A look back at the Faire

An impressive number of attendees took photos and videos of the Faire on the day so it seems appropriate to do a quick round up. First off there’s a Flickr group pool of photos which has no less than 18 contributors with nearly 300 photos! Well worth a browse.

There’s also a good deal of video of the day:

Thanks to everyone for the fantastic pictures and videos and, yes, we’re already thinking about the next one…

Thank you all for making the day simply fantastic!

Wow, now that was fun ūüôā  What a truly awesome day!!!

Thanks to everyone who came along:  you were all fantastic.  We really appreciated how you were all excellent to each other.  That made the job of the crew significantly easier.  Thanks.

A special thank you to our Contributing Sponsors Swinburne University of Technology, Uniting Church in Australia and 3D Printing Systems.  Thanks also to our assisting sponsor element14 for their support with the soldering workshops, and a special shout out to MakeDo for their wonderful system that made the Maze and partition screens possible.  Without the help we received from our sponsors, it wouldn’t have been possible to host the event.  And of course, thanks to Make and O’Reilly media for their support and encouragement.  Thank you all very much.

The day itself would not have been the intensely fun and fantastic event that it was without our wonderful family of Makers who came along to show their projects and skills.  You folks simply rocked!  And I’d particularly like to thank everyone who traveled from far away to be with us, and to John Bosua for his help with equipment.  Please check out the list of Makers on the Maker page to learn more about their work.

And last, but very much not least, I’d like to officially thank the core team and our other volunteer members of the Mini Maker Faire Melbourne crew.  Please check out the M Team page to find out a bit more about who pitched in to make the event happen.  Truly outstanding help from all of you.  Thanks for making my job a heck of a lot easier.

My thanks again to you all for helping the Connected Community HackerSpace run the first very successful Australasian Mini Maker Faire.  Call me crazy, but I’m already looking forward to doing it again soon!

Here we go! – Have an Excellent Day :)

Well, today is the big day!  I hope you’re all suitably excited – I know I am.  So many fantastic and fun things for everyone to see and take part in.

For those attending today’s event, there’s just one main thing we’d ask of you all: Please be excellent to each other today.

There are couple of other things worth mentioning that relate to the approach we’ve taken to planning and running this event.  Understanding these ideas might help you understand the style of the event a little better.

Unconferences and Open-Space Technology
The other important thing to note is that we’ve adopted in large part an “unconference” approach to running this event, using some of the main ideas behind the Open-Space Technology (OST) approach.  

The main thing to keep in mind is that the day is your day: make of it what you will.  If something isn’t working, please feel free to work with others to improve it.  If you don’t like something you’re involved in, make use the rule of two feet.  Although we have many elements of the programme pre-planned and organised, we’ve attempted to have Makers contribute to that process as much as is practical.  We’ve also left some elements of the programme open to dynamically evolve on the day, particularly with respect to presentations, talks, demonstrations, discussions and potentially even adhoc. workshops that don’t require a lot of preparation.

We’re standing on the shoulders of giants: these philosophies for running events come from a number of sources, including our friends at Noisebridge Hackerspace.  What follows is a a discussion of their Tripartite Pillars system, in the context of our Maker faire event.

Tripartite Pillars
At the core of the event, we’re applying the basic thinking behind the Noisebridge Hackerspace Tripartite Pillars, and we’re asking all our makers, volunteers and attendees to abide by and help promote this philosophy:

– Excellence: “Be excellent to each other” (yes, courtesy of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure).  Mini Maker Faire Melbourne will be a fantastic day if we all take ownership of that one simple principle.  Everything else will flow easily from there.  If you think an action you’re about to make may not be considered excellent by others, ask someone else first and avoid having someone refer you to the fundamental rule of all social spaces.

– Do-ocracy: We’ve created this event and the spaces within it to provide makers the opportunity to showcase what they do.  It’s your day and we want you to take advantage of it.  We’re running this event with volunteer help, donated facilities and services, and limited funds.  It will help us immensely if you take ownership of your needs and help to make the day a great one for yourself and everyone else.  You don’t need to ask permission to do something excellent, particularly where it won’t adversely effect others.  If you see something that needs doing, or a problem that needs to be addressed, please step in and fix it yourself.  If you’re in doubt whether your action is a good choice for others, whether it is safe or whether you can handle it alone, find a buddy and work on it together: grab another maker or a volunteer and work out a solution.

– Consensus: With a nod to “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, we’re encouraging – as much as possible – making decisions by consensus.  Where that’s not possible, and particularly where Excellence or Do-ocracy are at risk, we’ll employ judicious use of “benevolent dictators” to keep the show moving and support the needs of as many people as we can. Also see here.

