Maker Mayhem

Wow...just, wow!  As always, I've slacked for a while and haven't posted, but this deserves a post.  Today I had the opportunity to volunteer at the PDX Mini-Maker Faire @ OMSI and it was simply AWESOME!  It was just the perfect event for me, and I encourage anyone who's a geek (or interested in applying to geek-dom) to definitely check out your local Faire.

I've always said that I've wanted to do circuit board design as a hobby...yet I already have like 29,349,247 hobbies, so I've never had the time to do said hobby.  After working at Intel and doing prototype board design for a living, I've definitely found my calling.  I see myself becoming a consultant or working in a prototyping firm in Seattle or Portland (STILL working  on that post :-P), doing design work for small companies and startups.  I figure, hey, if I can't come up with an original idea or one that I'm not passionate about, why not help out other startups?

Of course, it's a niche market, and though I'll try my darndest to get into it, there's always the chance that I won't get in the door.  There's also the chance to work for Intel again (oh yea, I got an offer after grad school, yay!), so we'll see.  It's even possible that I start or work for a company not doing any sorta circuit board stuff.  In that case, I've found my answer...Makers.

A maker is loosely defined as someone who is passionate about tinkering, finding how things work, going out and building it, and then sharing it openly with the world.  It encompasses everything from circuit boards to model rockets to custom a hobby project you'd like to do, you're a Maker.  The Faire is a great display of all the ingenuity that surrounds us, yet we may never see it.  I agree with the founder of Make Magazine that we're an individualist group, everywhere and yet we never know each other except through the web.  That's why these events are so great; we can come together and meet other, network and share awesome ideas and projects with each other and the community.

So yes, today was my first chance to check out a Maker Faire and I got totally geeked out, took too many pics and cluttered the News Feed (sorry!).  Since I'm an "S" according to Myers-Briggs test, I always like to share things in list form, so why not?  Here's some of my favs from the Maker Faire and also XOXO (a technology art festival):

  • A pumpkin- and watermelon-launching trebuchet...because they are just SO cool, and it's amazing to see a watermelon vaporize into thin a when it hits the ground :-)

  • A computer case completely made of Legos, as well as several other choice Lego projects...mine are still at home, awaiting a possible future engineer lol

  •, a store that's chock FULL of random electronics, motors, computers, you name it, they have it.  I didn't even know these stores were around anymore.  It's out by Intel, but I think I just may have to make a trip from Seattle a few times to grab some choice items.
  • Swords anyone?  A variety of swords to test out and a working blacksmith are all available at the PDX Faire.

  • A do-it-yourself demo on reflow soldering using a hotplate from Freddy's (Fred Meyer for the non-Portlanders)...something I definitely need to know for future projects.  This also gave me a chance to talk with members of DorkBot, a electronics/maker enthusiast group all over the US, including PDX and Seattle!

  • Learned about, a great site for board builders to make small scale boards for their prototypes.  Unlike big fabs, you can order small boards and small quanities for a great price (something like $5/sq in.), which will be a life saver in the future of my projects.  Made in the USA as well.

  • Brain Silo, a place where you can rent workspace to geek out and use tools I don't have room for or can't afford...I wonder if there's one in Seattle?
  • The MakerBot, a rapid-prototype 3D printer that did amazing work, only $1799 for single color...and even a 5% discount if you're a student :-P

  • A stroll over to XOXO and the marketplace (open to the public) yielded Makey Makey, a awesome invention that uses human touch and electric current to take everyday objects and make them into human interactive interfaces.  Imagine, a banana piano or a human-powered gotta check this one out.

And the list goes on and on and on...whew!  So there you have it, Maker Faire, check it out y'all!  I'm sure I'll soon be looking at a lotta of these cool projects, not to say that I have the time haha, but we'll see.  I've chosen to dedicate 1-2 hrs a day, even during school, to just "do": write, read, board building, blogging...basically a time to do all those hobbies I have.

With that, I'll leave you with one last bit of news, I'm starting my first maker-esque project!  I actually started developing it before the Faire, reading specs, ordering parts, etc, but now it's like fully on.  The website is forthcoming (my other blog server is down), but it's called the:

Bike Excursion Automatic GPS Logger

...or "Beagl" for short.  More on that later :-)

Well, back to PDX for a fun weekend and then off to Seattle for grad school next weekend.  Stay tuned and have a great Saturday!


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