Detroit 2011 Maker Faire

I spent a good part of the day today stumbling around in the heat at the Detroit Maker Faire. Among other things, I did the following…

I got to see an incredibly cool demonstration of a turn-of-the-century steam-powered threshing machine put on by the employees of Greenfield Village.

I visited the HackPittsburgh yurt, and, while Linette and Clementine were occupied by their Cheez Whiz printer, I found out all about about their high altitude balloon program.

I got to introduce Clementine to the team at Backyard Brains, who had her help with one of their electrophysiology experiments using a freshly severed cockroach leg.

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty good day… except for the part where we had to say goodbye, for the fifth and final time, to our friends Amelia and Ruth, who are moving off to California at daybreak tomorrow.

Oh, and we also got to see an episode of The Simpson’s on the lab coat of a guy who, whether intentionally or not, looked like Professor Frink.

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  1. Posted July 31, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I have some other thoughts on the Maker Faire, but I’m tired, so they’ll have to wait.

  2. Edward
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know why, in the balloon setup, they have the lens of the camera facing the side of the container instead of the bottom? He did say that the container swung pretty wildly, but I’d be surprised if it was at a 90-degree angle to the balloon. Interesting project. I’ve read a lot about people sending balloons up to the edge of space, but I’d never seen the setup before. It looks relatively simple.

  3. Christine M
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’m sad to see the Marks move away too, but hoping we will see them out in CA sometime when we make it out there. I’ve always wanted to see Berkeley myself.

  4. Kim
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    The fire breathing dragon looked cool.

  5. kjc
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    The Marks are leaving town…?

  6. Oliva
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Feels like a big loss, the Marks leaving for Berkeley, but may they flourish there–and your family get to visit (but not move there too!) often, for delightful visits. Dear friends are everything, and having energetic, artistic, life-pumping people in our town is a whole lot, a whole whole lot.

  7. Posted August 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I love those DIY high altitude balloon projects! My science hero is Auguste Piccard- high altitude balloonist and deep sea explorer, who said, “Exploration is the sport of the scientist”. Piccard was the first human to see the curvature of Earth from the edge of space (in 1930’s). In reply to Edward, I think the compelling photo that they hope to get is looking out horizontally to see how close they are to the edge of space.

  8. Susan
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Went to the Makers Faire on Saturday…It was very cool, and made me feel very hopeful about Michigan’s future (or maybe the future of the industrial midwest in general.) Had expected to see mostly middle aged automotive engineers, and instead had a great dose of really energetic kids who want to create and make new things. It seems like such a natural for the Henry Ford and for Michigan.

  9. Edward
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Michael. I was thinking that it would capture the same thing if it were pointing down, but I guess it doesn’t get that high.

    As for the Faire, I wanted to share a few things.

    First, I heard from several people that it was smaller this year. I overheard one person say that it was because the people at the national organization were too focused on the California event. They made it sound like this was kind of an afterthought. I’m not sure how true that was, but I think it’s worth noting. Also, from what I understand, this was the second year of a two year contract. Hopefully it will continue.

    Second, I liked the people I spoke to for the most part. There was one guy, though, who I heard tell people that compact fluorescent bulbs may cause Lupus. He did admit that he wasn’t a real scientist, but he said that he’d come to that conclusion. I forget the name of the group that he was with, but they had a display with a bunch of different bulbs in it, that showed the varying amounts of electromagnetic energy given off by each. While I like the idea of events like this, I think it’s important for people to know that some of these people could be crackpots.

  10. Amanda
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    So I was a maker the last two years, and felt like this year’s crowd size easily rivaled last year’s… And our Growing Hope truck farm in my old pickup named Clifford was quite the hit… and amazingly made it down MI Ave from Ypsi to Dearborn without losing plants!

    Last year I was part of the Craft Faire tent (organized by Handmade Detroit) within the fair, but this year chose to be out with other makers so my DIY button making booth could be near our Clifford the Truck Farm booth, for ease of helping our GH staff… I ended up in the Local Roots tent– Michigan made products, mostly food. Vendors in that tent had a great attitude– and I have hopefully recruited some to come market their products at the Downtown Ypsi Farmers’ Market…

    My experience this year was the same as last year in that the event (from a vendor perspective at least) was extremely well organized and executed. The atmosphere among the Maker Faire staff/crew, the Henry Ford staff, and the other makers was both years super positive and supportive. Maybe that sounds silly, but the positive energy is really palpable– and I’ve been a part of a lot of (craft) fairs that just don’t feel like that at all– so it’s really noteworthy. Kudos to the Henry Ford and Maker Faire. And, this year I think the Henry Ford was SUPER smart in having a bunch of stuff inside throughout the museum– a bazillion new visitors got exposed to the great stuff in there, and the way the booths were all around the museum people were really exploring a lot of the permanent exhibits, too. I presume it’ll do wonders for memberships at the Henry Ford/Greenfield Village (I have one myself…).

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