The UK’s greatest show and tell: Makerfaire UK

The UK’s greatest show and tell: Makerfaire UK

3D printing, coding, drones, robots and rockets were among the highlights of the UK’s annual Makerfaire.

Makers gathered in Newcastle this weekend for the Makerfaire UK.

The do it yourself festival of arts, crafts, engineering, and science, took place at the Centre for Life. Hands-on exhibits sit alongside formal presentations from makers.

The event brings together amateur and professional; young and old; and artist, engineer and scientist.

Dan and I headed to Makerfaire yesterday. It’s a brilliant way to access new technology. Here are some of our highlights.

3D printing

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There was a 3D printer on almost every other stand at Makerfaire. It feels like this technology is poised between the lab and mainstream. The transition may take ten years or more but we’re clearly well on the way. The price of 3D printers has fallen below £1,000 and there’s a huge third-party market of software and consumables. It’s an area to explore further.

Coding: build IT

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The focus on coding in UK schools at Key Stage 3 is creating a growing third-party market for tools and software. Low cost computers such as the Arduino and Raspberry Pi, development environments such as Scratch, and developer communities have all but removed to barrier to learning to code. The North Tyneside Council built IT workshop was a highlight of Makerfaire. Thanks @wearebuildit.

Giant drawing machines: Nick Sayer

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Not all technology at Makerfaire is hi-tech. Designer Nick Sayers brought along some of his giant drawing machines for people to try, gaining insight into maths and mechanics along the way. We used a spirograph made from an old bicycle to produce two drawings. A lever attached to the wheel and frame produced an image as the pedal was turned by hand. Thanks @nicksayers.

Rockets: Copenhagen Suborbital

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Copenhagen Suborbitals were one of the headline makers at the Makerfaire. This is a crazy, inspiring story of a group of Danes that have the ambition to send an amateur astronaut into space. The next rocket launch is scheduled for later this summer. The 5.6m Nexø I will launch from a platform in the Baltic Sea east of Denmark, and reach a 6 to 10km before landing back in the ocean by parachute. Thanks @copsub.

Drones and robots

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Robot Wars have been a regular participant in Makerfaire. It returned for 2016, alongside lots of robot arms and vehicles. The relatively low-cost of computing power, electronics and mechanical parts is fuelling amateur innovation. Flying robots were a new addition to the event this year. We had a great session flying Micro Drones. Thanks @extreme_fliers.

Soldering workshops

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A trip to Makerfaire wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the soldering stations. Here visitors can buy and build an electronic project for a couple of quid. You’re supplied with components, a printed circuit board and a soldering iron. Help is on hand if you get stuck. It’s a brilliant way to access electronics and build something yourself.

Makerspace: Newcastle

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2016 was the biggest Makerfaire yet. The maker community is thriving thanks to the willingness of enthusiasts to share their ideas and help each other. Maker workshops are a good way to find support and help for your project. The team from the Newcastle Makerspace in New Bridge Street demonstrated recent projects. Wednesday evening is open night if you’re interested in finding out more.

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