Maker Faire 2011!

We’re back #MFUKers!

Nobody’s sure if the hashtag for this year was deliberately chosen to sound slightly rude or not, but Twitter has certainly been busy over the weekend. Maker Faire 2011 was the busiest event at the Centre of Life ever, although this doesn’t totally guarantee the location will be the same for next year.

We arrived on Friday and started building. And building. And building! At 7pm we finally finished the cardboard spider, which should be visible in the site’s new sidebar to the right. It is huge. A significant number of people visited our stand before spotting the spider, as they didn’t look high enough. From the second floor it looked pretty good. The Centre for Life technicians were very helpful and put a spotlight on it directly and added a green gel, which I think really improved it.

Nestling by the front left leg was the racetrack. This project was unfortunately more of a qualified success. We did get a TV and the the car could be driven around the track via wiimote. After a bit of feedback, the control was changed to use MarioKart-style tilt steering and buttons for forward/back, which participants found slightly easier. However despite having two batteries, the car spent most of Saturday waiting for a battery to charge, and many children (and some adults) had to be told to come back later. On Sunday this worsened when one of the battery packs gave up overnight (undervoltage is permanent on Team Losi batteries). The backup pack simultaneously also deteriorated to the point where the car could not be driven long enough to complete a lap, and reluctantly we closed the exhibit.

It still generated some interest from the public, in terms of the use of cardboard (as did the spider), and just leaving the camera on kept a lot of children entertained. However it required no maintenance whatsoever, which turns out to be useful as talking to the public is surprisingly tiring as everyone present concurred. Martin’s Etch-A-Sketch had no problems in this regard and children could use it unattended for the whole weekend.

Tree’s chainmail was incredibly popular, although unfortunately there aren’t any pictures of it to show, but it was good to meet our honourary member in Newcastle. Having someone so tall was also useful when lifting the spider body off the ground. It looks very impressive, and it’s gratifying to still be using the present tense, as the Centre for Life have kept it, hopefully to use in an exhibition this week, titled Spiders On Drugs part of a rather more titillating event. Fingers crossed!

Finally, and most importantly, we had a chance to meet makers from around the country and beyond. The London and Nottingham guys are a little closer to home, and were very friendly, even when drunk. We’re going to definitely do more events with them this year.