After the Faire

Greetings Everyone…

The Faire is behind us now, and to sum up “how was it?” in one word: disappointing.

The fair reminded me of our local Independence Day festival in Manistee. It’s mostly arts, crafts and performers. The difference is, there were a few nerds in the corner, and fighitng robots.

The Faire had several major areas; the arena area housed some big ass tesla coils, some sort of lame robots with balls competition and the ComBot cage. The tesla coils were cool, but they were mostly just a light show to some midi controlled drums and a really loud PA system. The fighting robots were the coolest thing at the fair. It was very impressive to see the heavy weight and super heavy weight bots go up against each other. The smaller bots just sort of danced around until time ran out.

Next we have the Maker Stage, which was an outdoor tent covering raised platform and rear-projection screen. Different Makers and visionaries had scheduled talks. In general they were hard to hear, and the projection was useless. The tent was open on three sides and kind of small. The screen was washed out, and the PA wasn’t very loud – it had to compete with the human mousetrap and the electric guitar bicycle contraption.

Indoors we had the Maker Shed, selling many of the commerical projects covered on the Make blog. Lots of leds, arduinos and other assorted electronic gizmos. The shed had three tiny areas dedicated to demostrations and hands-on. If you purchased a kit from the shed, you could solder it together there which was nice, especially for the young folks just starting out.

In the rodeo barn there was the craft sellers. A little further down a company selling big CNC mills was cutting various things, and demoing a snap-together kit house they’d developed for temporary housing usage. Further down were some home-made CNC’s cutting away at various designs. Sparkfun had a decent sized booth at the end of the barn, showing off some of their eye-candies and doing soldering tutorials. On Saturday there were a few large LEGO cities setup, which were quite impressive. A few real hackers had their tables grouped together, show casing musical gizmos, nixie tubes and surface-mount soldering. A computer club named Austin Modders had some nice looking rigs on display, but they weren’t really doing anything. Duke University had several different teams displaying their work on parallel computing. I spoke with one of the engineers for about twenty minutes – he was very informative, it looks like a great program to be in.

Outside there were some art-bikes, a stage playing eccentric music, model rocketry, kite building and flying, and last but not least, a small trebuchet. I was lucky enough to stumble upon it right before a launch; it was most impressive.

I’m going through my pictures and videos right now, uploading as best I can with my evdo connection. Right now I think I’m on the sprint network and it seems pretty fast.

find some videos here: http://justdiy.blip.tv
and pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/gordonthree

More to come!

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