Then some guy in a metal mesh suit stands between them while guys playing the Edison-powered guitars act like there's nothing unusual happening. I assure you ArcAttack from Austin, TX will rock the house, raise the roof, fry an iPhone, you know, something like that. Remember to stand back during the audience participation segment.

OK Go!

The band OK Go will be our special guests on Sunday afternoon. The band's frontman Damian Kulash sometimes makes big declarations like “We're trying to be a DIY band in a post-major label world” or “Our whole bag is having good ideas and making cool shit.” We're not exactly sure what they'll do on Sunday but they wanted to come to Maker Faire and we wanted to have them. In addition, Adam Sadowsky of Syynlabs was behind the Rube Goldberg machine in the video "OK Go: This Too Shall Pass" and he'll give a talk on Saturday afternoon called "Music, Machines and Life." He will talk about challenges in building such a machine.

This is only a small sampling of the over 600 exhibits that you'll find at Maker Faire Bay Area, May 22 & 23. Come meet the makers: hackers, artists, scientists, tinkerers, roboticists, educators, chefs, musicians, photographers, crafters, cyclists, mechanics, automakers, metal workers, engineers, physicists, puppeteers, and many more.

For more information on tickets, directions and the program schedule, see MakerFaire.com.


  1. Oh gosh!! I haven’t ever been this desperate to be on the other side of the world! Does anyone have that transporter from Star Trek?

  2. And don’t forget to check out Rentalic at booth 113 at the Main Expo Hall! We were Make Magazine’s editor’s choice award winner in 2009. See you at the Faire!

  3. “Does anyone have that transporter from Star Trek?”

    Give it time. Someone is bound to present one of those at a future Maker Faire.

  4. At the risk of being a negative Nelly, I have found the Makerfaire is becoming more about “makers” and less about “making” as time passes. The first Makerfaire had pages of workshops, classes and activities. Last years (SF Bay) was highly attended by both visitors and corporate sponsors, and not just maker-friendly corporations.

    While it is fun and educational to “see” all this stuff, (there really is too much to see even in two days), I have the fondest memories of actually coming home with stuff the kids and I had MADE, much of it new to all of us, from the first Makerfaire.

    I understand the economics of putting on a faire like this and realize that it has to grow and attract sponsors (and that there are a limited number of folks who can/will teach/lead workshops) not to mention space, time planning etc.

    This will be the first year I won’t go because the balance of [new stuff, things to learn and activities] will be [out-weighed by hassle, parking, cost]. However, I DO recommend it for anyone who hasn’t been before. I just don’t want to fight crowds to see the mousetrap *again* and the fire breathing fire truck *again* and the Coke Zero (instead of Diet Coke) and Mentos, I can see on YouTube.

    1. Hi Anon,

      You wrote, “The first Makerfaire had pages of workshops, classes and activities.”

      The upcoming Maker Faire is going to have about five times as many hands-on workshops as the first one:

      Here are a few of the things you can learn at the Maker Faire!

