The maker movement is alive and well, as the Toronto Mini Maker Faire more than doubled its attendance numbers over the previous year. Held at the Toronto Reference Library this past weekend, approximately 10,000 people popped in to see more than 100 exhibits on hand over the two-day event.
While the majority of those attending represented school-aged kids and their parents, a large proportion of hobbyists were on hand to participate in the free showcase of creativity, hardware innovation, science and hacking. The DIY culture was served up with extra programming designed specifically for families, providing ‘hands-on’ skills, such as soldering and piecing together electronics.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the turnout and response to this year’s event,” says Faire director Jen Dodd, who credits the new, more centralized venue and free entry as contributors to the success of this year’s event. “Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers and they are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of this event is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.”
David Johns found he was preaching to the choir from his exhibit space, as he answered questions about Icewire Makerspace, a series of classes and workshops geared towards adults and children alike. His classroom instruction, conducted in the Leaside neighbourhood of Toronto, aims to improve science and technology skills in a fun and interactive way.
“We let the do-it-yourselfer sit in a learning, classroom environment and experiment with any one of the industry’s leading embedded electronic design systems , such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and MSP430,” says Johns.
Peter Hiscocks of Syscomp Electronic Design Ltd., Toronto, witnessed an endless stream of potential or interested customers pass by his exhibit booth all weekend. Syscomp manufactures and distributes a broad assortment of “cost-effective” electronic test equipment, targeted specifically to the “entry-level” user. Among the most sought after devices included CircuitGear Mini, a 2Ms/s 11-bit digital storage oscilloscope that connects to any laptop or PC via a USB cable.
The booth from Active Surplus Electronics, a retail store in Toronto specializing in electronic components also experienced brisk business with its offering of Raspberry Pi model B+ 512 now in stock.
Among the dozen ‘Best in Show’ makers recognized at this year’s Mini Maker Faire include:
* Coffee Drip Printer by RIT; Put your morning cup of brew to another level and use it as your printer ink.
* DIY Pinball: A modular, open source approach to manufacturing pinball machines.
* Kamiko – Mix Motion: for its Interactive Kinetic Sculpture that responds to your presence by moving and changing its shape and color.
* Maker Junior: teaching kids about technology by combining traditional arts and crafts materials with motors, electronic components, and more.
* Maker Kids – Boat racing; construct your own seafaring vessel.
* Mosaic Manufacturing: allows single colour 3D printers to print in multiple colours.
* Social Body Lab: This ‘prosthetic technologies of being’ project is controlled through the body’s movement to allow users to extend their movements.