From hackerspace to outer space: A Maker Faire preview

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For the fifth year in the Bay Area, Maker Faire welcomes thousands of makers of all ages who show us the amazing things they create. Here’s a preview of some of what you can expect to see and do at Maker Faire Bay Area 2010, May 22 and 23 at the San Mateo Expo Center.

Spacebridge Panel Discussion

Expo Hall

"Noisebridge, the San Francisco hackerspace, has a space program now," wrote Ed Hunsinger on Laughing Squid. They launched a balloon that rose to nearly 70,000 feet, taking pictures of the Earth below. 

Mitch Altman of Noisebridge will also lead a Hackerspace Panel discussion on Sunday at 1:00 pm on the Innovations Stage in Expo Hall. The panel will feature representatives from HeatSync Labs in Arizona, Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, as well two Detroit-area hackerspaces.

Near-Space Balloon Hibal

Expo Hall

Three college students built a balloon and sent it to near-space, an altitude of roughly 90,000 feet, and carried a 4-pound payload of sensors and cameras.  It cost them about $800 to build.

Parachute Mobile Mark Meltzer & Michael Pechner

Outside at the Bay Area Amateur Radio Exhibit
Talk Sat. 5:00 pm at Center Stage.

Parachute Mobile is taking ham radio to new heights.  Mark Meltzer combines skydiving, which he’s done since 1968, with ham radio.  Recently, he jumped from 18,000 feet carrying equipment not only to conduct voice communications during the jumps, but also to relay GPS data and physiological sensor readings to the ground and to the internet via VHF telemetry.  The data produced the Google map seen above.

Opening Up Space for You and Me Bruce Pittman

Sat. 4:30, Center Stage

What can makers expect to do in space in the coming years?   Bruce Pittman, Director of Flight Projects and Chief System Engineer at the NASA Space Portal at the Ames Research Center, will talk about how there are more opportunities than ever to participate in the space program.  Bruce is author of "Space 2.0" that calls on NASA to expand its mission to encourage "massive participation."

Moonraker Paul's Robotics

Paul came to Maker Faire in 2007 with his combat robot.  Now he returns with Moonraker, which won the $500K prize in the NASA regolith extraction challenge — it shovels moon dirt into a bucket.

Hermes Morris Jarvis

Center of Expo Hall

Morris began building his functional prototype of a Space Shuttle in his garage.  He believes that "anybody who wants to fly into space should have the opportunity" and he’s looking for volunteers who share the same belief. 

Henry Ford's Quadricycle The Henry Ford


Speaking of prototypes built in garages, the Quadricycle is the first American garage invention, Henry Ford’s first working model on his way to the Model T.  Come see a working replica of the Quadricycle from The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., site of Maker Faire Detroit (July 31-Aug.1).

Meta-USA Self-Balancing Scooter Mike Phillips

Even Henry Ford would be jealous. Mike says it goes really fast.

Bob's Electrics Bob Schneeveis


Bob, who has brought the walking chariot to the 2008 and 2009 Maker Faires, will bring several vehicles, including this three-wheeled electric car, which has a top speed of 85mph.

Arduino Nerf Sentry Gun John Park

Sat. and Sun., noon on the Make Projects Stage.  See John also in the Maker Shed.

John Park, host of the Emmy-nominated Make: television, demonstrates his Arduino Nerf Sentry Gun.  It’s an autonomous, ultrasonic-distance-sensing, dual-microcontroller-driven, fully automatic foam dart shooting machine.

The Making of Leonardo Jim Capobianco

Expo Hall,
Talk and screening, Sat. 11:00 a.m.

Pixar veteran Jim Capobianco spent 10 years creating this hand-drawn animated film, based on Leonardo da Vinci. Jim will talk about the making of the film and introduce a showing of this inspiring short film. Jim will also be in Expo Hall along with the Howtoons team who will be conducting workshops teaching kids to draw.

3D Printing, MakerBot

Expo Hall
Bre Pettis, Sat. 11:30 am on Center Stage, Sat. 2:30 pm on Make: Projects Stage.

Featured on the cover of MAKE Volume 21, Bre Pettis and MakerBot Industries will show you how to get started with your very own 3D printer. It’s kind of like drawing.

You’ll also find members of the Fab@Home personal fabrication project and the Fab-in-a-Box, which is a portable FabLab in a suitcase.

The Elements and Mad Science Theo Gray

Talk on The Elements, Sat. noon, Center Stage
Demo, Mad Science, Sat. 4:30 pm, Make: Projects Stage.

Theo Gray, a co-founder of Wolfram Research, is the author of Mad Science and The Elements, and a columnist for Popular Science. Gray has also used The Elements as the basis for a successful, interactive application for exploring the periodic table on the iPad.

Amazing Thermite Reaction Jeffrey Schwartz

South Lot (TBD)

Frankly, we’re not 100% sure that we can do this large-scale thermite demonstration. We will be testing it out before the crowds arrive. Thermite is a mixture of iron oxide and aluminum powders. When ignited, thermite reacts extremely exothermically to produce molten iron metal and aluminum oxide at over 3000°F.

