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maker faire detroit bigdog Maker Faire Detroit: BigDog interview

There are just two weeks left before the first-ever Maker Faire Detroit, taking place on July 31 and August 1 at The Henry Ford. Motor City is a Maker City, and it’s exciting to see it all coming together. Among the creative projects coming to the Faire is the gloriously pedal-powered BigDog (pictured above), which looks like the Hennepin Crawler‘s slick Midwestern cousin. We chatted with Tom Wilson, the maker behind BigDog.

1. Tell us about the project you’re bringing to Maker Faire.
A wonderfully impractical assemblage of bicycle, go-cart, and golf-cart pieces and parts, drainage pipe, steel tubing, and patio chairs. This four-wheel vehicle allows four passengers to travel in minor discomfort at speeds approaching a brisk walk, for relatively short distances, on completely flat terrain.2. How did you hear about Maker Faire and why did you decide to participate?
I heard about Maker Faire through links on various Burning Man art project websites. Riding the BigDog around town never fails to generate a lot of smiles as well as questions about its design and construction. It just seemed like it might fit in.


The BigDog in action.

3. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
It probably started with building model car kits in my basement. As far back as I can remember I’ve either been taking things apart or putting something together. For inspiration, I try to always keep my eyes open. I’ll steal ideas from anyone, anywhere.

4. Is your project strictly a hobby or a budding business? Does it relate to your day job?
This project is a hobby. While completely different than my day job, I think the process of problem solving and continuing to learn how to learn can only help when approaching “real” projects.

maker faire detroit bigdog wheels Maker Faire Detroit: BigDog interview

The wheels are beautiful!

5. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
As always for mid to late summer, anticipation is building for the chance to see many of the projects others have planned to bring out to the desert for Burning Man.

6. What is your motto?
Just this one last tweak, THEN it will be perfect!

7. What advice would you give to the young makers out there just getting started?
Worth repeating even though it has been said before: Figuring out why something doesn’t work as you originally intended is far more valuable in the long run than if it works the first time.

8. What do you love most about Detroit?
I think there’s still a quiet optimism in Detroit and Southeast Michigan that even we don’t always recognize. That optimism, combined with the collective skills and experience to “make things,” creates an atmosphere for great potential.

Thanks, Tom! There are still a couple of days left to get discounted tickets, so snap yours up and we’ll see you at the Faire!

Goli Mohammadi

I’m a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

I was an editor for the first 40 volumes of MAKE. The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. Covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made.

Contact me at snowgoli (at) gmail (dot) com.


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