Hackerspace Focus: Connected Community Hackerspace

With just a day to go before the glorious festival of creativity that is the Melbourne Mini Maker Faire, we conclude this series of posts on Australia’s hackerspaces with the faire organisers … the Melbourne¬†Connected Community HackerSpace.¬† The CCHS started in early 2009, in a garage like so many other hackerspaces and successful technology ventures.¬† This year, a new space has been acquired, which will provide more room and better access throughout the week.¬† Close proximity to Swinburne University, public transport and numerous cafes make it an ideal location.

Members work on a variety of group and individual projects, ranging from custom designed electronics (often based on the Arduino), 3D printers, rocket telemetry, a laser cutter, even machines that clone DNA.  The group often present at local conferences, including running the popular Arduino mini-conference in conjunction with Freetronics.  This year, the intention is to start running technical workshops in areas such as electronics and 3D printing.

The CCHS aims to provide a workplace for anyone to get their hobby or technology idea completed.  Sometimes this occurs by building the tools, such as a computer controlled mill, that can be used to undertake complex projects.  The goal is to share skills and enthusiasm through collaboration and creating a supportive and creative environment, no matter what your level of experience.

Current president, Andy Gelme notes that the CCHS attracts a wide range of people from electronics enthusiasts to performance artists and students. He’s particularly enthusiastic about describing the positive benefits of looping back some of the existing skills in the community to the younger generation.

“We do have a lot of ‘grey beards’, people who are retired or have been in the industry for decades and they’re often keen to pass their experience on. It’s like closing the loop, people that love electronics and have been hacking all their life and passing it on to the next generation.”

Organizing the MakerFaire has been a significant event for our group and we hope that everyone who attends or exhibits has a wonderful day and considers staying in touch with our hackerspace in the future.  Details of our up-coming meetings and events are on the web-site calendar and we stay in-touch via our email list.  Up until now, the CCHS has focused on software, electronics and mecha-tronics, but the goal is to encourage a broad range of makers and crafts.

Click after the break for a video interview between EEVblog’s David Jones and CCHS benevolent leader Andy Gelme during a weekly hack session. Andy discusses CCHS and some of the issues getting a hackerspace up and running.

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Featured Maker: Robert Shepherd

Robert is a biomedical researcher pursuing his PhD in using transgenic plants to make vaccines for developing nations. Robert is part of a group that is promoting a DIY DNA amplification machine called OpenPCR. Ordinarily PCR machines cost several thousand dollars are firmly out of the reach of researchers, schools and hobbyists. Robert said that great technology and life saving therapies are often sadly too expensive to be used in low-resource environments but at least in the area of DNA analysis, the OpenPCR machine delivers an important tool to a wider audience.

“What is so brilliant about theOpenPCR¬†project is that it can be used by almost anyone with a basic understanding of molecular biology, and isn’t cost prohibitive to get started,” Robert said. The machines are already being used in collaboration with CSIRO Education to introduce school kids to experiments in DNA that they wouldn’t have access to. ¬†The ‘open’ stands for ‘open-source’ and Robert said that this approach provided huge potential for the application of the OpenPCR machines.

“We’re really proud to be the first group promoting this machine in Australia, but as they start to catch on with education, research and hobbyists, the applications in which they will be used is only limited by people’s imagination.”

Robert is inviting people at the Faire to come by and ‘play with DNA’ and have a chat about this exciting new field. Click to jump for a video on OpenPCR made at ¬†at ¬†a stateside Maker Faire.

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Featured Maker: Gregory Crocetti

Gregory makes use of recycled and upcycled objects to craft all kinds of weird and wonderful and totally unique lamps as part of a project he calls ‘Lamp it Up’. Greg said he was initially inspired by the opportunities that arose out of the arrival of compact¬†¬†fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, adding that their low heat meant that they could be used near ordinarily flammable materials like textiles, wood and plastic. Just the ticket for transforming junk into luminous works of art. We can’t help but wonder what could be achieved by combining these upcycled fixtures with some similarly creative interactive LED electronics? Sounds like a great discussion topic for the day!

“Our lights are made using small wooden bowls and white glass shades, cheaply sourced from op shops, second hand stores and recycling centres,” Gregory told us. He said the main challenge is connecting the lamp holder and plans to provide a demonstration at the Faire on how to easily and safely handle the wiring aspect of the job.

Check out Gregory’s Flickr set for some inspiring photos depicting the ‘wombling for waste’ to gather raw materials.

