I Left My Heart in… Lisbon!

Maker News
I Left My Heart in… Lisbon!
Night surfboard shaping at Maker Faire Lisbon by João Ribeiro

A San Franciscan can feel pretty at home in Lisbon. Bright yellow trolley cars are a Lisbon icon — a near twin of SF’s red ones. Hills and buildings drop to a twinkling bay. The science museum filled with exhibits from The Exploratorium. A doppleganger of the Golden Gate Bridge spans the mouth of the river as it meets the sea.

Add those famous ubiquitous delicious round custard tarts, sidewalk cafes, old Euro architectural charm, nearby wild and warm beaches, almost universal English fluency, and the average San Franciscan might want to just move there.

The Maker scene has a familiar feel too, if you measure what bubbled up over the weekend at the second annual Maker Faire Lisbon. Projects leveraging cheap computers and microcontrollers, laser cutters and CNC routers, open source platform communities — and “old” tools too, like silkscreen ink and sanders. Social inputs such as a leadership tribe of older coders-come-Makers, new young Maker clubs, an active Makerspace, a quality local electronics supplier, and a few particularly engaged city officials round out the fermentation recipe.

So not surprising that the second annual Maker Faire drew 50% more attendees, hitting close to 15,000 visitors over the weekend. 150+ Makers showed endurance, with the show and the museum staying open ‘till 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 8 p.m. on Sunday. (Fun to have nighttime Maker Faire — see pic of surfboard shaping above!)

The co-producer and venue partner, Pavilhão do Conhecimento (Pavilion of Knowledge), enjoys a high-design building constructed for Expo ’98 (otherwise known as The 1998 World’s Fair). Maker booths lined up under the cover of the building’s ground floor cut-outs, as well as inside in hallways and a spectacular central exhibit hall.

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Besides the later night hours, the Lisbon show also had unique production design. Makers were provided with tables and sign stands to create a consistent look and feel. Colorful bean bags, tables and seating made out of wood pallets, and matching “chill zone” hammocks. Nice touch, napping at Maker Faire.


But don’t think that means the content was snoozy! The Portuguese Makers were fantastic, content very strong. One fun project by Ooz Labs was a kind of spoof of NASA Mars Rover mission. Visitors had to mimic NASA’s long distance control tactics by entering a series of commands that would batch-deploy to the Rover. Drivers could stick around to see how accurately their commands positioned the Rover, and upon completion, received well-deserved certificates of Mars Rover command experience.

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Ooz Lab’s Mars Rover

Another project with humor: INKY, a small painting bot capable of throwing ink / watery liquids. It’s controlled manually, with a joystick, with gcode generated from Inkscape, or programmatically with generative algorithms, etc.


New this year was a drone racing track on an adjacent grassy field, right on the river.

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Also new was a constant program of three rooms of hands-on workshops ranging from Scratch to assembling laser-cut loom kits. Workshops sold out within 3 hours of posting!


I particularly loved this open source loom project and workshop by Lisbon Maker Lionel Alegre, fabricated at FabLab Lisboa.

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Here is Bernardo Gaeiras, director of FabLab Lisboa, with an assembled loom, complete with Makey!

This brick project below has a great backstory. Miguel Ferreria’s family has owned and operated Prélis Ceramics since 1927, and he is the fifth generation to contribute to the health and direction and success of the company. As part of his head of Marketing & Innovation role, Miguel has been collaborating with Makerspace.PT (“Do It Together” is their slogan) in his town of Palmela to design a new, stronger brick design that interlocks. He is also working on overall production energy efficiency and 3D printed biomass insulation solution for the bricks. This was his and Prelis’ first Maker Faire.


It’s great to see the local “success story” Maker companies participating as sponsors of the event, including BeeVeryCreative 3D printing company, electronics supplier In Motion, and DIY biosignals platform Bitalino.

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BeeVeryCreative released a brand new BeePrusa printer at the show, a 2-extruder model that can print 2 colors.
Portuguese electronics supplier In_Motion founder and owner Filipe Valpereiro made an awesome bubble maker / photo booth.
Bitalino founder Hugo Silva

There was lots of tech but also some great “analog” making. Beards on Boards had a longboard (skateboard) making project going all weekend that culminated in this very awesome custom Makey board — signed by all the MFLisbon Makers!


I got to spend some time screen printing with this local textiles maker Alexandra Costa.  Those are my new shirts on the wall!


One other unique aspect of this Faire: opening and closing ceremonies with acknowledgements and music.

Opening band Tumbala and their rolling homemade percussion instruments. Never has plastic sounded so good!
Everyone gathered for the closing thank you’s, awards, and a magnetic performance by a local one-man-band.

Maker Faire Lisbon 2015 really was a fantastic showcase for Portuguese Makers, with a palpable feeling of an active and growing community. Congratulations and many thanks to the people that drove this event home: Celso Martihno and his team from SAPO, and Ines Vala and the team from Pavilhão do Conhecimento. Obrigada!


3 thoughts on “I Left My Heart in… Lisbon!

  1. joao says:

    I guess you haven’t made contact with us (Fablab ÉvoraTech). We were there too, with our monthly project made by students and supported by Fablab. Better luck next time.
    ( https://twitter.com/alentejoadral/status/645613292619202560 )

  2. Tiago Fino says:

    Local one-man-band: http://www.noiserv.net/

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Sabrina is the Maker Faire Program Director. She works on stage content for the flagship fairs (Bay Area & New York), and also runs Maker Faire's global licensing program for locally and independently produced Maker Faires. She also co-creates the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in her town, Oakland, CA.

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