Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maker Faire Detroit

Ashley and I arrived at the Henry Ford Museum complex shortly before noon today (2010 07 31) to enjoy a very interactive, inspirational, and entertaining event.

My son turned 2 at the end of May this year. I gambled a bit on how much of this experience he would tolerate.

I was shocked at how packed this place was. We manged to
squeeze into a lawn parking spot between two perpendicularly parked cars. We were forced to park over 3/4 of a mile from the
entrance. Luckily, I had a handy umbrella stroller with me. I doubt Ash's little legs could handle the walk. I know my back couldn't handle carrying him when he grew tired of walking.


Right away I knew this was going to be great! I walked into the faire grounds behind a guy wearing a red revolving light hat. Unfortunately, the light was not on, but I suspect that he needed to only flip a switch to get that puppy flashing.

Later I caught this guy at a vendor booth hawking some locally made LED light bulbs. He was entertaining quite a few people at his booth with his ultimate ice breaker atop his head.

The first thing that caught Ashley's eye was the plastic wading pool home to an autonomous robot swimming around. We didn't get close enough to understand why this robot was so cool because I didn't want to torture Ash any longer by not allowing him to swim with the robot.

There were so many interesting bikes and carts weaving in and out of the makers and maker wannabes (one of them could shoot a fire ball from the top of tube attached high above it's passengers):



There were very interesting rides (with appropriate litig
ation proof warnings):

Crazy looking wire skull robots, complete with chomping metal teeth:
This looked really fun:
They had a smaller, single rider, version available for test rides! I almost threw up watching this kid spin in circles.

I found an awesome idea for a wagon for the kids (this was part of a booth of a local band):

Inside the DIY Center, there were instructional stations such as this one teaching guest how to use a sewing machine:

I'm not quite sure what this girl had going on with all the wires doo-dads strapped to her behind and arms:

A US military supplier had a tent with some pretty cool high tech vehicles.

Tech Shop is coming to Detroit this year! Tech Shop is an organization that provides it's members with access to the resources necessary to build and assemble just about anything. They have welding equipment, CNC machines, tools, etc. Their website says it's like a fitness club, but with tools and equipment instead of exercise equipment. Click Here for More Info

This was a very interesting idea for those annoying talking fish plaques:

video

A continuous stream of water fell from the cross bar as two people swung under a modified swing. It wasn't quite hot enough for me to brave this shower swing (It did look like a lot of fun though):


Lots of kid created robots:

This project was really interesting. They used proximity switches at both ends of this track to balance the ball in the center. The track would tilt back and forth to recenter the ball.

Tired of mowing your lawn? What if you could control it with a remote control?

Web Controlled Brewery?

For Ash and I, the best part of the Maker Faire was the creative stations for kids. There was a station for building cars out of ice cream boxes and foam wheels, one for building a marshmallow shooter, a rocket (which they launched for us), and many others.

After loading the rocket on the launcher (a very simple system using PVC tube, compressed air, and a DC solenoid valve wired to a button - I will be making this!), Ashley pushed the button and sent his rocket high into the Detroit sky!

Have you ever put Mentos into a bottle of Coke?? There was an entire show dedicated to the reaction that takes place when these two items meet.

video

Admission to the maker faire included admission to the Henry Ford Museum. After cruising the fair, Ash and I spent a few hours running around inside the museum. This may have been the highlight of the day for Ashley. He got to see and touch trains, planes, and automobiles. He even got to go inside an old Combine and play with the levers and steering wheel. This turned out to be a perfect venue for this event.

The weather was great, the vendors had interesting products (even though I didn't buy any), the maker faire staff and volunteers were extremely kind and helpful, and inspiration was every where! This will definitely be an annual event for the Slocums if the fair comes back to Detroit.

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