Daily Illuminator

November 5, 2008: Maker Faire

Just before taking off for Essen, I spent a half-day at the Maker Faire in Austin. It was fun; I'll go again next year.

You do have to thread your way among food booths, more food booths, SCREAMING battle-bot announcers, displays of fourteen kinds of junky "thing on a string" jewelry, and assorted science fair projects. It's worth it. Among the very best things I saw:

    An assortment of Robot Group displays, including a huuuuuuge Thing that flashed lights, went up 20 feet in the air, and fired ping-pong balls.

    These very, very cool mad science alphabet blocks. I arrived just too late to get a set with all the letters. Fine. They sell online, as you saw if you followed that link. I shall order more than one set, because I really can't spell enough with only one.

    A dome tent blowing upside-down through the air, fully inflated and looking almost as though it was supposed to be up there . . . until it hit their power lines. Flash BANG. That was not part of the scheduled entertainment.

    The tuned Tesla coils presented by Arc Attack, and, yes, they actually make music. Loud, rough, uncomplicated music, but real music, full of energy (so to speak) and with its own distinct character. The display is part of the experience - it's a modern calliope!

I didn't expect a lot from this event, because the pre-event web page was frankly pathetic. I was pleasantly surprised, and perhaps next year the organizers will put some effort into a web presence worthy of the exhibitors they draw. But it doesn't matter to me now - I'll go again, because now I know.
-- Steve Jackson


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