The coolest projects at Maker Faire 2013

From bartending robots to giant board games, this year's Bay Area Maker Faire was full of fun and unique exhibits. But what else would you expect from a fair that encourages creativity and a DIY-spirit?

Maker Faire 2013

Maker Faire is an annual festival that celebrates everything do-it-yourself. The San Francisco Bay Area’s best inventors, creators, and designers show off their latest projects in a science fair for all ages, but it feels more like a tech carnival. This show has everything: Tesla coils! Robots! Fire! Bikes of all shapes and sizes! In between checking out exhibits, you can make your own jewelry or learn how to use a soldering iron—all in one day. Here are some of my favorite highlights that I saw at this year’s fair.

For more DIY projects year round, be sure to check out our Geek Tech blog.

Daniel Scheible’s Tapigami

Maker Faire wants to inspire everyone to go out and create things, even if you’re making something out of masking tape. Artist Daniel Scheible had some of his Tapigami pieces on display at the fair, and visitors were handed a roll of tape and given a Tapigami demonstration. Scheible’s used 180 miles of masking tape to finish his collection.

ArcAttack's Tesla Coils

ArcAttack performs with what they call “Singing Tesla Coils.” For part of their show, they locked audience members in a cage and activated the Tesla Coils around them, all set in tune with live music.


One of the many robots wandering around the Maker Faire was R2D2, closely followed by his adoring fans.


Another less-friendly robot was this Dalek from Dr. Who, who threatened human patrons with extermination if they got too close.

Acme Muffineering's cupcake cars

There were lots of handcrafted vehicles driving around the fairgrounds, but none quite as delicious looking as Acme Muffineering’s cupcake cars.

Party Robotics’ Bartendro 15

Put this on my birthday wish list: The Bartendro 15 is a bartending robot powered by an onboard Raspberry Pi. Once the machine’s pumps and bottles are in place, you tell Bartendro what kind of drink you want, customize whether you want to make it weaker or stronger, and then press pour. It’s awesome, and was recently funded on Kickstarter!

Shawn Thorsson’s costume props

Costume designer Shawn Thorsson makes realistic replicas of popular costumes. He starts by making digital 3D models before building. Here is a collection of character helmets he’s designed.

Ultimaker backpack

One of my favorite “street fashion” examples was this Ultimaker 3D printer that’s been fitted as a backpack. This mobile 3D printing station brought 3D printing out of the Expo hall and into some of the larger crowds outside.

Toyota's bike-powered race track

A large part of Maker Faire’s outdoor areas was reserved for bikes and other vehicles. Toyota’s bike-powered racetrack got a lot of attention: Faire attendees could hop on one of four stationary bikes, which would then power a toy car on a mini racetrack.

Bazaar arts and crafts

Not only is Maker Faire a place for inventors to show off their projects, but artists can bring handmade items to sell as well. The Bazaar Bizarre was full of cool goodies to buy.

Meme art

Illustrator Martin Hsu showed off his meme paintings at the Bazaar Bizarre.

Life-sized Mouse Trap

Remember Mouse Trap? Contractor Mark Perez built a life-sized version of this build-it-yourself board game. It consists of 16 pieces weighing a total of 25 tons, and live demonstrations happened hourly at the faire. But instead of marbles, Perez used 8-pound bowling balls to push through this kinetically-driven course.

Saphira the Dragon

Apparently, the Silicon Valley Young Makers club members weren’t listening when their parents told them not to play with fire. Saphira 2.0 is a robotic dragon that can breathe fire in bursts up to five feet long. Saphira can spread her wings, roar, and spit flames, all powered by a Raspberry Pi-based control system.


Not to be missed was a replica of the Back to the Future Delorean.

Makers in the making

Of course, a visit to Maker Faire wouldn’t be complete without creating your own souvenir. Craft stations for all ages could be found all over the fairgrounds.

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