Maker Faire NYC brings out the kid in everyone

By Rich Nass

Executive Vice President

Embedded Computing Design

September 22, 2014

Slide show -- I'll admit it - this was my first Maker Faire. I promise you it won't be my last. It was very cool. I attended the Faire in New York Cit...

Slide show

I’ll admit it – this was my first Maker Faire. I promise you it won’t be my last. It was very cool. I attended the Faire in New York City, held at the Hall of Science in Queens. It was packed with people who were there because they wanted to be there, not because they needed a day out of the office or their boss told them to go. They wanted to learn about the latest technologies, and pick up as much free advice as possible.

1. An electrifying entrance
Right from the get-go, I came across an electric giraffe. Its inventor claims that it had just come from the White House.

2. A “sound” invention
Still while waiting on line to get in, the crowd was serenaded by music from an original Thomas Edison phonograph. Extremely cool. This phonograph is housed in the Museum of Interesting Things, a traveling interactive exhibition of antiques and inventions.

3. Making the next generation of engineers
I was walking behind one of the young scientists. I was afraid to get too close, fearing he might blast off at any second.

4. Makers moving on up in NYC
There were representatives from all over the world. One insider told me that the NYC event is second in size in the US to the one held in northern California, but it’s growing faster than any of the global events.

5. Savings for the Six Million Dollar Man
Need an artificial hand? I don’t think this would have served Steve Austin (you don’t know the Six Million Dollar Man? Google it.). Note that it was 3D printed and has a total bill of materials (BOM) of just about $50. That could open lots of doors (no pun intended) for people who might not have access to expensive prosthetics. It comes from a group called Enabling the Future.

6. Maker manufacturing
Want to build your own 3D printer? There were lots of them on display at the fair, but none that looked as interesting as this one. You can’t buy it at Home Depot, but you can get most of the parts there. And the inventor will even give you all the plots and diagrams.

7. The self-propagating 3D printer
Here’s another “built it myself” 3D printer. I found it interesting that this printer helped print three other printers.

8. The soldering shack
If you are unsure about soldering, this is the place for you. The line to get into this tent was one of the longer ones I experienced. And it was for both kids and adults.

9. Stick it, shape it silicon rubber that stays stuck
One of my favorite exhibits came from Sugru. They were showing their product, which resembled clay or Silly-Putty. You mold the substance into any shape you want and stick it onto any device you want. Twenty-four hours later the substance is stuck to your device in the shape you left it and feels just like rubber. You could use it to secure your cables to an adapter (I can’t tell you how many AC adapters I’ve had to buy because the wires separate from the plastic housing), or you could add it to the handle of your cane to make a better grip. I’m not doing it justice. Check it out.

10. Meeting the Beagles
BeagleBone was well represented at the fair. It could be seen in everything from a do it yourself coffee maker (think Keurig on steroids) to this hovering helicopter.

11. The “hands-on” NASA experience
The NASA folks were on hand (again, no pun intended) with a pair of gloves worn by astronauts. They had it in a pressurized chamber that you could put your hands into so you could get a feel (this is too easy) for what the astronauts experienced.

12. The Internet of Thirst
What do you get when you combine a smartphone, an engineer, and a real thirst? An Internet of Things beer making kit.

13. MIT’s advanced vehicle division
A full-grown man was riding this thing. I don’t think I could get my legs wrapped around it, but he was having a blast, and moving pretty fast, too.

14. Building an appetite
And, of course, if you got hungry during the day, fear not. Most cuisines were covered.

Rich Nass, Embedded Computing Brand Director

Richard Nass’ key responsibilities include setting the direction for all aspects of OSM’s ECD portfolio, including digital, print, and live events. Previously, Nass was the Brand Director for Design News. Prior, he led the content team for UBM’s Medical Devices Group, and all custom properties and events. Nass has been in the engineering OEM industry for more than 30 years. In prior stints, he led the Content Team at EE Times,, and TechOnLine. Nass holds a BSEE degree from NJIT.

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