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2014 Maker Faire celebrates 'Year of the Maker'

The 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire filled the San Mateo Expo Center on Saturday and Sunday with over 100,00 attendees and more than 900 exhibits.The event, described by organizers as 'the world's greatest show and tell", focuses on DIY activities ranging from weaving and soap making to robotics and 3-D printing.The theme of this year's faire, the ninth to be held in the Bay Area, was "Year of the Maker." The Maker Faire phenomenon has gone global with seven large featured faires in cities like New York, London and Rome and nearly 100 smaller 'Mini Maker Faires" in communities all over the world.

An inflatable version of Make Magazines mascot Maky the robot stands ready to greet fans.
Jim Sharkey
The giant otopus sculture El Pulpo Mechanico shoots flames for the crowd at Maker Faire.
Jim Sharkey

The Expo Hall was filled with booths and exhibits by individual makers, community groups and maker spaces, companies catering to makers. NASA, which is reaching out to makers and citizen inventors with its program of Centennial Challenge competitions, had display with small robotic rovers, a spacesuit and small satellites called cubesats.

The open-source Arduino microcontroller is at the heart of many maker projects. Arduino is intended to be flexible and easy to be used by artists, designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. Ardunio is also increasingly being used by industry. Arduino and Atmel jointly developed the new 32-bit Arduino board which made its first appearance at Maker Faire. The board is designed to provide makers with potential to create innovate smart IoT (Internet of Things) devices, wearable technology, high-tech automation and robotics. Mel Li, who has a PhD. in was one of the Arduino users showing their creations at the Atmel booth. Li uses Arduino boards in developing wearable devices and and DIY laboratory automation. On display was a digital florescent microscope she had built using three different types of Arduino boards.

Author and Make Magazine contributing editor Charles Platt was at Maker Fair discussing his new book Make:More Electronics. The book, wich will be released later this week, is a sequel to the popular Make:Electronics. Platt take a learning by discovery in his writing and the 36 experiments in the book are designed to teach the reader about the scientific principles behind electronic components such as logic chips, amplifiers and sensors. Platt began his talk on the Make: Electronics stage with some simple but fascinating demonstrations of the properties of Neodymium magnets and the relationship between magnetism and electricity.

The ROBLOX booth in the Expo Hall was impossible to miss, in part because of the large crowd of children and teens around it and in part because of the large white ROBLOX blimp tethered above it. The booth was filled with both players and developers at computer either playing or creating games. The ROBLOX online site allows players to create and share games and be awarded for their creations. If their games are popular enough, users are able to exchange virtual currency for real money. ROBLOX announced early this month that for the first time one of their user/developers had received a monthly payout of $10,000.

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