25 Wheeled Wonders of Maker Faire Bay Area

Maker News

One of the most dynamic aspects to Maker Faire Bay Area is always the array of wheeled creations that roam the land. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are people-powered, some electric, some are covered in Legos, while others are covered in lights. Roll on down to the San Mateo Fairgrounds this weekend, May 19–21, to check them out at the biggest DIY festival in the world. And if you’re still deciding whether you’re going to roll on down to Maker Faire on a bike, in a car, or via public transportation, be sure to check out the full guide to getting there for all the details.

Here’s a sampler platter of 25 of the wheeled wonders you’ll see this weekend.


LegoJeep is an interactive and fun piece by maker Kevin Mathieu, made for exploring the possibilities of redefining one’s environment. This constantly changing artwork is recreated daily by all who touch it. The common joy of play via Lego bricks is the touchstone that reaches all.

Location: Zone 4 in West Green/Grass C

The Golden Mean

The Golden Mean Snail Car is a giant hot rod art car built by a group of artists in West Oakland’s Kraftworks building in 2008. Conceived of in a dream by artist Kyrsten Mate, this extraordinary vehicle was spearheaded by Mate and Jon Sarriugarte.

And how incredibly cool that the one-of-a-kind Snail Car has an Instructable, as do a handful of Sarriugarte and Mate’s beautiful vehicles.

Location: Zone 8 in The Yard/South

Solar Surrey/The Chariot

Bob Schneeveiss’ electrically driven mechanical marvels are hand-built from scratch in a garage and are the culmination of decades of fascination with natural-motion walking robots. Their sole purpose: to make you smile. Schneeveiss has been building electric vehicles for over 40 years. His creations include the Chariot, Solar Surrey, a variety of electric motorcycles, and electric race cars.

Location: Roaming Zone 9

Wheels of Whimsy

Lifelong maker Rich Brull likes to make things that are practical, fun, and make people smile when they see them. He and his 15-year-old son Ted built Wheels of Whimsy together. Ted has been making and inventing new products since attending his first Maker Faire in Kansas City at 9 years old and has exhibited at many Faires since. And here’s Maker Faire Founder Dale Dougherty enjoying the Wheels of Whimsy.

Location: Zone 9 in Eastside/Grass T

Monowheel Test Bed

Physicist Ilja Hermann’s classical monowheel contraption is a functional and awesome ride. The light gyro-body is primarily pedal-driven, with electric assist as part of a test bed design project for conceptual improvements to this vehicle type.

Location: Zone 1 in South Lot/Bike Row

Racer 5 Peddlecar

Built by Rusty Cleaver, the Racer 5 Peddlecar is a combination of aircraft parts, bike parts, go-kart parts, and a few odds and ends. It has endured miles and miles at Burning Man for the last four years and has competed at the Obtainium Cup for three years.

Location: Zone 1 in South Lot/South

Obtainium Works

Obtainium Works is the premiere art car factory in Vallejo, Calif. (home to the Neverwas Haul, among others), made up of tinkerers, gearheads, fabricators, and clothiers that create art out of “obtainium” or recycled/repurposed materials. Come to the Steampunk Grotto, ride the vehicles, and check out their steampunk clothing, accessories, and kids crafts area.

Location: Zone 4 in West Green/Grass F

Jumpy the Shark

Jumpy the Shark is a functional sport motorcycle in the form of a fiberglass great white shark, made by San Francisco-based Mongoloid Amalgamated, producers of unusual and compelling art pieces, performances, and events.

Location: Zone 1 in South Lot/Center

Grandpa’s Train

Grandpa’s Train is a two-car electric train built on a heavy-duty wheelchair platform that can carry four kids. Maker and grandpa Brad Silva built it in response to his wife asking, “What are you going to do with that?” He replied, “I dunno. Build a train?” Silva has a strong appreciation for the sillier things in life.

Location: Roaming Zone 9

The Lightning Bug

Fabricator Kevin Vizcaino enjoys doing electromechanical engineering in his free time and making things that operate. He converted his 1970 Volkswagen Beetle to run completely on electricity. This classic now has zero emissions and requires less than 20% of the original maintenance. Easy on the wallet and the environment!

Location: Zone 1 in South Lot/West

Scarlet Striker

Junior high school student Joshua Taylor made this electric go-kart using mostly of 2x4s and plywood. Taylor spent 70+ hours working on this project, and the cart’s top speed is currently 18 miles per hour.

Location: Zone 9 in Eastside/Grass T


The ConferenceBike, or CoBi-7, is a four-wheel vehicle built for seven people sitting in a circle. One person steers while everyone is free to pedal or not, as the bike moves effortlessly along. Created by artist Eric Staller, ConferenceBike evolved from his artwork Octos, a circular bike for eight riders, complete with futuristic black and white costumes, built in 1991. The CoBi has an effect on people that is truly amazing. Come try it!

This Wired video does a great job of explaining the bike and how it’s used on the Google campus:

And this video, featuring the ladies from the postcard, is just plain fun:

Location: Roaming Zone 9

Magic Makers

Team Raji (father Reza and sons Alex and Nick) are makers of fun and mesmerizing mechanical, electrical, and electronic creations of all kind, like their custom go-kart.

