August 7, 2010


Maker Faire Detroit 2010
When things get so big, I don't trust them at all. You want some control -- you've got to keep it small.
--- Peter Gabriel,
Maker Faire is a celebration of the Do It Yourself (DIY) spirit. You leave feeling inspired and energized by the ingenuity.

Now In Detroit

Maker Faire came to Detroit for the first time. That's the location closest to Toronto (about four hours away). The event took place mainly on a parking lot at The Henry Ford. We attended both days and the weather was perfect: overcast on Saturday and sunny on Sunday.

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 Mousetrap

This 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.
You can create your own liquid fireworks at home … outside.

3D Printing

I'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.

Stanford Bunny 250x290
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 Examples

This video shows objects you can make with a high quality 3D monochrome printer (not related to Maker Faire).
Imagine the possibilities when we have 3D printers at home.


You 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.


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.

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