MakerFaire Rhode Island 2009

by Joseph Flaherty on September 24, 2009

I had the pleasure of attending the first (hopefully annual) MakerFaire in Providence RI. I agree with @antrod from The Onda that it was not an event not to be missed. 20 or so “Makers”  set up booths to show off their wares ranging from the commercial to the avant, avant, avant garde.

Thanks to Brian Jepson (@bjepson) and Kipp Bradford (@kippworks) for putting on such a great (and free) show. You guys surely got a few young makers started on Saturday.

Some of my favorite exhibitors were:

First Robotics – First is an organization that give young brainiacs a place to strut their stuff. They organize competitions around the creation of robots at different grade levels. It is a wonderful organization that helps develop the next generation of engineers and technologists.

The Old Fashion Robotics Store – I had a chance to chat with the proprietor and learn the pros and cons of building robots with the Arduino vs. Lego Mindstorm vs. Vex platforms. It was great to be able to meet someone so obviously enthused about their product and to learn a great deal simultaneously.

RepRap – The builder of this model referred to his home brew 3D printer as a “RepScrap” due to the hacked together nature of the materials.

makerfaire-ri-2009-repscrap

The photo below shows off the unpolished nature of this model. The build table is a piece of Formica counter top, the riser platform is made from scrap pine, and the corner bracket for the screws was printed by the machine itself.  It is amazing when you realize that you could easily find all of these materials (except for the electronics) in a dumpster outside a construction site.

makerfaire-ri-2009-repscrap-detail

Whenever I meet someone who has built or wants to build a RepRap or MakerBot I ask what they want to build with it. I have never received a concrete answer. People are completely enthused by the technology itself. This is very encouraging, now we just need some clever entrepreneur to build the VisiCalc equivalent.

makerfaire-ri-2009-repscrap-sample

Speaking of the MakerBot, I saw my first one in the flesh and came away really impressed.

makerfaire-ri-2009-makerbot

My iPhone camera doesn’t do this printout justice, but it is on par with parts I was getting from high end Stratasys machines 7 years ago for significantly less money.

makerfaire-ri-2009-face

I met another MakerBot builder who printed this cool earbud wrap based on a design from Thingaverse.

makerfaire-ri-2009-owl

Big Nazo – is a performance troupe that takes foam rubber and latex and creates amazing characters that performs street theater. Think of a family friendly GWAR.

Their costumes are amazing, and I really wish I took the “Creature Creation & Performance” class they offer at RISD.

A dancing troll:

makerfaire-ri-2009-big-nazo-02.jpg

Steampunk Diving Suit?

makerfaire-ri-2009-big-nazo-03

And a 12 ft. tall skeleton “thing”:

makerfaire-ri-2009-big-nazo-01

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