Author Archives: sannmer

MAKE and Maker Shed in the House! Raspberry Pi, MakerBots, Parallax +++

We’re lucky! Because we’re in the Bay Area, near enough to the home of Maker Faire founder, MAKE magazine, the MAKE crew will be trekking from Sebastopol (and parts all over the Bay) to come enjoy the Faire on Sunday.

But not just the magazine—since we’re so close to home, the retail front of MAKE, the Maker Shed, gets to come set up shop. They will be bringing a great array of kits for kids, Maker Faire and MAKE gear, Maker Media books—plus Parallax Elev8 QuadCopters, MakerBot Replicator 3D printers, and hard to find $25 RasberryPi computers.

AND the MAKE interns will be running our Learn to Solder booth, along with students from Lighthouse Community Charter School.

If you don’t know the background behind MAKE and Maker Faire:

Maker Faire started back in 2006 as a spin-off of MAKE magazine.  MAKE is a quarterly magazine that brings the do-it-yourself mindset to all the exciting projects in your life and helps you make the most of technology at home and away from home. It’s full of projects from beginner to expert.

The original Maker Faire entertains over 100,000 visitors in San Mateo over a weekend at the end of every May.  The other flagship event happens every fall in New York City (this year 55K attendees).  Mini Maker Faires have started to sprout up around the United States and the world, including events in Ann Arbor, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Shenzhen, Dublin, Brighton—and the East Bay!

Matt Heckert and Walk and Peck


Way back in the age of video tape, in the time before the Internet, a machine named Walk and Peck roamed the earth.

One of the stars of the seminal Survival Research Laboratories film “Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief” (1988), Walk and Peck (AKA The Centaur) also had a feature role in the 1985 performance, “Extremely Cruel Practices: Designed to Instruct Those Interested in Policies That Correct or Punish.” 

Walk and Peck’s maker, Matt Heckert, will be bringing the old W&P out for a little walkabout at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire this Sunday.

In the world of art+robots, Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) is considered to be the pioneer of the “spectacle” form of underground robotic art.” (Wikipedia). Remote control machines, often the size of small cars, interact with props and each other, producing mayhem, surprise, and destruction.

Heckert came to machines and engineering pretty early.  Obsessed with cars and Formula One racing, Heckert got his first car when he was 13 years old.  “It was a little Volvo 544 that I was going to make into a racecar. I was done with the lawnmower and the outboard motor; I wanted to have something to work on.”

Matt’s dad had seen this Volvo out in the country for sale, and tracked down the owner.  It turned out that this guy, Paul Krot, was a photographer and a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design (as well as founder of Sprint Systems Photography—still in biz), and had in fact raced the Volvo in some Sports Car Club of America runs.

Krot wouldn’t sell the car.  Instead he said, “I won’t sell it to you but I’ll give it to you if you will race it.”

Krot proceeded to take 13 year old Heckert to the junkyards to look for just the right motor.  “The motor was tired and bell housing was shot. I took my money that I had earned and bought this motor for $220.”

“He showed me how to port the manifold and what cam shaft to get and what grinds to put on the cam shaft.” Heckert was in business.  Re-reading the owner’s manual, Heckert would check in with Krot and follow his advice—but continue the work and progress on his own.

The point all of this is that this guy was that this guy dealt with me as if I had a brain, had the ability, and was an adult.  He never talked down to me. 

 I never forgot about Paul and my Volvo but I never really got a perspective on how important it was for me developmentally until I was reminiscing about it recently. That I had taken the initiative to get the car and then met Paul and his attitude was “you can do this,” without faint praise or hand-holding, and then completing gave me a sense of accomplishment that I carrier forward to future projects.

Heckert made his way from there to an award winning art career with exhibitions around the globe.  He is currently Chief Engineer for TCHO chocolate in San Francisco, having re-engineered their vintage East German chocolate manufacturing equipment into a full-scale production line on Pier 17.

He’s also currently saying goodbye to Walk and Peck, which has just been acquired by a museum. Come and pay a little homage Sunday at the Faire.

P.S. Check this shot below, the original wiring notes from the control box:

Mr. and Mrs. Maker: Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mate

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Did you get that enormous, weighty Restoration Hardware catalog (I mean “magazine”) about a month ago? Heavy as the heaviest September Vogue?  Maybe you noticed in there a giant feature spread on their new lighting designer,  “Oakland Oilpunk,” blacksmith Jon Sarriugarte.

Or maybe you saw The Avengers, Brave, War Horse, The Incredibles, TRON Legacy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Peter Pan, HULK or Lord of the Rings?  Then award-winning Skywalker Sound sound editor/sound designer Kyrsten Mate might ring a bell if you are in the local movie biz or a film credit junkie.

Better yetmaybe you went to Burning Man over the last 5+ years and saw the Serpent Twins, the Golden Mean snail car, or the Electrobite Olenoides?

Kyrsten Mate and Jon Sarriugarte are the dynamic power maker couple behind these extraordinary art cars.  They do these projects with (talented) friends on top of holding demanding day jobs and being parents to their Zolie Mae.

