Monday, October 22, 2007

Maker Faire Austin 2007...a few notes

We went to the Maker Faire yesterday. It was great -- one of the most enjoyable festival experiences I've had.

My favorite display was one involving magnetic fish in water. I can't remember the name of the device, and a quick web search isn't locating it. The fellow had created several gadgets, each of which involved a plexiglass cube filled with water, with a magnet floating in it; the magnet was nestled inside a sheet foam shape. The cube had coils of wire on every face, so that every vertex had wires on it. Each device had controls -- in two cases, the controls were game controllers with dual joysticks. By manipulating the joysticks, you could make the magnet quickly move to any point within the cube. This was done by energizing the coils with magnetic fields. It was marvelous. You could move the magnet around in 3d space effortlessly.

Pros of the fair:
  • Most of the booths had an interactive component
  • There wasn't a ton of stuff for sale
  • The Maker schtick incorporates art and engineering and craft in a really empowering way.
  • Kids were mostly kept entertained
  • Fire displays at the Ring of Fire
  • We actually modified some clothes to take home at the Swap-o-rama-rama.
  • Lots of computer-manufacturing gizmos and rapid-prototyping gadgets. I love that stuff.
  • Saw several people I knew while I was there.
  • Art cars!

  • Tickets were $25. That's a lot of money to drop up front. With the kids, we paid $70 to get in the door. Now, once inside, we only spent money on food.
  • Food was insanely expensive. Well, I guess no more expensive than ballpark food usually is. But I'm becoming curmudgeonly about this stuff. $5 for a taco, $3.50 for a drink is an expensive way to feed a family.

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