The Most Amazing Things We Saw at the Maker Faire

By Sean Buckley on at

We went to the Bay Area Maker Faire, California, over the weekend, overdosing on creative and inspiring DiY technology. Here’s what we saw.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Want to spend an afternoon ogling mind-blowingly huge, fire-breathing robotic sculptures? Maker Faire’s got that.

Robot Resurrection has appeared at multiple Maker Faire events. It’s a 30-foot-tall (9.1m) pneumatic robot built almost entirely out of recycled metal and aeroplane parts. It’s a massive art project created with Burning Man in mind. It moves. It lights on fire. It’s amazing, but it’s not the only fire breathing sculpture you’ll find at the Faire.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Metal sculptor Todd Cox’s Praying With Fire stands proudly, arms raised, in the middle of Maker Faire’s outdoor area—spewing endless plumes of fire into the air.

Too stationary for your liking? Fine. How about giant walking robots:

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Scott Parenteau’s “Walking Pod” is a walking geodesic dome. A twelve-legged, solar powered robot. Its 0.2 MPH top speed won’t outpace the average person, but its slow crawl is hauntingly beautiful.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

See that contraption up there? That’s a MegaBot, which is a functional, weaponised mech that debuted at Bay Area Maker Faire 2015. It takes two pilots to operate and is designed to destroy ...in a controlled, entertainment-focused environment, of course. At the Faire, it had one mission: blow the shit out of an unsuspecting car.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

It’s an incredible feat of engineering and MechWarrior dream fulfilment. The best part? It’s only a prototype. The team that built the MegaBot are working on two-legged models that can stand and balance on their own. The end goal? An entire fleet of human-driven mechs locked in combat in your local arena. This is the future of sports, people.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Speaking of sports ... This may seem like a calm, peaceful place to sail your radio-controlled boat, but it’s not. This is a watery battleground:

Make Faire’s Battlepond is the home of hobbyists who spend months painstakingly building replica WWII battleships only to destroy them for the amusement of the attending public.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Not only are these ships pretty detailed, they’re also all armed with ball-bearing cannons. Awesome—and a little dangerous. You have to sign a liability waiver and don safety googles before you can enter the arena.

You didn’t think that giant fire breathing robot was the only super-sized art piece to grace Maker Faire, did you? Of course not: the event’s outdoor plaza is littered with large, creative works of art.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Celestia Mechanica is an enormous, Kickstarter-backed Kinetic sculpture of our solar system with a flame-licked furnace representing our sun. You can watch a recreation of the celestial ballet while you warm up.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Did I mention that a lot of the artwork is rideable? Because it is. The above piece, called Rhino Redemption, is a converted ‘74 Chevrolet pickup truck that shoots flames out of its main horn.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Not quite a landlubber, but don’t have sea legs? Check out the Nautilus Submarine Art Car, complete with a digital periscope and roof-mounted harpoon guns.

There’s tons of interactive art at Maker Faire too, including:

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

A human powered, spinning swing set...

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

A miniature, pedal-powered ferris wheel...

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Scooter-driven chalk stencils...

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Dangerous high-five competitions...

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

...and even live music on a pedal-powered stage. That’s right, all of that is being powered by all of this:

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

See, you can be part of the music.

All that alone makes Maker Faire more than worth the day trip, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg: there’s way, way more.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Make Faire is way more than a technology-focused art festival: it’s also a breeding ground for new ideas and amateur implementations of new technology trends. OK, that Delorean Time Machine may not be futuristic these days (or even all that movie accurate) it represents our ambition to move forward. Besides, this awesome homemade electric vehicle was parked right behind it:

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Yes, it’s exactly what it looks like—some crazy bastard crammed an electric motor into an old Miata. Patrick Makey spent almost over £9,000 converting this 1992 Miata into a modern electric vehicle.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

The batteries in its boot cost Makey £4,000 on their own — but the conversion still cost him less than buying an electric car new. It’s a fine example of the passion Makers have: if you can’t afford to buy the technology you want to ride into the future, build it yourself.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

In fact, tonnes of makers attend the Faire just to show off things they’ve made for the love of building the future they want.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Ever thought you might want a Keurig machine, but for mixed drinks? Someone’s making it.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Tired of opening and closing your air vents? Someday, they could be controlled by your phone.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Itching to check out that cool thing you saw on Kickstarter? If you went to a Maker Faire, you might have been able to.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

The Faire is simply a great place to make connections, get ideas and meet up with like minded folks who want to build the world of tomorrow from out of their garage.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Marvel at home-made, laser-cut wooden robots, like Roy.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Immediately run away in terror.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

...and then join a HomeBrew Robotics Club and learn to make your own amazing, hopefully less creepy automatons.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Maker Faire is inspiring. Go to marvel at the future that’s being built—and if you aren’t personally inspired? Don’t worry about it. Sit back, relax, and take in an aerial drone battle or two:

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Or you can visit the past.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Maker Faire isn’t just a showcase of the technology we’re building for tomorrow, but also a museum for the technology that brought us to today.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Remember floppy disks? These guys do. Maker Faire can be the odd chance to reconnect with your home computing past...

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

...or a chance to show it off to the next generation.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

The Maker Faire Expo is littered with old hardware. Some, like Evan Custodio’s FPGA-assisted SNES digital graphics renderer re-purpose old favorites...

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

...while others, like Briel Computers, allow you to re-create classic PCs from new parts. Can’t get your hands on an original, 1976 Apple 1? Build a fully functional replica, instead.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Maker Faire is for everyone—but there’s no better place to take your kids to get them excited about merging arts, crafts and technology. I don’t just mean playing with an incredible, Lego covered jeep either: Maker Faire is littered with activities designed to get your child’s brain working.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Kids can work with instructors from TechShop Inside to build their own laser-cut Trebuchets.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

They can participate in Rube Goldberg speed building contests, challenging them to think fast to build an intentionally over-complicated balloon popping machine.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Love pirate ships and craft arts?

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Build your own fleet with Sticky Art Lab.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

At Maker Faire, kids learn to solder and prototype their own home-made electrical toys.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

They can geek out at Minecraft summer camp and build massive in game structures...

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

...or use the game as a platform to teach them to build their own Rasberry Pi-based gaming hardware.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

There are compressed-air rocket building workshops.

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Larger-than-life Bop-It games!

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

Giant Lego Kermit sculptures!

The Most Amazing Things We Saw at Bay Area Maker Faire Last Weekend

FREE SAFETY GOOGLES. What’s not to like?

If you aren’t convinced, there’s no hope for you. Maker Faire is one of the coolest events you could take your family to. It’s a blast to go on your own, with friends and especially with children. There may only be few flagship Faires a year, but smaller, local events can be found all over the world. Check one out. You won’t regret it.