Illustration by James Burke

Illustration by James Burke

Back in 2006, I explored the site of the very first Maker Faire, marveling at the incredible assortment of homebrew technology projects on display. Alternative energy vehicles. Telepresence robots. An electronic fashion show. A flame-bellowing fire truck. Those wonderful, unusual, and exciting builds — versions of which can now commonly be found in the mainstream world (except for that fire truck, but I’m not giving up hope) — each acted as a portal into a unique, dedicated, and open community.

It’s this discovery of new projects and groups, and watching them progress over time, that is one of the best parts of hosting the great party that is Maker Faire. Sometimes this progress moves with exceptional velocity. Case in point: At that same event, I spotted a table sporting a compact A-frame creation built from threaded rod and metal bars, with an apparatus holding something that looked like a caulking gun. Its maker intently adjusted the device and configured settings on a laptop as I asked what it was. He replied, “It’s an additive fabricator” — a term I hadn’t heard before. At the following year’s Faire in 2007, I noticed a few extra tables with additional makers and their additive fabrication RepRap machines. In 2009, MakerBot formed and released its first desktop 3D printer kit; four years later, there was hardly a table at the Faire without a MakerBot on it and the company was a month away from a half-billion-dollar acquisition.

Some early MakerBot models. Photo by Rich Pollack

Some early MakerBot models. Photo by Rich Pollack

Similar progress has happened with drones and electronic prototyping boards, and is now ramping up quickly with biohacking and virtual reality, among others. We don’t create these communities, nor do we take credit for their success — that’s all you! But we are happy to have a venue where so many diverse groups can gather and celebrate what they all have in common: openness and the love of sharing.

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On the cover: NASA’s JPL is using VR tech to create the next Mars rover. Illustration by Viktor Koen. Read articles from the magazine right here on Make:. Don’t have a subscription yet? Get one today.

In our most recent issue of Make:, Volume 52, (which goes on newsstands today!) we check into one of those quickly moving fields, VR. The top two devices in this area, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both heavily leveraged maker tools and ethos in their inception. We see this firsthand in our visit to the offices of Valve, the team behind the Vive. We also look at the hobbyists building engaging VR accessories alongside these polished products, and the software options for designing your next project inside virtual reality itself. Like computer-assisted design software that enhanced the physical creation process, these new tools will expand our options for creative output in every way, and it’s only just getting started.

We’ve also introduced a new section in this issue — “Show & Tell.” Our magazine, like our events, is a sounding board for the incredible maker community, and in Show & Tell we want to give you even more opportunities to share your projects in our pages. You can submit photos of your masterpiece — completed or in progress — for us to run in upcoming issues of Make:. We can’t wait to see what you’ve built.