Maker Faire UK 2013

2013-May-03, Friday 07:19 pm
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After a year hiatus Maker Faire UK was back in Newcastle last weekend. This time around I was behind the stands with tog. Our base for the weekend was the large room dubbed 'Zone C' which housed "Giant Drawing Machines and UK Hackerspaces", and us. (We'll allow them that gaff, as otherwise we were made very welcome.) The other areas held sections like DIY Bio, soldering, robots, crafters, software, and even a long line that allegedly led to a laser game in the style of a jewel thief caper.



Luckily there were enough of us on the stand that we could duck out and have a look around. I took part in a taste survey and got my tastebuds counted (I'm in the super-taster range) in the DIY Bio section. In the soldering section they were running a workshop with squishy circuits. In the craft section they had robots that knit! There were also modified knitting machines that could create complicated patterns, and an accurate set of knitted and crocheted organs. I also found beautiful modern quilts and a Dazzle Dress made of high-vis and reflective materials. Bitmap Machine Knitting even crocheted EL wire with regular wire to create hats and bracelet-cuffs!






I met [twitter.com profile] rainycat and saw her EEG-pendant visualiser in action. I met [twitter.com profile] BobDotStone from the York hackerspace as he proudly showed off his 8x8 matrix tshirt. I even spied LEDs decorating a sombrero. Bare Conductive stopped by and kindly gave us one of their pen samples so we could have fun with it (we're thinking screen printing). Someone stopped by asking for advice on how to improve his touch-screen gloves and we gave him a piece of conductive fabric to try. This free sharing and helping is one of the things I really like about the Maker community. (For more of this sharing, and to see how much a duck is worth, take a look at the tog post.)



Lots of people seemed to enjoy our projects. [twitter.com profile] partfusion brought his giant Ardunio, and a collection of his LED displays and wearable pieces. I brought my 7x7 LED matrix top, my temperature sensing scarf, and the Starry Light (LED wind-'chime'). Different people liked different things, I had great discussions about how the problem was really with the batteries (it's so great to met people who understand), about research in the area, giving people ideas about different ways to utilise soft-circuits (and getting ideas back in return). I even met a teacher who was really excited about the whole thing, hoping to use it as a way to get the girls in his class interested in electronics! I was also impressed to meet a young lady who already knew about soft-circuits, and was more curious in how we programmed them. All in all I think the future is bright (and twinkly).



And of course MakerFaireUK isn't complete without purchasing so many books and kits that the weight-allowance on the flight home becomes a worry.



A brief aside about one of the kits pictured above, the LED nametag. It is built to accommodate a five-letter name only. Mine has six. While playing with their 'name layout tool' I put in w/m and saw an interesting note. You can flip LEDs around and put them in across columns. I used this to scrunch up my name enough to fit six letters. (Although, the second sequence is a letter-chase one that doesn't work right, the others are fine.)

Overall it was an exhausting, but fantastic experience. I'm still buzzed from all the compliments and new ideas. And can't wait to see what all these other makers do next.
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