mfl flyer

“Portugal is a nation of Makers. The Portuguese language has a verb, desenrascar, that is the equivalent of MacGyvering, and we’ve long had a tradition of making do and fending for ourselves for centuries,” notes Rui Carmo of SAPO, co-organizer of Maker Faire Lisbon, taking place this upcoming weekend, September 18–20, at the Pavilhão do Conhecimento (Pavilion of Knowledge) located at the Parque das Nações, flanking the Tagus River in the northeast of Lisbon.

Last year, SAPO and Pavilhão do Conhecimento hosted the first Maker Faire in Portugal, which featured 102 Makers and about a dozen speakers. The inaugural event drew an impressive attendance of 12,436 enthusiasts of all ages.

This tremendous turnout, in conjunction with SAPO and Pavilhão’s joint initiative to bring science and technology to the general public, inspired them to go even bigger this year, turning the Mini Maker Faire into a full-fledged featured Faire.

The reaction they received to the first Faire provided them with the fuel to go big. As Carmo notes:

“The attendance numbers were way beyond what we had envisaged (it was, in a word, overwhelming), and the media coverage brought the word Maker into the living rooms of most Portuguese people, but the most interesting aspect was that, after the event, there was a noticeable surge of interest in the Maker ethos. For instance, there was a surge of new Maker groups who started doing regular get-togethers, publishing their work, and even doing long-term projects like a video series on how to build a quadcopter from scratch.”

Here’s a sampling of the faces and projects at the 2014 Maker Faire in Lisbon:

Before we delve into what attendees can expect at this year’s Maker Faire Lisbon, the backstory of the genuine interest that inspired the organizers to put together last year’s Faire is worth sharing. Carmo explains:

SAPO is a technology team where people have a number of Maker-oriented hobbies: a number of people here do electronics, 3D printing, and creative work of various kinds, and Celso Martinho, our general manager, is the one who brought us together both in and out of the office. For instance, a few of us were involved in Spacebits, which consisted of launching a number of high-altitude balloons with various payloads.

Then there was also Codebits, a yearly technology event that was organized by SAPO, where we noticed that hardware was becoming more trendy. The last two editions had “hardware dens” where we showcased a number of hardware projects and held Maker-related workshops, which were very popular among the technical community.

It didn’t take much for us to start wondering how to share that enthusiasm with the general public, and a Maker Faire was the logical way to do that. Celso reached out to the Pavillon of Knowledge (who had already considered connecting with the Maker community), and things just flowed from there. We make a great team.

mfl team shot

6 Projects of Portuguese Ingenuity

This year’s Maker Faire Lisbon offers a solid lineup of roughly 115 Makers, some of which have multiple exhibits. Check out the full list on their site. Here are six to whet your appetite:

OOZ To Mars

OOZLabs is a team of Portuguese Makers who recently published the aforementioned YouTube video series on how to build your own quadcopter. Inspired by the ingenuity involved in space exploration, they’re bringing a Mars Rover simulator that will enable visitors to command a rover on a “live” mission by sending sequences of commands to it over a remote link and watching as the mission unfolds.

3D Printed Syringe Pump Rack


Syringe pumps are essential when the administration of precise amounts of fluid is required for hospital treatments and laboratory experiments. But commercial pumps are expensive, which limits their usage. Aldric Negrier decided to address this problem by using 3D printed parts, an Arduino controller, and some stepper motors to build an open solution that helps research labs and hospitals. Negrier has already won four international awards with his syringe pump design.

Sensi Guitar


João Nuno da Silva Neves brings us Sensi Guitar, an old dream of his that he undertook as a final project for a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Music and Musical Production. Although he originally considered building a simple electric guitar including all the conventional electronics, he went a lot further. After some experimentation, he decided to build in a MIDI controller using sensors, potentiometers, and other inputs (like force sensors) coupled with a built-in Arduino, which allows him to take the Sensi Guitar beyond what you can achieve with ordinary guitar/pedal setups. Besides designing and building the wooden body and incorporating the electronics, he is now programming custom software that will allow him to define sound processing presets and control other instruments (and live audio) during play, changing modulation, filters, and feedback.

Ion Thruster

Ion thrusters are used in spacecrafts for interplanetary propulsion. They work by accelerating ions using an electric field and have the particularity of not having moving parts or using combustion. João Duarte created his version from 3D printed parts, nails, some copper tubbing, and a 9kV transformer, showing how simple it is to work with advance physics principles.

The Hypercubes


The Hypercubes project is a new electronic musical instrument comprised of a set of transparent cubes with a variety of circuitry inside which allows you to create a wide variety of sounds or audio modifications. You can create, edit, and control sound waves without a computer, and among the various modules you’ll find oscillators, noise generators, filters, distortion or delay effects, and sequencers, all of them built out of analog circuitry. This project was built during an artistic residency at “Musibéria – International Center of Dance and Music from the Iberian Region” at Serpa, between November 2013 and June 2014, under the direction of César Silveira.

Geodesic Dome


Dinis Miguel, from Algarve, brings us a geodesic dome built with low-cost materials and 3D printed parts. Known for their lightness and structural integrity, geodesic domes have been in use for many years, and their resistance stems from their triangular structure, which uniformly distributes any force throughout the entire structure. They can be built out of all kinds of materials and in any dimension as long as calculations are performed correctly, and Miguel intends to build 5/8ths of a sphere with a radius of 2.8m out of VD tubing and 3D printed connectors, which will probably be the largest single structure at the Maker Faire!

For all the information you need to join the fun at Maker Faire Lisbon this weekend, head to their site!