Location: Zone 9 in Eastside/Grass T

Super Beetle EV Conversion

Make it better, make it electric! Caleb Lander, a lifelong enthusiast and supporter of electric vehicle technologies, started with a vision to convert an existing gasoline-powered vehicle to run exclusively on electricity while exceeding existing performance and handling characteristics. That’s exactly what he got. Come see the Super Beetle!

Location: Zone 5 in West Lot/Center

Student Drivers

Young makers Peter Martin and Nathan Kim have figured out the real way to ride to school in style! They’ve redefined “student driver.” Martin has been machining since the second grade and Kim has enjoyed making and tinkering since he could wield a hammer.

Location: Zone 9 in Eastside

Boson Electric Motorcycle

The Boson Electric Motorcycle, an IoT electric motorcycle, has been converted from a Tiger gas motorcycle to include a 12KW electric motor, 4.5KW of batteries, and a computer controlled using a Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Their goal is to build a motorcycle that is smart, stylish, and inexpensive.

Location: Zone 5 in West Lot/Center

MG Locost

Software engineer Nick Jenkins home-built this replica of a Lotus 7 sports car in his spare time. The frame, suspension, and bodywork were constructed from scratch. The engine and transmission were sourced from a 1972 MGB. The car has been on the road for more than three years and has logged over 30,000 miles.

Location: Zone 5 in West Lot/Center

DIY Robocars

DIY Robocars makes and races autonomous small-scale cars on a budget! Their cars are controlled by Raspberry Pis, Arduinos and other common hardware. They use open source software like TensorFlow and ROS to learn about and navigate the track.

Location: Zone 6 in West Lot/Robots

Bicycle Ferris Wheel

Lovingly handcrafted by artist Paul Cesewski, the Bicycle Ferris Wheel is a three-seat animated sculpture powered by the riders. Three people of roughly similar size load up in the hanging seats, and when everyone pedals, the whole wheel spins. It’s pretty much a blast! As Cesewski says, “Fun is the universal language.”

Location: Zone 1 in South Lot/West

Power Racing Series

If you don’t know the Power Racing Series, you need to know. Here’s a succinct description: Start with a $500 budget limit and a Power Wheel. Mod it up. Get some new batteries, new motor, some nice new tires. Tie LEDs to the hood. Sprinkle it with glitter. Maybe add a feather for class. Put it on the track. Race it for glory and trophies. Style points awarded. Fun is unavoidable.

Why Power Racing Series? We’ll let them answer that:

Engineering, technology, diversity, and imagination are what we represent. We believe that sharing open source knowledge, tools, and tech among makers of all ages will unlock the solutions to some of the most difficult challenges we face today.

Teams have been pouring blood, sweat, and tears into their builds, and the moment of truth is almost upon us. The Power Racing Series will take place both Saturday and Sunday. Below are the race times.

Saturday, May 20
11:30 am – 12:00 pm
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm
5:00 pm – 5:30 pm
6:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Sunday, May 21
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
4:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Location: Zone 1 in South Lot/South

Here are just a few of the many amazing (and likely hilarious) cars that will hit the Power Racing Series track this weekend:

Kitty Grabs Back Electric Go-Kart

A project of Maker Project Lab, built by Donald Bell and Jordan Bunker, Kitty Grabs Back is a 24V modified ride-on electric car rebuilt from the ground up with a welded frame and a custom pack of lithium-ion batteries pulled from a salvaged Nissan Leaf electric car.

Baltimore Hackerspace Electric Vehicles

The Baltimore Burners of Baltimore Hackerspace (originally Harford Hackerspace) are back for 2017 at their second Maker Faire Bay Area appearance! Their new go-karts include a speedy pink Camaro and a semi-autonomous poorly designed cloud computing platform (in the most literal sense)!

Yacht’s What Friends Are For

The brainchild of Oakland-based artist and maker Dave Davila, this mini electric-powered race boat is named “Yacht’s What Friends Are For.” In addition to various creations, Davila works alongside Mr. Snook to run the day-to-day operations of NIMBY, East Oakland’s largest, longest-running makerspace.

Iron Mavericks

The Iron Mavericks, a group of young makers who came together last year to race at the Power Racing Series, will be participating for the second year with a new and improved kart.

Mr. T.E.A.M.

Representing Santa Barbara Hackerspace, this is Mr. T.E.A.M.’s second year entering in the Power Racing Series, with one of the track’s only front-wheel-drive drift-capable entries. Will they be able to keep the car running? Will their sound and lights work? Come to the race and find out!

+1: Vortical

Okay, so this isn’t exactly “wheeled,” per se, but it’s spinning, amazing, and one of my favorite projects, so I had to throw it in as a +1 to the list of 25. This is Vortical, a giant spherical spinning fire zoetrope! Multiple steel spheres with slots cut in them emit flames and create fire vortices, mesmerizing flickering patterns, and tornadoes. Built by Oakland artist Ryon Gesink upon a large “lunar lander-esque” tripod structure, Vortical is controlled from about 10 feet away.

Check out a full list of makers, the program guide, and tickets on the Maker Faire Bay Area site.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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