Featured Maker: Karlo Julian

Following on from Atosha yesterday, we’re delighted to welcome another fantastic group of women in technology. Karlo is representing Robogals , a student-run organisation with the aim of introducing young women to engineering and technology. ¬†Explaining what drew Karlo to engineering, she told us: “Engineering a little bit of creativity on top of all the mathematics and science concepts so, there are so many valid solutions for a given problem.”

¬†“The moment where you get everything working is the best feeling in the world”

Started locally at the University of Melbourne, Robogals is now an international organisation that hopes to help increase female enrolment in engineering, science and technology courses at universities. Robogals members travel to  girls primary schools to run LEGO robotics workshops and mentor teams in LEGO robotics competitions.

Karlo and the Robogals team will be hosting two one hour workshops, “on the day, be quick to register because there are only 20 spots per class!” said Karlo. In addition, throughout the day Robogals will be displaying some of the robots used in the workshops¬†as well as answering questions regarding a career in engineering and talking about Robogals in general. Click the break for a documentary video about Robogals to learn more.

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Hackerspace focus: Make, Hack, Void

Continuing our focus on Australia’s vibrant hackerspace scene, this time it’s the turn of Canberra-based Make, Hack, Void or MHV for short. Starting out as a geek community in 2009, in a familiar tale of hackerspace growing pains, MHV outgrew¬†Alastair D’Silva’s purpose-built three car garage/hackerspace. In an inspiring tale for other would-be hackerspaces, MHV turned to the local government for help and secured a large disused workshop near the centre for town at a knock-down rate. What a result!

“Our original demographic was very heavy with software and electronic engineers,” Alastair told us, adding that MHV is adding new faces with additional skill sets. Even now there’s a wide variety of projects¬†under way¬†at MHV thanks to members interested in projects from fibreglass moulds to FPGA electronics, Arduinos to DIY¬†pizza ovens.

“I find hackerspaces are a great motivator to actually completing projects, as I tend to leave things in a “good enough” state (or worse) without driving force of having to present it to others,” Alastair reckons, adding that he enjoys the community of like-minded members. “They are a great resource for assistance, and also as sounding board to bounce ideas off,” he said.

We’re delighted to welcome another fabulous Australian hackerspace to the Faire. Make, Hack, Void will be showing off the MHVBoard, their own Arduino clone and presenting details of the MHV AVR runtime library. Alastair will also be presenting a walk-through of implementing simple projects using MHV’s home grown hardware and software tools. Geeks miss out at your peril!

Featured Maker: Atosha McCaw

Atosha creates ‘noise makers’ or loud analog electronic instruments that she says “look like they might have fallen out of a cold war submarine”. Always interested in how things work, from the time Atosha tried to work out how her first watch worked by smashing it open with a rock, she spent her pre-teen years¬†rewiring¬†headphones ¬†with sticky tape to use them as microphones.¬†“I lost interest after year nine electronics¬†where I was the only girl in the class,” Atosha told us.

Fortunately she rediscovered her love of “red buttons and massive switches,” and told us that when starting a new project she begins with a case and then imagines what would be “amazing” inside including: “circuit bent toys, feedback loops, amps, effects, oscillators and the occasional self developed¬†circuit primarily based on the ever reliable 555.”

Enthusing about the aesthetics of obsolete technology and the “faced optimism they represent,” Atosha has a love of anything that she can “coax a noise out of.”¬†One of the projects that you can see at the Faire will be Atosha’s¬†homage to the instruments of the Radiophonic Workshop,¬†a keyboard made out of 12 individual¬†oscillators “just like the one that was used in the workshop and used¬†on the Dr Who theme”. Dooo wheee-oooo!


Featured Maker: Bernd Wachs

Bernd is a member of the local Connected Community Hackerspace in Melbourne says he was first attracted to the Arduino microprocessor platform¬†¬†because of the availability of Macintosh development software and because add-on modules were easily available at reasonable cost. ¬†One such Arduino-powered project is Bernd’s car trip computer.

“I wanted to develop small electronic projects such as a car computer based on a system that can be reused again easily to decrease development time,” Bernd said. He also built a rally computer for a friend that competes in rally motorsport with a VW Beetle.

“I¬†have learnt a lot from the members of the CCHS hackerspace who have interests in ¬†microprocessors, 3D printing and CNC milling”, he said. Bernt also participated in the CCHS entry for the Element 14 Global Hackerspace challenge entry, ¬†the electronics teaching toolkit OpenLab. Bernd will be showing off his car trip computer at the Faire.