Maker Faire

Or Geeks in Paradise.

Or Big Kids, and the people who love them.

Or a truly amazing day out for all the family.

On Saturday, we all went along to the Maker Faire at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, here in California. Organised by O'Reilly, the publishers of Make magazine, and with numerous major sponsors, this was the place to be if you like to make things, or see the incredible things that others have made.

It was a showcase for lots of the makers who have been featured in various issues of the Make magazine or on the associated blog.

After getting our free O'Reilly Makezine tote bag (which we were going to really need for all the handouts we collected,) we headed into the main exhibition hall. We filled in the subscription to get the next four issues of Make magazine and bought Duncan a T-shirt.

One of the first things to catch my eye (on the same stand as an automatic Etch-A-Sketch), was a machine drawing a complicated pattern on an egg. The whole day was just like that. Loads and loads of extremely cool stuff.

Duncan got to try out two kinds of robotic arm. The first one was radio controlled via a huge handheld with two joy sticks and buttons. The second one was via a glove, in the Sun booth, manned by Sun Labs personnel, showing off their new Sun SPOT technology (which I'd love to try programming myself - hint, hint, if there's anybody from the Sun SPOT team reading this). This one proved a little tricky to master until Booth Guy turned the robotic arm, to match the orientation of Duncan and the glove, then it because straight forward.

There were so many things to go wow! at that you tended to get sensory overload after a while. If I had to pick one booth that was my favorite, it would be the work of Bathsheba Grossman. Check out her Maker entry for more details.

In one of the "smaller" halls, makers young and old could get hands-on, and build things out of craft and scrap materials, intermingled with recycled motors and computer parts. This hall also included Lady Ada's stand, the maker of the blinky stuff that I learnt how to build and microprogram earlier in the year.

Lego Mindstorms had an exhibit and they were showing off the up-n-coming new Mindstorms NXT, which will be available to buy later in the year. Ooh, I want one. Just under three months to wait.

Winner in the category of Best-Use-Of-An-Ikea-Shopping-Cart, was this entry.

Heading outside, we saw the rich folk playing Segway Polo. Yes, that is Woz there in the middle.

One of Duncan's favorites was The Crucible, which let off huge jets of flame every now and then with a loud boom (usually when you were least expecting it).

I'm going to stop there, even though I've barely scratched the surface of what was on show. I took over 60 camera phone shots. I'll try to post a few more entries in the future on some of the other truly cool stuff.

If this doesn't inspire you to go out and make something, I don't know what will.

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