When things get so big, I don't trust them at all. You want some control -- you've got to keep it small.Maker Faire is a celebration of the Do It Yourself (DIY) spirit. You leave feeling inspired and energized by the ingenuity.
--- Peter Gabriel, DIY
Now In Detroit
Most participants seemed to be from Michigan. The many inventions ranged from robots to DNA kits that motivate students to study biology to ways to create electricity in Africa from stove exhaust. In the DIY spirit, the ideas were generally inexpensive. Most of the computers were inexpensive netbooks.
The crowd-pleasing touring spectacles came from further away.
The Lifesize MousetrapThis elaborate DIY mousetrap takes 13+ years to design, five days to assemble, two days to dismantle and a tractor trailer to haul. The mouse is represented by a GM van (no surprise at a Ford venue).
Mentos and Coke Zero (Eepy Bird)If you want to see two men in lab coats get doused with Coke Zero, this is the place. Ditto if you want to get wet. Preparation takes three hours and 108 2L bottles of Coke Zero. Although Pepsi was the only soft drink sold, Coke got plenty of free publicity.
3D PrintingI've read about 3D printers but never saw one before. They print plastic layer by layer to create physical objects. Unlike the new 3D TVs, you don't need to wear special glasses to enjoy the results.
The military showed a model of a hybrid humvee that doubles mileage to 8 mpg. Printing took 14 hours on a $60,000 3D colour printer. You could even see detail inside it. This was like a model kit assembled for you. That's beyond the budget of most DIYers.
The other extreme is the $950 monochrome CupCake CNC from Makerbot, which you assemble. It makes plastic objects as large as a tennis ball. I spoke to the inventor, Bre Pettis, briefly. If you're not creative, you can download templates from Thingiverse. Here's the Stanford Bunny taking a break from her keyboard.
Amazing ExamplesThis video shows objects you can make with a high quality 3D monochrome printer (not related to Maker Faire).
GoYou may have the tools to take your ideas to reality. If not, there are well-equipped inexpensive hackerspaces with equipment and willing collaborators.
This kind of creativity can revitalize Detroit to have a future beyond cars.
If you like visiting science centres or exploring new ideas, you and your family will enjoy Maker Faire. Attending is even easier now that Maker Faire is travelling east. The next stop is New York City.
- Maker Faire Detroit 2011 disappoints (new)
- Maker Faire website (makerfaire.com) and Wikipedia page
- Videos from Maker Faire Detroit (mlive.com)
- Photos from Maker Faire Detroit (flickr.com)
- Inside the Life-Size Mouse Trap (wired.com)
- President Obama shouldn't have visited a GM plant (chrisbrogan.com) [read the comments too]
- Reasons to stop avoiding New York City
Podcast Episode 78 (4:29)
direct download | Internet Archive page
PS Thanks to Peter McGarvey for telling us about Maker Faire and meeting us there.