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WATCH: Interviews with Makers at the 2nd Annual Maker Faire Detroit

WATCH: Interviews with Attendees at the 2nd Annual Maker Faire Detroit

 

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Wednesday, 3 August, 2011 11:30 AM

2nd Annual Maker Faire wraps up at The Henry Ford in Dearborn

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Robotics Redefined tent was on the most popular parts of the 2011 Maker Faire Detroit.

 

by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

|

DEARBORN, Mich. -- A weekend at the Henry Ford during the rest of the year would account for the frozen in time observations of locomotives, milestone artifacts, and mobile presidential suites among other treasures. Yet the weekend of July 30-31 saw both the museum’s interior and parking areas dedicated to dreamed futures.

That was perhaps one of the underlying themes of the 2nd annual Maker Faire, a mixed display of crafts, technological innovations, and suggestive ideas for the future.

"Out here, we are doing the Robotics Redefined wreck lab make lab," said Andrew Archer, CEO of Robotics Redefined. "We bring ordinary things you find in your house, you take them apart and then you building something new out of them. We build autonomous ground systems, robots that move around and complete different tasks. I've been doing make stuff for the past two years now. I was here last year and I've done other things with MAKE."

Of course, the most dominant form of innovation at the festival was the exhibition of robotic display, be it from motorized remote cranes to a dragon-sized firebreather called the Gon KiRin. Yet most deserving of applause for setting apart new means of creating such machinery were the young school kids who had yet to reach high school let alone college.

"I made this video coat, which is a TV set that you wear," said David Forbes, owner of Cathode Corner. "About a half of a year ago, I'd figured I've have to make something with a lot of blinking lights for burning man. So I figured I'd wear some blinking lights and now I've got 60,000 LEDs on my coat. I'm an electrical engineer so it wasn't too hard to figure that out. The tricky part was figuring out how to make it flexible so I could wear it. It cost me $20,000 so its not cheap to put this many LEDs on something. I've been getting some emails from people in advertising and music videos."

Chief among these were grade schoolers Vishnu Venkatesan and Harish Chandler, whose collaboration created a limited flame extinguisher they titled a Firebot, fitted with motorized treads and a spray extinguisher. Just a few steps away, remote Lego-composed creations called Cougarbots would tread back and forth along the pathway, albeit in the form of a sloth-like model slinging back and forth along a branch, or as a scorpion led along by a leash.

"Strait Power is a hydrokinetic turbine," said Anthony Reale, founder and CEO of Strait Power. "Basically, it is an underwater windmill. It is based on the mouth of the basking shark, which is a filter-feeding shark. This design uses the technique of looking to nature for inspiration. I was able to increase the efficiency of the fan blade inside by 40 percent. Someone would use this for making electricity or making hydraulic power. This was my final project at the College for Creative Studies. I worked about 1,200 hours or about three months. The materials cost was about $4,000, I got through donations. Eventually, the total cost of the project was $90,000."

Elsewhere, kids and and adults alike were displaying an array of electronic modulators, models for futuristic environments, and even high velocity marshmallow shooters. And that accounts for only the inside.

"This is the biggest collection of geeks and nerds I've ever seen," said attendee Rob Vaillancourt of Melvindale, Mich. "I'm glad to be a part of it. It's nice to see how the kids work and put the projects together. It's amazing how many ways you can see the same task done in different ways. We only live a couple miles down the road. Every year, we're here for field trips. I actually worked here for two years. We have a membership so we got a little bit of a discount. It cost $34 for four of us to come. We may be back tomorrow, too."

Amid the lots, as well as the Gon KiRin, were more macro-ranged exhibitions such as the Life-size Human Mousetrap and the Thunderdrome-sponsored drag races which featured such eclectic vehicles as a mobile Tiki-lounge and a human-driven cupcake.

"It is our first time at the Maker Faire," said fair goer Erica Wrubel of Westland, Mich. "We are members of The Henry Ford. My kids really enjoy taking things apart, putting them back together. They both want to be inventors one day. So I said, 'This is the place to be then.' I really do enjoy this area set up by Robotics Redefined. It's all great, though. We ended up here on the way to get food. They said they're not hungry so here we are. We'll be here next year for both days, God willing. This is great. If there's anyone interested in inventing and do-it-yourself, you should definitely come on out."

Her daughter Grace Wrubel added: "I like the bicycles and the swings and the different kinds of old bicycles. They're really, really fun. You should definitely come to Robotics Redefined because this place right here is absolutely cool. You get to take things apart and do all that. It's cool."

MAKE Magazine produces the Maker Faire each year. The first Maker Faire took place in San Mateo, California in 2006. Similar events are held in New York and San Francisco annually. In addition, Mini Maker Faires are held in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Fort Wayne, Phoenix, Kansas City, Vancouver, Toronto, North Carolina, among many other cities.

"It's really cool, a lot of stuff to look at in one day," said attendee Kevin Furlong of Jackson, Mich. "The live entertainment is pretty good. I'll probably come back next year. I bought a screwdriver kit, it has one screwdriver and it comes with 18 different bits and I bought a one-year subscription to MAKE."

The heat that was well felt in the outside sun as well as among the packed crowds indoors marked the promise of being dedicated to scientific exploration at a young age; which makes next year’s possibilities more static in terms of hopes ideas.

Related Story: The 2010 Maker Faire wraps up at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Patrick Davy and The Ghosts performed on the MetroTimes stage Saturday afternoon.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

Making larger-than-life bubbles

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE K. / ©AMERICAJR.com

Musicians at the Theatre Bizarre show

 

PHOTO BY ROBERT POWELL / ©AMERICAJR.com

Attendees riding a five-person bike

 

PHOTO BY ROBERT POWELL / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Coke Zero and Mentos show

 

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