Thinking back on the special magic of Make: and Maker Faire

As you may have heard by now, news began to break Friday night that Maker Media, home to Make: magazine, Maker Faire, and Maker Shed, was folding up their big top and calling it quits (though founder Dale Dougherty has vowed to attempt a resurrection in some form). As the sad news began to thread its way through social media, the sense of shock, grief, and confusion was palpable. As when a beloved artist, entertainer, or other famous figure dies, people began posting pictures of themselves with the deceased, sharing peak experiences at Maker Faire, and sharing stories of the impact that Make:, Maker Faire, and the maker movement has had on their lives. Many of these have been quite inspiring and moving.

As someone who worked with or at Make: since its inception in 2005, my inboxes began filling up with people asking me if I was OK, if they could do anything to help (bring over cake and whiskey?), and they too began pouring out their feelings to me. Several people shared stories on social media and asked me to share some of mine. This made me immediately think of an essay I wrote for my 2014 memoir, Borg Like Me. Called "Make vs. The Blob," in it, I attempted to capture some of the magic and inspired sense of wonder I experienced while working at Maker Media and attending nearly all of the Bay Area, New York, and the two Austin Maker Faires. As part of that piece, I shared three particularly enchanting tableaux from the 2007 Austin Maker Faire. Read the rest

XOD is a cool way to program Arduino without coding

XOD (pronounced "zode") is a visual programming language for Arduino and other microcontrollers. It looks a bit like Scratch (the visual programming language for kids) but XOD is especially made for microcontrollers and electronic components. There are XOD desktop IDEs for Mac, Windows, and Linux. In this Make Use Of video, you can see how to use XOD to control a servo with a proximity sensor. They are using this Elegoo Arduino kit ( on Amazon), which has the servo, LCD display, and proximity sensor, Read the rest

Simone Giertz repurposes her radiation therapy mask

Phenomenal maker Simone Giertz shares some of her battle with her brain tumor and makes a great lamp out of her radiation mask.

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How to make arpeggio music using MakeCode arcade

MakeCode Arcade is a Scratch-like programming language for writing retro-style games. In this video, John Park shows how to make arpeggio music using MakeCode arcade. In the early days of video games, the existing technology didn't allow for chords, so arpeggios were a way to get the feel for a chord by playing all the individual notes in a chord as quickly as possible.

Image: Adafruit/YouTube Read the rest

Scotty of Strange Parts shops for wireless LEDs in Tokyo

Scotty of Strange Parts went to Akihabara (an area in Tokyo loaded with electronics, game arcades, and maid cafes) and found these cool wireless LEDs that can be illuminated with inductive chargers. He then bought some electronic components and a soldering iron and went back to his hotel room and made his own wireless LED.

Image: Strange Parts/YouTube Read the rest

Adam Savage, 'Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It' [BOOKS]

'Mythbusters' TV star Adam Savage's first book is out. 'Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It' is a wonderful read, in which Adam shares his own personal guidelines for creativity, from inspiration to execution. Read the rest

How to design and 3D print a geometric succulent planter

Becky Stern takes you through the steps of using the simple web-based CAD app Tinkercad to design a 5-chamber geometric planter. Read the rest

Maker Faire: A “Bright Spot” for the Future

Find the bright spots, not just the problems, if you want to make change.  That’s an idea expressed in the book “Switch: How to Make Change When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath.  The authors point out that we can be easily overwhelmed by the many problems all around us, but we should look for the bright spots that are also there.  Those bright spots might hold a key for understanding and solving the larger problems.

Maker Faire is one of those bright spots, and it offers us hope and inspiration for the future.  Maker Faire Bay Area takes place on May 17-19 at the San Mateo Event Center its theme is “The Future We Make.”  The best and the brightest future just might come from engaging the creative and experimental minds that you find playing freely at Maker Faire.  Each maker is a “bright spot” standing out in a culture in which consumerism is dominant.

As I reflect back on the 15 years of Make: (and 14 years of Maker Faire), I am most grateful that we find makers of all stripes everywhere all over the world. The launch of this magazine in 2005 (which launched with Mark Frauenfelder at the helm) and Maker Faire in 2006 laid the groundwork for the global maker movement to emerge.  Now there are over 200 Maker Faires around the world in 44 countries. Maker Faire Bay Area is the mothership for all of those Faires.

Where but Maker Faire would you expect to find two makers, Alessandra Nölting and Shanee Stopnitzky, sharing their 32-foot submarine, which they are making ready for others to use as part of the Community Submersibles Project? Read the rest

Check out these 40% sized mini arcade cabinets at Maker Faire Bay Area 2019

I'm headed to Maker Faire in San Mateo, California (Friday, May 17 – Sunday, May 19) again this year, and one of the things I'm excited to check out is Matt Sengbusch's tiny arcade games that use the original boards and CRTs.

From Small Change Arcade: "Each game is meticulously scaled to match the original. Custom built in the Haight, San Francisco. All games run on original licensed circuit boards, no emulators or multi-game bootleg boards. No LCDs are used either. Each game has a custom built or difficult to source CRT monitor that accept proper 15khz RGB video signal." Read the rest

Barbie jeep with motorcycle engine looks like Mario Kart in real life

The folks at Grind Hard Plumbing Co took their souped-up Barbie Jeep to a mudding event in Canada and had a great deal of fun.

[via DIGG] Read the rest

PyBadge is a credit card sized computer with a built-in display

AdaFruit recently announced the PyBadge and the PyBadge LC (Low Cost), a single board computer with a 1.8" 160x128 color display, buzzer-speaker, and 8 silicone-top buttons arrange for handheld gaming. The video above shows the PyBadge in a 3D printed case designed by Pedro Ruiz. Read the rest

Man builds 15 ft-tall pianos

David Klavens was told that pianos are made one way, all over the world, and that's that. But he wanted to make an enormously tall piano, "emanating the sound" to the audience instead of the ceiling, so he did.

David Klavins is a pianist who, for years, could not find pianos that made the sounds he imagined in his head. So he began building pianos to his own specifications in a workshop in Vác, Hungary, and they are truly unique creations. To wit: Klavins’ vertical concert grand stands over 15-feet tall, and he actually has to climb a ladder to play it, which he does, beautifully, just for us.

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My kids-and-grownups project book, Maker Dad, on sale for Kindle

My DIY project book, Maker Dad is very cheap as a Kindle right now. Read the rest

Skull fence-toppers for your haunt or garden

The Build Cave is a California-based prop-maker whose Etsy store is focused on decor for haunters with an emphasis on haunted, vintage elevators (!!), and which includes these delightful resin skull fence-toppers designed to be affixed to PVC pipe verticals and painted; they're $95/dozen. (via Creepbay) Read the rest

Chess board turned into wonderfully nerdy coat rack

Volker Rieck transformed vintage old chess boards into fantastically nerdy coat racks to sell on his Etsy shop CreativeHolz. Chess club bonus points for the intentional arrangement of chess pieces into the Caro–Kann Defence and an Italian Game opening.

(via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

Is water better at freeing up rusty nuts and bolts than penetrating oil? This guy finds out

Project Farm is an excellent YouTube channel about machinery. Read the rest

How to: make a hackintosh

Ernie Smith has produced a spectacularly complete guide to making a "hackintosh" -- that is, a Mac OS computer running on PC hardware, giving users the option of more RAM, different screens and keyboards, and many other axes of freedom otherwise denied to Mac OS users. Apple doesn't make it easy, but the community's extensive work has put the seemingly impossible within your grasp. Read the rest

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