Their combined aesthetic prowess and extreme craftsmanship—along with the strength of their greater team—result in just plain stunning projects.  Come meet Jon and Kyrsten at 2PM in the Studio One Theater, see more of their work, hear some great stories… and get inspired!

Giant Public Art Coming Your Way: The Bay Lights


The Bay Lights is coming to the West Span of the Bay Bridge in 2013.

It is an large-scale civic art installation created by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal, with over 25,000 white energy-efficient LEDs installed on the vertical cables of the West Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

From my post earlier this year on makezine.com:

Proposed by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights project will be a grid of 25,000 white LEDs spaced every foot on the suspension cables. “Each node will be individually addressable…each single pixel is controllable but working as a group to create an overall effect,” says Villareal.

Villareal has developed custom software and utilized Max/MSP/Jitter to get to a place of nuanced, three-layer control of the grid — something akin to video mixing. “It’s a long a process of making these discoveries, layering, refining; it becomes kind of like painting.

A graduate of ITP at NYIU, Villareal used to make his own LED boards and sequencers — when he was working with a microcontroller and 16 lights.  Now Villareal leverages commercially available Phillips hardware, but is deep into designing custom enclosures that could secure and protect the Bay Lights grid over its two-year lifespan.

Come meet members of the team behind this idea-gone-real, the makers behind making the largest light sculpture in the world. The LARGEST LIGHT SCULPTURE IN THE WORLD! In our backyard. Next year.

3PM Presentation Stage in the Studio One Theater.

3D Printing at East Bay Mini Maker Faire: Type A Machines, Hyrel 3D + More

I just got back from World Maker Faire New York, where an astonishing 70 different kinds of 3D printers were on display—maybe the largest single gathering of these “additive manufacturing” machines ever assembled!

To call 3D printing “hot” is a bit of an understatement.  Bre Pettis, the founder of the most well-known 3D printer company these days, MakerBot, is on the cover of WIRED magazine this month with the statement, “This Machine Will Change the World.”  !!?!  While I was in New York, a 3D printer company Formlab announced a new printer on Kickstarter, asking for $100K.  It was at $750K within 24 hours, and is now with 17 days remaining, at $1.786 MILLION.  3D printers are RED hot.

What is a 3D printer, you ask? 3D printers make three dimensional objects.  A computer design file generates a pattern, and an extruder that can move back and forth AND up and down AND side to side lays down successive layers of material on a tray (the “bed”).    A lot of printers use plastic rolled up on a big spool – kind of like “thread” – and the extruder melts it and lays it down. Cool innovations in types of material used — concrete, filaments of wood, metal — are making 3D printing more interesting.  It’s a tool only big manufacturers used to be able to afford and that more ambitious makers have in the past few years gotten their hands on; now everyone is saying it’s the next must-have fancy household appliance for everyone.

And YES we’ll have 3D printers for you to check out at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Type A Machines, a San Francisco 3D printer company fresh from Maker Faire New York, will be showing off their Series 1 printer.  Type A co-founder Ronald Miloh Alexander is an electrical engineer and a hackerspace engineer.  Their origin story and mission from their website FAQ is nice:  “Forged in the fires of Noisebridge and TechShop [makerspaces in San Francisco], a team of dedicated hackers set out on an epic journey to bring better desktop 3D printers within everyone’ reach.”

To that end, Miloh will be teaching a session at the Faire on this new, easier, and more affordable world of digital fabrication. His  session is titled “D43D:  Remixing Digital Designs for the Physical World.”  Miloh will provide a background on design fundamentals that are suitable for 3d printers, as well as an introduction to the basic operation of 3d printers. “This
class provides the student with the necessary skills to start designing digital objects for additive manufacturing, and work with a variety of machines.”  You can find this class time on the schedule page.

The other 3D printer company coming to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire is Hyrel 3D.  They are coming all the way from Georgia to show!  And we think Ace Monster Toys will be bringing their MakerBots as well. Designfluence will be running some printers off their solar generator.  NOTE that we’d love to show a Replicator or even a Replicator 2, but MakerBot the company is busy this weekend.  If you have a 3D printer you’d like to run, email us at info@ebmakerfaire.com and we’ll try to get you a last-minute space.

Bigfoot: The Musical

Ladies and gentlemen and kids, please help us welcome the WORLD PREMIERE of Bigfoot: The Musical!

It’s an eco love story about an iconic wildman making his way through the wilderness of civilization and romance.

Bigfoot: The Musical is a new project by Paul Cesewski, the man and the maker behind Paul’s Rides—the amazing pedal powered amusement rides that have graced the East Bay Mini Maker Faire for the last two years.

Catch the show and the hairy plot at 3 PM on the Music Stage!

