Let's Make Robots!

Maker Faire Bay Area

I haven't seen anyone post about going to the Maker Faire Bay Area on May 19-20 2012, so I thought I'd post this. 

I know that RobotGrrl will have her own table at the Faire. She may have an LMR poster with her, and one of Chris' robots to display along with her own. Stop by her table and say hi if you are going.

If you are going to this event, comment below and let us know! Link your blog, forum post, videos and pictures here!

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Hi there, 

In the following, you will get a travel report from the annual San Fransisco Maker Faire, where DIY people, geeks and others show and share what they have done of hacks, mods, improvements or brand new innovations.

Having visited the Maker Faire last year as well, I was full of expectation when I arrived from Denmark to this fair. Rumours said that around 110.000 people would visit the fair over its 2-day weekend activity. And though my expectations were sky-high, I was not dissapointed.

It was a great fair and I did easily spend a whole day at the fair. At any time of the day, no matter where I looked, I constantly was hit by something new, odd, eyecatching or curious.

Tons of odd, home-made bicycles, cars or other transportation devices, plants, music, lighting, and all kinds of stuff were present to blow your mind away with sound, visuals, touch and feelings. The fair was gigantic and was completely packed with people.

At the fair, there was about half of a exhibition hall packed with booths related to robotics. 

At one booth, I talked to a student from a technical university in California, where a class had got the 5 weeks assignment to make robots, which should compete with each other to get from one end of a track to another while shooting table tennis ball at its ”competitor robots”.

Naturally, the track and the robots were shown in the booth.

It was fun and amasing to see the robots in action. The student also told me the process of building the robots. It all starts with making the sensors to get the robot from one end to the other within the track. The the rest of the robot was build.

The student also told me what such robots could be used for, if not only for fun; making homemade vacuum cleaning robots and alike.  We also joked about making it into a robot which could walk the dog. I am so sorry that I did not get his name. 


In another booth, I saw a cool setup with two lamps rocking to music. Take a look at this cool video, where I did not get the name of the Maker. Sorry for the big video file:  


No matter when one looks when attending the Maker Faire, cool stuff happened. On of the more spectacular robots - which really gave me a chock - was a human-sized sceleton, which suddenly moved when passing by it. Just as spectacular, was a little cute monkey sitting onn the shoullder of its builder, which waved at you. Really cure. The third robot was a gigantic spider, suddenly moving its legs. I know, it sounds funny or even silly. But when you were there … it was creapy. 



I also passed by many areas where one could learn various stuff. One of the learning places were there constantly were a long queue was the learning place for learning to do soldering.This made me think that there are more and more people who wish to learn to do stuff themselves, including electronics. The thought was confirmed by seing the many booths with 3D printers (and they are getting cheap now: only around $1500 for a ready to use 3D printer) and the many booths like arduino.


I also entered an exhibition hall, where there was a show between an entertainer and a robot. The conversation and the physical interaction looked so naturalt that I at first did not think about the fact that someone in the room actually controlled what the robot said and did. Really cool.



My last impressions related to robots at the Maker Faire was underwater robots for education purposes. It was fun and great to see how one could remotely control an underwater robot.

Naturally, Chris Anderson and his flying drones were also present at the Faire. It is truly amazing to see what can be done as DIY in this area. Being a pilot and flying around in an ultralight aircraft from time to time, this trend of playing with flying drones is also a bit scary in terms of collision risk. Nevertheless, it was just so cool to see what is made.

I had tried to find Robogrrl’s booth as Andrew suggested , but somehow I did not find her among all the creations and attractions competing for one’s attention. When travelling home from the Faire, I talked to another local Faire visitor (running a local hackerspace). He actually had seen her booth and reported that robobird had a cool booth where ”robot birds” did cool stuff.  Found via Google: http://robotgrrl.com/robobrrd/

Here was e.g. one view that stunned me; many R2D2 robots:



I recommend you to visit a Maker Faire, if you should get the chance. 

Full of tons of fantastic impressions, I went to my hotel as the sun went down and the 60.000 people went home.

Regards, Peter

DIY enthusiats (and founder of UsersInnovate.com)