If You Make It, They Will Come: Maker Faire 2014

Drones lined with rainbow LED lights zoom pass. Children on steel, mechanical crustaceans charge through packed crowds. A giant metal octopus, named El Pulpo Mecanico, shoots bursts of fire into the sky. I’m walking around the grounds of the San Mateo Event Center—and it’s Maker Faire 2014.

As a passionate advocate for fixers, hackers, and makers alike, I have an embarrassing confession to make. I’ve never been to a Maker Faire. In fact, up until recently I wasn’t even sure what Maker Faire was. So I seized my chance to go to the weekend-long event with some of iFixit’s finest teardown engineers. We did over 7 live teardowns and worked in a booth with the great folks at ARM. It was awesome.

For those of you who haven’t attended DIY’s greatest show-and-tell of the year (referred to by many as TEDx-meets-Burning Man), Maker Faire is a massive playground of projects, crafts, workshops, booths, and speakers. And as I explored the event—my eyes trying to keep up with the over-stimulation—I watched everything from a 3D printer creating a replica of Thor’s Hammer, to a team of 20 seamstresses collaborate on a multicolored quilt, to a popup glowing forest that kids used for an all day hide-and-seek game.

Here are some of my favorite moments from this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo:

Laser-cut structure at Maker Faire
California College of the Arts builds awesome structures out of wood and lasers.
Laser-cute sign at Maker Faire
We do love all maker-students.
Complex bike at Maker Faire
Makers design tons of colorful, complex bikes. Anyone wanna go for a ride?
Printed doll at Maker Faire
Move out of the way Barbie. 3D printing lets you make dolls of any shape or color.
Beer Battle at Maker Faire
iFixit teardown engineer, Jake, and I compete to “think harder” in the Beer Battle.
Wood laser cutouts at Maker Faire
More wood laser cut outs.
Computerized toy at Maker Faire
It’s small and moves around, but it’s no common wind-up toy. No, that’s a computer in there.
Home-made bike at Maker Faire
Lots of bikes, but I get it—there is a lot of ground at Maker Faire to cover.
Giant computer-operated costumes at Maker Faire
Gigantic costumes that are computer operated from within—a lá Iron Man.
Fiery metal structure at Maker Faire
Fire shoots out from several metal structures to the beat of nearby music. What a hot dance party.
iFixit teardown engineers at Maker Faire
iFixit teardown engineers, Jeff and Jake, get ready for a full afternoon of live teardowns!
Hacker tool vending machine at Maker Faire
Want candy? Sorry, we just have hacker tools in this vending machine.
Maker Faire swag tent
Let’s grab some Make swag.
Steampunk invention at Maker Faire 2014
Steampunk vortex ring blast. Need I say more?
Self-sustaining garden at Maker Faire
Self-sustaining gardens so you can finally grow all that kale for your smoothies.
Painted clay narwhal figure at Maker Faire
Painted clay structures make any office desk a little bit brighter.
Kids looking at drones at Maker Faire
Every kid deserves to play with drones at least once.
Cardboard laster cutout figurine at Maker Faire
Cardboard laser cut outs? I bet they’d be pretty easy to teardown.
iFixit employees at Maker Faire
iFixit tool developer, Brett, and I relax after doing a couple teardowns for the big crowd.
3D printed figures at Maker Faire
Frame your 3D printed creations for everyone to ogle. Look at that stunning detail!
iFixit engineers doing a live teardown
Jeff and Brett do a live teardown and answer crowd questions.
Sand art at Maker Faire
We’re taking zen gardens to a whole new (modern) level.
R2D2 figure at Maker Faire
Celebrity sighting!
Duct tape mural at Maker Faire
This colorful display is made of hundreds of thousands of pieces of…duck tape! Duck tape proves its worth once again.
Piano at Maker Faire
Music coming from street pianos helps set the mood for exploring Maker Faire.
iFixit team at Maker Faire
Thanks for having us, Maker Faire! iFixit had a great time!

Have you gone to a Maker Faire? Tell me what your favorite part is!