Mini Maker Faire 2016 at Iolani School: A recap
Mini Maker Faire in Honolulu wrapped up on June 25, 2016 and I finally made it to the event in their third year. It was all I expected and more. I had also signed up for a soldering lesson. Soldering, pronounced as sautering, is a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and then flowing a filler metal into the joint. It’s what holds your components to your computer circuit boards while still allowing electrical current to flow.
The volunteer instructor was patient and thorough, and here’s a picture of what we made. They bought most of the parts from an electronics supplier, but they also had the front designed especially for the event. It’s a little badge that lights up an LED when the switch is turned on.
It was free. The event was free and the soldering lesson and materials were free too. I’m always amazed at how small turnout can be at these events in Hawaii. Maybe it’s the constant allure of our also free beaches?
The event was held at Iolani School, which is a beautiful campus and venue for the fair. Parking was readily available for all 1,000 attendees. The event also attracted two dozen or so vendors ranging from the predictable coding schools and afterschool programs to the more ecclectic, like a yarn vendor with materials ranging from alpaca to angora.
My favorite vendor? The up-and-coming HNL Tool Library, a project in progress. It’s a lending library for tools and equipment. From their website, they describe it as “Tool libraries are just like traditional libraries, but with tools instead of books.”
The Maker Movement
The Maker Movement started in 2005 with the release of MAKE Magazine. According to the Maker Faire website,
“With the launch of MAKE Magazine in 2005, Dougherty and his team provided the catalyst for a tech-influenced DIY community that has come to be identified as the Maker Movement.”
I read MAKE Magazine once. I think I picked the exact volume that could turn me off for years to come. While there were many interesting articles highlighting individuals’ projects and the schematics to make the projects work, the one that stood out in my mind was one where someone thought it was a great idea to do self-surgery and insert a RFID reader under his skin — because how cool would it be to walk up to your front door and have it immediately unlock for you?
Since having read that article, I’ve searched high and low for it again. No one in Hawaii believes me when I say that MAKE story exists. In any case, I was living in Silicon Valley at the time, and having met the eccentric individuals that live there, I believe that the idea of RFID self-surgery is less strange there than it is here.
If you would like to read a copy of MAKE Magazine for yourself, you can sign up at this link.
In any case, Maker Faire Bay Area (San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara) started growing around 2007. They still relied on volunteers to run the event and charged a small nominal entrance fee to recoup the cost of renting the San Mateo Convention Center.
Today, Maker Faires are huge and they take place across the country in various forms and sizes. The Bay Area event has grown to hundreds of booths and the price of entry is now $30. It has even become a travel destination, not unlike the way in which San Diego Comic-con is.