The first thing you notice when you approach the annual Bay Area Maker Faire are the flames — as in, the huge steampunk octopus hurling huge balls of fire from its wriggling tentacles.
The second thing you notice are the crowds. Last year, 120,000 people attended, and this year’s attendance was predicted to reach a similar level. If you think robots and other home-brewed electronics are a niche interest, well, try telling that to the swarms of makers who came to the fair to show off their 3D printers, electronics kits and even edible creations.
But back to that octopus. Huge mechanical creations roamed the grounds at Maker Faire — everything from cars shaped like dragons to wriggling robotic snakes.
The Pulpo Mecanico is a steampunk octopus that spews fire out of its tentacles. Photo by Signe Brewster.
Chester the Fire-Breathing Horse invited everyone aboard for a fire-ringed drive around a parking lot. Photo by Signe Brewster.
A girl pedals to move the legs of a cardboard elephant. Photo by Signe Brewster.
Smaller creations filled the tents, and even skies, where experienced makers and startups exhibited their creations.
A quadcopter watches from above. Photo by Signe Brewster.
A uArm robotic arm mimics a human’s hand motions picked up by a Leap Motion controller to pick up and move paper cups. Photo by Signe Brewster.
A Makeblock robot watches the crowds file past. Photo by Signe Brewster.
QU-BD exhibited its One Up 3D printers in some funky colors. Photo by Signe Brewster.
A flock of R2-D2s greets visitors at the entrance to the Dark Room building. Photo by Signe Brewster.
In the “Dark Room,” ArcAttack‘s musical Tesla coils greeted people as they stepped into a building lit only by strange glowing shapes.
Strips of LED lights. Photo by Signe Brewster.
Five thousand pounds of steel, glass and electronics come together to form “Light Cloud,” a sculpture that viewers can change the color of in real time. Photo by Signe Brewster.
And, of course, it was all about learning and interacting. Attendees had the chance to learn soldering, build basic electronics and come face to face with robots and strange creations of all sizes. Because if there is one rule among makers, it is that you spread your ideas far and wide to inspire the next generation.
At the AgIC table, kids drew circuits with a circuit pen before adding a battery and a light. Photo by Signe Brewster.
An entire tent was devoted to teaching attendees how to solder. Photo by Signe Brewster.
Electric Giraffe, which stands at 18 feet tall, stops its walk across the Faire to interact with new fans. Photo by Signe Brewster.
Maker Faire goers look on as an OpenROV underwater robot surfaces, spewing water into the air. Photo by Signe Brewster.