Note that “Paul the Plumber” is not the only bigwig on the stage; here’s the whole cast of Bay Area luminaries:

  • Bigfoot – Steve Heck / Paul Cesewski
  • Helicopter Girl – Shannan Palermo / Penelope Thomas Rucker
  • Marketing Director – Eliza Strack
  • Dad – Jay Brummel
  • Clouds -  Anwyn Evans / Alex Ramerez / Emily Ramerez / Eliza
    Strack / Charlotte   Jennings
  • Dancing Tree (Flute) – Charlotte Jennings
  • Dancing Tree – Alex Ramerez / Emily Ramerez
  • Hunters – Walter Laing / James Kern / David Kimberly / Deven Osband
  • Helicopter Mom – Penelope Thomas Rucker
  • Sound Director – ( Big Daddy ) Tim Anderson
  • Music – Dan Abbot / Mike Mc Cabot
  • Choreographer – Eliza Strack

Remember… it’s a love story AND a musical.  3 PM on the field at the Music Stage!

Bread from a Pizzaiolo

David Surcamp is the bread baker at the esteemed Oakland restaurant, Pizzaiolo.  And it’s an amazing bread.  His bread as toast in the morning at Pizzaiolo with coffee is a breakfast with a following.

What kind of bread is this exactly?   “I just call it bread, but a lot of people don’t like that.  I guess you could call it country bread, or pain levain.”

David will be teaching making bread on the East Bay Mini Maker Faire Homesteader Stage, our forum for demos and instruction on the domestic and sustainability arts.  The exhibition will cover all the processes from start to finish, including David actually baking in Park Day / CAMP 510′s onsite cob oven.

David has been baking for eight years, and for Pizzaiolo since July 2011.  His path is a classic maker story.  Largely self-taught, David started baking out of necessity and thrift. “I was a jobless student in college and I couldn’t afford to go out to eat. I thought I could make bread cheaper than I could buy it, so I started baking.”

Through his vocal instructor (David is also a singer and was that time studying opera), David got his first kitchen job, and then finally an official bakery job.

I didn’t learn a whole lot there either.  I got more into it because I wanted to make pizza.  Pizza is just bread dough with stuff on it.  So I started reading bread books.  A lot of them.  I would go to library once a week and check out everything they had.  I self-taught myself the fundamentals.

David self-taught making a brick oven too.  He used The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott to source some loose plans. He cruised photos online, put the two together, and built himself an oven in the backyard.  He started baking and selling at a local farmer’s market.

Then in 2010, David moved from Oregon to the Bay Area.  He found himself a few jobs, making it work, learning — but then saw an ad for the Pizzaiolo baking position on Craigslist. You could tell that Charlie wrote it: ‘Come to Pizzaiolo and find me.’  And so I came and found him.”

Pizzaiolo’s oven is a large, wood-burning oven.  Refining the bread and figuring out the dynamics of the oven has been a process.  Is it finished?  “There’s always learning involved.  I think I’d be very stubborn to think that this is all I can do, that this is as good as it gets.”

If you want to try David’s bread and study a master maker in action, come see David’s talk / demo at 1:30 PM on the Homesteader Stage—nestled in Park Day’s “forest”—very near the faire entrance on 42nd Street.

It’s Official! The 2012 East Bay Mini Maker Faire Makers

Just a quick post to direct you over to our 2012 Makers page, which is now up and updated with links to our over 100 makers.  The list is still growing as we herd the maker cats, but this will give you a great idea of the range of makers showing next Sunday.  Schedule of workshops, presentations and music coming next!

Call for Makers Open Now

The 3rd annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire Call for Makers is now open!

Pranksters, makers, artists, closet creators, show-offs, storytellers, fiddlers and tinkerers, scientists and interdisciplinary hackers —this is your time to shine!

Our Call for Makers welcomes applications through September 12.  Show what you make and share what you know….  Check out our Call for Makers page for more details on the kinds of topics and exhibits we’re looking for.   And get making—October 14 is not so very far away!

Thanks to Amanda Clark for the great panoramic pic!

What a Day!

Thanks so much for coming out to East Bay Mini Maker Faire Number Two!

The magic of Maker Faire is in the people:  the spirit and generosity that Makers and event organizers express, and the curious and 0pen nature that attendees bring with them to the event.  Thank you all for making the East Bay Mini Maker Faire a fantastic Maker Faire!

There are obviously way too many appreciations to offer up, but here’s some standouts:

  • Makers.  You are it.  There wouldn’t be anything to talk about if you didn’t make.
  • Park Day School staff, parents, teachers and community.  This is an entirely volunteer-run event, and hands-down you all worked unbelievably hard to make it happen and run so smoothly.  Thank you for being so game, for spending all of your time and energy, and for sharing Park’s incredible campus as a venue.
  • MAKE Magazine and O’Reilly Media for having the vision to share (and license) Maker Faire to community organizations.  Read MAKE Magazine.
  • Several Individuals from outside the school community supported the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in a big way.  So many deep props to Tricia McGillis for visual and web design; Scheffer Ely for serving as event operations lead; music stage manager Katy Bell; Karla Macedo for poster design.
  • And thanks again to our sponsors (see right)— especially latecomers Ranahan Production Services, for lending 30 radios and tons more gear, and Aidells Sausages and Semifreddis bakery for feeding our Makers.

It’s dangerous to start calling out names because it truly takes THIS VILLAGE.

But before we disperse until #3:   please upload and share your photos and videos, and tag with #ebmakerfaire.  Here’s mine, for a start.  And spout your experiences here and via Twitter and Facebook.

Looking forward to seeing you in 2012!