There are few places in the world where you can see a 12-foot flaming daisy, learn how to weave electronics into textiles, play Mario Kart in VR, and marvel at a NASA exhibit, all in the same day, in the same location. Welcome to Maker Faire Orlando, blasting off this weekend, October 21 and 22 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds and Expo Halls. Now in its sixth year and still gaining momentum, Maker Faire Orlando is lovingly organized by The Maker Effect Foundation, the nonprofit community organization dedicated to “activating and amplifying the efforts of makers as they learn, build, and work together in their communities.”
Ian Cole, one of the lead organizers, gives a synopsis of Maker Faire in this video, along with the story of how Jaycon Systems, a local maker-made electronics company grew wings by exhibiting at the Faire. It really sums up how powerful Maker Faire can be for the community.
This is just the second year that Maker Faire Orlando is being held at the Fairgrounds, giving them ample room to grow and shine bright. This fun video synopsis of last year’s Faire, shot by RetrO_SpecTrum, offers a great little window into the projects and community that await you this weekend.
This year’s community-organized, family-friendly celebration features hundreds of local (and beyond) makers sharing their innovative, creative, sometimes wacky, always wonderful DIY projects in science, art, rockets, robots, crafts, technology, music, hands-on-activities, and much more. On the website, you’ll find a full list of exhibiting makers and hands-on workshops, as well as the program guide and map. There’s even an all-new advanced soldering badge workshop, created by the fine folks of Orlando’s Maker FX Makerspace. The beginner-level Makey badge has been upgraded to include a PIC-microcontroller-based board twinkling several LEDs, with a switch that can be used to change the LED display pattern.
So Much to See and Do
Here’s a sampler platter of tasty projects you can expect to see and interact with at Maker Faire Orlando this year. With hundreds of exhibits lined up, there’s definitely something for everyone. Aside from what you see here, there will be two maker buses, one Delorean, glassblowers, blacksmiths, the Nerdy Derby, and the Power Racing Series, plus workshops where you can make a T-shirt, learn how to pick locks, and so much more!
Flaming Daisy Sculpture
Orlando’s Flaming Foliage Artist Collective is presenting their 12-foot Flaming Daisy sculpture made of reclaimed automotive parts, including bus shock absorbers, car brake discs, and scrapped car hoods. The fire module will be controlled by an Arduino and will be programmed to shoot an 8-foot column of flames at 15-minute intervals.
The Game of Fire
The Game of Fire is an interactive fire art spectacle. Fuel, heat, oxygen, and good aim are all you need to make fire at this exhibit. Visitors are invited to try their hand at a carnival-style target game to trigger the fire poofers. Coordinate efforts and get four people to hit their targets at the same time for a fire bonanza! This project is spearheaded by maker extraordinaire and exhibit designer Kathy Cannistra of KM Exhibits, who’s also bringing and racing her Weinermobile at the Power Racing Series.
Patternistic Light-up Electric Dance Suit
The Patternistic Light-up Electric Dance Suit (PLEDS) is a wearable electronic device made for dancing! Arduino-controlled RGB LED strips light up in patterns, with colors shifting based on movement. Move your left hand and the colors on the left change, move your right hand and the colors on the right change. Belt-mounted buttons change the animation mode or execute a special animation! Devised and worn by maker Ryan Hollander’s daughter Mia, the PLEDS is ready to bring bright colorful dancing joy to the masses!
E-textiles: Weave Your Way into the Internet of Things
The Drunken Monkey Spinners and Weavers of Orlando will show how yarn is spun and woven into fabric. Attendees may weave using a handheld shuttle with an RFID tag. Each “pass” of the shuttle will be communicated to a particle photon (similar to Arduino and Raspberry Pi with IoT functionality built in) and uploaded to the web. The count will be viewable on a monitor. Along with the Valencia College Embedded Computing exhibit, which is right next to this one, you can see example of how sensors can be attached to the fabric and demonstrated with a hand puppet, how to get started with embedded computing, and more!
Mario Kart VR
Let’s a-go! Throw bananas and shells at your opponents as you dodge their items, all while you’re in the seat of a Mario Kart in VR. You’ll bump and blast your way to victory in this fun-filled virtual reality experience. This exhibit demonstrates the use of emerging technologies, including software development, digital fabrication including 3D printing, and the latest in VR technology. At the heart is a modified Mario Kart Power Wheels racer with a welded frame and integrated microcontroller, electronics, and 3D printed components that transform this kart into a Super Mario Kart Game Controller, presented by maker Pat Starace.
Orlando N-Trak Club Model Railroad
The Orlando N-Trak Club railroad model incorporates over 200 feet of mainline track depicting the route from Jacksonville, Florida, to Folkston, Georgia. Visitors can drive trains past many well-known landmarks, across rivers, and through wooded pine forests. Operation features such as control signals and crossing gates are controlled by various electronics, including Arduinos and Raspberry Pi. This year’s exhibit promises to be bigger and better than last year’s, with a 30-foot by 50-foot display space.
NASA Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has a memorable exhibit lined up for this weekend, featuring programs such as the Launch Services Program, Commercial Crew Program, and Ground Services and Development Program. They’ll provide educational hands-on activities, electronic games such as Rocket Science 101 (a game in which you can build and launch rockets of all levels and sizes), electronic activity pages for coloring and drawing, hands-on activity pages and projects, and augmented reality apps to play with.
The 10-Foot Arcade
Free Play Florida, a project of the nonprofit electronic gaming organization The Byte Amusement Group, will present the work and skill sets of a number of different makerspaces (including Factur, Tampa Hackerspace, and MakerFX) that came together to help build these giant arcade machines. Components include laser cutting, CNC milling and machining, laminating, 3D modeling, casting/molding, turning (lathe), woodworking, and electronics. The makers will share the process of creating a 10-foot aluminum skeleton, laminating and cutting various materials on a CNC router, laser cutting various plastic parts, and 3D printing and molding parts.
Take Apart Workshop
The Orlando Science Center will host an area where attendees can take apart all their old electronics and see what makes the world work! Come use tools and creativity to mine the wonders that hide inside everyday electronics. They hope to inspire future electrical engineers, computer scientist, and makers.
High school robotics team Gra-V Robotics is offering a workshop where you can make your own plastic molded Makey robot. Learn the plastic molding process and meet this team of budding roboticists. The small cost associated with the workshop helps cover the cost of the material along with helping to support Gra-V Robotics.
For all the information you need to roll up your sleeves and dive into the Orlando maker culture this weekend, head to the Maker Faire Orlando website!