Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dover Mini Maker Faire

On Saturday, August 23, R2 and I attended the Mini Maker Faire in Dover, NH.  I was joined by fellow R2 Builder Paul Murphy and his R2-D2.  

Dover, New Hampshire is almost 3 hours away from me and with an 8:30 arrival and unload time, I had to plan ahead.  

The night before I got R2-D2 all loaded up into the Honda Odyssey and prepped for the trip.  One thing that frustrated me initially was the Maker Faire site didn't have any obvious links for directions to the event.  After some digging, I had what I needed and set my alarm clock for 4 AM. (Oh that hurt.)

Now if you have never heard of a Maker Faire and are wondering they are, a Maker Faire is an event created by Make magazine to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset". 

Or as I would better describe it as a science fair on steroids!

The 10 year old Garmin GPS found the location with ease and the volunteer staff was really great.  A burly gent helped unload R2-D2 with me and we quickly found our booth, just across from the 501st New England Garrison.  Paul Murphy arrived the night before and his droid, along with the R2 Builders Club banner, were all set up.

Left, Paul Murphy's droid, Right, Paul J. Bussiere's droid.
Since we had a booth, I was content being parked while Paul Murphy took his droid around the exhibit.  It was really tight quarters walking around the site and my radio was acting quirky at one point.  (It turns out the stick had some debris jammed in it, as R2 walked away slowly for a few feet before I shut down the motors.  I couldn't get the stick back into the center/neutral position, which explains why he crept away slowly.)

With two droids, one parked static and another wandering, I had a lot of time to answer questions about how R2 was built, the materials and how it operates.  People are always expecting R2 to be smaller than it is in person.  

The Maker Faire had booths for many interesting things for all ages.  The Quad-Copter on display looked pretty sharp, even sporting a GoPro camera.  There were 3D printers in action, underwater robots working outside in a make-shift pool and much, much more.  

Quad Copter

3D Printing

The 501st guys had troopers roaming the area and the folks in the booth were giving step by step tutorials on how they make their armor.  They had a function heat station with vacuum chamber setup, making miniature Stormtrooper head forms.  To keep things fresh, every hour they would display the next step in how they make their armor.  Seeing how they mold and form the helmets was impressive, plus the work they do with Smooth-On for casting.

Zoombie Trooper

TIE Fighter Pilot and a very, very tall stormtrooper that towers over R2

Since I was facing another 3 hours of driving, I opted to leave at 3 pm, as things were starting to slow down.  I would've liked to have stayed later and gone to dinner with my fellow builder....but I also wanted to get home while it was still daylight and get everything unloaded.  Six hours of driving in one day, plus all day on my feet makes for a tired me!

I had a good time and hope an event like this makes it's way closer to me!  

My only grief would be the usual thing all builders have that display their droids...people who beat on your droid.  The kids were behaved pretty well, overall.  But there's also those hand-full that insist on hitting, tugging on, pushing in on the lights and so on.  Most frustrating is that this occurs while the parent stands there, amused and thinking this is hilarious.  I seem to spend a lot of time saying "Please don't touch" over and over again, which I hate.  

I don't mind the kids touching the droid, respectfully...its the yanking and hitting that's over the top.  If you know a solution that doesn't involve barbed wire or 50,000 volts of electricity, please let me know!