      # » Learn how to shoot a 3D photo with your own digital camera.

      # » How to revitalize old toys into wearable art jewelry.

      # » Build your own programmable Arduino robot, the Mintybot.

      # » How to become a beekeeper.

      # » How to build your own blinking electronic bug.

      # » Make a rotational casting machine

      # » How to make silicone rubber molds, resin casting, urethane foam castings, latex castings and vacuum forming.

      # » Build a taiko drum from a wine barrel.

      # » How to make your own fully interactive 3D VR helmet.

      # » How to create lace embellishments using Xyron’s Creatopia.

      # » How to make your own robot from paper pipes.

      # » How to make your own car to race on a forty-two foot track.

      # » Repurpose a computer hard drive

      # » Make an album or journal in 15 min with only paper, scissors, and glue

      # » How to build a simple MIDI controller.

      # » How to draw through subconscious expression.

      # » How to ferment veggies and roots.

      # » Make banners, shoe art, collages, greeting cards, kanzashi flowers & hand puppets!

      # » How to form and texture metal.

      # » How to build a cell out of clay

      # » How to make your own 3D domeat Han

      # » Learn how to solder

      # » How to build LED light pens

      # » How to screenprint, sew, and make a beer koozie!

      # » Lockpicking: learn how locks work, and how to open them.

      # » How to build and launch a rocket during Maker Faire!

      # » How to make and launch compressed air rockets at Maker Faire!

      # » How to make a laughing cup, sound sandwiches, and other musical instruments.

      # » Learn to make yarn using wool from sheep and spindles made from compact disks

      # » Make 3D animated sculptures

      # » Learn how to make glass beads!

      # » Learn to make soap

      # » How to cure, smoke, and roast your own bacon.

      # » How to create dramatic science demonstrations

      # » How to control pests without pesticide and grow your own veggies at home

      # » How to make metal art and jewelry.

      # » How to needle felt mounds of raw wool into a toothy monster.

      # » Learn the needle arts

      # » How to make a wallet out of discarded plastic

      # » Make your own Arduino-controlled screen-printed electroluminescent display!

      # » How to build robotic warships for combat

      # » How to build a robot for fun

      # » How to use an Oscilloscope

      # » Learn how to weave straw

      # » How to sculpt wool roving with needle felting.

      # » How to make a paper airplane that can flap its wings, tumble, flip over and fly back upside down, loop, spin, and more….

      # » How to juggle.

      # » How to design and create your own Softies.

      # » How to make tofu.

      # » How to make an eco-conscious weaving project.

      # » Decorate a rubber duckie and join the Rubber Duckie Gutter Races (5 and up), Tee Shirt screening, DIY Bangles

      # » How to use Wikipedia

      # » How to make yogurt.

      # » Create your own clay animations!

      And some of the presentations, \ include instructional demos.

  5. Is that all? Pfft!

    But seriously, I highly recommend Maker Faires. The high-end flashy stuff is great, but there are also great heaps of little things in unassuming booths. You really need two days to see it all.

    I’m skipping this year, because there’s a Disney Land aspect; if you space out visits you’ll appreciate them more, and there will be more new stuff to see the next time.

    * * *

    My old Bay Area rocket club, LUNAR, hosts the rocket launch. They do an amazing job. For a few bucks you get a rocket, build it, and then fly it. Last year they walked something like 800 people through the process!

  6. I’ll have a 10×20 booth full of crazy LED stuff…stop by and challenge your memory with a giant 4-player Simon game!

  7. This family is happily returning – we haven’t missed one yet. I’ll be at the TechShop building Sunday.

    the Mozilla project was one of those “little things in unassuming booths” at the first Maker Faire.

  8. Let me second what Mark said about hands-on and how-to activities. There are huge lists in the Maker Faire schedule of kid-friendly and how-to things to do. And there’s the learn-to-solder team available at the Maker Shed, and swap-o-rama-rama. Or you can even help make Maker Faire by volunteering or helping to power the bicycle powered stage. There is no shortage of things to make there!

    If you do come, stop by and try out our mechanical pong game in the Expo hall!

  9. “Give it time. Someone is bound to present one of those at a future Maker Faire.”

    And someone else is bound to present a time machine at another one, so we can go back in time and use the transporter at this one!

  10. I know the guy who took the photos from space! Can’t wait for this years faire, I’ve been looking forward to it all year!

  11. So when are ya going to bring Maker Faire back to Austin? We went in ’08 and loved it, planned to spend the whole two days there in ’09, but… no Faire (pun only slightly intended).

    PLEASE! Bring a Maker event back to *somewhere* in Texas.

  12. Just so you all know, you can also watch robotic warships battle it out in the battle pond. This year, we upped the number of battles to 14, and over 10,000 people got to enjoy the carnage and mayhem.

    Expect to see us every year, and we hope to see you, too!

    Rob Wood
    Director, Battle Pond

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