Thanks to a "gentlemans flight" I did not have to rush to Heathrow and also had plenty of time when I was there. As the plane flew into Newark, I took the train and subway over to Queens and got a view of the city. The nearest subway to the hotel (an overhead line) had a view of the unisphere, observation platforms and the science centre and rockets.
In the morning I had a bagel at a local deli and headed over to the venue. I have been to a few other Maker Faires such as the UK one up in Newcastle and the mini makers faire that ran at Elephant and Castle for a couple of years. I've also seen the Makers at Mex that were at Sandown last year. However the Americans being the way they are, have a much bigger faire, I knew this in advance but was still surprised by the sheer scale of their setup.
The Makers Faire was divided into 6 zones, each focusing on a rough topic area such as electronics, maker spaces, education or robots and drones. As we were waiting to go in we were serenated by a stilt walking band with a dancing cardboard dinosaur. I knew this was a good sign of the great things to come. I shortcutted through the science centre gardens and said hi to the Atmel crew and spotted a familiar face at the Arduino stand.
I also headed over to the Makershed to meet fellow Brit and laser cutting expert Dominic who'd traded some of his time for free accommodation and was helping out with the Solarbotics stand. I also met up with Andy Sigler from Patchbay.IO who was unfortunately frustrated by lack of power so I promised to return later to see things in action. I was impressed with the number of medical makers and thought I'd seen Enrico's Meditech case at one point. There was a great example of a Lego MRI and proton beam machine that were used to show kids how they worked so they would not be so scared when inside. I also liked the add ons for kids motorised ride on toys that meant that not only were they easier to use for disabled children but they could also be used to help develop certain skills or muscles.
Daddy Daughter Electronics
Whilst I was there I also attended a few talks, some were thinly disguised sales promotions but others were from enthusiastic makers wanting to share their experiences and ideas. I managed to miss the start of the Les Machines De L'île De Nantes but saw the slides of their fantastic ride on motorised Elephant, factory/gallery and next project the Stork Tree which is a giant metal tree with two ride on storks that take 60 people at a time in huge baskets under the wings. They pay for their projects via grants, sponsorship and by charging an entrance fee to their gallery where they get the public to test out their latest prototypes. There were also some good talks on making, hacking and fixing.
There were lots of fantastic projects inside the science centre too, and I got to see a work in progress cardboard formula one car being made, Stirling engines, a semaphore flag game with imaging processing to rate the flag user, magical 3D printed castles and another fellow Brit, Ross Atkin from Craft Robot who is kickstarting his project shortly. There were a lot of people who were just about to run kickstarter projects, and a lot of those were in the Startup zone. Here there was gadgets to show what mood your dog was in by how he wagged his tail, giant building blocks, architecture kits, multi headed 3D printer, laser cutting milling machines and some chaps from Dublin with a novel pin board for holding circuits or projects in place whilst you solder them.
I ended the first day exhausted so managed to miss the Menthos and Coke show over at the UniSphere.
The next day decided to revisit the electronic section and say hi to Cadsoft. They were really friendly and explained the new licensing model to me. Also I spotted another celebrity Eben Upton.
There were a few announcements (that I mostly missed) whilst I was at the show. Arduinio has finished their new Wifi shield with Atmel's cyptography chip on it. Adafruit is bringing out a new board and Atmel were talking about the new Atmel Studio and their web based IDE.
I did however manage to see the Life Sized Mouse trap in action, watch drone racing, see experiments being done, talk to loads of people and buy some presents.
Big 3d Printer
Cardboard formula 1 car
Experiments with ExperimentBoy
Hive76 Clyde Computer
Instructables chainsaw robot
Mario the Magician with Animatronic Monkey Marcel
Lego Crowd Creation
Mural painted live
Power Racers Parade
Stilt walking jazz band and dancing cardboard dinosaur
Tiny Arcade Machines
I finished my weekend by watching the Eepybird chaps spraying coke zero all over the place, in time to music.
A big thanks again to Element14 for arranging the trip and selecting me as the winner.