I never really grew up in a do-it-yourself family, which is strange because I love building and fixing things so much. The policy was if it’s broken, pay somebody to fix it or buy another one. Not the most economically or environmentally sustainable process if you ask me, but hey, my dad was a businessman, and we were a business family.
However, now that I’ve grown up a bit, I’ve slowly started to discover my passion for making, fixing, and building. And, if you have a passion for engineering, what better place to live in than Silicon Valley? There are tons of awesome, unbelievable, super-fun tech events everywhere, all giving me the chance to embrace my “maker” side. And, just yesterday, I had the fortunate opportunity to go to one of these events, the Maker Faire!
Now, this faire, as you can get from the name, appears to be a place where inventors, designers, engineers, and “makers” all bring their stuff in to show off. At least that’s what it was like a couple of years ago. Now it’s become a HUGE, ENOURMOUS, FANTASTIC event that drags in thousands and thousands of people over the weekend. There were sections upon subsections upon subsections of makers, and everything from giant mechanical hands to 12 legged robots to Frisbee-cameras could be found. Arduinos, 3D printers, and mini-computers were everywhere, and the line for the soldering and CAD workshops went out the door. It was an engineer’s paradise.
To start off, there was a giant mechanical hand that was controlled via the separate actions of somebody else’s hand moving. If you had the time to wait, you could use the hand to pick up car parts and throw them around. Who wouldn’t love doing that?
Then there were the drone demonstrations. Not sure what company produces these, but I want to work for them! This thing apparently can reach ridiculous speeds, so they had to keep it within a net or else it would be flying all over the expo.
After that I made my way into a completely dark room, save for several light up exhibits. It was like that part of the aquarium everybody loves because it’s totally black except for the little glow in the dark fishes swimming around in the tanks. Except instead of fish, the main highlight was an Tesla coil rock band that played themes from Doctor Who and shot bolts of electricity at people in cages! Slight nerd-gasm there.
One of the biggest highlights for just me though (being an electrical engineer) was in the steampunk section. For those of you who don’t know what steampunk is, think of old-timey electronics made into fashionable, interesting decorations. That’s where I found a 70 YEAR OLD OSCILLOSCOPE (something used to measure sine waves in labs).
Then some guy came up to me and tried to sell me a 1.15 PETABYTE server (four times more than the server in the picture below), costing around $9,800 dollars. Don’t know how I could afford that, but apparently they’re the same kind Dropbox buys.
I can’t forget about the plethora of 3D printers everywhere. About 8 months ago I got in an argument with my friends about whether or not these printers would be marketable in the future. I said they would never be manufacturable on a large scale. Well, now my foots in my mouth. These things were all over the place! I swear there must be at least 25 different startups based in 3D printing. In even found a mini 3D printer called the printrbot I ALMOST bought for about $300.
Besides the 3D printers, there were also a billion types of circuit boards (arduinos, beagle boards, raspberry pis, etc). And, just like the 3D printer, I found a mini version!
And finally, last but not least, I found this guy. Somebody who had pimped out his car to include operatic, robotic under-sea creatures. With a lobster conductor and a fish chorus, they performed beautiful, harmonic songs from famous operas. Combining seafood, opera, and cars? That seems to make for a perfect mix, right? Right.
Anyway, I have more pictures and things to show, but at the end of the day, I was deeply inspired to make even more things this summer. Right now I have plans for a beer bottle Tesla coil and a portable analog radio that can receive aircraft radio frequencies. As you can see by my childish glee while riding this bicycle powered cardboard rhino, it was, all in all, a great day.