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Last weekend the second annual Maker Faire KC took place at Union Station, Kansas City’s 1914 beaux-arts train station.  The grandeur of the Union Station is hard to resist, but of course it really was the makers of the Midwest who made Maker Faire KC such a special event.

According to organizers Luis Rodriguez and Joy Torchia, the fair attendance doubled from last year to 10,000+, and the number of makers also doubled, to 230.  The fair’s exhibits truly mapped across the Maker Faire range, from deep craft through robotics to auto hacks. Noted exceptions to the rule were no bikes (?!), but an evident and exceptionally strong 3D printing community.

I’ve uploaded a survey of exhibits and makers here on the MAKE Flickr pool, but before going to the swath of pics, here’s a look at a few standout makers that had great stories and fun projects:
 
Josh Bookout’s “Selectric II,” an Ascii Art Type-O-Matic:

img 2656 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

Josh turned an old IBM Selectric II electric typewriter into essentially a serial printer. He runs a text file through serial to Arduino, through a controller board, actuating one of the 14 solenoids. The wires attached to the solenoids pull Erector Set levers, which actuate the key presses, which in turn type out the ASCII art.


 
img 2655 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

Josh has great build videos and posts on his site with more explanation—and lots of live typing! http://robotdialogs.com/


 
Bandit Guns of Missouri:

img 2592 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

These super cool, laser cut rubber band “shotguns” sold out at the end of the first day! Shoot and then “pump” and another rubber band jumps up the staging “ladder,” ready to be fired.

img 2539 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

The guns are awesome but Bandit Guns went above and beyond, designing and creating this equally beautiful shooting game target range. They have a great pistol version too. Find them at banditguns.com.

 
Weird Doctor Office by Prof. Yekaterina Maksimova:

img 2672 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

You couldn’t really hear what was going on in Prof. Yekaterina Maksimova’s exam room, but you could watch. Here ArcAttack’s Joe DiPrima is getting his lifesignal checked. Somehow the Jacob’s ladder is involved (arcs were climbing behind Joe during the exam), as well as a lot of switches.

 
Anthony Clay’s series of Electrical Engineering Reference Posters:

img 2696 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

In part thanks to a recent successful Kickstarter campaign, Anthony Clay has produced a series of four EE reference posters. Topics are Ohm’s Law and Resistors (“It’s the Law!”), Capacitors and Inductors, Transistors, and Microcontroller Quicknotes. These posters are great looking and definitely a great makerspace accessory.

 
Tom McGuire of Hack.Art.Lab and Witchita State University and his Foam Cutting Machine:

img 2626 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

Tom’s computer-controlled cutter turned out perforated foam sheets that people could then punch apart and make wacky hats from.

img 2618 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

The Foam Cutting Machine is a bit like a tattoo gun, with the needle made of a sharpened piano wire.

 
Randal Strong-Wallace and his roller coaster models:

img 2630 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

Last year Randal brought five of his model roller coaster models to Maker Faire KC. They were such a hit that after the fair, they were given permanent exhibition space inside Union Station’s Science City. This year, Randall brought his tallest, steepest, fastest model yet: “Dragon’s Flight.” Randall has put together some great how-to videos at http://www.modelcoasters.com/buildamodelrollercoaster.htm For a fast insight into the making, check out his materials list: http://www.modelcoasters.com/modelmaterials.htm

 
Iron Man, War Machine, and Rescue from IBOT (Iron Brothers of Topeka):

img 2489 Maker Faire Kansas City 2012 Highlights

The ratio of rad costume makers in Kansas City was surprisingly high. These guys, the Iron Brothers of Topeka, were just one (though definitely the most spectacular) of the characters roaming around the show. War Machine had a boombox integrated into his back, so they even had a SOUNDTRACK while they were walking around!


 
Kudos to ALL the makers who showed up at Maker Faire Kansas City, demonstrating to the globe that creativity is not a byproduct of coastline geography. For more pics, see my Flickr feed as well as Maker Faire KC on Facebook. See you in 2013!

Sabrina Merlo

Sabrina is the Maker Faire Program Director. She works on stage content for the flagship fairs (Bay Area & New York), and also runs Maker Faire’s licensing program for locally and independently produced “Mini” Maker Faires. She also co-creates the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in her town, Oakland, CA.


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