The fourth annual Maker Faire, held on May 30-31 in San Mateo, Calif., draws on several creative themes. Nowhere else will you find the same mix of hackers, knitters, performers, sculptors, and mechanics in an environment that's as welcoming to toddlers as it is to retirees.
Vladimir Bulatov's metal sculptures may look like atomic structures from another dimension, but their nested, geodesic shapes are created using custom software and a rapid-prototyping 3D printer. The breadth and complexity of the sculptures would have M.C. Escher doing somersaults.
Weaving together elements of robotics, alternative energy, and do-it-yourself construction, the solar-powered miniature robot kits sold by Solarbotics are the perfect embodiment of the Maker Faire spirit. The Solar Speeder show here measures just a few inches long, but it is capable of traveling in bursts of up to 10 feet after spending 40 seconds in direct sunlight.
Reuben Margolin is an artist known for creating mesmerizing kinetic sculptures that mimic the undulations of waveforms found in nature. For his installation at the 2009 Maker Faire, Reuben created a matrix of liter soda bottles, measuring 10 feet in diameter, and 20 feet high. Like many of the artist's works, the tower of bottles pulsed with an ocean-like wave, driven by string and electric motors.
The Long Now Foundation demonstrates one of the first finished components of its 10,000-year clock at the 2009 Maker Faire. The piece shown here is a chime generator that rings 10 bells with 3,628,800 possible combinations. The clock piece is constructed of steel and aluminum, spans 8 feet in diameter, and weighs approximately 1,000 pounds.
At first glance, the Society for Creative Anachronism may seem more at home at a Renaissance Faire than at a celebration for science and creativity. With an event as eclectic as the Maker Faire, however, the SAC's handmade period attire demanded just as much DIY respect as the nearby battlebot engineers. Anyway, who can resist an old-fashioned duel?
The Maker Faire motto may be DIY, but that doesn't keep commerce from entering the picture. A portion of one the event's main halls is dedicated to the "Maker Shed," a gift shop of sorts, containing everything from Make Magazine T-shirts to robot construction kits. One of the more interesting electronic kits on sale was the Brain Machine: a pair of eyeglasses fitted with flashing LEDs said to bring about altered states of consciousness.