Friendly Drones? Yes, Friendly and Fun!

I bet a lot of us associate drones with stories of surveillance and international conflict. So why on earth are we featuring them at a family-friendly celebration of creativity?

To explain, here’s what Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief at Wired magazine, founder of DIY Drones (an online community for people building their own unmanned aerial vehicles), and a speaker at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, said in the New Yorker last year:

“The Internet was once a military thing, but we colonized it and took it away from them. Right now, drones are scary. I’d like to make them unscary.”

Building your own drone is not only a way to learn physics, electronics and sensors, mechanical assembly, and how things fly, it’s also a way to put a powerful technology in the hands of regular citizens, which makes for a better and safer society. It’s also a way to feel what it’s like to be a bird, to experience that amazing sensation of flying, safely, from the ground, when drones have eyes and share their view with you. And if you’re still thinking about the military implications of this technology, here’s Chris again in Wired earlier this year:

It’s safe to say that drones are the first technology in history where the toy industry and hobbyists are beating the military-industrial complex at its own game.

Be at Studio One on the Mini Maker Faire grounds at Park Day School by 11 am next Sunday, October 14th, to hear Chris explain how and why he builds drones, and shows them off.

Bring It! Make It! Park Day School Welcomes East Bay Mini Maker Faire No. 3


Park Day School is proud to host the the Third Annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 14.

From an educator’s perspective, this event aligns so well with and helps advance the mission and goals of the school. The maker movement has influenced our curriculum, is challenging us to innovate, iterate and evolve and educators—and others are noticing! (Stay tuned… we’ll be announcing soon our collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an exciting new research project at Park Day School, with our neighbors Emerson School, Oakland International High School, and Oakland Tech.)

Every year, the East Bay Mini Maker Faire has improved its outreach to public schools and the broader East Bay community. This year the City of Oakland’s  Studio One Arts Center has come on as a primary partner, bringing both the Studio’s extended community and house makers/teachers into the Faire mix.  Our neighbors Oakland International High School, Emerson Elementary, Oakland Tech are all participating in helping to deliver one of the most exciting days on the East Bay activity calendar.

Join us in this fun-filled educational experience; it is a day devoted to activities where we can see in action how kids (and adults) learn best!

—Tom Little, Director, Park Day School

field day and a Handsome ’96 Toyota Warrior


Trinity Cross is a local clothier and her small indie label, field day, offers wearables made from reclaimed materials, organic cotton, and bamboo. Everything is made, printed and dyed one at a time in Oakland.

But that’s not all–she sells her lovely, soulful clothing and accessories from a pimped out, upcycled 96′ Toyota Warrior motor home! She completely gutted it and made in to a traveling store front.  All the materials were reclaimed or recycled down to the very screws.

“I kept the bed up above the cab for sleeping when I travel for shows and fairs.  It’s been a dream come true and I’m not quite sure what I did before having it. “

field day is one of the East Bay Mini Maker Faire’s 20+ “commercial makers”—crafters, artisans, and purveyors of handmade delicacies—who will be exhibiting and selling at the Mini Maker Faire. >>YES THE TOYOTA WARRIOR WILL BE PRESENT!

The faire is actually a great opportunity to get ahead of your holiday shopping!  So between workshops, exhibits, rides and food next Sunday, plan for a bit of time and find that special gift or two.  You’ll be proud that your present is local, maker made, unique and undoubtably fabulous.

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!

Hackermoms! A Peek Aboard the Mothership

HACKERMOM [băd’ ăss]: That’s you. Creative, curious, inventive, indie, artsy/craftsy/ designy/techy, visionary, outspoken, scrappy, superhot, hands-on, mover and maker of any age.

Brooke, a proud hackermom, and her son at the Hackermoms Mothership

“This is way better than any moms’ group I could have ever hoped for,” Julie says, her smile radiating as she sits at the community work table in the center of the Mothership Hackermom space. Julie, the mother of 14-month-old Josephine, is one of the first members of Hackermoms. She said she knew about the hacker community, but thought it wouldn’t work with her mothering lifestyle. But when she heard about the Hackermom collective, all that changed.

On Adeline street, near Alcatraz avenue in South Berkeley, the Mothership Hackermom  space is truly different. Built as a space for mothers of small children to do their own work — and the first hackerspace for women ever — at least 21 members (and the membership is increasing steadily) are given free reign to explore creative expression within an intentional community of other creatively-minded moms.

