Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Makers Faire

Last Saturday, I booked off work a few hours early and  attended the first annual Makers Faire in Vancouver. My main focus on going there was to talk to a young man that had designed a propane heating system for a hot tub. Once there though, I was surprised and delighted by all the other exhibits that I saw.

What is a Makers Faire you ask? well this is what the web site for the fair had to say....

"“Maker” culture grew out of the DIY movement and is based on the principle that ordinary people, given access to knowledge, skills and technology, can and will create extraordinary things. A maker can be any person or group who invents, designs, and/or builds objects or information systems with the goal of learning, teaching, inspiring or improving the state of the world. Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is a two-day celebration of making and creating. It’s an all-ages family festival promoting the ethos of DIY on a large scale.

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire will take you through an inspiring, energetic and captivating range of exhibits, including workshops, performances, displays, and a speaker series. Some of the features include pyrotechnics, kinetic sculptures, interactive musical installations, and 3d printers that can print themselves. Interaction booths stationed throughout will centre around education: teaching people how to complete a circuit, spin wool, or smoke bacon!"

I only had about two hours to see it all as I crammed this into my work day. I spent a lot of the time talking to the various people whose creations I wanted to know more about, so didn't get photos of everything that caught my fancy, but here are some to give you an idea of the kinds of things you can see at a Makers Faire.

I met this girl who sews with led lights. One of her creations was this incredible skirt with little lights embedded in it that change colour and blink as you dance and move around

Here is the link to the instructions if you would like to make your own version.

The Robinson Caruso in me loved this raft that was built by recycling wooden pallets, old plastic drums and used the rubber from bicycle tires to hold it all together.

Then there was the electric car. Gerry Martselos will, for about $10,000, convert your car into an electric one for you. Here is his website if you are interested.
 Add some solar panels to your garage roof and you have free power for your transportation needs.

Here is a peek under the hood

and this is a view of the back seat area which stores all the batteries. The car had a range of about 50 km on a charge which should be more than enough for short daily commutes to work and run errands which is probably 90 percent of our car use. His theory is, have the electric car for daily use and rent a car for the odd occasion when you want to go afar.

I'm not sure what the purpose of this thing was, but at one point a guy sat in the middle of it and all the legs moved independently to make the whole contraption walk around with him in it. Kind of like riding a giant spider!

A welders fancy creation of an ant made from old propane bottles

and a little piggy BBQ made from another propane tank

This was the portable hot tub I came to see. The sides are made up of wooden planks that have a giant bungee cord running through them all to hold them together. The outside was stabilized with huge tension straps.The inside is lined with sections of foam and covered with a sheet of poly. A section was built from plywood to be a seating area and placed in one side.

The water was run through this small RV water pump that was powered by a car battery to circulate the water through the heater.

Some LED lights were run through a thick clear hose and under the poly to provide mood lighting at night.

This is his heater contraption that he has just lit and is replacing the coil over the flame which you can just see between his elbows.

The water circulates down through the coils and out the bottom where it goes back into the tub

 This was a weird and wonderful thing. A huge tricycle powered by solar and wings.
here are some pictures of it when it was being test driven at Burning Man

These guys had a system to make your bike glow in the dark

 Again, not sure of the purpose of this one, but cool to look at!

Love this concept of cutting a bottle in half and inverting it with something as a wick in the neck to keep the plants watered

Yet another , I'm not sure what this is, thing. It was a truck with propane canisters mounted all around the outside. Every now and again, they would light it up and flames would puff out of it.

I love recycled art , so was impressed by this sign which says REGENERATE with each letter made from different recycled objects.

Here is a close up of each of the letters

a close up of  the letter E

 The best part was, the back of the signs, which were pallet gardens. Burlap bags hold soil in place and slits are cut to let plants grow out of the vertical garden.  The tops had more plants growing out of them

This was my favorite exhibit. This guy took an old Airstream travel trailer, gutted it and
refabricated the interior into an amazing experience. He quickly showed me some of its features which included a great stereo, fold down large screen TV, built-in vacuum, steam shower etc etc. I have included a link to his site which has many more pictures of the features.  On his site, scroll down to the picture of the trailer and click on it, that will take you to the library of photos. Well worth taking a look. I couldn't believe how spacious it felt inside, all the awesome luxury's of home were included, even laundry facilities. You could easily and comfortably live in this unit for quite some time!

So that was just a small sampling of what I saw that day. Some other exhibits that interested me was a workshop on how to build your own solar panels, another workshop on how to make glass beads and blown glass, a lantern making booth, another booth filled with wild and wonderful nonsensical Jules Verne type creations, a small hydro pump system that I couldn't find the guy to ask questions about and a myriad of robotic type constructions for all sorts of purposes.

I had a great time, was inspired and learned a lot. I would definitely attend next years fair and plan to spend the whole day there. 

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  1. There was some pretty cool stuff at that fair. Wish I could have checked it out. I don't think I've ever been to one of those before.

  2. That was the first time it was held in Vancouver. They started in the States. There is one in Detroit at the end of July if your interested in going to that one. Try Googling Makers Faire to locate other ones. I know they have had them in Toronto before as well.It was totally cool to see, I would definately go again next year.

  3. Here is what we did with a discarded propane tank we found floating down the lake.

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