Category Archives: Makers

Maker Profile: TweetHausOAK in the House!

Have you seen a western bluebird flitting about your neighborhood lately? This small thrush nests in pairs and feeds on insects (grasshoppers, termites, beetles, you name it)–a  great asset for the home gardener who occasionally does battle with bugs.  Cue TweethausOAK, a project of the FLUX Foundation that’s working with elementary school students to design, build, and install houses for the western bluebird, encouraging the growth and sustainability of the species in Oakland.

I had the pleasure of participating in the final celebration of the pilot Tweethaus project last spring where 17 3rd grade students from Park Day School, the magical cast of characters from the Flux Foundation, and a few supporting cast members ceremoniously planted the birdhouse posts in the soil.

After learning about the habitat desires of the western bluebird, the kids worked in teams to create and construct their birdhouses and then place them throughout the surrounding community.

Lucky for all of us, the FLUX Foundation folk will be at this year’s East Bay Mini Maker Faire and you too can contribute to the creation of a full-scale TweetHaus construction.  Throughout the day, FLUX will lead workshops where attendees can assemble and reassemble a giant, cardboard playhouse made of light cardboard and magnets.  A giant birdhouse puzzle, if you will, where you can help share concepts for future urban bird habitats.

Oh, and don’t miss the mobile fire sculptures, and FLUXcycles that will also be part of the FLUX Foundation exhibit at the Mini Maker Faire this year.  What, you ask?  Right.  Check it out.

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.

East Bay Brass Band: All Mashed-Up and Brassified

You’re in for a blast when the East Bay Brass Band hits the stage to play mash-ups of modern tunes on Sunday at noon.

Kevin Brunetti formed East Bay Brass Band in 2011 “because I needed more brass in my life,” he says. “I wanted a brass band that could be both modern and traditional.”

“We expand what’s expectable,” says Brunetti. Sunday will be his first Maker Faire. “We’re excited to be a part of it!”

East Bay Brass Band is made up of eight horn players: two trombones, two baritone saxophones, an alto saxophone, a tenor saxophone, a trumpet, and a bass flute – as well as a drummer.

Their repertoire “goes with any New Orleans-style brass band,” but they also play a number of “trombone choir” tunes. “Our brass mash-ups will pleasantly tangle your mind as your feet succumb to the East Bay beat.”

Brunetti met most of the musicians in brass bands in the Bay Area including the Hot Pink Feathers Marching Band, Blue Bone Express, and MJ’s Brass Boppers. Many band member are local parents and/or teachers. They practice in Oakland once a week.

Catch the show at 12 pm on the Music Stage!

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.

What is this Crazy Machine?

By Oliver Van Moon, Park Day School, 7th Grade

This crazy machine is an Eggbot, a robotic artist that can draw on ball or egg shaped objects like ping pong balls, eggs, golf balls, and lightbulbs. It uses several motors and a pen to draw a picture from a computer.

The Eggbot started in 1990 when Bruce Shapiro created the first one, just in time for Easter. He was interested in controlling stepper motors from his computer, and this led to the creation of this drawing robot.

The Eggbot has been used as a tool to teach about electronics and robotics. In 2009, Bruce, with some help, turned the Eggbot into a kit for “home assembly”. Now Eggbot will be at the Mini Maker Faire!

Who Makes up the Eggbot Team?
The Eggbot team consists of the core members Bruce Shapiro, Lenore Edman, Windell Oskay, Brian Schmalz, and Ben Trombley.
Bruce Shapiro is the main creator, and has done many other projects with “Motion Control”. For him, this means making art with motion controlled by a computer. Some of his other projects are interesting, like his Ribbon Dancer, a machine that waves long flowing ribbons in a dance.

Check them out at the Mini Maker Faire
See the Eggbot in action at their booth—and if you’re completely impressed, you can buy your own eggbot kit for $195.

Alginate plus Bonsai, Origami Cranes and More on the Workshop Stage

At 3PM on Sunday on the Workshops stage, artist Jason Hadley will subject himself to the skilled ministrations of his own children, Ruby and Arlo, as they make an Alginate life-cast of his face.  Jason has been making multimedia sculpture using life-casts of friends and family for years; now they get even. Dad won’t be able speak while they smother his face in that gooey, quick drying stuff that dentists use to make spookily accurate molds.

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Other workshops include hacking up your Gameboy so that it makes music (Making Music on Your Handheld Console with Little Piggy Tracker”); “PLARN” (learning to upcycle plastic shopping bags into yarn);  and Bonsai with the past president of the East Bay Bonsai Society, Bill Castellon

All good stuff that can’t be learned fully at a booth in the midst of a crowd.  Check the full lineup.

Fixit This Weekend

It’s raining, the kids battery-operated robot isn’t working. You’d sit and make tea and toast but the toaster is broken, and so is the kettle for that matter.

