Behind the Scenes: Mapping Maker Faire with Trimble’s S8 Total Station

Behind the Scenes: Mapping Maker Faire with Trimble’s S8 Total Station

The Trimble S8 Total Station in Expo Hall

During the production of Maker Faire the team deals with loads of maps, project IDs, resource requests (power, chairs, tables), and spatial restrictions. Analog maps with sticky post-its are common throughout the early layout phase, as the team brainstorms adjacent projects and flow. But eventually everything gets transferred to CAD and digital layouts.

The grounds of the San Mateo Event Center where Maker Faire Bay Area has taken place since 2006 is then sub-divided into zones, consolidating thematic projects or using obvious partitions like buildings and fence lines as zone boundaries.

Without a doubt the most dense zone at Maker Faire Bay Area is Expo Hall, home to 300+ makers, with an emphasis on 3D printing, Crafts, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Kinetic Arts, Space, Makerspaces, the Make: Live and Make: Electronics stages, and a special addition this year of Game of Drones — a netted fly-zone for drones of all size and sophistication.

 Expo Hall, empty and awaiting the arrival of 300+ maker projects.
Expo Hall, empty and awaiting the arrival of 300+ maker projects.

While dense, the Expo Hall is also giant, measuring an incredible 100,000 sq. ft. Area Managers responsible for laying out the Hall typically use 350′ tape measures and mark off the fence points and would-be hallways. It’s a two or more-person job and typically takes a whole day, while managing other layout responsibilities and safety needs in preparation for the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. Last year Omar Soubra from Trimble recognized this excess of human labor and proposed a different approach: using Trimble’s S8 Total Station and accompanying TSC3 Controller to import CAD files for the respective zones and mark them out using their equipment.

The S8 has an impressive array of features: silent, frictionless movement; autolocking; onboard camera and live video feed; ability to remotely take 2048 x 1536 JPEGs; 3m to infinity depth of field; battery run-time of 6.5 hours with option for a multi-battery adapter for 18 hours of run-time; IP55 dust and water-proofing specification; and so much more. Check out the S8’s datasheet for more details.

One of Expo Hall’s Area Managers, Brad Nagler, acknowledged his hesitance with “new technologies,” expressing that if anything went wrong he’d have to switch gears quickly to prepare Expo Hall for the deluge of makers checking in on Friday.

Soubra scanned the facility this past winter, correlating his data with the Maker Faire production team’s layouts. He proposed using the S8, which would be the first time this equipment would be used for this type of application. On site Soubra teamed up with Bertier Luyt, CEO of le FabShop, and met with Expo Hall Area Managers to figure out exactly what they needed located. They were then able to entirely mark out the Expo Hall in approximately 4 hours. Having gotten in the groove, they proceeded to the adjacent Fiesta Hall and had that marked out in just 45 minutes.

Use of the S8 will clearly not make obsolete the presence of human Area Managers. Instead it has allowed them to focus on pressing tasks and issues.

Check out the slideshow for more shots and specifics of the sub-systems used to map Expo Hall and Fiesta Hall at Maker Faire Bay Area:

0 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: Mapping Maker Faire with Trimble’s S8 Total Station

  1. Jon Danforth says:

    Bad freaking ass!

  2. Matt Richardson says:

    This is so cool! I had no idea this was possible.

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I'm an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!

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