More than 100 technicians, artists and craftsmen will “make” history on Saturday when they participate in the first Orlando Mini Maker Faire. From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Central Florida Fairgrounds will be teeming with innovative technological exhibits, from an animatronic talking toucan to hovering multi-rotor helicopters.
The event is the brainchild of Dave Casey and Ian Cole, who were astounded when they visited the original Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., for two days with Cole’s 11-year-old son.
“My son left crazy-inspired,” Cole said. “We left there thinking, ‘We want to make this happen in Orlando.’”
Maker Faires showcase “do-it-yourself” projects, encouraging independent inventors and artists to display their ideas and craftsmanship. They take place in cities around the United States and tend to draw tens of thousands of people, although their smaller, more independent progeny called Mini Maker Faires usually only draw a couple of thousand, Cole said.
Although several companies are represented at the show, Cole emphasized the majority of presenters are independent tinkerers, who usually build their projects in their spare time, and are eager to explain the process for a curious audience.
“Everybody pulls back the curtains,” Cole said. “Almost everyone is learning, one way or another. It’s very hands-on, versus a trade show, where you see the finished product, but no one tells you how they did it.”
One of the featured exhibitors is UCF student John Bent Cope, whose TagBot project is a robot that takes a picture of you and spray paints a replica image.
Other planned exhibits include a full-size working trebuchet built by a boy scout troop, and a synthesizer made out of bent circuits from children’s toys.
The Faire will also hold several seminars, including a soldering workshop and a workshop that teaches people how to make crafts out of duct tape. Another event is power racing, or as Cole describes it, “Mario Kart for adults,” where contestants compete on a small track with modified motors from Power Wheels, a brand of toy jeeps for toddlers.
Even though all booth space has been rented out, the Faire is still getting calls from numerous groups wanting to participate. With support from MAKE Magazine, a quarterly do-it-yourself magazine, Cole and Casey have amassed a staff of more than 400 community volunteers, and they expect a turnout of more than 2,000 people.
“The real core of it,” Casey said, “is it’s an environment where you walk in and you stop asking why someone did something, and you start asking how.”
For ticket prices and more information, visit www.orlandominimakerfaire.com.