Just plan a little ahead and bring all your almost-working or seriously-broken small appliances, electronics, toys, and gadgets to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Peter Mui and his lovely Fixit Clinic team will provide workspace, specialty tools, and guidance to help you disassemble and troubleshoot your item. You’ll be back in tea and toast in no time. And, if for some reason it can’t be fixed, at least you’ll know more about how it works and why it broke in the first place.

Of course, if all attempts fail—just take it down the hall to the Wreck Lab and give it its due!

Watch the Fix-It Clinic in action here:

Our Version of Craft Heaven: Swap, Sew, Screen, Repeat

For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store— In room 1 are sewing machines all lined up in neat rows; shiny new scissors, spools of thread and heaps of fabric. Peek into room 2 and see long tables covered in crisp paper, silk screens, and brightly hued tubs of ink ready to be opened. It’s Christmas morning, first day of school, that sweet anticipation.

If you like to craft you will likely spend a good chunk of your day in the Swap-O-Rama-Rama* with us.

In the Sewing Room ALL DAY:

Clothing Swap—Donate your old adult or kid clothes; Come pick through our piles of available freebies—hack them, mod them, print on them, cut ‘em up and use them for some other project. This is the spirit of the Swap!

No Sewing Necessary:
▪            Make a Cape—be a superhero, a bat, a wizard, a princess, whatever…Halloween is right around the corner folks;
▪            Make a Tutu/Mermaid Seaweed Skirt/Hawaiian Hula Skirt without touching a needle and thread;
▪            Mod your T-shirt –you can make those fringed, beaded shirts all the cool kids are sporting; use scissors, fabric pens, glue on some bling, add beads and more.

Some Sewing Required:
“Little pocket monsters” with brilliant artist Meredith MacLeod. She’ll help get you started and supervise some machine and hand-sewing monster making.  Go as simple or elaborate as you want; and if you feel the need to adopt or a Monster of hers, you may be in luck.

For More Sewing: We have sewing machines for you to use, with experienced sewers on hand to help troubleshoot, teach and inspire. Take full advantage. And if you want to really get your game on—stick around and maybe we’ll have a catwalk in the afternoon so you can strut in your new threads!

Screen Printing Room

Idiot or Genius These Portland based artists are designing a special one-off poster for our event! You can come and print the final color layer on the poster and take one home with you! They’ll also have their own work to show and sell, and can help you print on almost anything;

Rock, Paper Scissors Collective If you don’t know your hometown RPS from Art Murmur or from their admirable outreach work with teens, you should. These returning artists are coming with a cool new batch of silkscreens, as well as some of their member-crafted zines, shirts and paperie to sell.

Park Day Screening Zone Add some cool, original graphics to any fabric, paper or clothes you find in your visit—or even the shirt or hoodie off your back.

*Swap-O-Rama-Rama by Wendy Tremayne is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Get Yer Combat Robots!

David Calkins is the founder of Robogames, the “olympics of robots,” where operators and their creations compete in over 50 different events, from fire-fighters, LEGO bots, hockey bots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu.

David and his crew are not only bringing combots for show at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, but he’s also doing a workshop Sunday on “How to Make a Combat Robot.” David will cover all the basics of how robots move and control their speed, as well as how to build a basic bot using cheap parts, pitfalls to avoid, and all sorts of other tips.

The Piedmont Scotbots, a U.S. FIRST robotics team from Piedmont High, is bringing their combot arena and will be letting folks operate their robots. !!!  The FIRST Tech Challenge is an exciting robotics competition designed for high school students. An accessible and affordable robotics kit is used to solve a different challenge each year. Thousands of teams from all fifty states compete in local contests to go to the annual world championship. Here’s one of their entries for Robogames last year:

Troy Mock is bringing his Rambunctious Combat Robots:  Warpig, a 1 pound bot with a powerful lifter and ultra-strong titanium armor, and Attitude, a 3 pound bot with an 8 inch titanium saw blade, designed to cut, rip, and shred!  Most recently, both these robots competed in the international 2011 Robogames.  Out of nearly 60 battlebots total, Warpig and Attitude both took a well earned bronze medal.  Check them in action:

More robots at EBmMF are coming from The Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) Robotics Competition for Bay Area high school students.   This cool program offers UC Berkeley students to mentor local high school students as they design, construct, and program a mobile robot.   A key feature of the competition is the $100 per team entrance fee, which ensures that finances are not a barrier to entry.  You’ll be able to drive one of their robots as well.

The Miller Institute for Learning with Technology hosts a wide variety of hands-on workshops, including Program-A-Robot, Build-A-Computer, and Troubleshooting 101. Their East Bay Mini Maker Faire booth will illustrate several of the workshops, and they’ll also be providing hand-on examples of robots, computers, and music.