Artists, designers, small-business entrepreneurs, writers, and editors hang out, plunk themselves and their laptops or art projects onto a long communal table, and get to work in a supportive atmosphere.

Significantly, the Mothership collective not only supports the DIY philosophy but provides on-site childcare while moms work. You read that correctly — on-site childcare, built into the membership package.

“Once I saw this community, what moms were doing to still nurture and exercise that part of the creative brain, I knew that this was something for me,” Jane adds. Her son, Theo, is 17 months old and plays in a brightly-colored playroom adjacent to the main space. Jane’s a cookbook editor and a former journalist for several well-known Bay Area publications, and comes to the Mothership several times a week for 2-3 hours at a time.

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Julie at the communal table

“There was no support network for moms trying to do other stuff — either you have to choose between fulltime daycare or be a stay-at-home mom,” she explains. But with the discovery of the Hackermom space, Jane’s been able to focus on her work and form community.

Sam Cook, the founder of Hackermoms, says that the Mothership space was opened in April 2012 — “it took nine months of meetings,” she says, her eyes twinkling into a proud smile, “for us to birth the space.”

“Our members can keep their online businesses going — we have artists who have Etsy shops, writers … and that’s only possible because of the free childcare we offer to our members.” Sam points to a bulletin board on the wall behind the communal table with the words “FAILURE BOARD” written on the top. I can’t resist. “Failure board?” I ask. She grins.

“Essentially it’s a way for moms to go ahead and try out their biggest ideas, and get support if they fail, or if it turns out to be a disappointment. It’s only by trying something new and failing at it that we learn. As moms especially, everything tells us that we should be striving for perfection, and that failure is not an option. The failure board is one of our biggest ways to learn — we learn to set goals and feel supported in throwing out ideas, seeing what other members think of them.”

Even the childcare innovation at Hackermoms is unique — they work with an outside work-training program that trains childcare providers. They’re fully vetted, come with background checks, and gain experience while the moms work.

At the 2012 East Bay Mini Maker Faire, the Hackermoms will be showing off their DIY creativity with a Dia De Los Muertos-themed booth, next to the booth for Hackerscouts — the Hackermom-sister program which Cook and her husband also run which incorporates craft hacking for kids.

Food For Thought

One of the very coolest things about the East Bay is that we have serious food folk—growers, makers, bakers, eaters…Seriously, it seems Oakland is all about cuisine these days whether its our amazing farmers markets, restaurants, pop-up food truck pods, canning & jamming parties, crop swaps, eggs from your neighbor’s chickens, urban food foragers…an embarrassment of riches, truly.

If you attended the East Bay Mini Maker Faire last year, you may have been a little frustrated by the dearth of food by mid-afternoon. But fear not—we promise this year the food will be a MAJOR highlight of the day, and while we can’t promise zero lines, there will definitely be a whole lot more to choose from.

The Food Truck Alley at the EBMMF is being curated by Temescal’s own Karen Hester, a community activist and event organizer extraordinaire. Karen started Bites Off Broadway, Oakland’s first recurring food pod in an effort to push forward a mobile food policy for the City of Oakland.

For your dining pleasure Karen has put together a lineup of some of the East Bay’s finest mobile food vendors:

Fist of Flour (wood-fired pizza – pictured left), Tina Tamale (nachos and tamales), Blue  Saigon (Banh Mi sandwich/noodles), Boffo Cart, (pop-up gourmet         sandwiches) Doc’s of the Bay (meat and veggie burger) , Tante’s, (falafel, knishes, garlic fries)  Big Wheel Cookie Company (see pic above), Indie Cakes (breakfast  pastries and cupcakes), and Paul’s Sweet and Mellow Truck (coffee, chai and breakfast pastries).  Also

In addition to these “Bites off Broadway” delectable offerings, there will be multiple stands with grab ‘n-go sandwiches & yogurt & fruit, cookies, kettle corn, fresh fruit popsicles and more courtesy of the Park Day Parents Association, as well as sausages from Studio One Art Center. We highly recommend you come hungry!

