We made the trip last weekend to the Detroit Makerfaire in Michigan, USA. There are no words to describe just how fantastic it was. Not even “overwhelming”, or “electrifying”, or “cookie-shaped”.
We left around noonish for the border on the mighty 401 and arrived at 16:00. The crossing over the Ambassador bridge was breeze (only 15 minutes). I was sweating that we’d get pulled over, since I brought my projects & supply tub. Fortunately we gor pretty much waved through.
We got set up at our campsite at Detroit-Greenfield RV Park and headed off to the makerfaire, where we ran into Gus, Bevan, Natalie & Ben. Then we saw a van get crushed to a cube in Life Size Mouse Trap and just missed out on the food…doh!!
We got invited to see i3, in Ferndale. After a harrowing run through the Interstate traffic gauntlet, we got to their 8000 sq. ft. facility. It is enormous. It’s fully kitted with clean electronic & craft rooms, a chemist lab, 2 bathrooms, a machine shop full of big tools, garage door, and is topped with a lounge towering over the workshop floor. Must be nice to make in Motown… We met up with some peeps from Chicago’s Pumping Station:One, watched both groups work on their Power Wheels racers, and tinkered with a cranky spotlight. Then we retired to the campsite for the night.
On Saturday, we woke up way too early and returned to the Makerfaire grounds to set up shop. At 9:30 sharp, the gates opened and in flooded thousands of peeps. We were busy all day long with a continual stream of people dropping by, playing with our projects, asking what kwartzlab is, and showing off their own stuff. Lots of unusual and original food, such as cherry sausages, falafel wraps and craft beer. James & Doug dropped by for a chat and to drop off an awesome pair of lasered banana cradles, and info about his RFID door locker.
After the day ended, we had a delicious dinner at a local Mongolian grill, then returned to i3′s lair to party hard with a couple hundred folks. A bunch of us danced until the wee hours. Props to i3, the DJ, and the guy who used his laser & UV flashlights to create an impromptu light show!
Greenfield Village is an amazing, vast museum of American technology and life and I highly recommend going for the museum alone.
Our greatest hits from the show were the Bananaphone, Moon Lander, and the Wacky Sound Generator. The kids liked the noise.
HackPittsburgh was next to us and had LASER HARP. LASER HARP was a huge hit in the show. Envy.
We had a near-perfect amount of swag – about 400 stickers, and 200 buttons (Ben can correct me there).
Visitors were very careful with our projects. Our projects were almost constantly handled but even the proto-PDA with its exposed wiring held up the entire time.
I need to get cracking on more projects for the next big event!
Lessons I learned:
Swag is good. i3 had a very slick party notice handout and canvas-esque banner. Some places had pamphlets with FAQs
One table is way too little space. If the getting is still free, there’s no disadvantage to getting all the space we can – but we have to let the Makerfaire people know early.
Noise is good. We got much attention partly due to the noise our neighbours made. People (esp. kids) loved playing with the sound generator.
People are looking for kits. Might be a good way to generate income for us.
We’ll need ever-more projects to show. Bigger/flashier is better
Detroit is full of spirit and a lot of people focused on restoring its former glory. If the maker spirit rubs off on the attendants (esp. kids), I have no doubt that it’ll happen.
Can’t wait to do it all again. Many, many thanks to Ben for doing a great job organizing this & the rest for entrusting us with their projects, being booth babes, and spreading the kwartzlab luv.
“I’m sorry my thing melted your thing.” – Bevan.
Just got word from Ben that my build of the Wacky Sound Generator is very popular at the kwartzlab booth at Maker Faire Detroit today. I printed off a bunch of sheets with the schematics and bill of materials and they were snapped up in nothing flat. That’s awesome. This is a great project for beginners, can be built in an afternoon, and is a heck of a lot of fun. It outputs an astounding variety of noises. This is not my design, but rather one of the great offerings from the folks at Music From Outer Space. Thanks MFOS! Buy their kits!
Happy making and wish I was there,
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Event tickets are on sale now! James bought his too. This is going to rock.
Any suggestions on how our whole extended posse from SW Ontario can keep in touch at the event? Like, “hey, it looks like a bunch of people from kwartzlab are eating paella in the picnic area! I think I’ll join them”. I’ve heard Twitter and Google Latitude, but not sure how that would work. Support for GPS is a must, and I’d rather not have to post updates, but just share my location automagically with a select group. A multi-platform solution will be best.
Can hardly wait ’til May.
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