Denver Mini Maker Faire

I attended the Denver Mini Maker Faire today, what a blast it was. There was lots to see and lots to do. At times, it seemed as though it was just about to descend into utter chaos; it was glorious.

I went to this meeting to get ideas for the new Discovery Lab at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library. I was not disappointed.

Hosted by the Colorado Maker Hub, the Denver Mini Maker Faire is for any interested in building his or her own things. Maker/hacker spaces have become very popular lately. People are rediscovering that it is fun to make stuff. The Denver Mini Maker Faire brings maker/hacker spaces, individuals, companies, libraries, and anyone interested in the making stuff together under one roof. This cross pollination of ideas serves to foster creativity.

There were vendors selling things: electronic kits, artwork, textile goods. There were high-tech companies promoting their technological solutions: 3D scanning, 3D printers, CNC tooling, laser cutting/engraving. There were people making things out of metal. There were people making art. One booth had several unconventional musical instruments. There were a few libraries represented as well.

There were a few stations where people could make things: The Denver Public library had a toy hacking station. The ARC of Colorado donated several hundred pounds of toys to DPL that children could deconstruct and hack together into something new and cool. The Jeffco library had a station where kids could put together an electronic circuit.

There was an area where both kids (and adult kids) could make things out of flattened cardboard boxes. A few of the kids made swords, shields and armor and then had duels using their creations.  It was great to see young minds creating items out of cardboard and tape only limited by their imaginations. Some made forts. Another made an entire robot suit.

Other standouts:

The Sparkfun booth was very popular; their booth seemed to be filled to capacity, and at one point there was even a huge line. People were learning to solder using Sparkfun kits. They all looked like they were having a great time.

There was a Star Wars station with a life-sized R2D2, a landspeeder and background of Tatooine where people could have their picture taken. Another booth had a couple of life-sized R2D2 robots moving around and making all the requisite noises.

My personal favorite was the Boxed Kits Amps booth. They make kits for a guitar headphone amp, a hifi headphone amp, and a stereo hifi amp suitable for hooking up to an iPod or an .mp3 player. I got to chat with Ken and Regina, the owners, for a bit about their company and their products.

Their company is kind of a re-envisioning of Heathkit, which was a company which made and sold electronics kits in the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1950s through the early 1970s, audio kits were very popular. Having owned kit-built Dynaco and Eico amps, I can attest that not only did they sound good, but they were easily repaired should something go wrong with them. I’m glad the Ken and Regina have reintroduced the concept of building audio kits to a new generation of tinkerers, hackers, makers, and DIYers.

The Faire continues tomorrow from 9am-5pm. Tickets are $15. There is a $10 charge for parking.

Worth going if you are interested in building stuff or even if you are curious.

Disclaimer: the names of vendors, organizations, companies, and other groups are provided for information purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of products or services by the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public library.

-Steve

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