Springs, Spools and Power Cords — Getting Real at the FixIt Clinic

A Man and His (Fixed!) Vacuum

There are so many things to do at the Mini Maker Faire, and what did I spend the majority of my time doing last year? Fixing my vacuum cleaner. I don’t even know quite why I brought it over. I had heard something about a booth where you could bring stuff and have people help you fix it, and just as the faire approached our vacuum cleaner went from turning off by itself now and again to not turning on at all. I fantasized about a new Dyson. They sure do look cool in the ads. But heck, this non-responsive hunk of machinery was a Miele and just a couple years old. And it’s not like we were overusing it. This situation could be rectified. I am handy, I told myself.

So, oddly enough, I found myself walking over to Mini Maker Faire, dead vacuum cleaner in hand. I navigated the crowds and made my way up to the second floor of Studio 1, where there was a whole decent-sized room  dedicated to fixing people’s broken appliances and toys — the storied FixIt Clinic. I meandered in, trying to look as noncommittal as it’s possible to look while carrying around a vacuum cleaner. I avoided eye contact, looking for that special someone who would be the right match for me and my vac.

Then it all started to happen. Somebody asked me if I had something to fix, and before I knew it, my machine was on the lab bench and we were discussing its symptoms. I tried to be as clear as possible, avoiding any conclusions I might have already jumped to. My helper was exceedingly nice and genuinely curious about what could be wrong. I only wish his name had not faded from my memory, a forgotten remnant of my clinic one-night stand; I remember the thrill, but not all the particulars.

We laid out the various possibilities and guessed at the probability of each. Then we started investigating, the machine spilling its guts to us before long. We worked for a while, coming to various dead ends, before we were joined by Richard, another nice, funny and smart helper, who builds prosthetic robotic leg systems for paraplegics — exoskeletons, really. After overcoming our first serious mistake, where we were plugged into a non-operational power strip, the problem began to reveal itself.

The power cord in this vacuum has the familiar feature where you can pull out as much of it as you need and then press a button to retract it when you are done. What this means on the inside of the machine is that the cord is wound around a big spool; and that spool is connected to a very long, coiled piece of spring steel. Also, the wire of the power cord is connected to metal plates on the spool that make contact with some springy steel on the main part of the machine. We discovered that these springy contacts were all mushed in, so that the spool could easily slide away from them and lose electrical contact. Ah-hah! We thought we were home free.

Not so fast. In order to un-mush those contacts, stretching them nice and wide again, we would have to remove the spool. Unfortunately, removing the spool would give us a really good chance of causing the spool’s long, metal spring to completely unwind. But we were very handy, and there were three of us. We could get that spool out of the way without having the spring explode in our faces, slice up our hands, and completly unwind.

Almost. Dang that spring was long in its unwound state.

So, after expanding the springy contacts, we were faced with the daunting prospect of re-tensioning the spool’s spring, lest we end up with a vac with its cord ever-dangling with no hope of being zoomed in at the push of a button. This was no easy task. The three of us tried at it for a good while before finally succeeding. It was congratulations all around until we realized we had something on backwards or upside down, and we would have to take the spool off again. But we were not daunted! We had succeeded once, and we would again.

We did. The machine powered on. The cord retracted. We closed everything up, and I headed out of there, exceedingly thankful for my helpers and thrilled that I knew so much more about the workings of this machine and that it was working again. It was such a great feeling.

One year later, the faire is here again. Our vacuum cleaner has worked flawlessly since its repair. I find myself looking around the house for a likely contender. Perhaps that Mousebot with the funky motor that has never worked right…
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THE FIXIT CLINIC WILL BE BACK AT THE 3RD ANNUAL EAST BAY MINI MAKER FAIRE ON OCTOBER 14TH.  It’s your turn to be handy—what’cha got to fix?

 

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!

Save the Date: October 14, 2012

Yep.  We’re gearing up for the 2012 East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Mark your calendars now for Sunday, October 14th!  Makers, please note our Call for Makers will go live in June.

Believe it or not, the planning crew is already busy getting things in order for the 3rd annual event.  We’re connecting with sponsors and media partners, getting a volunteer team ready to hit Maker Faire Bay Area May 19 & 20 for ideas, developing our presenter and workshop schedule, and figuring out how to make this year’s Faire the best yet.

As an an all-volunteer run event we’re always looking for people with energy and time to help out. So send an email to info AT ebmakerfaire.com if you want to get involved.

We’ll keep posting with details about the 2012 experience as they develop. Watch for our Call for Makers in June.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest news. Stay tuned and spread the word!