Saphira the fire-breathing dragon Sam De Rose and Alex Jacobson

As part of our Young Makers theme this year, we have more students participating in Maker Faire. And they can make you feel … challenged by comparison. Sam and Alex designed and built a fire-breathing dragon, with pneumatic-motion and flame effects controlled through an Arduino.

Solar Power Charging Station Solar Design Lab


If you run out of gas, or your devices run out of power, make a stop here.

On Sunday at 3:00 pm on Center Stage, you’ll also be able to learn more about Solar Suitcases in a talk by Laura Stachel, the co-founder and director of WE CARE Solar. A retired obstetrician-gynecologist who’s worked in Nigeria and Haiti, Laura recognized the need for portable electric power and designed a unit that could fit into a suitcase. She will be presenting with Brent Mollenberg who is the Director of Haiti Operations for WE CARE Solar, who’s been responsible for the deployment of the units in Haiti.

Is Fusion Energy in Our Future? Dr. Edwin Moses

Sat. 12:30 pm, Center Stage

Dr. Moses is head of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where a very large engineering project is making possible the first demonstration of ignition, or nuclear fusion with energy gain. NIF has built the world’s highest-energy laser and will use its 192 laser beams to compress and heat a peppercorn-size fuel capsule filled with deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen, causing the hydrogen atoms to fuse and release a tremendous burst of energy. Dr. Moses will talk about the path forward to a future with fusion energy.

Space Hacks, Keith Cowling & Dennis Wingo

Sunday, 11 am to 12 pm at Center Stage

In back-to-back talks on Sunday morning, we’ll look at space hacking, past and present.  Keith Cowling, editor of NASA Watch, will talk about "Famous NASA Hacks" such as the Apollo 13. He’s currently working in partnership with NASA Ames Research Center to restore a 1960s-era Titan I ICBM and convert it for educational use. Keith will join Dennis Wingo who will talk about the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, which rescued tapes and restored data from a 1960s survey of the lunar surface. The project is housed at NASA Ames in what was formerly a McDonald’s and is now called “McMoon.”

Tirgex Racing INCAS3 from Amsterdam


We’ll have a racetrack set up outside. These race cars have cameras, and you see what they see in your helmet. You’ll also be wearing gloves to control direction — but your voice is required for acceleration.

Kitty Twitty Cat Toy Marc De Vinck

Sat. 1:00 pm, Make: Projects Stage. Also in Maker Shed.

Featured in MAKE Volume 22, the Kitty Twitty Cat Toy is a networked toy that will send a tweet when your cat plays with it, offering reassurance that your cat is doing just fine when you’re not home. Kitty Twitty was designed to be easily hacked, modified, and expanded by cat owners everywhere. Marc is one of our bloggers and a product curator for the Maker Shed.

Wearable Adaptive Technology & eTextile Fashion Show, Lynne Bruning

Fashion Show, Fiesta Hall, Sat, 3:30 pm

Lynne designs smart garments such as this “bat” jacket that uses sonar  technology to help the visually impaired.  Lynne is also organizing eTEXTILE: the first Wearable Computing Fashion Show at Maker Faire.

Anti/Surveillance Fashion Show Noisebridge, SF

Sun. 3:30 pm

Photo unavailable

Also from Noisebridge, here’s a fashion show that explores how you conceal and what you reveal — the latest in smart fashion for those who don’t want to be seen by just anyone. 

Ask an Engineer Live! Limor Fried & Phil Torrone

Sat. 7:00 pm, Center Stage

Join Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries and Phil Torrone, Senior Editor at Make, for a live version of "Ask An Engineer." 

Also, Phil will be heading up an Open Source Hardware Panel on Saturday at 1:00 pm on the Innovations Stage in Expo Hall.

Dub Machines Tristan Shone

Expo Hall
Talk/Demo, Sat. 1:30pm, Make Projects Stage

Featured in MAKE Volume 22, Tristan Shone will talk about how he builds his "heavy metal" sound machines, which use the Arduino microcontroller.  Shone says he likes "a certain drone-y sound."  Come talk to Tristan and see him perform.

ArcAttack! Joe DiPrima and gang

Fiesta Hall, Tesla Theater

These large Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coils snap-crackle-and-pop to music.  ArcAttack is from Austin, Texas, and they’ll be playing at regular intervals all weekend.

OK Go!

The band OK Go will be our special guests on Sunday afternoon.  The band’s frontman, Damian Kulash, sometimes makes big declarations like “We’re trying to be a DIY band in a post-major label world” or “Our whole bag is having good ideas and making cool shit.” We’re not exactly sure what they’ll do on Sunday but they wanted to come to Maker Faire and we wanted to have them. In addition, Adam Sadowsky of Syyn Labs was behind the Rube Goldberg machine in the video "OK Go: This Too Shall Pass" and he'll give a talk on Saturday afternoon called "Music, Machines and Life."  He will talk about challenges in building such a machine.

This is only a small sampling of more than 600 exhibits that you’ll find at Maker Faire Bay Area, May 22 and 23. Come meet the makers: hackers, artists, scientists, tinkerers, roboticists, educators, chefs, musicians, photographers, crafters, cyclists, mechanics, automakers, metalworkers, engineers, physicists, puppeteers, and many, many more. 

Be sure to check out the complete program schedule online.  For more information, visit

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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