Maker Faire 2010 Brings Out Whimsy and Scientific Creativity

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Maker Faire 2010 Brings Out Whimsy and Scientific Creativity

by Chris Preimesberger

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All Signs Point to Wherever

Upon entering the Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., on May 23, event-goers had a few decisions to make, the first one being: Where do I go first?

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Sol Proprietor-Powered

This one-person solar-powered tricycle, which weaved around the Maker Faire grounds for hours, had solar panels on top and featured an electric battery power plant in a little rear trailer, as well as a laid-back seat for its driver. It did not have a lot of, um, protection, however, from other vehicles on the highway.

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Chevy Rolling Out Fuel

Cell/Electric Cars by 2015It hasn't received a lot of mainstream press coverage, but GM's Chevrolet is hard at work on its own "Zero Gasoline, Zero Emissions" alternative-power autos for the future. The plan is to use 4.2 kilograms of compressed hydrogen stored onboard. That 4.2 kilos can give the car a range of 160 to 200 miles, Senior Project Engineer Todd Goldstein told eWEEK. Goldstein described this Chevy Equinox as all-electric and powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. "Batteries store electricity; fuel cells actually make energy, or electricity, as the vehicle is moving down the road, using hydrogen and oxygen," Goldstein said.

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Ford Flexes Muscles

Ford-which recently replaced General Motors as the No. 1 seller of American cars-is plunging ahead by putting more and more IT features into its product line. The company showed off the 2011 Flex hybrid midsize SUV at the Maker Faire. The Flex features a 3.5-liter Eco-Boost power plant, optional for all-wheel-drive SEL and Limited models, that powers like a V8 with the fuel economy of a V6. Note: The Eco-Boost engine adds $11,500 to the base price.

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Fiesta Preview

The 2011 Ford Fiesta will become the first vehicle to enable BlackBerry and Android smartphone users to control Websites such as Twitter, Stitcher and online radio service Pandora with voice commands.

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Testing Out the IT

Ford had an "IT tour" exhibit in which Maker Faire-goers could sit down at a simulator and try out all the new Ford IT, including touch and voice-command features.

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Unusual transportation was the underlying theme throughout the show. This colorful circa-1967 flowermobile was used to shuttle VIPs from the parking lot to the will call booth at Maker Faire.

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Junk Rider

This once was a Volkswagen but now is an entirely new, hard-to-describe vehicle made of scrap metal and other items that can be found in any junkyard. It runs on natural gas and spews little or no emissions.

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Snail on Wheels

You don't see one of these slithering down the road-or on your lawn-every day. This rather unusual vehicle, powered by batteries, holds four people inside and features an open "crow's nest" on top.

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Rocketing Out

Reminiscent of the original Disneyland "Rocket to the Moon" thrill ride, this aluminum structure drew long lines of kids and their parents all day long.

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Solar-Powered Time Lapse Video Player

This video player, powered by a solar panel and using a gigapixel camera system for intelligent image recording and playback, enabled event-goers to revisit previous Maker Faires by spinning a dial and watching a videos of highlights of the shows. You can find out more at

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Electronic Land Shark

This very fast-moving, remote-controlled neon-edged shark on wheels zoomed up to people, reared its head and often frightened passersby inside one of the darkened pavilions. The inventor said he was inspired by the old "Saturday Night Live" ("Candygram?") skit, with the shark played by Dan Aykroyd.

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Dinosaur Light Show

This 8-foot-high cardboard and paper dinosaur-shown here in final construction stage-was a big hit with kids, who examined every part of the structure all day long. The creature's head/brain, as well as its back scales and tail, lit up in colorful fashion.

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Bike Valet?

There was no end to the unusual aspects of the Maker Faire, which featured bicycle valet service. Literally thousands of bikes were ridden to the Faire during the weekend.

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Cake Whimsy

A play yard for kids featured climbable "muffins." The sign on the frame says, "Muffin Parking Only."

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Doggie Diner Heads

For no apparent reason, three large heads that once graced the roofs of a popular San Francisco hot dog restaurant chain (note the "DD" logos) were packed aboard a trailer and parked at the Maker Faire. You never knew what you would see next while walking around the fairgrounds.

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