I went to Maker Faire, not only to help promote areas of the community I work on such as The Ben Heck Show , Arduino , and Project14 , but to also get insight that would help me produce better content for the community. As a content writer; who works closely with other creative types such as other writers, designers, video producers, and web developers; I believe the best content addresses the needs and interest of its audience. I wanted to learn more about the maker sphere, as that was a big part of the audience I was targeting for the new Project14  program on the community.  


Our community has a lot of expert electronics and design engineers that are either active in their field or retired. They expressed interest in a program that would draw more participation in the community from a wider audience, and a program that would give them an opportunity to use their expertise to mentor people who share their passion for electronics and design engineering.  At the same time, a lot of these same members expressed interest in quickfire monthly project competitions, which wouldn't require the type of commitment as our more involved and high stake project competition, Design ChallengesProject14 was born out of the idea of inclusivity. To make it applicable to experts, novices, and everyone in between regardless of skill set; the competitions would revolve around general themes that allow you to pick a project that matches your skill level.



Another thing that would be different, which would warrant a new program, would be that competition would be lower stakes and the emphasis would be on having fun and learning. The best analogy I can come up with is a game of $5 poker. Yeah, you want to compete and do your best to win but other than that you’re there to hang with your friends and share a fun experience. Another departure would be how judging would be handled. The idea of combining judging and mentorship was very intriguing if you could figure out a way of working out a system that wasn’t too onerous on the community members. 


In the end, rather than having a formal panel of judges, as is the case with Design Challenges, those community members who were interested in judging and mentoring could volunteer their time, on an informal basis to keep this program as relaxed as possible, so that the emphasis would be on learning and having fun.  The final thing to figure out would be who decided what the monthly competitions would be.  If the ideas for the Monthly Themes came internally it could be very hit or miss.  However, if the community members came up with the themes themselves then they would be able to come up with theme ideas that reflected the interests of the community and be more likely to keep up participation so that the new program had a chance to thrive. That was how the Monthly Theme Poll idea came about.


When the idea for Project14 was first pitched, it was internally referred to as Design Challenges Lite.   Where the program was evolving, it seemed to have a closer relationship to The Ben Heck Show. The show had an inclusive feel, with an audience that included experts from the community, but also people who were new or just getting interested in electronics and design projects. Video was a great medium for capturing the fun, excitement, and enthusiasm of working on electronics projects.  It’s also a great way for demonstrating technical subject matter in a way that’s easier to follow.  In the future, that will play a greater role in Project14 but for now I was at Maker Faire to absorb as much information as I could to reflect a wider audience. 


Also, more Arduino Projects was a goal of the Arduino program so I wanted to catch Massimo Banzi’s, the Cofounder of Arduino, State of Arduino speech.  This would give me a feel for how popular Arduino was with the Maker community.  The hope was to turn the Arduino program into a useful program for anyone interested in getting their feet wet with a Project14 Monthly Project Competition.


Here are some of the insights from the event and how they relate to programs in the community. 


I'll add more to this as I go along...



Insights from 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire:


Raspberry Pi


Questions about the Raspberry Pi at the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire booth for element14 inspire nostalgia for retro computers and a look back at the events that led to Premier Farnell becoming a top manufacturer of Raspberry Pi boards.


The Raspberry Pi’s place in computing history was recently cemented when it passed up the Commodore 64 as the third most popular computer of all time.  (behind Mac and PC)


In this post we share images from Maker Faire of Retro Computers that helped chart the course for the ascendance of the Raspberry Pi.  


You Can't Appreciate the Pi without Retro Computers




According to Massimo Banzi's State of Arduino speech, Arduino's focus is on opening up the Arduino IDE to more boards and branding Arduino as the "lingua franca" of microcontrollers, implementing their API on a broad range of architectures to make it easier for anyone to write embedded code and port from one processor to another.


  • Their mission is to use Open Source, Open Protocols, Open Knowledge to enable people's creativity
  • They made microcontrollers easier to use for everybody and keep making technology accessible to everyone
  • They are now working heavily on IOT, with investments in boards, connectivity technologies and cloud services
  • They've renewed their focus on STEAM education launching specific initiatives and KITs to support teachers and students
  • They are always committed to Open Source, contributing what they do to the community
  • Arduino is focused on Maker prototyping, Internet of Things, Education Kits, and the DIY Professional.


Also, included are photos from the Arduino Maker Faire booth and a booth devoted to educational games using Arduino.


Arduino is Trending Towards IoT and STEAM




Learning more about the appeal of BeagleBoard when comparing the Open platforms of both Arduino and BeagleBoard.


The Appeal of the BeagleBoard platform to fans of Open Source




Visited a booth where I received supervised instruction on how to Solder.


From Desk Jockey to Soldering


After Hours with Ben and Karen


Ben and Karen let me tag along for after Faire events where Makers share their projects with me.


What I learned from spending time with Makers